Books I Read in August

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood 
This was a NetGalley ARC and you can read my full review here!

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
This was straight up predictable chick lit. A girl finds out her fiance has a pretty big secret he's been keeping from her. So she dramatically goes home to her family's beloved vineyard days before the wedding to sort out her life, only to find that her father plans to sell the land. She's a little whiny, a little self absorbed, and a little clueless. There were some entertaining moments, but it didn't strike me as anything great. Although I blew through it quickly, and it was a perfect bleary eyed airplane read. 

Morning Star by Pierce Brown
As a whole, I thought The Red Rising series was fantastic - full of great characters, vivid world building and so much heart. Alas, I felt the final book could have been reduced by AT LEAST 100 pages. There was too much focus on plots within plots, battle after battle and so many extraneous characters that I could care less about. But, the most compelling part of the book (the story of Darrow and his closest friends) rose to the top in the end and I was glad I persevered. All's well that ends well.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I had seen this title on NetGalley and was curious, but I ended up requesting All the Ugly and Wonderful Things instead. Wouldn't ya know, both novels ended up being on the selections for my one month trial Book of the Month! I hemmed and hawed over all the interesting sounding selections, but went with Dark Matter (the one they chose for me) and was SO GLAD. Within the first five pages there is mention of a tesseract (my favorite childhood book is steeped in tesseract lore) and the story is perfectly set in Chicago! It is sci-fi, yes, but I would hope it does not deter anyone who isn't a fan of that genre. It is also a love story and fascinating food for thought about how our lives are impacted by the choices we make, about the road not taken. As I mentioned last week, it reminded me A LOT of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I wish that Dark Matter was similarly a little longer and the characters fleshed out a bit more. But on the whole, I blew through it in two days and still think about the story.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I now understand the hype surrounding this million dollar (literally and figuratively) debut novel. (Here's an article about how she landed the seven figure deal.) It is awe inspiring how Gyasi creates an epic story in just over 300 pages. It is essentially a collection of interconnected short stories that tell a much bigger story. The book spans seven generations of the descendants of two Ghanaian half sisters, one who is married to a white slave trader and one who is sold into slavery. The narration switches back and forth between one member of Effia and Esi's families as we hear from each new generation, and as I got further and further along their family tree, I kept flipping back to the chart at the beginning. At first I felt a little frustrated at trying to remember who belonged to whom. I have to wonder if it was somewhat difficult to keep the families straight on purpose. Like so very many descendants of slaves, most of the characters had absolutely no way to trace their own family roots, no chart to look upon. So I did not look at it again and just immersed myself in each story. I was overwhelmed with emotion as it came together in the end - poignant and beautifully. Truly a must read.


  1. I read most of Eight Hundred Grapes while supervising my son in his kiddie pool this summer and it was perfect for that - easy to read in small chunks. Not great but good enough for a lazy summer read.

  2. I have heard good things about Dark Matter. I need to add that to my list. I'm bummed you didn't love Eight Hundred Grapes. I really enjoyed that story. I love dysfunctional family dramas. :)

    1. Ooooh, well if you like family drama - I HIGHLY recommend Commonwealth by Ann Patchett! It just came out on Tuesday and you can read my review here: http://www.bornandreadinchicago.com/2016/09/commonwealth-digital-arc-review.html
      It's just gorgeously written, unpredictable and the characters will stay with me for a long time.

  3. I read Dark Matter a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it. I agree it could have been fleshed out more - actually, a lot more.

  4. The reception is held in the main hall. The place was gorgeous and perfect for a wedding. I have been to several weddings at wedding venues chicago but it hasn't gotten old. The place is absolutely beautiful and the views are breathtaking.

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