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Everything I Read In Summer 2021

September 2, 2021 / Books

Speak No Evil

Fiction / LGBTQ+

Speak No Evil, is a literary fiction novel, about two teenagers, from very different backgrounds, that share a revelation that sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences. Niru, the son of conservative Nigerian parents, has a secret: he is gay. Meredith, his best friend, is struggling with her own troubles, and has little support to offer Niru. As his secret is revealed, the consequences are swift and brutal.

This book reads more as YA, than the adult fiction it is marketed as, but the story is riveting and timely. A heartbreaking ending to a story that details LGBTQ+ suffering in a vivid way. Niru, the main character, is one you don’t see often, and the author weaves two narratives together in a powerful and painful way.

While this book isn’t in my Top 5 of the year, it is worth a read, especially if you are interested in LGVBQ+ stories.

Final Score: 3/5 or B

The More or Less Definitive Guide To Self-Care

Non-Fiction / Self-Help

I am always interested in how people practice self-care, so naturally, this book caught my interest. Marketed as the Definitive Guide to Self-Care, it held a big promise…and honestly, it delivered! Offering over 200 tips, activities, and stories from experts and everyday people alike, in an A to Z list. Take what you like and leave what doesn’t serve you. You are sure to walk away from this book with a toolkit for practicing self-care, in a way that benefits you and your lifestyle.

Final Score: 4/5 or B+

Ordinary Grace

Fiction / Coming Of Age

Based in Minnesota, Ordinary Grace, is a standalone novel from revered author William Kent Krueger. This novel takes place in the 1960s, and follows 13-year old Frank Drum during a summer filled with death – murder, accidents, suicide. When tragedy strikes his family, he finds himself thrown into a very adult world full os secrets and lies.

Told from Franks perspective forty years after that fateful summer, this book is a moving and unforgettable book. Truly one of my favorite reads, maybe of all time. It is harrowing and heartfelt and beautifully written. You will leave feeling like you understand life just little bit better.

If you choose to read just one book from this list, this is the one I would recommend!

Final Score: 5/5 or A

The Selection

Fiction / Young Adult / Romance / Fantasy

A cult classic YA book, this has been on my to-read list for years. The Selection, is a chance of a lifetime, for 35 girls – to live in a palace and compete for the love and attention of the Prince. But, for our main character, America Singer, being selected is a nightmare. For her, it means leaving behind her love Aspen, but, meeting the Prince doesn’t quite go as expected.

A classic YA romance, this is a quick and lighthearted read, filled with suspense and humor. Think The Bachelor franchise meets The Princess Diaries. Easy, fun, and a break from your everyday life. If that is what you need right now, this is your book!

This it the first book in a trilogy, and does in fact end on a cliffhanger, however, for me, I don’t think it was compelling enough to grab the next book. While it served its purpose when I read it, I don’t think I’ll be joining The Selection cult anytime soon.

Final Score: 4/5 or B+

When My Time Comes

Non-Fiction / Philosophy

When My Time Comes: Conversations About Whether Those Who Are Dying Should Have  The Right To Determine When Life Should End is a collection of interviews with terminally ill patients, physicians, ethicists, religious leaders, and representatives of both those who support and vigorously oppose this urgent movement. The movement, medical aid in dying (previously known as physician assisted suicide), is a controversial topic, and this book does a great job of examining all of the perspectives with grace and understanding.

This is a topic I haven’t previously given much thought, as I haven’t had any experience with it personally, so I appreciated the interview format, which provides insights into actual patients decisions. While I do think the author focused more on those who agreed with the movement, there was a good amount of dissension as well, so the reader could form their own opinions.

Final Score: 3/5 or B

My Sister, The Serial Killer

Non-Fiction / Thriller

A short novel, but one unlike any I have ever read. This book follows our main character, nurse Korede, who gets another call from her sister, after her third boyfriend ends up dead. Suspicious, but love of family always comes first. However, that all changes when the sister begins dating Korede’s boss, who she is secretly in love with. Not prepared to see her boss become her sisters fourth victim, Korede has to weigh her love and her values and make a decision that will forever impact her and her sisters lives.

This book is very though provoking, easy to read and definitely a story that will stick with you.

Final Score: 3/5 or B

The Perfect Wife

Non-Fiction / Mystery

Abbie wakes up with no memory, with a man by her side, claiming to be her husband. A titan of the start-up world, he says she had a terrible accident 5 years ago, and through science and technology, she has been brought back to life. But, soon Abbie begins piecing together her past life, and soon realizes that her husbands version of events might not be the truth.

For me, this was one of those can’t put down books, that I just needed to finish! Suspenseful and full of twists and an ending I didn’t see coming. This book kept my attention from beginning to end. If you love a good mystery with a side of science fiction, this is a must-read!

