My Latest Reads...
Updated: Jul 23, 2020
I have always loved reading. I have fond memories of visiting bookstores with my dad as a child. We would browse the shelves and I would often choose a book and find a corner to sit and read in. I also loved going to the library. As a little girl our local library was in the upstairs of an old firehouse and it was a magical place. My cousin and I looked forward to going to PJ night at the library where we could get in our cozy pajamas, bring our favorite stuffed animal (mine was corduroy) and cuddle up next to the librarian for bedtime books! As I got older I would ride my bike to the library on my own. Now, I am blessed to work in a library! It was a place I have always felt comfortable - surrounded by books. I typically read about a book a week. Every night before bed, this is how I wind down. Sometimes I'll buy books, but I also love utilizing the library. When new releases hit the shelves, I head to the MCPL website and place books on hold. While sometimes the list is long and I have to wait, when they arrive it's like Christmas to me! Here I'll share reviews on books as I read them.
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Verity by Colleen Hoover
Have you ever read a book and felt like you had a hang over after? This book had that affect on me. I had to take a reading break for a few days after this one just to process it. Thematically labeled as psychological thriller and cross labeled as a romance it has a little bit of everything - but mostly thrill! The premise of this book is that Lowen, a struggling writer is hired to complete the remaining books in a series started by successful author Verity Crawford. Lowen is hired by Verity's handsome husband, Jeremy Crawford. Lowen and Jeremy have an instant connection. Lowen needs to collect notes and research materials at the Crawford home in Vermont, where her stay extends beyond the few days she had planned. It turns out the the Crawford family is much more complex that Lowen realized and she is entering into a house of chronic misfortunes. Upon looking for outlines for the book she is hired to write, Lowen comes across an autobiography written by Verity that documents a life filled with unimaginable thoughts and actions. Readers are exposed to Verity's life before her accident in small doses as Lowen reads the autobiography - and thank goodness for that because reading it all at once would be unimaginable! The longer Lowen stays at the Crawford home the more complex things become. The suspense of this book is thrilling and the ending is still making my head spin. Such a fantastic book!
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
Such a perfect summer beach read! When Bea, a big time IG influencer and blogger gets an offer to be the star of Main Squeeze a fictionalized version of Bachelorette she knows she's been given a chance to boost her career and represent the plus size community, but she's not convinced she'll really find love. I loved how Bea really gets to know herself in new ways throughout this book. We see her strengths, her struggles and her ability to be open to love despite some horrendous experiences.
I loved the representation of plus sized women as stylish, fierce, sexy and worthy of love and the ways in which the author exposed the prejudices and cruelty was well done. I'm not a huge Bachelor fan, I find the drama too fake, but in this book, it was exposed and it was raw the ways in which Bea allowed herself to be vulnerable and the times she put up walls. There were many sections of this book that were written in the form of texts and podcasts and while it was very modern, I found those side conversations and discussions about the show, took away from the heart of the book - Bea and her suitors. If you like the Bachelor, if you believe that women deserve to find love and romance even when they are more than a size zero, I think you'll enjoy this fun book!
