august wrap-up

It’s that time of the month…

August was just about the perfect summer month for me. It started off with a vacation in Northern Michigan, boating and wine tasting and relaxing. It was filled with spending time with friends and sisters. My younger sister and I joined a gym and started working out together. I kept busy at work and busy at home. Overall, it was a nice balance of things, and I’m almost sad summer will soon be over (though fall is my favorite season).

I didn’t have a ton of success with reading until later in the month; I got into a slump when I just wanted to continue reading Robin Hobb and had to wait nearly a month to get the books from the library. *growls* Regardless, I’m currently in the middle of a few books that I should finish near the beginning of next month, so that makes me feel better about my measly list below.

Read on for my monthly wrap-up!

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bookish things

stats

  • Total books: 6 books
  • Total pages: 2,797 pages
  • Longest book: Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb
  • Shortest book: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • Favorite book: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • Least favorite book: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

mini reviews

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb: ★★★★☆

Fitz and all his adolescent adventures. He’s definitely a teenage boy in this one, but his continued story is full of even more political intrigue, his frowned-upon Wit, and complicated relationships.

Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb★★★☆☆

Fitz and the fool, Nighteyes, a journey across the land, and an impossible quest. A slow-paced yet wonderfully character-driven finale to this trilogy.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: ★★★★☆

Three mums, some kindergartners, a bully, and an eventual murder. Touches on deeper topics than you’d expect. A quick and enjoyable read. Read my full review here.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik: ★★★★☆

A girl, her best friend, a wizard, and a prince. A book full of magic and a corrupted wood. Whimsical and full of lovely descriptions. Read my full review here.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel: ★★★☆☆

Pieces of a giant robot are scattered around the world, and a team comes together to discover and study them. Told in interviews and journal entries, this story is dramatic, fast-paced, and full of science.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: ★★★☆☆

A boy returns to his hometown and uncovers memories he didn’t realize he had, of a girl named Lettie Hemptstock and her mystical family. A short story full of magic, suspense, a touch of horror, and childhood.

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crafty things

I wasn’t super crafty this month. I realized that when I’m not working on a specific project for a specific someone, I get bored easily. As such, when I finished my star baby blanket (below), I didn’t have much desire to work on other things.

But! I started thinking about what I’d like to tackle next off my to-crochet list, and I think next month (especially with the start of fall), I’ll be a lot more productive.

completed

  • star blanket
  • infinity scarf
  • mug cozy, headband, experimental odds and ends

in progress

  • neon baby blanket
  • body pillow cover

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bloggish things

Here are some of my favorite blog posts from August:

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How was your month of August? What were some of your highlights?

Until next time,
Brianne

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book review | big little lies by liane moriarty

big little lies by liane moriarty

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Trivia Night at Pirriwee Public School, meant to be a night full of fundraising, ends with a shocking murder. Detectives try to piece the story together, and so do readers as we rewind to the  beginning of the school year. We follow the stories of three kindergarten mothers–Jane, the newbie mom with a dark past; Madeline, the old pro and feisty remarried mom; and Celeste, the rich, poised, couldn’t-be-happier mom. None of these women have the lives they appear to on the surface, and somehow, their interactions lead to the fatal accident on Trivia Night.

* Trigger warnings for domestic abuse, sexual assault, and, of course, murder. *

Recommended if you like:

  • beachy and coffee shop settings
  • snarky, independent, complex female characters
  • deeper themes amidst a lighter plot

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My Spoiler-Free Review

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would! I admit, I picked it up because I heard the TV show was good…but I knew I had to be a good bookworm, and try the book first.

Instead of a concentrated murder mystery, like I expected, I found myself reading a charming, hilarious, touching book that had deeper themes than I anticipated.

My likes

The characters. These are complex, real, strong women. The main three characters as well as the rest of the cast, even the side characters, were nicely done! They are distinct, interesting, and go through their own character arcs, with satisfying resolutions. I had a special fondness for Miss Barnes; as a teacher myself, I know in my heart of hearts that she was just doing her best–despite being judged incompetent by all the parents.

The complexity. There are basic ideas, relationships, plot points in this book that make it seem cliche and tropey. At least, that’s what I thought when I heard about the TV show. But Moriarty takes the cliches and make them complex. Instead of reading about a woman who hates her ex-husband, we get a woman who struggles with feeling inferior to her ex and his new wife. A subtle difference, but it makes for such better reading and connections to characters.

Also, the writing style is just fun. It’s sassy. Even though you know someone is dead by the end of the book, and the book touches on many serious, chilling topics, you’re laughing all the way through. And, it killed me (pun TOTALLY intended) how there were so many blithe comments about killing someone or how someone would be dead by the end of the night…all sarcastic to the characters, but morbidly hilarious to the reader. Or, at least to me.

