Books I Read Last Month: Reading Round Up

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bibliophilly the life we bury book review allen eskens

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was so satisfying. I can’t say much about that part without giving anything away, but you definitely need to find out for yourself!

I picked this book out at random to satisfy a prompt for The Popsugar Reading Challenge and I wasn’t necessarily expecting a book I’d LOVE! Suspenseful, action, incredible character development and growth.

I’d give it five stars, except for the fact of a few not super graphic sex scenes (and sadly, only one consensual) and language.

PopSugar Reading Challenge: (advanced prompt) read a book during the season it’s set in

gisforgeorgina once upon a river diane setterfield book review

Once Upon a River: A Novel⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Beautifully written- Diane Setterfield’s prose eloquently describes everything from conversations with pigs and horses to horrible familial relationships to seemingly unrelated back stories. Despite being intrigued, I read this book in fits and starts. It had kind of a dreamy quality to it, and I’m not sure I liked that. I also felt the mystery was solved in a bit of an unsatisfactory way. The ending otherwise was perfect. Definitely recommend.

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A ghost story

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyin Braithwaite

I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.

I didn’t know what to expect at all-it was an incredible surprise! It gave me a wonderful insight into Nigerian culture as an added bonus to the main, the mind of Korede. I loved her so much. I wanted to befriend her and help her. I wanted her to be different and at the same I completely understand why she did what she did. It’s a beautiful story of love, and of loyalty, and of betrayal to self. Powerful, as well as, truly, humorous. It’s fast paced and short so you can read it quickly-and you should. Definitely don’t miss this one!

Popsugar Reading Challenge : an author from Africa

Sober Stick Figure by Amber Tozer

⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Technically, the writing isn’t really that great. It writes more like an amateur blog post. It definitely isn’t what you’re expecting when you pick up a book, even a memoir.

Stylistically though, it works. Her run on sentences, dopey side comments, flat out monotone style of reporting, Amber Tozer makes it work. As a memoir of drinking, it’s heartbreaking and honest and beautiful and sad. There’s a little bit of “you WHAT!?” combined with “c’mon, it’s not that bad”, which is what she may have been going for. I did laugh out loud at points, which is excellent, especially because not every book that bills itself as humorous actually is, in my opinion.

The literal stick figures peppered throughout do bring honest levity to a dark subject. They were a bit distracting for me, but I don’t know how else she could have done it. I didn’t think the drawings/comics detracted from the story though.

The last chapters are really excellent at tying everything together, and help you really know her better than you did in the whole rest of the book. Maybe that’s because active alcoholics hide their true selves from everyone, and so even as she was reporting her actions, you still couldn’t understand her motivations. I recommend this if you like a raw, quick read that tugs in all your emotions.

Popsugar Reading Challenge: book recommended by a celebrity (Henry Winkler)

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Put down everything else and get a hold of this book. I’ll wait.

I finished this book in my own cozy home in the middle of Iowa completely cognizant of how drastically my life opposes that of any of the Kurcs. I am stunned, rejoicing, shocked, elated, petrified… The emotions run rampant. I have read many World War II novels but the simple fact that this one is based on the author’s own family, and the end results are nothing short of miraculous, makes this a book to move to the top of your list.

I don’t want to give anything away but suffice it to say you will love it.

Pop sugar reading challenge prompt: a book that has a wedding in it


Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood
by Koren Zailckas

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was excruciatingly honest and heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. It was interesting to read about a journey that honestly was similar to my own with a different ending.

Koren did an excellent job of writing from her heart as well as writing in a documentary type of way. I was really impressed with her skills. I definitely would want to read other books she has written.

I loved how she brought in statistics and social reasons for drinking and young girls and definitely noted the problem that it is becoming with our college age students and even younger. At the same time, she was jarringly honest about the side effects of her rampant alcohol abuse. Combined with how alcohol abuse affects people all throughout the country, it is still shocking how many people I know who have stories so similar to hers.

I honestly think, despite its raw honesty-or maybe because of it, this could be a good book to read together with your teen to talk about alcohol.

Pop sugar reading challenge prompt: a book that takes place on a college campus

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was absolutely incredible. It was the title that caught my attention not even knowing that it was World War II fiction, which I have an infinity for. I was riveted from the very beginning this definitely was nonstop action as well as suspense and and emotional roller coaster.

I loved the way the story unfolded with what was happening to Sarah/Ursula currently and what was happening in the past. I felt it helps her character be more well-rounded. She is so tough! I admire her in many ways, even as she repelled me in a few instances.

I wish the captain would have been fleshed out more. I also wish that some of the characters at the school had been more developed.

Despite all the WWII books I’ve already read, I was surprised to learn still more details of what went on behind the scenes, especially in the Third Reich, and the roles of young people during the war. Well researched doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I was shocked to learn after reading the book that this is actually considered YA. I think you need to think that through very carefully. As it deals with difficult topics, and some graphic situations, you need to be open to discussing with your teen if you’re going to let them read this book.

Fast paced action along with scintillating inner dialogue and outward conversations, and even banter, make this a thriller you won’t want to put down.

Absolutely it is one you don’t want to miss yourself!

PopSugar Reading Challenge: a book you’d like to see made into a movie

Sober Mercies by Heather Kopp

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This courageous memoir offers hope for the Christian to discover that faith alone -what we can do- isn’t always enough to save us from unhealthy habits. With startling honesty, Heather dives bravely into this highly charged area and shares the answers she’s discovered. Sober Mercies is a well-crafted story and so gripping you can hardly look away.

The last third of the book though is where she talks about the real power of God with vibrant language she speaks to her true self, recognizing her own hypocrisy while making no judgments on others. At the same time she’s being honest with herself and the people around her for the first time possibly ever in her Christian life.

Every person who claims to be a believer needs to read this book. I see that we have a serious problem in the Christian church- that it’s not acceptable to have problems. A “if you are a true Christian, you wouldn’t struggle with that addiction” thought process, a “if you only had enough faith you wouldn’t have that problem” mentality plagues “The Church”

That’s scary because taking on the real problems of real people is the reason Jesus came. As Christians we often tout that grace but we don’t know how to live that grace and instead of lying down beside someone, helping people’s brokenness we make people ashamed for being broken.

I highlighted many quotes from this most excellent book.

This is one of my favorites: “I would have to learn the difference between ascribing to a set of Christian beliefs that had no power to change me, and clinging daily to an experience of God’s love and grace that could.

Pop sugar reading challenge prompt: a book with a plant in the title or on the cover

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Which one are you going to read first? There were SO many amazing ones this month!

Special thanks to the book Instagrammers whose pictures are used for this post. They are all delightful! Go check them out; their Instagram name is at the top of each photo.

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