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For the Love of Reading: July 2023

It’s the beginning of the month and you know what that means. It’s time to look back at what I read in July.

Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
You raised a child who thought hating people because God made them a different shade of skin was okay. You allowed that hate. You probably fostered it. And your little child and her racist friends, who were all raised by racist parents just like you, were sent out into the world like little fucking hand grenades of hate and stupidity . . .
I can’t say enough good things about this latest from Dennis Lehane. Set in South Boston during the summer of 1974 at the height of racial tension over busing, it tells the story of Mary Pat, a strong Irish “broad” and how she fights back when she has nothing left to lose. Lehane captures the setting of Southie incredibly and creates characters who are real and flawed and often not very likeable. And yet he leaves room for growth and hope and change in spite of everything. Highly recommended.

A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The blindness you mention isn’t believing in the essential goodness of people, it’s failing to see it.
If you thought Louise Penny had told us all of the secrets of Three Pines and the characters we have come to know and love already, you were wrong. She has once again brought back the charm and loveliness of this little village, revealing details we’ve never known about the early relationship between Gamache and Beauvoir, incorporating a new storyline with an older one, and once again using her unique style to keep us turning the pages as fasts as possible. Even as she writes about terrible things, she captures the simple pleasures of ordinary life, the recognition that we are all flawed, and the importance of love.

Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
How many of the decisions you make each day are because you actually want to do something, and how many are to avoid the consequences of not doing it?
I always think a Jojo Moyes novel is going to be light and easy and I’m always wrong. This one packs a punch as it tells the story of two women whose lives become intertwined when one of them picks up the wrong bag at the gym. They both have to get out of their comfort zone and, not surprisingly, they are both the better for it. Is it great literature? Nah. But is it an entertaining story that made me feel a range of emotions? Absolutely.

Pet by Catherine Chidgey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An extremely compelling and slow-burn psychological thriller, this book grabbed me from page one and didn’t let go. The story is intriguing and disturbing, the pacing is perfect, and the whole thing is told through the eyes of a 12 year old who may or may not be a reliable narrator. Encompassing themes of power, betrayal, grief, and belonging, this dark tale will be relatable to anyone who has ever wanted to be the teacher’s pet.
Thank you, NetGalley and Europa Editions, for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a powerful book about a difficult subject, American slavery. At a time when the worst among us are trying to depict slavery as beneficial to the enslaved, I challenge everyone to read this book and not be moved by the harrowing story and horrific treatment inflicted upon Annis and the other Black individuals in the story. Ultimately, Ward has given us a tale of hope and survival in a world full of despair and pain. Highly recommended.
I wish given an advanced copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Invisible Hour by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
She’d heard that books weren’t allowed inside the farm, and didn’t that say just about everything? In a place where books were banned there could be no personal freedom, no nope, and no dreams for the future . . . Turn someone into a reader and you turn the world around.
I love Alice Hoffman’s writing. The beautiful settings she creates. The attention to detail concerning every day objects and ordinary life. The way she creates magic in a home and in the natural world. While this book may not be my favorite of hers, I still enjoyed the story and characters. My only criticism (and really, who am I to criticize Alice Hoffman?) is that the time travel felt too convenient and a bit contrived and the bits about Nathaniel Hawthorne read more like a biography than a novel. Highly recommended for her fans.
I was given an advanced copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I read some great books last month but you’ll have to wait on 3 of them since they were galleys. At least this gives you the opportunity to put your name on the waiting list early, right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. You have had some very good reading. I have Small Mercies on my For Later shelf. I haven’t read an Alice Hoffman book in a long time. Might need to change that.

  2. Looks like you had another great month of reading Carole. I just love the Louise Penny books. I have “Let us Descend” on my Kindle and will be getting to it…sometime…books I’m in queue for keep becoming available. Ha! Not a bad problem to have.

  3. I always appreciate your thoughtful reviews, Carole – thank you! I also read World of Curiosities last month and agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts (like I usually do!). Looking forward to Jesmyn Ward and Alice Hoffman this fall.

  4. I am a few weeks out still on Small Mercies, but your review makes me hope that wait moves a bit faster!

    And I am adding that JoJo Moyes book to my TBR list… it sounds like a fun book!

  5. I always enjoy your reviews! I think Jesmyn Ward’s new book is particularly timely, and I hope it finds its way into some curricula.

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