What an odd month September has been. Traditionally, it’s the biggest month of the year in the publishing world, with all the big important books coming out. But while there were still buzzy books released this month, I had very little success with most of them. I’m relatively certain this is due to events in my personal life (the ongoing saga with my vision) because most of what I felt this month was ennui. My most common refrain about books I didn’t finish was: I didn’t care.
All of which means: take the less-than-stellar reviews/ratings with a grain of salt. I’m the finicky one right now and some of these may be just the book you’re looking for. Also, all complaining aside I always include titles and links to books I thoroughly enjoyed and reviewed this month so there is love in here somewhere!
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
Published by Doubleday
Publication date: September 14, 2021
The first of the novels I abandoned was Harlem Shuffle. A fellow reader told me why she had quit the book—no female characters. Lightbulb. This is exactly why I couldn’t muster enthusiasm—a bunch of midlife thieves and grifters sitting around jawing about what to do with a heist. I loved The Underground Railroad, but feel like Whitehead has got to put some effort into writing women.
For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing: There is no one to like in this twisty fun thriller set in an affluent private school and I loved it. My review
Palm Beach by Mary Adkins: A journalist who writes about the wealthy suddenly finds herself living among them. Review to follow
In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication date: August 3, 2021
I’m ready to call it: no more 10th year college reunion revenge mysteries for me. Writers have been chasing after the success of The Secret History for too long and I’m finished. In My Dreams I Hold a Knife is the latest entry and while at first it held my interest, by 30% it felt like a rerun and I quit. The choppy timeline left me with nothing to hold onto. The story returns to college every other chapter, but always at a different point—January sophomore year, Fall senior year—no continuity. The death blow was the disconnect between how the main character sets up her return to college. She’s desperate to be seen as the hot, sexy success that she is now to show everyone she wasn’t boring and yet in the flashbacks she’s popular, smart, is dating the biggest catch on campus…what’s the problem?
This book is getting a lot of high marks so if you’re a thriller fan give it a go. It was not for me.
Voices from the Pandemic by Eli Saslow: 5 star nonfiction about COVID told by American themselves. My review
Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner: A memoir about Black girls growing up in Chicago’s South Side. Review to follow
Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Publication date: September 7, 2021
I don’t have an opinion on Beautiful World Where Are You. I loved Rooney’s last novel, Normal People and I enjoy her writing style but I set this one aside at 20% and never mustered the energy to return. It’s about two friends, with chapters alternating between long emails between the two and a traditional format. One of the main characters is a novelist struggling to write her next book so I thought that would be the pull, but it all felt too removed, almost clinical. Intellectually I was intrigued by the premise, but I wasn’t pulled in.
Help a blogger out and if this is a novel I should come back to please let me know!
The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman: the final installment in the Practical Magic series. Review to follow
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr: A sprawling fantasy, historical novel that’s worth the attention. My review
That’s it for my wonky reading month. Any great books you read that I need to know about?
This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase of any kind, I get a small commission (at no cost to you).
*I received a free copy of Harlem Shuffle from Doubleday Books in exchange for an honest review.*
I just finished The Ride of Her Life by Elizabeth Letts. It’s a biography that reads like fiction about a 63 year old woman who takes off on horseback to travel from Maine to California in the early 1950’s and the adventures that ensued. It was a book club read that I enjoyed way more than I thought I would.
I’ve never heard of that one. Thank you! I’m always on the lookout for women’s stories.
September was a “meh” reading month for me as well. I read “Mrs. March” by Virginia Feito, which at least was worth the time, even if I didn’t love it. I did enjoy “The Book of Lost and Found” by Lucy Foley, but felt it took too long to get to the point. An older book by Taylor Jenkins Reid “Forever, Interrupted” was just ok for me.
“Dovetails in the Tall Grass” was my favorite book for September. I highly recommend that one.
The other books I read all seemed to have annoying characters who made ridiculous choices: “Tin Camp Road” by Ellen Airgood and “Ghosts” by Dolly Alderton, for example. Plus, I DNF’d two books, which is unusual for me!
I am looking forward to your next reviews. So sorry to hear you are still having eye issues.
I DNFed 4 which is my highest ever. I hear you on Tin Camp Road- I could not deal with that woman. It was one of my DNFs. I’m adding Dovetails to my TBR.
I just finished ” The next wife” by Kaira Rouda. I tore through it in about a day. Its billed as a thriller, and has several unlikeable characters. It was a fast, proplusive read, and I didn’t see the ending coming, thought I had it figured out but I was wrong. I’ll stop here don’t want to give any spoilers.
I had a good reading month overall. I read 11 books, dnf’d 2, actually had a couple of A books which has been rare this year. Sorry your month wasn’t great maybe October will be better.
I love thrillers with unlikable characters! Adding this to my list.
Glad to hear you had a good month. October has started better for me so fingers crossed!
Emma @ Words And Peace says
You did read a lot! Here is my wrap-up: https://wordsandpeace.com/2021/09/30/2021-september-wrap-up/ It has a couple of recent books.
Sorry about your eyes. So do you listen to a lot of audiobooks?
I don’t. I mostly listen to nonfiction. The reading isn’t so much of a problem as is writing about it. Adjusting font sizes, moving between mediums, using my phone…it’s all tedious.
I’ll be sure and check out your month!
Emma @ Words And Peace says
I do enjoy nonfiction in audio.
My favorite audio in nonfiction last year was The Art of Patience: Seeking the Snow Leopard in Tibet, by Sylvain Tesson – I listened to it in French, but the English sample sounds good too.
By the way, I would also recommend another audio by Tesson: Berezina: Moscow to Paris Following Napoleon’s Epic Fail. About his trip, as he decided to come back from Russia to France on a sidecar, following Napoleon’s debacle.
And my favorite nonfiction audio of these last 10 years is The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, by Walter Isaacson
Thank you for these great options! I’ll look ot them when I get my nonfiction mojo back!
My favorite read for September was Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian. It’s a thriller about a group of young psychopaths that are participating in a clinical study while attending Adams college in DC. I found the story so entertaining and it is definitely one of my favorites of the year. The audiobook was narrated by Brittany Pressley so that also added to my enjoyment.
I also really enjoyed The Good Lie by AR Torre. A very twisty thriller that kept my attention. I’m kind of hoping this is the beginning of a series.
Thank you- I’m always looking for good thriller ideas!