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

Books of the Month: July 2020

Can you believe it’s August? Summer is basically over, Christmas is basically here, and it’s much closer to the end of 2020 than the start. I’m not mad about this year going quickly, it’s a bit insufferable, if I’m being honest.

I started this month reading Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, and I will be up front with you, I just couldn’t get into it. I loved the first section where Gay describes her time in becoming a professor; I really like her writing style and found many things interesting in what she had to say. The next section about Gender, was weird? She only recapped and reviewed books, mostly on gender, but I don’t know what I was supposed to get from that? I skipped around the book a bit more, but just couldn’t keep going with it. I did find her reviews of the movies, The Help and Django Unchained extremely insightful as to why they weren’t great movies for explaining the history of racism. Has anyone else read this book? I’m curious for other reviews.

Next, I read The Last Flight, which was a great book. It’s about 2 women, both on the run, who cross paths at an airport and trade tickets for each other’s flights. It’s a strong female novel, touching on domestic violence and women standing up to take down powerful men. Huzzah!

I then read The Vanishing Half, and you all need to run out and find this book. It’s 5 stars, an excellent story across multiple generations, with well developed characters. It tackles issues of race, gender, class and so much more. It was such a well written book, I immediately sought out Bennett’s other book, The Mothers. The Mothers was a great book touching on all types of relationships, lovers, friends, father/child, mother/child, and so on. The ending was sort of left unwritten which I typically am frustrated by but in this book, I liked it.

Next, I read Such a Fun Age. It was a story about a twenty something black woman being accused of kidnapping the white child she was nannying. The story was interesting, especially the character and backstory of the white mother. I feel like she had white savior tones, but it was the point of the story; overall, I thought it was well written and made you think. Finally, I read Educated and I can’t even begin to describe how quickly you need to go out and find this book to read it yourself. It’s such an incredible coming of age story, detailing the insane life and family of Tara Westover. It makes me want to hug my parents and honestly cry for all the things she went through. I’m also amazed at the person she turned into, after suffering all that?

I would most recommend The Vanishing Half and Educated, without a doubt. Actually, make sure you read both of them ASAP!

The Last Flight: A Novel by Julie Clark

The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett

The Mothers: A Novel by Brit Bennett

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Educated by Tara Westover

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

I didn’t get to read Poet X this month like I mentioned in last month’s post, there is a very long hold for it on my Libby app. Maybe next month! Has anyone read anything good this month? I would love to hear the recommendation!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: June 2020

Wow, SIX months of reading and I am SO close to my goal for the entire YEAR (My goal was 30 books total and I’m already at 28). I did not think I read as much this month, as I was taking 2 online courses that were job related but I guess I did read 5 books which is still on par. I cheated though, some of these were very quick reads! I am proud of all I accomplished this month in my life, since I stopped using social media for the month.

Godshot was a very heavy book that took me longer than expected to finish; set in a small California town going through a drought, this book details the coming of age story of Lacey May. It deals with a religious cult leader, female friendships, family and motherhood.

The Guest List was a classic ‘Who Done It’ murder involving a wedding party and the guests during a wedding set on an eerie island in off the coast Ireland. Interesting read, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy it.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird was a sweet book; Josie Silver stole my heart with One Day in December, and this one was no different. Lydia’s fiance, Freddie, dies in a freak accident and while she grieves his death, she finds a parallel life in her sleep where Freddie is still alive. A good option if you need a quick feel good.

Normal People was…okay? I’m not sure why there is so much hype around this book. It was good, but definitely not my favorite. No one in my book club liked it either, so I would say to pass on this if you’ve been thinking about it (I’m going to watch the Hulu show, I’ll keep you posted how it compares).

The Garden of Small Beginnings was a favorite. Years after Lili’s husband suddenly passes, she is starting to feel a sense of normalcy with her two kids, but she has to attend a gardening class for her job and everything turns upside down. There are also gardening tips throughout the book in between chapters, which are so cute. If you haven’t read Abbi Waxman (I also read Bookish Life of Nina Hill in April), I would really recommend!

Godshot: A Novel by Chelsea Bieker
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Overall for this month, I would recommend that you read The Garden of Small Beginnings, without a doubt, but if you can handle a heavier topic book, check out Godshot as well!
Next month, I’m planning to read The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and The Last Flight by Julie Clark. Feel free to join me reading either if you can, would love to hear your thoughts!
Sincerely,
Sara Ann
*I have linked all books through a local LA bookstore, Eso Won Books, that is black and veteran owned. I believe they ship nationwide, but I would encourage you to research black owned bookstores in your area to purchase

Books of the Month: May 2020

Another month stuck in the Q, another 5 books read. I can hardly believe we’ve been social distancing this long and frankly, still alive and possibly thriving on some levels. I mean, I’ve read 14 books since the start, and that’s pretty awesome if you ask me!

Untamed was incredible, I want so many quotes tattooed directly on my face. I also want her to write a whole book on religion, as well as white women + racism (not by herself, of course, but with activists of color who can help shape the conversation); I think it’s important to discuss and be aware of as many white women dance around the conversation as well as the importance of it, especially in today’s climate. I’m also low key obsessed with Glennon and Abby’s relationship, like where is the Lifetime movie of their romance?! I encourage everyone to read it!

One True Loves was another good page turner/romance book. Basically, the main woman’s husband dies, she grieves and then finds love again + gets engaged, only to find out her husband has been lost at sea and is coming home. I was very torn on who I wanted her to end up with, but it had a wonderful ending, tied neatly with a bow; would recommend for a quick read! Valentine was a book set in the 70’s in West Texas, about a young Mexican girl who is raped by a white young man and of course, everyone in the town blames her for being a slut and ruining his life (EYE ROLL). It was slow and hard to get through at times, I don’t regret reading it, but I don’t think I would tell you to add to your list?

The Bride Test was another great story from Helen Hoang, about an autistic main character, who struggles to make a connection. Would recommend as a quick read/feel good! Finally, Big Summer was a murder mystery that was a little cliche at times and I felt bored in some places; I’m sad because I was really looking forward to this one as a Jennifer Weiner fan. I think this was the author’s first time delving into mysteries? It was not terribly thrilling, but highlighted friendship and body image, especially plus size acceptance in our society. I would maybe recommend if you’re a Jennifer Weiner fan, but even then, not exactly worth it.

If I had to recommend one, it would be Untamed. If you’re not into memoirs/self help, would go for One True Loves or Bride Test

Untamed by Glennon Doyle Melton
One True Loves: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Valentine: A Novel by Elizabeth Wetmore
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Big Summer: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
Any reading suggestions for me? Let me know in the comments, I need some new ideas! I’m reading Godshot next…
Sincerely,
Sara Ann