summer reading

4th of july reads

School is over and vacation season is in full swing. Interested in a few books for your down time? These seven books are what I’ve liked lately.

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel.  What do you do when your 5 year old boy wants to be a girl? This insightful, beautifully written novel explores the topic without sensationalism.

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller. Twelve years after his wife has disappeared, Gil spots her outside a book store. What unfolds next is a tale of a family torn apart by her disappearance and what really happened.

The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansk.  A lost painting brings together two women who form an unlikely friendship.

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi. When your seemingly well adjusted mother commits suicide, some unsettling truths emerge.

The Girl Before by JP Delany. A psychological thriller with an unexpected ending. I also read The Couple Next Door and Behind Closed Doors. The Girl Before is the best out of the three.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. A mindbending sci-fi thriller.  You know I love sci-fi and this is the best one I’ve read this year.

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak. A book about love and betrayal in your early 20’s. It perfectly captures that time of indecision immediately after college when you’re trying to adult.

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winter reads

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I love curling up on the sofa with a blanket and getting lost in a good book. As we make our way through snowy, cold days, here’s a few books that have caught my interest.  I’ve read almost all the books that are on the “lists” and many didn’t impress. (I’m talking to you The Underground Railroad, Sweetbitter, The Wonder, The Girls. I know but I didn’t like them. Don’t bother unless you can check them out of the library.)

What I did like was:

The Assistants by Camille Perri. An accurate, hilarious portrayal of life as an assistant.

The Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.  All the hype is spot on.  An engaging tale about complex, family relationships.

Faithful by Alice Hoffman.  I LOVED this book and blew through it in an afternoon. The story is about growing up with a burden of guilt.

the book that matters most by Ann Hood. What books matter most to you? That’s the premise of the novel and it explores the relationship of why book matters and how literature can heal.

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close.  This books is so DC, I had to include it.  It’s about the Obama campaign and it made me laugh.

small great things by Jodi Picoult.  As always, Jodi Picoult delivers a thought provoking book that’s a timely message about race.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan. A feel good novel about following your dreams.

Happy reading!

 

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summer reads

readsI’m a voracious reader and since it’s a holiday weekend, it’s time for a summer reads post.  I comb the lists and read 90% of what’s recommended. Thus far, the best books I’ve read have been:

  1. Opening Belle–  The heroine is smart, sassy and hilarious. It’s a fascinating portrayal of life on Wall Street.
  2. The Nest– This book is on every “must read” list this summer and it held up to the hype.
  3. Modern Lovers– I loved Emma Straub’s novel The Vacationers which made this an automatic purchase.
  4. Eligible– As a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, you know what’s going to happen but it’s still  entertaining.
  5. Days of Awe-Life is full of curve balls and the how you deal with them.
  6. and 7. The Secret Life of Violet Grant and Tiny Little Thing are book 1 and 2 of the Schuyler Sisters trilogy.  All three are fast moving, historical fiction novels and they’re wonderful.

Not worth reading (so either check them out in the library and see for yourself or skip all together):

Rich and Pretty– And vapid, as far I’m concerned. Blurgh.

Love in the Lower Case– So, so slow and after reading half of it, I’m still not into the characters.

Finding Fraser– I love a good Outlander novel but this is terribly written.

Masestra– Another day, another bondage book.  BORING.

As Close to us as Breathing– I usually enjoy multi generational stories but this novel did not capture my interest.

Perfect Days-It’s supposed to be a creepy thriller.  It was just creepy and awful.

One with You– I thought it’d be the ultimate trashy novel.  Trashy, yes.  Interesting, no.

My name is Lucy Barton– I can’t figure out why everyone loved this book.  It was dreadful.

At the Edge of the Orchard- I loved all of Tracy Chevalier’s book but I did not enjoy this one.

 

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novel novels

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During our extended vacation in the Bahamas and Miami, there were a lot of cocktails and a lot of books. Out of the many books I read, Did you ever have a family? by Bill Clegg and Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams were my two favorites.

