Wowzer, readers, did I ever have a month! I pledge to read my shelves in September, mostly because I bought a new bookshelf in August for my physical TBR shelf, and I couldn’t fit all my to-be-read books on it! That was embarrassing. So, this month, I decided to tackle some of those that have been sitting there begging for me to read them on my Audible account, Kindle, and physical bookshelf. I read a LOT of books…. but I STILL can’t fit all of them on my shelves! Are they having book babies? Here are short reviews of the 23 that I read this month.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
I felt like this was irredeemably sad, especially for a young adult book! I found myself zoning out, mostly for self-preservation. I did appreciate the history and the personal family connection, but yeesh, young adult stories about the Holocaust/ Soviet evacuation of Lithuania…. I’m gonna go ahead and give a hard pass to these stories in the future.
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
This “novel” reads much more like a collection of short stories that jump around in place and time and settle around the life of Andrea. She came off to me as rather self-centered and whiny (I believe I told my husband this book was about a snatch who boohoos her life in NYC the whole time). I’m not even really sure why I finished it, except to say that it’s less than 200 pages, so it’s not some giant time commitment. The part that annoyed me most is how even though we’ve been introduced to someone multiple times before, we are still given their descriptors like it’s the first time: Nina my co-worker, Greta my sister in law, Indigo my best friend…. yes, we know….
Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
Audiobook is totally the way to go on this. Jen is fantastic, and you feel like you’ve got your BFF chatting in your ears. She made me double over in laughter while tears squeaked out of my eyes; she made me ponder the depths of my knowledge of God; she made me look at my friends and my marriage with brighter eyes; she is fabulous. I love that she takes a little hatchet to her previous books as well, because a little (but not too much) self-deprecation never hurt anyone.
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
I loved this book. Family and comics and sisters and the South and race relations, all wrapped up in a sweet, messy package. Leia is a comic book artist, a big one, and she ends up pregnant after a sexy run-in with Batman at a ComicCon in Atlanta. At the same time as her unexpected pregnancy, her sister’s marriage turns sour, and her grandmother starts losing her marbles. She pulls these threads together in such a fun, wonderful way. This was my first Joshilyn Jackson novel, but it won’t be my last. ❤ ❤
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
SJM is a fantasy master. This is almost 700 pages of awesome writing. That is all.
Actually, I’ll add that this third installment gives all the fantastic Rhys and Feyre relationship without the terrible Tamlin drama (a wee bit but not like the previous books). I loved it.
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
2017 may be “the year of the classics that I’ve always loved but never read” for me. Peter Pan is so much more conniving and selfish in written form. Mr. Darling is so much more endearing and sweet to his children. I loved getting to “revisit” this adventure for the first time in written form. Audible narration by Alan Munro is lovely (although his voice for Tinkerbell when heard at 2x is completely ridiculous! $1.99 on Kindle. Great on audio!
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
In the same vein as The Rosie Effect and A Man Called Ove, Eleanor Oliphant is endearingly oblivious to the social norms of the world around her. She has her routines, and is happy to continue in them until her life gets disrupted by a co-worker and a crush. This book is sweet and quick and oh so readable. I loved it. Warning to HSPs: as I am not a Hightly Sensitive Person, I really enjoyed all of this book, but there are some topics that are tough. Eleanor had a rough childhood and her relationship with her mother reflects that throughout the book. There are details about that relationship. If this sounds like something that might not work for you, skip it.
Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? by Dan Bucatinsky
Definitely some laugh out loud funny moments, stories that make you shake your head, and sweet reminiscences. Mostly a collection of stories that reminds each of us that families are made in every way, and, no matter what yours looks like, the common thread is love. Dan and his partner and their two kiddos embody this perfectly.
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
Warning: if you have ever had the desire to open your own little bookshop, this will fuel your dreams to kingdom come! Very charming and sweet story, full of bookish love, and British humor, and Scottish countrysides. All lovely things. Nina is me in my dreams. Her relationship status is a take-it-or-leave-it aspect of this book. But if you love books and bookshops, it’s worth picking up with or without the romance.
The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Already Own by Joshua Becker
Another inspiring book about minimalism. This one is well done, succinct, and inspirational in that it’s not JUST about paring your possessions, but about finding charities, people, and places to spend your newly freed-up money, time, and donate-able items. A great reminder that beckoning minimalist isn’t about getting rid of the world, but rather about being able to invest in it more fully.
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
This is a sweet, fun story that I will also be filing under “so you want to own a bookshop”. The Bookshop in this story has this unique Letter Library in it, where people leave notes and letters and underline favorite passages and argue with one another about the content of their favorite writings. I could not love this idea any more.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
This novel is part southern mystery (great on audio with the two narrators’ accents), part exposé on the adoption/baby market of the 1930s and 40s. Follow Avery (in the present) as she unravels the secrets of her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and Rill (1930s) as she and her siblings are taken from her parents and placed into an orphanage. Heart wrenching and difficult, but very well written.
