Wowza. 2019 is flyinggggg by. But, here we are - another book post! I took a little longer with this review as I got into a major funk this summer and stopped reading. Sometimes you just have to find different ways to implement self-care into your routine when you’re in the middle of a crisis. Good news is that it’s October and I’m feeling better, looking forward to Fall, and counting down the days until the holidays. PLUS I get to see all my best friends in T-minus 12 days for OU/TX. Overall, life is pretty good right now and I can’t complain. :)
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What are you reading this month?! Y’all always have the best recommendations! Please comment and share!
two PHENOMENAL Memoir audiobooks read by the authors…
Born a Crime (memoir 5+/5)
“Trevor Noah, one of the comedy world's fastest-rising stars and host of The Daily Show, tells his wild coming-of-age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. The stories Noah tells are by turns hilarious, bizarre, tender, dark, and poignant - subsisting on caterpillars during months of extreme poverty, making comically pitiful attempts at teenage romance in a color-obsessed world, thrown into jail as the hapless fall guy for a crime he didn't commit, thrown by his mother from a speeding car driven by murderous gangsters, and more.”
This memoir gave me quite a few chuckles and A LOT of tears. I remember sitting at work and sobbing while listening to the last chapter. (If you know, you know!) Trevor Noah is a hilarious comedian (one that I have a strong crush on…) so I knew his memoir would be phenomenal. He talks about his life in South Africa, his family, shares funny anecdotes, and ultimately how he found success on The Daily Show. I liked this memoir more than others because of how Noah read with such empathy. You could feel his emotions through the delivery of the text and I absolutely loved it.
Overall: I’d highly recommend if you love comedians and/or late night comedy!
Save me the plums (Memoir 5/5)
“Trailblazing food writer and beloved restaurant critic Ruth Reichl took the risk (and the job) of a lifetime when she entered the glamorous, high-stakes world of magazine publishing. Now, for the first time, she chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet, during which she spearheaded a revolution in the way we think about food.
When Condé Nast offered Ruth Reichl the top position at America's oldest epicurean magazine, she declined. She was a writer, not a manager, and had no inclination to be anyone's boss. And yet . . . Reichl had been reading Gourmet since she was eight; it had inspired her career. How could she say no?”
Sometimes I like to declare myself a foodie but then I pop on Instagram and realize that I am just an average person who likes food. Ha! I really knew nothing about Gourmet magazine, but I found this memoir from their former EIC very compelling. Reichl reads the audiobook herself and (if you can’t tell) I can’t resist a good memoir audiobook read by the author. I sobbed in the 9/11 chapter and felt major #GIrlPower when Reichl talks about running sh!t at Gourmet.
Overall: I’d highly recommend if you are a foodie or love woman-focused memoirs!
Historical fiction that made me want to time travel…
City of Girls (historical fiction 5/5)
“In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, though, it leads her to a new understanding of the kind of life she craves and the kind of freedom it takes to pursue it. It will also lead to the love of her life, a love that stands out from all the rest.
Now ninety-five years old and telling her story at last, Vivian recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life - and the gusto and autonomy with which she approached it. At some point in a woman's life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time, she muses. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is. Written with a powerful wisdom about human desire and connection, City of Girls is a love story like no other.”
This story kept me captivated from the beginning to the end. As an aside, I really don’t enjoy long books. I’d prefer books be 300 pages or less. 350 is pushing it… However, at over 470 pages, I could not put this book down and tore through it in a weekend. From the reviews I’ve seen, it’s very polarizing - you either LOVE it or HATE it because there is no major plot, it’s merely a long letter. The story follows Vivian throughout her life - failing out of school, living in NYC, experiencing WW2, and falling in love. The love stories aren’t what you’re expecting and I was shocked how the story ended up. The imagery was absolutely beautiful and I felt as though I was experiencing NYC in 1940’s right alongside her. If you can’t tell, I really related to the main character, Vivian, and felt so invested in her.
Overall: I’d highly recommend if you love Historical Fiction!
