Whew. It’s been a crazy few months since I last posted about summer reads, so it’s only right that I give you a solid update on my “late summer” reads if you will. (It’s been unbearably hot here until a week or so ago, so we’ll count it.)
In case you missed it, we bought a house, my sister got married, and we’re having a baby. Hooray for all the things! Needless to say, it’s been a little rough to get in reading time between the events, unpacking, and inability to stay awake on the couch — let alone post about what I’ve been reading.
However, now that we’re comfortably in the second trimester, my energy level is a bit more tolerable and I’ve enjoyed several wonderful books that I’ll mention below.
Since I have sixteen books to update you on tonight, I’ll break them up by month and then give a 1-5 rating and a brief note in place of my typical “reviews” — if you can even call them that.
The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory — 4 out of 5.
If you’re looking for an easy, rom-com type read, this is for you. (But a head’s up: things get a little spicy at times, if you know what I mean.) So far, I’ve enjoyed each of the books I’ve read by Guillory, so that’s a good streak!
Atomic Habits by James Clear — 3.5 out of 5.
I might have gone into this one with unfair expectations, but I didn’t feel like I really got anything out of this book that I haven’t heard from others (i.e. Jon Acuff, Lara Casey). If you haven’t read much about forming habits, this is a great basic intro.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer — 4 out of 5.
I really enjoyed this story, the characters in particular. The narrator also keeps you guessing who they are until the very end, so that was a nice twist. Fun fact: this one won a Pulitzer Prize!
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles — 5 out of 5.
This book took me quite a while to get through (it’s a 20+ hour audiobook), but it was so worth it. I loved every bit of this story and was so sad when it was over. There’s a reason this one is on staff recommendation shelves everywhere!
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis — 3.5 out of 5.
I won’t lie, I was thoroughly disappointed with the conclusion to the Chronicles of Narnia. The ending was so rushed and just really let me down (among other issues I had). But I did it! I read the full series!
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard — 5 out of 5.
I FLEW through this book (and as you’ll see here, this series). It was the perfect YA fantasy series while I was couped up on the couch exhausted during my first trimester — and actually kept me up late several nights into my second trimester.
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard — 5 out of 5.
Book 2 of the Red Queen series didn’t disappoint. I love the way she provides twists right when you least expect them! At this point, I started texting friends things like “Read this series right now.”
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Grimes — 4.5 out of 5.
This audiobook was so insightful and lovely. It portrays a woman who is on the Autism spectrum and how she navigates a romantic relationship (from college on). Its timeline is impacted by 9/11 and I happened to finish it on the week of the anniversary, which made it even more emotional for me. Highly recommend.
The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner — 5 out of 5.
It’s rare to find a WWII-based novel that depicts families impacted by the U.S. internment camps, and this one happened to be from a German-American girl. It broke my heart to read her experience and the impact of the war on her life, and the story was so well told, spanning many years and shifts.
King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard — 4.5 out of 5.
The third book in the Red Queen series shifted from the previous two by using multiple narrators. I found it a little slow to start, but still had my attention and I was excited to see where the story went.
Normal People by Sally Rooney — 3 out of 5.
I can’t lie. I didn’t really like this book, but I kept hoping it would get better. It has the potential to be triggering for anyone who has experienced abuse (of all kinds), and I was just so infuriated with the characters most of the story, I wasn’t able to enjoy it. It felt like one of those indie films that just doesn’t quite land.
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray — 4.5 out of 5.
This was compared multiple times to American Marriage, which I didn’t like earlier this year, but I really enjoyed this book. The characters are rich and complex, and they kept my attention from beginning to end.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman — 5 out of 5.
This book. Oh my goodness. It released earlier this year and has several favorite elements — romance, a bookstore, female lead. (Now it’s sounding like a Hallmark movie, but I swear it’s good.) The protagonist struggles with anxiety, so she reminded me a bit of the the narrator in The Girl He Used to Know and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, but with fewer quirks. I hope this becomes a movie (non-Hallmark, please).
War Storm by Victoria Aveyard — 4.5 out of 5.
The conclusion of the Red Queen series was mostly satisfying, but the ending felt rushed/a bit glazed over. I was happy with it up until the last chapter and Epilogue, so it still beats the Hunger Games series, among others, that just burn out or lose their plot as the series winds down.
Miracles and Other Reasonable Things by Sarah Bessey — 5 out of 5.
If you know me at all, you know how much I love Sarah Bessey. She’s one of the few writers I preorder as soon as books are announced. This one was a bit different for her (more memoir), and I really enjoyed the way she used her story to share what she learned along the way in a tumultuous time in her life.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane — 4 out of 5.
This was a Book of the Month selection a few months back, and I really enjoyed it. It starts off slow, but I still really liked it. It reminded me a bit of Commonwealth, if contemporary fiction is your gig.
Now that I’m done catching up here, I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading lately!