Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Recently Read - Vol. 9 (June '16)


It's the second Tuesday of the month.  If you're new to my blog, this is the day in which I review the books that I read/listened to during the previous month.  I also link up with Steph @ Life According to Steph and Jana @ Jana Says for their monthly Show Us Your Books link up.  The Show Us Your Books link up is a great place to discuss books and to learn about books that you may want to read in the future.  Without further ado, here are the books I read/listened to in June:


As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
Read June 1-3 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 5/5

As You Wish is a unique collection of memories told by Cary Elwes and other cast members about the making of the 80s classic, The Princess Bride. In the audiobook version, Cary narrates and most of the other cast members (Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Robin Wright, and director Rob Reiner) lend their voices to the narration.

I vaguely remember when this book was released in 2014. My initial thought was that As You Wish was another celebrity memoir in which the author was capitalizing on a role or catch phrase from his/her career by using it as the title of his/her book. I was terribly mistaken. This is not an autobiography, but more of a micro-history, because the entire content of the book centers around the making of this iconic film.

Elwes has crafted a truly unique work that fans of The Princess Bride will certain love. Stories of how the movie came to be, of pre-production obstacles, events that took place during production, and pre-release marketing mishaps are shared. What stood out to me the most were the funny and sometimes very poignant memories the cast shared of Andre the Giant and how everyone involved expressed their sincere gratitude of having been a part of this film. Although none of them could have known how popular the film would become, of how many lives they would touch, they did know that they were part of something special and that they had such a fun time making it.

As You Wish is one of the few books I’ve read that made me laugh, made me a bit misty eyed in places, and evoked a strong sense of nostalgia. It was so charming, poignant, and entertaining that I honestly hated for the audiobook to end. After I finish a book, it is not uncommon for me to immediately start another one, but I deliberately made myself wait a little while after finishing this one. It was that good, so good that I simply wanted to savor the memory of what I just listened to just a little while longer.

I highly recommend As You Wish to any Princess Bride fan. If you are intrigued by this book, but have not watched the movie (Inconceivable!), please watch the movie first so you have some frame of reference.

*Disclaimer: As I have said countless times before, a narrator can make or break an audiobook. In this instance, it heightened my experience. I have no idea of what reading the print format of this book is like. Please take that into consideration. I can say is this - listening to the audiobook version truly felt more like Cary and company dropped by my house one day and regaled me with endless Princess Bride stories rather than the cast reading the book to me. It was that personable.



The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Read June 3-5 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 3/5

There's really not much to say about this book other than it's different from the story told in the movie, a lot different - from the shoes, to the flying monkeys, to the obstacles they face on their journey trying to see the wizard.  It wasn't a bad book, it was just different, so very different from the images that are ingrained in my memory from having seen the movie so many times since I was a kid.  In my opinion, the movie is definitely better.  I'm glad that I experienced the book, though, but I can honestly say that it didn't make much of an impact on me.


The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag
Read June 6-8 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 4/5

This is the second book I've read by the author and is the fourth book in the Kovac and Liska series. (Yep, I'm reading them out of order, but so far it's working out.) The story centers around the homicide detectives' investigation into who Zombie Doe is and who is responsible for brutally killing her.

I enjoyed it, thought it was well written, and the plot kept me guessing. I had an inkling of who "did it," but wasn't sure how all the pieces fit together. The 9th Girl is a scary look into the lives of teenagers, where everything they say and do is recorded, copied, and distributed to the masses on the internet for all the world to see. The only fault I could find with the book was its length. Although I enjoyed book, I felt it was a bit lengthy and some of the fluff and redundancy could have been eliminated without jeopardizing the flow of the story.


The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan
Read June 9-11 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 4/5

The Opposite of Loneliness is an intriguing collection of well written, creative, thought provoking, yet completely believable short stories that explores various aspects of the human experience. The author had a unique command of the English language that allowed her to craft intriguing snapshots of life from so many points of view.

