August 26, 2016

What I Read in August

August has easily been my busiest month of the year. I shared all of that in my post this Monday and it's still true. I got home from Raleigh at 10pm last night and am enjoying some quiet time in my apartment before getting to work and then heading up to NJ/CT for a wedding this weekend. 

Being on the road non-stop, though, has given me plenty of time to read. I've just nearly finished the Harry Potter series in addition to our Book Club book. Here's a look at what I read this month:

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" - I don't remember liking this book when I first read it, but this time I around I loved it. Dolores Umbridge though is easily my most hated fictional character of all time. 

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" - This has always been and remains my least favorite Harry Potter book. I feel like the entire book is Harry, Ron, and Hermione running around Hogwarts, Harry thinking Malfoy is up to no good and Ron and Hermione not believing him, and a lot of teen angst. I didn't like it the first few times I read it and I still don't. I think the insight into Voldemort's past is fascinating, but there's a lot of excess in the novel that detracts from those parts. 

This is also the book where (I forgot) Hermione starts to get really irritating. She's reasonable to a fault and in this book and The Deathly Hallows, she refuses to leave Harry alone about Occulmency, refuses to believe him about Malfoy or about the hallows. In The Deathly Hallows, Lupin says on Potterwatch that he would tell Harry to follow his instincts because they're often right and in the last two books of the series, Hermione stops believing Harry and Ron, who is doting on her, follows suit and their disbelief makes up more of this book than anything else.

This book also made me realize that despite everything I know about Snape's history. He's still pretty terrible and I don't think anyone would actually name their son after someone who treated them so horrifically for so long. Constantly reminding a 16-year-old kid that his dead father was a jerk as a kid is really just a terrible thing. I think we all fell in love with Snape because Alan Rickman's portrayal of him was so incredible, and that scene in the final film was heart-wrenching, but in the books? Snape is pure evil. 

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" - This book is so much better than either of the movies were. The entire first movie follows Harry, Ron, and Hermione running around the woods, when, in reality, that only takes up about 150 pages (of the 750+ page book). I haven't finished this book yet. I'm about 200 pages from the end, but I do like this book more than I remember liking it the first time I read it. I think there's a lot of action, but there are also a lot of really dull moments. I've said this before; I hated the Epilogue of this book. I remember reading an interview where J.K. Rowling said that she wrote it because she didn't want anyone to do anything else with Harry's story...and then she did, over and over. I do own The Cursed Child and, while I originally wasn't sure if I was going to read it, who am I kidding? As soon as I finish The Deathly Hallows, I'm going to turn to that book, and you can come back next month to see what I thought! 

Now, enough about Harry and on to our Book Club pick for the month!

"Salt to Sea" by Ruta Septys - I picked this book up without really having any idea what it was about, and was slightly skeptical because I don't typically enjoy YA. This book was beautiful. It is a historical fiction novel that follows four people from different European countries, all fleeing the Russian advance during WWII. Three of the characters meet on the road as they make their journey toward one of the many refugee ships that will take them to safety. The four characters' stories collide aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff.

The Wilhelm Gustloff was a ship meant to carry German troops and evacuees from East Prussia to Germany. Designed to carry some 1,500 passengers, the ship was overloaded with nearly 10,000 people. The ship's sinking remains the worst Maritime disaster in history, suffering a fate much worse than the Titanic, with over 9,000 lost, more than half of whom were children.

I had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff, and the author makes a note in the Afterword, about how this tragedy has been kept quiet over the years. I love that she told this story because these lives need to be remembered as much as any others lost to the tragedy of World War II. The book is told in short 1-2 page chapters, alternating characters, and, while it's sometimes easy to confuse them, I thought the story was beautiful. 

I've said before that I haven't read a good book all year, but this finally changed that, and I highly recommend it!

There you have it!
What have you been reading lately?
What are some of your favorite books of summer?

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