Wednesday, June 28, 2017

10 Intriguing July 2017 Book Releases

It's nearly the start of July -- the halfway point of the year! I've had a pretty mediocre (sometimes abysmal) reading year and I'm going to avoid new releases for the next month or two and focus on older books I'm more sure to love, but of course I've still been keeping track of what's coming out. July is a pretty lean month for book releases -- at least, books I'm interested in. A ton of good-looking ones came out in June, and I've already noted over a dozen that come out in August, but July... meh. I think the book from the list I'm most likely to read anytime soon is the non-fiction pick "Beautiful Bodies." I'm super-intrigued by "Gork, the Teenage Dragon," but it seems like it could be either amazing or horrific, and I'll definitely be waiting to see some reviews first.

What new books are you looking forward to in July?

intriguing july 2017 book releases


We Shall Not All Sleep by Estep Nagy: The entangled pasts of two ruling class New England families come to light over three summer days on an island in Maine in this extraordinary debut novel. 1964. The Hillsingers and the Quicks have shared the small Maine island of Seven for generations. Though technically family they do not mix. Set during three summer days, Estep Nagy’s debut novel moves among the communities of Seven as longstanding tensions become tactical face-offs where anything is fair game for ammunition. "We Shall Not All Sleep" is a richly told story of American class, family, and manipulation -- a compelling portrait of a unique and privileged WASP stronghold on the brink of dissolution.


Gork the Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson: Fans of Harry Potter and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will relish this teenage dragon's spellbinding love story filled with bighearted humor and imagination. Gork isn't like the other dragons at WarWings Military Academy. He has a gigantic heart, two-inch horns, and an occasional problem with fainting. His nickname is Weak Sauce and his Will to Power ranking is Snacklicious--the lowest in his class. But Gork is determined not to let any of this hold him back as he embarks on the most important mission of his life: tonight, on the eve of his high school graduation, he must ask a female dragon to be his queen. If she says yes, they'll go off to conquer a foreign planet together. If she says no, Gork becomes a slave. It is Gork's biggest perceived weakness, his huge heart, that will guide him through his epic quest and help him reach his ultimate destination: planet Earth. A love story, a fantasy, a coming-of-age story, "Gork the Teenage Dragon" is a wildly comic, beautifully imagined, and deeply heartfelt debut novel that shows us just how human a dragon can be.

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons: Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor -- someone, or something, to love. In arresting and unsettling prose, we watch Thandi’s life unfold, from losing her mother and learning to live without the person who has most profoundly shaped her existence, to her own encounters with romance and unexpected motherhood. Through exquisite and emotional vignettes, Clemmons creates a stunning portrayal of what it means to choose to live, after loss.

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave: Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream -- she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor. And then she gets hacked. When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home -- and the estranged sister -- she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life. In a world where celebrity is a careful construct, "Hello, Sunshine" is a compelling, funny, and evocative novel about what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age.

When the English Fall by David Williams: A riveting and unexpected novel that questions whether a peaceful and nonviolent community can survive when civilization falls apart. When a catastrophic solar storm brings about the collapse of modern civilization, an Amish community in Pennsylvania is caught up in the devastating aftermath. With their stocked larders and stores of supplies, the Amish are unaffected at first. But as the English (the Amish name for all non-Amish people) become more and more desperate, they begin to invade Amish farms, taking whatever they want and unleashing unthinkable violence on the peaceable community. Seen through the diary of an Amish farmer named Jacob as he tries to protect his family and his way of life, When the English Fall examines the idea of peace in the face of deadly chaos: Should members of a nonviolent society defy their beliefs and take up arms to defend themselves? And if they don’t, can they survive?


Less by Andrew Sean Greer: Who says you can't run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes -- it would be too awkward -- and you can't say no -- it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world. Question: How do you arrange to skip town? Answer: You accept them all. What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last. Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, "Less" is, above all, a love story.


