Books of the Month: December 2020

December was rough. After reading 55 books for the last 11 months, I was pretty burned out and almost gave up for the month; I did not start reading until 12/7 when I decided I should at least try, and several friends recommended some quick reads. I made it to my goal of 60 which was incredibly exciting…and I’ll never do that again! Here are my December reads:

The Queen’s Gambit was….alright. I watched the show twice and was obsessed, but I felt the book didn’t measure up? I felt the characters had more of a story arc within the show, and in the book the characters, especially Beth, fell a little flat. Had I read the book before watching the show, I would have enjoyed it, I think. I still smiled with a warm feeling when the book ended, so was still worth it. For those who haven’t seen the show, “The Queen’s Gambit” is about a young prodigy’s rise to fame in the chess world; would recommend the show over the book.

Girls on Fire was a very good thriller story? It was easy to piece together what happened, but essentially it’s a story about a mouse-y teen and the angst-y friend she makes at school that leads her down some interesting paths. It begs the question, can anyone make you do something or are all your actions of your own will?

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self Love was fantastic, even for those unfamiliar with “Queer Eye.” It made me laugh out loud, many times, but it also made me break down and cry. JVN regales the tales of life, basically from birth to present day, and that queen went through it, multiple times. Like how JVN came out on the other side as this self assured and badass queen, like I can’t even fathom after hearing this journey. This needs to be listened to on audiobook so JVN can tell you the story, I don’t see any other way to read this.

The Midnight Library was a delightful story, well sort of. The main character decides to take her own life and ends up in a library full of books that tell the stories of her parallel lives she could have had. I really liked the theme of the book and how Nora learns to love her current life, even though it’s not “perfect” or how other people wanted her to live.

Transcendent Kingdom was a quick read and a good story, about a Ghanaian family and their trials through separation, addiction and grief. It touches a lot on the tug of war between science and faith. I would really like to read Gyasi’s first book, Homecoming, as I quite enjoyed her writing style.

The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van Ness

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

I did manage to read 60 books by the end of 2020 (huzzah!). I think my favorite book this month might have been The Midnight Library, or Over the Top, honestly would recommend both! As for 2021, I’m setting my goal at 45 books, although after watching Bridgerton, I guess I have at least 9 books on my to be read list…

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: November 2020

One more month left of 2020 and 5 more books to read. I feel like the books of this month were all about discovering your inner voice and following your own path? I liked most of these books this month, I don’t think you could go wrong with reading any of them!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was such a great story. It was a unique tale about Addie selling her soul to live forever, the only consequence being that no one can remember her. I loved it so much; however, I am a big historical fiction fan and I feel like the author could have delved more into the story of Addie doing exciting things, like being a spy in WWII, versus just mentioning it in passing? Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the author probably didn’t want to spend time researching history? Regardless, still would recommend the book!

A Woman is No Man might have been my favorite book of this month? It was a story about 3 generations of women within an Palestinian- American family and how their desires are quelled by their culture. I’ve seen some backlash on this book as it portrays a commonality of domestic abuse within Arab culture; this is a culture I am unfamiliar with personally, so I’m not sure, but as someone unfamiliar with Arab culture, it did give me the impression of domestic abuse being common? Just something to keep in mind . The central theme of the story is about women finding their voices, and finding the courage to follow that voice which I love!

The Star Crossed Sisters of Tuscany was a cute story about a family whose second born daughters have been cursed from finding love. A woman, her cousin and aunt set off for Italy to break the curse, uncovering family secrets along the way. It’s very much a story about learning to listen to your own heart and following your heart for your own path. Would be a cute Hallmark movie!

This Time Next Year was another cute, would be Hallmark movie. Minnie and Quinn were both born on New Year’s Day in the same hospital. They meet as adults and through flashbacks discover their paths have been intertwined their whole lives. Another story about learning to listen to your own heart and following your heart for your own path. Very cute, very fluff, quick read!

Anxious People was another knock out by Fredrik Backman, who also wrote, A Man Called Ove. This was another heartwarming story, this time about idiots. And a bank robbery turned hostage situation. Backman has this really unique ability to write about honesty of the human condition? It makes his books highly relatable and enjoyable, at least in my opinion.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

A Woman Is No Man: A Novel by Etaf Rum

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Overall, I would recommend Anxious People or A Woman is No Man from this month’s pile!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: October 2020

Holy moley, it’s November! Clocking in at 50 books, I’m only 10 (TEN!) away from 60 and around 60 days to finish (lol 60 days til this year is OVER, whew). I’m pretty sure I can do this, thank you for all supporting me along the way. Feel free to send me book suggestions, I’m open to all genres! Here are the books I read this month:

Unmarriageable was a retelling of Pride & Prejudice set in Pakistan. I enjoyed it, mostly because I love P&P, but also it was interesting to learn about the Pakistani culture AND loved how Alys (Elizabeth Bennett) was a strong feminist and tried to teach her students to see their options beyond getting married and being a housewife. Would recommend if you’re into P&P!

