Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What I Read // August 2016

Rating System

5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it. Would recommend
3- Decent/solid read.
2- Would not recommend. Barely finished
1- Hard no, DNF. Gave book away.

Rotters by Daniel Krauss

Rating: 3

Grave-robbing. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It's true that Leonardo da Vinci did it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and the resurrection men of nineteenth-century Scotland practically made it an art. But none of this matters to Joey Crouch, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student living in Chicago with his single mom. For the most part, Joey's life is about playing the trumpet and avoiding the daily humiliations of high school.
Everything changes when Joey's mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey's father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey's life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating. 

I really wanted to like Rotters. The subject matter is right up my alley with the dark and macabre but I dunno if it was narrator or the story itself but it was slow and I was uninvested. I would have liked to hear more about the rotters club and more history of grave digging. I was more interested until Baby came along and I was really put off by him. Not in a bad person type of way but more like who is this. I was happy with the ending and that Joey found some sort of peace. I was just disappointed because I was looking for something dark and creepy.

 The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver

Rating: 4

In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Overnight, on the international currency exchange, the “almighty dollar” plummets in value, to be replaced by a new global currency, the “bancor.” In retaliation, the president declares that America will default on its loans. “Deadbeat Nation” being unable to borrow, the government prints money to cover its bills. What little remains to savers is rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation.
The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their ninety-seven-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also—as the U.S. economy spirals into dysfunction—the challenge of sheer survival.

This book was really slow going for about the first half but I breezed through the last half. I've attempted to read several of Shriver's previous books (I'm looking at you, We Need to Talk About Kevin) and this is the first one I could get through. She seems to be a hard writer for me. I originally was not rating this book too highly but I've thought about it a few times since I read it and it's kind of scary how accurate it could be. Mandibles is set in the not too distant future at the start of an economic collapse. The way the world spirals out of control is plausible and not far off of how it probably would happen. I wasn't really a fan of the ending per se but the book as a whole left a lot to think about.

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

Rating: 2

With Who Moved My Cheese? Dr. Spencer Johnson realizes the need for finding the language and tools to deal with change--an issue that makes all of us nervous and uncomfortable.
Most people are fearful of change because they don't believe they have any control over how or when it happens to them. Since change happens either to the individual or by the individual, Spencer Johnson shows us that what matters most is the attitude we have about change.

Nope. If you listen to the beginning of this book, it tells you that if you don't like this book or think it's obvious, you must be resistant to change. I'm a pretty adaptable, go with the flow type of person at work. I don't get my panties in a bunch when things disrupt my day. I will admit that in certain situations, I can recognize myself as a Hem or Haw. For example, we just got Office 365 installed in our computers which is requiring us to switch between desktops. It's a pain. I don't have time for simple things that make my life harder. I can recognize that I'm not accepting this change with open arms but I really didn't feel like anything said in this book was revolutionary. I think it's more suited to the negative Nancy's of the office.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Rating: 3
Another book that I'm in the minority with. I think Seven Habits was certainly more informative than Who Moved My Cheese but it still was not my type of book. What does it say if I don't like self help books? Personal development books can be hit or miss and they have to be written the right way and not to be preachy. There were some things I jotted down, mainly because we had to read this for work and we have a meeting to discuss, but whatever. I really didn't connect with Covey and honestly, he had too many religious threads and he kind of seemed like an asshat. Some of the stories he told did not make him come across in the best light. 

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Rating: 4.5
Inspector Gamache #6

It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society--where an obsessive historian's quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly four hundred years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

U&!**(&!*(J!Y^%#^&WT This was the best Gamache yet! Bury Your Dead grabs you by your heart and is a rollercoaster of emotions from beginning to end. I love Gamache and this book forces you to watch as this strong character is lost and suffering. I was also taken by surprise by the killer in this one but probably because I was so involved in the story of what happened to Gamache and his team that the mystery took a backseat, even though it was a good one and filled with historical information. Read this series!

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

Rating: 3

After the death of her beloved twin brother and the abandonment of her long-time lover, Greta Wells undergoes electroshock therapy. Over the course of the treatment, Greta finds herself repeatedly sent to 1918, 1941, and back to the present. Whisked from the gas-lit streets and horse-drawn carriages of the West Village to a martini-fueled lunch at the Oak Room, in these other worlds, Greta finds her brother alive and well—though fearfully masking his true personality. And her former lover is now her devoted husband…but will he be unfaithful to her in this life as well? Greta Wells is fascinated by her alter egos: in 1941, she is a devoted mother; in 1918, she is a bohemian adulteress.

 There's a line in the very beginning of this book that Greta's brother says and it stuck with me. "When you were a little girl, is this the woman you dreamed of being?" It was a loose thread throughout the book but I think it could be a thought provoking question in your own life. I really enjoyed the time traveling element of this book. I'm totally into the idea of fate and destiny. It did bother me how stuck Greta was on her lover. In every version of her life, he wasn't a nice person but she still pursued him in every version. I liked her relationship with her brother and in each world it stayed constant. Recommend as a good beach or flight read.

The Girls by Emma Cline

Rating: 4

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence. 

