So, between July and August, I read 22 books. That’s really insane. I mean, some people have a goal of reading that many books in a YEAR. There are many factors at play: it’s a free activity (and as I am trying to save money/pay off debts/generally be a better money manager, this is key), it’s my number one hobby and a lifelong passion, and I’m just a really fast reader. Plus, I tend to read very light and easy books that I can finish within a day or two. Let’s dive into these reviews, shall we? I tried to keep them relatively short since there are a bunch.
July Reads: 9
51. Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown (5 stars)
I’ve never read the Adulting blog (though it’s now in my feed!) but I know of its popularity so when I saw the blogger had a book out, I decided to see what it was all about. I devoured this book. It’s nonfiction and I generally never, ever devour nonfiction but I basically spent a Saturday sprawled on the couch reading this book. While there was some advice I skimmed (and some of it got wayyy too involved), the majority of the book is full of so much great information on “how to be an adult.” Highly recommend!
52. Unwrapping Mr. Wright by Michele Dunaway (3.5 stars)
There was something really sweet and innocent about this book. It was well-written and not too cheesy, aside from the end. But I guess the endings of most romance novels are pretty cheesy. There wasn’t much plot, other than the two characters falling in love so it felt a bit mundane at times, but was still a very light, very easy read.
53. Paper Towns by John Green (3 stars)
This book was just okay for me. I was really excited to read another John Green book, after reading The Fault In Our Stars and completely falling in love with the characters and the writing. I liked all the characters but Margo in this book and some of the language and things that happened seemed a little too far-fetched for me, especially considering these kids were still in high school. A good read, but I wish there had been more to the story than Q trying to find Margo.
54. Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich (5 stars)
Loved this novel so much. It was one of those books where I finished it and just wanted to immediately reread it to bring the characters back into my life. My full review is here.
55. The Paris Wife by Paula McClain (3 stars)
I listened to this book via audiobook and I think I may have preferred to read it myself because I missed out on the language and writing (plus the reader was distracting). I really did not like either Hadley or Ernest. Hadley was whiny and Ernest was such a jerk. They made the book hard to get through because there really wasn’t anyone to root for! It was a good read, just not my favorite.
56. Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott (4 stars)
I loved this book. I love Anne Lamott. I will admit I am not that familiar with her work, but I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It’s all about setting up a writing life, about her writing journey, and just filled to the brim with advice on writing. It’s humorous and you really get a sense of her personality throughout the book. And it really, really made me feel less alone as a writer.
57. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (5 stars)
This was my in-person book club pick for the month of July and I was excited to reread this novel! I read it in 9th grade as required reading and all I really remembered from the book was the trial. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this novel and rereading it simply as a reader, not academically. It was a fast read and I just fell in love with Atticus, Boo, and Jem all over again. They are such lovable characters.
58. Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (4.5 stars)
This book was so good. So good. The imagery, the character development, the writing… I felt like I knew this family and I was inside of Valentine Roncalli’s world. It’s one of those books that completely wraps you up into a new world. It made me happy, made me sad, made me angry. It was a book that just made me feel really good when I finished it. Highly recommend!
59. Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery (4 stars)
A really cute contemporary romance novel by one of my favorite authors. The story was predictable, slightly cheesy, but still a really solid story. I enjoyed the two main characters a lot and loved seeing their romance blossom. This is the first story in a many-book series by this author, so I can’t wait to read more!
August Reads: 13
60. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (4 stars)
This was such a fun summer beach read! I thought Emaline was a really well-written character and she was much more enjoyable to read about than most of Dessen’s character (less angsty!). It was a quick read and I loved the storyline of her two father’s: her biological father and her adoptive father, as well as her growing relationship with her ten-year-old half-brother. The romance in it fell a little short for me (I really didn’t like Theo!), but I really loved how it all wrapped up.
61. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (4 stars)
I am so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so glad I finally read this book. It was such a fun book! So quirky. So lovable. So funny. I actually laughed out loud at some parts, which I rarely do. Using emails and letters and official documents, Bee pieces together what happened in the weeks leading up to her mother’s disappearance. I went back and forth between loving Bernadette and her annoying me, and the same with Bee’s father. Bee, I just loved to bits and pieces. She was an amazing character. I just loved this book.
62. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (4 stars)
This book was the first pick for my Virtual Bible Study with a bunch of blog girlfriends. I really, really enjoyed this book. It is convicting, powerful, funny, and poignant. It made me laugh and made me cry. It made me realize there are bigger problems and bigger issues and bigger sadness in the world today, and I want my heart to break for this. I want to feel more for people.
