August books

52. Little Girls – Ronald Malfi
Story – When Laurie’s father dies she returns to her childhood home to deal with his estate, bringing along her husband Ted and her ten year old daughter Susan. Once home, lost memories begin to rise, fuelled by her daughter’s new playmate, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Laurie’s playmate of long ago, a little girl who died…
Thoughts – It was a pretty typical haunted house story in the beginning. Strange noises, growing family discord as everyone is on edge, half remembered horrors and nightmares of childhood… It got better though, after dragging for a while it stepped up the pace and had my skin crawling in several places. Very atmospheric, and has left me with a lingering feeling of unease when I think about it! (Admittedly I did read this during a night I couldn’t sleep and so finished it around two am, which probably added to the freakiness of it!)

51. A Secret Rage – Charlaine Harris
Story – Nickie thinks her life will be much more pleasant when she leaves behind her New York modelling days for the quiet southern college town of Knolls. But caught up in a string of violent crimes, Nickie soon realises that life is anything but easier.
Thoughts – I didn’t enjoy this. It was boring- there was so much pointless filler. Perhaps it was supposed to be evocative of time and place, and it probably was, but I need something else besides a rambling narrative of southern life. Basically there was the crime and then Nickie and another victim team up to solve it, but it’s not as though they do any detective work really.

50. Some Assembly Required – Arin Andrews
Story – Arin, born Emerald, is a transgender American teenager. (This is Arin, boyfriend to Katie, the transgender teen in Rethinking Normal which I read earlier this year). This book talks about Arin’s life as Emerald, and how a tomboy pageant queen ended up coming out as transgender and beginning the transition process to become Arin.
Thoughts – I really enjoyed this. Arin just came across as incredibly likeable and his story was compelling. He was very honest about all aspects of his feelings about his assigned gender and the way he came towards understanding himself and what he needed. I really liked the way he wrote about his relationship with his mother too- she seemed very invested in having a daughter (she had him doing beauty pageants and wouldn’t let Emerald/Arin cut his hair until well into the transition process) and struggled to reach acceptance. She did in the end, and I really liked the way Arin spoke about his acceptance of her disappointment and the way the mother ultimately became such a tremendous support. Transgenderism has been all over the internet this year, and this book would be one I’d recommend for anyone wanting to get some insight.

49. The Tao of Martha – Jen Lancaster
Story – Jen embarks on a year long odyssey of modelling her life, her organisation, her decorating and her entertaining on the wise words of Martha Stewart.
Thoughts – I wish I was Jen Lancaster. Just conceive a project, do it for a year, write a snappy book about it, and success! Unfortunately I have neither her writing nor observational talents, and thus she is a successful author and I am just writing a pointless little book review. What can I say? I liked this. I like Jen’s style and this one was kind of fun. I can’t believe how much money and effort went into prolonging the dog’s life though- I must be really heartless.

48. In the Unlikely Event – Judy Blume
Story – Set in the early 1950s, this is the story of a town in New Jersey called Elizabeth, and how the people of this town coped, or didn’t cope, with a series of three plane crashes that happened within the space of about a year.
Thoughts – This was quite a strange book. Judy Blume grew up in Elizabeth and the three plane crashes actually happened when she was a child. The story follows the lives of a lot of characters, which is possibly a bit of a negative- it takes a while to get into the book when there are different character viewpoints every page or so, and so many characters to remember. But at the same time, I didn’t mind it. Judy Blume is a genius with characterisation, and once I was into it the book was a fast read and I enjoyed it a lot. I really loved the setting, both place and time, and the book made it all seem so vivid and clear. Not a book I’d necessarily recommend to everyone, but one I am really glad I found and read.

47. Less Than Crazy: Living Fully with Bipolar II – Karla Dougherty
Story – Non fiction book about bipolar 2 and what it’s like to live with it, and manage it.
Thoughts – This one was pretty good actually. Sometimes these books depress me, because it’s all too personal now and I don’t want to be this way. It can be depressing to read about and thus have validated some of my biggest fears and concerns. I related to the anxiety discussed in this book, it has always been a kind of conspirator with my depression but this book is the first one to go into so much detail about the way anxiety can be part of the bipolar 2 diagnosis and the hypomanic phase.

46. The Night Stalker – Chris Carter
Story – Women’s bodies are being discovered, their mouths and genitals stitched shut. Even worse, the killer is leaving something inside them… Robert Hunter and his partner Garcia are back on the case.
Thoughts – Like the other books by this writer- gruesome crimes, but a really good police procedural though. I feel like a sick voyeur reading them though.

45. The Crucifix Killer – Chris Carter
Story – Detective Robert Hunter is thrown back into a nightmare when a flayed body is found with a fresh tattoo. The death has all the hallmarks of the Crucifix Killer, but that case was sold and the killer executed.
Thoughts – This is not the first book about this detective that I’ve read, but it is actually the first one in the series. They’re a really solid crime series though, the stories are good, the detective and the supporting characters are well done. My only hesitation on them always comes back to the extremely brutal nature of the crimes involved, because sometimes they really make me feel sick.

44. Royal Wedding – Meg Cabot
Story – A sequel to the Princess Diaries series, where a now grown-up Mia is about to get married to her long-time sweetheart Michael Moscowitz.
Thoughts – I love the Princess Diaries, but I had mixed feelings when I saw this sequel. Part of Mia’s charm had always been her naïve, teen cluelessness, and I didn’t know if a grown-up Mia would lose that. I really thought that the story was going to be something contrived and really unnecessary. However, that didn’t stop me reading it and I’m so glad because I actually really liked it! Mia was an adult, but she was still sweet and all the same old characters were there. Incredibly unrealistic and probably pretty forgettable, it was nonetheless a fun way to spend an afternoon.

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