Reading Recap: July 2018

Another month, another stack of reads. This one was particularly good, with my favorite being Us Against You (you probably could have guessed that, huh), a new one from Colleen Hoover, and a stunning debut from Fatima Farheen Mirza. Let’s get to it!

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

While this book was a little outside of my usual comfort zone, I’d heard so many good things that I decided I had to give it a try. And I’m glad I did. Both disturbing and informative, Killers of the Flower Moon tells a true story I knew very little about. The devastating murders of hundreds of members of the Osage Nation is a shameful part of our history, but one we should all be aware of — and something that should be taught in schools. Grann is a masterful storyteller, creating a convincing and haunting narrative that can’t be missed.

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

The first from Sarah Jessica Parker’s imprint, A Place for Us is a stunning debut. I was blown away not only by the writing, but by Mirza’s ability to so accurately depict each character’s feelings, especially those of a parent. This is a beautiful and gut wrenching story of family, finding one’s place in the world, and figuring out who you are. Beware, the last 80 pages will leave you sobbing. I can’t wait to see more from this incredibly talented woman.

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

I was terrified to start Us Against You, thanks to my love of Beartown. I thought there was no possible way it could live up to it — but it did. Backman has a way of writing devastatingly beautiful stories that will wreck you in the best way. It’s difficult to find words to describe what he does, so I’m not even going to try. Plus, part of the pleasure of reading these books is going in with little information and just staying with it, without trying to figure out where Backman is taking you. As with Beartown, this book left me in tears, and with a giant book hangover. Full review on Goodreads. (Thank you to Atria Books for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review.)

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

The story of Sarah and Eddie is like a cross between Bridget Jones and Eleanor Oliphant, with a surprising twist. I finished Ghosted in a couple sittings and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you like contemporary fiction with lovable but flawed characters and an interesting plot, pick this one up. It was the perfect summer escape that I have a feeling I’ll be thinking about for a while.

Reading People by Anne Bogel

I’ve always been partial to a good personality quiz, but only recently have I become utterly fascinated with the various personality frameworks (think Meyers Briggs, the Enneagram, etc.). Reading People, Bogel’s first book, does a great job of giving a thorough overview of the most popular ones, and even provides additional resources to explore if readers want to delve deeper. I listened to this one on audio, which I personally thought the subject matter was perfect for. (An added bonus? Anne narrates it in her soothing voice we’ve all come to know and love through her popular podcast, What Should I Read Next — check it out if you haven’t.) I, for one, was hooked, and will be referring back to this book as I continue my journey of personality discovering.

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

I’ve only recently become a Colleen Hoover fan after years of skepticism and wrongly assuming romance wasn’t a genre I’d like. Hoover has a way of depicting relationships that, while sometimes problematic, you can’t help but relate to and root for. All Your Perfects is the fourth Hoover book I’ve read, and strays a little from her typical theme. This time, instead of being about a budding romance, it’s about a marriage that’s failing. It alternates between present day — as the couple’s marriage is starting to crumble — and when they first met and are falling in love. Full review on Goodreads. (Thank you to Atria Books for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review.)

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

We picked Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows for my IRL book club and I started it by reading a physical copy. A colleague had mentioned that the audio was great, so when I got a little stuck I decided to give that a try. I’m so glad I did because she was right—listening to it was great. The narrator did a fabulous job of changing her voice for each character, and since there are quite a few characters, this made following along much easier. I found this to be a fun and entertaining read, but a warning for those who might not love steamy scenes: this is chock-full of them.

Sick by Porochista Khakpour

For obvious reasons, I tend to be drawn toward books about people living with chronic illness—particularly women. I was especially eager to read Sick, Khakpour’s memoir, because I know a number of people affected by Lyme disease. Khakpour’s story is a difficult one, full of not just a lifetime of illness, but a lifetime of struggle. At times I had to put it down and step away — it can be difficult to read someone’s story of illness when you live with an illness yourself. While I didn’t relate to her story as much as I’d hoped, I found it fascinating, informative, and painful. Hers is a story that is needed in our society, for many reasons. We have a tendency not to believe women’s physical pain, and Lyme disease seems to be an illness our country has a difficult time understanding. I hope that the more stories like Khakpour’s that are heard, the more we’ll start really listening to both women with chronic illness and those who live with Lyme disease. (Thank you to Harper Perennial for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review.)

As always, you can see what books I’m reading and eagerly anticipated on my Instagram account, @kathareads.

What was your favorite book you read recently?

