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What I read: The Pre-Autumn 2021 Edition

Little Bun Reads:

  • January: 41
  • February: 24
  • March: 24
  • April: 17
  • May: 20
  • June: 11
  • July: 28
  • August: 28

What I read

Match made in Manhattan

[ Chick-Lit, Possible Ad Book for, Dating ]

Was this an ad for Because it sure read like one. Every other chapter was a mention of this site. I am pretty sure they paid her to write and pepper the book with their site name, but it was ridiculously obvious.

And it was terrible to boot. Rambling, talking about various guys she is meeting, their reactions.. there was no real plot to speak of, no satisfying ending of some sort, ANY SORT where she either decides to say “fk it all” and end up single and happier than she has ever been in her life, or finds someone who matches her.

Terrible. Waste. Of. Time.

Where the Crawdads Sing

[ Mystery, Poverty, Outcast, Life ]

Wow. WOW. This book from page one, gripped me. I will admit I shed tears here and there, just feeling the raw pain and emotion of the characters in the book (I am a softie). I love the story, and the ending is extremely satisfying. Well worth the recommendation.

The Boy’s Club

[ Feminism, Patriarchy, Drama ]

Another excellent book if you want to get  a feel for what it’s like to work in these typically male-dominated industries; this one is in law, but it could have been investment banking. I did not particularly like the ending but it was satisfying and opened up the path in my head to think there could be more, while motivating me at the same time.

Whiskey in a Teacup

[ Food, Lifestyle, Homemaking, Anecodotes, Celebrity ]

I did not realize this was a homemaking lifestyle cookbook deal by Witherspoon. I thought it would be more of a memoir. She had cute anecdotes about her life throughout, but it’s too traditional (?) for me. I’d pass unless you want to become more proficient in the home making arts.

Gold Diggers

[ Mystery, India, Fiction, Culture ]

This book title is not what I expected at all. It’s not what you think, and it got even weirder. I finally figured out the reason behind the title after the middle of the book, and frankly, I found it all too … weird. It’s odd. If you like odd books, with strange events, this is the book for you. I did however, enjoy the cultural bits in there about growing up Indian, as I connected with a lot of what they wrote. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Mexican Gothic

[ Mystery, Thriller, Dark, Creepy ]

I did not expect this story at all but I loved it. I mean, I loved it in the way that I couldn’t put the book down after the first few chapters, and I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AND WHY, though I had a pretty good feeling of how it was happening with the hints they were dropping, yet the second half of the book completely blindsided me. I did not expect the mystery to end this way, and the ending was FANTASTIC. Exactly what I expected. Would I really recommend it? Yes even though I found it very odd and strange, it was alluring it its oddness. It didn’t disappoint.

Pardon my French

[ France, Memoir, Travel, Non-Fiction, Anecdotes ]

He’s spot on. That’s all I can say. His observations of French culture and people are spot on. A nice romp through France through the eyes of a foreigner and a lot of the anecdotes in there are hilarious.

The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry mystery)

[ Mystery, India, 1920s, Feminism, Muslim ]

I have found a new mystery writer who transports me to another time and world (India 1920s). I loved it. Every page, every turn, the mystery is just fantastic. I appreciate the cultural aspects of the book – the dichotomy between being a young professional feminist woman during the age of patriarchy at its highest is truly intriguing, though I wouldn’t say it has fared much better in modern times, but I digress. I also learned more about Muslims, the uber conservative kinds, and I enjoyed the cultural bits peppered through the book, teaching me new things about how their world works. I liked the ending as well, and I am eager to read all of her other books.

Mrs. Everything

[ Feminism, Women, Sisters, Family, Lifestyle ]

Weiner has this magnificent way of weaving you into the lives of her characters. I felt the ups and downs of both sisters, the mother, and their struggles through life. It was well written, poignant and made me think about my own childhood, teenage years, and beyond. I really appreciate the way she makes you examine your own life in the way she examines the lives of her characters in detail, really getting into their heads.

The Shadow of the Wind (Book 1)

[ Mystery, Thriller, Books, Relationships (Family/Love) ]

Caution: There is quite a lot of violence in this, and violence against women.

I had extremely low expectations of this book. I am PLEASED to announce this book is not that at all. Even translated from Catalan to English, the words are magical on the page and hasn’t lost any of its magic. It’s a bit of mystery meets thriller meets drama. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t able to follow all of the names and the subplot storylines (I mean I would have had to sit down and map them out bit by bit), in the mystery, but he very neatly summarized what happened at the end of the book which is the HOLY GRAIL of writing for me, as now everything is clear in my head and as it should be.

I cannot wait to read the other 3 in the series.

The Wisdom of Whores

[ AIDS, History, Global, Business, Exposé ]

An excellent book on AIDS. The history, the handling, everything. It was also delightful to read, not at all dry, and interesting. I learned so much about sex workers around the world, the treatment, the culture, etc.

All fall down

[ Fiction, Addiction, Alcoholism, Family, Functioning Addicts ]

Weiner is an excellent writer. Her words draw you in, and finding out that Greer Hendricks is her editor, makes it all the more clear why her books are so compelling (I love her work as well). This book is about addiction and it is FANTASTIC. If this will trigger you, please don’t read it. But if it will help you recognize that addiction comes in all forms, not just people who LOOK like they’re addicts, but people who seem to have it all together, are functioning addicts or alcoholics, who can hide it easily in plain sight (more or less), this book is a huge wakeup call. I think in recent years especially, the whole Wine Mom Culture is becoming quite prevalent and toxic, and I am seeing people casually drop names of medication like Oxycontin, Xanax and so on, as if they’re candies. It makes me wonder how many of them are functioning addicts.

