Hi, friends! I have no idea where September went because now it’s the first weekend of October?! Better late than never per typical Ju fashion, here are four books I read last month:
FOUR AUNTIES AND A WEDDING by Jesse Q. Sutanto – 3.5 stars
I listened to this on audio while I was doing last minute things the few days. leading up to my wedding, which definitely added to my experience (is this why people ask for seasonal book recommendations?!). Four Aunties and a Wedding is a sequel to Dial A for Aunties and follows the same set of characters, Meddy and her mom and aunties–this time for Meddy’s own wedding. It feels like classic Sutanto–wild premise, absurd drama, suspense that almost feels ticklish… but I must say it’s my least favorite Sutanto book yet.
Perhaps it’s due to the audiobook narration but the aunties felt more like caricatures in Four Aunties and a Wedding than they did in Dial A for Aunties, and it’s not as heartwarming as Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. There’s a third book coming out in the Aunties series next year (The Good, the Bad, and the Aunties) which I will probably read and I hope that ends the series on a better note.
WHAT MY BONES KNOW: A MEMOIR OF HEALING FROM COMPLEX TRAUMA by Stephanie Foo – 5 stars
I LOVED What My Bones Know. It’s a heartbreaking read, especially at the beginning when Foo shares about her childhood trauma and the physical and emotional abuse her parents inflicted on her. She chronicles her journey into adulthood, diagnosis of complex PTSD, and headling. While this is a vulnerable memoir, it is also thoroughly researched and well-written. It’s one of the best memoirs I have ever read, and I can only imagine how much positive impact this would have on so many people. Definitely recommend the audiobook narrated by the author–it includes some audio clips from her later therapy sessions as well.
THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. Schwab – 4 stars
I may be the last one to read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue but I did it! Though I’ve seen the cover and thus the title of this book a million times, I did not anticipate the almost literal meaning of it. After making a deal with the “devil” to get out of a marriage and a life she does not want, Addie is given the freedom she sought for and much more. She is removed from her loved ones’ memories and is forgotten by everyone she meets as soon as she is out of sight. Her life is to continue like this indefinitely until she is ready to relinquish her soul to the devil. Of course, there are twists a few centuries into Addie’s story which gives her hope, happiness, and heartbreak.
I wish I was enchanted more by the story (though once again, it could be the state of my mental health), but the reality Schwab creates in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is truly special and I’m intrigued to read more from her catalog!
SUNSHINE NAILS by Mai Nguyen – 3.5 stars
Sunshine Nails is a family-owned nail salon owned by Vietnamese refugee couple Debbie and Phil. The definition of family-owned business becomes more pertinent as their niece Thuy has joined them from Vietnam recently and now their daughter Jessica has returned home from LA after breaking up with her fiancé and being fired from her job. Besides their son Dustin who works a thankless start-up job, Sunshine Nails is the source of income for their family so the opening of a high end franchise nail salon across the street is possibly the worst news they can receive.
There is drama, conflict, growth, hard conversations, and so much I liked reading about but I wish I had gotten to know all the characters better. Each member of the family had a story I wanted to hear more about but I feel like I got very little insight into character development. This is only Nguyen’s debut novel so I’m excited to read more from her!