Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush
I didn't know much about the Bush sisters, other than that they partied in college and Jenna has some sort of national book club. This was an interesting account of their coming-of-age and what it was like growing up in the public eye. It was maybe a wee sappy here and there, but overall I really enjoyed it and especially loved the included e-mails from George Bush Sr. Plus, the sisters are very different but both likeable. Who knew Barbara Bush was doing all sorts of cool things to help the world? Recommend (politics aside)!
The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
I picked this up because it won the Pulitzer Prize... that's it. That's my reasoning. There's a lot going on in this book and it is therefore one you're going to want to read pretty much all at once, or else you may lose track of the various sub-plots. There are several wonderful characters and it is certainly an important and well-written story about Native Americans and the government's attempt to steal their reservations from them in the 1950's. However, for some reason this didn't *stay* with me. That could be my own shoddy memory's fault, but take that for whatever its worth.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict
This always happens to me, mostly because I go into my books so blind. But I'll be happily reading a novel, only to later find out the characters were actual people! (Or vice versa, with Daisy Jones & The Six) Obvious I know J.P. Morgan was a person, but it wasn't until the book finished up that I realized this "personal librarian" was a legit person. Which explains why it didn't necessarily follow the standard novel formula that I was expecting.
No matter what you know when you dive in, it's an absolutely fascinating read chock full of fine art, literature, smart quips, shrewd negotiations, family drama, love affairs, and race and class relations. What a total win.
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
One of my favorite friends with excellent taste in books has been going on about this book for over a year. It's been sitting on my TBR list for just as long, but I was hesitant to read it because I was nervous to read about someone's month of madness. That sounds....maddening. Plus everyone is basically losing their minds right now so what of it?
Still, I'm glad I finally gave in. It was as I imagined it would be - haunting, scary, anxiety-inducing - but still a story well told that provides much food for thought.
However! Veronica said that this is on Netflix or something? I definitely have no idea how that could be a thing. She assures me it is fabulous.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Many of you know my beef with all of the stupid tricks of the publishing industry, most especially with sticking the word "girl" in the title of EVERYTHING, whether it makes sense or not. Certainly it once again makes no sense here. It's pulled from a play that is performed in the novel, which also is inappropriately titled. Enough with the girls!
Stupid title aside, this is fun and amazing and interesting from beginning to end, and I was a stupid GIRL for waiting so long to read it. (Admittedly I was nervous it actually would be about a city of girls, which doesn't sound like a fun read.) This is about New York City in the early 40s, theatre, drinking, starlets, showgirls, drama, stupid decisions, amazing costumes, and lots of sex. This is a perfect chaser to any sort of deep or depressing book you might've just read, but it's smart. Recommend!
This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith
I'm not even sure how to describe this weird book. Mostly because it could've been so high drama, what with the suicide intervention opening scene, but it was also high-level cozy autumn porn with nonstop blankets, cats, tea, books, crunchy leaves, pumpkins and delicious food descriptions. I still don't even know what to make of it, other than I really liked it and felt that it ended on a nice realistic happy note despite some characters and plot points being over-the-top throughout the book.
I'd describe this as an off-beat love story and would recommend it for those who might like such a thing (I did.)...
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
This book also languished on my TBR list for a million years, which is ridiculous because it was solid gold. I'm not even going to tell you about it, just that the characters as they are written might as well pull themselves off the page and sit down to dinner with you. You might need a tissue for this one, but it's worth it.
By the way, the main character is actually a GIRL, but there are no mentions of a girl in the title, just wolves. So I'm awarding bonus points for that.
How was your month in books?
Dare I say it - "especially now."
I hate seeing funny stuff captioned with someone lamenting that they laughed way too hard it whatever it was. Unless you laughed so hard you vomited or ruptured something, there is no such thing! That would be a much better caption. "I ruptured my spleen!"
There are a lot of really good and gritty, depressing, thought-provoking books out there that need read, but they also require a chaser. Life is like that right now, too. Watching the news or even scrolling Facebook or Twitter requires a shot of joy that reminds us that there are still so many reasons to smile (despite all of the very real reasons to punch the air, cry, pray, or go to bed early and hope tomorrow is better).
So - I like to pepper my reading life and my real life with books that will make me laugh! Lots of laughing, maybe a *little* thinking, but not too much. Here are some of my favorite authors who always deliver:
Jerry Seinfeld - Read his latest, "Is This Anything?" It's pretty much just a script of some of his best material through the decades. You'll read it in his voice and certainly recognize many of the jokes. Perfect for when you just have 10 minutes here or there but need a laugh.
