This past month I read 7 book: 3 physical and 4 audio. Overall, it was a mostly great reading month! There were a few surprises: I LOVED San Miguel by T.C. Boyle even though I came *this* close to unhauling it, and I really did not like Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes despite the fact that You is one of my favorite thrillers to date. But enough of this… Let’s get to the books!
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (4 Stars)
Homegoing follows the descendants of two half sisters born in eighteenth century Ghana. Completely unaware of each other, the two girls lead drastically different lives and are impacted by circumstances beyond their control. One sister is forced into a marriage with an Englishman, the other is captured in a village raid and sold into slavery – thus shaping the futures of the many generations to come.
This was a sweeping historical fiction novel that I could not stop listening to. Gyasi’s characters were complex and the many situations they found themselves in were equal parts extraordinary and heartrending. As mush as I loved listening to this book, I recommend actually reading it. The book covers eight generations, so there are a lot of characters and seeing the names printed out would have been a huge help.
San Miguel by T.C. Boyle (5 Stars)
Set on the small, remote island of San Miguel, San Miguel follows two families (one in the 1880s, the other in the 1930s) as they attempted to forge a living as sheep ranchers off the coast of California. Forced to come to terms with the hardships of surviving in an oftentimes brutal envirnment and the loneliness of living so far off the grid, these two families struggled to maintain a way of life that even in the 1880s was uncommon and dangerous.
I loved this book so much! T.C. Boyle’s writing is vivid and atmospheric – he makes you feel as if you are out there living on the island, too. And to top it all off, the two families of San Miguel Island, the Waters and the Lesters, were all real people.
Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes (2 Stars)
Hidden Bodies takes over where You left off, but this time Joe knows he’s found the perfect girl for him and he’s going to do the whole boyfriend thing right this time – until she up and leaves him for a life in Los Angeles. Of course, Joe follows her determined to seek revenge at all costs. But then he meets Love and his whole world is turned upside down.
I thought I would love this book because I really enjoyed You, but I was wrong. Maybe the novelty of the stalker story told from the stalker’s perspective wore off, but Hidden Bodies just didn’t do it for me. There was very little suspense and (seemingly) a lot more gratuitous sex.
Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia (3 Stars)
Dreaming in Cuban is a multi-perspective portrait of Celia del Pino and her family as they grapple with the issues of identity, poverty, corruption, and seperation against the backdrop of communist Cuba. Told using bits of magical realism here and there, this is a poignant look at a family that’s been torn apart by politics and idealism.
This book was not what I was expecting and therefore a bit of a disappointment. The book was entirely character-driven, so if you like books with little to no plot and lots of character introspection give it a try.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (4 Stars)
Monty is about to embark on his Grand Tour of the Continent with his best friend, and secret crush, Percy and his little sister Felicity. Filled with visions of a perfect trip – lots of drinking, parties in all of Europe’s colorful cities, and the possiblity of taking the next step with Percy – Monty is surprised to see their trip head in completely different, and dangerous, direction.
This was a fun book! Even though Monty was a little annoying at times, I couldn’t help but root for him and Percy to finally get together.
The Huntress by Kate Quinn (5 Stars)
The Huntress follows three converging stories: Nina is an ex-navigator for the Red Army of Soviet Russia, Ian is a former war correspondent who documented the front lines of WWII and now runs a Nazi hunting office, and Jordan is an aspiring photographer who grew up in Boston during the war. What do these three have in common? They are all connected to the Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and they are all seeking justice.
This book was extraordinary! It’s difficult to tell a multi-perspective story and not have one branch stand out over the others but Quinn managed to pull it off exceedingly well. I was hopelessly sucked into the lives of Nina, Ian, and Jordan as they hunted for the Huntress and could not put this book down.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (5 Stars)
This graphic novel is a quick but impactful look at Thi Bui and her family history. Focusing on her parents’ lives in Vietnam, and their harrowing escape after the war, Bui brings to life the struggles of living in a war-torn country, being a refugee in a country that doesn’t fully accept you, and coming to grips with the vast responsibilities of motherhood.
This book took me less than 24 hours to get through because I could not stop reading. Bui’s family history is fascinating and heartrending and is told so perfectly through her illustrations. If you liked Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai, give this book a try!
Have you read any of these books? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 🙂