Books Read: August 2021
I tore through so many books this month, it’s been a tough month with a lot of smoke in the air from wildfires and our little county is a major hotspot for covid right now, so we are mostly at home again. But, as is usual for me, books brought me comfort, took me away from the present, and helped me learn about this world of ours and myself.
A Court of Thorns and Roses
A fanatasy/romance/adventure book all wrapped into one that I ended up having a hard time putting down. Sarah J. Maas creates a world divided, quite literally, in two with the fairy world and the world of humans. Feyre, aftering killing a wolf, crosses over into the fairy world and discovers a world she doesn’t quite understand, but also a world that intrigues her. There is a battle taking place and coming to its head for control of the fairy lands and unbeknowst to her Feyre is caught up in the middle of it. As she learns more about what’s really going on, she encounters love, near death experiences, and wisdom. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.
Only Killers and Thieves
A classic western but it’s set in the outback of Australia, specifically Queensland in 1894. Tommy and his brother Billy live with their family on a ranch, but the drought has made the year very difficult. They’re plunged into adulthood after tragedy strikes and as they’re swept up in the agenda of the rich neighbor, Tommy begins to doubt and question what’s happened and what is happening. This was a hard read, I skipped an entire chapter because I didn’t want to read the violence and killing of Aboriginal people. There is a second book out now and I’m still debating if I’ll read it or not.
The Alice Network
Kate Quinn writes a lot of historical fiction and I recently discovered her through the Bookshop emails. This particular story is told through two women, Charlotte who is 19 in 1947 and looking for her cousin who disappeared during World War II in France and Eve who is helping her but also you hear her story of being a spy in World War I when she is in her late teens. Eve’s story grabbed me from the jump and it kept me going throughout the book. But the connections and twists made both stories all the better by the end. And the fact that some of the characters were based on real people from a real World War I spy network made this book even better in my mind. I’ll be reading more of Quinn’s work.
A Ride on the Red Mare’s Back
This is a picture book, but I was curious about it because of the author, Ursula Le Guin. It’s also based on Dalarna Horses, a Swedish thing which is something I know well. I love that Le Guin traveled to Sweden, was given a horse, bought a smaller one for herself, and her granddaughter loved them so she went on to write a story about them. It’s a really beautiful book, with amazing illustrations, paintings really. Unfortunately I think it’s out of print, but check to see if you can get it at your library, which is how I read it.
The Loyal League Series
A series of romance stories that take place during the Civil War (are you sensing a theme this month of reading historical fiction?) focusing on people living in the South but working as agents for the North. Parts of these stories are well done and the characters drew me in, but other parts I had a harder time suspending my disbelief. But with hot summer weather and smoke in the air, these books gave me respite and for that I’m grateful.
Partners in Crime
A light and funny mystery book, the start of the Tommy and Tuppence series by Agatha Christie, this one often made me laught out loud. The dialogue between the two is fantastic, which kept me reading if I didn’t love the structure of the book. It’s a great one to be able to pick up and put down as the mysteries are solved in a chapter or two and the overarching storyline is much more in the background.
See my full review, it was too good for the round up quick review.
The subtitle of this is How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization and I gotta say, this book is fascinating. Edward Slingerland sets out to figure out why we drink and what, if any, benefits there are to it. He writes at length about the benefits he sees; bringing a sense of community, socialization, and belonging. He also writes at length about the dangers of alcohol as well, pointing out that the invention of liquor is what really got us in trouble as you could get so drunk so fast. But he clearly believes that the benefits of drinking are, on balance, worth it. He believes in moderation and drinking socially, pointing out that drinking alone or out of habit are two danger zones to avoid.