Monday, July 31, 2023

Mini Book Reviews: July 2023

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of The Many Lives of Mama Love from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my review. This post has affiliate links.

What a great month of reading! Last month, I complained that I couldn't find much good to read. Well, that all turned around in July. For one thing, all my library holds came in at once. What to do? When this happens, I usually prioritize which book I'll get through the quickest, to get one off my list. Sometimes I have to return one to the library and get back on the list. Fortunately this month, I had a week off work plus I was traveling, which gave me a lot of downtime to read. 

Although I do admit to watching Cocaine Bear on one flight. I couldn't help myself and it was entertaining. 

Anyways, I read 7 good books this month, and August is starting off on the right foot as well. Two of them, The Seed Keeper and The Many Lives of Mama Love, were 5 star reads for me. The rest garnered a 4 star rating. Let me know if you find anything interesting here!



Rich people behaving badly! Bad Summer People was such a deliciously trashy read. A group of wealthy New Yorkers who summer in a small community on Fire Island get into each other's business for sport. Oh, the gossip and the backstabbing! With not one likable person in the story, you'd think I'd want to put this one down, but there's a mystery afoot after someone gets murdered. Plus the snark factor is off the charts. Somewhat predictable but with a few twists that I didn't see coming, this was a really fun read and perfect for the beach.



I probably shouldn't have read this before going on a trip across the country! I hoped Drowning would meet the high standards set by the author's previous book, Falling. While this one also is about a plane crash, it is also about a very nail-biting rescue that kept my heart pounding. There's a backstory too, which I found a little melodramatic, but overall this book kept me entertained. It reminded me of one of those airplane disaster movies from the 1970s. The author clearly knows her subject well. 




Banyan Moon is a story of 3 generations of Vietnamese American women. While I don't always like books that alternate between viewpoints of characters, this one worked well for me. The first chapter sets the tone of the power struggle between the 3 in a scene from the past on a beach. When the granddaughter, now grown, finds herself in a difficult situation, she returns home. Along with her mother, she faces the past and the ghosts that haunt the Banyan House. The writing is exquisite and I had trouble putting this one down. My only complaint is the rambling story in the middle of the book which shares the legend of the Banyan Tree. I think this would have been better placed as a prologue to the story-- I thought it interrupted the rhythm of the book. I just skimmed past it and carried on!

Taylor Jenkins Reid can always be counted on for penning a good read. In contrast to her more recent novels, One True Loves, one of her 'older' novels, follows the traditional format of a contemporary romance. What made this one stand out for me is her writing, which is authentic without being clich├ęd. This is the story of a woman who married her adventurous high school sweetheart, only to have him disappear in a helicopter over the Pacific Ocean on their first anniversary. She mourns him and moves back to her hometown, working at her parents' bookstore. She runs into an old friend and falls in love with him. When her husband returns, alive, she is forced to make a choice. Sweet, thoughtful, and engaging, this is another winner for this author!


Never judge a book by its title--when I first saw The Many Lives of Mama Love I wondered what I was getting myself into. And then I couldn't put it down! Lara Love was a mom of 4 boys, living the dream life, but hiding a heroin habit, funded by stealing her neighbors' credit cards, among other things. She ends up in jail, convicted of 32 felonies. This is the story of her journey back to life on the outside. While she was able to successfully bank on her talent as a writer, nothing else was easy. This was probably the best memoir I've read in a long time. It's also a powerful statement on our criminal justice system and the lack of resources for convicted felons to return to society. You might find yourself judging her at times--I did--and it will also make you evaluate your own feelings. Her writing is so powerful! I can't recommend this one enough. Although I think this one is going to stir up a lot of controversy and yes, is her story too good to be true?

When my sister recommended The Seed Keeper, I looked at the premise and thought 'no way' would I like this one. I was wrong. In fact, I didn't want to put it down. The story is mostly told from the perspective of a young Dakota woman, who, as a child, was failed by the government, and placed in foster care after her father died. Strong-willed and independent, she builds a life for herself, marrying a white farmer and raising a son. Over time, she realizes the divide between her culture and that of her husband and the other farmers. Flashbacks to the time her father was caring for her also provide a frame of reference. Even though this is fiction, there is plenty of history here, but the author deftly weaves it throughout the narrative. I left this book feeling fulfilled but ultimately sad and angry about the crimes committed against Native Americans and especially the children. What a great book!!!

Hmmmm. I'm still ruminating on The Whispers, a domestic/neighborhood drama that follows 4 women who examine their own lives when one of them, the 'career woman' , sits at her son's hospital bedside after he falls from his bedroom window. She had a contentious relationship with this child and so everyone whispers about what they believe exactly happened. There are other whispers too, which makes this one so compelling, although at times, a little long-winded. It's an intense read and I couldn't put it down. You'll think you know these women, and have them figured out, but just like in real life, do you really know your friends?




What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these? Do you ever get all your library holds in at the same time?

I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics.


14 comments :

  1. I look forward to these reviews. I always put some on hold and yes they often come in at the same time.

    I usually Enjoy Taylor Jenkin Reid books so I'll read that one. If only I had more time to read.

    I'm reading Running while Black now.

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    1. Loved Running While Black. Lots of food for thought and a whole different perspective.

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  2. Ooh, The Seed Keeper looks good, wonder if I can get that one over here (a bit dear, have added it to my list). I read some great ones last month - Homegoing, My Name is Leon and Go Tell it on the Mountain probably the stand-out ones.

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    1. The Seed Keeper exceed expectations. Yes, you would love it!

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  3. Haha, I think I would enjoy the "Bad Summer People" one. I like a juicy, trashy read to relax. :-)
    Next on my list is "The Comfort Crisis" by Michael Easter. It's got mixed reviews on Amazon - some say it's just a privileged white dude complaining about his boring life. Others say it's a great book highlighting how modern society is out of touch with nature. I'm curious!

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  4. These all sound intriguing, but the Bad Summer People is the one that really grabbed my attention ;-)

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  5. I think I would really enjoy One True Loves - I absolutely love stories like that!

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    1. I get frustrated with modern romances, but like all her books, this one was a winner.

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  6. I am reading God Spare The Girls. I also read Falling so am very interested in Drowning.

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  7. Interesting review. I think I would enjoy "Bad Summer People" too.
    I'm reading 2 books now: "The legend of the king runner" (The story of Steve Prefontaine) and "Progressive and underground" (about the music of my youth).

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    1. I have a book on Steve Prefontaine that I have yet to read. So many interesting books out there!

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  8. Those do sound like good reads! I'm reading Larry Csonka's "Head On: a Memoir" right now.

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    1. I had to Google him to find out who that was, lol! Sounds like an interesting book.

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