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

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: 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