book club, book reading, book recommendations, book review

August – November Reading Round Up Part I

Has it really been three months since I last wrote a book review? I’m not sure where the time has gone, but it certainly hasn’t been spent traveling, shopping or getting out the house. I’ve been flying through books – some of which I definitely put down. Perhaps it’s harder to concentrate during COVID-19, or perhaps my attention span in general has just gotten shorter. I’m going to divide this into two reviews since it’s a bit unruly. Today, I’m posting the books that I liked, but didn’t love, and those that I never finished. In a few days I’ll give you the top ten books from my list over the last few months. Happy Reading!

The Middle of the Road

Here are the books that I liked, but didn’t love, over the last few months. They are worth reading, but I’ve put them here because they were either fluffy or started strong and ended weaker.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi – This is one of those books that other people just gush over. I liked it, but I felt like it was really slow to get into, and that the narrator was quite detached (from herself and from me). A good, but not a great, read.

What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan – Not the best book ever, but an interesting look at identity, family, and people who straddle more than one culture.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker – So I’d say this is a really important read, but wow not an easy one. This is the true story of an American family who raised 12 children – 6 of whom had schizophrenia. The story jumps between chapters about the family and chapters about the researchers who found breakthroughs in this field. It was a heavy and very sad read. But quite important for the field of mental health. Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family  (Audible Audio Edition): Robert Kolker, Sean Pratt, Random House Audio:  Audible Audiobooks

Blessed are the Cheesemakers by Sarah Kate Lynch – This is such a playful and light spirited read. It has magical realism, great settings in Vermont and dancing cows. What more could you want?

The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles by Laura Fahrenthold – I loved the idea of this book. Woman loses husband and takes kids on a cross country trip to reconnect with each other and move through their pain. But the book got very repetitive to me – and insanely macabre (what the heck?) as she described the many, many places that she left her husband’s ashes along the way. Hmmm…

Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber – This book started out great with some fun magical realism and a nice heroine. It was an ok read but became a bit predictable…and then a lot predictable.

The Wangs Vs. The World by Judy Chang – I read this over one Shabbat and expected nothing from it. I found it laugh-out-loud funny at parts, and an interesting look at culture and family. Nothing heavy here and don’t expect too much – but a fun, light one.

Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown – I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this look at the Lower East Side between the World Wars. An interesting take on one Jewish family.

Oona Out of Order by Margarit Montimore – This was one of those time travel books where the main character jumps through time and never knows where, in her life, she will end up. It was a bit confusing and wasn’t the best of the time travel books I’ve read, but it was definitely entertaining.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens – An interesting look at race relations in the U.S. in the 1970s in a small town in Missouri. A touching coming of age story.

The Book Dump

I’ve put aside a lot – a lot – of books during these months! Sometimes they are books that just don’t fit my interests; other times they are ones that are boring. Most of them have amazing reviews on Goodreads and I always feel like a pariah for tossing them aside. Here we go…feel free to write back and tell me if you loved, or also couldn’t connect to, these books!

Writers and Lovers by Lily King – Wow this was boring. Reading a book about a woman who has been trying to write a book unsuccessfully for years is not inspiring.

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg – I just love Fannie Flagg. Her characters are joyous and quirky and her storylines hysterical. This one was…none of those.

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop: A Novel: Flagg, Fannie: 9780593295199: Books

GodPretty in the Tobacco Field by Kim Michele Richardson – I wanted to enjoy this book and just could not get into it.

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler – I always wonder what an author is thinking when they write a book that is this unsatisfying. It tried to be The Rosie Project but failed.

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora – I told you I am often in the minority about certain books. I just couldn’t get into this one and felt like it was repeating the same story – until I finally gave up.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver – I did myself a favor and decided that we certainly did NOT need to talk about Kevin.

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown – I actually really liked this book in the beginning, but then the plot got so silly that I felt like it was a slapstick story. Not worth the read in the end.

Pretty Things - Flexi Reads

Larry’s Party by Carol Shields – I was bored to tears by Larry and his party. I abandoned him after 100 pages. Goodbye Larry!

Next up, the books I really enjoyed over the last few months. I’d love to hear your opinions, thoughts and favorite reads (or least favorite ones)!

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