With this summer finding us sticking closer to home and our annual summer, Disney vacation canceled, reading books has become my escape from the sad reality. If I am not streaming my favorite shows, snuggling up with a good book has been a great comfort to me. So, what better time than now to update with what books I read in May and June 2020, I have been reading and share some of my recent favorites here with you now.
So, how about it? Are you looking for a book to read right now while sticking close to home this summer? Then, check out the eight books that I have read in recent times (scroll down) and my thoughts on them now. Plus, feel free to sign up for BOTM (check my June 2020 BOTM YouTube video) for more information below), because many of the books below I was introduced to by them.
It’s February 1976, and Odessa, Texas, stands on the cusp of the next great oil boom. While the town’s men embrace the coming prosperity, its women intimately know and fear the violence that always seems to follow.
In the early hours of the morning after Valentine’s Day, fourteen-year-old Gloria Ramírez appears on the front porch of Mary Rose Whitehead’s ranch house, broken and barely alive. The teenager had been viciously attacked in a nearby oil field—an act of brutality that is tried in the churches and barrooms of Odessa before it can reach a court of law. When justice is evasive, the stage is set for a showdown with potentially devastating consequences.
Valentine is a haunting exploration of the intersections of violence and race, class and region in a story that plumbs the depths of darkness and fear, yet offers a window into beauty and hope. Told through the alternating points of view of indelible characters who burrow deep in the reader’s heart, this fierce, unflinching, and surprisingly tender novel illuminates women’s strength and vulnerability, and reminds us that it is the stories we tell ourselves that keep us alive.
My take on this book: From the description of this novel and all the rave reviews I read, before delving into this book I was definitely more than hopeful about this book. While the beginning of the book was definitely an eye-opening experience with Gloria Ramirez’s apparent rape and her appearance at Mary Rose’s ranch, the multiple disjointed points of views telling this overall story just got way too confusing for my taste. I kept thinking that somehow all those who were indeed telling their stories before, during and after would somehow come together and make sense. But honestly, they didn’t really do that at all. In the end, I was left feeling somewhat let down, because of that. Again, maybe I had too high of expectations for this book, but I still feel wasn’t impressed with this one.
Tabitha Girard had her heartbroken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.
Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.
When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”
Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?
As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.
My take on this book: A good thriller novel always catches my eye. From the description therefore, I was immediately hooked and had to read this one. So thanks to NetGalley & St. Martin’s Press for the ARC. That said, the first half of the book read like a romance novel with the back story Tabitha and Conner’s past romance coming back to life. And yet, Nina’s chapters from her point of view make the reader know immediately that this story has a dark side waiting to unfold. That said, I couldn’t put this book down and wanted to see who was at the heart of Nina’s murder. Once the plot thickened and we found out the twist, I can honestly say while it made sense, I wasn’t completely sold on how this book was tied together in the end. Don’t get me wrong the ending was OK in its own right something felt like it was still missing for me. Overall, though, definitely a great mystery read with lots of twists and turns. Would recommend for those who enjoy a suspenseful ride nonetheless.
After her former band shot to superstardom without her, Claire reluctantly agrees to a gig as a playgroup musician for wealthy infants on New York’s Park Avenue. Claire is surprised to discover that she is smitten with her new employers, a welcoming clique of wellness addicts with impossibly shiny hair, who whirl from juice cleanse to overpriced miracle vitamins to spin class with limitless energy.
There is perfect hostess Whitney who is on the brink of social-media stardom and just needs to find a way to keep her flawless life from falling apart. Caustically funny, recent stay-at-home mom Amara who is struggling to embrace her new identity. And old money, veteran mom Gwen who never misses an opportunity to dole out parenting advice. But as Claire grows closer to the stylish women who pay her bills, she uncovers secrets and betrayals that no amount of activated charcoal can fix.