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
This book left me feeling kind of meh...It was rather gloomy and depressing if I'm being honest. Two NYC police officers end up being neighbors and while the lives of the adults are not sporadically intermingled, the two children Kate and Peter, born only 6 months apart become very connected. Told through the interactions of Kate and Peter as they grow up we learn about the familial difficulties, human behavior, how the past will haunt the future and how certain bonds are strong enough to be unbreakable. The author explores mental health issues as faced by Anne Stanhope, Peter's mother. The ramifications of her not being treated and cared for appropriately shape the ending of this book. Filled with tragedy, tensions and hopelessness this story is well told but may leaving you feeling like your sensitivity has been maxed out on these characters.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
This was a quick read and very nuanced. Alix Chamerlain is a wealthy white influencer who projects a life of success and happiness to the world, but in reality she is struggling with her confidence, her relationships and identity. Alix hires Emira, a black college graduate who is struggling to pay her rent and get healthcare coverage, to care for her oldest daughter Briar. Emira, a babysitter, not a nanny, experiencs a racially fraught encounter when she takes Briar to a grocery store at 10pm and is accused by the security guard of kidnapping Briar. THe encounter is caught on camera and from there a series of events ensue. Emira who would rather forget the experience is met with white saviors who want to "fix" it all. The book delves into racial injustice and through Alix's choices we see the ways in which white people can try to prove they are "woke" by saying things such as "I have a black friend" so therefore I can not be racist. It's a timely topic and one really well done by the author. There were moments I cringed at Alix's behavior and how she worked to justify her behavior and prove that she was a "good" white person. Emira's character is annoying at times, but also relatable in that she doesn't have grandiose goals, the girl just wants a job and to work on figuring out how to be an adult. The introduction of Kelly Copland adds a layered complexity as he becomes interwoven with the characters and he takes the topic of racism into a new territory. I really enjoyed this book!
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
After seeing this book being recommended and referenced on countless social media posts I added it to my hold list at the library. This book was Goodreads Choice award Mystery and Thriller winner – an award I trust! When it arrived, it was along with a stack of other books I had also placed on hold. I ended up choosing this book to dive into first, as I was in the mood for a thriller. The book I had previously read took me way too long and failed to really engage me, so I was hoping for a quick thriller and this book did not disappoint! I ended up finishing this in only 3 days! I love how the author leaves you guessing and thinking through all the possibilities of why Alicia Berenson was not talking. She is a patient in a mental hospital who has been sentenced for murdering her husband, Gabriel. We learn her back story through her journal entries and through the investigative work conducted by her psychotherapist, Theo Faber. Theo’s motivation to get to Alicia to talk after 6 years of silence turns out to be much deeper than a career oriented drive to help a patient. I found myself rooting for Theo to have success and to help uncover what silenced Alicia, a once famous artist, who seemingly shot her husband without prior warning signs or compelling motivation. While Theo’s own baggage often shadowed his perspective and likability as a character, my interest was in Alicia who I wanted to open up and release the pressure valve of silence that had kept her side of the story hidden. Like other popular psychological thrillers, the explosive ending of this book was the icing on the cake. The last few chapters will leave your head spinning – in a good way!
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
I’ll start off by saying that his book took me a long time to finish! It wasn’t one of those books I picked up and flew through. I adore historical fiction and this books glimpses of life in New York City in the 1940’s and how it evolved was appreciated. What I liked most about this book though, was the main character. Vivian Morris is a strong, feminist who lives her life without apology and with a freedom that is empowering. While she is rather superficial and the star of her own show here, I think that was Gilbert’s point. We are witness to her adventures as a small town girl discovering herself in the city of New York in the company of showgirls and theater life. I enjoyed the front row seat to the life behind the curtain of the Lily Playhouse but these pages dragged on a bit longer than necessary. There were several parts of this book that I wished I could just fast forward through. I kept reading waiting for things to happen! The second half of this book jumps forward and we find Vivian living her adult life, still careless but more accepting of her flaws and gracious with her talents. I think Gilbert strives to tell a story of sexual freedom, of a woman finding herself and accepting herself and recognizing her own life as one well lived. I just feel that it would have benefited from some serious editing down so that the book was made up of the highlights instead of me searching for them.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
This book has received so many glowing reviews that I was dying to get my hands on it. When my hold at the library finally came in I couldn’t wait to dive in. This story focuses on the ways in which Maeve and Danny’s lives are forever changed by a multitude of events surrounding their arrival in a grand mansion built in 1922 by a Dutch couple that made their wealth in the cigarette industry. When their father, Cyril, a real estate mogul, purchases the fully furnished home outside of Philadelphia, his wife Elna feels so uncomfortable living in such luxury and flees, leaving behind her children as she ventures off to serve the poor and embrace her inner Mother Theresa. This leaves two children to be raised by servants until the wicked step-mother to be, Andrea, falls in love with the house and convinces Cyril he loves her too. Andrea loved the house, but never the two children that came with it.