Two thrillers that I read in less than 24 hours each…
The Banker’s Wife (thriller 5/5)
“On an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar, and its wreckage is later uncovered in the Alps. Among the disappeared is Matthew Werner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind, including an encrypted laptop and a shady client list. As she begins a desperate search for answers, she determines that Matthew's death was no accident, and that she is now in the crosshairs of his powerful enemies.
Meanwhile, ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau has finally landed at the top. Now that she's engaged to Grant Ellis, she will stop writing about powerful families and finally be a part of one. Her entry into the upper echelons of New York's social scene is more appealing than any article could ever be, but, after the death of her mentor, she agrees to dig into one more story. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including a few who are too close to home. The story could also be the answer to Annabel's heartbreaking search--if Marina chooses to publish it.”
This book was so captivating. It explores off-shore banking gone wrong and tax lawyers gone bad. Two things I am extremely interested in. I really could not put this down and I was impressed how Alger somehow connected all the characters while still making everything seem plausible. I read this in hardback but I feel like it’d also be good in audiobook as there’s not too many characters or POVs. I’ve talked to a few people who looooooooved this book as well so it’s definitely well received! It’s more suspenseful than thriller-like and I equated it to reading a James Bond movie. The last 10 pages are a bit cheesy but I can overlook that as it’s a well-written book about the finance world.
Overall: I’d highly recommend if you’re into suspenseful thrillers!
Emma in the night (thriller 5/5)
“One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.”
This is a backlisted book that I found via Sarah’s Bookshelves. She is not a huge thriller fan and it’s the only thriller she gave 5 stars besides Gone Girl. That was reason alone to get on the waitlist at the library. I’ve been really into audiobooks lately so I rented this one on audio and WOW, this was a good thriller. Just a lesson that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. ;) It follows two sisters disappearance and their messed up familial situation. I guess it is a bit slower in the beginning but by the last 100 pages there are so many twists and turns and I really couldn’t figure the ending of this one out.
Overall: Read this if you loved Gone Girl!
The deeper love story…
What alice forgot (light fiction 5/5)
“So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.”
Cue tears!!! I absolutely adored this book. It follows Alice after she has an accident and forgets the past ten years of her life - the births of her children, her divorce, the death of her best friend. Moriarty’s writing is fabulous so you feel the exact emotions that Alice feels. I love every Liane Moriarty book I’ve read (hello, Big Little Lies!!!) so I don’t know why I didn’t pick this up sooner. It’s a bit deeper than your traditional romance book and I enjoyed it a lot more. I’m not usually a huge fan of romance and if you aren’t either then I’d still recommend you pick this up!
Overall: I’d recommend if you love books that read like romantic comedies!
The polarizing, Buzz-Worthy book…
Three women (Non-fiction 4/5)
“It thrills us and torments us. It controls our thoughts and destroys our lives. It’s all we live for. Yet we almost never speak of it. And as a buried force in our lives, desire remains largely unexplored—until now. Over the past eight years, journalist Lisa Taddeo has driven across the country six times to embed herself with ordinary women from different regions and backgrounds. Based on years of immersive reporting, and told with astonishing frankness and immediacy, Three Women is a groundbreaking portrait of erotic longing in today’s America, exposing the fragility, complexity, and inequality of female desire with unprecedented depth and emotional power.”
Hear me out - you will either love or hate this. If sex is something that you can’t easily discuss or read about then I wouldn’t pick up this book. This book follows the sex lives of three women. Up until I was about 60% through the book I was pretty bored and very uncomfortable. However, Taddeo’s writing is absolutely amazing which is the one reason I didn’t put it down. These are real stories, with the real names of the women and when I realized this I was flabbergasted. The book was so intense and intimate I thought they would change the names?! Take Maggie’s story for example. Anyway, I really enjoyed it. I’ve heard that the audiobook is great as well because they have a cast of characters (i.e., three different women reading the three women’s parts so it’s easier to differentiate the stories from one another.) If you pick it up then let me know and let’s chat!
