August is always a busy month because we go back to school. A new school year brings so much positive energy, but also less reading time. I’m trying to listen to more audiobooks on my commute, which helps with my reading count! This month I read:
- The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen – This is a tense, fast-paced mystery that I was turning the pages of, trying to figure out who to trust and who was evil. Marissa and Matthew go to unconventional therapy with Avery after Marissa cheats. Avery has a 10 session plan to fix people and she has some suspicious methods. Each chapter is narrated by Avery or Marissa and they both seem hard to trust, as we learn a little more about them, their secrets, the past and the present. I enjoyed this!
- Class Act by Stuart Woods (Stone Barrington #58) – Stuart Woods passed away just this week, so I felt the need to dip back into this series. I’m sad that I will be finished with it in just a few more books now. I have grown to love the main characters of Stone and Dino and their ridiculous adventures. Stone’s wealth and hijinks with women and criminals continues in this book, where there are many contracts for murder put on various people throughout the entire story, with no one trustworthy around!
- The Shore by Katie Runde [audiobook]- When I heard this took place at the Jersey Shore (in Seaside, which is right next to where I spent every summer of my childhood, and where “Jersey Shore” was filmed), I had to read it! I loved the nostalgia it brought up for me as she described summer shore life, the rental properties, the boardwalk, and the rides. What I didn’t realize is that this was a sad, depressing book! Margo and her daughters, Liz and Evie, are going through the worst summer of their life as their husband/father is dying. They each narrate chapters as they go through their time with him and their time trying to have a “normal summer” outside of the house. They each deal with their grief in their own ways, with some alcohol, sex, online activity, and more. This an LGBTQIA inclusive book with interesting characters, some are lovable and some despicable!
- The Fixed Stars by Molly Wizenberg – I have NO IDEA why I originally purchased this book, but I’m so glad I did. I couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night recently and I decided to pick up my Kindle and find a book to read that I already had available to me. This was in my collection, again no idea why. Molly is an author who has written previous memoirs about her life and marriage and the restaurants her husband has created. They live in Seattle with their daughter. One day Molly goes to jury duty and can’t stop thinking about the female lawyer. For a year she can’t stop thinking about this woman. So much so that she and her husband try an open marriage so she can explore what this might mean. This is a story about love, family, fluidity, and so much more. I LOVED how Molly shared her inner thoughts as well as the research on how so many more people, especially woman, are more fluid with their sexual orientation that we might assume. She explores so much and so honestly as she goes through pain and fun and everything in between.
- Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins – This was the perfect summer thriller – a quick read, it takes place on the beach/ in the ocean, and it’s fast-paced! When Lux and boyfriend Nico are hired to sail two women to the deserted island of Meroe, Nico thinks it will be easy money and Lux wishes it was the beginning of their life of adventures. Brittany and Amma seems nice and the trip starts off well. At the island, they meet Jake and Eliza and eventually the group of 6 settle into life on a deserted island – sharing meals and drinks and partnering off for adventures of sun, surf and jungle. But the rumors that the island is haunted or cursed start to feel true as bad things begin to happen to the group. I couldn’t stop reading as I was holding my breath waiting to figure out what would happen!
- The Hangman (Gamache 6.5) by Louise Penny – This was a min story that didn’t extend any of the on-going stories from the characters in Three Pines. There is a man found hanging from a tree, and Gamache is called in because it’s suspcious. He investigates and eventually solves the mystery. This was much quicker than Penny’s usual books, with limited details and a faster pace. It was a good in-between story!
- Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King [audiobook] – I don’t know why I never read this King book back in my high school days, but was happy to read it for my Stephen King Summer book club. I bought the e-book and then decided to get the audiobook from my library. I ended up listening to it and loving the narrator. Because King’s writing is so specific (detailed, long-winded, with limited breaks and no chapters) that audio worked great for me on this one. I loved listening to Dolores narrate the story of how she killed her husband and how she was the housekeeper and caretaker for Vera for decades. Such a simple story but so much about these wild characters!
