It’s Monday! What are you reading? #14

Happy happy Monday! It’s a crazy week at my day job, but I still have such high goals for reading! Like usual I am participating in….It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? which is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

WHAT DID I READ LAST WEEK?

I am making it through one book at a time. Last week I finished up Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. I was expecting a lot more out of the book – but overall it was good! You can check out my review.

into the water

 

WHAT AM I READING NOW?

As I mentioned last week I am pushing through a lot of my reading challenges. One of the challenges that I am participating in is titled ‘Around the Year in 52 Books’ and I started off super strong. Last Octoberish, the group released the topics for 2018 so I was through and selected the books I wanted to read for each topic. Ultimately so many other books have popped up and I haven’t made this list a huge priority. But now, I am working on it. Gone Girl and One Plus One are both on that list (so are my next books!)

 

WHAT WILL I READ NEXT?

Much to many people’s surprise, I have never read Night by Elie Wiesel. A few weeks ago I requested it from the library and it has finally downloaded to my kindle reader! Same goes for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Instead of reading Maya Angelou’s book with my eyes, I’ve decided to listen to it as an audiobook (which she narrated!!)

 

CHALLENGE UPDATES:

Goodreads Challenge: 41/52 books completed (79%) –> 9 books ahead schedule

Around the Year in 52 Books: 26/52 books completed (50%) –>   6 books behind schedule

A-Z: 15/26 books completed (57.7%)

Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

into the water

Release date: May 2, 2017

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Genre: Fiction/Thriller

Premise: A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.


Thoughts + Feelings:  Into the Water was an average book. It is helping me climb out of my reading slump as I finished it in three nights on the couch. I actually preferred to read it instead of watching a movie that was on television. There was nothing incredible about Hawkin’s writing in this novel. It was just an average, enjoyable book. I have developed a love of thriller novels and while this was definitely an attempt at being a thriller, it just didn’t do it for me.

One of my initial points of apathy for Into the Water was how many characters there were throughout the novel without a lot of introduction. It seems that some names were just thrown in and you read and flipped through the book trying to figure out if they served some type of importance or if they were just there to be there. Some of the main characters such as Helen and Nickie weren’t even granted full story lines, but they played a key role throughout the novel. And then there is Louise Whitaker who has way too much of a story line. It was a challenge to keep track of all of the characters because there was no clear cut language or personality differences between them. There was not a single good character in the entire book. Mark Henderson = bad; Lena and Jules = bad; Robbie Cannon = bad. You need someone to root for in a 400 page book and there was not a single character that I could stand behind as a good person.

Jules Abbott is a bad sister, but so is Nel. I appreciated how their relationship developed throughout the novel and how Jules came to mother Lena in Nel’s absence. Sean is a cop for goodness sake, and so was Patrick. They are just so unlikable and awful.

I feel like there are some novels that do suspense  and mystery very well and others that just flop. That being said there were parts of the novel where I was on the edge of my couch… and other parts where I fell asleep on said couch with my iPad in my hands. Although it was labeled as mystery, Into the Water was relatively predictable. Many of the thriller novels that I’ve read recently do a good job of keeping main points of the plots secret until you’re ready for the big twist, but in this book some of the plot points were given away in early chapters. Maybe you didn’t catch them; that’s okay. If you did catch it; that’s okay for you too!

Into the Water was an easy book to read – the language was smooth and well-written. If you are looking for a huge twist at the novel, this book is not for you (unless you missed it!). You’ll likely be left disappointed (I was). I was missing the stories of the women who died in the drowning pool. The original legend, while later tied back to the point of the story, would’ve been great to read more about. I want to know more about the women who committed suicide or were killed in the Drowning Pool. Give me more of that and less of the grief of a mom.

Other thoughts: I have not read The Girl on the Train which everyone raves about, so this was my first jump into Paula Hawkin’s writing. I am glad that I started with this novel because from reading other reviews and thoughts I have a feeling that I will enjoy The Girl on the Train even more.


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Recommend? Into the Water wasn’t a bad book. I enjoyed reading it and would suggest it to someone who was looking for a book to try who doesn’t mind a lot of miscellaneous characters.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #13

Happy Monday, my friends! It’s supposed to get rainy and dreary here tonight in D.C., which makes it the perfect weather to curl up with a good book (as soon as I get home from work). I need to keep up with reading at least 3 books a month in order to hit my goal of 52 books in the year.

How are your yearly goals going?

Like usual I am participating in….It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? which is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

What did I read last week?

I finished Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi. You can check out the review I posted yesterday. I also got clicker-happy on NetGalley again (whoops) and I’ve requested several more books. I was just granted access to Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall. It’s another Mystery Thriller, which is right up my alley.

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What am I reading now?

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins is one of the books on my Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge. I’m very behind in this challenge, so my next few books are going to be a part of the list. I sat on my local library’s website for a couple hours last week trying to determine how I was going to try and tackle my remaining books. I highly doubt that I’ll be able to finish all 52 books by December 31st, but I’d like to keep tackling down the list.

into the water

What will I read next?