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
This one by Roald Dahl is pretty short, but it’s just super fun. Both of my boys couldn’t wait to read the next chapter each night. The sillines sof Mr. Fox and his family are just too much fun for kids to resist. As mama, I was equally happy with this one. Now to watch the movie with the kiddos! If you haven’t seen the claymation release from a few years ago, be sure to check it out. My favorite part is the “cussing”. 🙂
Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller
This memoir recounts the childhood of Kimberly Rae Miller. She grew up with a father who hoards paper of all kinds, and a mother that tries to fight it but eventually succumbs to the situation and adds to it with a Home Shopping Network addiction. Throughout her childhood and young adult life, Kimberly feels she has to shield her friends from her home life, is called upon by CPS, and often finds herself living in squalor. Every time the family moves, she feels like it will provide a fresh start, and then the home again falls into disrepair. Such an insightful look at the childhood of hoarding parents.
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Still Life by Louise Penny
Plenty of cozy mystery and fall in this novel. I made it through this time (96% on audio and then read the last 15 pages when my headphone died). I mostly remembered the first 1/3, so that part felt a lot like skimming. it would appear I abandoned this one last time JUST before it started it get more interesting. glad I stuck with it. probably won’t go chasing after the next ones in the series, but I’ll be glad to have them on the back burner for fall reads in the future. I do love the “softness” of Gamache, and the way he hasn’t let the job make him mean or jaded. he’s a great main character to build a series around.
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
I’m obsessed with the Four Tendencies and want to talk about it with everyone, so I love that Gretchen wrote a whole book about them. Here she discusses how to identify your tendency (I’m an Obliger, which I’ve known forever), what that tendencies strengths and weaknesses are, how they relate to others, etc. She also looks at different tendency pairings to dive deeper into the benefits and challenges that you might experience if, say your spouse is the same tendency as you or an opposite tendency, or if your child is. Such a great deep dive into one of my favorite topics. I’m sure I’ll be pulling this book out again and again.
Artemis by Andy Weir
I didn’t find this one QUITE as quick and compelling as The Martian, but definitely enjoyed it! Artemis is the first city on the moon and Jazz is the young, spunky smuggler who is always trying to make a buck by providing the citizens and visitors with forbidden items. She gets pulled into bigger and bigger scheme as she attempts to make life on the moon work for her. This novel is so fast-paced and fun. highly recommended. I’m sure that, like The Martian, the science isn’t 100% infallible, but it’s still intriguing and interesting without being dumbed down or overwhelming. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an Advance Review Copy!
The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane
I thought this was a wee bit crazy (pun intended). This book is about a small group of teenagers at a summer camp for kids with “heightened mental and emotional states”. each of them is struggling with something awful. This isn’t exceptionally written or particularly noteworthy or memorable, but it came together well.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
It took me six months to read this sweeping epic classic, but it was worth every moment. The complexities of this novel had me drawing character charts in my head at night. Reading it through Serial Reader (app) was the best way to digest it in small bites instead of getting overwhelmed by it. Highly recommended, especially in that format.
Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
As a longtime fan and follower of Anne Bogel, I was ready to pre-order and dig into anything she wrote, no matter the topic! All that to say there wasn’t any guarantee I was going to enjoy it. Thankfully, this book delivered in a big way.
Whether you’re a budding personality-quiz aficionado, just enjoy an occasional Buzzfeed insight, or love diving deep into all the personality frameworks, this book is for you. Anne distills everything you need to know about MBTI (and cognitive functions), Strengths Finder, Enneagram, the five love languages, Highly Sensitive People, etc into easy to read and digest paragraphs. For those of us that love her for her literary taste, you won’t be disappointed either, as she relates many of these frameworks and their variations to well-known literary characters (because, hello, Modern Mrs. Darcy!).
This was a delightful listen and read and I look forward to referring back to it again and again. Currently $2.99 on Kindle.
Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
I just HAD to finally get into Strengths Finder after finishing Reading People by Anne Bogel. I love that this research-based draws on interviews with 100000+ people and focuses on promoting the talents we already possess instead of trying to shore up weaknesses. Let someone who is good at that thing do what is hard for you! you have other gifts, and SF is about finding what those gifts are and using them to your advantage and the advantage of those around you.
PS. not that strengths are extroverted or introverted in themselves, but my Strengths together basically scream extrovert.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
This was definitely a case of right-book-wrong-time for me. Or maybe “I can see that this is good, but I do not like it”. I was so bored by this classic novel. The only redeeming factor for me was the narration by Juliet Stevenson, who just has a great voice. The characters, the plot, nothing did it for me on this one. Too bad, but onto the next!
Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
I love short little books that are easy to read but full of all kinds of happy fun. This is just one of those books! Helen lives on a farm with her brother. She spends plenty of time doing exactly the same thing every day, for 15 years. When a book wagon named Parnassus drives up with an offer to buy, she decides it’s time for an adventure and jumps in the driver’s seat. Bookish fun ensues, along with a little dose of love. This little novel was just a blast. I loved every second. Only 99 cents on Kindle.