Filled with humor and shocking twists, Happy and You Know It is a brilliant take on motherhood – exposing it as yet another way for society to pass judgment on women – while also exploring the baffling magnetism of curated social-media lives that are designed to make us feel unworthy. But, ultimately, this dazzling novel celebrates the unlikely bonds that form, and the power that can be unlocked, when a group of very different women is thrown together when each is at her most vulnerable.
My take on this book: This book was my BOTM club book, but get a let star on it finishing up a few other books that I was reading before it. What made me choose this novel to begin with was the description sounded like a fun and scandalous read all in one. Plus, the NYC backdrop was also a plus for me. I had vision of the Devil wears Prada, Sex and the City and a few more deliciously juicy women’s fiction stories I was attracted to in the past. However the first half of the book was slow going and I even had a bit of trouble wanting to stick with it. But once the plot picked up and the secret reveal began to unfold then I couldn’t put the book down and became more invested in this novel. It was at this point at I finished the book a few hours time reading. While I wouldn’t say the ending was earth shattering by any means, it was indeed a fun read once the plot thickened so to speak. Also, the friendship that bloomed between Amara and Claire was a wonderful subplot, as well. So, I am glad I did not abandon the book after the first half moved at a bit of a snail’s pace for me.
It’s 2 A.M. on a Saturday night in the spring of 2001, and twenty-eight-year-old Cecily Gardner sits alone in a dive bar in New York’s East Village, questioning her life. Feeling lonesome and homesick for the Midwest, she wonders if she’ll ever make it as a reporter in the big city—and whether she made a terrible mistake in breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, Matthew.
As Cecily reaches for the phone to call him, she hears a guy on the barstool next to her say, “Don’t do it—you’ll regret it.” Something tells her to listen, and over the next several hours—and shots of tequila—the two forge an unlikely connection. That should be it, they both decide the next morning, as Cecily reminds herself of the perils of a rebound relationship. Moreover, their timing couldn’t be worse—Grant is preparing to quit his job and move overseas. Yet despite all their obstacles, they can’t seem to say goodbye, and for the first time in her carefully constructed life, Cecily follows her heart instead of her head.
Then Grant disappears in the chaos of 9/11. Fearing the worst, Cecily spots his face on a missing-person poster, and realizes she is not the only one searching for him. Her investigative reporting instincts kick into action as she vows to discover the truth. But the questions pile up fast: How well did she really know Grant? Did he ever really love her? And is it possible to love a man who wasn’t who heseemed to be?
My take on this book: What can I say, but I never miss one of Emily Griffin’s books. I have now read all so far and also never been disappointed by her writing. And this latest book is no exception to the rule.
While I know many might not have been a fan of this particular novel and might be in the minority, but I couldn’t have loved this book more if I tried. So much so that I think this novel is one of my favorites I have read so far in 2020.
First of all, Emily Griffin’s writing is easy to read but also always draws me into the plot, as well as the characters in her novels. Plus, she also has a way of weaving a romantic tale that pulls at my own heartstrings.
Well, she does all of the above in The Lies That Bind, as well as uses the subplot of the real-life tragedy of 9/11 to boot. Having lived in NY all my life and during 9/11, I couldn’t help but feel an affinity to that part of the story. Plus the characters were similar in age to myself during 9/11, so I could also relate to this fictionalized account on that level, too.
Lastly, the true romantic in me couldn’t help but root for love to win out. No spoilers, but wasn’t disappointed by the the ending on this level.
Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers—and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?
Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition—under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.
But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, wickedly observant debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men—and herself—for a chance to live happily ever after.
My take on this book: This book was one of my June BOTM selections. I am not usually a big reality TV show fan, but the synopsis still drew me in. From what other reviewers shared I also was excited to read. Plus, it is summer-time and beach reading is on tap. Overall, I do agree that this book was a fun read. But the chapters were rather long as most of the chapters were essentially covered a full episode of The Main Squeeze. Plus, I just couldn’t put my finger on it but was blown away by the story myself. Don’t get me wrong, happy to have read, but still wasn’t blown away by the plot nor the ending either.
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