Nora Ephron and Sloan Crosley - I lump these two together because they dish out hilarious and phenomenal essays. Now that Nora is no longer with us, I think Sloan fills her shoes very nicely when you're looking for the funny female perspective on life.
David Sedaris - It turns out that David Sedaris is not universally loved and appreciated by everyone, who knew? I had my book club read one of his hilarious memoirs and they were lukewarm. Granted, he can be a little darker and less laughs per minute than most listed here, but the laughs and snickers are definitely worth it. Try one. If you like it, there are like 1000 more. All he does is walk and write.
Jim Gaffigan - Jim's books are similar to Seinfeld's "Is This Anything" referenced above, but organized more by topic. I love Jim Gaffigan so much, and his relationship with food is totally relatable!
Tina Fey - For whatever reason, I held off for many years reading Bossypants. Have you ever seen a book cover so many doggone times that you just avoid it out of spite? Big mistake in this case!
I swear, I ruptured my spleen.
For some reason, I was reading at a pretty steady clip this month. I finished up 8 books - let me tell you about them (briefly)!
Writers and Lovers by Lily King
In some ways, this was great. I really loved so many of the observations within this novel and the author really brings you right into each scene with her beautiful writing. The content, though, was eh. What was with the weird love triangle?
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson
Don't confuse this with the fluffed out listicle type book so popular on bookstore shelves today. In fact, Peterson deep dives into the thought behind each rule, with examples ranging from Biblical stories to modern scenarios and back to the beginning of time. He's blunt and interesting and I suppose fairly controversial at this point. His chapter on not raising kids to become people you would hate was especially interesting to me. I would recommend, but clear distractions before jumping in.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
As loyal readers know, I think everything Reid touches turns to gold. I would agree with that in this case, especially because it was more or less marketed as a beach read and has that fun 1980's glamourous rich-and-famous in Malibu feel. It won't change your life, but it's fun family drama drenched in alcohol and dusted with cocaine.
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
This was our book club book, as suggested by me, and I feel good about having suggested it - hopefully everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. My favorite part? Strong female characters AND strong male characters! This novel jumps back and forth between a daring woman pilot a couple of generations ago and to an actress playing her in the present day. Fascinating, and not the sappy mess you might be envisioning, I promise.
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
The Four Winds is about the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the migration to California, little work and poor wages, families suffering together, and what it means to be a strong person in the face of obstacles. I do usually like Kristin Hannah, but I feel like she was reading the book alongside of me and constantly tapping me on the shoulder to remind me of the points she was trying to drive home. "Don't forget, we should all work together for the betterment of society" and "Sometimes you have to be strong even when you're scared!" So the story took a backseat and I think I like it better when I can enjoy a story and then sit back and think I'm really clever to have unearthed the theme that ran along under the surface of the story.
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
I started this book while in Charleston, as I had heard it described as Conroy's love letter to Charleston - which it was! But, like Prince of Tides, it was packed full of drama centered around a group of friends, jumping forward and back in time. The main character could've been the same main character from Prince of Tides and certainly several other components of the plot had some similarities. I'll have to read a few more, but so far in my reading of Conroy it seems like he loves to make you laugh, make you cry a few lines later, and then make you laugh again, maybe with some WTF thrown in among the paragraphs as well. It's a strange reading experience and I kind of love it.
Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
This memoir was a fast read, and certainly Ford has been through some stuff, but nothing so crazy or interesting that I thought about anything any differently or felt compelled to recommend this to a friend. She's a good writer and seems like a good person, but I was glad that this only took a couple of days to get through. I'd suggest a pass on this one, unless you're in the mood for a speedy read about family dynamics, fathers in prison, and sexual assault.
Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes
Spoiler alert: Flour and sugar make us fat. I really loved how Taubes argues his case and now I feel like I need to be reading his book at all times so I can be encouraged to lay off the danishes. I highly recommend this book, which is really a pretty quick read and probably skimmable if need be, to anyone struggling with extra pounds. The implementation, though.... that's the hard part!
How did your July reading shape up? Did you read anything you would recommend?
Many of my five star reads are those that might only appeal to a few like-minded readers. Others have tremendous universal appeal and I embarrass myself with how often I recommend them. I've actually gotten into a bad habit over the years of making unsolicited recommendations and thus, I started a book blog.
