Bit of a weird month, for me. I hit a big reading slump with about a week to go - I've loved every Emily St John Mandel book I've ever read, but I am really struggling with The Glass Hotel - so I ended up just reading like 8 of Tessa Dare's Regency romance novels. My favorites so far are the Girl Meets Duke series. I highly recommend The Governess Game.
Anyway, I ended up hitting 11 total reads, which is decent enough. I'll probably finish The Glass Hotel today and then roll over my last two unreads from August into September - I do have quite a long train ride next week...
Best book of the month: Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women, by Kate Manne. Didn't teach me anything I didn't already know, and I'm probably the prime example of preaching to the choir for this type of book; but it was an interesting, thoughtful, compassionately written book that I think everyone, everyone, should read. Stressed the need for intersectionality better than just about any other book by a white woman. Worst book of the month: Imperfect Women, by Araminta Hall. Ugh. Bad thrillers should be against the law, and thrillers that give up any effort at being a thriller in order to make a hackneyed political point should be doubly against the law.
Most disappointing book of the month: The Lost Queen, by Signe Pike. Did not live up to the hype. Will not be reading the rest of the trilogy.
Most 'pleasant surprise' of the month: Not really a book that lives up to this tag this month - but I guess I'll clunk in Hamnet here. I was expecting to like it, but the story wasn't quite what the blurb said and so I liked that story better; plus I'm surprised this didn't make the longlist for the Booker.
The Lost Queen (2.1★/5), by Signe Pike: Boo. I wanted to like it because I love fantasy retellings, but this does not live up to the hype. My full review is here.
The Liar's Dictionary (4.5★/5), by Eley Williams: A fizzy, lovely little book that focuses on two separate, very narrow, interweaving stories. The writing is absolutely wonderful, and Eley Williams is obviously having a lot of fun with her words here - unfortunately it's stopped from being 5 stars because my enjoyment of this novel was purely academic; the emotions just don't come through for me. Spectacular writing though.
The Last Mrs Summers (4.5★/5), by Rhys Bowen: I absolutely adore this series and I will continue reading them faithfully as soon as the books come out, but it's pretty clear that the overall quality and sophistication of the central mysteries is decreasing as the series progresses. Not enough Darcy O'Mara, either. But it still remains lovely, fun, enjoyable light reading.
The Unfolding of Language (4★/5), by Guy Deutscher: Starts off really strong, but kind of tapers off in the end - gets a bit too technical for the newbie like myself, and what was with the random chapter delivered as a script? That made no sense. Still a fascinating read though, and I think I'm going to change my career plans to become a linguist.
Échnographie du vide (3.2★/5), by Camille Bonvalet: Not quite sure what this book was trying to do, but its exploration of grief was honest, raw, and occasionally very painful. I hated the main character, though - I think that might have been the point, but I was happy to close the book and not have to be in her head anymore. I give massive props to the characterization skills of this author.
Hamnet (4.7★/5,) by Maggie O'Farrell: A lovely, lovely book. My review is here.
La Nuit des béguines (3.6★/5), by Aline Kiner: A slightly patchy, but still enjoyable read. Reviewed in full here.
The Bilingual Brain (3.5★/5), by Albert Costa (trans. John W. Schwieter): Christ Jesus this book is technical. I recommend brushing up on your neurology knowledge before attempting to read this, because I think a lot of it may have gone over my head. It's short, but it packs a punch.
Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women (5★/5), by Kate Manne: Bring me my pitchfork. We overthrow the patriarchy at dawn. I have no notes, Dr Manne.
The Shadow King (3.4★/5), by Maaza Mengiste: My full review is here.
Imperfect Women (2★/5), by Araminta Hall: A disappointing read, this. I absolutely adored the first book of hers I read, Our Kind of Cruelty, but this just did not live up to expectations. The thriller was bland, the mystery wasn't gripping, and the resolution felt half-assed, at best. Most of this book appeared to be Hall making a political point about womanhood in the twenty-first century - which, all right, fine, but don't try and pass it off as a murder mystery, then. And I'm sure the main characters were meant to be sympathetic and nuanced, but instead they were just so. Damn. Whiney. And the main 'villain' was so caricatural and one-dimensional that I was beyond uninterested in him. There was not a shred of nuance in this book to be found, and that's what made it so disappointing. At least it was a fast read.
There you have it, folks - my August wrap-up. Please give me a holler if you have read any of these books, or if you think I was brutally unfair to any of them...