Welp, I’m pretty much in shock that summer is basically over. My kids have a little over two weeks left before school starts, but they start all of their sport activities this week! This may be the first summer ever that my reading took such a dive, but getting to soak up so many good memories with my family are more than worth it!
What did you read in July that you enjoyed?
July By the Numbers:
- Total Books Read: 10
- Audiobooks: 1
- Five Star Reads: 3
- Debuts: 4 (44%)
- Published in 2022: 8 (89%)
- Nonfiction Reads: 3 (33%)
- By Women Authors: 7 (70%)
- Books by BIPOC Authors: 4 (44%)
- Diverse Books: 2 (22%)
- Goodreads Challenge: 77/125 (62%)
- 12 Friends + 12 Books + 12 Months: 6/12 (50%)
- Nonfiction Challenge: 7/12 (58%)
- Unread Shelf: 9/24 (38%)
- EIWTB Challenge: 11/12 (92%)
- A to Z Challenge: 20/26 (77%)
Favorite Book of the Month:
* The Measure by Nikki Erlick
Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, The Measure is propulsive and thought provoking. It felt a little gimicky to me when I first heard the synopsis, but the reviews from trusted reviewers compelled me to pick it up. I’m so glad I did as it would have been a shame to miss out on this masterpiece! Imagine being able to know when your life is going to end. How would you live your life differently? What choices would you make – or not make? It’s questions that we’ve all asked ourselves rhetorically but Erlick took those thoughts and made them into a story with twists and turns I hadn’t thought of. With each new ponderance, I had to stop the audiobook and just sit with my own thoughts before continuing on to see how Erlick parsed it out. I have only two regrets regarding this book: 1.) While the audiobook was excellent, this is a book I wish I would have read in hard copy. There were just so many moments I would have liked to sit with a little longer and that’s just much harder to do on audio. 2.) I really, really wish I would have read this with a buddy or with a book club. I can only imagine how deep and rich that conversation would have been!
4.5 Star Reads:
* Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
Kiara is one of those characters that will stick with me for a long time. Because she has been forced into circumstances she doesn’t deserve, she has built a layer of protection around herself that allows her to simply survive. With the weight of the world on her shoulders, she cares for everyone around her: Marcus, her older brother that refuses to sacrfice his selfish dreams to help pay the rent, and Trevor, the nine-year-old boy next door whose mother is too drug-addicted to take care of him herself. She gives and gives and gives while everyone else around her takes. With new eviction notices posted on her door every week, she is forced to give herself up to the streets where abusive men and dirty cops use her body and then quickly disregard her.
This story is dark and gritty – just the way I love my novels! It was hard to read at times, but the writing is so fantastic that I really almost read this book twice by the time I finished! Mottley is talented – like, talented talented – and considering she’s just nineteen years old (NINETEEN!) and this is her debut novel, we’re all in for some good reading in our collective futures.
The Change by Kirsten Miller
This was a genre mashup that felt timely, emotional, and heartwarming. Through the three main voices – Harriet, Nessa, and Jo – we embark on a journey of badass women that take it upon themselves to punish an elite group of men that have been abusing and murdering young girls. They were smart, witty, compassionate, and so supportive of each other that it made me want to aspire to be them. While I still care too much what others think about me, Harriet throws caution to the wind and embraces her feminity, never giving a second thought to the simple-mindedness of those around her. And, best of all, she doesn’t take pity on herself, she gets even! Jo is a tough women who takes no crap from anyone. She can beat up the biggest of dudes and she has a fierce protectiveness and loyalty that she lavishes on those she loves. Nessa is sweet and calm, but also the heart of the group. Her softness solves the crimes and I felt like she needed to be protected at all costs. This book was so well-written that I couldn’t pull myself out of the pages. It was just the book I needed at the time.
What Could Be Saved by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz
Sometimes the books I doubt the most when I first start them end up being the ones that seep into my bones and turn out to be stories I never forget. This one is definitely one of them! It felt a little dense and disconnected in the beginning, but it quickly becomes apparent that all of that groundwork is necessary to successfully pull of the whole story. Set in dual timeslines between the 1970s in Bangkok and 2019 in the US, we see the shattered history of the Preston family. It’s a story of loss, secrets, forgiveness, and redemption, but the effects of a lifetime of wondering what happened to one of the Preston children after he just disappeared one day has devastating consequences for all involved. I didn’t see the ending coming and I have SO MANY QUESTIONS, but ultimately found this one to be very intriguing.