I can see why someone might not have liked this book but I read it in two days and I was hooked from the first page. Yes, it's a fictionalized version of the Manson Family but I love taboo stuff like this. It was interesting to see how a "normal" girl got in over her head and was brainwashed into believing the family was important. Even when Evie is telling the story, looking back, she still idealizes Russell and Suzanne and sees it through rose colored glasses. I think it's easy for people to judge and say how could a suburban girl like that fall into that kind of situation but that's exactly how it happens. You think it could never possibly happen to you and before you know it, it has and it's too late. I left the book wanting more.

I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies) by Laurie Notaro

Rating: 3

Laurie is married, mortgaged, and now—miraculously—employed in the corporate world, discovering that bosses come in all shapes, sizes, and degrees of mental stability. After maxing out her last good credit card at Banana Republic, she’s dressed for success and ready to face the jungle: surviving feral, six-foot-plus Gretchen (“Three Thousand Faces of Eve”) before battling the overbearing, overstuffed (in way-too-small pants) new mom Suzzi, who ruthlessly cancels Laurie’s newspaper column and learns that payback can be a bitch. Laurie also explores the backstabbing world of preschoolers at a Halloween party, the X-rated madness of a family trip to Disneyland, and the pressure from her QVC-addicted mother and the rest of the world to reproduce. But while losing more friends to babies than to booze, she realizes there’s a plus side: at least for a couple of months she gets to be the thinner friend.

Notaro is always good for a laugh. If you haven't read Notaro and you enjoy essays on life with sarcasm and blunt humor, she's your girl. This was exactly what I was expecting and I laughed out loud. Notaro doesn't take any bull and she's not afraid to let her freak flag fly. One statement really stuck with me because I relate to it 1000%.
"I'm not exactly a people person. You see, when I was born, God gave me an ounce of patience that was supposed to last me a lifetime, but it turns out I used all of it up during the first week."

Love It:The Girls and Bury Your Dead
Leave It:Who Moved My Cheese
Life According to Steph  


  1. I had to read Who Moved My Cheese years ago for work. I honestly can't remember much about it though. :) I found The Girls to be frustrating because I loved it in the beginning. I was drawn into the world and thought Cline made some very thoughtful points on how girls, in particular, give up parts of themselves to fit in, but she lost me in the end. Not because I didn't believe Evie could fall into a Manson-like cult, it just felt like the story petered out to me. Louise Penny has been on my radar for a long time and I need to check out her books. I always love finding a new series!

  2. Bury your Dead is my favourite so far in the series too. I was dying to know what had happened to Gamache. There seemed to just be so much going on in different settings, and I loved that. I also absolutely love Quebec City and this book made me so anxious to go back there for a visit sometime. I enjoyed all the background about Champlain etc...just such a great book!! I'm going to start # 7 soon!!

  3. I hated The Girls because I thought the potential for real cult-type stuff was SO much more in that book.

    I also dislike self help books, but I do like Covey's principles to organizing days. Who Moved My Cheese...no.

  4. I've heard so many conflicting thoughts on The Girls- I can't decide if I want to give it a try or not!

  5. i think i read we need to talk about kevin years ago, but i don't remember it. Mandibles sounds terrifying.
    i rarely read self help books, but i have never met one i loved completely. i think i read 7 habits a couple years ago and liked some things but not others, which is generally how i view most of those types of books. not interested in the cheese book. i agree, i am not resistant to change, but i am when it's something stupid like that office debacle. why make life harder?
    the impossible lives of greta wells sounds interesting. adding it!

  6. Glad to hear you liked The Girls! I've read so many negative reviews about it.

  7. I read a couple of these this month as well and I did not think as favorably of them as you did.

    I also struggled through We Need to Talk About Kevin. As for the 7 Habits, my daughter's school uses them and I have had them shoved down my throat for the last 4 years. I'm kind of over them.

  8. My husband is a total nerd for self-help books so he's read 7 Habits and he made me read Who Moved My Cheese, which I only did because it was so short. Couldn't get into The Girls, but I'm glad you liked it!

  9. I think I'm in on The Girls, your review sold me! Did you read Notaro's other book, The Idiots Girls' Action-Adventure Club? I currently have that one and wondered if they're similar (other than being the same author).

  10. I was on a self-help kick earlier this year. I seemed like all the "classic" self-help books (7 habits, how to make friends and influence people, etc) are all things that are taught in any communication or business course or you learn from working in a corporate environment. It made me giggle that you were reading it for work.

  11. I read Let's Talk about Kevin. The story itself was fascinating, but I got so annoyed at the writing style. I felt the author wanted to show off and use allllll the big words possible. Or maybe I'm just dumb with a terrible vocabulary. So, I don't know if I could read another Lionel Shriver book.
    I am on the superlong waitlist for The Girls.

  12. I've gone back and forth on putting The Mandibles on my TBR list, but I think I might add it after your review. I haven't read anything by Louise Penny, but am going to check her out!

  13. I've got to start some Louise Penny books. I keep hearing GREAT things!! XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  14. I have got to start the Gamache books this month. Everyone talks about them and I am missing out...