Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What I Read Wednesday: Summer Edition

I'm finally getting trying to get back in to my reading groove after finishing up a 2-year long journey through National Boards!  It's a slow going process, almost as if I have forgotten how to read or sit and read for a long period of time.  My brain and body may have misplaced its ability to sit and relax without thinking I have something else I need to be writing or typing (FYI, I finished my Boards work officially on June 21) maybe I'll be back to normal in another month?  

Despite having a rough time getting back to reading for enjoyment, I have read several good books in the last month and a half.  So, this is a perfect time to share them in case someone else is looking for a nice book to settle into.

Doll Bones by Holly Black | Many of my Twitter friends were talking this one up quite a bit.  Since I'm always looking for a book my 5th graders will find freaky, I wanted to find out for myself if this one was just as scary as people were saying. definitely had its moments, especially if you get frightened by haunted dolls.  This would have been perfect for my group of kids last year who taught me all about a haunted doll island in Mexico for one of their Unsolved Mysteries projects!  I an adult, Doll Bones didn't have me shaking in my boots, but I want to read it to my kids to see if it scares any of them.  I'm thinking this will be my next October read-aloud.  Normally, I switch between The House on Hackman's Hill or Wait Till Helen Comes. Let's get to it...

I have never read any other books by Holly Black, but she is a great writer of her creepy craft. This one comes with a ghost story from East Liverpool, Ohio in which a father supposedly creates a porcelain doll out of his deceased daughter's bones and somehow this doll ends up in a display cabinet in Poppy's house. Zach, Poppy, and Alice have wild imaginations (the kind I wish so many more kids still had these days) and are very good at creating and weaving a story in which the doll is The Queen and creepily rules over their story. But one night The Queen apparently voices her "story" to Poppy and the kids set out to help put her to rest so she won't haunt them anymore. The kids go on a quest and encounter many roadblocks along the way until they eventually learn the truth about the ghost story.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars  ||  Goodreads average:  3.82 stars

Drinking & Tweeting by Brandi Glanville | I'm not ashamed to say that I am a fan of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Mindless TV makes me happy after working all day!  Feel free to hate on me for reading such a fluff book...but it's my summer break and I looooove me some Beverly HIlls Housewives literature. Out of the 3 who have written books, Brandi's was the best. She may not be my favorite housewife, but I can definitely appreciate where she has come from way more. All in all, this was a great fluffy summer read that I enjoyed reading! While I sometimes hate her candor on the show, it was very very fun to read in this book. Thanks for the entertainment Brandi!  Beware for those who aren't into people with potty mouths or dirty minds though, because Brandi goes there over and over in this one.  

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads to give you a little more on this fine memoir:  Brandi Glanville tells all in this hilarious, no-holds-barred memoir. Fans have been waiting for Brandi’s scoop on one of the biggest divorces of the decade, since her husband of eight years abandoned her and their two sons to marry country singer LeAnn Rimes. Not only does Brandi spill the beans about her side of the split, the lovable housewife shares the incredible wild ride that took her from a life in the ghetto to Hollywood’s most elite circles. For the first time, Brandi talks about how she escaped a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Sacramento and stumbled into a successful modeling career that swept her into a world of Paris Fashion Weeks, private jets, and uncircumcised penises. Before she knew it, Brandi was the perfect Hollywood trophy wife—at least until her marriage exploded.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars || Goodreads average:  3.56 stars

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb | You may have 
read one of Wally's more well-known books called She's Come Undone.  I have read one of his other books, and I can definitely say that he is very talented at getting his readers to be invested in the characters.  He really knows how to develop the plot through crazy minute details, but not in a way that will bore the living daylights out of you.  This one has been on my to-read list for 2+ years and I have put off reading it because,'s 800+ pages. But I decided...I'm on summer break and I finished an insanely grueling process!  I thankfully got the e-book version of this because come on...who wants to break their wrists holding up what seems like a paper weight?  

Lamb does such a nice job of detailing out his characters' lives, that this lengthy style works for him. Poor Domenico, the main character, went through so many ups and downs in this one, starting with his twin brother of course (I won't go into details, because it is part of what reels you in). But because of the catalyst, what happens in the library, he is able to grow so much and learn way more than he ever would have thought possible. I did find myself skimming through all the pages of his grandfather's "legacy," which were extremely detailed and extremely boring and anger-inducing. What a bonified jerk! He has a real knack for writing endings to his books though and like his other two that I have read, just when I was starting to get sick of the length of this one, he reeled me right back in with the wrap-up of all the loose ends.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars || Goodreads average:  4.12 stars

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore:  A Novel by Robin Sloan | I read this little treasure for my book club's July pick.  Not sure if I would have picked this one up if it had not been for my book club, but I am definitely happy I did.  Fans of books, bookstores, and even Google will really enjoy this one!  And don't even THINK of getting it as an e-book!  Just kidding, even this book endorses e-readers in its own little way.  But really, if you do get the e-book version, you won't be able to take it into your bathroom, turn off the lights, and check out the glow-in-the-dark cover...really!!

