September Wrap Up // 2022

Getting nine books read this month is really saying something with my crazy schedule these days. I’m still not reading anything that really blows me away, but I remain hopeful!

What did you read in September and enjoy?

September By the Numbers:

  • Total Books Read: 9
  • Audiobooks: 2
  • Five Star Reads: 1
  • Debuts: 4 (44%)
  • Published in 2022: 7 (78%)
  • Nonfiction Reads:  3 (33%)
  • By Women Authors: 9 (100%)
  • Books by BIPOC Authors: 1 (11%)
  • Diverse Books: 1 (11%)
  • Goodreads Challenge: 92/125 (74%)
  • 12 Friends + 12 Books + 12 Months: 7/12 (58%)
  • 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 Crane Wife: A Memoir in Essays by CJ Hauser

Something about this one completely worked for me! It was a slow start, but I eventually fell into these essays wholeheartedly. Hauser explores themes of self-explorations, finding your home (place) in this world, and the various forms of love. I found her writing compelling and reflective…and also relatable. Essays and stories can sometimes feel disconnected for me, and I tend to shy away from them, but I’m really happy I gave this one a shot!

Books That Will Change Your Perspective:

* Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer

Cancer moves into a body and wrecks the family, and Mortimer created a gripping account of demonstrating this to her readers. There were parts that made me cry (thinking back to my mother’s battle with this disease), and gave me great insight into what my mom may have felt and been thinking. It was a very interesting choice to give cancer a voice, but that is what will make this book stick with long after I’ve forgotten the other details. It may feel like too much for some people (especially those personally touched by cancer), but it definitely made this book unforgettable. I liked the risks that Mortimer took, but there was also something missing for me overall. I’m still glad I read it and it was a good book, just not a five-star read for me.

* Corrections in Ink by Keri Blakinger

When I listened to the author on a podcast, I immediately ordered the book. Blakinger has such a compelling story – a promising career in figure skating, an Ivy League student, and a heroin addict/dealer that finds herself in prison. I always find insider stories about prison fascinating and I really appreciated Blakinger bringing attention to the many ways prisons fail to rehabilitate and humanize the prisoners. It’s clear that Blakinger is a bright woman and I’m sure her ability to turn this experience into a positive is reflective of that, but we all know that most of the prisoners in the system aren’t as lucky. While I don’t have any constructive thoughts on these disparities, I think it’s important to continue the conversations in hopes that real solutions can be made. Blakinger is very forthcoming in her experiences and it was a very insightful read!

Books By Authors I’ve Read Previously:

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Did I love falling back into a TJR book? Yes. Did I LOVE the elite athlete perspective behind this one? Yes. Did I inhale the book in just a few short days (which is saying something with my current jampacked schedule)? Also, yes. But was I also a tiny bit let down? Yes. Why? Because this one felt very surface level to me; it never cracked the ice and dove into the deep layers of elite competition. It was probably plenty for a person who isn’t super sporty or hasn’t competed athletically at a high level, but for me who is very sporty and played at the college level (D1), this one just really missed the heart and essence of what it takes to train competitively. (I say this knowing that professional sports are even a whole different level than what I personally know about)! I also didn’t like and didn’t relate to Carrie – she was egotistical, rude, and totally unlikable. I can handle unlikeable characters, but Carrie was written in such a way that I wasn’t sure why I’d even want to understand her or root for her in any way. Without any spoilers, the ending was just fine to me. It was what I expected and I was disappointed not to be surprised. I will say that I listened to the audio and read the book, and the audio hits it out of the park! It was a much more enjoyable experience audibly than it was reading the book. I love TJR and I will read anything she writes, but I’m starting to think nothing can topple Evelyn Hugo!

People Person by Candice Carty-Williams

Oh no! I’m not sure what happened in this one, but it’s a far cry from the brilliance of Carty-Williams’ debut, Queenie. I was really looking forward to this one because I LOVED Queenie. Her story has really stuck with me over the years – probably more so than a lot of other books. I thought Carty-Williams handled a very sensitive subject with grace and humor – something that can be hard to balance and can also seem gimicky. In the beginning of this one, I saw traces of the same writing, but the story quickly took over and steered me in an entirely different direction. People Person had a lot of plot points that weren’t very realistic and the writing just never reached the groove necessary to suspend that disbelief. Unfortunately, Carty-Williams did not earn my trust and this one just did not work for me at all.

An Upcoming Thriller To Look Forward To:

* The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

I was totally in the mood to read something different. I don’t know what’s going on with my reading – it’s not really a slump, it’s just that every book I pick up lately is leaving me totally unsatisfied. Everything feels a little meh, and nothing is making me turn the pages. The Writing Retreat was a good book to kind of break that routine, and I think thrillers have a tendency to give me something quick and easy to indulge in. The writing was atmospheric and gave me gothic undertones – perfect as we head into the spooky season (unfortunately though, this book doesn’t come out until February…sorry! 😕) There were a host of unlikeable characters, but it worked for me. There’s a lot of twisty madness and, even though the last ¼ of the book was slightly outlandish, this book hit all the right spots for me!

Books I Wanted Just a Little More From:

They’re Going To Love You by Meg Howrey

This one is slooooow, so be mindful of picking this one up when you have time for a slow-burning lit pick. I wanted to like it more, and there were certainly parts that stood out, but I also feel slightly betrayed by the publisher’s blurb. I thought this would be a great companion read to Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers…a deep dive into the AIDS crisis of the 90s in New York. It is mentioned, but that storyline is definitely on the backburner. Instead there’s this big lead up to a betrayal of some sort with the main character, Carlisle, and her dad and his partner. I was a little let down by the big reveal, and this one ultimately fell a little flat for me.

* I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Let me start by saying that this book has a TON of RAVE reviews; if you’re looking for one of those, you’ve come to the wrong place! While I’m sorry McCurdy had a terrible mother, but bigger takeaway from this book just confirms y thoughts and feelings about Hollywood and its stars, specifically childhood actors. Usually driven entirely by narcissitic and sick parents, these kids are robbed of their own childhoods, and oftentimes, their mental and physical health is compromised. McCurdy’s mom used her to gain attention and financial gain, taught her how to create (and then manage) and eating disorder, and belittled and berated her during the whole process. I can understand how a child can’t recognize this distrubing behavior, but I was aboslutely appalled at the checkout father and grandparents that just hung in the background like wallflowers. Now McCurdy is known throughout the Hollywood world (though I’m too old to have know who she was without looking her up), but she has so much unprocessed baggage as her reward. She narrarates her own audiobook and I also found her detached manner about such intense topics disconcerting. I totally gave into the hype on this one and would have been find giving it a pass because she really offers nothing new in the twisted tale of Hollywood actors.

Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

This was my 7th read from the 12 Friends + 12 Books + 12 Months Challenge I started at the beginning of this year. If I’m being honest, I’ve been terrible about prioritizing this list, and while it doesn’t really matter if I complete it or nor, I’d like to! First, it’s fun! Second, many of these books have been on my TBR anyway, and last, I. want to read books that are important to my friends. I only have five recommendations left, so if I double up a couple months, I should get it done!

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into with Unsettled Ground, and it did take me awhile to enjoy it. What definitely kept me going and stands out to me the most about this book is its spectacular writing. It’s beautiful and I really enjoyed it. The first chapter of the story made me feel unsettled, but as the pieces of the story and the longheld secrets came to the surface, I became super invested. I really wanted to know what would happen to these fifty-one year old twins, Julius and Jeanie, after their mom passed away sudeenly. It’s a journey for sure, but your patience will pay off in the end!

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