Tuesday, August 9, 2016

From the Bookshelf: Recently Read - August 2016 Edition

Today is one of my favorite days in blogland: the Show Us Your Books! link-up with Steph and Jana!

The good news is that I don't have any duds to review this time around. The bad news is that I really haven't been prioritizing my reading at all lately so I've been reading a lot less. (And this kind of sucks for me since I'm currently participating in two reading challenges. Hopefully I can get it together and finish both of them!)

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The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides - 243 pages - 4 stars

The Lisbon sisters, beautiful and mysterious, each commit suicide over the course of a year. Years later, a group of neighborhood boys who obsessively watched from the outside continue to try to put the pieces together to find the answers they so desperately seek.

Jeffrey Eugenides is, without a doubt, a very talented writer. With The Virgin Suicides, he manages to create a haunting coming of age story that sticks with you long after the final page.

While I enjoyed reading this, I'll be completely honest: if you've seen the film adaptation, you can probably skip the book. This isn't one of those cases in which you're given additional insight into the characters' motivations. The movie is almost identical to the book: word for word, scene by scene. This isn't necessarily a bad thing (in fact, the movie is one of my favorites), but I never felt overly inspired to pick up the book because I knew exactly what was going to happen.

The Virgins by Pamela Erens - 281 pages - 4 stars

Aviva and Seung have the kind of intense relationship many teenagers dream about, inspiring jealousy in many of their classmates at their elite East Coast boarding school. One classmate in particular, Bruce Bennett-Jones, is obsessed with the pair (Aviva especially). Told from Bruce's point of view, The Virgins is a blend of memories and reimaginings of the year at Auburn Academy in which Aviva and Seung were the most fascinating couple on campus.

I really appreciated that this wasn't just a typical "rich kids at boarding school hooking up" kind of novel. The characters are well developed and feel very real, despite the fact that the narrator really doesn't know Aviva and Seung well at all.

Pamela Erens did an amazing job bringing together many complex elements of youth to create a gripping and intricate novel. The writing is gorgeous, and the story is one I won't soon forget.

What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi - 325 pages - 3 stars

In this collection of short stories, Helen Oyeyemi adds her own unique and surreal spin on the idea of keys (both literal and metaphorical).

I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge fan of short stories. This book was on my "To Read" list because I already knew I loved Oyeyemi's writing style, but I doubt it would have shot to the top of my list if it weren't for the Semi-Charmed Summer 2016 Book Challenge.

That being said, I enjoyed many of the stories included in What is Not Yours is Not Yours. My favorites were ""Sorry" Doesn't Sweeten Her Tea," "Is Your Blood As Red As This?," "Presence," and "A Brief History of the Homely Wench Society." That's about half (4 out of 9), and the others weren't awful ... I just didn't like them as much.

As someone who doesn't really love short stories or magical/supernatural stories, it's surprising that I liked this book as much as I did. I don't think Oyeyemi's style would work for everyone, but there's a lovely, lyrical quality to her storytelling that keeps me coming back for more.

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist - 472 pages - 4 stars

Bullied by his classmates and mostly friendless, 12-year-old Oskar leads a lonely life filled with thoughts of revenge. When he meets Eli, the strange new girl living next door, things begin to change for him.

Let the Right One In is a fantastic movie (one of my favorites, in fact!), and I'm happy to report that the book was fantastic as well.

Going in, I was really hoping that the book would explain a few things that weren't completely clear to me in the movie, and thankfully it delivered! This book is nearly 500 pages long, so there was obviously no way they could add every single detail into the movie without making it ridiculously long. The things I wondered about most were answered, so that alone was enough to make the book a satisfying read.

It's not a "perfect" book by any means, but it's definitely my kind of vampire story. And, while it's often dark and disturbing, it's also got heart: Linqdvist managed to create characters I actually cared about, despite the fact that most of them were unlikable.

As always, I'll be posting my more in-depth reviews on Sunday. I just wanted to give a quick overview of my thoughts on each book for the link-up.


  1. I've never heard of these books but the Virgin Suicides sounds interesting...will be researching that book on goodreads so thanks for the reco!

  2. I haven't read any of Jeffrey Eugenides' books but they seem to be really well received. I hope to read one someday. The Virgins sounds interesting to me too.

  3. Saw The Virgin Suicides a few times and loved it, won't read the novel in that case. Lol

    Adding The Virgins to my list.

  4. The Virgin Suicides was one of those cases where the books kicked the shit out of the movie. I adored the book. Hated the movie.

    That last one sounds intriguing.

  5. Middlesex is on my list to read hopefully in the next few months, but I just added The Virgin Suicides to my list too.

  6. Gah, I've been in a slow reading rut recently too. Gotta get my butt in gear to finish Erin's challenge. Hopefully upcoming travel/plane rides will help with this...

  7. i was like, oh two books with virgin in the title, odd. haha. but then i clicked with the challenges - which by the way, i am 'failing' both. oops. i have been reading, but i haven't been reading those books.. i want to try and finish them though.
    i am not a fan of short stories but i think that book sounds interesting, i like me some supernatural stuff. that's what i hate about short story collections though, i NEVER like all of them and i feel like i wasted my time.

  8. The Virgins sounds interesting. I watched The Virgin Suicides years ago so won't read the book, but might watch the movie again!

  9. The Virgins sounds good! Adding it to the list.

  10. I watched the movie (The Virgin Suicides) so many years ago that I barely remember it. I think I want to read the book even though it and the movie are so close. Maybe I'll just feel like I have deja vu?

  11. YAY for no duds! I *think I've seen the movie The Virgin Suicides, but I'm not 100% positive... Getting older... Sigh. LOL!

  12. I read Suicides years ago but remember liking it. Did you ever read Middlesex? I'm sure you have since I would totally see it as your kind of book. I loved it btw, more than Suicides.