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For the Love of Reading: August 2023

  • Books

We’re almost to the midpoint of the month and that means it’s way past time to tell you about the books I read in August.

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this memoir of growing up in Southie in the 70s and 80s and consider it to be a great companion piece to Dennis Lehane’s Small Mercies. There was an incredible sense of Irish pride in this neighborhood despite the poverty, crime and violence that ran rampant due in large part to Whitey Bulger’s gang. MacDonald’s story is moving and gritty, brutally honest and utterly riveting. Recommended for those interested in this period of time in Boston.

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This story of a neighborhood called Chicken Hill, where Black, Jewish, and immigrants live and work together, is (in my opinion) McBride’s best work yet. The narrative is just brilliant, each chapter serving almost as a vignette that McBride connects to the rest of the story and other characters in remarkable ways. It’s tender and suspenseful, heartbreaking and hopeful, and at times laugh out loud funny. The ending is completely satisfying and brings the whole story full circle in such a beautiful way that I didn’t even mind that I saw it coming. I love it and highly recommend it.
I was given a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this book of family secrets and found the story to be captivating. The characters are richly drawn and some are certainly of the love-to-hate variety. The Cape Cod setting is described perfectly, with plenty of beach scenes and boating excursions. I found one glaring error that really bothered me, though. The author describes a bar offering “happy hour” with discounted food and drinks, however, discounted drinks have been illegal in Massachusetts since 1984 and Brodeur really should know. Recommended for an easy summer read.

No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What are we humans willing to do to each other? Or for each other? It’s actually the same question you’ll find in The Iliad or Pride and Prejudice. Or, perhaps, any night around a family dinner table.
I’ll say straight away that this is a difficult book to describe without giving away some key plot points. It’s basically the story of a book written by Alice and how that book goes out into the world and impacts the lives of 9 different readers. Each chapter serves as a vignette of each of those readers and they do eventually intertwine a bit. If you’re intrigued and you love the idea of how books can transform lives, then this is a book you will enjoy.

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This 8th entry in the Outlander series is another compelling story of the romance between Jamie and Claire while also rounding things out with other peripheral characters. It’s long (honestly, it’s too long) but it’s satisfying and there’s plenty of action, character development, and spicy scenes to keep fans of the original books turning the pages. I could do without some of the side stories (I’m looking at you, Lord John and William) but overall I enjoyed it.

This is a slightly shorter list than usual but I’m blaming that last one since it clocked in at a whopping 842 pages! I hope you’ve found something here that you want to read.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Always enjoy your reading summaries Carole. I’m not an Outlander fan, so I’ll skip that one, but I’ve added The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store to my TBR list. I thought No Two Persons was great!

  2. I cannot wait to read the new James McBride! Of course the waiting list at the library is long, so I may have to break down and buy it, and I’m glad to hear that it would be worth it!

  3. I am also adding Heaven and Earth Grocery Store to my TBR list (and I am even getting on the waitlist at the library!)

    I also loved No Two Persons… so much. XO

  4. I have that Diana Gabaldon sitting on my TBR pile at the very bottom and it’s been there for years.
    I have had no desire to pick it up though every time I see Go Tell The Bees That I Am Home at the library, it goes through my head that maybe I should so I can read the new one.

  5. I think anyone who reads Outlander should get some sort of commendation for sticking with the series, remembering the storyline, and reading some really long books. I read the first few but they are just not for me. I liked Little Monsters but I was not aware of Massachusetts discounted drinks laws (and I don’t know if that would have changed my mind). I had Heaven & Earth Grocery Store but the library whisked it back and it won’t be my turn again for a month.

  6. Great summer reading update, Carole! I loved The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store . . . and I read the very first Outlander many, many years ago. (And that’s all I’ll say about that.) XO

  7. I LOVED No Two Persons … the audio AND the print are excellent. I kind of want a print of that cover to frame for my library!

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