If you’re looking for an uplifting, laugh out loud book, skip Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family?  It’s a tragic tale about losing your family. It’s amazingly complex and beautifully written.  It’s Clegg’s debut novel and it’s included in the longlist for the Man Booker prize. It’s a must read but prepared to be sad.

Along the Infinite Sea is the third book by Beatriz Williams about the fictional Shulyer sisters. Set in 1956, it’s a historical novel that encompasses secrets from WWII, a rogue baby daddy and a love story.  What more could you want?

Also read The Secret Life of Violet Grant and Tiny Little Thing about the other Shulyer sisters.  Here’s a few more I enjoyed: Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith, A Knight In Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin, The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo, The Lake House by Kate Morton, The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward.

A note on some of the books that have been getting good press but I wasn’t impressed: The Blondes by Emily Shultz, The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee, All the Stars in Heaven by Adriana Trigiani, The Clasp by Sloane Crosely, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (I KNOW. I loved the Monsters of Templeton but I hated this book.  Ugh.)

*a small moment of holy *&^%: Last year, I read 113 books on my digital devices and that doesn’t include library books.  Isn’t that bonkers?  You can tell my #1 pastime is burying my nose in a book.*

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novel novels

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In honor of Halloween and Día de los Muertes, these two novels are the best that I’ve read lately in the weird and scary category. I enjoyed them because I like strange and creepy (as long as the creepy isn’t happening to me personally.)

Lauren Groff’s latest book, Fates and Furies is on all the Fall “must read” lists.  I’d never heard of her and while researching her new book, I discovered her first novel The Monsters of Templeton. I checked it out of library and when I started reading it, I was instantly engrossed.  It’s a complicated narrative with tons of plot twists.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is a fast paced thriller.  Set in the woods in a spooky house with no cell service (natch), it’s a tale about old friends getting together for a hen party. Except there’s a deadly turn.  (dum dum dum).

I read both in a matter of days.  To me, it’s a sign of a good book.  Enjoy!

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novel novels | beach reads

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Last week, seven books from my library reserved list hit at once.  Most people would be overwhelmed.  I was pumped!  Out of the seven, The Luckiest Girl Alive and The Book of Speculation were my favorites.

I thought The Luckiest Girl Alive was going to be the typical “fashion girl in her 20’s” book. Nope.  It’s twisted, dark and completely engrossing.  It also had an unexpected plot twist.  I love when I’m surprised by the story. I read so much it rarely happens.

The Book of Speculation is one of those strange tales about a weird family.  There’s tarot card readings and freaks.  If you’re into American Horror Story, this will book will appeal to you.

I also received the new Judy Blume In the Unlikely Event (meh), The Stranger by Harlan Coben (great thriller), The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (the premise is so silly but highly entertaining), The Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin (bluck). I’m leaving out one because it’s too embarrassing to admit I read it (a trashy, romance novel by Johanna Lindsey).   I also purchased The Color of Circles by Lindsay Ashford (decent but check it out from the library),  You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz (predictable but entertaining nonetheless), The Precious One by Maria de los Santos (LOVED it).  Is it ridiculous I read 10 books in a week?  Yes but if you could, wouldn’t you?

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novel novels

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After a long stretch of sub par books, I read two fantastic books this week.  I love a good page turner and both The Bone Tree and The Bullet delivered.

The Bone Tree is the fifth book in the Penn Cage series by Greg Iles.  All of the novels are excellent. If you’re looking for a series to keep you occupied this summer, I recommend reading them.  They’re set in the South and there’s history, intrigue, murder and mayhem. I was thoroughly engrossed.

What if you discovered there’s a whole chapter of your life you don’t remember?  That’s the premise of The Bullet. The protagonist has a lingering health issue and when she goes to the doctor, she discovers there’s a bullet in the base of her skull.  Fascinating, right? It gets better and while it’s not remotely realistic, it’s highly entertaining.  I whipped through it in one evening.

