August Reads

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book 33:
"Into The Water" by Paula Hawkins
Plot: There's something weird about the river that runs through town. Women have gone missing and turned up dead in the water. Most recently, it was Nel Abbott, a single mother. Her sister, Jules, takes in Nel's fifteen-year-old daughter, Lena, who is devastated, convinced Nel's death was a suicide. Jules isn't convinced. Together, the two of them have to try to put the pieces together and find out what really happened to Nel.

Thoughts: I finished this book feeling very "eh." I enjoyed "The Girl On The Train" but had that one spoiled for me about halfway through, so I was looking forward to a new Paula Hawkins thriller where I could actually be in suspense and guess where the storyline would go. Unfortunately, I ended up not really caring. There were a lot of POVs. The first 100 or so pages are just rifling through them all. I enjoy multiple POVs, but this was too many. It resulted in an overload of information and dead-ends, and the constant switching among them all made the storyline feel stagnant. The mystery felt less about the who and more about the why, and I just didn't find myself invested in the book enough to care about it.

Rating: 2/5

Book 34:
"Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine"
by Gail Honeyman
Plot: Eleanor Oliphant doesn't fit in. She doesn't have the best social skills, often avoiding her coworkers, and lives by her routines and carefully planned days. In general, Eleanor keeps to herself. But that changes when she meets Raymond, the IT guy from her office, and, with his help, saves an elderly man who's fallen on the sidewalk. From that point on, Eleanor finds her life suddenly entwined with others', something she has never felt before. Through these new relationships, Eleanor learns about herself and discovers what she's been missing.

Thoughts: Wowie, this book. The summary I had read framed it as a kind of romance, but more than anything, it's a story of self-discovery. Of acceptance, of self-love, of progress. Eleanor Oliphant is on my list of favorite book characters now. In the first half, I thought she was hilarious ("Naturally, I had been about to pour it all over myself but, just in time, had read the warning printed on the paper cup, alerting me to the fact that hot liquids can cause injury. A lucky escape, Eleanor!"). Through the second half, as we learned more about her and her backstory, I loved/admired her even more. Of course, Eleanor being such a lovable character is all due to Honeyman's writing. To create a character with so much personality is impressive. Very, very good. I won't forget this one.
If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn't spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say."
Rating: 5/5

Book 35:
"Eliza and Her Monsters"
by Francesca Zappia
Plot: Eliza Mirk is a nobody at her high school. Online is where she thrives. That's where she works on Monstrous Sea, a famous webcomic she created anonymously. Wallace Warland is a transfer student, entering his senior year at the same time as Eliza, and is a huge fan of Monstrous Sea. As their friendship progresses, Eliza realizes that relationships outside of the computer might be worthwhile after all, but will she be able to maintain her anonymity?

Thoughts: It's times like this that make me happy I have friends with a different taste in books than me. This is such a sweet story. It's the kind of Young Adult book that I really like reading – a realistic portrayal of teenagers and anxiety, the relatability of social awkwardness and some interactions just being easier online. I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for a light, contemporary read.
Nature doesn't care if we throw ourselves against it and break a few bones. Nature doesn't care if we feel so heavy we might sink into the ground and never be able to pull ourselves out again. Nature doesn't care who I am, online or off, and it doesn't mind if I need to lie here for a little while."
Rating: 4/5

Book 36:
"One of Us is Lying" by Karen McManus
Plot: The plot of this book is very straightforward: Five high school students go into detention, but by the time it's over, one of them is dead. Investigators suspect it wasn't an accident, and the other four students are the prime suspects. It doesn't help that the victim, Simon, was the creator of the school's gossip app, giving all four students a motive. Through multiple points of view, the students' secrets are revealed – could one of them be murder?

Thoughts: I read this book in two days, which is the fastest I've gotten through a book in a while. (10+ hours in the car made it easy.) The characters reminded me of "The Breakfast Club," with the clichés of the brain, the beauty, the criminal, the athlete, and the outcast. The plot is completely different, though, obviously. I figured out the ending, but the premise was intriguing enough, and with other twists, that I still enjoyed reading.

Rating: 3/5

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