Books: June Reviews

June was so busy!  I have been busy enjoying summer: from having company for almost three weeks, to throwing parties, running again and preparing for vacation...

I'm looking forward to July, which will be over in a flash... I'm making it a priority to enjoy every moment.

Gift idea: I discovered a great book series recently, for life, love, family, work, etc... I love this idea and plan to buy some of these books for gifts.

The purpose of 2 is to inspire you to dream together, plan together, laugh together, and grow together.

Have you heard of the six word love story? 'blind dates, soulmates, married 65 years'.  Wouldn't you love to receive six words like this?  Try sending them to someone, a friend, your spouse, a child.

June Reviews:

Looking at the list below, I'm surprised to discover that I read so much chick lit.  People kept recommending books to me, only to realize I was reading about young love over and over. It's summer so this is fine but I am transitioning back to deep/dark subject matter/plots for July!

Favorite book read: The Dovekeeper's

Books are listed in the order I read/finished them:

Always Something There to Remind Me: For some reason all of the light summer books I'm reading are about reflecting back on past love, revisiting, a plot twist and closure.  This is a fun novel, I'm happy I read it!  Perfect for the beach.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis: Can you ever really know if love is true? And if it is, should you stop at anything to get it?

Always Something There to Remind Me is a story that will resonate with any woman who has ever thought of that one first love and wondered, “Where is he?” and “What if…?” Filled with nostalgia humor and heart, it will transport you, and inspire you to believe in the power of first love.

The Dovekeepers: First let me say I loved this book.  It's at the top of my list for the year.  A must read!

I listened to this book but wish I read it since it's filled with so many facts and details. I also read faster than a narrator... so I'm sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I read it.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis:  Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path.

The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.

The Next Best Thing: I didn't like this book, I know a screenwriter and didn't connect to the character in the book... it felt odd knowing my friends experience pitching a TV show vs whats written in this book.  I have never been a big Weiner fan, I can't explain why but I tend to find them flat.  I need to pass next time, for me, for her.

Rating: 2.5/3 stars

Synopsis: Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear for writer’s room showdowns and an eye for bad backstage behavior and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood roller coaster, a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.

Shout Her Lovely Name: This is a collection of short stories.  I loved the first one!  The others are good, this is extremely well written and worth your time.

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: Mothers and daughters ride the familial tide of joy, regret, loathing, and love in these stories of resilient and flawed women.

So Far Away: I didn't love this book, didn't connect with the character and frankly... I wasn't invested.  After skimming to the end I read a review that mentioned it moves at a very slow pace but if you hold out, it's very good.  I wish I read this review before I skimmed, I would have pushed through.

Rating: DNF (since I skimmed half of the book I can't rate it)

Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Natalie Gallagher is trying to escape: from her parents' ugly divorce, and from the vicious cyber-bullying of her former best friend.

Her salvation arrives in an unlikely form: Bridget O'Connell, an Irish maid working for a wealthy Boston family. Bridget lives only in the pages of a dusty old 1920s diary Natalie unearthed in her mother's basement. But the life she describes is as troubling - and mysterious - as the one Natalie is trying to navigate herself, almost a century later.

Why We Broke Up: This is a heavy book, physically! It's filled with illustrations and feels good in your hands.  It's in the guest room, the perfect home.  A quick read for guests.

It's a YA book about a girl who has recently broken up with her boyfriend.  She's writing about all the keepsakes from thier time together.  Girls fall, hard.  I loved the ending, a typical teen love ending to make the novel feel real.

I enjoyed this one and am happy I read it.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis: I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

A 2012 Michael L. Printz Honor Book

Review: Wife 22

Why I picked it: Everyone seems to be reading this book! 

Synopsis: Maybe it was those extra five pounds I’d gained. Maybe it was because I was about to turn the same age my mother was when I lost her. Maybe it was because after almost twenty years of marriage my husband and I seemed to be running out of things to say to each other. 

But when the anonymous online study called “Marriage in the 21st Century” showed up in my inbox, I had no idea how profoundly it would change my life. It wasn’t long before I was assigned both a pseudonym (Wife 22) and a caseworker (Researcher 101).

