Monday, October 2, 2023

September 2023 Reads

Sorry I've been radio silent for a little while - I've been having trouble uploading pictures from my laptop and doing it from my phone is annoying and I've been busy with work and Girl Scouts stuff {more on that later}. BUT the problem might be fixed, so here we go - it's Book Review time!

This was an awesome month of reading - I read 13 books! A good mix of genres and thoughts - some great ones, some okay ones. My diverse reading has taken a little hit, so I definitely need to get more focused on that in the last quarter.

Defend the Dawn by Brigid Kemmerer - Last month I read Defy the Night and was thrilled the 2nd book in this trilogy was already out {with book 3 coming out in January, yay!}. The story and action picked right back up where the first book left off, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one as well. No '2nd book slump' on this one. We ended on a cliffhanger, and I can't wait to see how the trilogy wraps up.

The Deepest South of All by Richard Grant [audiobook] - This was a really interesting look at the town of Natchez, Mississippi and how its history of racism and slavery has affected the town today. The book profiled the life of an African Prince, Abd al Rahman Ibrahima, who was captured and sold into slavery AND what life is like in Natchez today. I found the parallel timelines an interesting juxtaposition and enjoyed them both, but I was definitely more interested in Ibrahima's tragic life. 

When Life Gives you Mangos by Kereen Getten - Drew got this book for free from our local library, and we read it together. It's set in the Caribbean and follows a little girl as she deals with hurricanes, family dynamics, friendship changes due to growing up, and a mystery about why her memory from the previous summer is messed up and she's developed a fear of the ocean. We enjoyed this somewhat and did NOT expect the reason behind Clara's memory loss, but we both found it a little confusing at times. 

As Little as Nothing by Pamela Mulloy - This was September's Blog Friend Book Club selection of the month and has a cute story behind the reason it was picked. Natasha bought this from her local bookstore because the author lives in her community! She ended up buying copies for all of us, and when she drove through the US last summer {and met both Emily and Erika in person} had my book mailed to me - complete with autographs from all 3 ladies! I was so excited to read the book because with a cover like this, a WW2 English countryside setting, and a personal connection to the could it be bad? Well, it wasn't BAD...but it also wasn't good, ha. All of us were fairly disappointed in how this book told a story but also didn't - it was very descriptive of the surroundings yet stayed very surface-level with the characters. Natasha shared that this was a very 'Canadian book', and we all agreed we didn't like them apparently! 

Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi [audiobook] - This was the selection for my work book club, and it was fantastic! The story followed Aryana as she lived through the revolution in Afghanistan in 1978, moved to America, and then confronted her past as an adult. We all really loved the story, enjoyed talking about it, and sharing what we knew about Afghanistan's history and the part America played in it. It was a heavy yet moving story, one that I highly recommend!

Reign by Katharine McGee - The conclusion to the 'American ended up with George Washington as King' series, and I was all here for it! I ended up loving the Washington siblings and where their stories ended. I thought this was such an interesting take for a series {although I still need someone to explain to me who inherited from George Washington given he didn't have biological children}, and it was fun 'living' in this different America!

Counting the Cost by Jill Duggar [audiobook] - I was super excited to listen to Jill Duggar's story as I was a typical girl fascinated by the Duggar family. They definitely seemed like the 'perfect' {if very different} family. Little by little as secrets have been revealed and the perfect cover has worn off, there has still been a very tight-lipped policy by the family. It was so interesting to hear Jill's life story story from her own mouth. Learning more about IBLP - the 'religion' they follow, the inner workings of the show, her relationship with her family, her life now...all so fascinating. I wish there had been a little more about Josh, but I can understand why she would be hesitant to share more about such a traumatic experience in her life that she was required to cover up and pretend wasn't a big deal. If you followed anything about the Duggars, this is a must read! It isn't the best writing ever, but it was worth the listen.

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren - I mostly love Christina Lauren's book and this was no exception. It's the story of a romance author whose in a slump who goes on a reality dating show...but falls for the producer. The beginning was slow but the ending was fantastic, so overall, I'd say it was a really good story!

Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon - This author is becoming a go-to for me. I've really enjoyed all her books that I've read so far, and this was no exception. It told the story of a ghost writer who had a one night stand with an actor {she didn't know who he was} that was TERRIBLE and then she gets hired to ghost write his memoir, ha. This story focused on mental health {which I always love}, both characters were Jewish {I think it's important to read more stories with Jewish characters}, and there was a lot about normalizing female sexuality. Overall a fun story with a lot of great themes.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett [audiobook] - This was a TREAT! On one hand, the story itself was so fantastic - a 5-decade spanning story about a brother and sister and how their lives are intertwined with the house they grew up in {The Dutch House} - I loved these siblings and their story was fascinating. On the other hand, Tom Hanks narrated and his narration was a masterpiece on its own. This was my favorite book of the month, but I'm not sure how much of it was because of Tom Hanks?! {grin}

A Love Catastrophe by Helena Hunting - Helena Hunting is a go-to rom com writer for me. Some of her books I think are great and some are good. This was good. Cute story but nothing overwhelmingly special. Kitty owns a cat sitting business and ends up falling for one of her clients. What I did especially enjoy was that the 'conflict' in the story wasn't between the couple and once they got together they were supportive of each other and a team. That was a nice change from a 'misunderstanding that leads to a breakup'!

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross - I saw this described as 'better than Fourth Wing' and I was so excited to pick it up. was not. Womp, womp. It WAS a good story - rival newspaper writers go off to be war correspondents in a battle of the gods {it's fantasy}. But it was SO SLOW to get moving. I feel like 3/4 of it I was trying to stay in the story and wondering when it was going to get Fourth Wing good ha. It finally picked up and ended on a cliffhanger - and the 2nd/final book comes out soon - so I will definitely read the 2nd book, but I have better expectations I hope!

Smaller Sister by Maggie Edkins Willis - Drew checked this graphic novel out from the library and wanted me to read it. It was not a light-hearted sister story like we thought it was going to be, but it focused on the relationship of the sisters when once is battling anorexia. [In the author's note, the author shared this wasn't her story exactly but that one of her sisters did battle anorexia and she had disordered eating as well.] This was such a sweet story! I teared up several times and also loved the messages throughout the book of being yourself, embracing your body as it is, seeking help when you need it, so much good stuff! Drew and I've had some good conversations, and I want to keep talking about it.

And that finishes my month! I hit 100 books, which was my original goal for 2023, so thanks to Natasha's encouragement I upped it to 125, which would be a record for me!