You opted in to this!
So- here are five books I'm *always* hyping up (other book bloggers might say "the books I'm always pressing into hands" but I'm more of a library and Kindle reader, so this would involve us taking a quick road trip to the library to select the book that I can then press into your hands, or my downloading the book on your reading device which I would then press into your hands. Anyway, I'm pressing, okay?)
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
This book is full of music - the descriptions of musical pieces are unlike anything I've ever read before. You'll be googling and listening and reading and suddenly you'll realize you just read the best love story EVER. Look, now you're crying. SO GOOD.
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Well, there are tons of Jodi Picoult fans out in the world. Picoult was what I read when I was making the transition from reading nothing in college to voraciously reading everything. Picoult was my pit stop and why not? She's great at examining all sides of an issue (though her writing can get tedious. I remember the book about whales...my God...so much information about WHALES).
Of her books, I loved Nineteen Minutes most, by far. Her trademark is played out best here, where the reader finds themselves truly seeing all sides of ...a school shooting? Incredible.
The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
I remember loving this book so much when I read it last summer, but I'm amazed at how many times it has come up in conversation (I interjected it into the conversation) since then. This was the ultimate beach read - glamorous, fun, not too gritty but not brain candy. Grab it while the pools are still open!
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Now that I've read this phenomenal peek at the life of a therapist (who goes to a therapist), I've been following Gottlieb online and I have to admit - she's the ultimate advice-giver. This book is like a therapy session every time you crack it. I will probably read it again, which I never do.
I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak
Speaking of reading again, this is on my list to read again. I hope I love it just as much as I did the first time. Did you ever have a re-read that totally fell flat? I don't think this will. I recommend it all the time (as it is my current FAVORITE book) but nobody EVER, EVER reads it for me. It's an excellent book marketed to the high school and college crowd that reveals lessons on the forms of human kindness. But it's not sappy sweet, it's awesome!
What book do you want to press into my hands?
I've made an alarming discovery about memoirs in recent years: the *best* memoirs are NOT by the rich and famous.
Think about the typical trajectory: they came from humble beginnings in a place like Central Illinoi, someone said they couldn't make it b the way, someone said they couldn't make it but they proved them wrong. The rise to stardom, the struggle with drugs or alcohol or weight or toxic love and the ultimate finding of their soul, capped off with a book deal. I've read this book by many authors.
The best memoirs are by those who have endured something crazy/interesting/meaningful and live to tell about it Here are some of my favorites:
Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad
I've started obsessively recommending this fantastic chronicle of a young woman's cancer battle and subsequent road trip. Jaouad certainly doesn't sugarcoat anything, so reading of her cancer journey can be hard, but that's the point. I still think of her regularly in the months since I've finished her memoir.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
Be sure to read this eyebrow raising account of Westover's upbringing in backwoods Idaho and how her family relationships crumple as she seeks higher education. I worked my Google muscle so hard after finishing this, looking at pictures of her family like I'm some kind of private detective.
Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, The Cult that Bound My Life by Sarah Edmondson
Forgive her the excessively long subtitle, because this book is crazy good. If Educated was eyebrow raising, Scarred is jaw-dropping. Is there any limit to what someone will do to have control? Fun bonus: NXIVM traps their victims under the guise of a multi-level marketing (pyramid) scheme, which is a testament to how cult-like those can be (and I know, I sold Sensaria for a hot minute in 2005.)
Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving Extremism (Also Titled A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church <so what's up with that?>) by Megan Phelps-Roper
Thinking about the Westboro Baptist Church usually makes me sick to my stomach, but the nausea is worth it here. Phelps-Roper does a great job of exposing the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Troublemaker: Surviving Scientology and Hollywood by Leah Remini
Remini, oh the other hand, comes out guns blazing with this fascinating tell-all. While she does touch on her boring stardom stuff (oh, it's not THAT boring I suppose), she focuses on what a huge hot mess the church of Scientology is. Unfollow and Troublemaker would actually be fun to read as a doubleshot, to compare and contrast religious cult behavior.
Let It Go: My Extraordinary Story - from Refugee to Entrepreneur to Philanthropist
Ironically I had a donor recommend this book. I'm not sure I would have ever come across it otherwise, which would have been a shame. I absolutely loved the memoir and the author. Who doesn't love a self-made rags to riches story? Her deeply moving stories about her son and resulting philanthropy for Autism are intense, and I think of them often. Every aspiring philanthropist should read this!
