July was FULL of reading, and all of it was all over the place in terms of genre. There’s a very good reason for that…

You see, I have this problem with only wanting to read what I like. That’s why I don’t accept books for review, and that’s why I end up re-reading so many books. I’m a mood reader and I read for enjoyment. I’m sure that everyone does this, but I’m really bad about stepping out of my comfort zone. This is why I enjoy The Seasonal Reading Challenge so much. I’ve discussed this challenge in the past, but for a quick refresher, let me provide a quick synopsis of the challenge:

  • It’s hosted over at Goodreads.
  • It’s a contest.
  • It is basically a scavenger hunt for books.
  • There are multiple tasks which require you to read a book that meets that task (i.e. “Read a book written by a German author.”)
  • Each task is assigned points.
  • The more books assigned to the task equates to more points.
  • Sometimes finding a good book to fit the task is really hard.

I enjoy this challenge because it forces me to read new-to-me books that are out of my comfort zone. Check out the books I read in July, and you’ll see what I mean!

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld SteampunkLeviathan by Scott Westerfeld

My first steampunk novel! I really enjoyed this young adult novel, though, I have to admit, I didn’t give a damn about the stuff that was really steampunky. The mechanics of an airship, or the “Clanker” walkers, just wasn’t my bag. But, I really enjoyed the alternate history element of the novel. It’s a re-imagining of the beginnings of WWI, where the war is being fought by the Clankers (Germany and Austria, who make use of mechanical war machines) and the Darwinists (Britain and Russia, who genetically engineer living creatures for warring purposes). The story follows the fictionalized teenage son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who is trying to escape the dangers of Austria and potential assassins. It also follows a Scottish girl who disguises herself as a boy to join the British Air Force. Their paths collide, hijinks ensue, and, of course, the girl is falling in love with the young prince. He, of course, doesn’t know that she’s a girl. Good times!

This was a fun plot, definitely engaging and full of action. I really liked the tough female protagonist and the dialogue throughout the book was excellent!

It also inspired me to buy my own steampunk airman’s cap:

So, I’d say this book was a win!

The Cape by Joe Hill, Zach HowardThe Cape by Jason Ciaramella, Zach Howard, and Joe Hill

I’ve read all of Hill’s Locke & Key graphic novel series, and loved it. I’m hungry for more! So, when I saw The Cape, a graphic novel based on Hill’s short story, for sale at the IDW booth at Comic-Con, I had to get it. And wow. What a dark, twisted little storyline this was. I didn’t expect the events of the story to transpire as they did, but I loved them. It was plenty horrific, which was my cup of tea. I highly recommend this graphic novel–the storyline was solid and gripping, and the illustrations were excellent as well.

Since I’m on a picture kick, this is a picture I love, which was taken shortly after my purchase of The Cape:

The Fellowship of the Ring The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

This one goes in the PtBiB files…I read it for SJ’s readalong! This was my second reading of The Fellowship, and I still loved it very much, though I realized that I preferred The Hobbit more (probably for the lighter tone).

I’m glad I re-read this one though because I seem to be a much better reader than I was during the first time I read it. I got more of the references, noticed more in terms of characterization, and appreciated it more than I did the first time. I highly recommend this classic to ANYONE.

Insurgent by Veronica RothInsurgent by Veronica Roth

This is the follow-up novel to Roth’s Divergent. Just as I felt with the first novel, Insurgent is a very fun, engaging read. It’s as original as most modern young adult dystopian novels can get, which isn’t saying much, but I definitely enjoyed it. I like the main character, Tris, even though it seemed like she made some dumb choices in this novel. Yet, she is a strong female character, and I always appreciate that. On the whole, I recommend the series to anyone looking for a bit of action and a quick read.

Bossypants by Tina FeyBossypants by Tina Fey

I think I read this one in the best way possible–by having Fey read it herself for the audiobook. I really liked this book! I particularly enjoyed the first half of the autobiography, as it was full of Fey’s reminiscences of her childhood and growing up in Pennsylvania. I laughed quite a bit, connected a lot to the awkwardness, and relished it in the same way I relish David Sedaris’ writings. The second half was full of her professional life, which was interesting although not as engaging for me (I am not an avid fan of SNL, and I have never watched an episode of 30 Rock). I particularly enjoyed a chapter that discussed her badass dad. I definitely recommend this book, especially for any super-fans of Fey and her professional ventures. Surprisingly, there was very little said about her movie Mean Girls (which I consider to be her best work), and that was a bit disappointing. Yet, overall, this was a winner.

The Story of Edgar SawtelleThe Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

This one was a “meh”. I can tell already that I will have forgotten having read this book a month from now. That’s how I know it was “meh”.

I picked it up, looking for an adventure-journey story. That’s what the Goodreads synopsis said it was about. But, it ended up being about dogs, training dogs, and living in the woods of Wisconsin. It also was a loose re-telling of Hamlet which didn’t really work for me. I like dogs, and I like slice of life stories. I really like “journey in the woods” stories (that was my favorite part of this book), but that really only constituted a small fraction of the novel.

I dunno. It’s hard for me to be satisfied with contemporary fiction. So, it might just be me. But, meh.

Alright, this is getting a bit long. So, I’m going to conclude here for today, and post the other six mini-reviews tomorrow.

In the meantime, check out the second half of my guest post “Classic Authors: They’re Just Like Us! — J.R.R. Tolkien” over at Snobbery!