Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Recently Read - Vol. 10 (July '16)


It's the second Tuesday of the month!  Time to talk books and to link up with Steph and Jana for their monthly Show Us Your Books linkup.


Wifey by Judy Blume
Read June 29 - July 10 | Format: Paperback | Rating: 3.5/5

This is my first Judy Blume book.  Yes, somehow I made it through childhood and adolescence without reading any of her well known children's books.  I'm not sure how that happened, but it did.

Wifey is Blume's first adult novel.  It is the story of Sandy, a conventional suburban housewife and mother in 1960s/70s America, who grows bored with her conventional life, society's expectations of women, and her lackluster sex life with her husband.  She sets out on a quest to chase down dreams and add some spice to her life.  

Parts of the books are funny and it's an easy read overall.

Although Wifey contains some fairly explicit language and graphic sexual imagery, it's not the most explicit book I've ever read.  But, considering the time in which Wifey was written, 1978, I can only imagine how much this book shook up the world when it was released.  Sure, the sexual revolution was in full swing, but America was still not used to a book like this - especially coming from a well known and beloved children's book author.  The book's historical significance and the fact that it was like reading a time capsule added to my enjoyment.

Overall, I liked it.  It was fun.  It's wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it was definitely better than average in my opinion.


Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani
Read July 1-3 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 4/5

Home to Big Stone Gap is the fourth of four books in the Big Stone Gap series.  This book picks up where the third book, Milk Glass Moon, leaves off.  The series primarily takes place in Big Stone Gap, VA and centers around the town pharmacist, Ave Maria.  The series spans twenty years and includes an eclectic and humorous cast of supporting characters.

I enjoyed this final installment in the series, although it was not my favorite of the four.  It was nice coming full circle story featuring cast of characters that I have truly enjoyed.

This book should only be read if you have read the preceding books in the series.


Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
Read July 4-6 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 3/5

This is collection of short stories from the author's life.  Handler also narrates the audiobook version.  She regales the reader/listener with tales of her first DUI, of her babysitting gig when she was a teen, of her relationship with a guy she calls "Big Red," of her experience in a questionable massage establishment, just to name a few.  

The stories are told in manner similar to stand up comedy, which is to be expected given that Handler is a comedian. Some of the stories are better than others, some of funnier than others, and some, honestly, were just down right annoying. I gave it a 3/5 because I did laugh at times. I just found myself only being able to take the stories in short doses.  This is typical with me and short stories, not being able to sit down and listen to the book for long periods of time.  However, part of my problem in this instance was that her narration was sometimes overwhelming and I would just get to a point of where I couldn't listen to her any longer.

Overall, it was OK. I didn't dislike it, but I wasn't crazy about it either. It's definitely a niche book.  If you are a fan of Handler's then you would probably enjoy this book.  If you are a Handler virgin, like I was, then you should probably proceed with caution.  Disclaimer - Had it not been for me needing to read a book with a "punny" title, I feel certain that I never would've picked this book up.


Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol
Read July 6-18 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 3.5/5 

This is the first rock 'n roll memoir that I've ever read/listened to.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the early chapters in which Billy shared tales of his childhood in Britain and in America for a short time.  Once the chapters started centering around the emerging British punk scene and Billy started dropping band names left and right, in addition to using a plethora of musical terms (straight eights, for example), I lost interest.  Having never been a punk music fan or one that knows much about the technicalities of music, it just all sound Greek to me.

But, this book really changed my overall opinion of Billy Idol.  Yes, he has lived the epitome of the rock-n-roll lifestyle and has indulged in his fair share (and then some) of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.  But, beneath all that, is a very versatile performer whom I found to be extremely insightful and articulate.

This book is best for avid Billy Idol fans or rock-n-roll memoir enthusiasts.


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Read July 10-17 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 5/5

The year is 2044 and the world is not a pretty place.  Reality is bleak and depressing.  Most people, in an attempt to escape their dismissal reality, spend their time in an alternate virtual reality called the OASIS, a place where you can be whomever you want to be.  When James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, dies without an heir, it is discovered that he orchestrated a scavenger hunt within the OASIS and that the winner would not only inherit his fortune, but also his company.  With millions the world over searching, a poor teen named Wade finally finds the first key.  Suddenly, the teen is thrust into the virtual spotlight and he learns firsthand that in addition to Halliday's fortune and the future of the OASIS, that his life is also at stake.

