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Recent Reads #20 | What I've Read This Summer

Monday, September 12, 2022

Have I given up on my Bookstagram? Maybe. Eek, it's been so long since I've made a post there or here on the blog with a book review! It all started because I sort of got into a reading slump with a bunch of super lame reads. So I'm trying to catch up a little bit here, but I have to say I still only have just a handful of 'good' books to recommend. 

Legend, Prodigy, and Champion by Marie Lu

Basically: In this futuristic United States - the western half is now it's own Republic and at war. June is a teenaged prodigy in training to be part of the elite military. Day is from the slums and the country's most wanted criminal. When their path's cross, everything changes! 

My Thoughts: Over all I really enjoyed this YA trilogy. The first book was definitely the strongest. There is solid world building and it wasn't trying too hard to be just like all the other YA dystopian trilogies out there. I will say I kept expecting a twist or some bigger surprises, but it was all very straight forward. The characters were also really young, and I kept having to remind myself of that because it was affecting my view of their actions. So I actually really liked the ending with the flash forward because of that. 

Rating: 3.5 Stars I thought the 1st book was a 4 star read, but the 2nd and 3rd were 3's - so we meet in the middle. ⭐⭐⭐✨

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Basically: A coming of age story of a girl named Francie living in Brooklyn with her family in the early 1900s. 

My Thoughts: For some reason I didn't read this in High School like everyone else! But, my mom recently read it and told me she knew I'd love it. And, I really did. It's such a simple story, it's just about a girl and her family as she grows up from little girl to a young woman. It's sweet, it's sad, it's funny. What's most amazing is how humans are very much the same so many generations later.

Rating: 5 Stars. Absolutely read it. 

Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds

Basically: Jack and Kate meet at a party and have an instant connection. They start a relationship and everything is going great...but then, Kate dies. But, instead of that being the end, Jack wakes up right back in the moment they met and it might just be a 2nd chance to save her life. 

My Thoughts: Several things to love about this! I really love the diverse characters and the premise! It could have been very groundhog day, but the author did a great job at making each redo different! However, I still felt anxious to skip through all the redundancies and get to the last shot. I sort of wonder if this would make a better movie than a book.

Rating: 3.5 stars from me! ⭐⭐⭐✨

Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Basically: Hannah feels like she needs to figure out what to do with her life at 29, and is heading back to LA to try to start over. She's going to stay with her long time best friend Gabby, and they go out together one night. She runs into her ex at the bar, and at the end of the night has to decide if she is going to go home with him, or go back home with Gabby. Two different choices can lead to very different futures - so you get to see what happens with both decisions in parallel universes. 

My Thoughts: TJR is such a great author and it's just so easy to read her books. I was FLOORED in the chapter where she goes home with Gabby. Blown away, not expecting what happened at all. It was fun to see how it all would play out. This was not a 5 star book for me because I have an issue with a certain plot point that is a big spoiler so send me a DM if you want to discuss.   I did like One True Loves more than this book, but you should definitely read this if you like a good old fashioned happy ending. 

Rating: 4 Stars from me!  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Death on The Nile by Agatha Christie 

Basically: Detective Hercule Poirot is on vacation on a Nile river cruise when one of the passengers, Linnet Ridgeway, ends up murdered in her cabin.

My Thoughts: I hit a bit of a reading slump last month after reading a few duds in a row. I decided to try out some older classics to mix it up. Death On The Nile was such an adventure and there are so many great characters. I have to say, I saw the movie first, so there wasn't a huge shock when the killer was revealed - but I still enjoyed the ride. Dare I say that I liked the movie better...but this was still a great read! Mostly because I think the movie scenery really added something to this for me, and I feel like the book didn't have sweeping descriptions of the setting, it was mostly character driven.

Rating: 4 Solid Stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Office BFFS by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey 

Basically: This is Jenna and Angela's memoir about filming The Office and the story of their friendship.

My Thoughts: If you love The Office, you are going to love this book. Lots of behind the scenes details and stories. Their friendship is so sweet and it made me so happy to read about! Highly recommend the audiobook as it is narrated by the authors. 

Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Meant To Be by Emily Giffin

Basically: The Kingsley family is American royalty, much like the real life Kennedys this story is clearly fanfiction of. Joe Kingsley and super model Cate (a beauty who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks) have an instant connection, but aren't sure their relationship can survive the media attention and the tragedies that seem to befall this family. 

My Thoughts: Ugh, did not care for this at all. The ending was exciting so I guess that's why I stuck with it. Some parts were really interesting, but mostly it felt repetitive - and I almost just wish I would have read a non fiction about JFK Jr and Carolyn Bessette. 

Rating: 2ish Stars ⭐⭐

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel

Basically: Here we've got intersecting stories that play across timelines. First, we have Edwin St Andrew in the early 1900s, then Olive on a book tour in the near future, and then Gaspery Jacques Roberts, a detective, two hundred years into the future. 
All the stories interconnect and you jump back and forth through the book and make some stops, including 2020. 

My Thoughts: Whoa. So, I absolutely love Emily St John Mandel's writing style and I could read her words all day long. Be prepared to be confused with this one, but it does pay off and does all connect beautifully. I will say, I do think you need to read The Glass Hotel before this because Vincent and other side characters pop and up - and I think it will be confusing if you don't know who they are. (And that Vincent is a woman!) That being said, I didn't really end up liking TGH, so maybe just look up a synopsis. 

Rating: 4.5 Stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Basically: Elizabeth Zott is a Chemist in the 1960's. She's brilliant, but obviously has a hard time in that field in her time. Just a few years later, and Elizabeth finds herself as a single mom and the host of a famous cooking television show. 

My Thoughts: Highly recommend the audiobook of this, because the narrator has the most beautiful voice! I was not expecting this story based on the cover! The characters and the plot of this are exceptional. I really enjoyed it and watching how it all came together. The only reason it's not a 5 star read for me, is because there were SO many preachy moments. I skimmed over those parts and just enjoyed the story. 

Rating: 4.5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Basically: Jennette McCurdy was a child star on Nickelodeon in the early 2000s. This is her memoir of her life in the industry, but mainly she recounts the abuse from her late mother.

My Thoughts: I'll be honest, I was too old to watch Nickelodeon by the time Jennette was on TV, so I only picked this up based on the title and the press it got. It's brutal and I was not in a good mental state when I finished the book. It's just sad and I really wish the entertainment industry would change. The 'messed up' child star is just too common. 

Rating: I don't feel like I can rate this one. While I was engrossed, it's not something I'd tell people to read.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Basically: Brene Brown talks about her research on vulnerability, courage, and shame - and then how to live a 'wholehearted life'.

My Thoughts: There are some valuable gems in this book! I didn't enjoy how this book was laid out- it sort of felt repetitive in a lot of places. Maybe it didn't need to be a whole book? 

Rating: 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake

Basically: Nora was taken in by a doctor when she was orphaned in the mid 1800s. She was raised in his practice, and she became an extremely knowledgeable "assistant". This of course was at a time when women could not practice medicine and she could have gotten in real trouble. 

My Thoughts: Such a great story and great characters - it was just PAINFULLY drawn out! Overall I enjoyed it, I just couldn't wait for it to be over 😂

Rating: 3 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐

The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Basically: The final book in The Inheritance Games trilogy! Avery is about to inherit billions from the Hawthorne estate - she just has to make it to her birthday. But of course the mystery isn't over, and she and Hawthorne brothers work to solve the last puzzle.

My Thoughts: This trilogy started off super strong, and I enjoyed it! This book was just okay. Of course it ended the whole series nicely and wrapped up in a big bow. But, I just found that there were wayyy to many characters to keep track of. And literally every few pages was her going off with another one trying to solve clues. Just got old. 

Rating: 3 stars. ⭐⭐⭐

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Hi friends! I'm Kristen, and this is the Life and Style of an early 30's Floridian living the Best Life Ever, with her husband and three pugs. Runner | Avid Reader | Small Shop Owner

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