You know, at some point I'll get it together enough to get this post out on the 15th, when Modern Mrs Darcy makes the What I've Been Reading link up available.
This month was not that month.
Anyway, I will say I've read a lot of great books recently!
Pretty Baby | Mary Kubica
I was very excited to read this one, as Mary Kubica wrote one of my favorite books of 2014 (The Good Girl). Unfortunately, Pretty Baby was just ok. This book dealt with some tough topics- homelessness, charity, family, miscarriage, murder. The problem I had was that I found the characters to be unlikable. I get that we are supposed to emphasize with Heidi and Willow. They were both trying to do their best with the challenges handed to them. However, I just didn't think Willow's character was developed enough and I got annoyed that Heidi, despite having all of the resources at her disposal, did not take care of herself. Full review here. Rating- 2.5/5
Sweetbitter | Stephanie Danler
This was probably the biggest surprise for me. Sweetbitter was HYPED up, and I was surprised because I didn't think I'd like it as much as I did. The story is simple- Tess is a good girl who comes to New York and immediately starts working in the finest restaurant in the city. There's your usual restaurant growing pains- trying to learn everything as fast as you can, the head waiter getting pissed off because you forgot to set the table correctly, the chef getting mad because you forgot to list the specials- but this book also explored the dark side of the restaurant industry. Namely, drugs, sex, and complicated relationships. Full review here. I've worked in restaurants before and I completely got this story, so if you haven't- you might not like it as much as I did. Rating- 4/5.
The Knockoff | Lucy Skyes, Jo Piazza
I mean, this one was cute. Imogen Tate was the editor in cheif at a major fashion magazine and seemed to have it all. Until, she found out she had breast cancer and was forced to leave her post for several months. She comes back and finds out that her former assistant, Eve, is now the head marketing manager, and is gunning for the head leadership role. The magazine is going from print to digital and Imogen, not a millennial, is having trouble keeping up. We find out that Eve is sabotaging her and turns into a real maniac. Imogen has to decide to fight and find her niche or retire. I think she makes the right choice. I was entertained and I liked the main character. There were a ton of far fetched moments, and they really vilified Eve (to the point of disbelief). Overall, still a fun beach read. Rating: 3/5
First Comes Love | Emily Giffin
I'm going to write a longer post about this one soon, but First Comes Love by Emily Giffin was a welcome surprise. I've always enjoyed Giffin's books, but I found that her last few were borderline intolerable. First Comes Love introduces the readers to a family who has experienced immense loss. The loss takes place within the first chapter and the story picks up 15 years later. It will make you think about what might have been. I liked the story and enjoyed the ending, but found the characters to be unlikable. Still, I gave this a 3.5/5.
All The Ugly and Wonderful Things | Bryn Greenwood
This was my first 5 star read for the month. This was one of the most surprising books I've read in a long time. Not because it was a thriller, not because of the shock factor (although this book has both), and not because of a surprise ending. I was surprised because this book took issues that seem very black and white and forced me to take a deeper look and to consider the areas of grey. The synopsis captivated me right away: the daughter of a drug addict and a drug dealer falls in love with one of her father's thugs. The catch? They meet when she is 8 and he is in his early 20s. I expected to be horrified, but I found that this was a gentle and genuine relationship and I can definitely see myself coming back to this book. Full review here. Rating is a solid 5/5. This was also a debut book! I love that.
I Regret Nothing | Jennifer Lancaster
This was the only audiobook that I listened to this month, and it kept me entertained. Since it's an autobiography and narrated by Jennifer Lancaster herself, I felt like I was listening to more of a podcast than an actual novel. There is no denying who Jennifer Lancaster is- she is still the same character that is parodied in Bitter is the New Black. Only this time, she is in her mid 40s and is exploring what's next for her. There were a lot of things she said that I took to heart: Life is too short to do what I'm sure to hate, don't let people be a time burger, and posting about doing good isn't the same thing as actually doing good (YES). It would make for a fun vacation read for someone going on a girls' trip. I also think people who are 30+ would enjoy it more than those in their 20s and younger. The beginning was good, but by the end I could feel myself stop listening. All in all, a 3/5.
Truly Madly Guilty | Liane Moriarty
I found Truly Madly Guilty to be very similar to First Comes Love in a couple of ways. Both have characters that I was not particularly fond of, yet somehow, I still enjoyed the book. Both books also dealt with non traditional families and complicated family relationships. What set Truly Madly Guilty apart is Liane Moriarty's ability to tell a story. The basic premise is this: this is a story about a BBQ that goes horribly wrong. And she will remind you of this. Over. And over. And over. To the point where (if you're anything like me), you'll start to wish that SOMETHING bad would just happen already. And then it does, and that is when things get good. Moriarty does great job at building the pyramid of excitement and drops hints along the way about what is going to happen next. I liked the ending, My recommendation is to stick with this one- it does pick up. 4/5.
The Secret Life of Violet Grant | Beatriz Williams
Happily, this was another 5/5! Right from the first few pages, I was enthralled. The main character, Violet Shuyler is fantastic. I loved the tone and found myself checking in throughout the day to see what happens next. Williams is a vivid storyteller and despite flashing back and forth between two different perspectives that are separated by 50 years, I was still very much engaged. I'm going to have to pick up the next two books in the Schuyler sister series ASAP!
That's everything! I traveled a bit so it's been good month reading wise. Goodreads tells me I'm 2 books ahead of schedule in meeting my goal of reading 53 books this year. I'll take it!