This story is told through the perspective of Danny who is a rather dull character with very little free will. He is led by his sister Maeve’s obsessiveness to relive, rethink and dwell on the past and focus on revenge. I liked the portrayal of a sibling bond in this book- it was just infuriating the ways in which Maeve ignored her brothers dreams and pushed him into medical school as a means of punishing Andrea and depleting their education fund.
I admit that the ending of this book left me doubting my love of the book. It begged the reader to rethink ideas of forgiveness and the cost of letting go of heartaches.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
A story that explores young love, friendship, lust and the ways in which connections can ebb and flow overtime. Marianne and Conner grow up together and learn about life from their interactions. They are destined to have their lives intertwine, even at the most inopportune times. There were moments of nuance in this book that I adored, but also moments of "is anything going to happen?" as well. This book has now been adapted to a series on Hulu and I've already started binging it. At times I get very angry with both of the characters. There are many moments where I feel Marianne is being disrespected and want to jump through the book or screen and slap Connor. I also feel like shaking Marianne and telling her to respect herself and know her worth. I think what bothers me, is that it brings me back to the awkward teenage years when I would sell myself short for a boy. It's frustrating because it's so relate-able. This coming of age story shows the complexity of relationships, the frustrations of not communicating ones feelings clearly and the cycle of love and emotions.
Things you Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
I read Katherine Center’s previous book, How to Walk Away and enjoyed it. I was excited to give this one a read as well. I think both of her books for me are more of the light-hearted easy beach read type of book that doesn’t really have a lot of depth or plot twists, but I still enjoy. I enjoyed how the main character of this book, Cassie becomes a firefighter and reaches levels of skill and success. We see the ways in which Cassie has built up walls and shut out her emotions after a devastating 16th birthday. Eventually Cassie faces some hard truths and learns a lot about forgiveness and love when she least expected to.
Her move from the Austin fire department to a small Boston suburb brought with it a lot of changes including getting to know her mother, the rookie and herself. Cassie faces some hard truths and learns a lot about forgiveness and love when she least expected to.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Reed Taylor Jenkins
When Monique lands the interview of her lifetime, she's in for more than she bargained for! Monique is selected by Evelyn to write her biography, a tell-all, revealing her career and love experiences.
Evelyn was a 1950's Hollywood icon and while her life certainly had it's fair share of glamour, it was riddled with hypocrisy. As Evelyn is telling her life's story to Monique she delves into the relationships - 7 of them- and exposes the truth about which relationship was with the love of her life. We learn of the ambition, the sacrifices and friendships that led to Evelyn's Hollywood successes. Evelyn's failed relationships and the forbidden love that shaped her life were told in a way that made the character come to life. This was a great book, by a wonderful author! Evelyn is flawed and unforgiving she did what she had to for fame and money. She regrets nothing and I loved her!
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Four young children in NYC in 1969 visit a traveling psychic who claims to know the dates they will die. The prophecies form their futures. Simon, escapes to SanFrancsico in the 80's embracing the gay culture, all the while struggling for family acceptance. Klara, escapes to the west coast and pursues her dream to be a magician. Klara's life becomes a blur between reality and fantasy as she struggles with her belief in magic and inspiring others. Daniel, a military doctor whose life ends up connecting with an FBI detective certainly has it's ups and downs. The final sibling is Varya, a longevity specialist whose lifestyle seems the most directly correlated with the 1969 predictions. Varya may be surviving, but she's not living. Interspersed with the psychic story, is the story of a Jewish family and it's traditions and beliefs. The premise of fate versus self-fulfilling prophecy was an intriguing one. Would yo live differently if you knew when it would end? It was so interesting to see how each sibling allowed the prediction to shape their lives. A fascinating book that has A LOT going on in it. So complex and bizarre at times I wasn't sure how I really felt about it!