Northwest Native: Summer Reading Challenge Update!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Reading Challenge Update!

The first month of the three-month Literary Ladies Summer Reading Challenge is over! If you want to see my introductory post to the challenge, the link is below.

Below is my progress thus far. I've included all the books I've finished along with a review.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Category: Young Adult
Pages: 466
Date Started: June 21st
Date Completed: July 2nd
When I saw there was a young adult book category I knew it was time to finally read one of the few Jodi Picoult books I hadn't read yet. The synopsis for this book explains the main part of the plot, but knowing Jodi Picoult, she threw a few twists in (no spoilers)! I remember at one point reading something that I thought was such a gay stereotype, which I thought was kind of weird. I know Picoult isn't anti-gay because she posted a really sweet message on Facebook on her (gay) son's wedding day or first anniversary (can't remember which!). I just thought maybe that could've been better. It's interesting because she writes from different perspectives, so you get some passages from the gay characters' points of view, and they express their disdain for how the church treats them. Then you have it from the religious character's point of view and he says only positive things about his church. I think Picoult did a good job of balancing it. I know her views on the issue, but she didn't bash religion. There were passages from the religious point of view talking about how amazing it is to be part of this community, etc. There were tons of twists in this book! I don't know if I just forgot how many twists Picoult's books contain or if there were more than usual. Some of them you could kind of guess before they happened, but in a good way. It wasn't like they were extremely predictable and boring, it was more like when you figured out a twist before it happened you felt like a genius.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Category: Kickass Female Character
Pages: 336
Date Started: June 21st
Date Completed: July 4th
I wanted to read Wild for quite some time. There was a lot of buzz about the book around the time it was announced that a movie was coming out. I knew I had to read the book before I saw the movie. I also wanted to read it because she currently lives in Portland and because the trail she hikes runs through Oregon and Washington. As I was reading this, and she was talking about all the horrible/painful/frightening things that happened to her on the Pacific Crest Trail, I found myself thinking, "I totally want to hike that one day." WHAT?! No I do not. I want to be able to say that I did. But I like showers and not having painful blisters too much. It was hard to put this book down. I always wanted to know what happened next and how each portion of the story would pan out. I originally had this in the one word title category, but then I didn't know what book to use for kickass female character. I'm glad I read this for this category because Cheryl Strayed is definitely one kickass lady. I can't imagine hiking that trail all alone. And she did it to overcome major personal hardships too (but I don't want to give them away!). It was crazy to me that with all of the dangers of hiking alone as a woman, the most dangerous thing wasn't bears or rattlesnakes--it was encountering men and not knowing whether they were good men or predators. I kind of felt like she spent way more time talking about her hike in California and then maybe got bored and rushed through the Oregon part. Maybe that's because in between talk of the California hike she included stories from her past, and she stopped doing that before she got to the Oregon part. I checked Google Maps and it turns out the place she ends her hike is an hour and a half from my hometown. I grew up right on the Columbia River, and she ends her trip on the Columbia River. I hadn't known before she mentioned in the book that the Columbia is the fourth largest river in the United States.

 The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
Category: Recommended by a blogger
Pages: 394
Date Started: July 4th
Date Completed: July 6th
Wow I got through this one quickly. Probably because July 5th we declared no TV day. My mom had read this and told me that it was too predictable. So when I started reading, I came up with my guess as to what the letter was about. I thought I was probably right, but wasn't totally sure. My guess did end up being right. I also kind of thought the secret would come out later in the book, but it's pretty early on and then the rest of the book just kind of plays off of it. The one thing that bugged me is that supposedly this secret impacted the lives of these three different people. The book is told from three different points of view. One of them wasn't relevant to the secret at all. The lives of all three connected, but the third wasn't connected to the secret in any way. I found all of their stories interesting to read, I just thought it was weird to try and characterize it that way. This is my third Moriarty book, and What Alice Forgot remains my favorite. (Oh and this book was recommended by tons of bloggers--Liane Moriarty's books as a whole are, and the first time I ever heard of her was when a blogger was talking about this book. So that's why I chose it for this category!)

 Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Category: A suspenseful book
Pages: 254
Date Started: July 6th
Date Completed: July 8th
After reading this, I've now read all of Gillian Flynn's books. I just have to say that I really hope she writes more! This book was so so so creepy! I think this is the creepiest of all of her books, by far. (I personally loved it, but if you can't handle creepy, this probably isn't for you.) It kept me guessing and thinking I was right then going back and changing my guess again. Toward the beginning of the book, a little boy talks about something he witnessed. It was a really creepy scene. I read that part at night before bed. Michael woke me up about an hour later asking if I heard the loud noise in our living room, and said it sounded like there was a person in there. It was horrible timing. So I would recommend maybe not reading this right before bed!

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Category: On my TBR list for a year or more
Pages: 321
Date Started: July 9th
Date Completed: July 13th
Everyone said this book was really good. I was expecting a Marley & Me type of storyline. (I haven't read the book, but I saw the movie and I do love it, I just didn't want this to be the exact same.) It turns out this book is quite different. Part of that is that it's narrated by the dog himself, which made it interesting and at parts, funny. It was sad for many reasons, and had a complex plot (not hard to understand, just a lot of substance to it). I started it one day on my lunch break and almost cried. Oops. I finished it on the treadmill in the gym. Yep, I was crying and running. Thankfully, the sad ending is pretty short and I'm pretty good at holding back my tears when I'm around a bunch of strangers.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
Category: Written by a comedian or celebrity
Pages: 344
Date Started: July 14th
Date Completed: July 18th
I was so excited to read this. I love Lauren Graham. Or at least I love Lorelai Gilmore and Sarah Braverman. Then when I started reading it, I wasn't sure. I did love how much the Franny's (the main character) wit and sass reminded me of Lorelai and Sarah, but I didn't know if I liked the story. It eventually sucked me in and I was sad when it ended! On another note, Leighton and Deena (two minor characters that Franny had drinks with) totally reminded me of Babette and Morey from Gilmore Girls. I don't think there was a reason for it, I think I just kind of made it happen in my mind because this book had me all nostalgic for Gilmore Girls. And Parenthood.

Here's how my list is looking now! I've crossed out books I've completed and put a note about where I got them. (I was honestly planning to buy every single one of these books until I got a library card, so I'm doing this to see how much difference this library card has made for me!)
  1. A YA Book - Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult library book
  2. Non US Author - Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  3. A book that was recommended by a blogger - The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty purchased on Kindle
  4. A book that has been on your TBR list for a year or more - The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein library Kindle book
  5. A book with a kickass female character - Wild by Cheryl Strayed purchased on Kindle
  6. A book that is or will be a movie - The Martian by Andy Weir purchased on Kindle
  7. A book written by a comedian or celebrity - Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham library Kindle book
  8. A book with a one word title - Flight by Sherman Alexie
  9. A suspenseful book - Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn library Kindle book
  10. A book about summer/with summer in the title/somehow related to summer -  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart I hadn't chosen a book for this category in my last post. I narrowed this down to We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and Summer Sisters by Judy Blume based on recommendations. I put both on hold to see which one would be available first, and that's the one I chose. Both versions of this book were available almost immediately--I chose the Kindle version.
Completed: 6/10
 I know I said I didn't think I could read ten books in three months, but I think I'm actually going to be able to do it! For the record, I wouldn't have been able to if I hadn't joined the challenge and become more intentional about reading. Now I read if I have a few minutes before work in the morning or on my lunch break or when Michael is watching sports or something. Come back August 21st for another update!

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  1. I just started reading What Alice Forgot and I wasn't sure if I should have chosen this one or The Husband's secret but a few reviews said The Husband's secret was a bit frustrating so I'm excited for What Alice forgot. This challenge is so kicking my ass into gear I read at every available moment :)

  2. You're doing fantastic! 6/10 only 4 more to go!! I agree with you "What Alice Forgot" is my fave moriarty. I read it last and almost didn't read it. Glad I did!