This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
After reading All Adults Here, I had decided that Straub might not be an author for me. But when the reviews kept talking about the beauty of the father/daughter relationship in this one, I knew I had to read it. My dad and I are super close – always have been – but are even more so now after the loss of my mom. While it was hard to read a story where the father is in slow decline, I absolutely loved the way Straub portrayed their connection. I also really loved the 90s nostalgia sprinkled throughout the book, and while I’m not generally a fan of the time travel trope, it worked pretty well for me here. There were a lot of issues brought up during the story that were quite thought provoking and I think I’ll continue to think about them for awhile to come. I felt like the book rushed the ending a little too much and I’m not sure the overall story will really stick with me, but it was a good book to sink into while my real life has been quite busy and hectic!
The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
Belle Vie is an old plantation that now serves as a sort of preservation of history. Among other thingsm they host school groups and put on reinactments of life during slavery. Early one morning, a body is discovered, and as the mystery is unfolded, long-held secrets are also dug up. While this easily could have been a five-star read for me, there was also just that little extra oomph needed to be a standout. I think the characters could have been developed a little more, and an overall meaninful connection for the readers would have been good as well.
Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson
I never caught onto the craze surrounding Go Ask Alice, and I’m surprised after reading this…it sounds like a book I would have devoured in my high school days. Somehow it just never crossed my path. Anyway, this book opened up my eyes to a crazy piece of history I knew nothing about. It turns out, the woman who wrote Go Ask Alice and Jay’s Journal was a total fame-hungry con artist. She manipulated a grieving family who trusted her with their son’s story in hopes of saving other young kids and turned it into a whole story that tainted the family and their name. Emerson wrote this story in such a compelling way and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.
* The Monsoon Diaries: A Doctor’s Journey of Hope and Healing From the ER Frontlines to the Far Reaches of the World by Dr. Calvin D. Sun
Living in the midwest, coronavirus didn’t reach where I lived until much, much later. At a time when we knew absolutely nothing about this brand-new virus, information was hard to come by – and then magnify that times ten because I lived in an area that hadn’t been affected yet. While trying to search out information to be prepared for when it did enter our town, I somehow stumbled upon Dr. Sun’s instagram account. It quickly became one of the first places I visited on social media every day because he posted data, information, and pictures of what was his reality as an ER doctor in NYC. At times, it was the only way this pandemic felt real to me. This book is a chronological account of his experience, sprinkled in with some travel anecdotes. Dr. Sun is a friendly guy (I’ve interacted with him on instagram) and I really enjoyed reading his experience of trying to combat COVID-19.
* What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo
This seems to be the nonfiction read of the summer, and after seeing so many praiseworthy reviews, I moved it to the top of my TBR. Unfortunately, it didn’t strike the same cord with me. I felt like it was non-emotional and I didn’t feel compelled to keep reading it. I did stick with it though in hopes that it would eventually start to click for me, but it sadly never really did. As a person who feels I can relate to some of the experiences Foo writes about, it oddly didn’t feel connective at all. I really needed to be able to glean some expertise and knowledge from Foo, but couldn’t really grasp any of the ideas she conveyed. I’m sure it will be helpful to many people, but it fell short of my expectations.
A Summer Thriller:
The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager
Casey Fletcher escapes to her family’s lake house to grieve the loss of her husband. While there, a new family moves in across the lake, and in one of Casey’s drunken stupors, she picks up a pair of binoculars. She quickly becomes intrigued with the semi-famous and rich couple across the lake. When the wife goes missing one day, she is immediately suspicious of the husband because she has witnessed some troubling encounters between them from across the lake and through the binoculars. It all leads up to one BIG twist that totally worked for me! I’ve seen multiple reviews and it seems as if this twist works for you or it doesn’t – and there really isn’t an in-between. For me, Riley Sager novels are the perfect book to dip into during these hot summer months when heavier and deeper books are harder to focus on. They are the perfect book to read poolside, lakeside, or inside in some cool AC. My only complaint in this one was Casey’s excessive drinking – my goodness, it was ridiculous! Other than that, this one is a great companion for the last half of your summer!