July Reads

         I’m pleased to say that July was a very successful month for reading. I read SIX books. Two of them were off my overall reading list, too. And they were all book books instead of audiobooks. I almost finished an audiobook, but the To Be Yours series sucked me in and I had to put the audiobook down for a minute.

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

         This book had me stressed out. What a terrifying version of vampires! See, the idea of vampires being real is kind of scary, but these were more like zombies. They just feed and feed and feed. They had no reason left (probably just because they were young or whatever) and they wiped through neighborhoods in no time. So, bravo, you gave me the creeps.

         When it came to the writing, though, I wasn’t as impressed. So much of the first few chapters felt like an info dump. Life congratulations, you know about CDC protocol and what they call every part of the hazmat suit, and the order that they put it on and – BUT do I really need to know all of it too? I felt like it slowed everything down and I skimmed a lot. Once the action began, it gained momentum, but the slow beginning almost made me put it down.

         The characters were likeable enough. I feel like some struggles and relationships were only put in as a gimmick and had no actual point to the plot. Like the ex-wife custody battle situation. Didn’t feel it necessary. Could have just been ex-wife. Period. And as believable as it is that he’d hook up with his coworker, the line felt a little forced here.

         The professor was probably my favorite character. He ends up being a badass. But even there I didn’t feel like he was completely rounded out.

         Not sure if I’ll finish this trilogy. I read this one on a new app and it was super glitchy and added to the negative parts of the experience. Makes me hesitant. But since it crept me out, we’ll see.

The Outsider by Stephen King

         I was super excited to read this, and it did not disappoint. I kept sneaking off to read at work – don’t tell my boss. The first half had all the buildup and confusion with just a hint of the supernatural. Then BAM! Here’s a scary creature to give you nightmares. Plus, it linked back to the Mr. Mercedes books that I loved, and I was thrilled to read about Holly again.

         Ralph was a character that you hated through most of the book. And then he tries to redeem himself. His character arc was impressive. His wife was one of my favorite characters in this one. She reminded me of myself with her pep talks. She’s the entire reason Ralph ended up as a good guy.

         All the death was upsetting, but it is a King novel, so what can you expect? You grow to like someone, and he just takes them away. Sad face.

         It was a little drug out, but that’s also his style. I didn’t feel like anything was unnecessary, but it wasn’t all necessary either. If that makes sense.

         Anyway, loved it.

To Be Your Girl by Rae Kennedy

         I rarely read romance. It makes me giggle, because sometimes I have the maturity of a twelve-year-old and all the different words for penis make me blush. Anyway, I follow this author on twitter and she’s fun and hilarious, so I thought I’d give it a try. And the book was exceptional.

         The plot pulled me right in. I cared about Haley and Cade and Court (hated Adam). It got steamy in parts, and some parts made me feel like crying. It had it all.

         I saw reviews saying it’s an ‘overdone trope,’ but who cares? How many original plot lines do people think there are left in the world? I had no problem reading about the taming of a man-whore. Because he was more than that, especially to Haley.

         The one thing I’d have to say I didn’t like so much was Haley as a person. If I was her friend and she told me she took Adam back, I’d smack her silly. I’d shake her by the shoulders and try to rearrange her brain. So many red flags with that boy. But I suppose she had to fall for Cade to pick her back up.

         The ending was just right, in my opinion. They both got their lives on track and came back to each other. Perfectly cheesy ‘awe’ moment and I loved it.

To Be Your Wife by Rae Kennedy

         I told you I was sucked into this series. I blew through the next two books. Kennedy is such a wordsmith and I was so reluctant to stop reading, but you know, life and work happens. Like I mentioned above, I don’t usually do romance, but I couldn’t resist continuing these books.

         Court and Tuck were adorable. I could relate to her hesitation to pursue the relationship, but I’m glad she didn’t let her doubts hold her back. Tuck was just the sweetest and most stand-up guy. I couldn’t even be mad at him when he left Court for Ali because he was trying to do the ‘right thing.’ If I was in Court’s shoes, though, I would have flipped out.

         Kennedy also paints brilliant pictures in this book. The farm and dinners with Court’s family were so clear. I could almost hear the kids running through the house. I also love the whole idea of restoring an old house, and she really puts you there with her descriptions.

         The end resolution was a bit abrupt, but I was so happy to have Court and Tuck back together that I didn’t even mind.

To Be Your Last by Rae Kennedy

         Oh man, this one is probably my favorite in the series so far. Maybe it’s partly because I’m also dating a rock star, but whatever. It was great. There were a few things that made me laugh and say, ‘that wouldn’t happen with his band,’ and it was fun to relate to the entire experience.

         Gracie is amazing. In her place, I would have done just what she did. Taking a leap and trying out adventures takes a lot of guts and boy did she have them. At times it bordered on reckless and like she was putting herself directly in the path of danger, but she was nineteen and didn’t know her limits yet. You have to learn somehow, right?

         I loved how this wasn’t just about Gracie and Colin. Every band member had distinct interactions and had their own character paths. It was really rounded out.

         But the best part of this is the last few chapters. I was so happy to see Gracie didn’t let the sudden breakup tear her down. She kept taking risks and pushing limits. And when the band comes back into her life, it’s a perfect reunion. The open mic exchange between Gracie and Colin gave me chills.

          I can’t wait to start the next one.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

         My craft book this month was a little eh. Overall, it was a nice read, and I spaced it out over the month, so I didn’t get the overwhelming feeling that she was repeating herself (but she definitely was). I didn’t take many notes, and there are only a few sticky notes where there were journal prompts. But I still felt I learned a little from it. I probably wouldn’t have finished it if I felt like it would be a complete waste of time. It just probably would have been more beneficial at the beginning of my writing career.

         I feel great about reading six books this month instead of four. I’m not going to suddenly raise my standards, though. I know it’s not always easy to buzz through a book in three days with all that happens in life. But it was nice.

My first book came out last week! IN SPITE OF IT ALL and I sure hope you all put it on your reading list!