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For the Love of Reading: August 2022

Now that we’re into September, it’s time to take a look back at what I read in August.

Horse by Geraldine Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Here’s the ground of it, as I see it: a racehorse is a mirror, and a man sees his own reflection there. He wants to think he’s from the best breeding. He wants to think himself brave. Can he win against all comers? And if not, does he have self-mastery to take a loss, stay cool in defeat, and try again undaunted? Those are the qualities of a great racehorse and a great gentleman. A gentleman likes to have a horse that gives the right answers to those questions, then he can believe that he will give the right answers too.
I was swept away by this story about the record-breaking thoroughbred horse, Lexington, and all of the individuals influenced by his existence. The timeline jumps from present to past, which keeps the plot moving forward in an engaging way. The characters (some real and some fictional) are richly drawn and I developed a true affection for all of them but particularly for Lexington and his trainer, Jarret. It’s a beautiful story despite the underlying theme that racism is a burden our country continues to hide and ignore. Highly recommended.

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I sped through this intriguing and engrossing novel in a short time, desperate to find out what would happen next. It’s a richly drawn story about maps and libraries, friendships and betrayals, and the power to create something real out of nothing at all. The plot twists and flashbacks and surprise revelations kept me thoroughly entertained. Recommended for a fun and fantastical escape.

Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Smart and clever, this is an engaging story about two college friends and a counterfeit pocketbook ring. When you dig under the surface, however, you see that this is really a story about the desire to fit in, the illusion of status, and the myth of the American dream. It’s not equal and it’s not sincere, it’s . . . counterfeit. Recommended, particularly for fans of a good caper.

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
While the plot sounds intriguing (who killed Sadie and why?) the story itself is rather dull and lifeless. I give the author points for keeping me guessing until I was almost finished but I can’t recommend it without saying that I found it unnecessarily repetitive on some points and annoyingly brief on others. After pages and pages of the same plot points, the ending felt annoyingly brief.

The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A book about race metamorphosis, this tale of Anders and his girlfriend Oona is a very fast read, with rich and descriptive writing. However, I feel that it only scratches the surface of what it could have been. While Anders is at first angry that his skin has randomly turns a deep brown, he quickly accepts it and feels better about it once it starts happening to more people. The fear and isolation is brief and the ending feels too convenient. The premise is incredibly intriguing and I think it could have been much more richly explored and developed.

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A mostly charming book with moments of delight peppered with the harsh reality of London during WW2. I expected it to be a light read with British characters, stiff upper lip and all that, which it is. What I wasn’t expecting was to be captivated by Emmy Lake, heartbroken by the devastation of war, and eager to read the next book in this series. Recommended for those who enjoy (mostly) easy historical fiction.

The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you’re looking for the perfect summer beach read, look no further, as Hilderbrand’s latest has it all. Romance (more than one!) and revenge, a gorgeous hotel, a swanky restaurant, endearing characters, and a handful of unpredictable plot twists. As light and easy as a day by the pool with a cocktail in hand, that’s where you’ll think you are as you read this one.

Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch by Erin French
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An honest and absorbing memoir, this book will make you cheer for Erin French and long to eat all the delicious food she describes. From diner meals of meatloaf and mashed potatoes to oysters by the shore, to sumptuous plates at the Lost Kitchen, the story of French’s escape from and return to the small town of Freedom, Maine is one of triumph over failure, love after loss, and determination despite obstacles. Highly recommended.

It was another month of really great reads and I hope you found some books that appeal to you on this list.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. It sounds like you read some fun books on your summer vacation, Carole! (I tried The Cartographers, but let it go after a few chapters. Maybe I should pick it up again????)

  2. As always, I enjoy your reviews so much. I have The Cartographers on my TBR list and have now added a couple more! I could never get into Geraldine Brooks’ earlier books, but “Horse” looks very interesting and good. I checked and Erin French’s book is available on Hoopla as an audio book (and is read by the author). Once again, added to my list! Thank you.

  3. I’m waiting for Horse but also couldn’t quite get into The Cartographers. Your review makes me want to give it another try!

  4. My mother has a copy of Horse and I have first dibs on it once she’s finished. We’re both Geraldine Brooks fans! Erin French’s book sounds right up my alley, so thanks for that recommendation.

  5. September is going to be my month of “fun” reading and The Cartographers is sitting in line waiting for me. I can’t wait to start after your review!

  6. Horse was the first book I received from Parnassus Books’ (signed!) First Editions Club and I’m looking forward to it … I’ve really enjoyed the other books I’ve read by Brooks, so I expect great writing – and learning about a topic I know almost nothing about! (also, sorry to see Last White Man getting meh reviews – I loved Exit West and had high hopes for this one)

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