June 2018 Book Review

Before I get started, I want to say that if you are on the East Coast, my prayers are with you right now. We had planned to drive to Virginia Beach today for a family vacation but have obviously needed to change our plans for the weekend. We’re monitoring Florence closely and praying that everyone on the coast stays safe!

We’re still playing catch-up from my summer reading list and today I’m recapping books that I read in June. The theme was “books that start with ‘the'” – haha! Not really but it did work out that way. 🙂 Let’s dive in!

1536887473940

The Four Tendencies – Gretchen Rubin

The Four Tendencies

Okay I just need to get this out there. I am a huge Gretchen Rubin fan girl. I have read all her books (some multiple times), I have listened to every episode of her podcast, and I have even paid to take her Four Tendencies online course. I think she is brilliant and I am absolutely fascinated by this framework she developed. The Four Tendencies are Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, and Rebel and your tendency is determined by how you respond to both inner and outer expectations. It is so interesting!

I found this book to be a game changer in my life. I am a Questioner (take the quiz here to find out what tendency you are) and this explains so much about how I respond to expectations that I put on myself (inner) and that others put on me (outer). My husband is an Obliger and honestly, just understanding this one little piece of our personalities has opened my eyes SO MUCH to how we interact and meet one another’s expectations within our marriage. I could go on and on about this all day but I’ll stop myself and just say – I think everyone could benefit from understanding what their tendency is. It has helped me understand others in my life and I wish I had known about it when I was still teaching because I think it would have made worlds of difference in how I presented expectations to different students. A must-read in my opinion.

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project

This book is about a genetics professor named Don who pretty clearly has Aspergers (though he doesn’t seem to realize it) and attempts to find the perfect wife for himself by creating a questionnaire that will essentially weed out any unfavorable candidates by eliminating qualities that have been problematic for him on previous dates. He gets a little sidetracked from this project when he decides to assist a graduate student named Rosie in search of her biological father. What follows is a quirky, cute, unconventional little adventure. I found the characters to be charming and easy to want to root for. I thought the author did a great job of creating a character like Don who quickly becomes endearing and funny but not in a way that makes you feel as though you are laughing at him. Overall I enjoyed this book! And I believe that it is currently being made into a movie? If so, I will definitely be watching!

The Woman in the Window – A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window

This book follows an agoraphobic woman who spends her days in her house drinking, popping pills, and spying on the neighbors. One day she sees something shocking – or maybe she doesn’t? – in a neighbor’s house and struggles to figure out what really happened and if she is in danger.  I enjoy a good psychological thriller and had this been the first one I’ve ever read, I would have loved it. That being said, it read a lot like like other books in this genre I have already read (particularly Girl on a Train) and therefore was not quite as thrilling as it wanted to be. There were still elements of surprise and one big HOT DANG revelation that made me have to go back and reread passages (the best kind of revelation). The writing is really great and I felt that the plot struck a good balance with being just creepy enough that I had to turn all my lights on without being so creepy that I never want to be alone in my house again. I would definitely recommend it if you like this genre, but be forewarned that there may be stretches where it feels like something you’ve already read.

The Marriage Pact – Michelle Richmond

The Marriage Pact

This book was also a psychological thriller but I found the plot to be much more original and interesting. Newlyweds Alice and Jake are given a mysterious wedding gift by a new acquaintance – entrance into an exclusive group called The Pact whose sole goal is to keep marriages together. What at first feels fun and glamorous quickly becomes quite frightening and controlling. I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that I found this book to be both riveting and chilling. I loved it and hated it – I dreaded what might happen in the next chapter but regardless could not put it down. This book had several twists I didn’t see coming and I was on the edge of my seat until the last page. I definitely recommend this one!

And there you have it! Have you read any of these books? What else should I be reading?

