June Book Wrap Up

This wasn’t the greatest reading month for me. Apart from reading a lot less than usual, I also read a couple of books that I didn’t enjoy. Come see what I thought of them!

The Books

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1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

Star Rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts: I listened to this on audiobook again. It swear it keeps getting better! I think my favourite part about the Harry Potter series is the character development. The friendships between the three, mischevious Fred and George, the dislike between Harry and Malfoy. Even the ghosts have so much personality! This is the perfect example of a book with just the right balance between character development and plot.

Synopsis: The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.
And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone, or something, starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects: Harry Potter himself?

2. Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

Star Rating: 3 of 5 stars

My Thoughts: I listened to this story on audiobook because I was looking for a full cast audiobook and this one seemed very interesting. I am a huge animal lover so the idea of a girl who can communicate with animals sounded great, and I’ve also been wanting to read something by Tamora Pierce for some time now.
The story was hit and miss for me. I wasn’t a huge fan of the main narrator, but found out at the end of the story that Tamora herself narrated which is pretty cool (and makes sense as to why I didn’t love the narration…it’s not her regular job). I absolutely loved the narrator for the main character Daine though and I’m pretty sure it’s the same narrator who plays Enna from The Books of Bayern series which I loved. The story itself had a great “backbone” but I found it a bit difficult to follow at times. I think the reason for this might be that several character had multiple names (nicknames, titles, actual names) which made it more difficult to remember who was who. I also think that I deep down I wished that love would bloom between two character but it didn’t (but maybe it will later on in the series)! I enjoyed this enough to be interested in the next story….but given that it’s not available to rent at my library in audiobook format I won’t be getting around to it anytime soon.

Synopsis: Young Daine’s knack with horses gets her a job helping the royal horsemistress drive a herd of ponies to Tortall. Soon it becomes clear that Daine’s talent, as much as she struggles to hide it, is downright magical. Horses and other animals not only obey, but listen to her words. Daine, though, will have to learn to trust humans before she can come to terms with her powers, her past, and herself.

3. Turning: A Year in the Water by J. Jessica Lee

Star Rating: 1 of 5 Star

My Thoughts: This, unfortunately, was not the book for me. I picked it up because the true story of someone swimming through lakes year round sounded super interesting. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I thought the author would be attempting to swim across entire lakes and that there would be a lot of focus on the actual process of swimming, but instead she doesn’t actually swim across them she just visits many different lakes but doesn’t spend much time in the water and she also goes into very little detail about the actual swimming experience. Most of this story was spent describing the hikes she took to get to the lakes or describing the cities in which the lakes reside. Don’t get me wrong, I love nature and go on hikes weekly, but this story got very repetitive and I felt like I was sitting through a German history and geography lesson….which are my two least favourite subjects. I think this would have translated much better as a documentary. I also found the story a bit difficult to follow, because it jumps back and forth from the present to the past quite often. I will say, however, that I did enjoy learning about the author’s childhood and past relationships and I think the author is so amazing for having the courage to swim in the winter time!

Synopsis: Through the heat of summer to the frozen depths of winter, Lee traces her journey swimming through 52 lakes in a single year, swimming through fear and heartbreak to find her place in the world. The water slips over me like cool silk. The intimacy of touch uninhibited, rising around my legs, over my waist, my breasts, up to my collarbone. When I throw back my head and relax, the lake runs into my ears. The sound of it is a muffled roar, the vibration of the body amplified by water, every sound felt as if in slow motion…At the age of 28, Jessica Lee–Canadian, Chinese, and British–finds herself in Berlin. Alone. Lonely, with lowered spirits thanks to some family history and a broken heart, she is ostensibly there to write a thesis. And although that is what she does daily, what increasingly occupies her is swimming. So she makes a decision that she believes will win her back her confidence and independence: she will swim fifty-two of the lakes around Berlin, no matter what the weather or season. She is aware that this particular landscape is not without its own ghosts and history.
This is the story of a beautiful obsession: of the thrill of a still, turquoise lake, of cracking the ice before submerging, of floating under blue skies, of tangled weeds and murkiness, of cool, fresh, spring swimming–of facing past fears of near-drowning, and of breaking free. When she completes her year of swimming, Jessica finds she has new strength–and she has also found friends and gained some understanding of how the landscape both haunts and holds us.

4. Try Not to Breath by Holly Seddon

Star Rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts: This book totally captivated me. It’s the first physiological thriller I’ve ever read and I am very impressed. I’ve shied away in the past from murder mystery type books because dark topics are not really my thing. This book was full of characters who had issues of all sorts, and yet I think it was all handled in a way that it didn’t make me uncomfortable. It was actually pretty interesting reading about all of these people who are so different from myself. The three main characters are Amy, who cheated on her boyfriend and was later brutally attacked, Alex, a semi-functioning alcoholic writer and Jacob, Amy’s old boyfriend who lies to his wife so he can visit Amy in the hospital. I listened to this as an audiobook and was pulled into the story immediately. I had a suspicion about who the attacker was about mid way through, but kept questioning myself if I was right as more information was revealed. I was right in the end, and I also LOVED the role Amy has at the ending!

Synopsis: For fans of Lianne Moriarty, Paula Hawkins, and Tana French, an arresting debut novel of psychological suspense: a young journalist struggles to keep the demons of her alcoholism at bay as she finds her purpose again in tackling the mystery of a shocking headline-making crime, still unsolved after fifteen years. Amy Stevenson was the biggest news story of 1995. Only fifteen years old, Amy disappeared walking home from school one day and was found in a coma three days later. Her attacker was never identified and her angelic face was plastered across every paper and nightly news segment. Fifteen years later, Amy lies in the hospital, surrounded by 90’s Britpop posters, forgotten by the world until reporter Alex Dale stumbles across her while researching a routine story on vegetative patients. Remembering Amy’s story like it was yesterday, she feels compelled to solve the long-cold case. The only problem is, Alex is just as lost as Amy—her alcoholism has cost her everything including her marriage and her professional reputation. In the hopes that finding Amy’s attacker will be her own salvation as well, Alex embarks on a dangerous investigation, suspecting someone close to Amy.

5. The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

Star Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

My Thoughts: This was a refreshing Sci-fi with some interesting medical twists and turns. It follows Jamie, a woman who survives after a deadly virus sweeps through the universe and kills 99.999 percent of humans. The story follows her as she finds fellow survivors, one of which is her ex with whom she has a complicated history. I liked how this story had a nice blend of sci-fi space travel, romance, character building and medical intrigue. I loved that Jamie collected beach glass and was knowledgable about horses (I share the same characteristics). I also liked the variety of charcters (Finn was great!) The ending was satisfying but ended in a way that could totally lead into a sequel, which I would love to see. It was refreshing to see a fully grown woman as the main character as most of the sci-fi books I come across have men or teenagers as the main characters, so this was a nice fresh perspective.

Synopsis: In a breathtakingly vivid and emotionally gripping debut novel, one woman must confront the emptiness in the universe—and in her own heart—when a devastating virus reduces most of humanity to dust and memories. All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit…Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive. Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be…


Cheers,

Jen @ Habitat for Happiness

 

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