Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Book Reviews – the September Edition


I was surprised when I checked to see how many books I read in September – five! I might hit my (rather modest) book goal this year after all.

1. No Fixed Line (Kate Shugak #22), by Dana Stabenow. ★★★★★ It is New Year’s Eve, nearly six weeks into an off-and-on blizzard that has locked Alaska down, effectively cutting it off from the outside world. But now there are reports of a plane down in the Quilak mountains. With the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board — responsible for investigating aviation incidents) unable to reach the crash site, ex-Trooper Jim Chopin is pulled out of retirement to try to identify the aircraft, collect the corpses, and determine why no flight has been reported missing. But there are survivors: two children who don’t speak a word of English. Meanwhile, PI Kate Shugak receives an unexpected and unwelcome accusation from beyond the grave, a charge that could change the face of the Park forever.

The Bug Says: That description (which I modified slightly due to some inaccuracies) is overly dramatic and flowery, but the book itself is absolutely fabulous and satisfactory. I love this series and am always excited when a new book comes out. Kate is such a badass and that is my favorite kind of main character. If you like murder mysteries, even if you don’t really care about Alaska, you should definitely check this series out.

2. How to be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi. ★★★★★ Kendi's concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America--but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society. 

The Bug Says: This book blew my mind – the way he talks about what being antiracist looks like. It is more about changing policies than the behavior of individual people (although that would also be a good start). I really like how the book was organized, and how he wove the themes of his own life and his research into a cohesive narrative. Highly recommend! (Note: there are several offshoots from this book that might also be worth checking out. Here is a link to his Goodreads page if you want to see what else he has written.)

3. The Unhoneymooners, by Christina Lauren. ★★★★ Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

The Bug Says: I was going to say that this was pure fluff, but actually the writing was really clever and the characters were not annoying (trust me, this is high praise, coming from me). I enjoyed it a lot. If you need a break from real life, this one would be quite enjoyable.

4. The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd. ★★★★★ Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

The Bug Says: I don’t know how I missed reading this book when it first came out, but thank you to my cousin Kim who told me that I would love it. She was right! Such a good book! And it seems very timely, with its themes of racism and female power. Love love loved it!

5. The K Team (The K Team #1), by David Rosenfelt. ★★★ In David Rosenfelt's newest series - a spinoff of the much beloved Andy Carpenter mysteries - Andy's wife forms an investigative team with a former detective and his German shepherd partner. Laurie, was a cop, a good one. Now she helps out on Andy's cases while also raising Ricky, their son. But she's been chafing to jump back into investigating on her own, and when her former partner and his German shepherd K-9 partner come to her with a proposal, she's in.

The Bug Says: I love Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series, so I was excited to check out this new one. The story was good, and I really like the concept. But some of the themes were annoying, and there seemed to be a lot of repetition along those lines. And Andy is my favorite character of this crew, and since he wasn’t as prevalent in this book I missed him. But will I read the next book? Heck yeah – I enjoy Rosenfelt’s brand of self-deprecating snark.

I had three books by favorite authors get published in September, so I’ve been trying to read even more lately. I’ve finished one book (Armand Gamache), and will finish a second one this weekend (Eve Dallas), and then I’ll be on to the third one (Harry Dresden). It’s a happy time in Bug Book Land right now. Are you reading anything interesting?


  1. "The Secret Life of Bees" is very popular in our library, and we have the antiracism book too. Interesting to hear about the others! That Dana Stabenow series sounds interesting. I love a good mystery.

  2. The Secret Life of bees is still one of my favorites

  3. I loved The Secret Life Of Bees. Her new one, The Book Of Longings is at the library but I'm sort of put off by it.

  4. I wrote down three authors to look up their books. Yay! Thanks.

  5. It's great when you have so many books to choose from. I'm reading You're Next by Gregg Hurwitz. A 4-year-old boy is abandoned by his father, and he ends up in foster care. After some scrapes with the legal system and other dreadful things in his youth, the story picks up when he's 35, happily married and has a little girl. Life is great, and then his life is turned upside down. Some brutal people want something from him. They know who he is, but he doesn't know who he is or who his parents were and remembers almost nothing about his life before he landed in foster care, not even his last name. It's a page turner.


Thanks for stopping by - I'd love to hear what you have to say!

2022 Project 365 – Week Twenty

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