July was a good reading month. There wasn’t much I didn’t like, and I got a couple stand-outs. Here’s what I read last month:
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John le Carré
This starts out very slowly. It’s a lot of set-up, and while the reading gets easier as it goes, in the end it just didn’t pay off for me. If this weren’t on the ITW list of must-reads, I’m sure I would have given up on it. It’s my least favorite of the handful of spy novels I’ve read. It’s a much more intellectual story than most, which isn’t a bad thing, but I just couldn’t get interested in the puzzle.
(read my ITW review here: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold)
A Barricade in Hell, by Jaime Lee Moyer
This wasn’t bad, but it felt disappointing after Delia’s Shadow. That book was a perfect blend of history, mystery, and the paranormal. The characters were charming and entertaining, and I enjoyed reading as they navigated all the aspects of the story. This one, on the other hand, I never felt nearly as invested in. It lost some of the magic of the first book.
(read my full review here: A Barricade in Hell)
The Farm, by Tom Rob Smith
I really didn’t know what to expect from this, but Smith is an author I’d been wanting to try ever since his debut. It was slow to draw me in, but once it did, it was a very hard book to put down. It’s written in such a way that the chapter breaks are actually the worst possible places to stop. I know a lot of books try to do this, but this one was really effective. Highly enjoyable, and now I’m even more eager to read his earlier books.
(read my full review here: The Farm)
The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith
It’s impossible not to compare The Silkworm to its predecessor, The Cuckoo’s Calling. I enjoyed Cormoran’s and Robin’s relationship just as much, and while this one seemed to be missing some of the London atmosphere that came across so well in the first book, I liked the mystery more. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the conclusion of The Cuckoo’s Calling, but this one really came together much better in the end.
If I Stay, by Gayle Forman
I don’t read much contemporary YA, but I thought this one was very good. The way that it jumps around, the episodes scattered within the current events, gives a good view of Mia’s life in the way that a more linear narrative never could. And, of course, her family’s love of music was a huge draw for me. Not a new favorite, but I appreciated the perspective it took.
Where She Went, by Gayle Forman
This book is from Adam’s point of view, all about what the events of the previous book did to him. It feels more NA than YA, but still that typical contemporary I just don’t care for… it didn’t have that inexplicability the first book had going for it. I almost DNF’d it early on, but it was such a quick read that it seemed a waste not to find out what happens.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
This book would be great for the number of quotable lines alone. It’s like a love letter to readers everywhere, and in that way it reminds me a lot of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. While this one wasn’t quite as good, I did get pulled into the lives of the characters. I would have liked more, though, especially toward the end of the book. It was hard to keep track of how quickly the years were passing. But overall, it was highly enjoyable.
Landline, by Rainbow Rowell
I wanted to love this, but I couldn’t, for reasons that are hard to explain without getting spoilery. I really liked it as I was reading it. I could feel for Georgie and her not-quite-mid-life crisis. But I didn’t find the conclusion particularly satisfying; I still don’t understand why the characters make the choices they do. I was just hoping for more from Rainbow Rowell’s latest adult novel, especially since Attachments was my favorite of her first three books. (But I still liked this more than Eleanor and Park.)
The Witness, by Sandra Brown
Most of the time I’d rather have my suspense without a romance, but as romantic suspense goes, this one was pretty good. I really loved the way the story unfolds; at first we know nothing about these characters, and slowly the picture forms, filling in the details. There’s quite a bit of ugliness in this book and some parts that were hard to read, but the driving suspense kept me going.
A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
(originally read June 2011)
I probably didn’t need to re-read this one before finishing the trilogy, but I enjoy the story so much, I couldn’t not start from the beginning. I’m not big on urban fantasy or paranormal romance, but this one enchanted me. It wins points right away for starting in a library, and there’s just the right amount of little things throughout that really pull me into this world. I can’t wait to read The Book of Life and learn how it all ends.
What was your favorite book last month?