September Reads

                September was a tough month. Being back at work and being a new mom took its toll and I was just exhausted. I found myself laying on the couch binge watching television more than anything else. And this is something I almost never do. I was just so damn tired. However, I did manage to read four books in the end. Even if one was a book of poems and one was a novella… It’s still four titles in all. I didn’t get to finish my book about the business of writing this time, but I can give myself a pass if that’s the only thing I didn’t get to this month. I can try to strive to be better next month.

If You’re Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand by Kalli Dakos and G. Brian Karas

                This was a cute little book of poems. I’ve read it before, in junior high, I think. I revisited it now because my stepson just started first grade. I wanted to share the poems with him.

                The poems are, of course, very simple since they’re meant for elementary school children. But that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. I appreciate the simplicity because it allowed me to show a six-year-old that there is poetry he can understand and like.

                It was a quick read for his first week of school and I think it helped him get over the end of summer break sadness.

Summer Frost by Blake Crouch

                I have mixed feelings about this story. Overall, I liked it and enjoyed reading it. But the main character being a lesbian and the gender discussion with the AI felt like they were forced in to be more relevant or appealing to a wider audience. I did come to care for Riley and felt her pain when her partner left with their child. But there were also times when I wanted to smack some sense into her.

                This story was very fast paced. The actual book was short, but it spanned over years. My only complaint about this was that it wasn’t always clear how much time had gone by until you were a paragraph or two into the scene.

                I loved the development of Riley and Max throughout. Max comes so far as an AI that they could be mistaken for a human – a scary thought. And Riley just fell further and further down the rabbit hole until she gave up everything just to lose what she thought she was gaining.

                The shocking twist at the end really got me. I would really be interested to know what happened next.

The Gravediggers Daughter by Joyce Carol Oats

                Wow. This book had a lot going on. I originally bought it as a recommended study on character development. And I was not disappointed. So many crazy events filled Rebecca’s life that I don’t know how anyone could remain strong throughout it all. From the deaths of her parents to the abusive first husband, it was enough to make the best of us lose our minds.

                It took me three tries to really get into this book. Not because it was boring, but it just started a little slow. But I was determined to get to the meat of the story. And it really paid off. Especially when I got to the end and I realized the significance of the beginning.

                This wasn’t an easy read, but I do feel like it was worth the struggle. Rebecca led an amazing life and she raised a great son. Sometimes amazing in a horrible way, of course, but she always found her way through. She knew life was worth living every day.

                The ending dragged a little, like the beginning, but I appreciated the loose ends all being tied up. I do feel like I learned something from my efforts and would encourage other writers to give the book a shot to see if they come out a little wiser.

Q.W.E.R.T.Y by Barbara Avon

                This book gave me a lot of feelings. The loss of a spouse, in such a violent way, is just something that no one thinks will happen to them. It’s so horrible to even think about. Luke expresses his grief over and over because there is no perfect time line for healing. And the ending tore me apart.

                I loved the story. It was so poetic, and haunting, and dark. At times it could be a little wordy, but it only painted a better picture, I think. You were really able to see and feel what was going on. However, there were one or two descriptions that may have overdone it or were too unrealistic. Nothing major, though.

                We travel through space and time with Luke as he comes to terms with what he must do. With his magic typewriter, he’s given the chance to fix things. But he has to understand that what will make it better won’t necessarily make him happy. He struggles with reality at times, but in the end he does the right thing.

                It was a beautiful tale of sorrow.

                Next month I’m hoping to stay more on track with my work. I really need to make a trip to the bookstore to pick up things off my reading list. I don’t want to get behind. However, I just received word that my friend has bought me a copy of Dune! Because, in his words, “everyone should have one.” I can’t wait to read it. I also decided to sign up for audible. Because between the commute to work and working out at the gym, listening to books may be just the thing I need to stay productive.

                Let me know what you’ve been reading. Are there any great new things in the world of books I should look into?