I'm not a sci-fi fan by any stretch of the imagination. Despite this and despite the heavy focus of gaming, something I know very little about, I absolutely LOVED this book. What drew me in was the abundance of 80s references, I am a child of the 80s after all, and what kept me interested was the unique, imaginative storyline that kept me engaged and entertained. I cannot stress how much I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

I will admit that I required a period of adjustment with Ready Player One. Much of the action of the story takes places in the OASIS, an alternate virtual reality. At first, all the talk about teleportation and different planets in different sectors threw me for a loop. Once I wrapped my head around it, it made more sense.

At first, I thought I could easily recommend this book to any fan of the 1980s because the book is peppered with 80s references (movies, TV shows, fashion, popular culture, movies, and, of course, video games). Now that I have finished the book, my recommendation is more reserved and I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. If you are not a gamer, please be aware that gaming (futuristic, classic video, role playing, etc.) is the main premise of this book. I'm not a gamer and sometimes the heavy focus on the gaming made my eyes glaze over. But, once I took all the gaming information at face value, it was easier. Also, due to the heavy usage of 80s pop culture, this may not be the best book for someone who has no knowledge of or experiences from that decade.



The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris
Read July 18-22 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 4/5

The Edge of Lost weaves together the story of Shanley Keagan, a young Irish boy who ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin's pubs and Tommy Capello, an inmate in the infamous Alcatraz nearly two decades later.  It is a story of second chances.

The story starts with Tommy Capello in Alcatraz in the year 1937 then jumps back two decades to Shanley Keagan in Ireland.  I expected the story to go back and forth, but it did not and that perplexed me a bit as I attempted to figure out how the boy and the man were connected.  Despite this, it was an easy read that I found quite enjoyable.  It had enough surprises to keep it interesting and to keep me engaged.  I found the ending to be quite satisfying.


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Read July 23-24 | Format: Audiobook | Rating: 4.5/5

This book deal with a tough subject matter - teen suicide.  Why did I rate it so high?  Because it kept me thoroughly engaged.  Despite the book's morbid premise, I was fascinated and so intrigued to find out who would be named in the tapes and for what reasons.  It was also interesting how one seemingly insignificant act could set the wheels in motion and cause such a disastrous snowball effect in a young girl's life.  This is one of those books that I think teens should read in hopes of opening their eyes to the consequences of careless, mean behavior.


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Read July 22-31 | Format: Hardcover | Rating: 3.5/5

Fangirl was a hard book for me to rate.  I really loved the main story involving Cath.  I didn't even mind the short excerpts from the Simon Snow books or of some of the fan fiction references peppered throughout the book.  What drove me absolutely bonkers were the longer excerpts of Cath's fan fiction.  I often flipped through those parts because I simply didn't care about the characters of Simon and Baz (the fictional magical characters that the main character Cath was obsessed with).  In short, the book within the book didn't work for me at all and I found it to be quite a irritation.  But, the main story, I enjoyed and it elicited many fond memories from my own college days.

Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think of them?  As always, thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

Linking up with:


P.S.  I was nominated by Mackenzie @ Reflections from Me to participate in the 3 Quotes Per Day in 3 Days Challenge.  I am participating in this challenge with a caveat*.  I'm only going to post quotes; I'm not going to formally nominate anyone to do it next (the official challenge says I'm supposed to nominate 3 people every day to do the same).  If you would like to participate, consider yourself nominated.  If you don't, no worries!









44 comments:

  1. I've read all of Rainbow Rowell's books except Carry On (which is more Simon Snow), and I'm just not interested in it at all. But, I enjoyed Fangirl, the same way you did. I thought Reagan, the roommate, was the best character of all of them.
    I bounce back and forth whether I want to read Ready Player One. I know I'd enjoy the '80s references, but I am no gamer. Never have been. Never dated one. So, I know nothing about video games.

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    1. I liked Reagan as well. As for RPO, if you can get past the gaming references and not read too much into them (kinda like how I breezed over all the technical, science stuff in The Martian), then you might be okay. I just took all the gaming stuff at face value and didn't read too much into it. I'm right there with you about the gaming. I know nada.

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  2. I really enjoyed Fangirl but I definitely remember skimming a few of the excerpts too...even though I also read Carry On and enjoyed that on its own. It's funny reading this post because I can easily pick out books that were "challenge books" i.e. the punny one :)

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    1. LOL! Yep... That punny one... (I've seen several lists this summer as well and thought, upon seeing a particular type title, "Ah, you are participating in SCSBC16 as well....")

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  3. I'm not a Rainbow Rowell fan. I might be the only one.