Clap When You Land was another story by the same author as Poet X. I love how she tells the story through poetry; this one was about 2 girls with the same father who don’t know of the other’s existence; one lives in NYC and one lives in the DR. When their father dies, they learn of each other and their stories entwine. Very quick read!

Wild Game was… wild. Set in Cape Cod, a young girl is let in on her mother’s secret, she’s having an affair with her step-father’s best friend. This true story told over decades of time, discusses the effects of lying and secrets and how they impacted the girl for most of her life. It also touches on the mother and daughter’s relationship which was an essential theme for the girl in understanding herself and her mother.

Daisy Jones and the Six was really good, I think I mostly liked it because of the interview style format the book was set up in? Made it a quick read with interesting storylines. Another good one by Taylor Jenkins Reid about a band’s formation, rise in the music scene, and swift downfall.

Praying For Emily was a beautiful story of the first child to receive an experimental T cell treatment that cured her leukemia. It’s a story of both science and faith that helped Emily survive. The Whiteheads are actually distant family of mine here in Pennsylvania, and I followed Emily’s journey on her mom’s blog/Facebook back in 2012 when it was happening. It’s so amazing to read about her journey and a large collective group across the world was praying for her to survive. Get some tissues if you read this one.

Summer of ’69 was a good beach read (not that I read it on the beach, but rather in an airport). A story about an American family during the summer of ’69, with their son off to serve in the Vietnam war. Would recommend if you need a quick, good story.

Unmarriageable: A Novel by Soniah Kamal

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Praying for Emily: The Faith, Science, and Miracles that Saved Our Daughter by Emily Whitehead, Kari Whitehead, and Tom Whitehead

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

I’m currently reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab that I got for my October Book of the Month club pick. It’s really good so far, can’t wait to share more about it!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

P.s. Seriously, drop book recs in the comments…

Books of the Month: September 2020

Yinz, how is it almost OCTOBER? I really can’t handle how fast this year is slipping by, is it just me? I’ve managed to read 44 books, which is still insane to me, having initially set my reading goal at 30 books for the entire year. Can I make it to 60? We’ll see! Here are the books I read this month:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was…okay? I had heard from several people that it was a good read, but it did not do that much for me. It was slow to read and the story was…okay? It was about a New York man who becomes wrapped up in the lives of many people in Savannah, GA, one of whom ends up on trial for murder. I was expecting some shocking twist, but nothing ever came. Would pass.

I Was Told It Would Get Easier was another home run from Abbi Waxman. This book made me want to hug my mom. It’s about a relationship between a forty something mom and her teenage daughter, as they go on a college tour trip on the east coast. I really liked that one of the main tones was that college isn’t for everyone, and it’s a rat race to get into a good college, followed by a rat race to make money until you die, which is SO TRUE and no one talks about it.

A Man Called Ove made my heart burst with joy and tears. It’s really a roller coaster of emotions, but Ove reminded me of my grandfather, a man a few words and fewer emotions. It also makes you think about how you don’t know what other people around you are truly going through and not to judge a book by it’s cover (not literally here). Would recommend ASAP.

Parable of the Sower, was OOF. Octavia Butler kills it again. A dystopian novel about 2024-2027, written in 1993, the United States are divided, climate change is mostly to cause, and it’s everyone for themselves. Water is scarce, and costs more per gallon than gasoline. Lauren, the main character, is trying to survive and make her way to safety she hopes to find in the north. It’s a crazy tale, but I could see it becoming a reality if we continue to ignore climate change and its effects on our world. It was a slow read, but worthwhile.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things was a ugly and wonderful novel. Wavy is a young girl when she befriends Kellen, one of her father’s (adult) drug thugs. They grow close and as she gets older, they become more than friends. It made me uncomfortable since it skittered around pedophilia, but the way the story was written made me root for Wavy and Kellan’s relationship. I think, while the nature of their relationship, was, er, unconventional, they really cared for one another, and Kellan tried hard to not cross any lines until Wavy was of age.

If I had to tell you to read one book from this month, it would be A Man Called Ove. It was a wonderful story about people and connecting and made me laugh and cry. Absolute gem. I’m currently reading Pachinko, and hope to read Anxious People and A Woman is No Man in October. What are you reading?

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Folklore Book Tag

As you know, I’m a bit of a Taylor Swift fan and am still shocked she dropped a surprise album last month. When I saw this book challenge, naturally I had to jump on it. No one tagged me (and I’m not tagging anyone), like the rules state, but who cares, it’s folklore and books, which are currently my TOP 2 favorite things!

RULES

  • Link to the original creator: Ilsa @ A Whisper Of Ink
  • Declare the rules and list of prompts in your post
  • Thank whoever tagged you and link to their post.
source: taylor swift

The 1 – name a book character you would change the ending for

Désirée from The Queen’s Fortune. I loved this story and I wish the real life Désirée wouldn’t have been left out of the history books, unlike Napoleon and her husband, Bernadotte. She seemed to be a somewhat instrumental part of much of history, but no one remembers her or even knows her name, though her descendants still sit on European thrones to this day.

