August 2017 Wrap-Up

I’m posting this a day early because I’m having one of those sort of unicorn days where I have lots of energy and finished all of my work and chores before 9PM, AND all of the kids are in bed. This legitimately never happens so I’m going to take advantage and tell you about all of the wonderful things I read this month. August was a fantastic month for reading, and unless I finish any more books this evening (which could TOTALLY happen because of said energy and extra time), I’ll have read 15 in total. This was a mix of print and audio as always, but for the first time ever, I’ve also incorporated some graphic novels.

Some of my favorites this month were….

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I’ve already expressed my undying love and devotion here, but I just want to call it out again. The Tearling series is seriously so mind-blowingly good and you should read it and tell all of your friends to read it too. Also, Emma Watson is making a movie out of it, and if that’s not reason enough to get into it now, I just don’t know what is.

 

 

 

61p34qsqgmL._AA300_Neil Gaiman is one of my all-time favorite writers. I’ve loved everything of his that I’ve ever read or listened to (because his voice is just magical) and based on what I know, he seems like a truly awesome person. The View From the Cheap Seats is a collection of his non fiction works, including forwards, speeches, articles and essays. I listened to the audio version, which is read by Neil himself, and it was just so good. He talks a lot about his childhood and the role that books played in his life and it was all just brain candy for me. If you’re a fan, I definitely recommend this one.

 

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I’ve discovered graphic novels and my life may never be the same. I have a whole lot of things I’d like to say about the Saga series, so definitely plan on seeing a review go up as soon as I finish the last few volumes. For now, I just want to call it out and recommend it with great enthusiasm. It’s definitely strange and full of a lot of graphic violence, which isn’t everyone’s bag, but the story is enthralling and the art is absolutely gorgeous.

 

 

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Exit West is one of the most unique and beautiful reading experiences I’ve had in a very long time. I went in knowing almost nothing about it, which I think is the way to go. With that being said, I will not elaborate on why I love it, but know that I recommend it highly, especially in our current climate. On the surface, it tells the story of two lovers in the midst of war, but in Hamid’s capable hands, you’ll find it’s about so much more than that. Check this one out but prepare yourself to feel ALL OF THE FEELS.

 

 

I feel like I could call out basically everything I read this month, as I enjoyed it all so much. Here’s the whole lineup with my ratings if you’re so inclined…

 

Free to Learn – 5 crowns

Heartless – 4 crowns

The Fate of the Tearling – 5 crowns

Eliza and Her Monsters – 4 crowns

A Twist in Time – 4 crowns

Goodbye, Vitamin – 4 crowns

Saga Volume 1 – 4 crowns

The View From the Cheap Seats – 5 crowns

Night of Cake and Puppets – 4 crowns

Exit West – 4 crowns

Rabbit Cake – 4 crowns

Afterlife – 4 crowns

Saga Volume 2 – 5 crowns

Saga Volume 3 – 5 crowns

Saga Volume 4 – 5 crowns

Happy Reading, everyone! If you’ve read any of these, let me know what you think!

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Rabbit Cake – Annie Hartnett

51VXza6M2kLPublisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Publication Date: March 7th, 2017

Listening Length: 7 hours and 7 minutes

From the Jacket:

Elvis Babbitt has a head for the facts: she knows science proves yellow is the happiest color, she knows a healthy male giraffe weighs about 3,000 pounds, and she knows that the naked mole rat is the longest living rodent. She knows she should plan to grieve her mother, who has recently drowned while sleepwalking, for exactly eighteen months. But there are things Elvis doesn’t yet know―like how to keep her sister Lizzie from poisoning herself while sleep-eating or why her father has started wearing her mother’s silk bathrobe around the house. Elvis investigates the strange circumstances of her mother’s death and finds comfort, if not answers, in the people (and animals) of Freedom, Alabama. As hilarious a storyteller as she is heartbreakingly honest, Elvis is a truly original voice in this exploration of grief, family, and the endurance of humor after loss.

Rabbit Cake is a coming of age story about loss and grief, full of humor and quirky characters. Despite the dark subject matter, I found myself giggling out loud and shaking my head in disbelief as I read about the crazy antics of Elvis and her family. This has been compared with Where’d You Go Bernadette, a personal favorite of mine.  And while it’s not quite as much fun as Bernadette, I soon found myself both understanding and agreeing with the comparison.  It was also very reminiscent of Ginny Moon, and I think that is because of the young age of the narrator and the innocent and analytical filter through which she views the world.

