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It’s September, which feels like time for fall and back to school, even though it was in the 90s today and kids in Georgia went back to school weeks ago. College football starts this weekend and I’m looking forward to a three-day weekend. I made it to the beach this summer, a couple of weeks ago, but I went with some friends and hardly read there at all, surprisingly! I also managed to hold book club again in August after having skipped June and July—whoops!

I heard about this book on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s podcast, What Should I Read Next?, which is a great and dangerous thing for me to listen to every week. I hear about at least 7 books in each episode, with the caller listing 3 books (s)he loves and 1 (s)he hates, and Anne adding 3 recommendations based on those. However, as book lovers are wont to do, more are often mentioned throughout the show, and the show notes are like a bibliography! Anyway, Anne didn’t say too much about this book because she thought the whole description would make it sound boring and…it kind of was to me? It had some sweet moments, but I wasn’t as blown away by it as I expected to be. It does defy description a bit, though, I’ll give her that.

August’s book club read! (Yes, we read Daring Greatly a couple of years ago, SO WHAT?) I think I am in a much more balanced place emotionally than I was when we read Daring Greatly, which covers more of the “vulnerability” part of Brown’s research, while this one focuses in specifically on shame. While I was reading it I was a little annoyed by the formulaic structure, but then reflecting back I realized that was helpful in making it very actionable. We had a great discussion about some of the guideposts, but I can’t say I had any grand revelations.

Another “boarding school novel,” this time set at a prestigious ballet school. Um, y’all, this book was DARK. It was a bit horrifying to think about ACTUAL teenage girls being like these…but one of the authors used to teach at a ballet school, so you have to think she got the basic idea somewhere. Aside from being appalled at how awful the girls were, to each other and to themselves, I enjoyed this book and am excited to see that a sequel is coming out this month.

When I went to grab this linked image, Amazon told me that this book is ranked #1 in books right now, and I can’t even. I don’t really know what to say about this book, er, script, except to say that it was sort of terrible but you should probably read it if you loved Harry Potter. It does not deserve to be called Harry Potter #8, nor can I fathom spending 200 British pounds on tickets to the play. Buy me a whiskey sour some time and ask me more about it and I will talk your ear off (not that I did that to some friends on night this week or anything).

This book left me like, “Huh, what?” I didn’t get it. It was Southern gothic magical realism chick flick literary fiction? It didn’t work at all for me, none of it. But I finished it.

And that was August! One day into September and I’ve already finished a book for this month, so stay tuned to see what else is on tap.

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I read articles all the time about how sometimes we all have to go into survival mode—not literally, fighting for our lives, but figuratively, nixing any activities that we don’t absolutely have to do to stay afloat. Ordering takeout if you have to rather than cooking, etc. I determined in July, which was somewhat of a crazy month, that when I’m in survival mode my reading shoots through the roof. We moved at the end of July, so in the stress leading up to that (which included listing our current place and closing on the new one) I read 9 books. I added loads of books to my various wish lists from Book Riot over the course of the month, and that’s where a number of these came from.

This was a fun collection of short stories. I read it in a single day, on the 4th of July no less, which felt sort of appropriate. There are a lot of weird twists in these, so be prepared!

I wanted to like this more than I actually did. It was timely in a fun way, though, given that I just celebrated my own 10 year high school reunion this year. The characters were interesting, and I liked the undertones of their relationships, but it didn’t leave much of a mark on me beyond that.

This book was so fun! I am not a video game player, nor was I sentient for any of the 80s, so I’m sure many of the references went straight over my head, but I enjoyed that they were there. This to me was almost like a less dark Ender’s Game. And I loved the ending!

I didn’t feel like this book really bore any relation to its description on the jacket. It was a little bit quirkier than the plain vanilla chick lit I expected, which was okay, just surprising. I liked it enough that I then read a second Close book….

…which I liked a bit less. Both of these were written in an odd, vignette-like sort of style, when I really wished they had just let themselves be fluffy fiction.

I had a book on my library wish list that I realized was the sequel to this book, so I checked it out first, and it was terrible. It felt like it was written for even younger than YA (tween?), which usually doesn’t bother me, but this one didn’t cut it for me. It was a cute concept, and it’s neat that Picoult and her daughter wrote it together, but let’s just say I didn’t check out the second one.

Okay, but then what had happened was I finally discovered Liane Moriarty. For some reason I have resisted picking up What Alice Forgot for years, even though I kept hearing about it, and I’m so glad I finally did. It was such a sweet book. Big Little Lies was a little darker but equally good, and now I’m on the libary waiting list for like everything else she’s ever written.

I’ve discovered that “boarding school novels” is a specific sub-set of the coming of age story, and that I like it. Prep is a recent classic in that genre, but I have to say I was underwhelmed. There were certain elements of it that rang very true for me, having gone to boarding school myself, but I can’t say I really liked the protagonist. (Maybe I wasn’t supposed to?) I had a bit of trouble making it all the way through this book.

Have you read any authors lately that have been popular for awhile but you’re just now jumping on the bandwagon? What’s your favorite time of life to read about in fiction?

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June saw a decent amount of travel between Andy and me, which helped me read a solid 5 books. One weekend we went backpacking with his parents and another I went to visit my parents. Even when you’re not in school and don’t have kids to force you onto the school schedule, summer still seems like the right time of year to travel!

The other excitement in June was that the movie version of Me Before You came out and I conscripted my book club into going to see it. I devoured the book last March and said “it’ll suck you in and then punch you in the gut,” which is pretty much what the movie does, too, except I was ready for it. One book club member who tends to have different taste in books than I do said, “I don’t know what you’ve done to me—I couldn’t stop reading this book!” I thought the movie was well done, and of course it made me cry.

So! On to the books.

This was recommended by another Twitter friend to help me through last month’s reading slump. It was of a good ilk to do that, but I can’t say I loved it. In general I like the southern murder mystery genre. Perhaps I was just missing too much context because I hadn’t fallen in love with Penn Cage through the character’s other books. I also tend to love books set in Mississippi, but I’m not as familiar with Natchez, so that was less exciting than normal as well.

Look, I told you last month I would probably end up reading the whole trilogy of these, so don’t act surprised. I think Born in Ice was my favorite of the three, mostly because I relate the most to Brianna’s personality and so fell the most in love with her suitor. I enjoyed how the third book kind of brought everything full circle, except it got into some Irish mysticism stuff that I had trouble buying into. All in all an enjoyable trilogy.

When I visited my college roommate Kimmie back in May, she could not stop talking about Outlander, both the books and the TV series. I wasn’t sure it sounded like something I’d be interested in, but the book was available from the library’s e-catalog one night when I was looking for something to start, so I decided to give it a try. Wow! I really enjoyed it. Fair warning in case this kind of thing bothers you, it was pretty racy in parts. I’m a little intimidated that there are now 8 more books of well over 500 pages each that I could read, but I suppose no one’s saying I have to be in a hurry about it. I can’t find the TV series included on any of my streaming services, but I may break down and buy a season at some point because I’m curious to see how they make the sex scenes approporiate!

I was 100% “meh” about this book. It was recommended by someone at work, and I specifically didn’t start it while Andy was out of town because I thought I would be freaked out by it, but I actually didn’t find it scary at all. Someone told me it was originally a short story that people convinced the author to expand into a full novel, and I think he would have been better off not having done so. It’s captured the public’s attention, though, and is being made into a movie, so what do I know?

I’ve yet to reallly hit summer beach read mode, but I AM going to the beach in August, so hit me up with your recommendations!!