JUNE | Summer Book Challenge Check-In

This past month, I participated in Megan's Semi-Charmed Book Challenge, and for the first time ever, I can confidently say- I. Am. Killing. It. I finished 10/12 of my challenge books and am well on my way to finishing the last two within the next few days! For a girl who has never even come close to finishing a blogging book challenge, the fact that I wracked up 170 points in a month has me on a serious bookworm high!

So in summary, here's what I read for the challenge (plus a few bonus reads at the end):

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages longThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (312 pages, )
This book was recommended to me as a good audiobook to listen to. I loved it- the perfect combination of spooky, clever, and fun. My only criticism is that the ending felt a little drawn out, but the rest of the book was so wonderful and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the perfectly fitting music that aided in transitioning between chapters was actually Bela Fleck.
Super fun audiobook read and I'm so glad I gave it a shot!

10 points: Read a collection of short stories or essaysWhen You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (323 pages, )
Didn't love it, didn't hate it. Probably my least favorite of Sedaris'.

10 points: Read an adult fiction book written by an author who normally writes books for children | In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (397 pages, )
I couldn't bring myself to give this less than three stars, because up until now I've always thought Judy Blume was infallible. The book was well-researched, and no one can say Judy Blume doesn't know how to write, but I just plain ol' didn't enjoy this story at all. There didn't seem to be any kind of climax, but the book read like one long plateau. Not to mention Blume used alternating POVs, which in and of itself is not problematic, except that she alternated between about 20 different characters and by the end of the book I still couldn't keep everyone straight!
If you're a Blume fan, like me, you may want to skip this one. 

15 points: Read a book set in Appalachia | A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (Currently reading)

15 points: Don’t judge a book by its cover! Read a book with a cover you personally find unappealing. | Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin (Currently reading)

20 points: Read a book that you have previously only seen the film (movie) of | Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (322 pages, )
Moderately better than the movie (which I watched first), but I still came away with the same feeling that with the exception of Ethan, none of the main characters were remotely likable.

25 points: Read a book with a punny title. The title can be a play on another book title, movie title or a common expression. Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle (160 pages, )
I borrowed this in e-book format, but would absolutely go out and buy the hardcover version in an instant. This cocktail manifesto is delightfully punny with each recipe paying tribute to a literary classic. The Lord of the Mai-Tais sounded particularly scrumptious and I would highly recommend for bookworms and booze hounds alike.

30 points: Read a microhistory | Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (320 pages, )
This was a 3.5 star read for me. It was well-researched and I appreciated that the author injected some humor to "liven" up a morbid subject. I'm not someone particularly squeamish, nor am I all that strong-stomached, but there were a couple instances that made me a little queasy, particularly in regard to the chapter on human decay. I liked that this made me think about my own wishes for my bodily remains, but this wasn't a book I would normally pick up and I definitely wouldn't read it again.

30 points: Read one book with a good word in the title, and one with a bad word | First Comes Love by Emily Giffin (400 pages, ★) 
I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 
This was more of a 4.5 star read, but I was just so happy for the redemption that Giffin achieved after the horror that was The One and Only. This book reminded me of why I love her writing in the first place- as someone else wrote, it is "chick lit with substance." I love that she writes about messy, flawed, imperfect relationships, yet always still manages to delight her readers with the happy ending three so desire. This book following the lives of two sisters after a family tragedy was no exception.

and A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages by Kristin Chenoweth (232 pages, ★)
I wasn't very familiar with Chenoweth's work aside from a guest starring role on Glee, but a friend recommended this as a great audiobook and I'm so glad I took the recommendation. She is the girl you love to love- sweet, sunshiney and completely deserving of all the success she's achieved. I would recommend this audiobook (narrated by the author) to her fans, and soon-to-be fans alike!

40 points: Read two books that contain the same word in the title, but once in the singular and once in the plural | The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant  (360 pages, 
I loved reading about Addy's life growing up in Boston in the 1910-1920's and listening to the audiobook felt like sitting down with my own Grandma as she shared stories of her life.
and The Girls by Emma Cline (368 pages, )
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 
I didn't know what I was reading when I picked this book, just that it was supposed to be the book to read this summer. Had I known, I wouldn't have read it because it was much too dark for my taste. The story revolves around a young girl who is swept up into a Charles Manson-esque cult in the late 1960's. It was gruesome, depressing, and not at all my cup of tea, but I cannot deny that the writing was excellent. 
For people with darker taste than my own, it's a good read, just not my style. 


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I also read a couple "extra credit" books:

I was just glad to be done with The Chronicles of Narnia series quite honestly and couldn't bring myself to love the books as much as everyone else seems to.

Life of Pi, on the other hand, was a a great pick. It was at times, hard to listen to. But even as I tried to guess the ending it still blew me away. It was a unique and inventive story, though not for the faint of heart.

Want to join in on the fun? Check out Megan's book challenge here!

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In July, I'll be working to finish off the last two books for Megan's challenge and start checking off my list for Erin's Book Challenge! I can't wait to have my first book challenge success under my belt!

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