Many reviewers have said that had the author's circumstances been different, had she not died in a tragic car accident 5 days after graduating magna cum laude from Yale University, then this book would've never been published. Maybe, maybe not. Who's to say what the future might have held for Ms. Keegan? Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the publishing of this book, I enjoyed the collection of fiction and non-fiction and am glad to have stumbled upon it.

This was an audiobook that I couldn't just hit play and listen to for long lengths of time. As a collection of essays and short stories, I found that I sometimes needed a bit of transition between one short story and the next, as to let the characters from the previous story "quiet down" in my head before moving on to the next.



Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen
Read June 9-16 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 4/5

Something I've learned about Carl Hiaasen over the years is that readers of his books fall into one of two camps: you either love his writing or you hate it. Please take that into consideration when reading my thoughts on this book, for I am a member of the love his writing camp. I love his quirky characters, the detailed backgrounds he gives his characters, and his dark sense of humor.

Sick Puppy is the story of independently wealthy eco-terrorist/vigilante, Twilly Spree; Palmer Stoat, a Florida lobbyist and habitual litterbug; and a lovable black lab named Doodle, aka McGwin, who just happens to get caught up in the middle of everything. 


Within every chapter there were laugh out loud moments, moments when I was chuckling and hitting the rewind button to listen to it again, moments that included dung beetles and a charging rhino. Hiassen's writing is very descriptive, so it's easy to see the scenes in your mind and you feel like you have a good sense of who the characters are. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed three of Hiassen's other books (Strip Tease, Skinny Dip, and Double Whammy) and Sick Puppy delivered the same enjoyment and fun.


The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton
Read June 16-26 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 4/5

First things first, this book is a cliffhanger. If you don't like cliffhangers, then you may want to skip this book. Just a friendly FYI.

The Unidentified Redhead is the story of Grace, a thirty-something trying to break into acting and Jack, a young twenty-something whose Hollywood star is on the rise. When their paths cross through a mutual friend, there is an undeniable force and attraction that draws them together despite their age difference.

This book is an erotic, romantic comedy, which I was unaware of when I started it.  Hands down, it had some of the most descriptive sex scenes I've encountered in a while - so consider yourself warned! This is not a book that will appeal to everyone. It also contained some of the funniest dialogue I've ever read in a book. It was honestly laugh out loud funny at times.

My biggest complaint is that towards the end, the author overused the phrase "...belongs to me." His lips belong to me... Those eyes belong to me... You belong to me... I was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah... ya'll belong to each other. I get it, now move on!" Other than that, I really enjoyed the book and plan to read/listen to the sequel, The Redhead Revealed, at some later point in time.


Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Read June 26-30 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 4/5

I am a lover of mysteries, especially mysteries that keep me guessing and elicit an occasional jaw drop or two from me.  Pretty Girls delivered on both accounts.


Pretty Girls is the story of two sisters, Claire and Lydia, whose third sister, Julia, went missing twenty years earlier. Julia's disappearance played a key role in the direction that her surviving sisters'  lives took and Claire and Lydia have been estranged ever since.  When a teenage girl goes missing, one that resembles Julia, and a middle aged man is killed, the two sisters reluctantly reunite to figure out if there is a connection. 

Pretty Girls was hands down one of the best thriller mysteries that I've ever read. It was completely gripping and once it hooked it's teeth into me, it didn't let go until the end.  It's one of those haunting books that sticks with you.

*Disclaimer: Please note that Pretty Girls is not a book for everyone.  Let me say that again - this is not a book for everyone.  This book contains very disturbing, descriptive material about crimes that are unsettling and quite repulsive.  I do not wish to come out and say what "it" is because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who might be interested in reading this book.  But, I feel compelled to share how cruel and vile the acts depicted in this book are. They are scary, they are graphic, and are not for the faint of heart.  Please keep that in mind.  If you really, really want to know the subject matter, highlight between these asterisks:  *snuff porn*


THE QUICK TAKE AWAY

June was definitely an eclectic month of reading for me and, based on my ratings, a better than average month as well.  