What would YOU add to this list?
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
There is a whole new sub-genre of books that seem to be revealing themselves to me: beautifully written but very depressing content. Unsettled Ground is a story of family drama, poverty, trust, independence and was captivating from the word go. I was hopeful that many moments would be uplifting and hopeful but in fact, it was mostly all sad and unsettling. If you’re down with that, it’s worth a read!
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
File this one under nonfiction books that are beautifully written but with depressing content. Actually this thoroughly researched and well told story of how maddeningly awful that Osage nation was treated after they struck it rich through the discovery of oil on their land is depressing-with-purpose. This is a story that needed shared and there was no need (or way) to sugarcoat any of it. Fascinating, all of it.
Excavation by Wendy Ortiz
Last month I read My Dark Vanessa and shared that I was planning to read Excavation due to the accusation by Ortiz that Vanessa’s author had plagiarized and that the stories were extremely similar (despite Ortiz not having actually read My Dark Vanessa). I wasn’t too excited to delve back into the world of professors preying on their young teen students, but I wanted to read Excavation while Vanessa was still clear in my mind. This memoir certainly has a similar central focus but is really disjointed and the criminal act(s) in question seemed to affect Ortiz much differently than they did the fictional protagonist in My Dark Vanessa. While the comparison was interesting, the actual memoir wouldn’t be anything I would recommend to anyone.
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner
Enough of all of the depressing stuff! Where can we go to be happy? Luckily Eric Weiner travels the world to find out how other countries and other cultures achieve complete contentment. What an awesome travel memoir with a twist! The author is great fun as well (despite being a grump). You’ll laugh and learn and Google everywhere he goes.
July looks like it will be my month of brand new and buzzy bestsellers, including Kristen Hannah's newest which is receiving mixed reviews.
I've polished off eight books in the past month, thanks to a nice relaxing vacation to the Florida Keys! I love plane reading and I love beach reading! I also love reading while picking at my sunburn. But I'm happy to share that my skin now has some sort of pigment! Also I read a few great books! Here they are:
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
I’ll be visiting Charleston, South Carolina in the coming weeks so I chose this as a “lowcountry” read. This dysfunctional family saga was simultaneously dark and hilarious and meaningful, which was quite the accomplishment. I’m still processing it, but I think I loved it. Plus, the setting certainly played a (beautiful) central role.
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Although reading about a teacher’s inappropriate relationship with his student was incredibly unsettling (especially due to the age of my oldest daughter), I have to say it was an incredible look at what grooming actually looks like and how people lie to themselves. Now I have to read Excavation, as the author accuses Russell of plagiarism. I guess I’ll see for myself. (Here’s the article about the controversy.)
Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I’m going to read everything TJR writes, okay? I like it all. This was more of a novella and was initially a wee bit predictable and then delightfully veers a little. It’s a tiny shot of bittersweet romance but certainly thought-provoking.
People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry
First off, I’m tired of every book cover having a cartoon on it now. What’s up with that? I hate trends in book publishing. Books are and should be totally different from one another. They don’t all need cartoons on the cover or girl in the title.
Anyway! This started in such a brain-candy way that I thought I was going to have to abandon it, but I eventually settled into the groove and enjoyed this traveling romance… a lot! It’s cheesy romance, but it’s fun, and the main characters visit a different locale every chapter which was delightful. I finished it on the plane, which seemed appropriate.
The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood
Another cartoon cover, which was stupid, because this is a heavy book.
I don’t know, this book wouldn’t be for everyone. It’s also both dark and funny, but it tries too hard and misses the mark more often than not for me. Overall, it’s a neat story weaving in the trials of being Muslim in America, but it could’ve been oh so much better.
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant
I actually just read this book a few months ago when it was called All Things Reconsidered by Knox McCoy. Except that time it was funny and didn’t involve as much annoying pandering.
The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell
I finished this book and was amazed to see that it was based on a true story, with true events and real people. I thought it was way too depressing to be real, but alas, it was a true account of a poor mining town. I’d suggest a skip on this one, unless you need to be really depressed for however long it takes you to read this book.
More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys
I’m not one to be “obsessed with” any particular musical artist. If I like someone’s music, cool, I won’t turn their song off the radio. I might go to a concert if they’re in the area. I might put one of their songs on my phone. But I’d definitely read a memoir!
