What I Read in July & August

Sunday, August 29, 2021

I've done a pretty solid amount of reading in the last two months, even though it doesn't really feel like I have. I mean, I've also binged Chicago PD & FBoy Island, & I got way too sucked into playing this stupid cell phone game (I never play cell phone games!), so honestly, I'm surprised I made the time at all.

But I did. I finished 11 books in July & August, & while most of them weren't knockouts, all of them were decent reads. I'm on the lookout for a really good thrilled, so if you have any ideas, hit me up, will ya?
The Hope We Hold by Jeremy & Jinger Vuolo

This book, written by a Duggar daughter & her husband, was extremely not my vibe, which I knew going into it. But I've long been sort of fascinated by the Duggar fam, & Jinger is the "rebel" who married a cool youth pastor & now *gasp!) wears pants, so it called to me. It was a lot of Jesus talk for this Jewish reader, but it was a pretty interesting look into a very different life from my own. ★★☆☆☆

Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan

Zara has lived in the U.S. since she was a toddler, & her family is thisclose to getting their green cards. But when Zara's longtime bully graffitis her house, it results in an act of violence that changes everything, setting her life on a new course as she & her parents have to fight to stay in the country. This book was well-done & enjoyable but, & I hate to say this, ultimately a little forgettable. ★★★★☆

Overcoming Overeating by Jane R. Hirschmann

I spent a very long, slow time reading this book because I wanted to let myself internalize it. A few months ago, I came face to face with the realization that I have a binge-eating problem, & someone I follow on social media recommended this book as having helped her. While I am probably not going to follow everything I learned in it, I did, in fact, learn a lot from it, & I feel like it's already starting to help me. ★★★★★

The Ivies by Alexa Donne

I love a good boarding school drama, & this was no exception. Olivia is on scholarship at an elite school, where she's one of The Ivies, five girls who have their sights set on the best colleges. But when one of them turns up dead, Olivia wonders whether her friends are really her friends at all – & if maybe they're murderers, too. This one was slightly overwritten (some of the dialogue featured words that, frankly, no one ever uses in speaking, even the smart kids), but it was nonetheless enjoyable. ★★★★☆

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager 

After her dad's death, Maggie returns to the haunted house she briefly lived in as a child, the one her dad wrote a nonfiction book about & made a fortune from. But he was lying about the hauntings... right? For much of this book, I couldn't decide whether it was a mystery or a ghost story, but I stuck with it because I know that Riley Sager writes mysteries, not ghost stories – & in the end, he delivered. ★★★☆☆

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Again, I typically enjoy Riley Sager's novels, & I made it through this one quickly & curiously. But did I like it? In a word, no. Charlie hitches a ride home from college with a stranger she meets on a ride board. She's dropping out following the murder of her best friend... but is she in the car with the murderer? This book was entertaining enough but ultimately just so damn stupid. Not to victim-blame, but who hitches a ride with a stranger when there's a serial killer on the loose, anyway?! ★★☆☆☆

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

First things first: This author wrote this New York Times instant bestselling novel while in college, which is reason enough to go give it a read. Quiet musician Devon & head girl Chiamaka aren't friends, but they are the only Black kids in school, & when an anonymous entity starts harassing them & trying to ruin them, they begrudgingly pair up to figure out who's behind the threats. It's a YA prep school thriller like you've never read before, a cross between Gossip Girl & Get Out, & I can't say much more than that without giving too much away. ★★★★☆

They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzel Hall

When Miriam travels to a remote island to participate in a reality TV show, she learns that she & six others have been lured there under false pretenses. When they start dying one by one, Miriam begins the fight of her life, desperate to get home & start life anew. I wanted so badly to like this one, but wow, the writing was not for me. I finished it because I wanted to know how it ended, & I was satisfied with the conclusion, but the prose frequently bordered on unreadable. ★★☆☆☆

Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim by Leah Vernon

I've been following Leah on Instagram for a long time, so I was excited to find that she'd written a memoir. It wasn't my favorite, if only because it wasn't as focused as I would've liked, & I had a hard time following the chronology, but overall, I really enjoyed her perspectives, her sense of humor, her body positivity, & her hard-fought wisdom & insight. ★★★☆☆

The Brittanys by Brittany Ackerman

Brittany is friends with four other Brittanys... or maybe frenemies is more like it? They're high school freshmen, & their primary interests are friendship, boys, & increasing their social status (maybe not in that order). I don't know what I expected from this book, but it wasn't what I thought it would be. The author is clearly a good writer, but the book was pretty meandering & plotless. I didn't dislike it, but I didn't really like it, either. ★★★☆☆

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix 

This is another book that I liked a lot in theory but slightly less in execution. Lynnette is part of a group of women famous for being final girls, those who survived mass murders & killed their would-be killers. Now, though, it seems that someone is focusing on them again, trying to pick off the final girl one by one, & Lynnette is facing her trauma & trying to save them all. ★★★★☆

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