Sunday Sum-Up: extra long 2 weeks in my reading life

…because I failed to post last Sunday, this will be like one of those special double issues of EW magazine. Only not really. I almost didn’t get this posted this week, either. Who goes prom dress shopping at the end of June? Apparently, my daughter and I do. I’m still not comfortable with this prom happening at all (hello, we are still having a pandemic?) but… ugh.

But I came here to talk books and stuff!

Books I finished:

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes by Suzanne Collins Goodreads

I went in to this knowing full well that it was a villain origin story (of sorts) for evil President Snow. As such, I did not expect to like the main character. I didn’t have the problems with pacing that I’ve seen mentioned in other reviews, but then again, I listened to the audiobook at 2x speed. 😂The writing is good. I loved seeing the origins of the games and the songs and the generations that came before. You know how Snow was an irredeemable sociopath in The Hunger Games? Turns out, he was always an irredeemable sociopath. I suspect some readers may have come to this book hoping for something in his origins to make him a sympathetic character… those people would be disappointed. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver Goodreads

A couple of years ago, this book came to me in a postal book club at apparently the wrong time: I started it and pretty much immediately closed it. Since then, I’ve read 4 Kingsolver novels and became a major fan, so this was my choice for a book about food for #ReadingWomen challenge. I loved it. Yes, it’s a bit pretentious at times, and for a lot of us, the steps that this family took to be locavores don’t seem very realistic at first. BUT, for someone like me who grew up on an Iowa farm, helped harvest chickens as a kid, and still benefits from a large scale garden every summer, yet doesn’t make too much of a conscious effort to eat locally outside of that garden, the book was inspiring. There are a LOT more things I could do to make sure our food is more locally and responsibly farmed. I love the authors narration and, as always, her style. I’m getting a paper copy to reference! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

I absolutely loved this book, and highly recommend the audio read by Mr. Richard Armitage. My full review was here on the blog. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts

From the ‘why-did-I-leave-this-book-sit-so-long’ files… this historical fiction about a girl born and raised in the asylum where her mentally ill mother was locked up is now one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’ve read a lot of books this year. Full review is here on the blog. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Torture Letters by Laurence Ralph Goodreads

This is a powerful, stark piece that goes beyond the police violence that we see on all of those horrifying cell phone videos to the illegal torture of countless human beings by the Chicago police, which was an open secret for years. It’s tragic, hard to read, and infuriating, but this is something everyone should learn about. It’s certainly not isolated to Chicago. The militarization of the police should be terrifying and appalling to all of us. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Once More Unto the Breach by Meghan Holloway

After reading a lot of WWII historical fiction a few years ago, I took a break. This book was a great one to come back to the genre. So, so good! Full review is here on the blog. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby Goodreads

Perfection. Hornby’s writing is very Austenesque, so reading this fictionalized tale about Jane’s beloved sister, Cassandra, late in her life working to shape Jane’s legacy feels a lot like reading an Austen novel. It’s witty, charming, and beautiful. I loved the jumps (via letters) back Cassandra and Jane’s earlier days, and was moved to tears more than once. Juliet Stevenson narrates the audio, and she’s one of the very best. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix Goodreads

Another Hendrix book I loved. This book is funny, campy, a little bit scary, and very dark. 90s southern housewives go from ridiculously irritating to pretty badass, and I’m here for it. The novel touches on sexism and racism as well, which was unexpected but handled well. Hendrix takes fairly goofy plot lines, adds lots of 80s/90s references, and rounds it all out with great characters. Audio read by the great Bahni Turpin is awesome! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen Goodreads

Both of my lovelies

It felt weird to put these two gorgeous editions back on the shelf on Friday, after 50 days reading with the #PemberLittens group on Litsy. I enjoyed this reread, and really think that taking it slow with a group reading just one chapter per day helped me catch a lot of things I missed the first time. While this is still not my favorite Austen, I do so love her wit and fantastic writing, and the way she gets right to the heart of the human character. Still relatable, 200 years later. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Princess by Jean Sasson Goodreads

I honestly had to keep checking to make sure I was reading the same book that is so highly rated on GR and Litsy. The writing is just… bad. Apparently the true story of a Saudi princess, but all names are changed. Not an autobiography as the story was told to/written (badly) by Sasson. Sultana seems unreal and out of touch to me. There are much better sources if you want to learn about the atrocities faced by women in Saudi Arabia. I’m not sure if I believe this is true or not, and I had a hard time feeling much for Sultana. Yes, she’s a woman in Saudi Arabia with all of the horrors that entails, but she’s also a very privileged, very rich woman who does a lot of questionable stuff throughout this book. I don’t dislike the book because of the underlying subject matter (that’s why I picked it), and have read extensively on women in the Middle East. It’s just… not good. ⭐️⭐️

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge Goodreads

A cute, slightly typical contemporary romance that I bet would be enjoyed by any fan of the genre. The added bonus for me was that it’s a modern-day retelling of Sense & Sensibility, and it’s actually really well done! I didn’t think this Austen story would translate easily to our time, but the author has pulled it off quite nicely. Bonus: recipes! ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

I think that catches me up. On to another week of reading… the good thing about having spent a ridiculous sum on a prom dress today is that I won’t be tempted to buy more books this week. Bright side!

10 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: extra long 2 weeks in my reading life

  1. I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle too. Since I read this I’ve turned a lot of people off cheez whiz! I’ve been a fan of hers since I read The Poisonwood Bible. Which was….I don’t even know… more than 10 years ago anyway. Isn’t it funny how the same book can have a different effect on us depending on when we read it?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read Animal Vegetable Miracle probably 15 years ago, and there are still passages out of that book that I remember word for word. And then I read Poisonwood Bible and the rest is history.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Jane Austen Society was wonderful, and the audiobook so good I didn’t want it to stop. I’m going to check what else Mr. Armitage has narrated because his voice was GOLD!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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