I didn’t manage to blog much in July, but I did read a few good books. I went on a little girls beach trip and managed to read one, and I traded in my phone and Netflix at night for reading before bed and it has proved to be a welcome change.
So I didn’t start the first half of the year strong on the reading front, but I’m covering good ground this summer. I read four books this month, and fair warning, one of them doesn’t get a stellar review. I’d recommend 3/4, so it’s not too shabby.
The stars: 4/5
From the back of the book:Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs’ joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.
This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.
The good: This is the ultimate summer read. Not incredibly deep, but still carries a story line that you can get lost in laying on the beach or by the pool. I think the overarching theme of love and acceptance and family makes this book and its cast of siblings lovable. It’s easy to get invested in their lives, it’s full of humor and compassion and you’ll see that it’s easy to like the characters and want to invest in their story.
The bad: I found that people either loved or hated this book. I get that the issues they face are sometimes shallow and let’s be real, they’re fighting over money, an inheritance that none of the siblings actually earned. There is plenty of family drama, maybe too much drama for one family for it to be believable.
The book: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
The stars: 4/5
From the back of the book: You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall. Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.
Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour. Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone. You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?
The good: If you want a book that will leave you guessing until the end and throw out curve balls throughout… this is your book. It’s a page turner, you won’t want to put it down because you’ll be guessing what is coming next in the story. I never once felt like the story was dragging along or moving to slow. It’s actually the opposite, it moves at a frantic pace that makes you want to keep turning the pages.
The bad: While the story moves quickly, it’s safe to say it gets a little crazy towards the end. I also think I loved the beginning more than the end. The ending was a little extreme, and I’m still shaking my head a little when I think back on it.
Quotable:“Her thoughts speed up and become less rational; her mind makes fantastic leaps. It’s not that things don’t make sense to her when she’s like this — sometimes they make ‘more’ sense. They make sense the way dreams do. It’s only when the dream is over that you see how odd it all was, how it actually didn’t make sense at all.”
The book: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
The stars: 4.5/5
From the back of the book: Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal… A murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what? Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads. Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
The good: Y’all! I loved this book so much. It was definitely my favorite read of the month. I was truly invested in every womans story and wanted to keep reading and find out more. The characters are incredibly believable and easily relatable. When I finished the book I found myself wondering more and more about these fictional characters. So when I heard there was a mini-series, I definitely found it on Amazon TV and watched a couple of episodes this weekend, let me be the one to tell you, the book is 100 times better. Go grab it, even if you’ve seen the mini-series!
The bad: There really isn’t anything noteworthy I can say bad about this book. Now the mini-series, that’s a story for another day…
The book: First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
The stars: 2/5
From the back of the book: Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious, relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing, Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes, their delicate bond splinters.
Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter is assigned to her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.
On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.
As the anniversary of their tragedy looms, and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover that they need each other more than they knew—and that in the search for true happiness, love always comes first.
The good: I think the characters had real potential, but there was so little evolution, it was mind blowing for me. And I seriously am searching for good things about this book, I think overall it had potential, but in the end it fell short. Let me just say, I was a big fan of Emily’s first books, this one just didn’t do it for me.
The bad: I need character to be invested in and this book gave me nothing to work with. Meredith (one of the main characters) is the most negative person to live (probably an exaggeration) but come on, she would be impossible to be around for even a few minutes. It was truly terrible. Josie was a little better, but still lacked majorly. I could go on and on about this, but it comes down to me not being able to relate or even like any of the main characters. The book was clouded with a big secret, that wasn’t actually even a big deal when it came out, it was just all so strange. I’m rooting for Emily Giffin though, please, please give us something like you did in the beginning.
Quotable:“But there is one constant, one thing you can always count on: that not only does love come first, but at the end, it is the only thing that remains.”
That wraps up June, I’ve read Eligible so far (so, so good) in August and I have a few more on my list!