It's been a minute since I did a monthly reading wrap up! That wedding really took a lot outta me. Happily, things are back to their normal schedule, so I wanted to share the 10 books I managed to read during this time. Some great ones, a fantastic re-read, one I'm glad I made myself finish, and one that really annoyed me.
First, my favorite for the month!
I really enjoyed this! Believe Me has such a unique premise- Clare is a British woman who has come to New York to pursue acting. She can't work, since she's here on a student visa, and she hasn't gotten her big break yet so shes pursuing other options. She works for a law firm in entrapment- she gets hired to try and get cheating husbands to sleep with her to get evidence for the wives. She's working on her acting skills and getting by- until one of the clients turns up dead the next morning.
The book takes many turns and I never really knew what was real and what was an act. I really loved the author's last book, The Girl Before, and I think I enjoyed this even more. Warning: this is one dark book so if you're sensitive to violence, you might want to skip it. From this depraved reader, it gets 4.5 stars.
This was my first Elin Hilderbrand and it won't be my last. We have a lavish wedding set in Nantucket on the groom's wealthy family estate. It looks like it'll be a beautiful event until the morning of the wedding, the maid of honor washes to shore. Dead. And the bride was the one who found her.
We get to find out what happened from many characters' perspectives. I can get squirrelly if there are too many people trying to tell the story, but the author is so skilled and definitely pulled it off. There's Benji the groom, Celeste the sheltered zookeeper bride, Greer the elegant mystery writer and mother of the groom, Tag the gregarious patriarch, Featherleigh the struggling family friend, Merritt, the beautiful influencer MOH (And the deceased)... & So many more. Nearly everyone is a suspect- and all have their secrets to hide. This was the best summer read and has me wanting to visit Nantucket. I hope I get to read more about these characters down the road! Rating, 4 stars.
This was a Reece Witherspoon Book Club Pick, which automatically made me nervous. Her picks have been hit or miss for me (really disliked The Last Mrs. Parrish) and was worried Something In The Water would be overrated. I don't know if it was the setting I read it in or the fact that I was on my also on my honeymoon, as the characters in the book were, but this kept me entertained. (For more entertainment- check out the reviews on Amazon. Some people were piiiissed after reading this). All is well in Fiji for Mark and Erin, until they come across a mysterious bag in the water. What they find changes the course of both of their lives. There was a lot of tension and action, which kept me turning the pages. The main character makes some very interesting choices that at times had me yelling at her, but I enjoyed the ride. It was a great beach read, but not a thriller that's going to change my life. Overall, 3.5/5 stars.
I re-read this in anticipation of the HBO adaptation. Breezed through it and was immediately reminded why Gillian Flynn is an icon in the thriller genre. This book was ddaaarrrkkk (but I loved it). So creative, so disturbing, and very very entertaining. I read this when it first came out years ago but having read so many more thrillers since then, I'm pleasantly surprised that this was as entertaining as a re-read. This is possibly my favorite Gillian Flynn (and when are we getting more??) Rating- 5/5.
I was enchanted by The Subway Girls. It's told from the perspectives of Charlotte in the 40s and present day Olivia. Charlotte is a young woman on the cusp of graduation who's choosing between her life with Sam, the expected choice, and the life in advertising that she truly dreams of. Olivia is a modern day ad exec who finds herself in a remarkably similar situation as Charlotte was 60+ years ago. The dialog was a bit off for me and I preferred Charlotte's story but the premise was clever and touching. I can see this sitting nicely with fans of Beatriz Williams (think The Secret Life of Violet Gant). All told, 3.75/5.
Mackenzie Cooper has been publicly shamed- she was driving distracted while trying to find her daughter's friends house and got into an accident that resulted in her young daughter's death. The media drags her and creates a new rule against having your phone in your hand while driving- the Mackenzie Cooper law. She and her husband divorce and the book begins as we meet Mackenzie in her new life. She's working under a new name as an artist and makeup artist, and is doing her best. When her only friends's son gets wrapped up in a public situation, Mackenzie has to decide if she's willing to put herself at risk of being discovered by the media to be there for her friend. This book was one that I found to be too long by about 1/3, but I'm totally glad I finished. There was depth here and I couldn't leave without finding out what happened to the characters. 3.75/5.
Ah. Mary Kubica. She's one of my auto read authors and I've either loved or loathed all of her books. (Favorite was The Good Girl). In her latest book, Jessie is grieving. Her mother has just died of cancer, and, inspired to make something of her life, she's decided to go back to school. Only when she goes to apply for financial aid, she finds that the social security number she has been using isn't hers. In fact, it belongs to a deceased girl. She goes into a downward spiral and is wracked with insomnia, causing her to question what's real and what isn't. This was an incredibly fast paced novel, so I enjoyed that piece. I also love her books because they're set in Chicago. BUT. The last 10%. Oy. I don't think I've been this frustrated in awhile. If you've read this, please tell me what you thought in the comments below. If you haven't read it yet, please do so we can discuss. :) 2/5 stars.
This is a back list pick from an author that I love, B.A. Paris. I thought Bring me Back, her latest, was so clever, so I was excited to read her debut. Jack and Grace seem like the perfect couple. Their friends love coming over to their perfect home for dinner parties and always marvel at how connected the two newlyweds seem. Grace thought that her happily ever after might never come, because she's the legal guardian of her sister with Down's Syndrome. So when she meets Jack and he seems to be as in love with her sister as she is, she's smitten. She agrees to marry him and he build the perfect home for them to start their life together. We quickly find out that not everything is as it seems on the outside. I enjoyed this, but I can't say I loved it. The plot moved way too fast for it to be anywhere near believable (and I'm a master at suspending my disbelief). I thought it was a great debut and would recommend it to other readers, but trigger warning for violence and abuse. Overall, 3.5/5 stars.
Listened to book 2 in the Mr. Mercedes series. As always, it was a solid story. At first, I couldn't figure out how John Rothstein and Morris Bellamy were going to tie into the Mr. Mercedes story, but we get there eventually. There's a big buildup to book 3, and I have a feeling things are about to get even more creepy. Plus, I loved the re-appearance of Bill Hodges and his partners Jerome and Holly. 4/5 stars.
I loved this unique little book. Despite the classic-looking cover, there's a rather modern premise: a Evangelical family on reality TV grapples with the youngest daughter's pregnancy. There were themes of feminism, reproductive rights, and sexuality and I was pleasantly surprised. I thought the ending was a little rushed, but I'd definitely still recommend it. Rating- 4/5
TL;DR- Books I'd recommend you add to your TBR list: Believe Me, The Perfect Couple, Sharp Objects, Finders Keepers, The Book of Essie.
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