What are you reading?

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novel novels | april reads

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Lately, I’ve been on a book drought.  Nothing has caught my fancy and I’ve been re-reading the Sookie Stackhouse and Mercy Thompson books.  They’re easy and I find them highly entertaining but I’ve been BORED.

Happily, these two books recently came to my attention.  A Little Life is a complex story about four college friends and their trajectory after college.  I started reading it last night and already, I can’t put it down. It’s well written, the characters are interesting and I’m already wondering how it ends.  All signs of an excellent book.

Secrets of a Charmed Life is set in the present and during WWII.  It’s a fascinating read about what happened when two sisters were separated when they  evacuated to the English countryside.  There’s intrigue, confusion and heartbreak.  It’s a great story.

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Sometimes, a girl needs some magic in her life.  These two books fit the bill and I enjoyed them so much!

Did you read The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer?  It was one of my favorite books of 2014. When I saw her latest endeavor had been published, I immediately read it.  Belzhar is about adolescence, depression and how to endure and overcome.  Her writing is beautiful and the story immediately takes you back to your angst filled youth.

I love Sarah Addison Allen and I read her novels again and again.  First Frost is the sequel to Garden Spells.  Set in the mountains of North Carolina, the book is full of magical elements but mostly, it’s about family. I find her books entertaining and engrossing.

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On Monday I found a fantastic list of book recommendations and I immediately downloaded a few. A lot of the recommendations were familiar but there were a few new (to me) titles. So far, my favorites have been Tell the Wolves I’m Home  and Beautiful Ruins.   

Tell the Wolves I’m Home was one of the new to me titles.  I’m always intrigued by a book that is good but somehow I’ve overlooked it.  I was immediately drawn into the story.  It’s a family drama set in the 80’s and I loved it.  I highly recommend it.

Beautiful Ruins was on everybody’s summer reading list.  It has a little Old Hollywood, a splash of Italian coast/WW II and a lot of drama.  It’s perfectly entertaining.  Happy reading!

 

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On Saturday, I’m going to a wedding in the Poconos Mountains.  It’s one of my husband’s cousins and I’m hoping to see some pretty scenery.  It should be peak season for Fall leaves and it’ll be nice to be out of town for a day.  We’re driving and that means a lot of uninterrupted time to read!  My two favorite books lately have been The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarity.  Both are mysteries and the pace in both is electric.

One of my favorite characters in literature today is Cormoran Strike, the protagonist in The Silkworm.  He’s gritty, stalwart and loyal yet his foibles are many.  As a reader, I’m immediately rooting for him. I read The Silkworm in one sitting and I can’t wait for the next novel in the series.

I didn’t like The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarity and I didn’t expect to like Big Little Lies. However, I LOVED it.  There’s a huge twist and I didn’t figure it out.  Which is amazing because usually I can predict the plot twist on page 10.  Read it now!

Do you have any recommendations for my trip??

 

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One of my favorite parts of traveling is uninterrupted reading time.  For me, waiting to get somewhere is the perfect time to get lost in a novel. On the way back from NYC yesterday, I had 3 glorious hours to read.  So.much.fun. (more on the trip to NYC tomorrow)

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness is the final book in the All Souls trilogy.  While I looooved the first two, this one wasn’t as enjoyable.  As the last in the series, it’s wrapping up a lot of details and seemed rote.  While I was happy to find out what happened with the characters, I was disappointed when it was over.  Sigh.

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon, the latest in the Outlander series, was fantastic.  I always enjoy Jaime and Claire’s adventures.  While I could’ve done without the foray into the American Revolution (I find US History unbelievably boring..I know…it’s strange), I know it’s a necessary part of the story.  FYI-the Outlander TV series starts on Starz on Sunday.  If you’re a fan (obvs I am..so excited!!), tune in at 9pm.  In preparation, I read Outlander again.  It’s probably the 4th time I’ve read it and I never re-read books.  I hope the TV series lives up to my imagination.

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