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.
Linking up with Steph @ Life According to Steph
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.