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is also on my list. This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for the last couple years and I’ve only heard good things about it. Last week I posted about books that I hope live up to the hype and many of you told me that it did live up to the excitement around it. So I am hopeful because of you (thank you!)

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Challenge Updates:

Goodreads Challenge: 40/52 books completed (77%) –> 9 books ahead schedule

Around the Year in 52 Books: 25/52 books completed (48%) –>  6 books behind schedule

A-Z: 15/26 books completed (57.7%)

ARC Review: Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of Outrun the Wind.

Release date: November 27, 2018

Publisher: Flux

Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult

Premise: The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.

To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.

She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.

Thoughts + Feelings: As a reader who knows very little (okay nothing) about Greek Mythology, I found the beginning part of this book to be challenging as I felt that I needed to know a lot of background information. I took it upon myself to do a bit of basic research into mythology to at least try to better understand the characters and where they came from. As a new reader into this topic, I wasn’t sure if these were pre-established characters from former pieces OR if they were brand-spanking new into the Greek world. As it turns out, Elizabeth Tammi writes an authors note in the end of the novel explaining many of the first and last questions that I had about a fantasy Greek mythological novel (how exciting!!)

Other than the beginning frustration of not knowing enough about Greek mythology to grasp the book, I really enjoyed the story of Atalanta and Kahina. The writing style was easy-going, but sometimes a challenge to follow. In the beginning there was a huge distinction between characters voices; however, somewhere around the middle Kahina and Atalanta’s voices started to become intertwined and I had to flip back several pages to figure out who was speaking. It’s a possibility that this was on purpose, but nonetheless it happened.

I loved the bad-ass driven women of Outrun the Wind. In a male dominated world, these characters are so strong and distinguished. There is Artemis, Atalanta, Kahina, Isidora and Nikoleta. They’re powerful and honest – they create this feeling of sisterhood. Each is special and unique in their own way and as the reader you root for them to succeed.

“But nobody can beat fate – not even her. Nobody can outrun the wind.”

While the female/female romance is in the book, it is not an overwhelming feature. There is a fair share of friendships, trust, love and honesty throughout Outrun the Wind.

This is Elizabeth Tammi’s debut novel and I am hooked as a fan. Due to her crafty writing, I will be delving more into the fantasy novel world and I look forward to seeing what she publishes next.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

ARC Review: From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

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Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an Advance Reader Copy of From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein.

Release date: July 10, 2018

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

Premise: The compulsively readable, behind-the-scenes memoir that takes readers inside the Obama White House, through the eyes of a young staffer learning the ropes, falling in love, and finding her place in the world.

In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate DC outsider, she joined the elite team who accompanied the president wherever he went, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forged friendships with a tight group of fellow travelers–young men and women who, like her, left their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president. But as she learned the ropes of protocol, Beck became romantically entangled with a consummate DC insider, and suddenly, the political became all too personal. Set against the backdrop of a White House full of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and discovering her voice in the process.

Thoughts + Feelings: From the Corner of the Oval was nothing like I expected it to be. It wasn’t a bad memoir, but it wasn’t a great one either. I think if I had expected most of Beck’s writing to be about her horrible love life, I would’ve rated this much higher than three stars. Dorey-Stein’s writing is hilarious and engaging, but I wanted to know more about her experience working inside the Obama Administration. I loved her insight into Obama’s exercise, the trips around the world and connecting with world leaders and the everyday people. But I could’ve done without the romantic cheating and relationship drama. Even though it contributed to her time in the White House, this is one of the instances where I would’ve appreciated dropping the personal drama at the door when you walk into work.

I honestly wanted to read a book that took a look at the behind the scenes travel of Obama and traveling with the man himself. It was fun to read – it just didn’t leave a lasting impact on my soul like I hoped.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Month in Review: July 2018 + August TBR

I hear a lot of people talking about reading slumps. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a reading slump… but then I just have realize that I am just a busy person. July was an exciting month. I *officially* started my new position at the School of Medicine. I saw Taylor Swift, Weezer, OneRepublic/Zac Brown Band and attended the last Vans Warped Tour (and saw my favorite band: Simple Plan!!). I got all moved into my new apartment, visited the zoo and celebrated Michael’s birthday. All in all, July was a very full month. With all of that going on, I still managed to finish two books! While that is way down from my previous numbers, I still set aside time to read – which is honestly the most important thing.

A lot of people have asked me why I like to read so much. And I think the shortest answer is that it clears my brain from all of the extra stress, but still fills the brain with knowledge.

Books I Read in July

August TBR

I’m setting my goal to read three books this month. One is my last remaining NetGalley ARC, and the other two have been sitting on my bookshelf for at least a year! I’m looking forward to tackling (at least) these three novels.

  • Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi (already started!)
  • The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After: Happiness by Heather Harpham
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I hope you all have a very nice and productive August! Keep an eye out for new topics coming to Arguably Alexis.