I am running a bit behind on sharing my September reads. It was a pretty eclectic pile of books from dystopian apocalyptic fun to time travel (always a favorite of mine) to coming-of-age to dark comedies. I am guessing there is something for everyone this month and hope you enjoy this stack as much as I did!
Later this week, Todd is joining us again with his best picks for the month too! I can’t wait to share those with you on Thursday! Please keep your eyes peeled too for more incredible interviews with authors in our Sundays With Writers series! Yay!
8 Must-Read Books from September 2016
Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon
I received a copy for review from Netgalley- all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Wife 22 happened to be one of my past favorite vacation reads so I was thrilled to see that Gideon had a new novel out. Time travel is always such a fun escape and this story was a delight from start to finish.
Set in 1975, Valley of the Moon chronicles the story of a single mother who takes a camping adventure on her own to find herself again. What she doesn’t expect to find is that just beyond this thick fog is a community frozen in time in the year 1906.
The community welcomes her into their community and she finally feels a sense of purpose, worth, and love… all that have been missing as she tries to raise her son alone.
The reader gets to follow Lux as she travels back and forth through time, finding love in a different era, and learning many consequences of trying to live in parallel worlds.
Lots of lovely plot twists and the ending Gideon carves for the end is movie-worthy. Although the idea of this portal might feel a little cheesy at first, you can’t help but fall in love with both worlds and eras that the author has crafted. Time travel fans will love this one!
5 Out of 5 Stars
Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
One of my friends is a librarian (Hi, Pam!) and she said Eight Hundred Grapes had been one of her favorite summer reads. I listened to this book on audiobook and it would make the perfect vacation read.
The book opens with Georgia sitting in her brother’s bar in a wedding gown. She hasn’t gotten married, but witnesses her fiancée in a moment on the street that rocks her world. Returning home to figure things out, she is shocked to discover that, not only did her fiancée have a big secret, but her entire family has been keeping secrets from her. Her parent’s marriage is failing, her mother is dating, her brothers are involved in a love triangle, and their family winery is in the process of being sold. Yeah, a lot has changed.
This story is part storytelling of how these relationships began, part understanding how wine is really made, and part family drama.
This was a fun little escape and I really enjoyed the audiobook of this one!
4 Out of 5 Stars
Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss Jr.
Carousel Court had received rave reviews so I suggested this book as a pick for our local book club. Here is the thing, I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I would say that McGinniss is a gifted writer that made me loathe the characters in his book. I can see why some people enjoyed it, but the characters were so unlikable that it made it difficult to connect emotionally with the story.
This story is about a failing marriage and the true sinking of their marriage ship when they are no longer financially stable. Set in California during the recession, the couple finds themselves in foreclosure alley when no one can afford to stay in their houses. Nick, the husband, works to help clean out the houses when the bank kicks them out of their home. Witnessing all these homes that have remained dormant, he takes advantage of this shaky ground and begins operating a month-to-month leasing company on properties he doesn’t own, using the funds to try to financially recover his own family. Meanwhile, his wife picks up a relationship with an old flame, in hopes that he can pull her out of a life she hates. It can’t, unfortunately, help with her abuse of prescription drugs and lack of any motherly bone in her body. The reader gets to watch the train wreck unfold chapter by painful chapter.
I will remember this, not as a favorite, but the themes from it made it one of our better book club discussions.
If you enjoy stories of failing marriages, twisted soulless characters, and a book filled with literary tension…this one is for you!
3 Out of 5 Stars
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
I received an ARC of Small Great Things from Netgalley and have been waiting to share my review for so long that I forgot to add this to the post when I originally posted it- oops! This book actually goes on sale TODAY!
Jodi, with the exception of The Storyteller, hasn’t been a go-to for me in a long time for reading, but when I read about the premise of this story, I couldn’t resist giving her another spin. Honestly, I was REALLY glad I did.
