Month Count: 4 texts, 1 audiobook, 5 total
Year to Date: 42 texts (2020 updated goal – 50), 13 audiobooks, 55 total
Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O’Neill on Audible is probably my biggest flop on 2020 so far. I was so looking forward to reading this, as a huge fan of Helter Skelter (one of the first true crime books I ever read!) and the Charlie Mason case is one of my true crime obsessions as a Murderino. Every true crime buff has their “one case” that really captivates and fascinates them, and Charlie Manson is way up there for me! Additionally, I listened to Tom on Joe Rogan’s podcast and I was hyped! Overall, it completely disappointed. Ugh, at 7 hours in, I was DREADING that I still had 9+ hours of listening to go through in order to call this one finished. So far, I think Chaos is going to be my biggest disappointment in my reading journey since my first book of 2020. It just ended up being a 17 hours long bitch session of why Bugliosi was wrong and a bully to not only Tom O’Neill, but key people in the Manson case. So often I kept wondering why Tom didn’t just blog this project for the last 20 years. So often it felt like I was listening to his diary entries, complaining about publishers rejecting his 20th extension request after being ten years late on the original promised project. I couldn’t help but feel like he was a lazy, whiny LA wanna be. IDK, didn’t resonate with me. Definitely a disappointment. The only section that had me excited was talking about MK Ultra and digging into Jolly West, Sidney Gottlieb, Allen Dulles, George White and the likes. One would naturally make the connection between the Manson family and MK Ultra, so I don’t think that was anything groundbreaking. However, there was a lot of good research compiled into that section of the book that was captivating.
The Necklace: A Novel by Claire McMillan was gifted to me by my sister. It spans multi-generations of a wealthy family’s secrets, adventures, and love triangles. As I was reading it, I thought I can see this as a movie as I’m reading it! But at the very same instance, I retracted and thought if I were watching this movie I would deem it predictable and uninteresting and would never read the book. It’s passionate, glittery, I love the emotional pulls and lust.
Mirror Image by Sandra Brown. Probably my third or fourth Sandra Brown book and she’s easily becoming my female James Patterson. Her books are always entertaining, fast reads, with thrill, the right amount of sexual tension, and action. Mirror Image was written in 1990 and after reading a few of her more recent novels, it was really interesting to go back and read a less senior publication and see how her writing has changed. It was very clear how much more mature her writing has gotten, more concise at telling a story. Mirror Image as a whole was good, but it lacked cohesion at times and I found myself re-reading sections to see if I missed something. I hadn’t, but details weren’t looped in or wrapped up properly. Anyway, she’s a great author, but I’ll probably stick to her more recent things!
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was recommended by a co-worker. I’ve given her several recommendations this year and this was the first one she mentioned a few months ago when quarantine first hit. I found it on Amazon, used from Goodwill, which is a thing if you didn’t know! Most of my books have been coming from there now, because I love the idea of repurposing and the shipping is always more expensive than the actual book (a whopping $3.99 for shipping, and sometimes $0.99 books!).
This story was so intriguing because it’s an era and area I don’t know a lot about. France in the early 1940’s during WWII, when the war first started and into the German and Nazi occupation. It’s about two sisters really. Their dynamic, their family tragedies, their losses, their opposing strengths throughout the war. Oh my gosh, it just got better and better as I read it. It kind of does a Titanic movie thing, where it starts with an old woman who’s son thinks she’s just a feeble old lady, and then morphs into such a gorgeous, well written, gut wrenching, heart breaking and yet oh so strong book. I loved that the women are strong, in such different ways. I resonated with both of them. I did have a hard time not wondering if – seeing how swiftly the regime changes from French to Nazi control – if we’re in the midst of witnessing something equally as terrifying with our current administration? That’s a different topic, but it was there. Five huge stars. Definitely a top book of the year.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is another “must read” on my list. It’s beautiful. Complicated. Poetic. I loved reading her wrap up on how she came up with the concept, it totally made me think about authors in a different way. I loved the letters they write to each other. I loved the relationship dynamic between the family members. It’s subtle, and horribly believable with the current racial injustices I’ve just started to realize exist much more prominently than I ever realized. Five out of five stars. Please read this one.
Dang, August wasn’t a busy month in terms of books finished, but there were some heavy hitters in the top contender department for me! I don’t have a strong start for September with work picking up, and busy with family, but hopefully I’ll be able to share more promptly when the month is up. As always, all of my reads are pinned in my highlights on IG under 2020 Books: @RunningYogiMom