Beautiful Bodies by Kimberly Rae Miller: A brave and witty examination of how and why we try to control our bodies with food. Like most people, Kimberly Rae Miller does not have the perfect body, but that hasn’t stopped her from trying. And trying. And trying some more. But what is the ideal body? Knowing she’s far from alone in this struggle, Kim sets out to find the objective definition of this seemingly unattainable level of perfection. While on a fascinating and hilarious journey through time that takes her from obese Paleolithic cavewomen, to the bland menus that Drs. Graham and Kellogg prescribed to promote good morals in addition to good health, to the binge-drinking-prone regimen that caused William the Conqueror’s body to explode at his own funeral, Kim ends up discovering a lot about her relationship with her own body. Warm, funny, and brutally honest, "Beautiful Bodies" is a blend of memoir and social history that will speak to anyone who’s ever been caught in a power struggle with his or her own body... in other words, just about everyone.

The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman: On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn't allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She's never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it's for Lilly's own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time -- and sold to the circus sideshow. More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents' estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl. At first, The Barlow Brothers' Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus's biggest attraction...until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly's fate and her family's shocking betrayal, and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last.

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw: Meet Greta Helsing, fast-talking doctor to the undead. Keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well in London has been her family's specialty for generations. Greta Helsing inherited the family's highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. In her consulting rooms, Dr. Helsing treats the undead for a host of ills -- vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. Although barely making ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta's been groomed for since childhood. Until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.

Bone White by Ronald Malfi: A landscape of frozen darkness punctuated by grim, gray days. The feeling like a buzz in your teeth. The scrape of bone on bone. Paul Gallo saw the report on the news: a mass murderer leading police to his victims' graves, in remote Dread's Hand, Alaska. It's not even a town; more like the bad memory of a town. The same bit of wilderness where his twin brother went missing a year ago. As the bodies are exhumed, Paul travels to Alaska to get closure and put his grief to rest. But the mystery is only beginning. What Paul finds are superstitious locals who talk of the devil stealing souls, and a line of wooden crosses to keep what's in the woods from coming out. He finds no closure because no one can explain exactly what happened to Danny. And the more he searches for answers, the more he finds himself becoming part of the mystery.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Best Books I've Read So Far in 2017

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is the 10 best books we've read so far in 2017, but I'm sorry to say it's been a pretty mediocre reading year for me -- not a single 5-star book in the bunch! I'm currently taking a break from new releases and focusing on backlist (and my own books!) and I'm hoping things will get better from here.

What's the best book you've read so far this year?

best books of 2017 so far

Books read: 45

Fiction: 37
Non-fiction: 8

2017 releases: 24
2016 releases: 12
Pre-2016 releases: 9

4.5 stars:
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab.
The Fire By Night by Teresa Messineo

4 stars (in no particular order):
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
All Our Wrong Todays Elan Mastai
The Dry by Jane Harper
My Last Continent by Midge Raymond
March volumes 1-2 by Congressman John Lewis
The Likeness by Tana French
A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn
Saga volumes 6-7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday Musings

IMG_5243
Puppy class graduation.

My week: Jarrod and I are finally over our colds, and the antibiotics got rid of Alohi's kennel cough -- we're a cough-free household! I got my first-ever facial Thursday night and it was fabulous! I think I'm going to make it a regular monthly treat (the massage alone was worth it!). And we went to the beach Sunday afternoon, which was nice.

Work was busy for me with summer reading program, and in exciting news I'm going to be helping out with the library's 4th and 5th grade book club from now on. I'm glad to be getting some more experience working with kids -- and the best part is I get to come up with the crafts! The first book is "Walk Two Moons" by Sharon Creech and I think I'm going to have the kids make dreamcatchers.

Reading: Not a fabulous reading week for me. I finally finished "The Likeness," the second book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, on Friday night. It got off to a slow start, though it did eventually pick up and I was totally hooked for a while, but then dragged on a bit toward the end and I actually did a bit of skimming. This seems to be the unanimous favorite of the series so I fully expected to give it 5 stars (what would have been my long-overdue first of the year) but I felt it only earned 4 stars.

