August 2019 Reads

In August, I went on vacation to Florida and I also started my first “big girl job” as a 4th grade teacher. In the car down to Florida and while I was setting up my classroom later in the month, I ended up getting through a lot of audiobooks. Check out what I read in August in this post.

august 2019 reads honeybeejoyous

Stats

Number of books read: 7 📘📘📘📘📘📘📘

Print books: 2 📚📚

Audiobooks: 5 🎧🎧🎧🎧🎧

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 star books: 1

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 star books: 3

⭐⭐⭐ 3 star books: 1

⭐⭐ 2 star books: 0

1 star books: 1

😍 Favorite book: Big Little Lies

☹️ Least favorite book: A Not So Model Home

A Not So Model Home by David James

a not so model home by david james cover honeybeejoyous

1 star ⭐

Read from August 6, 2019 – August 8, 2019.

Oof. Where do I start with this one? I picked up this book for less than $2 at my local secondhand shop expecting an easy, fun mystery to read on my vacation. A Not So Model Home follows realtor Amanda Thorne as she becomes a side character on a reality dating TV show that somehow turns into a murder mystery. Amanda is supposed to sell the house that the show takes place in while the contestants vie for the heart of the dying millionaire who lives there. After reading the inside flap, one of my friends said, “it’s like The Bachelorette meets Million Dollar Listing meets Agatha Christie” and that pretty much summed up why I wanted to read the book. But man oh man it did not live up to my expectations in the slightest.

First, the most positive comment I could think of: I really liked the fun chapter titles!

Now, on to all my other thoughts. After just a couple chapters, I felt the need to look up the author to see if he is actually a gay man because most of the characters felt like stereotypes or offensive caricatures. From what I could tell, David James is actually gay, so that made me feel a bit better, but I still did not enjoy or connect with the characters because of how stereotypical they felt. Another thing that made me uncomfortable was how Amanda (who is a straight woman) was constantly talking about how she was obsessed with surrounding herself with gay men. It really rubbed me the wrong way, especially when she talked about how she didn’t necessarily believe women experience oppression and that she seemed not to believe people could be bisexual. In addition to the weird, hard to connect with characters, the dialogue was RIDICULOUS! It was either flat and read like stage directions or it was over the top and packed in as much vulgar language as possible (I probably sound like a prude, but it really felt juvenile the way it was all packed in there). The characters constantly say each other’s names when they’re talking and overall just speak in a way that is completely alien to normal human conversation.

As for the storyline, while I knew it was supposed to be a “cozy mystery” and not a fast-paced thriller, the murder mystery seemed to take a back seat to graphic descriptions of sex and strange musings about gay ex-husbands. (Also, a major plot point was that Amanda was supposed to sell the house as a twist on the TV show … but that never even happened!! It never came up again after the initial discussion!!)

All in all, I didn’t have high expectations for this book, but it managed to still fall miserably low. I was looking for a cozy mystery with a little reality TV drama, but instead I got a vulgar description of a dating show with ridiculous dialogue and a hint of mystery on the side.

Find my review on Goodreads here.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

big little lies by liane moriarty cover honeybeejoyous

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read from August 2, 2019 – August 13, 2019.

I’m sure everyone has heard the hype around this book and the TV show based on it. Of course, books are usually popular for a reason, but I’m always a little worried when I pick up a hyped book because I’m worried it won’t live up to my expectations. I didn’t need to worry. Big Little Lies blew my expectations out of the water.

I’m normally into plot-driven, fast-paced thrillers, so this was somewhat out of my comfort zone. This book was largely character driven, but drew me in with the hints at murder and mystery throughout. The story begins at the end, revealing a tidbit of shock and mystery that intrigued me right away. As the story went on, the curtain kept getting pulled back little by little until everything was revealed at the very end. Along the way, realistic and meaningful relationships were built among the characters and between the characters and the reader. It’s been a very long time since I’ve cared so much about the characters in a novel.

Trigger warning for sexual assault and domestic violence (graphic, detailed descriptions that are essential to the plot)

**read as an audiobook**

Find my review on Goodreads here.

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

lying in wait by liz nugent cover honeybeejoyous

No rating — Did Not Finish

Read on August 13, 2019.

I got halfway through this one and I hadn’t connected with a single character and had no interest in the plot, so I decided to DNF.

**read as an audiobook**

Find my review on Goodreads here.

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin

paper ghosts by julia heaberlin cover honeybeejoyous

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read from August 13, 2019 – August 16, 2019.