Overall: I’d recommend if you are a book nerd or exceptionally interested in women’s rights! Otherwise, I’d pass.
The one Carrie Bradshaw would recommend…
He’s just not that into you (Self-Improvement 3/5)
“For ages women have come together over coffee, cocktails, or late-night phone chats to analyze the puzzling behavior of men. Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo are here to say that despite good intentions you're wasting your time. Men are not complicated, although they'd like you to think they are. And there are no mixed messages.
Based on a popular episode of Sex and the City, He’s Just Not That Into You educates otherwise smart women on how to tell when a guy just doesn't like them enough, so they can stop wasting time making excuses for a dead-end relationship. This book knows you're a beautiful, smart, funny woman who deserves better.”
Honestly I bought this audiobook before I went on a random Hinge date and I found it relatable and hilarious. It’s pretty on point and I love both the Sex and the City episode and movie based on this book. My biggest takeaway was this: “If a guy likes you, you’ll know. If not, you’ll be confused.” As for the Hinge date, he was not into me but it was a fun time! ;)
Overall, if you love listening to dating podcasts then give this a listen! It’s nothing mind-blowing but I really enjoyed the audiobook.
Two books from must-read authors that fell flat…
The Lying Game (Thriller 3/5)
“On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten, along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…
The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isa—receive the text they had always hoped would never come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”
The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second-rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty. But their little game had consequences, and as the four converge in present-day Salten, they realize their shared past was not as safely buried as they had once hoped…”
Ruth Ware is a must-read author for me. My favorite book of hers is In a Dark, Dark Wood (if you haven’t read it then you MUST - it’s creepy in the best way!) However, this book fell kind of flat for me. It started off engaging and strong but was far too long and kind of rambled as the plot repeated itself.
Overall, I would read Ruth Ware’s other novels - In a Dark, Dark Wood and Woman in Cabin 10 and skip this one.
Forever, interrupted (light fiction 2/5)
“Elsie Porter is an average twentysomething and yet what happens to her is anything but ordinary. On a rainy New Year's Day, she heads out to pick up a pizza for one. She isn't expecting to see anyone else in the shop, much less the adorable and charming Ben Ross. Their chemistry is instant and electric. Ben cannot even wait twenty-four hours before asking to see her again. Within weeks, the two are head over heels in love. By May, they've eloped.
Only nine days later, Ben is out riding his bike when he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, he has already been whisked off to the emergency room. At the hospital, she must face Susan, the mother-in-law she has never met and who doesn't even know Elsie exists.”
OMG. This book was so dumb… I usually stan for Taylor Jenkins Reid but this was totally phony. The plot didn’t seem to go anywhere and I didn’t feel like there was a protagonist, antagonist, or climax. It was a cute story but nothing special.
Overall, don’t read this! Taylor Jenkins Reid has a few other amazing books (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & the Six) that you should pick up instead!
if you love Jackie O…
The editor (light fiction 3/5)
“After years of trying to make it as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally sells his novel to an editor at a major publishing house: none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie--or Mrs. Onassis, as she's known in the office--has fallen in love with James's candidly autobiographical novel, one that exposes his own dysfunctional family. But when the book's forthcoming publication threatens to unravel already fragile relationships, both within his family and with his partner, James finds that he can't bring himself to finish the manuscript.
Jackie and James develop an unexpected friendship, and she pushes him to write an authentic ending, encouraging him to head home to confront the truth about his relationship with his mother. Then a long-held family secret is revealed, and he realizes his editor may have had a larger plan that goes beyond the page...”
If you are interested in reading this book, then I highly recommend listening to the audiobook. I tried to read the e-book version of this and couldn’t get past chapter 6. However, the audiobook is AMAZING. The narrator is one of my favorites! The story is cute and deals with LGBTQ in the ‘90s, family drama, and the ins-and-outs of the editing world. (If you didn’t know, my dream job would be to be an editor so I love any book that is in that setting!)
Overall, I’d recommend if you love Jackie O or are looking for a light, fun story! This would be a perfect follow-up to a particularly emotional book!
