It was a great month for reading, especially during the last week of July. I was at the beach and spent many hours reading on the balcony or on the beach with my kindle. I'm currently tackling Brandon Sanderson's fantasy epic, Words of Radiance, so I look forward to sharing about that amazing book next month. But for now, I read five very different books in July. Check them out! The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - The Ocean at the End of the Lane is my first Neil Gaiman book. It won't be my last! First, his writing is stunning. He is able to create beautiful pictures with his words without bogging the page down with big words and long sentences. I could read it over and over simply for this reason. With its 7 year-old protagonist and shorter length, the book reads more like a kids' or YA book. (Think Narnia or A Wrinkle in Time) But I loved the imagination of the story and how it addressed themes of sacrifice, loss, and good vs. evil. 6 out of 7 stars
Matt Archer: Redemption by Kendra C. Highley - With Redemption, Kendra Highley did something great–she finishes a young adult series well. The storyline is tied up by the last chapter. Even though you want to see more from the characters, you don't need it. The story is complete.
If you have read the previous Matt Archer novels, Redemption follows the same pattern. It has plenty of action, but humor laced in the dialogue to ease the tension. By book five, you are rooting for the characters so it's tough to lose any of them, but it's an epic battle of good vs. evil, and Highley isn't afraid of characters making the ultimate sacrifice.
I loved this series, and will reread the series again in the future! 7 out of 7 stars
The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello - The Memory Box is a dark psychological thriller with many twists and turns. The author does a fantastic job transporting you into the suburban world of Caroline Thompson. Her writing style is clean and crisp, not bogged down with big words or long sentences, yet her descriptions and details put you into Caroline's World. I did wonder the whole time how Carolina could forget this past life of hers. The author addresses it in a final twist, but that detail was a stumbling block through the book for me. (I may need to reread to make sure I didn't miss something) Finally, even though the plot kept me reading, I didn't enjoy it because I'm not a big fan of dark and twisted stories. But that's a reading preference, not a flaw of the book. If you read and enjoyed Gone Girl, this would be a great book for you. 6 out of 7 stars
Bound by Kate Sparkes - Bound is a fun young adult fantasy debut. I loved the world building in this book–the different lands and especially people. The novel is at many times more like a journey or quest story with an emphasis on the romantic angle. Sparke's character building is very good, and I think this series will get better as it goes forward. 5 out of 7 stars
If I Stay by Gayle Forman - Mia is in a deadly car crash and her life is in shambles. If I Stay is the story of her decision whether to stay in this life or to pass on to the next life. It's an interesting read. I like how the author switched from the present in one chapter to memories of the past in the next. It created a great flow to the story. At times, the story felt a little cheesy, but I'm okay with that, especially in young adult literature. I've heard the second book is better, so I look forward to reading that in the near future. 5 out of 7 stars
Rating System Guide
7 stars = Phenomenal book – one of the best books I’ve read
6 stars = Great book – worth your time to read
5 stars = Solid book, if you like the genre pick it up
4 stars = Okay book, maybe lacking something in the way of language, character development, story
3 stars = I probably should have stopped reading this book.
1 or 2 stars = Serious issues with plot, structure, language, or not a book for me.