When I’m picking an audiobook from my library, I usually go to the “thriller” section, click on “what’s available,” and pick whatever premise intrigues me the most. That’s how I ended up listening to Paper Ghosts while I set up my classroom. A young woman takes a suspected serial killer with dementia on a field trip to try to discover the truth about what happened to her sister.

The story kept me intrigued and on my toes the whole time. It was creepy, chilling, and (just like our main character) I was never sure who I could trust. I wanted to know what happened and then when it was revealed, I was not disappointed by the solution. It was surprising in a good way, which is my main expectation from a thriller. The story drug on a little slowly in the middle for a bit, but that gave more time to connect with the characters and think about the possibilities. Overall, a solid read that I really enjoyed!

**read as an audiobook**

P.S. For anyone else who’s watched every episode of Criminal Minds countless times, Carl gave me super big Frank from season 2 vibes for a lot of the story, which I think added to the creepiness factor!

Find my review on Goodreads here.

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

the all-girl filling station's last reunion by fannie flagg cover honeybeejoyous

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read from August 20, 2019 – August 22, 2019.

I love using my library’s Libby app to choose audiobooks because I so often find gems I never would have read otherwise. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion was one of those gems. The story follows Sookie Poole, a woman in her 60s who gets the shock of her life when she finds out she’s adopted and her domineering, proudly Southern mother isn’t a biological relative at all. Sookie decides to go on a search for who she really is and that’s when the even more interesting part of this book comes in. When the novel isn’t following Sookie’s story, it tells us the story of a Polish family in small town, 1940s Wisconsin, where a group of young women break gender boundaries and support their family and country through their family gas station and their role as female WWII pilots. Through it all, Sookie learns a lot about the importance of family, individualism, and manages to develop a strong sense of self despite having felt a little unsure of herself her whole life.

If you follow me on Goodreads, you probably know that this book was a step outside my comfort zone. My usual genre is thrillers where the main character is a young woman in her 20s. This one was a cozy, Southern/historical fiction novel and the main character is in her 60s. I’m so glad I left my comfort zone and listened to this audiobook. I loved the characters, especially the Jurdabralinski sisters and I loved getting a glimpse into the lives of the incredible female pilots that served their country in WWII, despite not being appreciated or valued. This was my first Fannie Flagg novel, but I would definitely consider reading another when I’m looking for my next cozy, heart-warming story. Overall, this was an easy, feel-good book.

**read as an audiobook**

Find my review on Goodreads here.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

when you reach me by rebecca stead cover honeybeejoyous

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

Read from August 22, 2019 – August 23, 2019.

There’s nothing that steals my heart like a book about time travel featuring a quirky, misunderstood sixth grade girl. Not enough people appreciate middle grade novels, even when it’s a masterpiece like this When You Reach Me. This is a book I’ll recommend to my 4th graders and my adult friends alike. I definitely want to read more by Rebecca Stead.

**read as an audiobook**

Find my review on Goodreads here.

The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman

the finishing school by joanna goodman cover honeybeejoyous

3.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐💫

Read from August 10, 2019 – August 31, 2019.

I picked up The Finishing School because I was looking for a salacious boarding school drama with a big mystery to solve. That’s pretty much what I ended up getting. This book is set in alternating chapters of the 1990s and present day. In the 90s, Kersti attends a Swiss boarding school on scholarship and makes memories that will last a lifetime. However, all the normal boarding school drama and excitement gives way to tragedy when her best friend Cressida falls from her balcony. In present day, Kersti still can’t get Cressida’s tragic fall out of her head and she can’t make herself believe it was an accident. She is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Was it suicide? Was Cressida pushed? And what did it have to do with a group of girls who were expelled in the 1970s?

Overall, I really enjoyed the premise and the plotline of this book. It kept me turning the pages and the shocking bits were appropriately shocking. However, for most of the book, I was not invested in the present-day Kersti chapters at all. I found myself wishing we were spending more time at the boarding school and less time dealing with Kersti’s fertility and family troubles. In the end, when things really picked up and the mystery was getting solved, I didn’t mind the present-day setting, but for most of the story I would have prefered sticking to the 90s boarding school. I also found Kersti’s husband Jay to be super annoying. In real life, he’d be the sensible one and is probably right with all his cautions and doubts. But I’m here to read a boarding school mystery and to get invested in the drama and the detective work. I don’t need a voice of reason constantly nagging my main character to think about her priorities.

This was a good read for what I was looking for. Not a groundbreaking book, but definitely not bad.

Trigger warning for child sexual abuse.

Find my review on Goodreads here.

A couple of the books I ended up loving this month came from random finds on my library’s Libby app. How do you discover new books? Leave a comment down below and let me know!

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