Mid-Summer Memoirs and More


Summer is always a fast and slow reading time for me… some books I zip right through when the time is right, others I feel like it’s taking me weeks to finish a single novel. Nonetheless, here’s what I’ve read lately…

–Marissa

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs is a memoir about Lisa’s growing up with her bohemian mother and her (famous) father Steve Jobs in California. She talks about her relationship with both her parents, her struggles to reconcile her father’s wealth, emotions and affections towards her, her work in school and what California was like during her childhood. Though I’m not a huge Steve Jobs devotee, I was fascinated by his part in her memoir and in shaping who she has become. Very interesting!

Karamo by Karamo Brown is of course the memoir of the fabulous Brown from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Bravo, and is such a warm, kind, introspective memoir without being too heavy-handed or self-aggrandizing. I loved getting to know more about Karamo and his point of view that he brings to the show. Great!

Shamed by Linda Castillo is the latest Kate Burkholder mystery in the series, and is another solid entry in the lineup. I really love going back to this series and visiting with Kate, her police team, her relationship with Tomasetti, and the village of Painters Mill, Ohio… it’s like visiting an old friend for a few hours. 🙂

Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky is such a summery read about money, affairs, relationships, the Hamptons, and the lies we tell to get (and keep) what we want. I zipped through this one in no time – a quick “beach read” filled with short, sharp sentences and pithy observations!

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger took me an AGE to read, but is a timely novel in the vein of Big Little Lies and its telling of privileged people who will do anything to give their children a step ahead. This time, we’re in affluent Colorado where a new gifted school will be opening up, but not before stringent testing and review – which spins out both the parents and their children. It was a fine novel, but maaaan, I got bogged down in it and it took me forever to finally plow through to the finish!

After the End by Clare Mackintosh is a departure from her usual police procedurals, but is an excellent piece of women’s fiction told in a Sliding Doors style. Max and Pip are a solid couple who are raising their terminally ill child as strongly as they can. When a treatment *could* extend his life (but not the QUALITY of life), they are divided on which road to take. The book then splits into both perspectives, and what happens to their son – and their relationship – down each path. Very thought provoking and well-written – highly recommended!

The Chain by Adrian McKinty has been SUCH a buzzy book this summer, and why not? It’s such a great premise! Rachel is heading to her oncologist when she gets word her only daughter has been kidnapped… and in order to get her back, she must pay a ransom AND kidnap someone else’s child… thus becoming a part of “The Chain”. Fast-paced, twisty, and OMG, I really zipped through this suspense novel!

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo is definitely deserving of all the praise that has been heaped on this non-fiction work, and is one I’ve thought of again and again since I finished it. Taddeo spent years with three women, digging into and detailing their disparate intimate lives – one who begins an affair after a decade of being physically ignored by her husband; one who is seduced by her high school English teacher; and one who has a strong, loving marriage, in which her husband enjoys watching her have sex with other people. Taddeo really delves into the emotion, desperation, and decision-making of these women, not to vilify, but instead to illustrate that just because women are meant to be virginal and pure they don’t have their own sexual needs, emotional anguish or need for more. This is NOT for everyone – some of the encounters are not white-washed and are very detailed – but I’ve really thought about it a lot, and wondered…. where are these women now? Very highly recommended!

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman was just… charming. 🙂 This speedy read is about a girl who works in a bookshop, is part of a trivia team, and is content with her cozy, quiet life… until things go upside down, of course. I loved all the literary references, the laugh out loud humor, and the romance at the heart of the story (both with a guy, and with books!). Lovely!

Cosy : The British Art of Comfort by Laura Weir is the England-version of the Hygge book, all about how to be cosy in England (hint: tea is involved!). It was lovely and cosy and just what I needed, despite reading it in the heat of summer!

Supper Club by Lara Williams ended up being such a bummer when I had high hopes for it. I was psyched to see women embracing the creation and enjoyment of food just for enjoyment’s sake, in female relationships, and in embracing their bodies, but it just devolved into something… uglier. I struggled to finish this one, honestly. :-/

I also read The Middle Matters by Lisa-Jo Baker (unless you are a 40-something Christian woman with multiple children and a long-time husband, you’ll probably struggle to find relevance like I did)… Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (the first book in a wildly popular Young Adult series)… How Could She by Lauren Mechling (disappointing, meandering women’s fiction novel)… The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (based on a true story but would be more impactful as a screenplay, I think)…Her Daughter’s Mother by Daniela Petrova (though-provoking, twisty and page-turning) and The Collected Schizophrenias Esme Weijun Wang (an interesting non-fiction account of her experiences with schizoaffective disorder).

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