It is in fact an intriguing read that reminds me of Angels and Demons or a trek to find the holy grail with Monty Python (or maybe even Nicholas Cage in National Treasure). This was a book about books and a bit of a "treasure hunt" with a lot of Google weaved in, which I loved! It takes place in San Francisco and eventually travels to New York into the bowels of an ooooooold library.  Um hello!  Book nerds unite!  I haven't met someone yet who did not enjoy this tome.  You'll have to read this one yourself if you want to go on the journey with Clay and Mr. Penumbra...because I don't want to take away from your treasure hunt of sorts.  

In case you don't believe me, or want to know a little more than I'm willing to give up, here is the synopsis from Goodreads:  The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars || Goodreads average:  3.79 stars

The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass | Have you ever finished a book and not wanted to pick up another one because you don't want to spoil the feelings or thoughts you have roiling around in your head?  That's what The Elite did for me.  I know a lot of dystopian fiction people aren't keen on this series because it doesn't necessarily follow the "rules" of the genre, but I was looking past that when I read these.  The 2nd book does, however, hint more at the dystopian side, in case someone who hated the first book is reading this.  For those who have not read the first book, this series is a mix of The Bachelor and The Hunger Games (without the killing).

It's been awhile since a series had me wanting to read the next RIGHT NOW! I did not want to put this one down even though I had all kinds of other tasks I had to get to. The last 2/3 of the book were devoured by moi in one day and when I got to the end I slammed the book down on my lap in a hissy fit...because I probably have to wait another year to read the final book! Nooooooooooooo!!!  Without giving away too much, I have a pretty good idea of who is responsible for all the rebel battles in this one.  Ah yes, this book involves a castle, secret rooms, and rebel attacks.  The ups and downs of the characters in this one had me wanting to read and read and read. Gah! Why can't the next one be out already?! The killer cliff hanger of this 2nd book is way more harsh versus the first one.

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars || Goodreads average:  3.96 stars

I have so many books I still want to devour before heading back to work in a week.  Yes, a week!  Waaaaaaaah!!!  I haven't run into any horrible books this summer, so it seems here like I rate all the books I read 4 or 5 stars, but I purposefully picked books I knew I'd like this summer, since I anticipated not having much time to relax and read.  

Please feel free to add me on Goodreads or follow my reviews there.  I absolutely love discovering new and interesting books that I may not have found otherwise.  

What have you been reading lately?  Any standouts or duds?  Tell me about them!


  1. Your blog looks beautiful, Carrie!

    I'm reading "The Rachel Papers" by Martin Amis. I'd never heard of him, but apparently he's a pretty famous and established literary dude. I was shocked when I saw that The Rachel Papers was written in 1973, because it seems so current! Rachel even says "should of" and puts her punctuation after a space (oh my god !!!), both of which I thought were recent inventions! Oh, the narrator of the book is trying to get Rachel to love him, even though he's a nerdy intellectual. So the writing is pretty highbrow--I have to look up a word every other page. It's also very British. Every other page I have to say, "Umm...that must be some British thing I don't know about."

    Also, have you read any Orson Scott Card (you know, like Ender's Game)? Highly recommended fantasy/sci fi/future books. Hart's Hope is one of my favorites, and the most fantasy (not sci fi ish) of his books. But there are tons of good ones with really serious philosophical implications!

    Congratulations on finishing the National Boards! Are you waiting to see if you passed, or to get a call from President Obama, or what?

    1. Thanks Sophy! I am a strangely picky person when it comes to sci fi. I like Star Wars, but can't stand Star Trek (and no, I won't even see the new movies). I love dystopian fiction, but not science fiction type books...kind of not interested in Ender's Game after reading the synopsis either. Not sure...I think I'll see the movie, and then if I am into it, I'll think about reading the book. :-)

      I wish Obama would call me! It sure feels like it was hard enough work to get that call. But no, we find out online when we sign into our National Boards account. That doesn't happen until December 1st though. The entire thing is all written...looooooong entries, multiple entries, lots of rubrics, lots of requirements, and then the test itself was all written as well. So, it takes them awhile to analyze on all of our items.

  2. Love Love Love Mr. Penumbra! I read The Selection last year, and I wasn't a huge fan--I wasn't sure if I should read #2, but since you gave it 5 stars, maybe I will give it a shot! I'm thinking of making What I'm Reading Wednesday a Linky Party--stop by my blog next Wednesday to link up if you write another post!