I’ve liked Alicia Keys so much throughout the years – Fallin’ is still one of my favorite songs. Her memoir was good fun to read as she’s almost exactly my ages, so as I was sleeping between classes in college, she was signing huge contracts and transforming herself from Hell’s Kitchen tough tomboy into a music legend.
I was vibin’ with Alicia (as she would say) for most of the book, but I admit in the final few chapters she was starting to sound like the insta-self-help-guru-influencers of the “I’m living my truth” variety. It was an odd switch-up in the book, and I’d be interested to see if anyone else noticed the change, but it’s cool. I guess I'm not necessarily opposed to Alicia living her truth. But I was definitely glad I read this – I shouldn’t have let it sit on my TBR so long!
Hello, blog reader! I hope all is wonderful in your world!
All is well here, although Jeff and I realized two days ago that we will once again be cancelling our trip to Curacao. That's three times now.... we were sure that this time would be different, but alas, the pandemic looks different all over the world. Right now in Curacao, they're rebounding from a significant third wave in April and are being cautious to the point of not letting people drive their cars except on certain days of the week (!) - so after our initial grumblings, we re-routed to the Florida Keys. I'm going to soak up the sun and read all the books!
Despite a generally hectic lifestyle, it seems that I'm managing to read all the books here lately even while not on vacation. I'll keep me reviews short for you, but I'd *love* to hear about your recent reads!
Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago
Although this fictional exploration of what it might be like if everyone in a country stopped dying has a fascinating premise, the run-on-sentence style of the book is exhausting. Then the second half just gets weird and all of the sudden this is a romance?
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Veronica read this, because Vicky gifted to her, and I promised I would read it as well. I liked this YA strong-girls-band-together read more than I thought I would, but we both had lots of moments of, “Okay but that would never happen!” (Note: book way better than the movie, of course)
Share Your Stuff, I’ll Go First: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level by Laura Tremaine
I don’t know even know why this was ever written. I grabbed it because I had seen it promoted and it sounded halfway interesting, but really it’s a memoir about someone not-super-interesting under the guise of self-help teaching us how to talk to our friends?
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
A classic that had been recommended to me, I found this to be super weird, oddly hilarious, and definitely a lot of fun. I probably missed half of it though, so I should read it again a time or two just to catch every fun detail of this oddball translated Russian novel about the devil and his cohorts paying a visit to Moscow (and the chaos that ensues).
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
While the others I would maybe recommend to specific readers, this would be a novel I would recommend more universally to anyone looking for an incredible story. Kidd imagines Jesus’s wife and what she might’ve been like as a women seeking her own voice in that time, as well as what Jesus would have been like as a husband (and she handles it so beautifully, with a can’t-miss Author’s Note at the end.)
Up Next: I'm reading a really dull non-fiction that I've actually considered abandoning, but I guess I won't - I hate to do that unless I really have to! On my phone, though, I'm reading a really depressing book. So.... hopefully they both get better!
I hope everyone is doing well and is finding some great books to read along the way as we usher in warm weather and what was supposed to be the end of this stupid pandemic. I've had a few hits and misses.
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
At first I thought I was going to really love this novel about a black Starbucks manager turned start-up company salesman. From the brief descriptions I had read, I was envisioning something similar to The Pursuit of Happyness, which is just a brilliant book (AND movie!). It started out promising but somewhere along the way took a nosedive.
That’s all I’ll say about that on a “public” forum. I would not recommend this book.
Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad
I love a good memoir, especially one written by someone I’ve never heard of who has gone through some stuff and wants to tell me all about it. I wouldn’t normally be like, “Oh, this tells of someone’s cancer journey – sounds great!” – but my goodness, this was an incredible story of a long cancer battle followed by an epic road trip and interwoven with so much good and real examples of relationship strain and strength. Best of all, it’s a memoir and not a novel, so it doesn’t end all nice and tidy and perfect, which hurts (in a good way).
Read this one!
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This languished on my TBR list forever. I knew I had to read it, but I knew it was going to be heavy. Ultimately, I’m glad I read it, as much of it was beautiful/symbolic/important, but as with much WW2 historical fiction, it was pretty depressing. I’d recommend this if you’re into the WW2 stories or you’ve just got a thick skin for all of that SAD, but otherwise I’d say it’s not necessarily the must read that it was hyped to be.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Someday I’d like to go back and read this all again, over the course of just a day or two. I read it over a couple of weeks, so I had a little trouble keeping some of the stories straight of the various characters trying to make a home in Milwaukee. The last section where Desmond talks about how he lived among these folks for months at a time to really get at the stories and the experience is not to be skipped! This was a fascinating and sobering look at the realities of all sorts of folks who are getting hit while they’re down and includes some suggestions for solutions in the last section. Clearly the author is committed to illustrating the issues with housing but also in giving us a very real glimpse into the lives affected by bad choices, poverty, greedy landlords, racism, and drug addiction.