To be clear – I don’t think this has really been a new phenomenon either, so let’s not blame millennials… it has started even as far back as the 50s, that I can recall, with all of these bored, intelligent women forced into a traditional stay-at-home wife role, taking drugs to numb the pain and to stop trying to question what it is they’re doing at home when they feel like they were meant for so much more. Short read: What really made 1950s housewives so miserable.

Someday is not a day in the week

[ Motivational, Self-Help, Life, Reflections ]

This is pretty motivating. I mean, I usually avoid self-help books because I don’t really get much out of them, to be honest, but this book made me think for sure, evaluating my life, what it is I want, what I am living for and doing. I wouldn’t call them “hacks”, but more just questions to find what it is that you really want out of life. I found the exercise to be quite helpful.

Who do you love?

[ Fiction, Adulting, Growing Up, Messy Relationships ]

Another great book by Weiner. This one is about growing up, childhood love, the paths taken and not taken, and a wonderful story weaving in two lives with all of their ups and downs. It’s not 100% sappy, happy chicklit and I love that about her writing – she is far more real and honest in her stories than many others where everything ALWAYS works out (which I also enjoy to some extent as we all need a bit of escapism).

The Alchemist

[ Fiction, Philosophical, Life Lessons ]

Everyone told me I should read this book. They said it would change my life. I read it, and I guess I see a lot of parallels with Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), and I am not into abstract thoughts or imagery where I have to figure out what the hawk REALLY meant. Sometimes a story is just a story. I read it like a story and it was interesting as-is, and my main takeaway from this book is: Just try.

Elemental Magic: The Entire Series (6 books)

[ Fiction, Magic, Love Stories, Dark Magic ]

Someone recommended this series to me because I raved about A Court of Thorns and Roses (Maas). I wouldn’t say it is godawful terrible, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to anyone to read. Save yourself all the hours and spend it on something else. There was too much emphasis on how hot everyone was. I am talking every other page, she would glance at him, and mention how hot he was. Or he would glance at her and mention how hot she was. Goodness, the editor should have chopped out at least 75% of these mentions but I think this book didn’t even get edited because she was self-published, I think.

I also greatly disliked all the mention of very clichéd things like rainbow mist, and pink mists, and jewels in the middle of chests… maybe I am cynical reader, but this was just too cotton candy sweet and teenage-like for me. It has NOTHING to do with the series that Maas created, which is light years away from what this was.

Then, it was trying too hard to be modern with slang, emoticons, etc. I understand using some of it here and there, but it was just.. too much. If you want to be a sophisticated series, you have to not use all of the slang you can think of. Or, make it a cool book where the texting back and forth is shown in actual image bubbles as if someone was texting, and THEN it becomes cool, modern and relevant in a book.

Lastly, the gajillion subplots were all twisted. I lost track of everything. I only kept track of maybe 5 characters max, in my head, and the rest were a blur. I powered through the end because I was dying to see what happened just to finish the story in my head, but … 3/10, I regret having read this series at all.

(Also, I think series should be limited to 4 books max. Any more than that, and you’re asking for people to just glaze over the pages.)

Malibu Rising

[ Fiction, Family, Absent Parents, Celebrity, Love, Siblings ]

This was an excellent book. Reid has such a masterful way with words, weaving stories of each character into each other where you are feeling both bad and good about them. HIGHLY recommended, though please note, this has a lot of stories about children with absent parents, so if you are triggered, please read with care.

The Authenticity Project

[ Fiction, Personal Stories, All Ages, Life, Dreams, Reality ]

What an excellent book about taking risks. I know it’s fiction, it skews a VERY TINY BIT like chick-lit, but really, it isn’t about any one person or relationship at all. It is more about a life worth living. It really made me reconsider a lot of things as I read through it. I highly recommend it.

The Devil in the Kitchen

[ Non-Fiction, Food, Memoir, Chef, Misogynist ]

I read a lot of chef memoirs and books and this was a good read, but I dislike him. This guy is apparently the first real celebrity chef that kicked everything off, and started/mentored/worked with many of today’s celeb chefs like Curtis Stone, Gordon Ramsay and so on.  I can’t say I like him at all after reading this. He’s a misogynist, it was an interesting, if not crude/gross memoir and totally indicative of how much of a disgusting boy’s club the cooking world is/can be. It was a good read, though, and while I do have respect for his work ethic, his results, his skill, he disgusts me.

These three books, are listed in order and all about the travellers:

Jessie’s Journey

[ Non-Fiction, Tinkers, Memoir, Travellers ]

Tales from a Tent

Tears for a Tinker

I liked reading all of them. It’s a rough life being a traveller but her real love for being one, rather than submitting to a life of a scaldie (a home dweller) is quite interesting as a perspective. I also learned more about their history, their ways, life, etc.

The year of eating dangerously

I loved and hated this book. Some of it (as you might imagine) grossed me out, but it was well written, witty, interesting, and with some food history tidbits which I also enjoy.

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