What I Read in August
While my vacation (and consequential nasty cold) gave me some lovely uninterrupted reading time in August, I didn’t finish as many books as I’ve managed in the previous few months.
IQ by Joe Ide
For the ReadHarder Challenge Category: A mystery by a person of color This mystery was a refreshing change of pace from my typical/recent reading selections. It took me a while to get into it, but once the gigantic pit bull showed up, I was hooked! It’s a unique twist on the traditional detective novel, and I wasn’t aware of the Sherlock Holmes comparisons until after I finished, but that makes sense. The novel is raw and gritty yet touching at times, and thoroughly fascinating. The writing is sharp and witty, the characters genuine. I highly recommend this for fans of the detective genre and or general mysteries/thrillers, although anyone seeking a good fast paced story will enjoy this one as well.
Little Panic by Amanda Stern
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A book about mental health This was an advanced copy from NetGalley. When I first started this memoir, I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to handle it because my own anxiety was triggered. However that resolved quickly and I became fully immersed in Amanda’s experiences. My own anxiety during childhood was not quite as severe and more generalized, and I didn’t have siblings for comparison, though my relationship with my mother was similar. Even though I’m an adult now, hearing Amanda’s story made me feel less alone. I wanted to reach out to comfort her and swap stories while reading! I’m not sure how this memoir will affect someone who doesn’t struggle with anxiety, but there are probably more who do than I realize. I also think it would be a game changer for someone who loves a person with anxiety/panic disorders who can’t relate.
That Summer by Sarah Dessen
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A bestseller from the year you graduated high school (1996) I was expecting a sweet young adult romance set on the beach. While it does take place during the summer, there’s not much romance and it’s not light and fluffy. Instead, it’s a heavy story about family and belonging, and the pains of growing up. The story has the potential to be so much better, but it stays superficial and Haven doesn’t get the depth she deserves. All the women in this book could be so much stronger and further developed. It’s a quick easy read but not worth it if you’re older than 16.
Esoteric Empathy by Raven Digitalis
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A book with a cover you hate (FYI, it’s the feeling/texture of the cover I dislike, not the image!) Once I began to see being an empath as a blessing instead of a curse, I felt like I had a super power. The author takes this to the next level for me and I now feel like I have an entire tool box full of techniques to use to keep myself grounded and centered. What I appreciate most is the concept of transforming energy, meaning that I am not simply a sponge soaking up others’ emotions that will cause me harm. I know that this book is already changing my life, and now that I’ve finished it, I can’t wait to go back through my notes and start using more of the information in my daily life.
Lust and Wonder by Augusten Burroughs
This was the only of the author’s books I hadn’t read and it turns out to be my least favorite. While I appreciate his candid writing style and crude honesty in regard to relationships, these stories didn’t resonate with me like his other memoirs have. As we get the chronicle of Augusten’s more recent, and serious relationships, we also get a glimpse into how he wrote his other books. That was my favorite component of the book! His writing is as strong as ever in this memoir and fans of his previous works should definitely read it for a more complete understanding of him.
Still Lives by Maria Hummel
The blurb makes this book sound so good, but It’s not, and it feels unfinished. It took over 100 pages for the pace to pick up, which is too long for a book that’s less than 300 pages total! For a supposed thriller, it unravels sloooowly and has a lot of side angles that aren’t followed through. It could have been longer and more complete. We get bits and pieces of Maggie’s backstory but never enough to understand what makes her tick. There are tons of secondary characters who are easy to confuse because they’re all similar and not well developed. I couldn’t figure out who was good or bad, or who I should care about. Sometimes that works in a novel, but here it makes the story fall flat. There was a lot of potential for creepiness and mystery in the art world, and it didn’t go far enough. It’s like the author had an idea, sketched it out, then stopped and this is what I read.
Exactly What To Say by Phil Jones
While primarily addressing those in sales positions, this short, concise book can be useful for improving communication in all types of relationships. I know I will reference it a lot for professional purposes. The concept of using the right words for a situation is powerful and useful across the board.
Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
Hands down, this will be one of my all time favorite celebrity memoirs! It’s funny and sad and hopeful and powerful. Far from a traditional celebrity memoir, it’s presented in a collection of personal essays about his childhood in South Africa. Starting before he was even conceived, Trevor paints vivid portraits of his mother and grandmother with superb writing and rich imagery of apartheid. South Africa is a major character Trevor’s stories, and he describes apartheid with great factual detail and emotional commentary. I learned so much from this book, I am horrified I wasn’t aware of it before hand. At times heartbreaking and other times laugh out loud hilarious, Trevor’s storytelling and narration left me in awe, and I was sad when it was over – I wanted to know more. I liked Trevor and his work on The Daily Show before this book, and now I have an even greater respect for what he has achieved in his life and career.
Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King
Often when I’m scrolling through NetGalley, I select books based on the appeal of the cover. I don’t request the title if the description isn’t a fit for me, but I read many a blurb simply because the cover is pretty. This novel is a perfect example of that habit paying off for me!
This is a beautifully written, compelling mystery about family and loyalty, and what lengths we go to in order to protect our loved ones. Maisey receives a phone call out of the blue, learning that her mother is in a coma, and her elderly father, who appears disoriented and confused, is facing charges of abuse. Maisey returns to her family home, with her confident, outspoken 12 year old daughter in tow. While searching through her parents’ home office and documents, trying to make sense of all that has happened, Maisey discovers a hidden birth certificate revealing she has a twin sister she never knew about. As Masiey faces this shock, she is also dealing with her unwell parents, and trying to determine what’s best for her entire family. It’s a powerful story with a big mystery, and while it is generally a story of sadness and grief, there are overtones of courage, resilience, and hope.
Tear Me Apart by JT Elison
A compelling story from the first page, this novel treads into some delicate territory regarding mental illness and suicide. Teenager Mindy Wright is a rising superstar in competitive downhill skiing when a dramatic crash during a race changes her life, and those of everyone who loves her, forever. During surgery to repair her broken leg, doctors discover she has an aggressive leukemia, and a stem cell transplant is her only hope for survival. When her parents and aunt are tested, the truth emerges that Mindy is not biologically related to any of them. This revelation begins a fast paced search for Mindy’s biological family. As the mystery begins to unravel, more and more questions arise. The story moves back and forth in time, and across the country, as we learn about both of Mindy’s families and how she came to be the daughter of the parents who raised her in the Colorado mountains and nourished her career. Although the plot seemed unbelievable at times, I still found myself caring about the characters and desperate for the resolution of the mystery. I especially like the exploration into what makes a family other than biology.
My DNF List (books I started but didn’t finish)
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
I really wanted to like this book. Maybe I went into it with too high of expectations since several women I admire have enjoyed it. I had to stop before I got into hate reading territory. I quit at the 25% mark. Maybe it gets better, but I couldn’t stand the tone so I imagine it doesn’t change. I’m sure the author did not intend for her guidance to come off as condescending, yet it does. I know her intentions her are positive, and many women have been empowered by this book, it just isn’t for me.
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockart
At 45minutes into this novel, I was totally lost so I started over. I made it 22% through the book and finally quit because it was still difficult to follow and I simply didn’t care about any of the characters.
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
I should have known better than to even start this one! I made it 10% in and then I couldn’t handle mysteriously hateful kid thing.
So what did you read in August?!