When I worked at what is now Phoenix Community Development Services, I saw firsthand that housing is really a critical piece of overall wellness and success. Without stable housing, nothing else can really be stable. Evicted really drives that home (Ooof) and I recommend you read it and then maybe go throw some money at the problem here locally, or learn more about how to help.
I also have one more comment (question!). I caught a big chunk of Forrest Gump on TV recently, and I can't stop thinking about one scene. Now that I'm solidly into adulthood, I'm starting to ask "Why?" way more about....everything. So my question to you is - WHY did Jenny leave Forrest right after they had "relations"? Did she feel like she took advantage of him? Or was it something else? Theories, anyone?
Happy St. Patrick's Day reader friends! It mostly looks like any other day around here, but I hope at least one of you enjoys a green beer later today!
I've been on a pretty awesome reading streak here lately, and am excited to share a few good reads with you today. Let me know what you've been reading!
A Gambler’s Jury by Victor Methos
I like to pepper my reading with the occasional legal thriller, because isn’t our legal system just fascinating and horrifying? Methos really shines a light on all of that in A Gambler’s Jury which puts a black man with developmental disabilities at the center of a huge drug bust. It’s clear that there’s no way he is guilty, but nobody seems to care. As I played along with whodunit, I enjoyed some fun gender stereotype swapping and the general sassiness of the lady lawyer protagonist. But be aware you might have to work to suspend your disbelief now and then, because she says some (fun) stuff that literally nobody would ever say. Aside from that, this is a both a fun and yet eye-opening read about race, disability, family, and our court of law.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
I can’t say too much about this one due to Book Club having not yet happened, but I will say that I started this book thinking, “Yikes, I don’t want to read 400+ pages about some chick who isn’t remember by anyone and never dies.” But as it turned out, I wanted to read even more than 400 pages about it, because I was sorry to turn the last page. Luckily the story takes us beyond Addie just roaming the Earth for hundreds of years and leaves us with questions to ponder for the rest of our (numbered) days, or at least for the foreseeable future. Can’t wait to discuss!
Self Care by Leigh Stein
I *finally* got my hands on this parody of the self care movement, which I’ve wanted to read FOREVER, because it is a parody of the self care movement! (I’m all for what self care actually means, but the buzzwords and horsecrap around all of it just annoys me to no end.) Stein is getting some extra attention here lately because of the opinion piece she wrote for the New York Times a couple of weeks ago that spotlights how today’s influencers/instagrammers are taking the place of church and religion for so many women in our general demographic. She suggests that maybe that isn’t such a good thing (spoiler alert: ….because living your own best wild amazing life is great and important, but it’s also not just about you…)
So I certainly had fun reading this hilarious book but it’s really kind of an oddball piece of work with a sloppy ending. But I promise you will laugh out loud.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Initially I planned to boycott this book along with the 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. I mean, why was that mistake made in the publishing industry? Or was it a mistake? Are there focus groups that show that we like books with numbers and women named Evelyn? Do these same focus groups also suggest titles with “Girl” and with “The <Occupation’s> <Relationship>”????? Go fly a kite, focus groups!
But – I super like Taylor Jenkins Reid. Also, a beautiful practically new hardcover of this book was just hanging out in my library’s front room of free books. It looks great in my new book nook! So I read it!
One thing I really love about Reid is that of the three books I’ve now read by her, none of them are even remotely similar. Yet they’ve all been solid gold in my opinion. I loved this sweeping novel of this super selfish and amazing actress telling her life story to a journalist that she has chosen for some specific reason. First we want to know who Evelyn’s true love was and THEN we have to know why the heck she picked this particular journalist. So this is certainly a mystery and also a love story with all of the types of love you can imagine. I just finished it two days ago and I keep thinking back to it because it really was an incredible book, despite the focus group title.
Up Next: On my phone, I'm reading a book about evictions and poverty in Milwaukee (not upifting, but important) and in print I've got an awesome novel about a Starbucks-manager-turned-salesman at a wacky start-up. How about you?
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.