August is finally here and it feels like it. My part of Michigan has finally gotten the memo that it’s summer — it like soup out there. Hot and wet. Blech. But, I guess, more time to read indoors! I actually had a pretty good reading month. Six books including two that pretty much everyone should check out. (See the 4-star section.)
Last Month’s Edition & How I Rate Books
4-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler - I read this for one of my book clubs, and though it’s a book I’ve been meaning to get to forever now, I’m glad I finally did. The first science fiction written by a black woman, it’s an important novel. In it, Dana, an African-American woman from the 1970s is suddenly transported back to the antebellum South for the first time on her 26th birthday. Though she comes back to the present, she keeps being pulled into the past, with no control over when she is taken. I found it riveting and it prompted a great discussion. Stop by next Tuesday for my full review, with a book-inspired recipe.
*Betty by Tiffany McDaniel - I really loved this novel, which thankfully, was brought to my attention by the author. It was inspired by the life of her mother, Betty, who grew up in the foothills of Ohio’s Appalachian Mountains. It was a heartbreaking sometimes hard-to-read read but also had an absolutely amazing literary father. I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend the featured recipe, which is the most gorgeous pie I’ve ever made. [review + recipe]
3-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd - I had a LOT of strong opinions on this one. I read this as a buddy read, and she really liked it, while I was mostly disappointed. So, it gave us a lot to discuss. I gave it 3 stars because I appreciated the idea behind the novel, even if I didn’t love the execution, and "good for discussion" is a bonus in my book. If you’d like all of my opinions, check out the full post. [review + recipe]
A Burning by Megha Majumdar - This novel got a lot of buzz and I totally fell prey to it. I don’t quite get the comparisons to Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi or Jhumpa Lahiri — all of whose books I love. Like their novels, this was told from multiple points of view, but I didn’t think the story-crafting was on the same level at all. It is certainly a novel for our time, full of commentary on social media, politics and class. But the plot wasn’t there for me.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson - This is another one I read for book club, and while I liked it fine, that’s about as strong as my feelings got. It reminded me a lot of The Giver of Stars, which is not surprising given the controversy around the two, and I honestly feel like I probably just liked Stars a little better because I read it first. Both told interesting stories. My book club seemed to really like it.
Beach Read by Emily Henry - This was not a light beach-y read, as the title and bright fun cover lead me to believe. It is an easy, quick read, but it still had a fair bit of angst and darkness in it, and I wasn’t 100% convinced in the ending after some odd choices the author made. Still, I loved that this romantic read was about writers and took place in Michigan. The highlight of the book for me was probably when the main character walked into Meijer (a Michigan-based grocery store, and my favorite grocery chain in the world), which is the only time I’ve ever seen that happen in a novel.
Currently Reading ????
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas by Ibram X. Kendi - I’m slowly reading this for my office’s book club, which will meet later this month. Slowly because I’m trying to take diligent notes, since I’ll be leading the discussion, and because I’m trying to make sure I don’t finish it too far in advance of said book club so it’s fresh in my mind. It is over 500 pages, though, so I need to be careful about going too slowly! I’m planning to dial it up a notch this week and next week when I have a few days off.
**A House Is a Body: Stories by Shruti Swamy - I’m a few stories into this collection, and so far I’m “meh” on it. I don’t usually really like short stories but did love All the Names They Used For God in recent memory so though I’d give this highly anticipated collection a try… The collection comes out today for anyone who’s interested.
I’d love to hear what you’ve read and loved lately! Please share in the comments, and if you’re interested, the linkup information is below:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is September 8.
1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & Steph
2. Please display the button or link back to me and the linkup hosts on your blog post.
3. Please visit a few other blogs who've linked up and get some book talk going!
*I received a free digital copy of this book from the author (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
**I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Kay R.D. says
I havent read any of these but I added most of them!
Stephanie Mellor Doyle says
I have no time for The Giver of Stars after what went down with that in regards to Book Woman.
I am waiting for my library to get a copy of Betty! I have a hold on the incoming book.
I tried to start The Book of Longings and couldn't get into it. I might try again.
Can't wait to hear what you think of Betty!
Nancy @ NY Foodie Family says
i enjoyed Beach Read. The cover was definitely deceiving, since it wasn't a light read, but it was still good! I hadn't heard of any of the other books you read.
Jana @ Jana Says says
I'm going to have to read Betty. I read The Summer That Melted Everything (also by Tiffany McDaniel) and it was weird and tedious at times, but the ending was amazing and her writing is quite good.
I'm planning to get to Melted soon hopefully... I did love her writing.
I've never read anything by Octavia Butler, although I plan to eventually--I think Kindred is what I'll start with. I enjoyed Beach Read, and I like that it wasn't super light and fluffy, yet still really entertaining. Betty is one I haven't heard of, but sounds good!
Beach Read was definitely entertaining! A solid read for sure. I'd love to hear what you think of Kindred once you read it, and hope you try Betty too!
I have Beach Read to hopefully check out soon. I know it's a bit more intense than the title and cover seems, which is a bummer, because I'm sure that has upset some people. I don't think it'll bother me, though it's nice to know ahead of time!
I do think I would've preferred to know that ahead of time... I didn't dislike it but was expecting something different. Hope you enjoy the read!
Everyone has read Beach Read...except me! Cant wait to get my hands on it.
Hope you do soon! Enjoy 🙂
I don't know how I feel about The Book of Longings. I may eventually see...Biblical fiction is always iffy? I don't know.
I don't think it's always iffy, but it definitely can be. I loved The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, for example.
Kindred sounds good. I'm on the library wait list for The Book Woman. I enjoyed A House is a Body, but wish I'd had more time to savor the stories 🙂 Hope you enjoy it more as you keep reading. Thanks for sharing!