Hi, friends! Apologies that we are a third of the way through September and I am just now posting my August reading roundup. The good news is that this post is worth the wait because I read some really great books in August that I am excited to share with you here today. I think September will be a lighter reading month for me—late Q3 and Q4 is my busiest time at work and since I am moving in two weeks, I will be spending more of my free time packing and less of it reading!
As is custom on these posts, I wanted to call out that I’m part of a program where Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about any titles I receive, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. I’ve starred the books Random House sent me for free below. I’m so lucky to be sent books and that’s not lost on me!
You can always follow along with what I am reading in real-time over on Goodreads—feel free to friend me there!
HOMEGOING // YAA GYASI
Homegoing tells the stories of two half-sisters born in the Gold Coast of Africa at the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade and their descendants. Each chapter is its own short story, focusing on a different member of the family, beginning in the 1700s and moving forward in time to the 1980s. It covers everything from the start of the slave trade to the rise of American slavery to Jim Crow to modern day racial inequalities. Sometimes the chapters ended before I wanted them to when I just felt like I had gotten to know the character—but it was really cool to see previous family members referenced in subsequent generations’ stories and see what was lost to time and what was remembered as the family tree grew.
Would I recommend it? A five star read—this book is beautifully written and shows the long-lasting impacts of the brutality of slavery. It is very, very hard to read at times, so I did have to take some breaks to process things, but I’ve recommended this one to so many people.
28 SUMMERS // ELIN HILDERBRAND
In 1993, Mallory inherits a summer cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and to kick off the memories in her new home, she agrees to host her brother Cooper’s bachelor party. One of his guests is Jake McCloud, and the pair hit it off right away. They decide they’ll meet every Labor Day Weekend on Nantucket, no matter, what, the following year. And for the next 28 summers—through marriages, children, and life changes—they continue to meet up at the end of summer.
Would I recommend it? I think this is my favorite Elin Hilderbrand book since the Winter Street series. I couldn’t put it down—but if you’ve been cheated on before, I might stay away if it’s still a triggering situation.
PLAYING NICE // JP DELANEY*
Pete and Maddie are living a normal life with their two-year-old son, Theo. All is well until one day, Miles Lambert, a stranger, knocks on their door and tells them devastating news: their infants were swapped a the hospital and their real son was sent home with Miles and his wife, Lucy. The two families decide to make the best of it and be a modern family, hanging out as one big family unit as they prepare a lawsuit against the hospital. But the official investigation unearths some hard questions—and Pete and Maddie decide when it comes to their son and their family, they are done playing nice.
Would I recommend it? This was outside of the genre I usually read—it was a little dark and had some thriller-esq vibes, and I really enjoyed it. Plus, the big question around what would you do if you’re baby was switched with another at the hospital, is one that really made me think.
THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST // CHANEL CLEETON
Set during the Labor Day Weekend hurricane of 1935, The Last Train to Key West follows three women who don’t know each other, but who’s lives are very intertwined.
Helen is pregnant, working at Ruby’s diner in Key West and looking to escape her drunk husband. Mirta, a newlywed, is in Florida on her honeymoon. She had an arranged marriage in Cuba to Anthony Cordero, a man with a rough reputation—but someone who can shore up her family’s position after the 1933 Revolution. And then there’s Elizabeth, who finds herself arriving in Key West on Henry Flagler’s legendary railroad, looking for her brother and her last chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles brought on by the stock market crash.
As the hurricane approaches, danger swirls in more way than one.
Would I recommend it? I could not put this book down—I think I enjoyed it more than my previous Chanel Cleeton favorite, Next Year in Havana. As of this posting, both are currently on sale for $1.99 on the Kindle store!
HEAD OVER HEELS // HANNAH ORENSTEIN
Avery Abrams once was considered a shoo-in to make the Olympic team, but a tragic fall and injury during her floor routine at Olympic trials wiped away her dream in an instant. Fast forward seven years and she’s going nowhere in life when her boyfriend dumps her and she finds herself living in her high school bedroom. She gets a call from her former gymnastics crush, Ryan, to help train his new prodigy on floor. She accepts the offer and finds herself sucked back into the world of gymnastics—but when a scandal breaks, it has shattering effects for everyone involved.
Would I recommend it? Yes—especially if you’re interested in gymnastics. This one had a lot of allusions to USA gymnastics, with characters loosely based on the Karolyis and storylines loosely based on the Larry Nassar abuse scandals. In addition to being a really cute story, this book covered a lot of hard topics really thoughtfully.
THE GROWING SEASON // SARAH FREY*
If you’ve ever bought a pumpkin or a melon in the United States, you’re probably Sarah Frey’s customer. Born of humble beginnings in rural Illinois, at age 15, Sarah moves out and starts her own produce business. By age 19, she buys her family farm from her parents and with a lot of hard work and help from her brothers, turned it into one of the largest farms in the United States. Her negotiation skills are so legendary, they are used at HBS as case studies. Her memoir takes you from her childhood all the way through to today, and it is amazing to hear Sarah’s story and all the hard work she put into her farm to making it such a beacon.
Would I recommend it? 100%—this was a wonderful memoir and so inspiring. Growing up in the suburbs, I am really disconnected from our country’s agrarian past (and present!), so I learned a ton by reading Sarah’s story. If you enjoyed Educated, you’ll like this one a lot.
This series follows the protagonist, LeeLee, a Southern Belle from Memphis, Tennessee, who is an Ole Miss alum who thinks she will live in the South forever. One day, her husband, Baker, tells her that he wants to move to Vermont and purchase an Inn that they can turn into a bed and breakfast. When they arrive, it is a comedy of errors—the German waitress at the restaurant hates LeeLee, the inn smells horrible, and her husband is spending less time with the family, not more, like he had hoped. Then, things really take a turn from the worse when LeeLee finds herself on her own to run the inn and raise her two daughters. Along the way, she finds a family among friends—both from her longtime Mississippi crew and her new friends in Vermont.
Would I recommend it? This was a cute series—and clearly I enjoyed it since I read all three books. But I think if you’re going to read one thing by Lisa Patton, it should be Rush.
SPILLED MILK // KL RANDIS
I follow Kelly on TikTok and she is so brave in this novel. It is a fiction story based on her real life experience; she chose to write a fiction story to protect the healing of her family. It’s based on the sexual assault and rape she survived in her childhood home at the hands of her father. As a teenager, she took him to court and her testimony helped put him behind bars. Since she went viral on TikTok, she has sold more copies of Spilled Milk and I wanted to support her because I found her story of residence so inspiring.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely—Kelly is so brave in sharing her story, and I am sure she has helped so many survivors. But if you pick up this book, I will give a trigger warning for sexual abuse, child abuse, and domestic abuse.