July 2018 Book Reviews: This month in particular (it seems), I started several books I didn’t finish. I never review books I don’t finish. The books I do review have something to offer the reader even when I may not give each of them glowing five stars.
What makes me not finish a book? I recently quit one because by page 20 there were already soooo many characters (all with silly names), and I couldn’t keep them straight. The other was a biography written by a popular actress. Right off, I just didn’t connect. I have too many potentially great books stacked on my nightstand, piled on my bookcase, queued in my Audible list, downloaded electronically calling from my Kindle app.
Read me next! Read me next!
They’re loud and persuasive, my to-read books…
The Autobiography of Us
by: Aria Beth Sloss
This coming-of-age story of two girls told in flashback is the tale of a “wannabe” friendship spanning junior high into young motherhood. The book cover made me think the story would be more lighthearted than it turned out to be. Alex is wild, larger than life. Rebecca, the studious one, wants to emulate her. Set during the 50s-70s, there’s angst and growing pains and social issues aplenty. I loved the setting and the friendship theme, but the story left me a feeling a bit down in the dumps. I think I expected a more uplifting conclusion.
This book made me: wonder why Alex and Rebecca were friends at all.
My favorite quote: It had never occurred to me that real life might offer the smallest portion of the happiness I found in reading.
Something in the Water
by: Catherine Steadman
A young married couple honeymoons in dreamy Bora Bora. What they find in the water completely changes the course of their lives. I listened to the Audible version of this story, read by the author who has a hypnotic voice. While I suspected the “whodunit” part of the story well before the big reveal, I was along for the ride from the very first line. Yes, Erin, the protagonist, made completely unrealistic decisions at nearly every turn. But then again, we don’t really know what people will do. Do we? Chosen as a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Read, we’ll be watching this one on Netflix before long. A suspenseful summer read with a somewhat predictable ending, Something in the Water is perfect when you simply want to be entertained.
This book made me: want to go to Bora Bora and not find something in the water.
My favorite quote: Sometimes you’re the lamp post, and sometimes you’re the dog.
A Separate Peace
by: John Knowles
A Separate Peace is on PBS’s Great American Read list. (I’m trying to read those books on the list I’ve never read.) LOVED this quietly brilliant story about adolescence and friendship, jealousy and loneliness. What starts as a small-ish, possibly accidental incident at a boy’s boarding school during the beginning of WWII grows into this huge thing that takes on a life of its own. Catcher in the Rye meets Lord of the Flies.
This book made me: want to re-read it the minute I read the last page!
My favorite quote: Now, in this winter of snow and crutches with Phineas, I began to know that each morning reasserted the problems of the night before, the sleep suspended all but nothing changed, that you couldn’t make yourself over between dawn and dusk.
The Hate U Give
by: Angie Thomas
This young adult novel debuted to instant buzz and success. Inspired by Black Lives Matter, the story is told from sixteen-year-old Starr Carter’s point-of-view. When she witnesses a police officer kill her unarmed friend, Khalil, during a traffic stop, her carefully balanced life (split between her home in a poor neighborhood and her expensive private school) is turned upside down. The Hate U Give takes a frequent headline—unarmed black youth killed by white police officer—and digs into the story behind the story, providing the reader reasons behind the choices of “gangbangers” and “thugs”. Foul language and slang will offend many readers but adds to the book’s authenticity. From Starr’s ex-con father to her white boyfriend, the author gives us stereotypical characters and layers (many of) them with unexpected viewpoints. This book provides a strong reminder that there are two sides to every story. If the idea of this book makes you angry, annoyed, or uncomfortable, read it.
This book made me: Cringe, chuckle (there is humor), check myself, google Black Twitter.
My favorite quote: What makes his name or our names any less normal than yours? Who or what defines ‘normal’ to you? If my pops were here, he’d say you’ve fallen into the trap of the white standard.
by: Banana Yoshimoto
Kitchen is the charming story of love and loss and family and home. (Really, it’s two related novellas combined into one book.) Mikage, the protagonist, is an orphan raised by her grandmother. When her grandmother dies, she moves in with a friend, Yoichi, and his mother (who used to be his father) to create a makeshift family. The story is written in a simplistic, beautiful, almost poetic style that left me feeling hopeful about the lives we build in this world. An enchanting tale translated from Japanese.
This book made me: reflect back on the summer I spent in Japan.
My favorite quote: Just when one can’t take anymore, one sees the moonlight. Beauty that seems to infuse itself into the heart: I know about that.
That’s it for my July 2018 Book Reviews. I hope I’ve inspired you to add a few new volumes to your to-read list. Maybe even read outside your normal genre. Don’t forget to review the books you read on both Amazon and Goodreads. It’s important to authors.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On