My June favorite was As You Wish.  My least favorite was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  I recommend:

As You Wish
Sick Puppy (if you like noir humor or Hiaasen's work)
The Unidentified Redhead (if you don't mind some descriptive sex scenes)
Pretty Girls (if you can stomach the subject matter) 

-|-

So, have you read any of these?  If so, what did you think of them?  

As always, thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to hop over to Steph or Jana's pages and click on the links to read some book reviews/thoughts from some great bloggers.


As you are probably aware, in response to the floods that devastated parts of West Virginia on June 23 and 24, Brad Paisley,  a fellow West Virginia native and country music star, established a GoFundMe account to collect donations for flood relief. The donations will be distributed through his charity, The Brad Paisley Foundation. For more information, you can read about it in this article on The Tennessean website, on Brad Paisley's Facebook page, and/or on the GoFundMe page he launched on Wednesday June 29, 2016. 

#wvrising

36 comments:

  1. Have you read any other Karin Slaughter books? She's one of a handful of thriller writers that I've read every book published. In fact, she may be the only one that I can say that about with a decent amount of books under her belt.
    I've added The 9th Girl. I'm getting the sense that I don't need to read the previous books in the series to read this one?
    As You Wish does sound like a delight to listen to for The Princess Bride fans.

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    1. I think I responded to you already via email... Let me know if I didn't.

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  2. I loved As You Wish as well. He did such a wonderful job talking about the movie and you could really tell how much he is honored to be part of that movie.

    Pretty Girls was so messed up.

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    1. I agree, Carl Elwes did a great job. And, yes... PG was messed up!

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  3. Pretty Girls was definitely one of the best thrillers I've read too! I've never read anything by Hiaasen, but I really want to before the year is over because he's definitely an author with books that always catch my eye.

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    1. I enjoy Hiaasen, but like I said he's a writer that really falls into one of two camps. I've never met someone who is "neutral" about his writing. I'll be interested to hear what you think once you read one. My favorite is either Skinny Dip or Double Whammy (b/c the crazy character Skink is introduced in that one).

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  4. A few years ago I was sad to find myself sitting outside of Carl Hiassen's gates, looking in. I think you are right about his writing.

    Pretty Girls is on my list.

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    1. Yep, I honestly think there is very little gray area with Hiaasen. You either love his style or you hate it. I've never met anyone who has a "neutral' opinion about his writing. I'll be interested to hear what you think about Pretty Girls.

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  5. i totally agree about audiobooks and narrators, and as you wish would be one that i would absolutely listen to instead of reading it.. in fact, i just got it from audible and will start listening to it soon. can't wait!! The Unidentified Redhead sounds good, thanks for the heads up about the sex scenes lol. you had me at funny dialogue though.i haven't read anything by karin slaughter but i have some on my list.

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    1. Since you do audiobooks, I would HIGHLY recommend the audiobook version. It's really like the cast just dropped wherever you're at and started sharing memories with you. I hope you enjoy it!

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  6. I just read Sick Puppy for Erin's Challenge and really enjoyed it. It was my first Hiassen book and I've added the books you recommended from him to my TBR. I enjoyed (okay - that might not be the right word) Pretty Girls too. It is messed up but a good thriller. I read Tami Hoag eons ago but am not familiar with the Kovac and Liska series. It sounds like I need to check them out.

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    1. Glad you liked Sick Puppy. I enjoy his noir humor, but I know not everyone does.

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  7. I can't WAIT to read "As You Wish"! I'm a huge Princess Bride fan, so it's a no-brainer that I'll love it. I just couldn't get through Pretty Girls. I got through a lot of it but after a while it just got horrifying.

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    1. It was really good and so much fun! I agree with you about parts of Pretty Girls. I have a couple of images forever burned in the recesses of my mind that I wish I didn't have...

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  8. I was really into the whole Wizard of Oz series as a kid but it's been years since I've read any of them. Some kids books work for adults and some don't... Especially you have such an iconic movie to compare to.

