I have to say, although these book review posts are far (faaaaar) (so far) from my most viewed/pinned/popular posts, they are among my favorites to write (and definitely among my favorites to get comments on—reading folks are the best folks and I love book chat). I have a notoriously terrible memory (so terrible, actually, that I recently researched early-onset Alzheimer’s) (good news: I most likely do not have it), so I like having a chance to review my books each month and remind myself of what books I read and what I thought about them. I’m 27 going on 88. Heaven help me and my poor pathetic memory.
First up, we’ve got The Peach Keeper (Sarah Addison Allen). After reading (and loving!) Garden Spells recently, I wanted (nay, needed!) more Allen in my life. Her mystical, ethereal writing style in Garden Spells won me over, and since quite a few people recommended Peach Keeper, I picked it up from the library this month. It was funny to read this right after reading The Distant Hours—they had incredibly similar storylines, mystery, and characters. The Distant Hours is the more sophisticated, complicated, literary, brooding version, and The Peach Keeper is the fluffier, beachier, summerier (<—notrealwords) copy of (almost) the same story. They’re both great in their own ways, so it depends what you’re in the mood for. Romantic, mysterious, historical . . . that is my love language right there, and Allen (and Kate Morton!) pound that nail squarely on the noggin. I preferred both Garden Spells and the Distant Hours over this one, but I still enjoyed Peach Keeper a lot.
Ever since reading (and love love love LOVING) the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series (read it. please. you will love it, too), Angelfall (by Susan Ee) has consistently shown up in my Goodreads recommendations. After months of ignoring the rec, I finally grabbed it this month and—yay!—really enjoyed it. It’s a big dose Smoke + Bone with a good strong dash of The Road, and lots of good fun. 6 weeks after angels demolished earth, teenaged Penryn teams up with an enemy angel to try and save her family. It’s dark, it’s creepy, it’s mysterious, and—inevitably, since it’s a YA angel fantasy and apparently (and sadly) this is unavoidable—it’s got a so-cheesy-you’ll-want-to-die romantic streak. It’s not perfect, and it’s a bit goofy at times, and it definitely needs more backstory, but I really liked it anyway and raced through it in just 1 or 2 afternoons, and am looking forward to getting my hands on the second in the series.
Here’s an odd one, nearly impossible to summarize without making it sound completely bizarre. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler) follows Rosemary, whose family was torn apart when her sister Fern was taken from their family in childhood—her brother is now a fugitive, her family has crumbled, and Rosemary struggles to find herself and piece together the past. The twist? Fern is a chimp who was raised by the family as part of a research project. Pros: I loved the writing, and Rosemary was a fantastic, relatable character. It was incredibly eye-opening (and a bit depressing) in its exposure of animal research and treatment. But I guess I just didn’t love it the way I wanted to. I liked it, I feel like it’s well-done, and I respect it, but I didn’t fall hard.
I want to love audiobooks. Between crocheting and baking and cleaning and exercising, I’ve got lots of time that I could be listening to audiobooks. But I have a very hard time finding audiobooks that I can really get into. I’m too picky. The narrator has to be great. The plot has to be fast-moving and entertaining to keep my attention. But it can’t be too goofy or silly or juvenile (which I think often goes hand-in-hand with a fast-moving, entertaining plot). Monstrous Beauty (Elizabeth Fama) struck a good balance for me. This fantasy about a mermaid’s choice over a century ago to live on land, her love story, and the modern-day teen piecing together her family’s unusual history made for a great listen by being interesting and engaging and well-narrated. I’m not sure how far I would’ve made it if I’d actually sat down to read it (it’s probably a bit on the cheesy side for me), but it was fun on audio.
Speaking of audiobooks, listening to Tina Fey read Bossypants was 100% pure awesome. I actually tried reading this when it first came out and didn’t make it very far. I love Tina Fey (and am proud to say I have a 30 Rock quote ready to pull out for just about every life situation), but somehow, reading her wasn’t working for me. But listening to her read her own book? Fantastic. She is hilarious and wonderful and so darn lovable. I know, this book has been around (and been highly praised) for ages now, so I’m just white noise over here singing its praises, but if you’re looking for the perfect audiobook to giggle along with while you crochet (now there’s a big market right there), here you go. This is the one.
What did you read this month? Any recommendations for me?