Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan | Book Review

★★★☆☆
July 5th – 6th

This was a book I picked up on a whim after it was heavily compared to Normal People by Sally Rooney. While I liked that book a lot, this one left a lot to be desired for me.

I found this book to be pretty dull, without a lot happening (ironic, given the title). The plot follows Ava, an Irish woman who moves to Hong Kong to teach English, and who meets Julian, a British banker also living in Hong Kong. Their relationship is strange and messy, and not quite a full relationship.

In a lot of cases in this book, it seems like Ava is taking advantage of Julian, and sometimes the opposite is true. I don’t think I liked a single character in this book, and I found everyone really off-putting and selfish. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll dislike a book (I like un-likeable characters and don’t necessarily need to relate to them to enjoy their story), in this case the lack of plot and the sole focus of the book was these relationships which I struggled to enjoy.

To be completely honest, the only reason I finished this one was because I was listening to the audiobook. Had I been reading this physically, it likely would have been a DNF for me.

Now to clarify, that also doesn’t mean that I would not recommend this book. If you liked Normal People, you really might like this one. It just really didn’t click with me, but I definitely didn’t dislike it or hate it, it was just fine.

August TBR | 2020

Last week I wrapped up how much reading I was able to do during the month of July! I have similarly high expectations for August, but with everything going on in the world I’m not super set on getting all of it done. This includes the book club pick for The Literally Dead Book Club, the August prompts for Books and Tea, Tome Topple, the Busy Bee Book Club, the readEHthon, and some horror picks from my two horror groups, one from Goodreads and one from Reddit.

I’ll break this down into parts:

Literally Dead Book Club Pick
This is a club run by Books and Lala on YouTube, which can be found at their Goodreads. I was able to read their August book at the end of the month last month, and would love to read their September book this month if I can.

  • August Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
  • SeptemberCatherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

The readEHthon
This is a readathon celebrating Canadian books, started by Kayla (linked above) and co-hosted by a whole fantastic group of people on YouTube. The readathon will run from August 3rd – 9th. For this they have a lovely bingo board where you can try and read multiple books to get bingo. I’m going to aim for two books, with a third one that can overlap with Tome Topple if I get to it. These books will complete the top row of the bingo board.

  • Starlight by Richard Wagamese
  • Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq

Tome Topple & The Busy Bee Bookclub
The 12th round of Tome Topple, run by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes will be held from August 8th – 21st and focuses on reading the tomes (books over 500 pages) on your TBR. The Busy Bee Bookclub is run by Aaron from Booked and Busy and this month’s pick will also be my book to satisfy Tome Topple.

  • The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

Books & Tea August Prompts (Discord Group)
This list of prompts I usually try and fit my existing TBR into, but I do have a few that will stand on their own

  • Read a book from a genre you like but haven’t touched in a whileThe Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
  • Read a book that gives happy vibes or features water – Starlight by Richard Wagamese
  • Read a book featuring a-spec charactersRadio Silence by Alice Oseman
  • Read something translatedA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • Read a book on your current reading challenge listThe Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Horror Aficionados (Goodreads Group)
This is a group I recently joined, and they have several group reads. I’m hoping to get to at least two of them this month if possible.

  • The Reddening by Adam Nevill
  • White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
  • White Pines by Gemma Amor
  • Curse of the Pigman by Asher Ellis

Horror Lit Bookclub (Reddit Group)
This is another group I recently joined, and they also have four books this month. I’m aiming to get to at least one of these books if possible.

  • Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
  • The Cipher by Kathe Koja
  • Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon
  • The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

General TBR
These are the books that don’t fit into any of the prompts for anything, but that I had a desire to read this month if possible:

  • The Bear by Andrew Krivak
  • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
  • Misery by Stephen King
  • March Volumes 1-3 by John Lewis
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Obviously over twenty books is not entirely realistic for the month, but I’d love to get to as many of these as I can. We’ll see where the month takes us!

