Hello Readers! In August, I enjoyed spending the month revisiting one of my favorite series, but in September it’s back to catching up on my ARCs! I have five ARCs to read in September and four more coming up in October, so I don’t want to get behind.
I’m also finishing up my Popsugar Summer Reading Challenge, and I’ll be sharing a Wrap-Up Post later this month. One of the prompts for my regular Popsugar Reading Challenge this year is to read a banned book during Banned Book Week, which is the last week of September, so I’m hoping to finally read All the Bright Places for that.
And my biggest news for the month is I’ll be celebrating my One Year Blogging Anniversary on September 10th! I’m excited to host my first giveaway to celebrate… as soon as I figure out how to go about that. 😉
(Link to Goodreads synopsis through book title.)
Just One by Gayle Forman
I’m winding down the summer with my current (re)read, the Just One series by Gayle Forman. I purchased this book that contains all three stories a few years ago, but hadn’t read it yet. I’m using this collection to cross off the last few prompts on my (Popsugar) summer reading challenge!
Gayle Forman’s entire swoony JUST ONE trilogy in a single volume–ideal for binge reading!
It all starts when American good girl Allyson–better known as Lulu– decides to spend just one day in Paris with Dutch hottie Willem. It’s a whirlwind adventure filled with heart-racing romance, but the next day Willem is gone without a trace. What follows is one year of searching that ends with a steamy reunion on the one wonderful night when they finally find one another again. Filled with mystery, drama, adventure, and of course romance, this is a swoony and satisfying entry point for new readers of Gayle Forman’s bestselling fiction.
Includes: Just One Day, Just One Year, and the novella Just One Night
The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves
The Darkest Evening will be my first book by Cleeves, and even though this book is part of a series, I made sure it could be read as a standalone before I requested it. I couldn’t resist the mysterious snowy description!
Synopsis: On the first snowy night of winter, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope sets off for her home in the hills. Though the road is familiar, she misses a turning and soon becomes lost and disorientated. A car has skidded off the narrow road in front of her, its door left open, and she stops to help. There is no driver to be seen, so Vera assumes that the owner has gone to find help. But a cry calls her back: a toddler is strapped in the back seat.
Vera takes the child and, driving on, she arrives at a place she knows well. Brockburn is a large, grand house in the wilds of Northumberland, now a little shabby and run down. It’s also where her father, Hector, grew up. Inside, there’s a party in full swing: music, Christmas lights and laughter. Outside, unbeknownst to the revelers, a woman lies dead in the snow.
As the blizzard traps the group deep in the freezing Northumberland countryside, Brockburn begins to give up its secrets, and as Vera digs deeper into her investigation, she also begins to uncover her family’s complicated past.
Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land by Toni Jensen
An #ownvoices memoir, Carry sounds like an unforgettable and timely read that I’m eager to pick up!
CW/TW: All of them, from what I understand.
A powerful, poetic memoir about what it means to exist as an indigenous woman in America, told in snapshots of the author’s encounters with gun violence.
Toni Jensen grew up around guns: As a girl, she learned to shoot birds in rural Iowa with her father, a card-carrying member of the NRA. As an adult, she’s had guns waved in her face near Standing Rock, and felt their silent threat on the concealed-carry campus where she teaches. And she has always known that in this she is not alone. As a Métis woman, she is no stranger to the violence enacted on the bodies of indigenous women, on indigenous land, and the ways it is hidden, ignored, forgotten.
In Carry, Jensen maps her personal experience onto the historical, exploring how history is lived in the body and redefining the language we use to speak about violence in America. In the title chapter, Jensen connects the trauma of school shootings with her own experiences of racism and sexual assault on college campuses. “The Worry Line” explores the gun and gang violence in her neighborhood the year her daughter was born. “At the Workshop” focuses on her graduate school years, during which a workshop classmate repeatedly killed off thinly veiled versions of her in his stories. In “Women in the Fracklands”, Jensen takes the listener inside Standing Rock during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests and bears witness to the peril faced by women in regions overcome by the fracking boom.
In prose at once forensic and deeply emotional, Toni Jensen shows herself to be a brave new voice and a fearless witness to her own difficult history – as well as to the violent cultural landscape in which she finds her coordinates. With each chapter, Carry reminds us that surviving in one’s country is not the same as surviving one’s country.
