As you will see below, August was BIG reading month for me. In addition to audiobooks while I walk the dogs (which typically amounts to at least an hour a day), I’ve started reading before bed. Nick typically watches baseball in the evenings, so I usually read then too, and well, all those reading opportunities led to a lot of books.
The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess (audiobook):
29-something Eve Rosen spends the summer working for Henry Grey and his wife Tilly, all leading up to their famous Book Party where guests dress up as their favorite literary characters. And what a train wreck of a party it is!!
The start of this book is slow - it takes a while to get to the highlight of the book, which is the party and I’m not entirely sure it’s worth the wait.
Overall grade: B-
Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn
This book is the first in a series, and the premise caught my attention. It’s 1920s New York City, and Julia Kidd is fighting for her inheritance from her estranged half brother in a time when women had no rights at all. There’s a death and Julia starts to solve it.
Except, I did not finish. I got 20% through the book and just couldn’t get into it. It moved SO slow that I abandoned it.
Overall grade: F
Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (audiobook):
I am a well-documented Anglophile, and will ready nearly any book set in England. Add in the Royal family and it’s a no-brainer.
What would happen if the first son of the United Stated fell in love with the Prince of England? This is a very sweet and charming love story, set in present day - 2019/2020 with a US Presidential re-election as a backdrop.
If you’re looking for diverse characters, this book has it all - female President, bi-racial first children, several LGBTQ+ characters (including the central characters), and above all, very enjoyable storytelling! This book had me smiling a LOT.
Overall grade: A-
That’s What Frenemies are For by Sophie Littlefield and Lauren Gershell:
Julia Summers relishes wielding influence over her friends but she’s losing her touch.
While her friends are spending the summer in the Hamptons, Julia befriends Tatum, a young, ambitious spin instructor at her neighborhood studio. Her plan is to groom Tatum and then introduce her to her friends, cementing her spot in circle. But things never go according to plan.
This book was thoroughly enjoyable - think Gossip Girl (if they were adults) x Primates of Park Avenue x The Devil Wears Prada x The Fitness Junkie
Overall grade: A
The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali (audiobook):
Roya and Bahman are teenagers in 1950s Iran. They meet in Mr. Fakhri’s stationery shop and build a relationship over their mutual love for Rumi’s poetry. A few months later, on the day they’re supposed to be married, Roya agrees to meet Bahman in the town square, but violence erupts and he never shows. She tries to contact him, eventually receiving word that he is to marry another. Heartbroken, she moves to California.
Now 50 years later, she finally meets with him again, and takes the opportunity to find out what happened that fateful day their relationship ended.
This story is so beautifully written, spanning over 50 years across two countries. It’s the story of love and loss and all the moments in between. The audiobook narrator was excellent, and I teared up a few times listening to the story.
Overall grade: A
Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak (audiobook):
This was my second Anna Pitoniak book this year and I really enjoy her style of storytelling. Her pacing is excellent and I found myself constantly waiting for what happened next.
Violet comes from a rough family life, and meets beautiful, privileged Stella in college. They quickly become friends, however their relationship dynamic isn’t exactly healthy. Stella thrives in the spotlight, and Violet is consistently cleaning up her messes.
After graduation Violet moves to New York and lands an internship in cable news. From there she quickly rises up the ranks, and for the first time, aimless Stella is jealous of Violet’s life. She uses her connections and influence to land a job at the same news channel, and competition between the two women is ignited.
This book has been described by some as a thriller, but I’m not sure it really qualifies. That said, it is a very enjoyable, quick read/listen.
Overall grade: B+
A Court of Mist of Fury by Sarah J. Maas:
I’m not usually a fan of fantasy novels, but every now and then I get sucked in, and well, this is that time.
This is book 2 in a series, the first one is called A Court of Thorns & Roses.
Feyre is back in the Spring Court having survived her ordeals there. After being brought back from the dead, she’s a changed woman, physically, mentally and emotionally. And then there’s her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court.
As Feyre fulfills her bargain she starts to explore her new powers, and realizes the life she thought she initially wanted, may not be what she wants anymore.
Listen, this book is not very well written and there are parts that are quite annoying but I’m deeply invested in this story and just started Book 3. I need to know how all of this ends!!!
Overall grade: B
Conviction by Denise Mina (audiobook):
Anna McDonald is a housewife and mother of two who enjoys true crime podcasts. One day her husband announces that he’s leaving her for her best friend, and Anna’s life unravels. Seeking a distraction she starts a new podcast and discovers she knows the subject of the investigation.
Her best friend’s husband arrives at her door, her meddling neighbor interferes, and suddenly Anna’s life is thrown into disarray. Anna finds herself on an international adventure, with the true crime podcast directing her trip.
This was a really fun book but I’m still not entirely sure I know how they solved the mystery.
Overall grade: B+/A-
Dumped, Actually by Nick Spalding:
Do you know what I appreciate most about this book? For once it’s not a woman who is a hot mess after a breakup.
Ollie Sweet makes a very public proposal to his girlfriend and is unceremoniously dumped. As he wallows in self-pity, Ollie starts writing about his breakup for his job (think online magazine meets Buzzfeed) and the advice starts pouring in. Ollie decides to follow the advice for his journalist endeavors and his column becomes a runaway success.
And along the way he learns some important lessons about love and himself.
This is a super quick, feel good book, light and fluffy like cotton candy.
Overall grade: B
The Matchmake’s List by Sonya Lalli (audiobook):
I picked up this book because the jacket told me that this was the story of Raina, an Indian-Canadian whose grandmother decides to set her up on a series of blind dates to find her the perfect groom. It promised to be funny.
And it was, for the first 20% of the book. And then it went completely off the rails. It turned out to not be a funny book about finding love - it was actually a whole commentary on immigrant communities and how long it takes for them to change their beliefs etc., etc. The only reason I continued listening is because I was pulling weeds and my annoyance just made me pull harder.
And here’s the thing: I really need to stop reading books about the Indian American experience because the Indian American experience is really nothing like growing up in Mumbai, so I end up getting super annoyed by the situations described in these books.
Now that I’ve ended my rant, Overall grade: C
Girls Burn Brighter: Shobha Rao
Poornima and Savitha meet for the first time shortly after Poornima’s mother dies and Poornima’s dad hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms. Both families are deeply improvished, and Savitha has a light and energy that defies her circumstances. As their friendship grows, the two women begin to depend on each other.
Then one night, something devastating happens and Savitha runs away. Poornima is married off, but things go awry and Poornima decides to try and find her best friend again. Her journey takes her to the darkest parts of India all the way to Seattle.
This book is the story of holding onto hope in the midst of despair.
Warning: There are a lot of very sad and disturbing circumstances in this book including rape, slavery, etc. Also, if you like clear endings, you may find yourself frustrated by how this ends.
Overall grade: A+
So that’s it! That was August! i have a whole list of books to read in September, including some super fun new releases!! If you would like to join my online book club and talk books with me and other bookworms, you’re welcome to join my Facebook Group!
P.S. There is no required reading in the book club - we talk about what we’re reading and recommendations.