Happy Monday, friends. Last week was a doozy for me. Taking care of a three-month-old puppy is no joke, and it lent very little time for blogging or reading. Even so, I managed to finish two books because even in a busy season, I always, always make time for reading, even if it’s only for a few minutes right before bed. Here’s what I finished last week:
Plot Summary: Ashley hasn’t been home to Tennessee in eight years, but a family tragedy forces her back home and back to her six brothers. While home, Ashley is introduced to Drew and neither of them can tamp down the instant attraction between them. But her life is in Chicago while his is in the mountains of Tennessee – is this just a recipe for disaster?
My Thoughts: I think the reason I loved this book so much was because it heavily featured the brothers from Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series, and I adore them. They are so well-written and well-characterized, and it was nice to get Ashley’s story because, while she’s been featured in the books in that series, I never knew exactly her origin story nor how she and Drew got together. I didn’t find the romance in this book as compelling as I wanted it to be, but it really took a backseat to the bigger plot that was Ashley and her brothers losing their beloved mother to cancer. This was so heartbreaking, but the author did a great job of conveying all of the emotions that come with this type of tragedy – because, truthfully, it’s not always about crying and feeling sad; it’s also about laughter and memories. It was beautifully written, and I loved that the romance didn’t overshadow that aspect until later in the book.
Author: Tara Westover
Format: Library hardcover
Plot Summary: Tara Westover grew up in Idaho, living with her survivalist family and never receiving any sort of formal education. She’s sixteen when she decides to pursue academia and, in doing so, fights against everything her family has ever taught her.
My Thoughts: Oy, this book was made me so angry and I feel like this review may be all over the place. Bear with me. I was angry with Tara’s parents and the way they had no real regard for their kids’ safety. I was angry with the way Tara was gaslighted again and again and again by her own family. I was angry with the way Tara continually put herself in unsafe situations. I was angry with the way the Bible was used as a tool to torment and keep women down. So much anger. At times, I held the book in my hands and shook it because I could not believe some of the stuff I was reading. It was horrific and shocking and the fact that Tara didn’t have any sort of advocate in her family was sobering. She had to become her own advocate, and she became one due to academia. Academia is what saved her; it showed her that there’s a great big world out there, one that believes a woman can be more than a wife and mother, that Mormonism isn’t the only truth. This book was hard to read at times because it was just so heartbreaking to read everything Tara had to endure. It was also heartbreaking to read how she continually tried to find her place in her family in the years after she left home to pursue academia, even when it was obvious that being with them wasn’t the best place for her to be. She rose above what was expected of her, and the result is a woman who found her own inner strength to live her own truth, a truth that is so different from what she was told growing up. This book was both stunning and agonizing, and I encourage anyone to give it a read.
What I’m Reading This Week
- A Storied Life by Leigh Kramer – I’m about halfway through this delightful story, and yep, it’s as good as I had imagined it would be. I’ll be writing a full review of this novel next week, so stay tuned for that!
- Final Girls by Riley Sager – This is my fiction audiobook pick for the month of June, and I can’t remember the last time I was so invested in an audiobook! Usually, I’m not always excited to listen to my audiobook because it takes me away from my podcasts (and podcasts usually don’t require as much active listening as audiobooks), but with this compelling thriller, I kinda just want to forget about my podcast feed and binge through the entire book. It’s so good so far!
- 1984 by George Orwell – Once I finish A Storied Life, it’s time for my second “classic” of the year. I picked 1984 because it’s one of those books everyone talks about, but I was never assigned to read it in school. Fingers crossed I enjoy it!
- Running Blind by Cindy Gerard – I’m also going to pick up this romantic suspense novel from one of my faves. It’s been sitting in Overdrive for me for a couple of weeks now, so I need to read it before it expires! I’ll read this in between pages of 1984.
What are you currently reading?