Monday, September 30, 2019

September 2019 in Books

Hi all!  I can't believe we are already at the end of another month!  I very wide variety of books this month.  I need to do a better job keeping up with Ellie and her recommendations, so there are a couple of those on this month's list and I have a few set aside for next month too.  Here's the rundown:

Mother-Daughter Book Camp (The Mother-Daughter Book Club, #7) - Heather Vogel Frederick - juvenile fiction - four stars - This is the final book in the Mother Daughter Book Club series.  Ellie has now read them all, and I've read most of them.  She found this last one in the library and insisted we both read it, and I'm glad we did.  In this final installment the girls are working as counselors at a camp the summer before they head off to college.  It was a sweet way to end the story as they navigate being nervous about college and being apart from one another all while being in charge of little kids many of whom are also homesick.  As a way to assuage some of the homesickness, they start a book club at camp.  This was a fun end to the series and a great little palate cleanser of a book.

The Redeemed ( The West Country Trilogy, #3) - Tim Pears - historical fiction - five stars - Another last in a series, this book finds Leo in the Navy as WWI is just beginning.  Lottie, meanwhile, is covertly studying/apprenticing as a veterinarian.  As the war ends, they both find a way to make a living and eventually are reunited.  The pace of this is a bit more slow and languid, like the first book, but not necessarily in a bad way.  I love the detail and process that is described, from loading cannon, to salvaging ships, to performing veterinary procedures.  A fitting conclusion to the series, one I highly recommend.

Evvie Drake Starts Over - Linda Holmes - fiction - five stars - I really liked this one.  It's about a recent young widow who is trying to sort out what to do with her life now that she is newly single.  While most people think she's grieving, she's actually feeling guilt about the fact that she was in the process of leaving her husband the morning he was killed in an accident.  Enter a former professional baseball player, friend of her best friend, who is looking for a place to lie low and find his own way after flaming out and losing his arm.  I really enjoyed the banter and the personalities of the characters, and that while it was a little predictable, there was unpredictability too.  For those of you who are up-lit fans, you'll enjoy this one for sure.

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth - Sarah Smarsh - memoir - three stars - This one was a disappointment.  It's kind of a mid-western version of Hillbilly Elegy, but not nearly as good.  It was hard to follow, partly because her grandparents had so many different marriages/spouses, and because she sometimes called people by their actual names and sometimes referred to them as her grandmother, mother, father, etc.  There are some really strong characters in her family and it is a really fascinating look at those who are just on the fringe of lower class, but the continual skipping around as well as the overt political messaging made it a bit of a slog for me.

Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens - fiction - five stars - I think when I put a hold on this at the library originally I was 500-something on the wait list and it finally came in.  I wasn't disappointed.  It's the story of Kya Clark who lives whose mother leaves when she is a child (after being abused by her father for many years), slower the rest of the children leave also, until only Kya remains.  She lives with her father for some time until he also drifts away and she needs to survive on her own.  She does so with the help of some kind locals and a friend of her brother's who teachers her to read.  Kya is actually incredibly intelligent and a born naturalist.  She studies her surroundings, recording what she sees/learns of the flora and fauna and wildlife of the area.  To those in town she is called the 'Marsh Girl' and something to be avoided.  Years later, when the former high school quarterback and golden boy of the town is found murdered, Kya is suspected and taken to trial.  It's a wonderful story of survival, friendship, and love.  I will say that I feel like the ending was too abrupt, things were wrapped up a little too quickly at the end after the pace of the book itself, but I really enjoyed this one overall.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (The Vanderbeekers #1) - Karina Yan Glaser - juvenile fiction - four stars - This book reminded me a bit of the Penderwicks.  The Vanderbeekers are a boisterous and friendly family who live in Harlem.  They learn that their grumpy landlord will not be renewing their lease and they will have to move just after Christmas.  At this point the Vanderbeeker children initiate a campaign to save their home, which of course involves numerous failed schemes.  This one had actually been on my Amazon list for Ellie, but she beat me to the punch and found it herself at the library earlier this year.  There are now two more in the series, so she insisted that I get started and catch up.

The Second Worst Restaurant in France - Alexander McCall Smith - fiction - three stars - This books follows My Italian Bulldozer which I really enjoyed.  Three stars is pretty low for an Alexander McCall Smith book for me.  I'll say that I did like this book, but it got a bit circuitous in the middle with a lot of chatter that really didn't move the plot along or develop the characters much.  All the action seemed to occur in the first and last few chapters.  That said, I did enjoy the story as well as a couple little plot twists.  I liked how things ended, but wish that there had been a bit more editing.

The Perfect Nanny - Leila Slimani - fiction - four stars - A quick and compelling read.  You find out right away about the terrible consequences of the story, and then rewind to how it occurred.  Myriam decides to return to work and needs to find a nanny to care for her children.  Louise seems like a godsend, she does it all, soon the family can't function without her, but as the family and Louise grow more dependent on one another, things take an unhealthy turn.  It really like how the story delved into Louise's back story, so you could see what shaped her.  Engrossing but very disturbing.

My favorites this month were Evvie Drake and Where the Crawdad's Sing.  I'm currently finishing up Small Fry (the biography of Steve Job's eldest daughter), and after that I have Indian Horse and Where I End on tap.  Would love if you shared what you are reading!


  1. always look forward to your reviews. thank you. I tried reading Mrs Everything by Jennifer Weiner but returned it to the library. The plot (2 sisters born in Detroit in the 50s) could have been good but it seemed like the author was checking off plot points and their relationship to USA events at the time.

  2. Totally loved the Crawdads - fantastic book!

  3. Totally loved the Crawdads! Fantastic book!