The story focuses on a nurse, named Ruth Jefferson, that has been working in labor and delivery for over twenty years. When a couple requests that Ruth not care for their family, following the birth of their child, she is stunned to find out that she has been removed from their care because of the color of her skin.
When the baby goes into cardiac arrest while Ruth is on duty, she finds herself in the middle of a grueling murder trial and without a job to support her. Kennedy is the lawyer that is assigned to this tough case and the reader gets to go along on this journey with Ruth as she agonizes over a split second decision that may have cost her the job she has loved for so many years.
In a predictable Picoult fashion, there is a twist at the end that you may or may not see coming. That said, it was a solid read all the way through, even though it may have felt a little predictable at times.
4 Out of 5 Stars
Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis
This book was provided to me by the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Lost Stars was based upon a Modern Love essay that was expanded into a fictional story about a teen that is falling apart after the death of her sister. Carrie is making poor decisions from the company she keeps to the habits she has formed, but so much of that is in response to the death of her sister, her mother’s decision to leave their family, and the feeling of disconnection from her father. When she pushes things too far, her father makes her join a summer work camp at a local state park to help her develop better habits and hopefully improve her behavior. Her secret is that she has never fit in with the rough crowd and has always been passionate about astrophysics. When she meets a guy that loves her, nerdy habits and all, Carrie begins to become the girl she was always destined to be.
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it for you or your favorite YA reader. Please note, language, mild PG sex, and drug/alcohol use if sharing this with your teen!
3 Out of 5 Stars
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven is a reread for me and actually made my top ten list in 2014 as one of my favorites. I got the opportunity to hear Emily speak and so I wanted to refresh my memory on this beautiful book.
If you haven’t read it yet, it is an absolutely incredible novel and offers a new take on a pandemic world captured through the storytelling of a Hollywood actor and a band of traveling actors that risk it all to perform their art during a flu apocalypse. The storytelling jumps and weaves through time making it a treat to read from start to finish about what life was like before and after a fatal flu strikes the country.
Masterfully woven characters, particularly with the use of the three wives in Arthur’s life, the author brings these stories together in a way that makes you feel like you know each character.
I listened to this one and was curious, when I went to purchase the audiobook, why two versions of the audiobook were offered. I asked Emily about it and she said the UK wanted their own version so that is why there are two versions of it. How funny is that? It was a treat to listen to (I went with the US version) and I am so glad I got to enjoy this one a second time!
5 Out of 5 Stars
The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach
The Fault in Our Stars meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is how the publisher describes this dark comedy. In The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko, seventeen-year-old Ivan is a resident at the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus and is quite the handful for the staff at the hospital. He fakes comas (it’s pretty hilarious!), needs lots of vodka to get through his day, an observer of all his fellow patients, and bored out of his mind. When Polina arrives, a beautiful resident suffering from terminal cancer, everything in Ivan’s world changes as they form an unlikely friendship.
I laughed through parts of this and got misty-eyed through others. It’s a beautiful story with a few well-placed plot twists and an unforgettable friendship, not only between these two patients, but an even lovelier one between Ivan and his nurse.
This was a slow starter for me, but I really enjoyed this beautiful story and recommend it for fans of One in a Million Boy!
4 Out of 5 Stars
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This month’s MomAdvice Book Club selection was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a timely pick with the movie coming out this month! I have picked this one up several times and never could get into it, but decided to listen to this one on audiobook and browse the PDF later to look at all of the pictures.
When a horrific family tragedy happens to sixteen-year-old Jacob, his father takes him on a journey to a remote island to help give Jacob peace with his grandfather’s death. His grandfather always talked fondly of his time at Miss Peregrine’s so he sets out to see if the woman is still alive. Not only is she alive, but so are all his old peculiar friends. What unfolds is a beautifully dark story of discovery, first love, and what you would do to save those you love.
I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would and look forward to passing on to my daughter to listen to before we see the film. The book does contain some adult language in it for those that are screening their children’s books!
4 Out of 5 Stars
Read With Me This Year:
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