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#15BooksofSummer Wrap Up

Ah here we are. The end of summer. I mean, not really, summer still has like three weeks in it. But the part that people love, the long relaxed days spent at the beach are pretty well done. It’s great news for people like me who don’t like summer but this year it means that by the time you read this, I will be back at my desk in the office and my tiny girl will be settling into daycare.

LC cry

But we’re hear to talk books. Specifically to do a wrap up on the abysmal failure that was my attempt at participating in the #15BooksofSummer challenge hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books!

15

I made a list of 15 books and as of my last update, I had finished eight. Annnnd that’s still the case.

But hey, I did read eight books from my shelves that I probably wouldn’t have looked at twice without the challenge. AND I still have a couple of them to review so it’s not a complete waste.

So here are the last three books I read for this challenge:

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. This was a book about Gilbert’s writing process and how if she let her fear of failure stop her, she never would have had anything published. She talks to other writers and creative people about how they make their creativity work for them. The book makes it seem so manageable to have a creative life alongside the one that maybe pays your bills – it’s OK if your writing/painting/embroidery/whatever is just for you. But if you don’t make space for your creative life (if you want one), you will just be sad.

Essentially.

I really got a lot more out of this book than I thought I would. I appreciated her approach to this book, the people she spoke with, how she makes it sound so easy. I ended up giving this book back to my sister because I think it’s one that she will get a lot of out of as well. So not only did I read a book on my metaphorical shelf, I got rid of a book on my physical shelf as well!

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I think I’m probably one of the very last people to read this but just in case: In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest at his current residence, the Hotel Metropole in Moscow. For the next few decades, he lives in a small room in the attic, surrounded by those who work at the hotel and become his friends. His time there is made more bearable by the books he reads and the friendship he forms with the daughter of a diplomat, also staying in the hotel.

I’d been told to read this book for a long time and I kept putting it off because a) I don’t like being told what I should read and b) it took ages for this book to come out in paperback (it’s like I’ve never heard of libraries).

I really loved it though. I loved how philosophical the Count was about life and love and politics. How, by limiting himself to one location, Towles gives himself room to create a layered story with a cast of finely drawn characters. It is an intensely atmospheric novel, elegant and surprisingly emotional. It took me some time to get through it (it is DENSE) but I don’t regret the time I spent with it.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. I tried to read this novel about a young woman recently arrived in New York City and working at one of the city’s premier restaurants before. Being old before my time and having never worked in a restaurant, it seemed like maybe I made a mistake in buying this book that everyone was losing their minds over.

I’m still not convinced that I am the target audience but I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would. The descriptions of food alone were worth it. It made me think of the late great Anthony Bourdain more than once and that’s never a bad thing. But for me, it veered dangerously into girl-obsessed-with-boy-who-will-never-love-her-back territory. There was just enough soul searching on her part to save it but only just. There’s a weird love triangle thing that feels sinister but never amounts to anything and I was left wondering why it was even a part of the story.

Still, I read it and I didn’t hate it which I’m counting as a win.

So there you have it. My 15 Books of Summer project can’t quite be called a success but it wasn’t a complete failure either. Did you participate? How did you do?

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Aud Thoughts: February Faves

My sister Audrey is back to offer up some of the books she’s fallen in love with this month. You think I read a lot – this girl sometimes goes through 2 books a day. The perks of an early shift without a lot going on, I guess. When she gets to Big Magic, know that I made her read it. And now I’m waiting for her to let me borrow it. Also, last time she posted, she had a really hard time replying to comments; as in, she couldn’t. Not sure why, we’re hoping it won’t be an issue this time! Once again, here’s Audrey!

I’d like to think that this month I’ve made some pretty wise decisions with my choice of books. I’ve annihilated any past record of how many books I can read in one month, and actually even within a day. I’ve destroyed my credit card with online book buying binges, and induced my plum points card into a blissful state of over usage. I’ve already compeleted 34% of my reading challenge, 22 books ahead of schedule. This isn’t even an addiction anymore; this has become a new way of life.

And these are the books that I’ve pored over so far. These are the books that make up my Goodreads reading challenge, and I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer was one of the first series I plowed through this month. I had already spent the past few years accumulating the first books and was sneaky enough to get my mom to buy the last one for me for Christmas. I am proud to say that I am now the owner of the complete collection and let me say, I am better for it. I adore fairy tales with a passion, so when you take the princesses from fairy tales and give them mechanical limbs? Sign me up. Not only does this story include action, of course romance, but the humorous and endearing way that the characters interacted with one another made me never want to finish that last page. Thank god Marissa Meyer has enough mercy on us to produce short stories.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown was a book that I was reading and only mildly interested in and then suddenly, I was sucked in. I don’t even remember how it happened. One moment I was reading it, minding my own business and then suddenly I’m on Mars – MARS! – in the middle of a giant lesson of War Strategies with bigger than life beings.  Red Rising is about a boy that loses his wife and then his own life and then comes back to destroy the society that took everything from him. Pretty standard, right? WRONG. He comes back with a fury that is amazing to read. I can genuinely say that I felt smarter for some reason when I read this book (and the second and third one…). This wasn’t some Class of Clans simulation, I felt like a genuine badass when I immersed myself into this book. Please, give it a try. It’s Game of Thrones in Space with a pinch of Hunger Games. It’s amazing! Plus it is now a completed series…annnnd I need someone to discuss it with.

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong did not disappoint.  I am an avid Kelley Armstrong fan. Give me a book by her and I will read it, then I will buy it, then I will buy the entire series (all thirteen of my Otherworld books say hello). Her characters, I always find, to be funny in a dark way (of course), but also hard. They’re badass and they’re realistic and they are never, ever perfect. City of the Lost is about a town full of people hiding from something; abusive partners, the law, some cannibalistic tribe in the woods, you name it. So detective Casey is recruited by the town’s only Sheriff – a very attractive man (Kelley Armstrong knows how to write her men to make me fall in love) – to help solve a couple of pretty gruesome murders. Not teen fiction ladies and gents, but god I loved it. Not that I had any doubts that I wouldn’t.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert came to me at a good time in my life. I’m at the point where I’m trying to figure out my future a bit more and what direction to go in (I think I’ve got this now guys) and this book spoke to me like a kind, funny, aunt. I’m not one to read much non-fiction, but boy, I should start. I felt lighter when I finished reading this book. It helped me understand how creativity is something I need to learn to embrace and incorporate it with my life, working alongside of it instead of trying to let it rule me or vice versa. This book shone a light on the necessity of exercising some precaution and practicality when I think about the decisions I make regarding the art I want to pursue. And I’d just like to thank you Elizbeth Gilbert, wherever you are. So if you’ve got a confused college type in your life, or perhaps anyone who struggles with understanding their creativity perhaps give this to them to read. You don’t even need to wrap it the cover is so pretty!

That’s all I’ll bore you kind people with today, head on over to my Goodreads page to check out a list of what I’ve read so far, there are few that I wouldn’t recommend from that pile. So give it a peek!

Cheers,

Audrey