Reading Wrap-up: August, 2019

I’m surprised how many books I read this month, with how busy I am with school. Most of the books I’ve been reading are in the audiobook format, and I find it astonishing just how many audiobooks I can listen to just while I’m driving to school or doing other things. In total, I read 11 books this month and two short stories. It’s not as much as last month, but for being in college it’s feels amazing to me!

But before I get to my reviews, let’s update my reading resolutions and challenges (I’m only talking about one of my challenges, since I finished the other two last month).

Reading Resolutions

(my original post of my resolutions)

  1. Read 1 Indie book a month: I did do this.
  2. Read 2 short stories: I did do this.
  3. Read more challenging books: I didn’t do this quite as much, but I did finish Les Mis, so that has to count for something.
  4. Reread some books: I didn’t do this. I just didn’t have time.

Reading Challenges

(my original post on my challenges)

  1. Pages Read 2019: I read 4,411 pages this month, bringing my grand total to 45,672 pages this year, out of the 48,000 I need. Less then three thousand pages to go, which should be so easy to complete in three months.

Now onto the book reviews! Like last month, I had no 1 star books, which is great, so we’re going straight to 2 star books.

2 Stars

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel (published 2001)
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka (published 1925)
    • I know so many people love this book, and I’ve even heard it compared to Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky (which is one of my favorite books of all time), which is perhaps why I feel so bad that I didn’t like this story. It is vague, droll, and uninteresting. Even though the plot is vague (why is K being tried? Who are all the random characters who pop up?), I would have enjoyed it more if the characters had been interesting. And though K himself is a well-rounded character, everyone else feels as if they are seen through a lens of mystery. No one feels real. There are some beautiful descriptions, but that’s about all I can say in defense of this book. I’ve heard a lot of people saying there are deeper layers to the book, but only deeper layers does not make for a good novel.
  • Wonton Terror (A Noodle Shop Mystery #4) by Vivien Chen (published Aug. 2019)
    • I enjoyed the first three books of this series, but I didn’t connect well with this one. The mystery felt pretty lack-luster, and none of the characters felt further developed. I liked seeing a little bit more of Lana and her sister together, but those few scenes were the only redeeming quality of this story. Like so many mystery series, it seems to have fallen into the hole of sameness with all the other books in the series.
  • The Line That Held Us by David Joy (published Aug. 2018)
    • I was immediately pulled into this book. I loved the morality questions and the friendship between Darl and Calvin. It was the realism of both the setting and the characters which I loved. However, the book quickly devolves into a thriller/horror plot with unexplainable character actions and things which seem to happen just to increase the drama and intensity. The book could have been an interesting commentary on the idea of how evil consumes us if we let it, similar to Crime and Punishment, but instead this book devolves into a typical madman story with unrealistic characters and a thoroughly unsatisfying ending.
  • The Ghost of Marlow House (Haunting Danielle #1) by Bobbie Holmes and Anna J. McIntyre (published 2014) (indie)
    • There are some things to love about this book, even if it is a little hard to categorize (is it an urban fantasy, or a cozy mystery, or a supernatural romance…nobody knows). Walt is a hilarious character to read, lighthearted and old-fashioned. I wasn’t as huge a fan of Danielle, as her character felt a bit bland, but I didn’t hate her. My biggest complaint with the story was it was so slow. It took my over two weeks to read (I usually finish a book in three or four days), simply because I kept putting it down and never feeling the need to pick it back up. The beginning was intriguing, but the majority of the rest was both predictable and unsatisfying. The mystery didn’t keep the stakes high enough for me to really care, either about what happened in the modern era or ninety years before. And the ending was so disappointing. I kept waiting for a good twist, or new direction the story might go, but instead it was predictable. In the end, this book has potential, but it wasn’t interesting enough for me to continue on in the series.

3 Stars

  • “The Quest of Iranon” by H.P. Lovecraft (published 1935) (short story)
    • What is it with Lovecraft writing stories about people wandering into dark cities? In this one, at least, the prince goes back to his own home. This story feels like reading a Greek or Roman myth, as you can see with many of Lovecraft’s stories. His writing is certainly inspired by old mythology. It follows a quest-type journey, as Iranon hopes to returns home after going through other cities which are not as beautiful as his city.
  • Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo (published 2017)

4 Stars

  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (published 1862)
  • A Midsummer’s Equation (Detective Galileo #6) by Keigo Higashino (published 2011)
    • Higashino delivers again with this interesting psychological mystery. I absolutely loved it, though I’ll admit I saw a couple of the twists coming–mayhaps Galileo is rubbing off on me. So few mysteries actually take the time to delve deep into human nature and examine different philosophies, and yet this book feels equally an examination of the world as it does a fun murder mystery.
  • Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots by Scott Hahn (published 2009)
    • If you are an educated Catholic, this feels more like a review than new information. However, it does break down the origins of certain Catholic beliefs (like Baptism and the Rosary) which stand at the core of this particular religion. If you are interested in learning about the basics of Catholic customs and are unfamiliar with them, I could easily recommend this book. It is a light, quick read, and gets right to the point without much flowery language.
  • The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (published 1925)
  • “The Moon-Bog” by H. P. Lovecraft (published 1926) (short story)
    • It’s strange to learn that Lovecraft wrote this story quickly, because it feels less meandering than many of Lovecraft’s stories and instead sticks mostly to a dark, creepy story of a man who observes horrible things in a bog at night. Maybe some people do work well with deadlines. Anyway, it is a creepy story and one which builds well on little hints in the beginning which come back around by the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

5 Stars

Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith
  • Reasons to Believe by Scott Hahn (published 2007)
    • I really appreciate how Hahn breaks down truly complex issues in the Catholic faith into understandable, basic pieces. He both argues the ideas of faith from a Christian perspective (quoting the Bible) as well as from a rational and logical perspective. This is a simple and quick read (I got through it in about two hours), and it emphasizes the idea of being open to new ideas and listening to others’ ideas. Don’t think just because you are a Catholic that you should shut yourself away from ideas which counter yours.

There you have it! This month was a surprisingly good month for reading, considering how busy I was. I have a lot of fall and halloween-themed books to read next month and I’m hoping to really get in the mood for that spooky time of year.

Have you read any of these books? If so, did you agree with my opinion on them, or did your thoughts differ? If not, do any of these look interesting? Also, let me know what some of your favorite Halloween books are to read in October! I’m currently looking for books to read next month. As always, let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

4 thoughts on “Reading Wrap-up: August, 2019

  1. A great reading month! I love reading on religion, too and Reasons to Believe does sound like a book I would enjoy. Then, though, it physically hurts me to see The Trial being given two stars 🙂 I thought the vagueness of the plot, and unreal secondary characters and setting unreal were the exact point of the book since otherwise it will not be Kafka anymore. He is unlike anyone else out there, but definitely not for everyone. Have you read his novella The Metamorphosis? People either love it or don’t get it at all and dislike it. I think the thing with Kafka is not to question things much, it is like a nightmare coming true – and he says we should just believe in some things happening like we do if we were in a dream.

    Liked by 2 people

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