It’s the height of summer here in the Midwest, and all I want to do is stay in the air conditioning and READ! Here’s what I’ve torn through lately…
Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron was a page-turner! Cassie is a low-level legal aide culling emails for a case when she stumbles upon various personal emails from a higher-up partner… and starts to develop a true romantic obsession with him. I love a trainwreck of a story where you know the character is digging deeper and deeper into fixation and yet you’re unable to look away – especially when the twists start hitting. Summery suspense novel perfect for the beach (but man, it deserves a better cover, in my opinion)! edit: just found out this title has been pushed to April 2022 for release!
The Hunting Wives by May Cobb was a departure for me… an audiobook! But I really tore through this story… rich wives in a Texas neighborhood drink too much, cat around too much, go shootin’ (guns and drinks) on the weekends, but as newcomer Cassie discovers… these “perfect” women are not what they seem. This one has murder, toxic friendship, Insta-lives, relationships, lust, obsession, and sex all rolled into one rollicking tale, and I was here for it and could NOT stop listening! I really enjoyed this one!
The Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives by Kristin Miller was a fast suspense romp focusing on three moneyed, entitled wives living in a very private and exclusive neighborhood of San Francisco… we have the young trophy wife, we have the power wife with a very public job and a very not-nice husband and a wife dubbed the “Black Widow” since her previously husbands all ended up dead… but what happened to her last one and who of the three women is responsible? This was a bit silly and totally implausible, but a fun “beach read” style novel to knock through!
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory was a delicious romance novel (and great audiobook listen)! Olivia is an attorney starting a new practice in LA when she gets flirty with Max in a hotel bar… and later finds out he’s a California senator, but by then, they’ve already started falling for each other. I love the playfulness and humor of them as a couple, the real issues they face about going public and their very distinct backgrounds, and oh… the food, so much food described to drool over! I really loved these two characters, and was genuinely sad to say goodbye to them. A great, sexy, solid romance novel!
The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams is a unhurried novel highlighting the power of books, friendship, and overcoming that which we think we can’t. Our main characters – Mukesh and Aleisa – both have their own crosses to bear, and though they get off to a rocky start at the local library, they form a friendship (and then a movement of sorts) based on the power of a reading list Aleisha found “just in case”. Many of the titles should be familiar to readers, and it was fun to see how it affected our characters. Quiet and a bit slow for me, but a warm, comforting read.
The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green is a collection of essays from uber-bestselling YA author Green, ranging on topics from Canadian Geese and the Indy 500 to plaques to an Icelandic hot dog stand. Each essay is only a few pages long, but I took my time reading this one, just parsing out an essay here and there (and delighting in every Indianapolis reference to this lifelong Hoosier!). Green’s writing is just so engaging and perfect in tone, ranging from wry humor to deepest sorrow. I give this book five stars. 😉
While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory was the immediate audiobook follow-up to Party of Two, and was just as fun and sexy and romantic! This time a bonafide movie star and an advertising campaign manager work together, road trip together, fake date together… all while falling in love together. Another great romance novel with fully developed characters, sexy bedroom scenes, lots of food references and a lot of LA sunshine.
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner spoke to the very depths of my soul, and I don’t know how I got through it without weeping over and over at our shared similarities, though it wouldn’t appear so on the surface. Michelle writes about her mother’s diagnosis and death from cancer (check), her experience as a first generation immigrant (check) and how much food and culture played a part in maintaining that link to her ancestral home (check), and how her mother wasn’t the typical “mommy mom” that everyone else had (check). Her writing is emotional, honest, raw, and gorgeous in its pain and sorrow and healing. It was also filled with so many descriptions of food I could practically taste and touch what she was eating throughout… and then after I wiped away my tears, I went and made a very English shepherd’s pie – just the way my mum taught me.
56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard is the first true “COVID novel” I’ve read, and takes place just as Ireland is going into lockdown in March 2020, when Oliver and Ciara make the (admittedly rushed) decision to shelter in place together. But 56 days later, there is a dead body inside that apartment… dun dun dun! I actually really enjoyed the twists of this quick suspense novel, and didn’t feel “COVID dread” at reading something about the pandemic, instead pulled into the push and pull of Oliver and Ciara. And I didn’t see that ending coming!
That Summer by Jennifer Weiner proves once again why Weiner is the queen of evocative, emotional women’s fiction as she deftly navigates relationships, #metoo, mothers and daughters, and the way in which women allow themselves to shrink away, in so many ways. This novel – told from multiple points of view and across many timelines – centers on Diana and Daisy and their accidental meeting, and the ties from the past they may bind them together. I don’t want to give a single spoiler, except to say this novel deals with difficult (tw: sexual abuse) topics but in an ultimately hopeful way, while also putting the reader right into the heart of the Outer Cape of Massachusetts, and that I absolutely loved it.