My dislikes

My only real complaint is the pacing. While I thought the story moved along nicely most of the time, there were bits in the middle of the novel that were just slow. As I mentioned before, I enjoyed the characters and their development, but it did seem like some scenes could be cut or shaved to have a slightly shorter novel.

Overall

This was a great summer read! Easy, interesting, fun reading. This would be a great book for someone who doesn’t read often–it’s super easy to get into and get sucked into the mystery.

And, of course, if you enjoyed the show, do yourself a favor and read the book too.

+ the HBO series

Image result for big littles lies hbo
madeline, jane, celeste, and the kiddos

I was quite disappointed by the TV series, for the usual reasons. WHY screenwriters feel the need to change the story line, the setting, even the minute details like the characters’ last names–it’s beyond me. I understood why they made some of these changes, but they did not improve the story.

I did think the producers did an interesting job creating a mysterious, confusing, suspenseful feeling with the flashbacks and almost delusional moments the characters sometimes had. I also thought the casting was nicely done. However, the overall feel of the book just wasn’t quite captured in the show, which was a bummer.

And if they somehow manage to justify creating a sequel, I might punch someone. So not necessary.

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Have you read Big Little Lies? Or seen the TV show? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

may wrap-up

It’s that time of the month…

I had a great balance of activities in May. Read a decent amount, completed a few bigger crochet projects, made decent headway on a story I’m writing, and started a new job! Plus, summer has finally arrived, and I couldn’t be happier for the sunny weather.

Read on for my monthly wrap-up!

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bookish things

stats

  • Total books: 6 books and 1 novella read, 1 DNF
  • Total pages: 3,044 pages
  • Longest book: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas
  • Shortest book: The Hope of Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (novella)
  • Favorite book: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
  • Least favorite book: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

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mini reviews

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas: ★★★ 1/2

I was disappointed with this one. I will always love Feyre and Rhys, but this conclusion to their story really fell flat for me. I didn’t really like the plot, the ending, or the writing.

Read my full review here.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: ★★★★

I liked this! It was a solid YA read–which I think is both a compliment and a complaint. The writing was good, the romance was sweet, and most of the characters were nicely crafted. I’m planning to read the sequel in June.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson★★★★ 1/2

My last (adult) Sanderson book–of COURSE I loved it. It took me a little longer to get into this one, as it’s more heavily focused on religion and I didn’t enjoy Hrathen’s chapters as much. But eventually I was totally sucked into Raoden and Sarene’s story. I didn’t want it to end!

The Hope of Elantris by Brandon Sanderson: ★★★★★

A very sweet (and short!) novella that felt like a sentimental epilogue to Elantris. Loved it.

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan: ★★★★

This was fun! Riordan has his book formula down pat, and yet he manages to make each book full of new adventures and diverse characters. I think maybe I’ve outgrown these books, but they’re fun to read when the mood strikes.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab: ★★★★

This one was different yet more than I expected. The more I sit on it and think about it, the more I think I really liked it–especially my newest book boyfriend, August. *heart eyes* However, I did have some issues with the ending and overall pacing.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover: ★★

Blegh. Didn’t enjoy this one, but I can see how others might. It was the entertainment I needed at the time, but it’s the kind of contemporary I can never seem to enjoy at all. Not to mention it’s all about domestic abuse, which I was completely clueless about before I started reading.

DNFed

The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

I’d read a few good reviews about this one, but by about 30 pages in, I had to set it down again. I didn’t love the characters, and the setting was too high school for me. And again–contemporary (even with a touch of magical realism–though I’m not entirely sure if this book has that or not) just isn’t doing anything for me at the moment.

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crafty things

I was busy with crochet this month! Baby blankets are too fun to make. I know of a few expectant moms through my friends and sisters, so I might get commissioned to make a blanket or two in the next few months. These blankets ended up being great practice! Plus, I am still definitely a novice but my finished products don’t come out looking too shabby, do they?

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completed

  • peachy ripple baby blanket (above left)
  • teal icicle stitch baby blanket (above right)
  • set of 6 gray hexagon coasters for my sister

in progress

  • hexagon blanket-turned pillow cover — I’m lazy and procrastinating on this
  • body pillow cover — somehow ended up extremely messy, but it’s going
  • chevron gray and maroon afghan for my sister — chipping away at this daily!

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bloggish things

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How was your month of May? What was your favorite book you read or crafty thing you made?

Until next time,
Brianne