June Wrap-Up and July Reading List
I finally had a decent (for me) reading month. Some readers would probably say this isn’t much, but compared to the past few months and my first-trimester reading slump, this was a victory for me!
What I Read in June
* CW: domestic abuse and graphic, sexual content in this book
First of all, thank you to @AtriaBooks for gifting me this copy! I was cautiously optimistic about this one because I love sister stories with strong female friendships, and I knew it was a powerful feminist novel, but I also knew it spanned seventy years. Sweeping generational stories can be hit or miss for me; they’re difficult to do well. But I knew longtime fans of Jennifer Weiner were saying this was her best one yet, so I decided to go for it.
Ultimately, I really enjoyed this one. The prose was beautiful, and I connected with the characters right away. It was a poignant picture of everything women have overcome from the fifties, sixties, seventies—all the way to present day. I loved learning about how these sisters fought for women’s rights, and how the challenges they experienced as women deeply affected their lives.
At times I felt like the story lagged, and I definitely struggled to pick it up at times because of the raw storytelling. Some of the scenes were so graphic I felt physically sick, and there was so. much. sadness that honestly, I was ready to move on to something lighter!
This was a sweet middle grade story that I read so quickly. Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, live on the road in an old school bus, and she is the most charming, adorable thirteen-year-old. I enjoyed how unique this story was, and even though it was light and fluffy, there were some heavy, painful moments.
I know I would have loved this as a young reader; it was reminiscent of Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech in that Coyote was similar to Sal, but I definitely felt Walk Two Moons was more endearing and harder hitting.
This was a delightful and enchanting read, but I don’t know that I loved it as much as other readers out there. I don’t know if the hype caused me to have unreasonable expectations, or what, but I did enjoy it all the same—it just won’t stick with me as much as other middle grade books out there (The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Walk Two Moons, etc.).
Thanks to @doubledaybooks for gifting me this copy! The publisher was working with the lovely @booknerdnative to throw a little book club party for her IRL book club, and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it! We had a ton of snacks, an awesome discussion packet, a Spotify playlist created by the author, and a WONDERFUL time. I was so impressed by the creativity of the whole marketing team.
This book was by far my favorite read of the month, so I’ll probably gush about it more than the other two. It was gorgeously written (I seriously can’t believe Claire Lombardo is a debut author!), the characterization and dialogue were complex and well developed, and the entire book from start to finish was so touching. Claire Lombardo clearly understands family dynamics, the complexities of relationships, and the depth of human emotion. I just can’t express enough how impressed I was by the prose.
I was afraid the family dysfunction would create distance, but I found that the multiple perspectives only increased my connection/empathy for the characters. There were definitely times I was frustrated by their words or their actions—they are certainly flawed—but because of the intimacy Lombardo creates on the page, I felt like I was inside their heads (understanding motivations/desires/fears) and also somehow floating above them: watching the heartbreaking misunderstandings occur between sisters, parents, husband and wife.
I could go on and on about what I loved about this book, but I did want to highlight the marriage relationship between Marilyn and David Sorenson. It was so refreshing to see a couple happily married throughout the years; their affections for each other and their intimacy—their decision to choose each other every day despite whatever they were “feeling” or going through—was truly beautiful and romantic. I loved their love, even though it wasn’t perfect. I loved the Sorenson family, even though they weren’t perfect.
This is a book on family, loss, love, marriage, belonging, forgiveness, second chances, and learning to love the hard edges—the valleys along with the mountain views. I was delighted to watch it all unfold.
Possibilities for July
My TBR for July is still kind of up in the air, but I’m excited to get going with these (fingers crossed!) page-turners!
Thanks to @randomhouse for gifting me this copy! I’ve been excited for this time-travel/historical fiction/romance-in-NYC-in-the-forties book since I saw it on Anne Bogel’s 2019 Summer Reading Guide. I’m actually already almost finished with it, and it’s been lovely.
A magical love story, inspired by the legend of a woman who vanished from Grand Central Terminal, sweeps readers from the 1920s to World War II and beyond, in the spirit of The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
On a clear December morning in 1937, at the famous gold clock in Grand Central Terminal, Joe Reynolds, a hardworking railroad man from Queens, meets a vibrant young woman who seems mysteriously out of place. Nora Lansing is a Manhattan socialite whose flapper clothing, pearl earrings, and talk of the Roaring Twenties don’t seem to match the bleak mood of Depression-era New York. Captivated by Nora from her first electric touch, Joe despairs when he tries to walk her home and she disappears. Finding her again—and again—will become the focus of his love and his life.
