Oh, September. The month this year that has left me raw and emotional and in love. When I pick the books I plan to read for any given month, there's not really a ton of thought behind it. I try to pick things that are new or that I've had for awhile and haven't gotten around to yet. I usually try to pick books that are at least a little different from each other and there is generally no correlation or theme to my picks. Taking all of that into consideration, it's funny to me that this month nearly all the books I read were highly emotional reads. It wasn't planned and I probably won't do that again, because I am emotionally wrung out. Do I regret it though? No! I read some amazing books, so there is never any regrets in that! In no particular order:
I have read and adored several of White's Romance's and was excited to read her Literary Fiction. Touched is proof that White can write anything and in any genre. She has a way with words that make you envision, smell, taste, and feel everything the characters are so vividly. Hauntingly beautiful and tragically heartbreaking, White has created a riveting piece of fiction that will stay with me longer than most books do. I loved that the complexity of the narrative reinforced the complexity of the characters and themes in the story. Touched is a rich, compelling, and emotional read. It wasn't easy, but it was so worthwhile. I found myself in tears at the end (something that is rare for me), and I immediately had to talk about it with someone. Without a doubt, this is Mara White's best book to date.
One of my favorite tropes in literature is older woman/younger man. It's one that, in my opinion, is under-represented. I can count on one hand the ones I've read, and none of them can touch how much I loved The Idea of You. When Solène meets her pre-teen daughter's idol, 20-year old Hayes, you think you know where this is going. You would probably be wrong. Lee has created a gorgeous, realistic, and at times heartrending story of an unconventional love. Weeks later and I am still thinking about this book. I loved the way it ended, found it to be perfect for the story told and characters, and yet I want more of Solène and Hayes. That is a rare thing indeed, in my experience.
Before Drumline, I hadn't read any other book by Kestwick and I didn't know what to expect. I was so pleasantly surprised by this sexy, engaging story. While at the start it appears to be the story of Reese trying to break into her university's drumline, something that no other woman has done, and her growing attraction and connection to the captain, Laird, you soon discover there is so much more going on. Kestwick manages the challenging combination of tackling some heavier subjects/plot points while still doing justice to the love story of the characters. While this was my first of her novel's, I know it won't be the last.
I almost wish I hadn't finished this book on the last day of the month because I really need more time to process everything I'm thinking and feeling. I know many people read romance as an escape to everyday worries and events. I read for that reason as well, and many books fit that bill. It isn't often that a "romance" novel is socially and culturally relevant, addressing issues that are going on right this moment in my country (I'm not going to assume everyone lives in the States). That is the genius of Still (and Flow and Grip, because you cannot read Still without reading both of these first, you just can't). Ryan so beautifully, painfully captures the reality of both the climate of the racial issues in the States right now, as well as the struggles that so many interracial relationships face. Grip and Bristol are serious "relationship goals." They love fiercely, passionately, and honestly even when it's ugly and it hurts. I wasn't sure where Ryan was going to take them in Still and how it could even come close to the perfection of Grip, but trust that she does. There were places that utterly broke me and I had to pause for some time to get my emotions together and to clear my eyes. And the way she wraps it all up? I know I've said it before, but it's the best way to express it: sweet and utter perfection.
Re-read of the month:
Sometimes I get a chance to reread a book I loved. I usually don't share that, but because there is a connection to one of the other books on the list this month, I decided to add it on.
I tried reading Still without doing a reread of the novella and novel that came before it. I only got 20% of the way through before I knew I HAD to reread Flow and Grip. There wasn't any way around it for me. I fell in love with Grip and Bristol and the perfection of these books all over again, a rare and sweet treat. You can read my previous thoughts on these books here: March 2017 Blog Post