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid | Book Review

★★★★☆
July 3rd

I’m so glad that I got to read this book when I did from the library, because this book has blown up in popularity recently, and is very difficult to get now!

Such a Fun Age follows Emira, an African American woman in her early twenties who is asked late one night to take the young girl she babysits, Briar, to the local grocery store to distract her from a family crisis. When she’s at the grocery store, a security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, causing a long series of events.

I was really expecting this book to be about a lot of drama following the incident in the grocery store. I was expecting a large presence of the media, a bigger tie into the Black Lives Matter movement in terms of protesting, and maybe some examples of the white parents trying to fix things and overstepping their boundaries.

I wasn’t expecting this book to be what it was: an African American women to just want to go about her life without drawing attention to herself, or to try and fix everything in the world. There’s a great quote in this book where she tells another character “I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.”

This book is a lot about allyship, specifically performative allyship. Emira’s boss Alix continuously mismanages and missteps with her actions, and it was sometimes really tough to read. She has a white savior mentality and continuously tries to get close to Emira in very creepy ways to make herself seem like the good guy. Throughout the book we see her tendency to try and re-write history to try and make herself seem like the victim, and how it’s easier for her to continue to believe something she knows is a lie.

This book felt extremely grounded in reality, and I loved how well the fallout of the situation was portrayed. I loved the dynamic that Emira had with her friends, and how much she loved Briar, the little girl that she was babysitting. Emira was an incredibly bright, smart and brilliantly written character who was looking to better herself, get a stable job, have a decent apartment, and be happy.

I highly recommend the audiobook for this. It made the reading experience incredible and added significantly to my enjoyment of the book. I’m so impressed with Kiley Reid’s debut and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with in the future.

July Recap | 2020

This month was a fantastic reading month for me! I read for a bunch of different readathons, book clubs, and prompts! Total I read 3583 pages across 12 books, and found some really great new books.

Literally Dead Book Club

  • June – The Guest List by Lucy Foley (Read July 1st – 2nd)
    ★★☆☆☆
  • July – Zone One by Colson Whitehead (Read July 4th – 7th)
    ★★★☆☆

The Reading Rush

  • The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (Read July 20th)
    ★★★★★
    Read for the book that starts with the word “The”, a genre you want to read more of, and the first book you touch
  • V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (Read July 21st – 24th)
    ★★★★☆
    Read for the book outside your house, that inspired a movie I’ve already seen, and that takes place on a different continent than where you live.
  • Home Before Dark by Riley Sager (July 24th – 25th)
    ★★★★☆
    Read for the birthstone challenge

Books and Tea Readathon Prompts

  • Read a previous Books and Tea readalong book – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Read July 9th – 13th)
    ★★★★☆
  • Finish a book – Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia (Read July 13th – 15th)
    ★★★★☆

General TBR
These are the books that don’t fit into any of the prompts for either readathon, but that I had a desire to read this month:

  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Read July 3rd)
    ★★★★☆
  • Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (Read July 5th – 6th)
    ★★★☆☆
  • When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele (Read July 2nd)
  • Carrie by Stephen King (Re-Read July 18th)
    ★★★★☆
  • Navigate Your Stars by Jesmyn Ward (Read July 28th)

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele | Book Review


July 2nd

I don’t feel entirely comfortable reviewing the technical aspects of memoirs. It’s not my place to comment on how someone else expressed their life experience. Here’s what I will say:

I cannot begin to imagine the level of suffering that she endured, and I wish that no one ever had to endure that. But she did, and she’s incredible.

I listened to the audiobook for this memoir because it was read by the author, which I always like. The words flow so much more naturally when they’re read by the person who crafted them. I have never been as affected by an audiobook, and by a listening experience as I was with this. I hope everyone gets the chance to listen or read this book. I have a lot to keep learning, work to do on integrating more varied voices into my reading lists, and working on what I can do to support those around me.