I definitely fell behind in reading during August. I really don’t enjoy the end of summer, but not for the reasons you may think. I hate sticky, extreme August heat and the slowing effect it has on me, and two weeks into the month, I inevitably just want autumn, sweaters, and a better feeling of structure back in my life. August was so disgustingly hot this year that it definitely affected my desire to read, and it didn’t help that the books I ended up finishing were a little difficult to get into and not incredibly memorable overall.
In August, I also failed in my goal to read The Handmaid’s Tale once again. I just haven’t been in the mood to take on a such a bleak read, so I may just start the TV series soon and pick up the book if I still want to after seeing the show. I’ve also been on library waitlists for The Wedding Date and The Kiss Quotient for what feels like forever, but my turn with the books should finally come up this month. So, fingers crossed for a more enjoyable reading month after August’s slight letdown!
Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan (★★★☆☆)
I would actually rate this as a 3.5-star read. I managed to read Crazy Rich Asians right before seeing the movie adaptation, which was an unexpected win. In case you haven’t followed the hype around this story the past few months, Kwan’s first book of his trilogy series follows Chinese-American Rachel as she and her boyfriend Nick visit his extremely wealthy family in Singapore ahead of his best friend’s wedding. Rachel tries to adjust to the cultural differences and some friends and family members’ disapproval of her, while some of Nick’s relatives face their own issues leading up to the anticipated wedding celebrations.
The movie was very cute, and I think filmmakers’ slight changes from the book complimented the story perfectly. As for Kwan’s book, it was okay. Parts of it definitely dragged, partially because the perspective changes every chapter and some characters’ narrations were more enjoyable than others. There was also a lot of unnecessary background and details, although I did find some the cultural footnotes and explanations interesting. Even with a film sequel now in the works, I don’t think I’m invested enough in the characters to actually read the rest of the trilogy.
Match Made in Manhattan, by Amanda Stauffer (★★☆☆☆)
In my original note about this book, I gave it 2.5 stars, but honestly, the more time I have away from it, the more annoyed I feel about it, hence the two stars. Alison breaks up with her longtime boyfriend, ventures into the world of online dating (Match.com, as the author is persistently reminding us), and literally just goes on dates with different guys for the entire book. For real. It reads like a list of dates that are never too terrible but never too great, and although some men stay in her life longer than others, they eventually all blend together. Alison has forgettable, interchangeable friends who serve no purpose other than hearing her vent about her dates, a unique job the reader hears just enough about to feel vaguely interested, and honestly comes across as a bit of a Mary Sue.
Based on an interview I saw with the author about her relationship with her husband and the fact that a character seeming to resemble him popped up in the book, I kept reading this to see if it would pan out the way I predicted. Nope — after so much dedication to one singular aspect of the character, the ending was quite silly. The writing had its moments of greatness, but overall, I definitely wouldn’t recommend this.
Keep the Home Fires Burning, by S. Block (★★★☆☆)
This continuation of the short-lived TV series Home Fires is also a 3.5-star read. I finished this two-season British import on Amazon Prime over the course of a weekend early in the summer, and then learned that it was unexpectedly cancelled after the Season 2 finale ended with a major cliffhanger. The book picks up right where the series left off, and it’s written by the show’s creator. Home Fires was about a women’s group in an English village as World War II begins and their world turns upside down. As the show did, the book mainly follows five or six different women in the village, who are helping the war effort while experiencing personal issues like domestic abuse, love affairs, hidden sexuality, and impending widowhood.
As someone who’s more accustomed to writing scripts, Block still excelled in writing a story in novel form and creating some beautiful prose. He plans to write enough books to carry the characters through the end of the war, which was the intended endpoint of Home Fires. Although I enjoyed seeing some storylines from the show progress in Keep the Home Fires Burning, I was ready to be done with the book by the end. However, it also ended with unresolved stories, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I eventually read the next book too to see what happens.
What about you? What have you read recently?