July Wrap-Up: A Month of Ups and Downs

Hello, hello, hello, I am here today to bring you my July wrap up (yes, I know its already the 4th of August, don’t judge me!). I read a total of four books this month (not including another three that I have started but not finished yet), which isn’t really as many as I wanted to read but there you go. One thing I discovered this month is that I am absolutely terrible at sticking to TBR lists, because I read a total of one book off of my July TBR that I set at the beginning of the month…. oops. I really have no excuses, other than that I did a lot of book shopping this past month and got distracted by all the nice new books sitting on my shelf (I’m weak, I know). Without further ado, here all the books I read in the month of July! 🙂

call me zeldaTitle: Call Me Zelda

Author: Erika Robuck

Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction

Publishing Info: Published in 2013 by NAL

Number of Pages: 352 pages

My Rating: 4/5

Summary from Goodreads: From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, but those who really knew them saw their inner turmoil. Committed to a Baltimore psychiatric hospital in 1932, Zelda vacillates between lucidity and madness as she fights to forge an identity independent of her famous husband. She discovers a sympathetic ear in her nurse Anna Howard, who finds herself drawn into the Fitzgerald’s tumultuous lives and wonders which of them is the true genius. But in taking greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she ever intended.

Not longevity. Not peace. Not some chloroformed happiness. Not tranquility. They are all such common goals… No. I want audacity. High color. Total independence.

I was incredibly captivated by the premise of this novel, as I love a good bit of Jazz Age historical fiction. Also, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my all-time favorite novels, so I was interested in learning a bit more about the man behind the book. Going into Call Me Zelda, I was sure that it was going to become one of my new favorites, but unfortunately I was let down a little bit. The sections of the novel dealing with Zelda and Scott’s relationship, particularly when it came to writing and art, I really enjoyed. However, I never really connected with the book’s main character, the fictional nurse Anna Howard who takes care of Zelda and ends up becoming her closest friend and confidante. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her as character, because there was nothing in particular about her that especially bothered me, I just thought that compared to the excitement of the Fitzgeralds she seemed a little boring (I apologize if that makes me sound a bit pompous and insensitive). That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend checking it out if you are interested in the Jazz Age or Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald themselves.

gone girl

Title: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

Genre: Adult Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Crime Novel

Publishing Info: Published in 2012 by Broadway Book, a trademark of Random House LLC

Number of Pages: 555 pages

My Rating: 5/5

Summary from Goodreads: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on the edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media– as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents– the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter– but is he really the killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.

I put off reading this book for a long time because there was a lot of hype surrounding it, especially with the release of the movie adaptation last year. Some people absolutely loved it, while others couldn’t even finish it, so I decided it was due time for me to make up my own mind during July, and wow am I glad I did! I won’t say too much about this book, because I think that with psychological thrillers it’s best to go in not knowing a whole lot about the plot, but I will say that the main premise of Gone Girl surrounds the disappearance of Amy Dunne as told through the alternating perspectives of both Amy and her husband Nick. Gone Girl is  packed full of plot twists, unreliable narrators, disturbing characters, and wonderfully written dialogue. This book was all I could think about it until I finished it and, unlike a lot of thrillers I have read in the past, the ending took me completely by surprise (and rather infuriated me, if I have to be completely honest, but that’s a discussion for another time). This was brilliant, so go buy it and read it if you haven’t already! Also, for anyone who has already read this, does the movie follow the book fairly well?

break your heartTitle: Break Your Heart

Author: Rhonda Helms

Genre: New Adult, Romance

Publishing Info: Published in July 2015 by Kensington Books

Number of Pages: 240 pages

My Rating: 1/5

Summary from Goodreads: Fearless and flirtatious, Megan Porter isn’t your typical math major. On the fast track to graduating with honors, a spot in her school’s masters program is nearly guaranteed. But her senior year is quickly turned upside-down by her new thesis advisor, cryptography professor Dr. Nick Muramoto. Young, effortlessly good-looking, and intellectual, he’s far more intriguing than the immature jocks Megan usually goes for. And as she decodes the hidden messages he leaves in the margins of her assignments and in their emails. she realizes this might be more than a schoolgirl crush– especially after they share a passionate kiss. Soon Nick and Megan grow closer, and their different worlds begin to merge.  But if their relationship is discovered, Nick’s career could be over. With Megan’s parents close to campus on business, hiding their love becomes an even greater challenge. Yet keeping secrets will lead Megan to discover hers in just one piece in a much larger puzzle– next to her mother’s stash of painkillers– that may put her carefully laid plans for the future in jeopardy. 

I received this book as an e-galley for review from Netgalley and Kensington Publishing, and unfortunately this ended up being my least favorite book of the month. I wrote a full review of this a few weeks ago, and I will link it here if you want to know more of my feelings about this one. Definitely a bit of a letdown. 😦

americanahTitle: Americanah

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary

Publishing Info: Published in 2013 by Anchor Books, a division of Random House LLC

Number of Pages: 589 pages

My Rating: 5/5

Summary from Goodreads: Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time.  Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion – for each other and for their homeland.

Dear Non-American Black, when you make the choice to come to America, you become black. Stop arguing. Stop saying I’m Jamaican or I’m Ghanaian. America doesn’t care.

This book was beautiful and moving and thought provoking and ugh, it was fantastic. I also reviewed this one, so you can check that out here if you want to know more of my thoughts on Americanah. Possibly my favorite book I read this month.

So that’s it for my July! I’m not setting myself a TBR list for August because I’m going on holiday to England for a majority of the month so I don’t intend on getting much reading done during that time. Any reading I do will probably be during the first week of the month (so this week), and I intend on finishing up the three books I’m currently reading, which are Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory, and The Paradise by Emile Zola. As always, let me know in the comments if you have read any of these books or just tell me what you read during July. Happy reading! 🙂

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