If you loved the podcast serial…
sadie (Young Adult 3/5)
“Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.
But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.
When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.”
Oh wow. I’ve seen recommendations for listening to the audiobook of Sadie so I bought it over a year ago but never got around to listening to it. MISTAKE. This audiobook was excellently made and I was so impressed with it. It follows the disappearance of Sadie’s sister, Mattie, through the eyes of both Sadie and a podcast reporter, West. As a lover of true crime podcasts, this did not disappoint. The book itself was only average for me, as I’m not a huge fan of young adult books, but the audiobook performance was out of this world!
Overall, I highly recommend if you’re a lover of true crime podcasts!
If you loved Big Little Lies…
The gifted school (light fiction 3/5)
“Set in the fictional town of Crystal, Colorado, The Gifted School is a keenly entertaining novel that observes the drama within a community of friends and parents as good intentions and high ambitions collide in a pile-up with long-held secrets and lies. Seen through the lens of four families who've been a part of one another's lives since their kids were born over a decade ago, the story reveals not only the lengths that some adults are willing to go to get ahead, but the effect on the group's children, sibling relationships, marriages, and careers, as simmering resentments come to a boil and long-buried, explosive secrets surface and detonate. It's a humorous, keenly observed, timely take on ambitious parents, willful kids, and the pursuit of prestige, no matter the cost.”
I got this as a Book of the Month purchase and I enjoyed it well enough but I probably wouldn’t recommend. There are a lot of characters and at times it got confusing keeping them straight. Additionally, it was a bit slow in the beginning and about 150 pages too long. It did remind me a lot of Big Little Lies but the end was totally unrealistic. I will say that the short chapters made it an easy, quick read and reading about psycho parents is always entertaining.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend unless you are a parent of children in elementary school then I think you’d really relate to it!
The one I felt very ‘meh’ about…
The view from Penthouse B (light fiction 2/5)
“Unexpectedly widowed Gwen-Laura Schmidt is still mourning her husband, Edwin, when her older sister Margot invites her to join forces as roommates in Margot’s luxurious Village apartment. For Margot, divorced amid scandal (hint: her husband was a fertility doctor) and then made Ponzi-poor, it’s a chance to shake Gwen out of her grief and help make ends meet. To further this effort she enlists a third boarder, the handsome, cupcake-baking Anthony.
As the three swap money-making schemes and timid Gwen ventures back out into the dating world, the arrival of Margot’s paroled ex in the efficiency apartment downstairs creates not just complications but the chance for all sorts of unexpected forgiveness. A sister story about love, loneliness, and new life in middle age, this is a cracklingly witty, deeply sweet novel from one of our finest comic writers.”
The premise of this book sounded cute enough but I really didn’t enjoy it. The plot went nowhere and I really didn’t care about any of the characters.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend.
The one I Did Not Finish…
Bottle of Lies (Non-fiction)
“Many have hailed the widespread use of generic drugs as one of the most important public-health developments of the twenty-first century. Today, almost 90 percent of our pharmaceutical market is comprised of generics, the majority of which are manufactured overseas. We have been reassured by our doctors, our pharmacists and our regulators that generic drugs are identical to their brand-name counterparts, just less expensive. But is this really true?
Katherine Eban exposes the deceit behind generic-drug manufacturing—and the attendant risks for global health. Drawing on exclusive accounts from whistleblowers and regulators, as well as thousands of pages of confidential FDA documents, Eban reveals an industry where fraud is rampant, companies routinely falsify data, and executives circumvent almost every principle of safe manufacturing to minimize cost and maximize profit, confident in their ability to fool inspectors. Meanwhile, patients unwittingly consume medicine with unpredictable and dangerous effects.”
I typically can’t get into non-fiction books and this was no exception. i listened to half of it on audiobook and decided to give up. I really didn’t enjoy it but it is a NYT Bestseller so if pharmaceuticals are your thing then go for it! Otherwise, I’d read a synopsis and get the gist of it. ;)