  3. I love this little post. My mom and I just bought the Husaband's Secret to read because we had heard such good things about her…my mom started it and did not like it at all. We'll see how this goes. Thanks for your reviews!!

  4. I want to get the Lauren Graham book! I keep hearing good things.
    I got The Husbands Secret on my shelf waiting for me to pick it up!

  5. I haven't read any other Liane Moriarty's books (only the husband's secret) so I'm excited to check the others out. I liked someday someday maybe, but i felt like i definitely compared it to Gilmore Girls too much, of course. It was cute though!

  6. I just read about The Art of Racing in the Rain last month for the show us your books link up and I am excited to get around to it! You are further along than I in this challenge. I keep reading books that aren't on my list based on availability. Hopefully I will catch up!

  7. Ooooooh... I liked "Gone Girl" so I'm excited to read "Sharp Objects." I love creepy, thrilling reads, so this looks like something I'll definitely enjoy! Thanks for your detailed reviews. I don't get to read as much as I'd like, so - when I do - I want it to be something good! :-)
    You're doing a great job getting through all those books! You go, girl!
    Have a great Tuesday!

  8. Woah you have been a busy reader :) me too. I love reading before bed or while waiting for things. I loved the Husband's Secret. You are right about the one story line though. I never really thought about it that way. I cannot read/watch creepy things before bed!

  9. I'm about to start What Alice Forgot. I like the idea of a book from a different category! I've been stuck on romance for a while...maybe I should try something like this out!
    It definitely seems like you'll be able to get your 10 books in, good job!

  10. I really loved Wild and always love Jodi Picoult. I haven't read Sing You Home but not you have me interested!!

  11. I love Jodi Picoult books but Sing You Home is one that I haven't read yet. I didn't know it was YA either! Sharp Objects is on my list too & I hope it's better than Gone Girl. Sounds like you're going to reach your goal!

  12. I love reading about books! (irony right there) I wanted to try to read 12 books this summer...right now I'm at 5. I need to step up my game! (considering I only have three more weeks of break.) Yikes.

  13. You are on a roll, Mattie!! And thanks for letting me know that Lorelai & Sarah write books! LOL! I'm watching both series right now and I love both the shows! Have a great week!

  14. I love Lauren Graham too so I definitely want to read her book! And I've read three of Liane Morairty's books as well and I think What Alice Forgot was my favorite too! The Husband's Secret was definitely predictable although I didn't expect the ending!

  15. I'm reading my very first Jodi Picoult book right now (Nineteen Minutes). I'm only 100+ pages into it, so I reserve my right to change my mind, but so far, I'm SO into it...which makes me think I'd like Sing You Home too because it sounds pretty intriguing.

  16. Lol for crying on the treadmill. My parents have a TV set up in front of theirs, so I'll watch movies (usually something Disney). I think running sets my emotions loose, because when I get to a sad scene (like Kerchak dying in Tarzan), tears just start pouring down my face. I definitely can't read or watch sad things in public.

  17. Well done on reading 6 books already! <3

  18. I've started Someday, Someday, Maybe about a million times, but I just can't get into it. I am going to try my best to finish reading it because of your review though! Also, if you haven't noticed I am catching up on your life lately because I have been so dang busy I haven't gotten to read many blogs recently. :)

  19. Wow, great job on your reading goals! I'm surprised you called Jodi Picoult a Young Adult author, I've always seen her as an adult author! I was introduced to her in high school and she was the first adult author I had ever read. I was reading cheesy teen books before that. I was blown away by how she tells her stories, the different perspectives, taking real-life issues and exposing different sides and perspectives of each. I'm a big fan of Lauren Graham's characters too. GG and Parenthood are in my top shows of all times! When GG came onto Netflix back in January, I watched them all everyday in the evenings or while I blogged-drove my boyfriend nuts!

  20. You're doing so good for this challenge! Give me some of your luck!
    I've read one Jodi Picoult novel and I think that was back in like high school. And I always read the synopsis of her books and think "that sounds so good, I want to read it" and then I don't. I need to get on it.

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