Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Book Reviews – the August Edition


Once again, I only have three books to review this month. I’ve been rereading a fluffy Nora Roberts series (one of her witchy trilogies – the perfect diversion from current events). Next month will probably be more of the same.  

1. Peace Talks (The Dresden Files #16) by Jim Butcher. ★★★★★ When the Supernatural nations of the world meet up to negotiate an end to ongoing hostilities, Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, joins the White Council's security team to make sure the talks stay civil. But can he succeed, when dark political manipulations threaten the very existence of Chicago--and all he holds dear?

The Bug Says: As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, we waited 6 years for this next book in the Dresden series. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It felt like a return to similar plot lines from some of the older books which was a lot of fun, to me. But the best (and worst) part is that it was basically a book to set up the next one, which comes out at the end of this month. Woot!

2. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. ★★★★★ In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

The Bug Says: This was such a good book – especially for someone like I am, who only has a cursory idea of what it’s like to be a Black man in today’s world. And the premise – that it’s a letter to his son – makes it so poignant. I finished the book wanting more than ever to do a better job of helping create anti-racist policies.

3. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, by Jennifer Ryan. ★★★★★ Kent, 1940. In the idyllic village of Chilbury change is afoot. Hearts are breaking as sons and husbands leave to fight, and when the Vicar decides to close the choir until the men return, all seems lost. But coming together in song is just what the women of Chilbury need in these dark hours, and they are ready to sing. With a little fighting spirit and the arrival of a new musical resident, the charismatic Miss Primrose Trent, the choir is reborn. Some see the choir as a chance to forget their troubles, others the chance to shine. Though for one villager, the choir is the perfect cover to destroy Chilbury’s new-found harmony.

Uplifting and profoundly moving, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR explores how a village can endure the onslaught of war, how monumental history affects small lives and how survival is as much about friendship as it is about courage.

The Bug Says: Oh my goodness what a MOST satisfactory read! It was my favorite kind of book – full of British WWII gumption, but the writing itself was a lovely surprise. Also, if you’re able to, listen to the audio version – it was great!

Last month I said that would probably have finally finished Ibrim X. Kendi’s book How to be an Antiracist, but this is a dense book with a lot of research (and it’s long!), so I’m still only about halfway through. Nevertheless I can already recommend it highly. So good, and another book that is convicting me right and left. I’ll make no promises, but really I should be done with it for my September book review.


  1. I read "Between the World and Me" and also found it very illuminating.

  2. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir sounds interesting. I would definitely get it in the audio version. As always, thanks for the reviews.


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