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stack of books

Reading Recap: June 2018

With the end of a month comes another reading recap, and June had some pretty good reads — 8 books in total, 2 of them on audio. Instead of coming up with a stack of books I wanted to read, I just picked what my mood told me to. And apparently I was in the mood for engaging and compelling reads. 1 nonfiction, 3 thrillers, 3 contemporary fiction, 1 YA.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman — This was my second Backman book (my first was Beartown and you KNOW how I felt about that one). It was also my first real foray into listening to fiction — most of the time I find I’m too easily distracted to follow a story, so I’ve been sticking to nonfiction. But something about the narrator and Ove as a character held my attention, and I ended up loving this story. It’s no Beartown, but Ove is an endearing character with a lot of flaws and a lot of heart. I both laughed and cried many times while learning about Ove’s both tragic and average life.

Providence by Caroline Kepnes — I read Caroline Kepnes’ You a couple of years ago and found it fascinating and terrifying, so I was excited to get my hands on her latest. Providence definitely wasn’t what I expected but I still really enjoyed it. It’s the perfect mix of suspense, romance, and science fiction, as well as being a quick + engaging read. While the ending wrapped up a little too quickly and didn’t have quite the big reveal I was hoping for, I enjoyed each of the main characters and was eager to find out what happened. This might not be my favorite of hers, but I’ll still be looking forward to the next book Kepnes writes. [Thank you to Randomhouse for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review.]

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir — This book hooked me from the very beginning, and I gobbled it up in just a few sittings. As someone who is fascinated by families like the Duggars, this was a compelling read. Essie and Roarke were by far my favorite, and I rooted for them until the very end. I was captivated by both the inner workings of Essie’s family and Libby’s childhood — which had threads that wove them together in interesting ways. However, I was disappointed by the ending, which felt rushed and oversimplified. After spending 80% of the story building up to the final moment, I felt a little cheated. Regardless, I’d still highly recommend The Book of Essie to anyone who is intrigued by religious extremists and who likes a fast-paced, engaging plot. [Thank you to Alfred A. Knopf for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review.]

Scythe by Neal Schusterman — I fully intended not to like this book. YA fantasy is a little out of my wheelhouse, however, it hooked me more than I expected. The whole concept of the book — a future that has eradicated death and therefore tasks certain humans with the job of killing people in the name of population control — was fascinating to me. The first third of the book flew by as Schusterman built this world and introduced us to the main characters. And as much as I was entertained, it was too easy to put down. For some reason that I still can’t put my finger on I wasn’t eager to gobble it up. Full review on The Bookly Club.

Shrill by Lindy West — I listened to this on audio, which is narrated by Lindy herself (the author as narrator almost always guarantees a good listen). It was exactly what I hoped for: funny, brash, heavy, and relatable. West has a voice and a story that I’m glad is out in the world, and I highly recommend this for people who enjoy Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, and Samantha Irby.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell — Any thriller that keeps me guessing and has me hooked immediately gets four stars from me, purely for entertainment value. I read this in one sitting because I could. not. put. it. down. I DID end up guessing a few of the main twists, but I still found the story compelling and engaging. I also really enjoyed the characters and the family dynamic. A fun, fast-paced thriller that’s perfect for summer.

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben — I’ve read a handful of Harlan Coben’s books before and have always found them entertaining and quick reads. Which honestly? Sometimes that’s exactly what I need. This one dragged a little for me, but it kept me guessing and eager to find out how it would end. If you want something mindless to distract you from reality, this is definitely worth a read.

November 9 by Colleen Hoover — I want to preface this by saying that I know Colleen Hoover’s books can be problematic. Some aspects of the story don’t always sit well with me, but I’m comfortable with moving forward as long as I’m aware of that. For me, her books are the perfect palate cleanser, and they almost always get me out of a reading slump. Which is exactly why I picked this one up. I’d been paralyzed with indecision, faced with picking my next read from a giant stack of popular, buzzed about books. Instead, I went with a book that I knew would hook me and that I would read quickly — sometimes being able to finish a book is exactly what I need to build my reading momentum. I instantly wanted to know what happened with Ben and Fallon, so I stayed up way past my usual bedtime to finish it. #noregrets If you’re able to suspend belief, or overlook minor flaws, and you’re a fan of contemporary romance novels, give this one a try.

Come tell me what you’ve been reading! And, as always, you can follow along with my reading life at @kathareads.

(All reviews can also be seen on my Goodreads account.)