October 3, 2021

What I Read in September 2021

This is a catch up post, but includes all ten books I read in September 2021.

I absolutely loved Falling and Project Hail Mary, two exciting page turners.

5 stars:

Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir: I was a little nervous to read this book, since Artemis was a bit of a let-down after how incredible The Martian was. But in this book, Weir gets back to his roots and really wowed me – I couldn’t put this down, and read it in two days! Ryland Grace wakes up on what he soon figures out is a space ship, but he doesn’t know why or how he got there… and he doesn’t even remember his name. We soon learn what’s going on (as Ryland figures it out himself through flashbacks of memory), and that he must save the world – and I thoroughly appreciated the tale of how we got to this apocalyptic plight. I generally find futuristic sci fi much more interesting and accessible when an author takes the time to show how we got from our current world to the circumstances of the book, and Weir does this with aplomb. Like The Martian, there is a lot of science, but I thought Weir did a better job of toning it down a bit so I wasn’t feeling the need to skim or page ahead. Meanwhile, the plot was fascinating, and Weir’s humor through the first person narrative had me cracking up at times! (And tearing up at other times.) My only complaint was that the ending left one thing unresolved that I was desperate to find out – but it was still a very satisfying read.

Falling, by T.J. Newman: This was SO good, I read it in one night! (Actually, that’s not completely true. I got super scared about halfway through and went to bed because I had too much adrenaline, but then I woke up at 4am eager to keep reading… and finished it by 6am, even with constant breaks to try to let my heart rate slow.) Bill is a senior pilot who takes a last minute flight at his boss’ request, pissing off his wife for leaving the day of his son’s big baseball game that he had promised to attend. A few hours later, his wife and kids are being held at gunpoint while he has a choice: crash the plane and kill everyone on board, or his family dies. There is an extremely gruesome cold open that sets the tone for the book, but as a scaredy cat trying to reassure others, I will slightly spoil that this part is the most brutal and graphic, so if you can make it through this, you’re okay to finish. Just be ready to take breaks to catch your breath and let your heart stop pounding, as I had to frequently do! This book is action packed, and has so many twists and turns – I highly recommend it, though have to admit I’m very grateful that in spite of more than a decade of business travel that required me to be on multiple flights a week, I’m currently on the ground with no plans to fly soon 🙂

4 stars:

Life, Unscheduled, by Kristin Rockaway: Loved this book, and I read it fast, showing how into the plot I was! Nicole is a junior UX designer at a big tech firm, but the company culture is terrible – workers are expected to ask permission to make personal plans on weekends, as they are supposed to be working seemingly 16-18 hours a day 7 days a week. Not surprising that Nicole is a workaholic! For Nicole and most of her coworkers, their social life revolves around the office (which I get – I too used to spend my Friday nights at the office playing foosball with my work friends), but even with that little free time, she happens to meet a great guy outside of work. She then needs to decide if the lifestyle she’s chosen is really one she wants. Although I empathized with Nicole, I found myself frustrated by her inability to even consider the possibility of other job options, since she seems to recognize pretty quickly that she’s not happy the way things are. Still, it was a good light read to relax.

Love, Comment, Subscribe, by Cathy Yardley: Lily is trying to make it big as a beauty influencer, and her high school enemy Tobin is trying to succeed as a YouTube gamer. They decide to set aside their dislike and collaborate… and of course, sparks fly. This book is a little bit predictable, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the peek into the influencer world.

Talk Bookish to Me, by Kate Bromley: While at her best friend’s pre-wedding party, Kara is shocked to learn her college ex-boyfriend is good friends with the groom, and she’s stuck hanging out with him for a week. Kara and Ryan had a terrible breakup, breaking each other’s hearts… but maybe they were meant to be together after all? Meanwhile, Kara is a romance novelist and bookstagrammer, so we get to see into her life as a writer on deadline, and how her personal life influences her work, which I found really interesting. This was a quick and easy read, with a twist at the end that allowed for a few more chapters of conflict before the final resolution.

Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance, by Erica Dhawan: This is a practical guide to better communications in an increasingly digital world. Very timely with COVID19, and the author includes several anecdotes about COVID that make it even more relevant! This was a bit dry, with some insights seeming rather obvious, but overall it was a solid read and I learned some new things. I think it could be very valuable for an entire team to read, as there are a lot of miscommunications that this could clear up, as long as everyone was on the same page. I think the lessons are harder to apply if you’re the only one who’s read the book.

3 stars:

Bad Luck Bridesmaid, by Alison Rose Greenberg: Zoey has been a bridesmaid in three weddings… and all three weddings have been canceled, so she believes she’s bringing bad luck to her friends. Now, her best friend Hannah is getting married in Ireland, and she’s nervous she’ll ruin Hannah’s happily ever after. But while that’s the supposed premise of the book, the focal point of the plot is actually Zoey’s nerves and concerns about the idea of marriage – although she met the perfect guy, could she ever actually get married herself? I liked the story, but Zoey was kind of a drag, and I found myself frustrated with both her choices and her inability to step back and see a therapist or otherwise take action to change. The novel was really well-written, and had some thought-provoking insights about societal expectations of relationships, but it was also just kind of a downer – even though there was kind of a happy ending.

The Startup Wife, by Tahmima Anam: I was back and forth on this. Newlyweds Asha and Cyrus (and their odd third wheel best friend, Jules) launch a startup, WAI, a social network that’s about creating meaningful rituals. The novel follows them from the odd beginning of their romantic relationship to how they eventually launch and grow WAI. I liked the exploration of the discrimination Asha faces as a female founder, and found it interesting to see how sometimes she got in her own way. But overall, the book blurred the line a bit between satire and serious – I wasn’t entirely sure which way to take it. The concepts were original, but something about the plot didn’t grab me; I kept waiting for more to happen, and it wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that I felt like it really grabbed my attention. I’m glad I stuck with it, since about half way through I was contemplating giving up, but I still didn’t love it in the end.

This Might Hurt, by Stephanie Wrobel: Natalie is a successful business executive who receives a cryptic email – essentially blackmailing her into dropping everything to go see her sister, Kit, at a mysterious private island where Kit checked in for a cult-like retreat six months ago. The book is told from two different POVs, with the other following a girl through an abusive childhood, and you don’t find out who the girl grows up to be until the last third of the book. The abusive childhood was really disturbing and hard to read, but my bigger complaint was the ending – it’s one of those cliffhangers where you’re left to imagine a few different outcomes, which I hate. If you’re going to tell a story, tell the whole story, including the ending! But I still found it an interesting read.

1 star:

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr: A friend bought this for me as a gift and I… did not get it. It was way too out there for me and I wasn’t totally sure what was happening. Maybe I would have appreciated it more if I had read it in high school English class, and dissected it, but it was not the type of book I enjoyed reading for pleasure.

Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.


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