Nora, an aspiring artist and fiercely independent, is shocked to find she’s somehow been trapped, her presence in the terminal governed by rules she cannot fathom. It isn’t until she meets Joe that she begins to understand the effect that time is having on her, and the possible connections to the workings of Grand Central and the solar phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge, when the sun rises or sets between the city’s skyscrapers, aligned perfectly with the streets below.
As thousands of visitors pass under the famous celestial blue ceiling each day, Joe and Nora create a life unlike any they could have imagined. With infinite love in a finite space, they take full advantage of the “Terminal City” within a city, dining at the Oyster Bar, visiting the Whispering Gallery, and making a home at the Biltmore Hotel. But when the construction of another landmark threatens their future, Nora and Joe are forced to test the limits of freedom and love.
Delving into Grand Central Terminal’s rich past, Lisa Grunwald crafts a masterful historical novel about a love affair that defies age, class, place, and even time.
Thanks to @randomhouse for gifting me this book! As a BIG fan of Blake Crouch’s first book, Dark Matter, I can’t get to this one soon enough. Aaron read it in four days, so I think I’m going to read it pretty quickly too. Unsurprisingly, it sounds like a trippy, mind-bending book. I can’t wait to see how it holds up next to his first book!
Memory makes reality.
That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.
Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.
As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.
But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?
Thank you to @duttonbooks for gifting me this copy! I’m SO. READY. to tear into this thriller this month. I will definitely be getting to this one—Katie and I are interviewing the author, Riley Sager, on our podcast, No Thanks We’re Booked! And it will be my first Riley Sager book. Here’s to leaving the light on at night throughout July—I hope I’m ready for it!
No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.
As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.
Searching for the truth about Ingrid's disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew's dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building's hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.
I kind of started this one and put it down because Aaron wanted to read it too. He’s still reading it, but I’m hoping to get to it this month. I have so many parenting books I want to get to before this baby comes! This one will hopefully bring me a lot of peace—the goal of all of Emily Oster’s books are to find a more relaxed parenting method. I have a feeling I’m really going to need to take that to heart, haha.
From the author of Expecting Better, an economist's guide to the early years of parenting
With Expecting Better, award-winning economist Emily Oster spotted a need in the pregnancy market for advice that gave women the information they needed to make the best decision for their own pregnancies. By digging into the data, Oster found that much of the conventional pregnancy wisdom was wrong. In Cribsheet, she now tackles an even great challenge: decision making in the early years of parenting.
As any new parent knows, there is an abundance of often-conflicting advice hurled at you from doctors, family, friends, and the internet. From the earliest days, parents get the message that they must make certain choices around feeding, sleep, and schedule or all will be lost. There's a rule—or three—for everything. But the benefits of these choices can be overstated, and the tradeoffs can be profound. How do you make your own best decision?
This is our Patreon pick for the month of July over on the No Thanks We’re Booked Patreon book club! I don’t know much about this one except that Katie really wants to read it, and she thinks it will be a great summer read. I always trust Katie’s reading gut ;). Right now I’m listening to this on audio, but I’m not sure I love the narrator’s voice; I may try to get it on my Kindle, but right now, it’s not at my library at all—even though it’s a few years old!
Two very different people, one very small island.
For Sophie Ducel, her honeymoon in French Polynesia was intended as a celebration of life. The proud owner of a thriving Parisian architecture firm, co-founded with her brilliant new husband, Sophie had much to look forward to—including a visit to the island home of her favorite singer, Jacques Brel.
For Barry Bleecker, the same trip was meant to mark a new beginning. Turning away from his dreary existence in Manhattan finance, Barry had set his sights on fine art, seeking creative inspiration on the other side of the world—just like his idol, Paul Gauguin.
But when their small plane is downed in the middle of the South Pacific, the sole survivors of the wreck are left with one common goal: to survive. Stranded hundreds of miles from civilization, on an island the size of a large city block, the two castaways must reconcile their differences and learn to draw on one another's strengths if they are to have any hope of making it home.
Told in mesmerizing prose, with charm and rhythm entirely its own, Dane Huckelbridge's Castle of Water is more than just a reimagining of the classic castaway story. It is a stirring reflection on love’s restorative potential, as well as a poignant reminder that home—be it a flat in Paris, a New York apartment, or a desolate atoll a world away—is where the heart is.
What are you planning to pick up this month? I hope whatever you read, you’re enjoying a restful summer in the sun! x