I also read some more of "Bring Back the King: The New Science of De-Extinction," which I started a couple weeks ago and put aside in favor of some fiction. It's a fun, interesting look at the possibility of de-extincting extinct creatures. And I started "News of the World" by Paulette Jiles at the beach yesterday.


Watching: I'm continuing to watch "World of Dance" on Tuesday nights, and I started watching the new season of one of my favorite shows, Masterpiece Mystery's "Grantchester." Movie-wise we watched "Sully," "Keeping up with the Joneses" and "The Space Between Us" this week and all were decent, though none were rave-worthy.

Listening to: "Wish I Knew You" by The Revivalists.


Making: A snuffle-mat for Alohi! Have you heard of these stimulating dog toys? Basically it's a fluffy mat that you stuff treats down in and the dog uses her nose to sniff them out. I saw a pricey one on Amazon, which inspired me to look up DIY directions. I tied strips of fleece to a dish drainer mat that had a grid of holes in it and it came out pretty well!

IMG_5257

Blogging: (totally slacking off blog-wise lately!)
Monday Musings
16 Series I Want to Start

Looking forward to: Alohi's getting spayed on Friday and I'll be glad to have that behind us. Also, 4th of July! Since Alohi will be recovering we probably won't be doing anything major, but we have a fabulous view of fireworks across the island right from our house (even better, our roof) and fireworks are one of my favorite parts of summer.

*I'm linking up with Kathryn of Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

16 Book Series I Want To Start

Ah, book series. I love them! I love building on a story book by book, I love getting to know the characters and setting so well it just feels comfortable -- like you're catching up with old friends -- when you open the cover to the next installment. And because I love series so much, I can never manage to start all the series I want to, or keep up with the ones I've started. Sad news: in 2014 we did a TTT about newer series we wanted to read (here's mine) and I've since only managed to start one! Have you read any of the series on my list?

(Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.)

series collage

In no particular order:

1. Wayfarers sci-fi series by Becky Chambers
2. The Kingkiller Chronicles fantasy series by Patrick Rothfuss
3. Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak mystery series by Ausma Zehanat Khan
4. Harry Hole mystery series by Jo Nesbo
5. A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series by George R.R. Martin
6. Her Royal Spyness historical mystery series by Rhys Bowen
7. Pendergast thriller series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
8. Farseer Trilogy fantasy series by Robin Hobb
9. The Stormlight Archive fantasy series Brandon Sanderson
10. The Checquy Files fantasy series by Daniel O'Malley
11. Lady Julia Grey historical mystery series by Deanna Raybourn
12. The Century Trilogy historical fiction series by Ken Follett
13. Charley Davidson urban fantasy series by Darynda Jones
14. The Queen of the Tearling fantasy series by Erika Johansen
15. Hercule Poirot mystery series by Agatha Christie
16. The Chronicles of St. Mary's fantasy series by Jodi Taylor

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday Musings

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My week: Ah, what a week. Jarrod and I spent the week battling this mysterious cold(?) that refused to go away -- though happily we are finally both on the upswing. I actually left work early on Friday because I was coughing so hard -- while helping patrons -- that my eyes were watering. Alohi's kennel cough is much better, but we still took her to the vet at the end of last week to get her some antibiotics. Hopefully soon we'll be a cough-free household!

In other news, it was our 9-year anniversary last week! We don't make a big fuss over anniversaries but we did go out to dinner. We're thinking we'll take a fun trip next year for our 10-year. I also got a haircut and highlights (I had let all my highlights grow out, but now I'm starting to get grays -- sparkles, the girl who did my hair called them -- popping up) and we went to the beach on Saturday.

Reading: I finished and really enjoyed "My Last Continent" by Midge Raymond, which is set in Antarctica with a penguin researcher for a protagonist! I thought the author came up with a unique way to utilize the setting and I would recommend it to anyone craving a cold-weather book!