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    1. Yeah, I often wondered as I listened to the audiobook if I might feel differently had The Wizard of Oz movie not been 1) such a big part of my childhood and 2) such a hugely iconic film. Probably. Had I not acquired that audiobook for free, I probably never would have come to read it.

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  9. i just returned a book by karin slaughter (fractured) because i'm too busy reading WWII books! I'll be queuing that book up again when this WWII genre obsession ends LOL

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  10. I've seen The 9th Girl at the library and thought about getting it because it was an audiobook and I love free audiobooks because that's an audiobook I don't have to pay for :)
    I didn't like Pretty Girls because I thought it was boring, not because of the subject matter. In fact, I'm 99% sure I quit reading before it even got to all that. It just didn't pull me in I suppose.

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    1. The 9th Girl could easily be listened to as a stand alone. You don't have to read/listen to any of the previous books in the series to get what's going on.

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  11. I've been wanting to read Pretty Girls-it sounds good! Also, As You Wish sounds like a fun read!

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  12. You might be shocked to learn that I've never seen The Princess Bride. I honestly don't know if I'd even like it. I know it's a movie that so many hold near and dear, but it's really never appealed to me. Hopefully we can still be blog friends. :-)

    Pretty Girls is one of my picks for Erin's challenge, so I should get to it soon.

    The 9th Girl sounds awesome, and I'm adding it to my list. Quick question: I know you said you're reading this series out of order and it's been okay, but would this book work as a stand-alone? I'm not sure if I want to commit to a series right now, but I think I'd really like this particular story.

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    1. Yes, you could definitely read the 9th Girl as a stand alone.

      LOL! Of course we can continue to be blog friends! I'm not a like a fan-fan of The Princess Bride. I mean, I like it, I own the DVD of it, but I'm not like obsessed over it or anything. You should give it a whirl sometime. It really is a cute movie.

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  13. Oh, I'm definitely adding Pretty Girls to my TBR - I do enjoy a good mystery, and difficult subject matter doesn't seem to bother me too much. (But thanks for the heads up!). I haven't seen The Wizard of Oz since I was a kid, but it never occurred to me that the book would be so different from the movie (which obviously makes sense, but ya....). I have a lot of children's classics that I hope to read with my son one day, but I'm sure I'll be like "this isn't what Disney said it was about" haha.

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  14. I am definitely so happy to hear your positive review about As You Wish since I selected it for a book challenge this summer & am starting it soon! I have it on audio too so I think that will really be a great experience. I feel like I need to watch the movie again first because I haven't seen it in a couple of years!

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    1. Which challenge?

      I hope you enjoy As You Wish as much as I did. I liked it so well that I bought the handbook to keep in my personal library.

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  15. Awww... I'm excited to add some of these books to my to-read list!

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  16. Pretty Girls definitely sounds like my kind of book!

    I have a couple Hiaasen books on my shelf but haven't gotten to them yet. I've wondering if I would like him since I had a feeling he was a like it or hate it author.

    Loneliness is on my shelf and I can't wait to read it!

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    1. The Opposite of Loneliness was a quick, little read (although I spaced it out over the course of several days). I enjoyed it.

      Which Hiaasen books do you have, out of curiosity?

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  17. The Unidentified Red Head sounds really interesting! I'll definitely need to check it out! I also really love The Princess Bride, so Cary Elwes memoir sounds really interesting and like one that I would love. I totally agree with you about having a narrator make or break a book too! Pretty Girls has been on my list for so long! I need to read it soon!

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    1. The Unidentified Redhead was a fun read and some of the dialogue was hilarious. I do plan to read/listen to the next one at some point. As You Wish was great!

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  18. As You Wish sounds so amazing. I LOVE The Princess Bride (both film and book).

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    1. As You Wish was great! And, it had been YEARS since I watched the movie and I've never read the book. PB fans will probably LOVE, LOVE As You Wish.

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