I read this book in under a day – a day where I spent 9 hours at work. It was one of those really adorable, fun, quick reads where I sat down to read a chapter or two and wound up still reading an hour later. It’s YA lit and it’s about a girl who is flying to London to be a bridesmaid in her dad’s wedding – to a woman who basically broke up her parents’ marriage. She’s not happy about it, misses her flight by four minutes, and winds up sitting next to Oliver, an impossibly charming and handsome Brit on his way home for a funeral. Their love story is sweet and I couldn’t help rooting for them to make it somehow. It made my insides feel all gooey at the end – a sign of a great love story.
64. Texas Hero by Merline Lovelace (2 stars)
Harlequin romance that was far too heavy on the history than on the romance. I felt like the romance was an afterthought, and with the author focused more on the historical aspect of the novel, it all felt very confusing to me. I’m not sure I even understood the point of this novel.
65. Moloka’i by Alan Brennart (4 stars)
This was a “settle in” book, if I can steal my new favorite phrase from Jessica. It’s not a quick read. It’s not an easy read. But it’s a book that sucks you in nonetheless. It’s a book you know you’re going to have to settle down into and really feel the characters and what they are going through. It’s historical fiction, taking place in Hawaii from the late 1800’s to mid-1900’s. It follows the story of Rachel, a girl who was taken from her home at the age of seven because she has leprosy. From there, you are taken through a journey of her life. It’s sad and happy and heartbreaking and uplifting. While it was a hard read at times, I’m so glad I read this book. It’s a must read, in my opinion.
66. Land of My Heart by Tracie Peterson (2.5 stars)
I really wasn’t a fan of this novel. I bought it months ago because it was free for Kindle and I usually like Tracie Peterson’s fiction, but I felt like this book was lacking a lot. The characters felt underdeveloped, the plot was boring, and it was about 100 pages too long. This is the first in a trilogy, but I can’t see myself picking up any other books.
I enjoyed this book. It wasn’t life-changing and I didn’t particularly enjoy the format (like multiple exclamation points, bolded and italicized text, etc.) but those are just personal quirks. I think Glennon has such an interesting story and she’s been through so much and she’s really such an inspiration. I’ve never read her blog, so I went into this with very little background on the author. I love the way she wrote, though. I feel like I would like her to give me pep talks from time to time, when I’m feeling low. She just makes you feel good.
My favorite quote from the book, which is an excerpt from a letter she wrote to her oldest child, Chase: “Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heartache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heartache. The heartache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, “Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help!” Whenever you feel compassion, be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means he trusts you and needs you.” – pg 122
Chills, every time I read this, chills.
68. Crazy For Love by Victoria Dahl (3 stars)
This was an alright novel. There wasn’t anything spectacular about it and I’m not sure I totally believed in the romance. The dialogue felt a bit stilted, and I felt like the ending sort of dragged out. All in all, an okay read but I’ve heard her other novels are much better.
69. Violets of March by Sarah Jio (4 stars)
I read this book in less than 24 hours and it was just a story I totally fell into without any nudging. I can feel a sort of recipe to Sarah Jio’s books, now that I’ve read two of her novels, but I really love the mystery and intrigue and it keeps me turning the pages to find out what happens next. I will say that I totally did not believe the romance and I felt like the story would have been okay without it. I felt that some of the characters were underdeveloped and I wanted more from them. I do love the language Jio writes with. There’s a fluidity to her words and it just makes you feel completely, 100% in the book.
70. Good Girls Do by Victoria Dahl (4 stars)
I’m completely binged on Victoria Dahl romance novels towards the end of August. This is the second in her Donovan Brothers Brewery series and is Jamie’s story, the brother who never seems to do anything right. I loved learning about Jamie in the first story (Good Girls Do) because his brother and sister never seem to give him much credit for anything. He’s an easy person to root for. And his lady love, Olivia, was just so dang charming and adorable. Her books are definitely more steamy than a typical romance novels and sometimes it gets to be a little too much, but all in all, a well-written, light on the cheese, romance novel.
72. Real Men Will by Victoria Dahl (2.5 stars)
This book was pure smut. Maybe I was growing tired of reading predictable romance novels at this point, but I really didn’t enjoy this novel and thought about giving up on it a few times. It’s the last in the trilogy so I just slogged through, but it was just SEX, SEX, SEX. That’s the only way to describe the book. Two people getting it on for 300 pages. It was graphic and visual and some of it was incredibly distasteful (to me, at least). I just really didn’t like these characters, nor did I believe in their romance. A bad way to end a pretty decent trilogy.
Have you ever reread a book for pleasure that was assigned reading in school and formed different opinions of it? To Kill a Mockingbird was the second book like that I’ve read. I also reread The Great Gatsby and really did not enjoy it the second time around. (It was one of my favorite books I had to read in high school.)