Then, though, I floundered around a bit book-wise. I'm still reading "Bring Back the King: The New Science of De-Extinction," which is short and fun and far from being a dry non-fiction tome, but it's not exactly action-packed either and it's not what I'm in the mood for right now. I tried to start "The Anubis Gates," a time travel book a friend loaned me, but I couldn't get into it, try as I might (though I will pick it back up soon).

I figured with being sick and tired and sometimes miserable, what I really needed was an unputdownable page-turner, so on Saturday I grabbed "The Likeness" by Tana French off my bookshelf (yay for reading my own books!). It's pretty engrossing so far!



Watching: I've continued to watch "The White Queen" on the DVR and it's soooo good! I only have two episodes left and I'll be sad when it's over. I'm also still hooked on that "World of Dance" competition show I stumbled upon a couple weeks ago on NBC. DVD-wise we watched "Why Him?" with James Franco and Bryan Cranston, and it was better than I expected -- I LOLed a whole bunch of times! We also tried to watch "Silence," but it was both appallingly depressing and a total snooze-fest, as well as waaaay too long. I gave up on it after an hour.

Buying: I ordered myself a t-shirt that proclaims I'm a "Hogwarts Graduate"!

Eating: We went to Outback for our anniversary dinner and it was delicious! We had cocktails, a bloomin' onion, yummy steaks, and they brought us out a free sundae, which was a lovely surprise. We definitely waddled out of there, but it was a very tasty dinner! (And we had some giftcards to use up, so it was almost free!)

Blogging:
Monday Musings
My Summer 2017 Reading List

Looking forward to: Hopefully going to see "Wonder Woman" at the theater soon. I keep hearing how fantastic it is! And we haven't been to see a movie since "Fantastic Beasts." I had desperately wanted to see "Beauty and the Beast," and then "Guardians of the Galaxy 2," and neither worked out between Jarrod's work schedule and the puppy and various other things. "Wonder Woman," I'm coming for you!

*I'm linking up with Kathryn of Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My Summer 2017 Reading List

The official first day of summer is a week away, but to me summer encompasses all of June, July and August, and this seemed a fitting time to share my summer reading plans! In mid-May I made a radical decision to ban myself from requesting or checking out new releases from the library so I could focus on backlist and books I own. I'm still catching up on library books I already had out, but the rest of June and probably July will be mostly devoted to older books. The year's nearly half over and I have yet to read a 5-star book, but I know I'm going to love many of the books on my list.

I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish to share my list. What will you be reading this summer?

summer reading list 2017

1-3. The Red Rising series by Pierce Brown: I read and absolutely loved the first two books back in 2015. "Red Rising" is definitely the book I recommend the most. But I have yet to read the trilogy-ender, "Morning Star" (blame our move from Ohio to Hawaii last year) and, after talking to a friend who I convinced to read the series and who, of course, read "Morning Star" before me, I realized I've forgotten a lot of the finer details of the first two books. So, in nearly unprecedented fashion, I am going to re-read a book! Two, actually! And then I'm finally going to dive into "Morning Star." Yay!

4. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: I ordered this a couple months ago from Book Depository because my library doesn't have it, and plus this way I get the gorgeous U.K. cover. I'm really, really looking forward to starting this well-liked sci-fi series!

5. One Summer by Bill Bryson: This book has been on my to-read list since it first came out in 2013! I love Bill Bryson anyway, and this one details a whole bunch of interesting things that happened during the summer of 1927. Fittingly, I'll be reading it during summer 90 years later!

6. The Likeness by Tana French: I read and loved "In the Woods," the first Dublin Murder Squad book, a couple years ago and I've been meaning to read book two ever since. A friend even bought a copy for me and it's just been languishing on my shelf! I'm excited to finally get to it, though. It seems to be everyone's favorite book of the series.

7. The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny: Another mystery series I started and enjoyed and have neglected to continue. This will be my third book in Penny's Inspector Armand Gamache series, set in a tiny town in Quebec.

8. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie: I've been meaning to read something by Agatha Christie for at least a decade. The time has finally come! And then I'll be ready to see the movie in November.

9. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik: I read the first book in the Temeraire series (set in an alternate history during the Napoleonic Wars in which dragons are used in battle) last summer and have yet to read the next book. (Are you sensing a trend here about my relationship with series?!)

10. Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole: A WWII novel told in letters is right up my alley, so why has it taken me so long to read this?! My Broke and Bookish Secret Santa bought it for me last Christmas so now I have no excuse.

11. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson: Another book I'm fully expecting to love, and another gift from my Broke and Bookish Secret Santa (ahem, the previous year).

12. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: I read one Kristin Hannah book and hated it (it involved the military and I took exception with her portrayal) but I'm finally giving in and reading "The Nightingale." Everybody loves it, and I'm hoping to as well.

13. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers: A friend from work loaned me this time travel book (back to 1810 England) and she's about to move away, so I have to get it read before their movers come!

14. My Last Continent by Midge Raymond: I have a total soft spot for books set in cold places, and this one takes place in Antarctica! It came out last June, so it's straddling the line between being backlist and new-ish.

15. News of the World by Paulette Jiles: I discovered this book during the voting for the Goodreads Choice Awards last year and couldn't believe it slipped under my radar. It sounds like a great little historical fiction novel, and Tom Hanks is set to star in the movie version.

16. The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandra Marzano-Lesnevich: Gotta have at least one new book in the mix! Plus it meets my neverending goal of trying to read more non-fiction.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday Musings

alohi harbor collage

My week: It was an ok week here. Work was busy with the start of summer reading program, and Jarrod and I are both battling colds. Plus Alohi got kennel cough and we had to cancel her first-ever playdate and miss puppy class this week. But we did take her for a walk along the harbor and I think she had fun getting to explore a new place and see a bunch of people. We're also working on teaching her some new tricks to keep her mind working -- she's too smart for her own good! Last week we started learning roll over and turn. Sunday afternoon Jarrod and I had planned to go to the beach but we just weren't up for it, so we stayed home and coughed as a family.

Reading: It was a pretty slow reading week for me. Monday night was devoted to skimming "Maybe in Another Life" for book club at work, and then a few other evenings I (gasp) watched TV instead of reading. More on that below. I did something I rarely do this week: read two books at once! I started and finished (thanks to our lazy Sunday) "The Queen of Blood" by Sarah Beth Durst, the first in a new fantasy series (I gave it 4 stars and I'll definitely read the next book!). I'm also reading a fun and fascinating non-fiction book about the ins and outs of "de-extincting" extinct creatures, "Bring Back the King." Just last night I started "My Last Continent" by Midge Raymond, which is set in Antarctica -- I have such a soft spot for cold-weather books. After that I'll only have one more library book to go ("News of the World" by Paulette Jiles) before I can finally start my summer goal of reading backlist and my own books -- no (or maybe just a very few) new releases for at least a month.


Watching: "The White Princess," and oh my gosh, I love it! I thoroughly enjoyed "The White Queen," so I figured I'd like the sequel just as well. Jarrod had to work a couple nights this week, so I did some binging and watched five episodes. Movie-wise I didn't fare so well this week; we watched DVDs of "Gold" and "Silence" and both completely failed to hold my interest. I also couldn't get over Matthew McConaughey's baldness and belly paunch in "Gold." I get trying to make actors look more like the real people they're portraying, but this was just distracting.

Eating: Blueberries! The grocery store had them on sale this week, so I sprinkled some onto Alohi's kibble and made blueberry pancakes for myself.

Blogging:
Monday Musings
The Last 10 Non-Fiction Books I Added To My To-Read List
Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
I Judge Books By Their Covers: Golden Hill
Book Review: Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (My 1,000th post! I didn't even realize it until I was putting this post together.)

Looking forward to: "Orphan Black" started back this weekend! We recorded it on the DVR and will watch it this week.

*I'm linking up with Kathryn of Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
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