Book Review · Monthly Wrap-Up

July Reads

Well I definitely got my reading mojo back in July, completing 11 books! (That’s only 3 less than what I read January through June combined!) It’s really surprising since this was a really busy month for us (more on that later). I think part of it was because I read a “boxed set” on my Kindle (a 4 book bundle for the Spellmans series so it was kind of like reading one long book as opposed to 4 separate ones).

But since I read so many books, this is likely going to be a lengthy post, so feel free to skim/skip to books you’re interested — or read the whole thing if you really want to! 🙂

15. Still Alice, Lisa Genova
This has been my favorite book so far this year (and the first book I’ve given 5 stars since December!). I’ll be posting a separate review for it.

16. Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3), Gail Carriger
The next installment in the Finishing School series. Light reads, some plot points typically predictable for sure, but still enjoyable. I read the first two last year but never posted about them. The story is from the steampunk era and I’m kind of fascinated by it just because of how the mechanicals are described and used. Imagine if things like these actually had been available back in that time, how much different would technology be today?

Sophronia is a 16-year-old girl attending finishing school, but it’s actually a school to teach girls how to be intelligencers. Some of it can be kind of funny (talking about how letter openers and fans can be used as weapons, and how to use seduction techniques to control a man to get the information you need, etc.) She is gifted at learning the various aspects of the “finishing school” and always seems to get mixed up in bigger issues, along with her group of friends, and helps solve them.

Oh did I mention that vampires and werewolves are also in the books and considered legal species? (some of them are teachers at the finishing school). It just throws in a supernatural aspect into the mix.

They’re light reads that you can get through quickly. The next book is expected some time this year.

17. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (The Mysterious Benedict Society #3), Trenton Lee Stewart
I didn’t realize this was a trilogy, thought it was a series, but as far as I can tell, there are only 3 (plus a couple of short stories that fit in between the main books). Like the Finishing School series above, I read the first two Mysterious Benedict Society books back in 2013 but never wrote about them.

This is a story about 4 extremely intelligent and gifted children who help a benevolent Mr. Benedict thwart a bad guy (who happens to be Mr. Benedict’s twin brother) from trying to control the world. Definitely a kids/young adult series. What’s great about the series is that it shows kids that it’s OK to be smart and there is always a chance for happy endings (3 of the 4 kids are orphans).

18-21. The Spellmans 1-4
A fun, witty series about a family-owned detective agency. I’m pretty sure I read the first one ages ago at the beginning of college, but am not 100% sure, as I didn’t really remember the content (but had remembered the title).
Izzy Spellman is the main character, in her mid-20s at the start of the series. They family is definitely neurotic and some of the stuff they do/get away with is amazing; I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t happen in real life!

The series follows the family over a few years and all the shenanigans and jobs they take on. Light, fun reads for the most part. I flew through reading these 4, mainly because it was a “boxed set” on my Kindle.

I recommend it if you’re looking for something quick, easy, and fun.

22. Emerald Green (Ruby Red #3), Kerstin Gier
This is the last book in the Ruby Red trilogy. We meet Gwen again, who only has a limited knowledge of the time-traveling group that she was born into. As noted in the first book, it was her cousin everyone thought would get the traveling powers, but it ended up being Gwen instead. The three books cover a very short period of time, each picking up exactly where the other left off.

Gwen knows something is up and has a feeling the head of the time traveling group is up to no good, but can she expose him and thwart his plans?

Another book/series on the lighter side and quick to read. (maybe that’s why I was able to get through so many books this month — they’re mostly “light” reads)

23. The Tea Rose (The Tea Rose #1), Jennifer Donnelly
I really enjoyed this book and was delighted to hear that it was part of a series. The cast of characters is really well-developed. There were definitely twists and turns and the “I can’t believe they just missed each other!” moments (more than a couple) that spans a number of years and 2 continents. There were also some sad, heart-wrenching moments that made you wonder how so many bad things can happen to one good person/family. But the story was a testament to following your dreams and not letting things hold you back (though sometimes you wanted to smack them upside the head for being so stubborn!), despite the fear.

24. The American Lady (The Glassblower Trilogy #2), Petra Durst-Benning
I stumbled upon the second book in this series. The last time I looked it up, it wasn’t available on the Kindle through either library that I’m a member of. So imagine my delight when I discovered I could get it!

I really enjoyed the first book and so was happy to continue the story of the glassblowing family. I think this was better than the first. Well-written and great characters. It picks up about 15 or so years after the first book ended. It was an interesting location change from Germany to New York and Italy. However, I was so upset with the way the story ended. I was not expecting it at all (sign of a good writer, I think). I definitely shed a tear or two (and probably can’t even blame it on pregnancy hormones since I’m generally an emotional person and tend to cry at books all the time). I got so wrapped up in the story and the characters and it broke my heart to read the ending.

I am looking forward to reading the last installment of this trilogy, I’m just waiting for it to become available at the library in Kindle format.

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