    I love all things JUDY Blume, including her forays into the adult world. With one exception: her latest. I couldn't get through even a quarter of it.

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    1. This was my 2nd RR book. I'm not over the moon over her stuff like many appear to be. (I really thought Landline was over hyped.) I've heard others say similar things about JB's most recent adult book, so you are definitely not alone.

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  4. I 100% agree with your assessment of Ready Player One. It is probably the most accurate review of the book I've read and I loved the book. I also felt the same way about Fangirl, so much to the point that I will not read Carry On.

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    1. Thank you! That's what I'm thinking about Carry On - I will not carry on! With Fangirl, I've had enough. LOL!

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  5. I used to love Handler's late night show, but do not care for her books :-/ 13 Reasons Why was really good, almost like a darker Paper Towns with the letters. And I felt the same about Fangirl- LOVED the main story with Cath but truthfully couldn't care less about the Carry On story (official or Cath's fanfic).

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    1. I'm glad to hear that it wasn't just me having issues with the fanfic stuff. I found it HIGLY annoying, annoying to the point of where I rolled my eyes and thought "Oh, lord... Here we go again." Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I don't really like Rainbow Rowell books. Her other one (jeez, I can't even remember the name .. Eleanor something) was just "meh". I actually thought that maybe I read it too fast and didn't get what everyone was raving about so I went back and reread the book from chapter 5 and still, "meh".

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    1. The two books of hers that I've read, Fangirl and Landline, have not blown me away like I expected them too based on the hype. I have the Eleanor and Park book (got in on sale), so I figure I'll give it a go at some point.

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  7. I keep hearing about Ready Player One & I'm definitely going to finally add it to my TBR list after reading your review. I feel like I'm on an 80s kick after watching Stranger Things and I'm definitely not a gamer, but grew up playing some video games & enjoy reading something different!

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    1. I hope you enjoy RPO! It was a complete surprise for me!

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  8. Wifey is on my list so I'm hoping to get to it soon. I loved Judy Blume growing up, but I didn't like her most recent adult book, so I am hoping Wifey is better.
    i liked fangirl, but i disliked the fan fic or excerpts from the 'real' book.
    i really, really, really enjoyed ready player one. i know i only rated it 3 stars, but that's why stars are stupid. i loved the story and the characters, and though i am not actually a proper 'gamer' i do enjoy games so i could relate to that part. basically all the 80s things went over my head though, and i think i would have had a different reaction to the book or even while i was reading it if i could understand/forsee things, you know? i still really did enjoy it. i'm more reserved in my recommending it as well.
    i had the opposite or at least different reaction to 13 reasons why. i was captivated and read it all in one go, but if i had been the receiver of those tapes when i was a teenager? it would not have been good and would have probably encouraged me to do the opposite of what the author/main character wanted. which is totally on me because i was a very easily influenced teen with dark thoughts anyway, and i think something like that might have sent me over the edge. i think the lesson of how our actions affect others could be taught in different ways.. but like i said, i couldn't put it down, so i don't know. conflicted!

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    1. I love that - stars are stupid! LOL! I agree with the 80s references. I mean, when Halliday's video is described and Oingo Boingo's song "Dead Man's Party" is playing, if you don't have some frame of reference for that song, the scene loses some meaning.

      Some times books are conflicting. That's why I sometimes find it so hard to rate them.

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  9. I disliked Fangirl for the same reasons, though I love Rainbow Rowell. I thought I could make it work with Carry On but I read literally two pages and was DONE. I really liked Thirteen Reasons. I think they're making it a movie or a Netflix show or something...

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    1. I believe you are right about Thirteen Reasons Why; Netflix is making it into a limited series or something. Apparently it's been in production for years... I will not even attempt Carry On. I've had my fill of Simon and Baz... LOL!

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  10. Ready One Player is on my TBR. I'm not a gamer, at all, but I'm viewing it like The Martian. If need be, I'll skip/skim the gamer parts because I, too, am a child of the 80s. :) I'm a Rainbow Powell virgin, but I have one of her books slotted for Erin's challenge, Eleanor and Park. I'm not a real fan of mixing fan-fiction with fiction either, so it's a good thing I'm not starting with Fangirl.

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    1. That's a good way to look at it. All that technical jargon in The Martian made no sense to me and held very little meaning. Once I accepted that and took the jargon at face value, I enjoy The Martian so much more. It was actually one of my top 5 of last year. Ready Player One is the same way but instead of technical, scientific jargon it held gaming jargon. I am planning to listen to Eleanor & Park for the bonus round in Erin's challenge.

