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There’s nothing like getting lost in a great book. If you are looking for some great book recommendations, these books are a great way to go. These are the books that I read (and LOVED) this month. Check them out if you need a book recommendation.
I’m setting a goal to read 100 books in 2020 and so far I’m off to a great start. You can easily set up a challenge of your own on Goodreads. Be sure and follow me on Goodreads to connect over there. I’d love to see what you are reading too.
I’ve always loved reading but sometimes life can get in the way. I’ve been going through a dry spell for the past few months while I tried to get caught up on life, but I’ve realized that I’m more productive and just generally a better person when I get some reading time in so I’m making it a priority this year even when things get hectic.
If you need some help carving time in your life for reading, check out these tips.
It isn’t often that the characters, storyline, and writing style all pull you in but that is exactly what happened to me with The Downstairs Girl. The story is set in the deep south during a time when Chinese Americans were considered to be just a half a step above freed slaves in their social status. Jo Kuan, a sweet 17-year old who lives with her “grandfather”, a man who took her in when her parents abandoned her. They live in a forgotten basement that was formerly used as a hiding place on the underground railroad.
Jo works hard to improve her situation in life and learns to use the power of her words to vent her frustrations at the discrimination she faces every day. I loved the twist in the storyline. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. This was one of those books that I just had to finish in a single day because I needed to know what was going to happen.
I had heard this book recommended several times but never picked it up for some reason. Once I finally picked it up, I was hooked. This is an amazing story with some serious depth. Kya is a young girl who is faced with devastating family circumstances and finds herself left alone in the marsh of North Carolina. Despite her circumstances, she thrives in her own way.
Years down the road, a local boy is found murdered and because of the prejudice that Kya faces with the local people, she is the prime suspect. This book was not what I expected it to be. It has quite a bit of action, despite the fact that the focus is really a nature narrative with beautiful descriptions of the local ecosystem. This was another one I couldn’t put down and the ending surprised me, but also brought up so many questions about what is right and what is wrong. Where the Crawdads Sing is definitely a must-read and one that I suspect will be considered a classic down the road.
The Grace Year is The Hunger Games meets Handmaid’s Tale with a bit of The Giver thrown in. I really enjoyed this. It was a quick read for me (as in I couldn’t put it down) but it also brought up some important issues about how women are treated in our society throughout history.
The characters are strong and interesting. I wish there was a bit more background info about some parts of the dystopian society but overall this was a great read with some great twists to the story.
Nothing to See Here is a bit lighter than the rest of the books I’ve read this month but it was still a great read. The premise behind the book is a bit outlandish. Lillian is asked to become a nanny to her boarding school friend’s step-kids. The only problem is that the kids spontaneously combust when they get upset. This book is interesting because it isn’t set in a fantasy setting. It’s based in modern-day reality so it takes a bit of a jump to accept the plot-line.
At first, I thought this would just be a silly read but there are actually some much deeper themes regarding acceptance and boundaries in the book that make it really interesting.
I’d heard such great things about The Tattooist of Auschwitz and some of my favorite books are historical fiction based during WWII so I had high hopes for the book. I enjoyed it, but found it a bit harder to get into than I had hoped. The writing is more of a narration style than that of a storyteller so many times the facts were simply presented in a way that left some of the emotion out of it. There were times when I felt like the story made Auschwitz out to be a camp with just slightly frustrating rules rather than what it really was.
So I did enjoy the story, I just have enjoyed others like Beneath a Scarlet Sky and The Nightengale more. The book covers the experience of Lale, a young man who becomes the tattooist of Auschwitz and is able to smuggle food and supplies to other prisoners. It was fascinating getting a look at parts of Auschwitz that haven’t been touched on in other books I just wish the writing style pulled me in a bit more.
Just Mercy has been made into a movie and is getting rave reviews for both the book and the movie. This one is not a fast read. It includes a lot of legal and philosophical questions throughout the book that slows down the reading but it is also one that requires you to process what you are reading as you go. Several times throughout the book I had to put it down and just let myself try to process some of the issues in the book.
This book will hit you strongly. I had several moments where I teared up at the verdicts as they were announced in the book. Some felt hateful and some felt victorious. My brother is currently in prison for drug and alcohol-related reasons and because of my own limited dealings with how unfair the system can be, I think this book really resonated with me more. I’m not sure I can say that I enjoyed reading it because it opened my eyes to issues that I wasn’t even aware existed and they are things I wish were just different. They are hard to read about. But, I’m grateful to this book for opening my eyes and giving me some perspective.
I’m a huge Brené Brown fan so The Gifts of Imperfection is one I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I ended up listening to this on Audible (twice), which I highly recommend because it is read by Brené herself. I heard Brené speak years ago while I was volunteering at a blog conference before she was well known. I had the pleasure of taking the microphone to anyone who wanted to speak up during her presentation. I hadn’t heard of her before and likely would not have been in that room if it hadn’t been where I’d been assigned but I’m so glad I was able to be there because the things she said resonated with me so much. The Gifts of Imperfection is hugely popular but somehow it hadn’t made it onto my reading list yet. I enjoyed it so much that I’ll probably be buying a physical copy of the book to go along with the Audible version because there were so many great quotes in there that I want to remind myself of on a regular basis. I found myself thinking as I listened to the book “I really need to highlight that …”.
This one is definitely a must-read if you deal with any sort of self-doubt … which I suspect we all do. If you don’t, you must be a robot because the world today puts so much pressure on all of us.
A Night Divided is one that I swiped from my teenager’s bookshelf. Jennifer Nielsen has come to my kids’ school several years in a row so they’ve made a point to search out her books (My 12-year-old is currently going through The False Prince trilogy). I really love YA fiction but I especially love being able to read the books that my kids enjoy. It really helps me to know what they are reading because I know what they are being exposed to and what they are interested in. I used to try and read their books before they did to screen them a bit but my boys are voracious readers and I just can’t keep up any more. My 12-year-old read something like 30 books this month and while I’d love to compete with him I just don’t have that much free time.
This book was a fantastic read. I finished it in a day but the characters are well-developed and memorable. The story is fast-paced. I wasn’t very familiar with many of the events that surrounded the Berlin Wall going up so I loved taking a closer look at what life was like for the people who lived in the shadow of the wall. Even if you don’t read this one, definitely encourage your kids too because it brings up some important issues about freedom and family. I really enjoyed pretty much everything about this book.
Save on The Book of the Month Club
I’m a bit obsessed with my Book of the Month Club membership. I loved it so much I have my son a YA membership for Christmas. I do not have a lot of free time but I love spending the time that I do have reading. In the past, I’ve spent way too long researching which book I should read next when I could probably read a book with that time instead. The Book of the Month Club gives you a curated list of 5 books each month (many of which are early releases). They included short descriptions and longer, very detailed descriptions so you can get a good feel for each book.
I’ve loved every book that I’ve read through my Book of the Month Club membership and it has exposed me to books I probably would not have thought about reading without it.
Usually, I read my book as soon as it arrives but this month I had library books I’d had on my hold list for quite a while and needed to read before they were due back.
Now that those are read, the next book on my list is my Book of the Month Club pick for this month, Things in Jars, a book that is currently on pre-order on Amazon but I’ve had for several weeks thanks to my BOTM membership. I’m really excited about this one because it sounds amazing.