Final Score: 4/5 or A-

The Office Of Historical Corrections

Short Stories

These short stories are filled with narratives about race, culture, gender and history. “In “Boys Go to Jupiter,” a white college student tries to reinvent herself after a photo of her in a Confederate-flag bikini goes viral. In “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain,” a photojournalist is forced to confront her own losses while attending an old friend’s unexpectedly dramatic wedding. And in the eye-opening title novella, a black scholar from Washington, DC, is drawn into a complex historical mystery that spans generations and puts her job, her love life, and her oldest friendship at risk.”

Short story collections are always hard to review, because some of the stories are 5 stars and some are lackluster, and this collection was just that for me. Overall, I would say it was an interesting effort and worth a read, but not every story was memorable for me.

Final Score: 3/5 or B-

Valentine

Fiction / Literary Fiction

Valentine is the story of a brutal crime in a small Texas oil town in the 70s that rocks a community. Following the lives of several women in the community, this book intersects race, gender, class, violence and community into one heartbreaking event. I picked up this book because the plot was so compelling, however, this was lackluster for me. I finished thinking I may have missed the point entirely.

This book follows so many characters, however, they do not tie neatly into the main plot point, nor does the book necessarily even follow the plot for the majority. While it is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read, the storyline was confusing and didn’t pack as big a punch as it could have. While it isn’t a book I would recommend, I can see why some people would feel moved by this one.

Final Score: 2/5 or C

Killers Of The Flower Moon

Non-Fiction / History / Crime

Killers of the Flower Moon is about the Osage Indian Nation murders and the birth of the FBI and is a must-read for anyone interested in our nations history. The Osage Indians were the richest people per capita in the world in the 1920s and that wealth caused a sequence of events that led to them being killed off one by one.

This is not an event I had heard or learned about previously, and it was honestly pretty shocking. When you finally learn who is responsible for the murders, it is heartbreaking, but based on past history, not that surprising. There is also a side story, the birth of the FBI, that illuminates an aspect of our countries history that may be eye opening for many.

Final Score: 4/5 or A-

Baby Teeth

Fiction / Horror / Thriller

Hanna. A loving angel with her father, a scary demon with her mother. Suzette. A loving mother, fearful of her own child and desperate to convince her husband of her trickery. This novel is creepy, suspenseful, and chilling. If that’s your thing, this book doesn’t disappoint!

With an ending that will leave you with your jaw dropped, this book is certainly memorable, but is often predictable and repetitive. While it is not my favorite mystery/thriller, it was entertaining, a quick read and kept my attention from beginning to end. Definitely worth a read, if you love a thriller with a touch of horror!

Final Score: 4/5 or B+

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows

Fiction

This book has been on my to-read list for quite sometime, after seeing it all of Instagram a couple years ago. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows follows a group Sikh widows in West London who sign up for a writing class, expecting to learn English, but who quickly begin telling and writing erotic stories instead.

Lively, sexy and though-provoking, this book is equal parts thrilling, fantasy and heartfelt. A unique book, filled with humor, erotic stories, and friendship, this is a fun story that teaches you about culture and empowerment. Not in my Top 5 of the summer, but certainly a book that I enjoyed reading!

Final Score: 3/5 or B

A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena

Fiction / Historical Fiction

Set in Chechnya during the war, 8 year old Havva hides in the woods as her father is abducted by Russian forces. Fearing for her life, she flees with her neighbor Ahkmed to a bombed-out hospital, run by Sonja. Detailing the past lives of all the characters, you get a well-rounded view of the war, the destruction and terror involved. You also traverse the five days following Havva’s fathers abduction, and witness the power of love and friendship.

This novel is beautiful, heartbreaking and truly one of the most poignant books I have read as of late. Truly a masterpiece in its own right, I am surprised this book hasn’t seen more fanfare. A true account of the events that bind people for life, of the cost of war, and the cost of love and the beliefs that cause us to become our best selves. Highly recommend!

Final Score: 4/5 or A-

One by One

Fiction / Mystery

Always a fan of Ruth Ware, a master of the mystery novel! This one takes place in a rustic, mountain ski resort, during the visit of a Silicon Valley start-up. But, as always with Ware, someone turns up dead. And then another. And another. And suddenly trapped by an avalanche, time is running out for everyone left alive.

As far as Ruth Ware novels go, this one isn’t my favorite, but it delivers on its promise, and keeps you on your toes. While the outcome was somewhat predictable, it didn’t prevent me from wanting to keep reading. This is quick paced, thrilling and fun!

Final Score: 3/5 or B+