Summer Stories

Audiobooks, Kindle books, print books… all the books! What have you been reading?

–Marissa

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen was a must-read, since I adored her debut novel Garden Spells many years ago. A nice setting, a motley crew of neighbors, a lot of magical realism (as with all her books)… this is felt like it just meandered – I wasn’t pulled into the story. The plot was… eh, and it seems everything in the last few chapters got a bit chaotic and quick-to-finish. The characters were fine, but I can’t remember the name of a single one, which says something about their development. I wanted to love it more…

Deep Water by Emma Bradford is the latest in the “shenanigans on a deserted island” trope, but I still enjoyed this audiobook. Newlyweds Virginie and Jake as on their sailboat in Malaysia when they hear about a tiny, unspoiled island that sounds perfect. They travel there, meet the “regulars”, and quickly fall into the community of expats and their loose community rules. But of course, things… take a turn. This is less “the island’s secrets get ‘em” and more “damn, people can be ugly”, but I was here for it!

Not Exactly What I Had in Mind by Kate Brook looked like it was going to be a quick, breezy read, and somehow was more contemporary fiction, half-hearted romance, and social commentary. I didn’t dislike it, but I wasn’t rooting for it, or couldn’t wait to get back to it. Eh. (A lot of people have compared it to Sally Rooney, so there you go).

Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen was selected as a Reese’s Book Club pick, so I grabbed the audiobook and dove into the story of Ava and Winnie, two Chinese-American women who met in college and then meet unexpectedly years later, when Winnie gives Ava an “offer she can’t refuse”, as it were. Luxury handbags, international travel, family drama and secrets make this a rollicking caper!

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman is breakout poet star Gorman’s latest collection, which seems deeply rooted in the pandemic and what we as a nation endured. Cleverly put together.

Like a House on Fire by Lauren McBrayer was a well-narrated audiobook that hooked me straightaway. Merit – mother and wife of 12 years – decides to finally go back to work as an architect after deciding she needs more in her life. She is hired by the magnetic Jane, who becomes a mentor – and best friend –to Merit. As they grow closer, Merit begins to wonder if her husband is the one for her… or if Jane is. I *adored* the rapid-fire, witty, tender conversations between Merit and Jane, and couldn’t wait for Jane to reappear on every page she was missing from, and I loved the examination of middle age, love, job struggles, and what our lives are “supposed” to be like. I know this won’t be for everyone (there are steamy moments and some language), but I really loved it – and the last paragraph made me rewind and listen again. J

Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore was a great audiobook listen, since it’s a novel told in alternating podcast episodes, interviews, and straightforward narration. Ten years ago, iconic magician Violet Volk… disappeared, leaving her sister Sasha (and Sasha’s family) searching for answers while trying to avoid the spotlight. Throughout the novel, it unpacks who Violet is/was as a person and performer, and the impact she had on her family. I was intrigued and interested, though the ending was a bit meh after the buildup. This is a slow build, but I loved the narration/podcast angle of the audiobook!

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid had *big* shoes to fill for me, because I have LOVED the last few Jenkins Reid titles! Having said that… it wasn’t my favorite. *sob* Carrie Soto is a past-her-prime tennis player (think Serena Williams level of talent) who decides she’s going to attempt a comeback at the age of 37 with her father Javier as coach. Now, I grew up with a tennis-obsessed mother and watched Wimbledon religiously every year, but… this was a LOT of tennis, and I worry that it’ll miss the mark with audiences because it’s “just too much tennis” and not as much development. Plus, Carrie can be *really* hard to love. Also, it’s a LOT OF TENNIS. Still, I enjoyed it… but it wasn’t my favorite. Did I mention it features a lot of tennis?

When the Corn is Waist High by Jeremy Scott was actually “assigned reading” as it was recently challenged at my library. In it, Indiana priest/sheriff Father Solomon finds himself chasing a gruesome serial killer in his small town. This had an… unexpected twist *record scratch* and also has a lot of offensive language and sexual content that might offend some, but mostly, while I wasn’t offending by it, it just wasn’t… well written. And nothing hacks me off more than people citing “Indiana things” that I’ve never heard of and the small-town Hoosier shtick wore thing quickly. I’ve been a Hoosier all my life I’m still trying to figure out what Hoosier nachos is. *shrug*

Reputation by Sarah Vaughan was a must-listen after I devoured Anatomy of a Scandal on Netflix a few weeks ago. Again, we’re back in Parliament, but with a female MP this time, who is dealing with twin scandals of a bullying issue with her daughter and a dead man found in MP Emma’s home. I really enjoyed this psychological thriller and the “peek behind the curtain” of an MP’s life (and her trial), particularly from the perspective of a female. There was a LOT to chew on and unpack in this one!

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