Elvis Babbitt is living a relatively normal, happy life in Alabama with her two parents, who she gets along well with, and her older sister, Lizzie, who she is convinced hates her. At ten years old, she’s getting ready to start junior high, when her mother drowns unexpectedly while sleep walking. Elvis navigates through this loss over the next eighteen months, checking each week off of her grief chart as one crazy thing after another happens. Hartnett writes in a unique and beautiful voice, of a family trying to put itself back together in the wake of this unexpected loss.

While I think I would have loved this book in any form, I’m really glad I chose the audio version of this one. Katie Schorr delivers the narration in a simple and straightforward way that completely captures the essence of Elvis. At one point, through her voice, we’re listening to Elvis describe her father, walking around in her mother’s old silk bathrobe, her lipstick on his face, while having a conversation with a parrot who can imitate her mother’s voice. This book is a bag of cats and it’s just so much fun.

Final Thoughts: I cannot recommend Rabbit Cake enough. It’s a quick and enjoyable read that feels light despite the substantial subject matter. Annie Hartnett has one of the most original voices I’ve read in a while, and I cannot wait to see what she comes out with next. This is a truly terrific debut, and I have no doubt I’ll come back to it again. If you’ve read this, please let me know what you thought in the comments!

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Favorite Characters: It’s rare when I love all of the characters in a book, but for this one, I totally do. They are all zany and crazy and wonderful and oh so memorable.

Memorable Quotes:

It’s not easy to label people one illness or another. We’re all different combinations of crazy.

Goodbye, Vitamin – Rachel Khong

51+SgqT67tL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Publication Date: July 11th, 2017

Page Count: 208 (Hardcover)

From the Jacket:

Freshly disengaged from her fiancé and feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves town and arrives at her parents’ home to find that situation more complicated than she’d realized. Her father, a prominent history professor, is losing his memory and is only erratically lucid. Ruth’s mother, meanwhile, is lucidly erratic. But as Ruth’s father’s condition intensifies, the comedy in her situation takes hold, gently transforming her all her grief.
Told in captivating glimpses and drawn from a deep well of insight, humor, and unexpected tenderness, Goodbye, Vitamin pilots through the loss, love, and absurdity of finding one’s footing in this life.

When I initially read the jacket for this book, I considered not starting it. Expecting a sad, despairing narrative about a young woman watching her father slowly decline from Alzheimer’s disease, I was very pleasantly surprised to find Goodbye, Vitamin really isn’t about that at all. Ruth does in fact, return home to care for her father, Howard, who is losing his memory. However, the plot focuses on a year they spend together, while Khong expertly weaves in details from the past. It’s about love and the complexities and dysfunction of families. Written in journal entires that flow together almost like a stream of consciousness, it is impossible to put down. Khong’s prose is so stark and tender and I think it’s the simplicity of it that pulled me in.

This story is so quirky and bittersweet. Ruth’s father keeps a journal of all of the things she says to him as a young child, and these tidbits were my favorite part. The limitless imagination of children is perfectly rendered in these entries and they pulled mightily at my heart strings. Each one a reminder of how fleeting the time is when children are young and full of wonder. Despite being exhausting, and often feeling like each day is just surviving to the end of it, it made me pause and remember to cherish these moments with them.

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Final Thoughts: This book is heartwarming and tender and quirky and even funny, despite the dark subject matter. The overall impression is very bittersweet, but I still enjoyed it immensely. It’s a quick read and the writing is truly terrific. I will definitely pick up more by this author in the future.

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Favorite Characters: The Howard who writes the journal entries

Memorable Quotes:

If I were you is something I’ve never really understood. Why say, “If I were you”? Why say, “If I were you,” when the problem is you’re not me? I wish people would say, “Since I am me, ” followed by whatever advice it is they have.

What imperfect carriers of love we are, and what imperfect givers. That the reasons we can care for one another can have nothing to do with the person cared for. That it has only to do with who we were around that person — what we felt about that person.

At one point Dad emerges, shirtless, into the kitchen, to brew himself coffee. I get my nipples from him, I realize, alarmed.