I See You by Clare Mackintosh: 4 stars
This was my first read by Mackintosh, and I had high expectations thanks to the hype I’ve heard on Instagram and the internet. It was also on the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading List for 2017, which means there was a very high chance that I would love it. Well, readers, you all were right. I did love this one. The mystery was intriguing and kept me guessing until the last minute. I think I actually might go back and read this one again just to see what clues I missed. (I originally listened to it as an audiobook.) Following a woman who finds her photo in the classifieds of the newspaper one day with no explanation, it’s the search for a deeper, creepier answer to what happens to the information we put online. This one would be perfect for the upcoming fall months
Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch: 4 stars
Another light young adult read that I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy was Love and Gelato. Many of you may not know that I studied abroad in Italy, and a piece of my heart will always be in that lovely country. I picked up Love and Gelato mainly because it takes place in my beloved Firenze. I was immediately whisked back to my favorite locations: the gelaterias, the Boboli Gardens, the Pitti Palace, and even the secret bakery. The love story and the mini mystery that serves as the plot was light hearted and fun, leaving me to give this one a pleasant 4 stars.
Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow: 4 Stars
We’ve come to another grad school read and one that I actually was compelled to read of my own volition. With a bit of history on every page, the storyline centers around the turn of the 20th century in America. It was fun to see a fictional take on historical events with characters like Harry Houdini, Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, J.P. Morgan, Evelyn Nesbit, Sigmund Freud, and Emiliano Zapata. Those of you who enjoy historical fiction will really enjoy this short novel.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly: 3 stars
Hidden Figures read a bit too much like a textbook for my taste, but the story was interesting. I listened to this one as an audiobook, hoping that I would find it more engaging in that format. I had a hard time getting into the meat of the text, with so many facts being thrown at me. I understand why it was so widely recommended; the story is an important one to tell and one we should learn from. I just found the movie to be more my taste than the book on this one. (Gasp!)
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley: 2 stars
I was disappointed in this mystery/thriller following the aftermath of an airplane crash with only two survivors. By focusing on all of the characters’ stories leading up to the crash, the story became convoluted. It has a great premise, but the journey and the ending just didn’t make it worth the read for me.
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan: 4 stars
Spoiler Alert: The title of this one does not accurately describe this book. There isn’t a bookshop on the corner, rather there is a book van that travels around a small village. This was a quaint read about a woman who loses her job and decides on a whim to buy a van to start selling books across the country. It takes place across the pond, which added to another level of quaintness to the story. The relationships the main character develops are complicated but not heavy, and I could totally relate to her actions. She’s a woman after my own heart, which made me love this book even more. Try this one on audiobook for even more British fun!
War Dogs: The True Story of How Three Stoners From Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History by Guy Lawson: 4 stars
Sometimes the people I do life with remember that the quickest way to my heart is through a book recommendation. My boyfriend put this one in my hands and said, “Read this. I think you’ll like this.” He wouldn’t answer any of my questions before or during, but we had a good chat about how I felt about it as the total solar eclipse rolled through in August. As you can tell from the title, War Dogs follows the true story of three young men from Miami that become gunrunners for the U.S. government. It’s raw and real, complete with foul language and all of the adventures you’d expect three stoned gunrunners to have. This wasn’t my normal genre to read, but it was an interesting look at a world I probably will not have contact with otherwise. I haven’t checked out the movie yet, but I bet I’ll give it just as high of a ranking as the book.
Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham: 3 stars
After thoroughly enjoying Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can, I thought this would be a no-brainer follow up. As a first book, it’s not bad. I could see element of Graham’s real life weaved through the plot, but it wasn’t a lifestyle I could relate to. It was a pleasant and light read with the added bonus of Graham reading this audiobook. Great for the beach or the reader that needs a funny narrator and an easy-going plot.
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler: 2 stars
I have to make a confession on this one. I didn’t really read the last ⅓ of this book. I was listening to it as an audiobook and was excited to read one of the top books of 2016. Unfortunately, the narrator was so full of herself and lacked any real motivation for her reckless actions that I couldn’t listen a second longer. I fast-forwarded through the last ⅓ and listened to the last 30 minutes or so. Maybe it’s because I’m from the midwest, maybe it’s because I haven’t experienced life in the big city, but I just couldn’t do it any longer. On a more positive note, I did enjoy the character dynamics and relationships in the early sections of the book.
A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass: 2 stars
This was the August pick for the local Barnes and Noble book club I recently joined. I’m sorry to admit that we did judge the book by its cover and chose this one because of the art. Unfortunately the majority of the members were disappointed to find the plot was not as lovely as the cover. There were secrets revealed throughout the text that were seemingly supposed to shock, but left me saying “So what?”. One of the characters is based on the life of Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, which may lead you to want to pick this one up regardless of my review. The story is character-driven and addresses issues of loyalty, fame, and truth.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: 4 stars
The Underground Railroad has been sitting on my TBR shelves for more months than I would are to admit after I found the hardback for sale at my local library for only two dollars! Then I had the honor of being chosen to be a part of the newly founded Diverse Books Club, thanks to Madeleine over at Top Shelf Text. (I’m the Related Resources Manager, and you can meet the rest of the team here! Join us, please!) Now that the Diverse Books Club has officially begun, I finally had every excuse I needed to finally read this highly acclaimed novel. I enjoyed the aspects of magical realism that made the Underground Railroad being an actual railroad, but it really wasn’t the driving force of the novel. (That’s usually all you hear about when someone mentions the novel.) It does allow us to travel from place to place quite quickly, without the turmoil and stress the actual Underground Railroad slaves and volunteers endured. Whitehead weaves so much history into his fictional tale that I have a massive list of related resources that don’t even begin to help make sense of it all. This one has plenty of high praise for a reason. It makes you think about how we treat others and the justification for doing so. This is a great topical read for anyone wanting to diversify their reading list. Keep an eye out for a longer review post in September, and a recap of my experiences getting to see Whitehead speak at Butler University toward the end of the month.
There you have it, folks. All 18 reads with my elevator pitch review for you to enjoy. As the air turns crisper, I’m looking to more chilling reads. So far, I have several books in the works including Stella by Starlight, A Spool of Blue Thread, Holding, Girls Made of Snow and Glass, and Final Girls.
What are you reading in September? Let me know in the comments!