Love, Zac is an ARC I received from Algonquin Books. I grew up and attended school in a football-obsessed small Texas town. I’m sure this will be a difficult, but enlightening story.
CW: Depression, Suicide
“A monumental achievement of deep reporting and expert storytelling.” —Michael Sokolove, author of The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino
“I just can’t live with this pain anymore,” were among the final words in the diary of Zac Easter, a young man from small-town Iowa. In December 2015, Zac decided to take his own life rather than continue his losing battle against the traumatic brain injuries he had sustained as a no-holds-barred high school football player. In this deeply reported and powerfully moving true story, award-winning sportswriter Reid Forgrave speaks to Zac’s family, friends, and coaches; he explores Zac’s tightly knit, football-obsessed Midwestern community; he interviews cutting-edge brain scientists, psychologists, and sports historians; and he takes a deep dive into the triumphs and sins of the sports entertainment industry.
Forgrave shows us how football mirrors America, from the fighting spirit it has helped inscribe in our national character to the problematic side effects of traditional notions of manhood that it affirms. But, above all, this is a story of how one young man’s obsession with football led him and many of those entrusted with his care to ignore the warning signs of CTE until it was too late. What do Zac’s life and death mean for a society addicted to a sport that can be thrilling and character forming but also dangerous and sometimes tragic for those who play it?
Eye-opening, important, and ultimately inspiring, Love, Zac challenges us to think carefully about the ideals and values we as a nation want to instill in future generations.
A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son by Michael Ian Black
A Better Man is another book I received from Algonquin Books. I’m starting to think someone somewhere has designated me as the nonfiction, memoir ARC reader. 😉
A poignant look at boyhood, in the form of a heartfelt letter from comedian Michael Ian Black to his teenage son before he leaves for college, and a radical plea for rethinking masculinity and teaching young men to give and receive love.
In a world in which the word masculinity now often goes hand in hand with toxic, comedian, actor, and father Michael Ian Black offers up a way forward for boys, men, and anyone who loves them. Part memoir, part advice book, and written as a heartfelt letter to his college-bound son, A Better Man reveals Black’s own complicated relationship with his father, explores the damage and rising violence caused by the expectations placed on boys to “man up,” and searches for the best way to help young men be part of the solution, not the problem. “If we cannot allow ourselves vulnerability,” he writes, “how are we supposed to experience wonder, fear, tenderness?”
Honest, funny, and hopeful, Black skillfully navigates the complex gender issues of our time and delivers a poignant answer to an urgent question: How can we be, and raise, better men?
Historically Inaccurate by Shay Bravo
I received Historically Inaccurate in a subscription box, so I don’t feel the same pressure to read it as the books I requested. But if I have time, I’ll pick it up!
It only takes one moment to change your life forever…
After her mother’s deportation last year, all Soledad “Sol” Gutierrez wants is for her life to go back to normal. Everything’s changed―new apartment, new school, new family dynamic―and Sol desperately wants to fit in. When she joins her community college’s history club, it comes with an odd initiation process: break into Westray’s oldest house and steal . . . a fork?
There’s just one problem: while the owners of the house aren’t home, their grandson Ethan is, and when he catches Sol with her hand in the kitchen drawer, she barely escapes with the fork intact. This one chance encounter irrevocably alters her life, and Sol soon learns that sometimes fitting in isn’t as important as being yourself―even if that’s the hardest thing she’s ever had to do.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Ian Reid
I’m hoping the new adaptation of this novel on Netflix will finally force me to read it. It’s been on my tbr for a long time. I’ve heard it’s deliciously creepy.
Synopsis: I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.
Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.”
And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.
In this deeply suspenseful and irresistibly unnerving debut novel, a man and his girlfriend are on their way to a secluded farm. When the two take an unexpected detour, she is left stranded in a deserted high school, wondering if there is any escape at all. What follows is a twisted unraveling that will haunt you long after the last page is turned.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
And finally, one of my prompts on the Popsugar Reading Challenge is to read a banned book during Banned Book Week. I’ve had All the Bright Places sitting on my shelf for years. I’ve only heard great things. And then maybe I’ll watch the adaptation of it, too??
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.
Do we share any books on our TBRs? Have you read any of these books yet? Let me know in the comments!