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  11. I thought 13 Reasons Why was fantastic! It definitely kept me compelled for the whole book!

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  12. I always meant to read the Big Stone Gap books over again because by the time I got to the last one I couldn't remember everything from the first one. Maybe this fall I'll do it.

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    1. I have read and listened to the first one, Big Stone Gap, three times and two of those times were in the fall. I really like doing that (listening to it in the fall) I guess b/c so much of the story takes place in the fall in the book.

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  13. Fangirl was the only Rainbow Rowell book that I didn't really like. Eleanor & Park, Attachments, Land Line... All good! I could not get into the Simon Snow plotline at all. And was disappointed that her latest book is all about them!

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    1. I would have liked it a lot more had Rowell omitted the fanfic parts. Yeah, I have no desire to read Carry On. I've had enough Simon and Baz already! LOL!

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  14. I loved Fangirl so much. Which is odd, because I'm not a Harry Potter fan and this had many shades of HP. Her excerpts were kind of annoying but I eventually started to enjoy them (audiobook).

    I read Thirteen Reasons Why about 6 years ago. I liked it, didn't love it. She was a strange character and I found her hard to trust as a narrator. I would recommend it for teens though.

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  15. I listen to 13 Reasons Why a few years ago and really didn't like it. I'm kicking myself that I didn't write a mini review on goodreads to refresh my memory though! But I only gave it 2 stars. I just remember not liking the main character and how victimized she felt. This was also a tough one to listen to on audio - I found it very disjointed with the constant "interruption" of listening to the tapes. Sometimes I'm tempted to re-read it in print to see if my opinion on it changes.
    I own Wifey but haven't read it yet. I loved Judy Blume growing up, but I never read her adult stuff. I just read Summer Sisters a few years ago too. Didn't love it, but didn't dislike it either.

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    1. One of the main reasons it didn't get a 5 from me was because of the boy's (I can't think of his name) side thoughts that "interrupted" the tapes. I found it extremely irritating.

      I think I have started Summer Sisters before, but I didn't get very far in it for whatever reason. It was many years ago, though.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. Every month you amaze me even more with how much you're reading! Thirteen Reasons Why sounds like a great book, but one that you definitely have to be in the mood for. The Edge of Lost and Ready Player One have been on my list for forever! Obviously I need to get my butt in gear and read them quickly!

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    1. Thank you! Next month's check-in will be a complete let down in comparison! Yeah, I'm in a bit of a reading slump and I'm still adjusting to the back to school groove. When I get home in the evenings, the only thing I want to do is sit and watch the olympics (which are significantly interfering with my reading/audiobook listening!) AGH! LOL! Happy reading! I hope you like them when/if you read them. Have a good one!

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  17. I just heard of Ready Player One today and was debating it but I think I'll put it on my library list after your review! There were a ton of mixed reviews on goodreads, but I thought I liked the sound of the plot synopsis.

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  18. I really enjoyed The Edge of Lost too-it really surprised me!

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    1. It did have a surprising twist, didn't it, one that I definitely didn't expect. That book turned out to be a nice surprise.

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  19. I'm probably one of the few people who really didn't like Fangirl. There were a couple of things I did like, but it was mostly an awful book for me.

    Ready Player One and Thirteen Reasons Why are both on my list already, so I'm glad you enjoyed them! I wanted to read Wifey for the SCSBC16, but my library didn't have it and they never honor purchase requests for books that are more than 10 years old. Whomp whomp.

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    1. I'll be interested to hear what you think of RPO and TRW when you read them. RPO really surprised me.

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  20. I felt the same way about Fangirl. It was basically me in college even the horrible fanfiction bit.

    Ready Player One is a great book, but I am a gamer and uber nerd so that was pretty much a given for me! Still a great read!

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    1. I really, really enjoyed Ready Player One, so much so that I think I will re-listen to it again at some point in time. And I'm not even a gamer! Thanks for stopping by!

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  21. I have not read any of these. Ready Player One would be the one I would choose to read, I like futuristic fiction.

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    1. I was really, really surprised by RPO. It is easily one of my top 3 of the year so far.

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  22. The only one of these I've read is Thirteen Reasons Why. I loved it for the same reasons you did.
    Ready, Player One is on my list. I'm not really into gaming though. Hmm.

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    1. Even though it was heavy on gaming references, especially vintage 80s games and gaming systems, I still enjoyed it. I just had to take what was said about the games or systems at face value and accept the fact that I wouldn't be able to make a personal connection.

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