Happy August! Not to be cliche, but I seriously can’t believe it’s August. I honestly can’t wait for autumn, my favorite season. Knowing the South, though, we’ll get about five seconds of true fall weather sandwiched between long stretches of heat and ice. I’m super excited for fall, though, because of the pile of books I’ve set aside for the chilly weather. Summer, as you’ve probably figured out, is for the light and fluffy reads. Fall is for the paranormal and odd ones.
Here’s what I read in July:
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
My success with Stephanie Perkins continues! This is the second installment in her series which started with Anna and the French Kiss. Lola is not quite a continuation of the same story as Anna, but they exist in the same world with the same characters. That means that yes, the handsome and witty Etienne St. Clair makes an appearance! Ooh la la.
Lola Nolan lives in San Francisco with her two dads, and has a fairly normal life of school, designing costumes, and going to her rocker boyfriend’s shows. Her life becomes complicated, however, when her old almost-boyfriend Cricket Bell returns and moves in next door. Lola must deal with her feelings toward Cricket, as well as her feelings toward her boyfriend Max. This book was just as charming and and lively as Anna and I am currently torn between which one I enjoyed better. The romance was very sweet and realistic, much like the rest of the book. These books are very easy and light, yet not forgettable. I enjoyed this book so much and am thrilled to finish out the trilogy. Four stars.
A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
More than anything else, this book reminds me of Tumblr. Tumblr is OBSESSED with this book for some reason. I was assigned to read it in tenth grade English, but for one reason or another, never got around to reading it entirely. In July I decided to bite the bullet and figure out what attracts people to this classic.
I admit that the environment and “feel” of the time is evident in Fitzgerald’s writing. It’s glittering and fast-paced and decadent, which is what I think he was going for. To a point, that was the main reason I was sticking with it. However, I didn’t find the plot or characters interesting or memorable. Page after page, I kept wondering when my interest would be piqued and I’d really find that point to latch onto the story. That never happened. Seems I’m in the minority with this one, though. I just wasn’t impressed and don’t consider it “the great American novel” by any stretch of the imagination. Three stars.
A book your mom loves: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
My mom has been trying to get me to read this book for years, but it honestly kept slipping my mind. As a South Carolina resident and fond visitor of Savannah, this book is pretty much required reading. I opened it having little idea of what kind of book it was. Even now, having finished it, I find it a little hard to categorize as a book. I also am struggling a little to map out my thoughts of it.
It’s easiest to think of this book as two halves (though not perfectly proportionate halves). One half is a travelogue, in which the author moves to Savannah and encounters the weird and wonderful residents (including a stinking-rich antiques dealer, a drag queen, and a voodoo priestess). This half of the book was my favorite, probably because it was introduced first and was fairly fast-paced and interesting. Then the author introduces the murder mystery aspect of the story, which is the actual focus of the story. The problem for me, though, is that the murder mystery storyline took too long to happen, and it was pretty anticlimactic for me. The book is still worth a read for its irreverent characters and dishy, shimmering writing. Three stars.
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Remember when I said that I couldn’t decide whether I liked Anna and the French Kiss or Lola and the Boy Next Door best? That was before I read the third installment of the series, and now there is no question. Isla blew MY FREAKING MIND.
Like I said, Perkins’ series is not a linear story, but it contains the same characters at the same time in the same world. This one focuses on Isla Martin, who attends the same school Anna Oliphant goes to in Paris. Since she entered the school three years ago, Isla has had a huge crush on Josh, her classmate and son of a US senator. By a twist of fate, the two become friends and eventually a couple. I know, I’m making it sound incredibly generic, but this one really has the simplest story of the three. But I so, so loved it. The characters were incredibly lovable and well-written (including Kurt, Isla’s best friend with high-functioning autism–yay for inclusion!). I also completely loved the romance and the drama. I’d recommend reading the first two, of course, but this one was definitely the crowning jewel of the trilogy. Five stars!
Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
I was on vacation on Siesta Key while I read this, and following Isla with this was a match made in heaven. When I was finished squee-ing with delight at Isla, I transitioned to this book and immediately starting giggling hysterically.
This book was a lot of fun. It’s the diary of Georgia Nicolson, British neurotic teen obsessed with making out (“snogging”). It reminds me of The Princess Diaries, but where that has a more solid storyline, Angus is purely about the laughs. Georgia is incredibly witty and likable. I enjoyed this book, but I don’t know if I enjoyed it enough to continue the series, which spans out to ten books. As funny as the book was, I don’t know if it warrants nine more books of essentially the same story. My TBR (to-be-read) list is currently at over 700 books, so I can’t really justify adding the rest of this series on top of that! Three stars.
A book with a love triangle: Matched by Ally Condie
For as many YA books I own that I haven’t read, I pretty much had my pick of ones with love triangles. Since this one has been collecting dust for a while, I decided to pick it up. The description of it pretty much only talks about the love triangle, but there’s a bit more to the story than that.
Cassia Reyes lives in a dystopian society in which everything is chosen for her, including who she marries. She is Matched with her best friend, Xander…but what seems like a fluke, she is Matched with Ky, another boy in her community. That isn’t the whole focus of the story, but it’s the main “gimmick,” if you will. Despite the negative ratings on Goodreads, I really enjoyed this book. I found the dystopia resonant of The Giver, but it wasn’t annoyingly similar (cough, cough, Divergent). It had several really good emotional scenes as well. I felt the excitement start to dwindle the further along I got, though. The romance was also a touch forced. Still, I will probably continue the trilogy. Four stars.
What did you read in July? I’d love to know.