- The Beautiful Mystery (Gamache #8) by Louise Penny – This was such a different Gamache story, in that it was not in Three Pines, the cozy town we are used to. Gamache and Jean Guy go to a monastery on a remote island off the coast of Quebec to solve the murder of a monk. These monks, who live in almost complete silence, are famous for a recording of their incredible Gregorian Chants. Somehow, those chants are connected to the murder. In this one, Jean Guy and Annie, Gamache’s daugther, have been dating in secrete for 6 months, and they are getting ready to tell her parents. But a lot unravels before that can happen. This one made me listen to Gregorian Chants and ended with me holding my breath at the ending and dying to read the next one right away!
- Front Desk by Kelly Yang [audiobook] – I know that teachers in my district read this book and it’s been controversial for at least one parent, so I’ve been meaning to read it. It wasn’t what I expected at all. Mia Tang and her family emigrate from China to CA. They end up managing a motel for a very mean boss. As they work hard and save the little money they make, they are always trying to help others. Mia is busy learning English, making friends at school and as she works the front desk of the motel, and trying to find ways to earn extra money for her parents. There are a lot of sad stories in here about racism, discrimination, and how immigrants are often treated in America. In the author’s note, Yang shares how many of those sad stories happened to her and her family, which made me even sadder. There are lessons for kids and adults to learn here.
- Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney – I thought I had read other books by this author, but I think this was my first. This was a thirrler, narrated in alternating chapters by Adam and his wife Amelia, as they spend a creepy weekend in a Scottish chapel turned hotel. Interspersed are letters Adam’s wife wrote him but never shared on each of their anniversaries, detailing the ups and downs of their marriage. There are a number of spooky twists and turns, expected and unexpected, in this story and I enjoyed the ride!
- Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brene Brown [audiobook] – I bought this beautiful hard cover book when it came out, but it’s been on my shelves for almost a year now unread. I finally decided to get the audiobook from the library and loved it! I love listening to Brenen Brown’s audiobooks because she has such joy in her voice as she shares her research. And I still have the book to flip through for the beautiful pictures and to reread sections. Brown details 87 emotions by defining them, sharing examples and non examples and how knowing this can help us be better for ourselves and to connect with others. It’s fascinating how so many of us have never learned to talk about our emotions, much less label them to this level of specificity.
- A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza – What a bittersweet story of a family trying to connect. An Indian-American Muslim family’s story is told across decades, and from various perspectives. We see how three children raised by the same two parents can end up so different. We see how parents who just wanted to do their best for their children carry regrets, shame, and sadness along with traditions and expectations. I loved the characters and I was so sad when they couldn’t find successful ways to connect, to find common ground. I appreciated learning a lot about Muslim and Indian culture in authentic ways as each holiday or event was celebrated.
- An American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killers of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan – I devoured this book in one day! I LOVED it, which sounds bad since it was a disturbing look into a serial killer, but it was so well written and such a propulsive story. When Israel Keyes is arrested for the murder of Samantha in Alaska, the police and then the FBI quickly realize they are dealing with someone smart and calculating. He gives some details of his past and potential other kills that lead them to believe he is a serial killer who killed in many states across the US. As they unpack the details and attempt to find evidence, Keyes continues to play games from his jail cell. This was fascinating and disturbing.
- Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan [audiobook] – I saw a 5th grade team in one of our schools reading this books with students, so I wanted to read it. I loved listening to the audiobook because the book is narrated in alternating chapters by the two main characters and the accents were so entertaining and fitting for the characters. Ravi has just moved from India to NJ with his family and he is shocked by the challenges he faces in his new school (being made fun of for his accent, biases, and more). Joe is used to being picked on, because of his disability and a specific bully in his class. As we see each school day through Joe and Ravi’s eyes, we see the ways in which students and staff can be kind and cruel to one another. I imagine many great conversations with a class who reads this together, as there are many lessons to be learned in this sweet book.
Favorite Books This Month
Fiction: Dolores Claiborne & A Place for Us
Nonfiction: An American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killers of the 21st Century
I love that you read so many of the books that we see in our classrooms. I like the favorite listing as I am often only looking to find my next read! I will pick up A Place for Us! Thanks for sharing your reading with all of us.
AndrÃ©e Grey, Ed.D.
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