Cardigan – an old favourite that you always come back to

Harry Potter Series, of course. I think I’ve read like 4-5 times through? Will come back to this series, Always (sobs).

The Last Great American Dynasty – a book with a fascinating and well-told story

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was a fascinating story and the first thing I thought of when I heard this song, tbh.

Exile – a book you wish you hadn’t read

Valentine, it did nothing for me, wish I could take it back.

source: taylor swift

My Tears Ricochet – a book that made you cry uncontrollably 

The Last Song. I read it for the first time in like 11th grade and I can still remember *sobbing* in my bedroom when her dad dies.

Mirrorball – a book that feels like it was written just for you

Butter: A Rich History. Butter is my love language.

Seven – a childhood book that makes you feel nostalgic

Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse was my favorite book when I was a kid. If I have to buy a book for a baby shower or a kid’s book drive, it’s always that one.

August – a book that reminds you of summer

Weirdly, Along for the Ride. I used to *love* reading Sarah Dessen books when I was in high school. If I’m remembering correctly, Along for the Ride takes place on the beach, over the summer, which I probably why I think of it? I also used to read Sarah Dessen books all summer as a teen, so maybe it’s partly that too?

This Is Me Trying – a book that deals with loneliness & sadness 

Educated, because that girl went to hell and back throughout her life, and for a long time, wouldn’t admit all the her family had put her through.

Illicit Affairs – a book that gave you a book hangover

Oona Out of Order, I wish it hadn’t ended. I wanted the story of her whole life, not just the snippet!!! It was such a fresh and new story, I could have read it forever.

Invisible String – a book that came into your life at the exact right time

Untamed, I think I could read that book once a month for the next 5 years and find something new that would speak to me each time.

Mad Woman – a book with a female character you adore

Emma from Emma, I love her character and how she means well with setting up her friends, but is flawed as she doesn’t see that her meddling is impacting people’s lives.

source: taylor swift

Epiphany – a book that was haunting

December Park left me shivering under the covers, very dark and haunting.

Betty – a book couple that fills you with yearning

This was hard, I’m a hopeless romantic and there are a lot of book couples I love. Most recently, I would say I loved the couple from The Kiss Quotient, Stella and Michael were so perfect for each other, and they had quite the, uh, steamy romance. I will also eternally love Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

Peace – a book character you’d die for because you love them so much

Luna Lovegood, HP Series, no contest. She’s so unique and kind and lovely. The best character.

Hoax – a book that you thought you were going to love but didn’t

Normal People, there was so much hype around this book and I was SO excited to read, but I really didn’t it love it that much?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: August 2020

It’s already September and I can’t even. Can you? Like where did the year even go? And will I ever stop reading and leave my house? I am officially at 39 books, so hopefully on track to hit 60 by the year’s end, though according to Goodreads, I’m one book behind schedule…

The Jetsetters was okay? I really liked that the book focused on mental health, this had me cheering all the way through, but overall the story was mediocre, nothing overly exciting. It was a nice story that made you thankful for your own crazy family. Basically a older women wins a Mediterranean cruise and she brings her three children along with her, forcing everyone to deal with their problems and family secrets. Would read on the beach.

The Nickel Boys was a really good book, it had a great story, with a twist that shocked me, and it came so perfectly full circle I wanted to cry. It’s about a black boy who ends up in a Florida reform school in the 60’s/70’s, and has to deal with the torture that happens behind closed doors. MLK quotes are sprinkled throughout, making it very poignant for today. Overall, would really recommend!

Other People’s Houses was cute, very classic Abbi Waxman. It wasn’t my favorite of hers, but I know I can always go to her for a good read. It was about a mom and the drama that occurs in her LA neighborhood when one of the other moms is caught cheating on her husband, and the aftermath that follows.

Kindred was interesting and made me think. Set in the 70’s, the story deals with a black woman who finds herself time traveling out of the blue, back to the antebellum south in the 1800’s….where she has no rights, and is considered to be a slave. I felt the plot to be a little weak, but I thought it was very poignant and like I said, it made me think.

Poet X was fantastic story. I loved that it was written in poems. The main character is a 16 year old girl who lives in Harlem and is navigating high school, her body, her faith and her mother. There were so many lines I wished I could highlight (was reading a library book, le sigh), especially the ones regarding her confusion around her religion and her standing up for herself and owning her body.

Anna K was such a fantastic YA story. It’s a retelling of Anna Karenina, which I have never been personally able to sit through reading, though it is on my list for some day. It was a modern millennial meets Gossip Girl retelling of the classic story and I tore through it. If you loved GG as much as I did, would recommend this. xoxo!

The Jetsetters by Amanda Ward

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Anna K: A Love Story  by Jenny Lee

What books did you read in August? What are your plans for September? I’m currently reading, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and I plan on reading either Mexican Gothic or A Woman is No Man (hopefully both)!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann