August reading wrap up | 2019

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Hi all,

The past few weeks have really been getting away from me, but I’m back today to share all the books that I read in August, and how I felt about them.

Last month, I read a total of nine books, which is pretty average for me.

There was definitely some books I really enjoyed, and some that I wasn’t a fan of this month, so a bit across the board reading-wise, which is a shame but what can you do.

Here’s what I read:

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Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Star rating: 2/5

I’m reading all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books for a readalong, and this was probably one of my least favourites I’ve read so far. I’ve noticed that all her early books are romance novels, which I don’t usually pick up anyway, but this one I thought sounded interesting as it’s two parallel timelines about how her life would go if she either stayed in the club with her ex-boyfriend, or if she left and went home with her friend. I thought the characters weren’t fleshed out and lacked any personality – always having to have a high bun and liking cinnamon buns isn’t a personality. I didn’t care about any of the characters, didn’t like either of the timelines and found the main character unlikeable. Two stars because I fly through all her books and it’s readable, just not for me. If you like easy to read romances, give this a go.

 

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Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa

Star rating: 4/5

I love Japanese literature anyway, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this. It’s very much character driven, nothing much happens plot wise. It’s about a man and an older lady, who asks for a job in his dorayaki shop. He employs her, but tries to keep her hidden so she doesn’t ‘put off the customers’ with her hands. Basically, she makes it massively better, they form a bond, which extends to forming a bond with a young schoolgirl going through a hard time. It’s got an unexpected story line that I didn’t realise was going to be a part of it, which I won’t spoil, but I just loved this. If you like sweet contemporary novels, and Japanese fiction, you’ll really enjoy this.

 

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Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

Star rating: 4/5

I read Honor Girl for the Lauren and the Books patreon book club that I take part in every month. It’s a graphic novel memoir about Maggie’s time at her summer camp, and the crush that she has on one of the older camp counsellors Erin. I really enjoy graphic memoirs, and I liked both the storytelling and the art style. It’s about teenagers, but it didn’t feel too young for me while I was reading. It’s got LGBT (own voices obviously) rep as well. Definitely recommend this one.

 

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History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

Star rating: 2/5

After I thought I was getting more into books I actually liked this month, sadly I read History of Wolves. I ended up reading part of it and listening to the audiobook, as I would have dnf’d it otherwise. It’s a shame because I’ve had it on my shelf for the past two years, and thought it would be something I’d enjoy, as it’s about a girl living on an ex-commune. However, there’s too much going on here, none of which really ties together. There’s what’s happening in the story, plus a court case that is linked, but badly explained. There’s also a fair bit of abuse in this book, which the main character doesn’t seem to notice even though she’s with a family all day every day – which in itself is a bit odd. Will be donating this book to my local charity shop, don’t recommend.

 

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My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

Star rating: 4/5

This has been made into a film now, but it’s another graphic novel about the life of Jeffrey Dahmer while he was at high school. It’s an interesting insight into his early life from people who knew him at school, and I liked the art style alright. It feels like a brief snapshot of what his life turned out to be, and doesn’t really comment on his life post-high school, for example the murders that made him infamous. However, I still enjoyed this one enough to rate it 4/5. If you’re interested in reading more about serial killers you’d probably enjoy this.

 

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Star rating: 2/5

If you like books like His Bloody Project, you’d probably like this. Unfortunately, I am not that person. It’s supposed to be based on a true story that everyone in Iceland ‘knows’, but I’m not Icelandic and wasn’t aware of it before I read this book. It’s about a woman called Agnes, who is the last person to be hanged in the country. I didn’t enjoy the writing, and felt like it was a bit of a slog getting through it, which is odd because I usually like crime/court books, and I like historical fiction. This should have been a winner for me but unfortunately I ended up not loving it.

 

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The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer

Star rating: 3/5

You have NO idea how pleased I am to finally be able to include this in a wrap up. I’ve been listening to the audiobook of this for months, as it was around 46 hours long. At more than 1,000 pages, this book is far too long. It follows two main characters, Gary and Nicole, who are in a relationship. Long story short, Gary comes out of prison, meets Nicole, kills two people, goes back to prison, where he insists on receiving the death penalty. It’s a lot about Mormons, you get a lot of perspectives from people who really aren’t important to the story at all, and it’s a lot from the lawyers and production companies who want to capitalise on the case and make a film about Gary’s life. SO much of this book could just have been chopped out, and I really hated all the super graphic sex scenes, and sexual letters Gary and Nicole swapped. I’m not a prude, but I was so uncomfortable the entire time. However, I found the story easy to follow, and I did like the general gist of it, even though I thought it was way too long and a lot of it unnecessary.

 

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Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

Star rating: 4/5

I read Normal People earlier this year and it was an instant 5/5 read for me, so I was excited to pick up Conversations With Friends as well. I love Sally Rooney’s writing style, although her characters are a little bit samey in this novel and her newer one. It’s about two friends, who used to be in a relationship, and who become friends with a couple, before one of the girls, Frances, starts having an affair with the man, Nick. It basically just follows their lives and the scenarios, while you get other bits of their lives peppered in along the way. I don’t think any of them are particularly likeable, but if you enjoyed Normal People you’ll also like this.

 

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My Life as a Rat by Joyce Carol Oates

Star rating: 4/5

And finally, the ninth book I read in August. I actually started this at the end of July, and because I’d planned to do the N.E.W.T.s (which I only half did), I picked this one up again just at the very end of August, and ended up reading the last 250 pages in one evening. It’s the first Joyce Carol Oates I’ve read, although I do own one of her other novels. It’s about a girl called Violet-Rue who sees her brothers hide a bloody baseball bat, and speaking about a boy they have murdered. After she tells a teacher at school, she’s exiled from her family, who pretend she doesn’t exist, for more than 13 years. It’s about her life, and her family situation, and how she adapts. Massive trigger warnings in this for sexual assault, which I didn’t expect but happens several times, and also trigger warnings for general abuse. I wasn’t sure how I would rate this when I read the first half, but I definitely enjoyed it more by the end and will be picking up her other books.

 

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