And, just like that, I found myself answering questions.

Before the study, my life was an endless blur of school lunches and doctor’s appointments, family dinners, budgets, and trying to discern the fastest-moving line at the grocery store. I was Alice Buckle: spouse of William and mother to Zoe and Peter, drama teacher and Facebook chatter, downloader of memories and Googler of solutions.

But these days, I’m also Wife 22. And somehow, my anonymous correspondence with Researcher 101 has taken an unexpectedly personal turn. Soon, I’ll have to make a decision—one that will affect my family, my marriage, my whole life. But at the moment, I’m too busy answering questions.

As it turns out, confession can be a very powerful aphrodisiac.

Quick Take: Well... I'm forty-four, a runner and the family facebooker.  My husband is in consumer products marketing.  Strange set of coincidences as I started reading this book. Thank goodness it ends there!

This novel explores how a bored wife finds a little excitement - a secret that snowballs into the 'potential of more'. It's a quick read, an original take on an age old situation.

Women will connect with this book, especially those who have been married for a long time.  Most of us can look at our friends and see that some are happier than others with any/all aspects of life, not just their marriage. I am left wondering how this book could impact someones life... if they are bored with their marriage this could be a discussion starter. 

Here are a few of the questions Alice is asked to answer:
- List three things that scare you.
- Do you believe love can last?
- Would your friends say you are happily married?
- What do you think about the current trend of couples divorcing based on spouses feeling more like roommates than lovers?
- Describe something you wouldn’t admit to your best friend
- Has your life turned out the way you hoped it would?
- Write a letter to your spouse telling them what you can’t say in person

Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review Copy

Reviews in a Flash!

Below are the books I read in May (and April but didn't review).

In addition to the books below, I have plowed through the 50 Shades trilogy.  What can I say about these books?  While horribly written, I was curious what all the buzz was about.  Completely over the top and unnecessary at times but if you enjoy this genre you will probably love them.  I know the movie rights were sold for five million dollars and wonder who will play Christian and Anastasia.  The casting will make or break the movie experience.
Arranged (May 15):  In her fast-paced and fun second novel, Catherine McKenzie takes us on a thirty-something woman's journey to find love in a somewhat unorthodox manner.

Quick Take: I loved this book.  It has a few twists that kept me engrossed in the story and wondering what would happen.  The perfect summer read!

McKenzie is one of my new favorite authors - I can't wait for her next novel to be released in the US, Forgotten.

Rating: 4 stars

The Book of Summers (May 29): A young woman confronts her magical, tragic past when she receives a scrapbook of the summers spent with her estranged mother.

Quick Take: Can you forgive someone who doesn't want to be forgiven?  Someone with no regrets about leaving a family, choosing the pull of a home town/country over parenting?

The was a tough book for me to read. I ended up skimming parts of it, it's just too close to some of my childhood memories but it's powerful and emotional.

Putting my personal issues aside, this would make for a nice summer read. It's well written, strong plot, and let's the reader explore another country.

Rating: DNF (I did skim to the end to see what happened)

Purge: A breathtakingly suspenseful tale of two women dogged by their own shameful pasts and the dark, unspoken history that binds them.

Quick Take: This was my book selection for my book club.  It's safe to say that none of us enjoyed it.  I'm not sure if it's the writing style (choppy, moving backwards and forwards) but something didn't sit right. 

I walked away without the answers I was hoping for.

Rating: 2 stars

The Unfinished work of Elizabeth D (Jun 5):  Before there were blogs, there were journals. And in them we’d write as we really were, not as we wanted to appear. But there comes a day when journals outlive us. And with them, our secrets.

Quick Take: Unfortunately this is another book that I didn't love.  It moved too slow for me.  Having friends and family die from terminal illness... I wasn't able to believe Elizabeth's story/decisions.  It was a little far fetched for me.

Rating: 2/3 stars

Have you read any of these books?  Are you reading anything good that I should add to my list?

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