I don’t know about anyone else, but my reading habits have come and gone in fits and bursts since COVID-19 hit. Some months, I’ll only get through a few books. Other months, I barrel through books, one after another. August was one of those months were I read voraciously – I read 12 books! I decided to highlight my top four reads from August in this blog post. I read from a variety of genres, so there’s no general theme here – just good books worth reading.
A Deadly Inside Scoop is set in nearby Chagrin Falls, which is what originally drew me to this title. That, and it was a cozy mystery featuring a Black main character, written by a Black author, which is rare in cozy mystery-land. Bronwyn Crewse recently took over her family’s ice cream shop, Crewse Creamery, and she’s restoring it to its former glory. Armed with her grandmother’s original ice cream recipes, she’s ready go to – but then a freak October snowstorm blows in, ruining her grand reopening plans. To make matters worse, that evening, Win finds a body in the snow, and it turns out the dead man was a grifter with an old feud with the Crewse family. Soon, Win’s father is implicated in his death. It’s not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. I’m not usually a cozy mystery fan, but this book hit the spot! I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.
Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment. In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect. While there is a lot of tragedy in How to Walk Away, I still found it a very engaging read. I liked that things were wrapped up neatly in a bow, like so many books of this type are. You’re still left with a good feeling when you finish it, but you’re not left thinking that things are too good to be true.
The Vignes twin sisters, Desiree and Stella, will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern Black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her Black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect? I liked Brit Bennett’s debut, The Mothers, but I LOVED The Vanishing Half. I devoured it in a day – I just had to know what happened with Desiree and Stella, and whether they’d reconnect in a meaningful way. It was a fascinating look into what identity really means and how one decision in your life can change the trajectory of your entire future.
Mexican Gothic is another book I read in one day—it was a total page turner that had me engrossed from the very first page. Noemi’s father sends her to a remote and isolated mansion in the Mexican countryside to check in on her cousin who has sent a very unsettling letter. Catalina mentions spirits, things in the walls, and voices, and Noemi’s father is convinced that someone needs to see her and evaluate if she needs medical help. When Noemi arrives, she is instantly perturbed by the creaking old mansion; there is mold, windows don’t open, and the staff and family are beyond peculiar and demanding. It’s the most uninviting place she’s ever seen. Like the letter suggested, her cousin Catalina is deeply disturbed and not making much sense when Noemi can see her. Noemi decides to stay and try to convince her cousin’s husband to let her get psychiatric help or at least to get out of the house and get some fresh air. They’re wrapped up in their own little world and something is deeply wrong. The longer she stays the more she too comes under the house’s deeply disturbed spell. What is going on here and how can she and her cousin escape? Is the house haunted or is there something far more sinister afoot? The ending of this book completely blew me away! I didn’t see it coming at all. Definite spooky vibes throughout – read with your lights on!