Advertisements

May 2018 Book Review

From a very young age, reading has been a huge passion of mine. It’s what I choose to do in my spare time; it’s what I want to do on vacations. Even as a first time mom without a lot of time on her hands, reading is something that I continue to make time for. It technically adds a ‘to-do’ to my life, but reading seems to simplify my life by helping me feel like myself even when I am frazzled, overwhelmed, and sleep deprived.  For me, it is a form of self-care so I make sure to prioritize it as much as I can. Every month I try to read at least a few books and this summer I started documenting what I read. I’ve decided to have monthly recaps/review of what I have read here on the blog. My reviews will be spoiler-free and give more of my feelings about the story/how much I enjoyed the book rather than detailed plot reviews.

That being said, I have a whole summer’s worth of reading that I want to recap so for the next few weeks we’ll be playing catch up and having more frequent review posts. If you’re also an avid reader, hit me up with suggestions for further reading in the comments! If reading is not your thing, feel free to just skip these blog posts. 🙂

So let’s get started, shall we? Here’s what I read starting in May 2018:

Phonto

Summer Island by Kristin Hannah

Summer Island

Summer Island follows a mother-daughter duo who have a mostly estranged relationship. After an exposed scandal and an accident involving mother Nora, daughter Ruby has her own reasons for choosing to care for her mother in their family’s memory-laden home on Summer Island, where they both have to face their respective pasts. Secrets are exposed, relationships are tested, and Ruby is faced with some big life decisions. I will say that I have read several books by Kristin Hannah and loved every single one so I was very excited to read this story. While I did enjoy this book, I did not feel like I was reading a novel written by the same author of The Nightingale or Winter Garden. This was an earlier work of hers and I just didn’t think the writing was *quite* as amazing as some of her more recent books. I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to someone looking for a good summer read but it is not quite on par with some of the other Hannah books I have read.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

This story follows a man who returns to his childhood home for a funeral and feels led to sit beside a pond on a neighboring farm. While there, he begins to recall memories from his childhood that are fantastically bizarre and frightening. We journey with him into memories of strange happenings and a neighbor girl who befriended him. Neil Gaiman writes in a style that is definitely outside of my usual scope of reading. He combines dark fantasy/science fiction in a very unique way and his books are truly unlike any others I have read. Previously, I read his book Neverwhere and had picked it up without any idea of the genre in which he writes so the book really threw me for a loop. This time, I felt like I was going into The Ocean at the End of the Lane with a better idea of what I was getting in to and I did enjoy it more. That being said, this story left me feeling a little sad, bewildered and, like Neverwhere, a little uncertain with how I felt about it. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either. It fell somewhere in the middle.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

This novel is a tale of the glamorous, ambitious Evelyn Hugo. For reasons initially unknown, Evelyn chooses a relatively obscure writer to tell the intricate story of her life to, including everything she did to get to, and stay at, the top of celebrity in Hollywood from the 1950’s to 1980’s. I did not know what to expect with this book when I began reading. I knew nothing about the storyline prior to reading and picked it up mostly because I read Taylor Jenkin Reid’s One True Loves and loved her style of writing – not to mention the plot of that book stuck with me for a long time after reading. This book did not disappoint. There were several surprises that I did not see coming as Evelyn chronicled her life story and I absolutely flew through this book. Without spoiling anything, I will say that Evelyn Hugo is truly one of the most complex characters I’ve ever encountered and I was thoroughly engrossed by her story from start to finish.

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry

After a brutal murder-suicide occurs during a severe draught in a tiny Australian town, Aaron Fulk comes back to his hometown for the funeral of the victims and somewhat unwillingly gets involved with trying to figure out if everything that happened is really as it initially appeared. I found this whodunit to be very well written – I felt just as antsy and restless as the residents of the stir-crazy, dry town and I was so itchy to figure out what was really going on! I thought I had figured things out at several different points but this novel continued to deliver twists and turns that I did not see coming. I found this book to be very hard to put down.

And that’s a wrap on my first book review. Let me know if you’ve read any of these books too and what you thought of them!