July, July! What I’d Give to Be Back in July!

TropStorm Jose won’t leave. He was scheduled to rock Rhode Island on Tuesday but each day the winds seem more gusty and blowy and chilling. I walk the dogs through scattered leaves; I wrap in blankets; I’m sipping hot chocolate.

screech! Cancel that last one. I’m still enjoying beer but we’ve moved from the Shandies to Octoberfests. sigh….

Here’s the quick list of what I read in July:

The Sweet Hereafter / Russell Banks eB (1991,416) **** 55
Perfect / Rachel Joyce eB (2013,401) **** 54
NOS4A2 / Joe Hill eB (2013,704) *** 53
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald / TAFowler Tb (2013,384) **** 52
On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon / Kaye Gibbons eB (1998,304) *** 51
Code Name Verity / Elizabeth Wein eB (2012,452) ***** 50


I loved Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein! There’s been some interesting chatter about its being classified as YA which I didn’t get. I always think of YA as being about younger characters and about youngster drama – even if extremely heavy AND also written with a feel like it was written for a younger reader than I am. (cough, cough). Now saying this “didn’t feel YA” is not meant to be any kind of lesser/more qualifier or criticism. I just never got that YA sense from it. Perhaps because it was set in WW2? I would say that The Book Thief – another one I love – IS YA but I wouldn’t say it about Code Name Verity. Yes, the two main characters were youthful but it didn’t feel like a story set up to be told to the YA typical audience.

Here’s more twist to this topic. I did think The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah most certainly had that YA feel. The Nightingale character and her experiences fit the YA criteria to a tee for YA for me. I liked Code Name MUCH MUCH more. I thought the writing quality was much higher but I do not think that has anything to do with any YA classification. Am I fooling myself?

I gave three stars to On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon because I really am not sure what to make of it. Bonus: pie! quote: “I was irritated that it might be the old lady who peddled stale pies.”

Moving on to books about wives of famous authors… I DNF’d The Paris Wife. Hadley drove me crazy. I loved Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and when ever Hadley made an appearance — I still found her annoying.  Bonus: Chocolate Cream Pie!

My first read by author Joe Hill was The Fireman and I was eager to try something else. I actually had purchased NOS4A2 for my Kindle months before The Fireman-along was announced and I was eager to get to it because I so enjoyed the readalong. I liked NOS4A2 and it wasn’t quite as scary horrific as I thought it was going to be –  maybe I’m building up some kind of tolerance after so many King books…. (And it was Christmas in July! if you’ve read this, you’ll know what I mean.)    Bonus: Banana Pie!


Perfect by Rachel Joyce. I really like Rachel Joyce. I had a tough time with Perfect. I ended up giving it 4 stars because of the skill of Rachel Joyce. She had me uncomfortably anxious, a low-level strumming sense of foreboding. This was a sad book. “You have to think bigger than what you know,”           Bonus: Mince pie!


As I go through this list, I see many sad reads. The Sweet Hereafter was as sad as they come. Read it if you like sad books? if you like how competent some authors are with sad material? I don’t know. It was about a school bus full of children hitting an ice patch while proceeding down a hill and crashing into a pond off a steep embankment. Told from multiple character viewpoints. I’m getting weepy and sad thinking about it again. But Banks has my respect. It was well done. Four slices of pie.

Abbott says, “Biggest … difference … between … people … is … quality … of … attention.” And since a person’s quality of attention is one of the few things about her that a human can control, then she damn well better do it, say I. Put that together with the Golden Rule in a nutshell, and you’ve got my philosophy of life. Abbott’s too. And you don’t need religion for it.


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14 thoughts on “July, July! What I’d Give to Be Back in July!

  1. NOS4A2 was not my favorite Joe Hill novel. I think my favorite is still Heart-Shaped Box. That book terrified me.

    We are currently experiencing hotter temperatures than we have all freaking summer long. On the first day of fall. Mother Nature is drunk.

  2. I think there are a lot of books these days called “YA” that shouldn’t be – but, marketing. I guess. I hate reading sad books if I know they are sad in advance! They are usually really good, but who wants to volunteer for sad?!!!

  3. I toasted you in my head last night with my plastic cup of Sam Adams Octoberfest on draft after reading the beginning of your post in my email inbox!
    I thought Code Name Verity on audio was excellent and went on to listen to the sequel by the author, which centered on a different character. Very different, but also excellent! I think the YA designation often is just a publishing/marketing decision, and often means there are no detailed sex scenes! I realized I was reading a lot of sad books lately, too, and switched it up with some urban fantasy for a while. Loving Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant books on audio, starting with Midnight Riot. I’m in the middle of the second, Moon over Soho.

  4. We finally get my FIL out of post-Irma FL and he promptly begins his annual Cape Cod pilgrimage… just in time for Jose!! Poor guy can’t catch a break this season!

    Code Name Verity has been on and off my wish list more times than I can count. Since you loved it, it’s back on again. The audio version gets rave reviews, too.

  5. Ha, I never get the YA classifications. It seems to be almost totally arbitrary — I’ve read several adult novels that I thought could usefully have been classified as YA, and as you say, there are books like Code Name Verity that feel like they could easily have been adult fiction. I wonder if length is a factor?

    1. Yea, I don’t know why it bothers me … Is there any other genre that is more confusingly? Which reminds me, I wanted to read that Book Riot article abt “genre”.

  6. Like Jenny, for a while I thought the YA designation was arbitrary. I have taken to using it for novels with YA-aged characters, after noticing that the critics I respect tend to use this one criteria usefully.

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