A review of the 8 must-read books I finished in July of 2018.
Since getting my reading glasses and solving the whole “I’m losing my mind because words are jumping around on the pages” problem, I’ve been taking advantage of reading ALL THE BOOKS. It feels SO good to be reading again!
I thought I’d do a quick roundup of some of my July must-read books. As always, if we aren’t friends on Goodreads click here to friend me there so we can share real time book recommendations with each other. It’s my favorite site to hang out on although my “to read” shelf is dangerously large. There are way too many good books out there and not enough time, am I right?
Since I have a lot of books to share, I’m just going to write a short review about each one, however if you want to know more about any of these must-read books just leave a comment and let me know. Let’s dive in, shall we?
How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
About this book: Margaret is a young twenty something woman living her best life. She has a wonderful fiancé, is getting ready to start her dream job and has a future that’s planned out down to the white picket fence. Things change when Margaret is in a plane crash that severely changes her way of life. Through her recovery, she is able to examine her relationships and life goals more closely and determine if the great track she was on is really the track she wants to be on in her life. This was a heartwarming story about true love, forever family and how sometimes the worst things in life aren’t actually so.
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
About this book: Ginny Moon is a 13 year old autistic girl who suffered terrible neglect and abuse from her birth mother. Ginny was eventually rescued and placed into foster care. After being shuffled from home to home, Ginny is finally placed in the loving care of a family who plans on adopting her. The only problem is, Ginny is hiding a terrible secret and because of it she can’t seem to let her past go. Ginny’s obsession with her past is threatening to ruin her future which is a chance Ginny can’t afford to take.
Hum If You Don’t Know The Words by Bianca Marais
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
About this book: Oh, how I loved this book. Hum If You Don’t Know The Words takes place in 1976 apartheid South Africa. Robin is a 9 year old white girl who becomes orphaned after her parents are murdered (most likely as a consequence of her fathers racist behavior towards blacks). Living in a rural village many miles away is Beauty, a 50 year old, educated, black mother. Both Robin and Beauty live in an era of racial divide and come together when Beauty searches for her daughter who she believes left school to become part of the resistance. Through a turn of events, Beauty becomes Robin’s caretaker and despite their outward differences, the two develop a special bond that helps them navigate the terrifying world they live in.
Hum If You Don’t Know the Words is a beautiful book about the bond of family and friendship that goes beyond race and stereotypes. If you loved The Help you will love Bianca Marais’ debut novel. You can add Hum If You Don’t Know the Words to Goodreads here or buy it on Amazon here. (I just read that this might not be the last we hear from Robin and Beauty and I can’t wait!).
The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
About this book: Friends, I don’t even know where to start with this book and would desperately like to talk to anyone who has read it. It was one of the most moving yet bewildering books I’ve read in a very long time. I was sucked in by the story, moved by the writing, and left in a state of wonderment about what I just finished reading when I closed the book. I don’t even know what to say about it, so instead, I’ll just leave a short synopsis from their website here: “The Devil comes to Ohio…and is a 13-year-old boy. This devastating and original story delves into the depths of community, revenge, redemption, and where evil really resides. In the end, you must decide is this boy, who speaks in riddles and brings with him a heatwave unlike the town has ever seen, really the devil…or a victim.”
The Summer That Melted Everything is definitely not for everyone and is definitely not a book in my normal genre. Fans of Neil Gaiman and readers who are looking to suspend reality and be made to think deeply, will enjoy this book. You can add this book to your Goodreads shelf here or buy it from Amazon here.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
About this book: I love a good memoir. In fact if I had to pick a favorite genre memoir would be it. I especially love memoirs about life so outside the norm of my own, which is what Educated is. In this memoir, Tara Westover chronicles her life growing up completely off the grid in rural Idaho. Tara’s parents (especially her dad) were paranoid anti-government extremists Mormons who did not believe in sending their kids to school, avoided doctors and hospitals (even after severe, life threatening accidents, which were plenty) and attempted to be as self-sufficient as possible. While living at home Tara often experienced abuse by one of her brothers that went ignored by her parents. Tara’s version of the story chronicles her life growing up under these circumstances and eventually tells of her move away from the Mormon church as well as leaving Idaho and her family behind to get a proper education.
Educated reminded me some of Jame’s Frey’s book A Million Little Pieces (which is one of my favorite books). Some of the stories told seemed to be so extreme it was hard for me to imagine them actually being true. Tara is sticking by her story although several family members are not so happy about the light she has shone on them and are offering up different versions of their facts surrounding her upbringing. Either way, if you like a good memoir, definitely pick up Educated. You can add this book to your Goodreads shelf here or buy it on Amazon here.
A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
About this book: Stephanie and Emily are best friends who met because they both have young sons the same young age. One day, Emily asks Stephanie a simple favor…would she mind picking her son Nicky up from school and watching him for awhile? These kind of favors aren’t unusual between these two friends, so Stephanie happily obliges. What isn’t typical is Emily never shows back up to pick up her son. What happens next is a twisted and suspenseful story with lots of unexpected turns. What was fun for me (and made me cringe a little) is Stephanie is a blogger who blogs about the whole experience of searching for her missing best friend.
Fans of Gone Girl or The Last Mrs Parrish will like this one. Bonus, it’s currently free for the audio version on the Hoopla app (which is how I listened to it). A Simple Favor has been made into a movie starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively which I think is perfect casting. You can catch the movie in theaters in September.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
About the book: I had the opportunity to visit Alaska during the summer of 2017 and reading this book made me miss it so much. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The Great Alone begins with Ernt Allbright up and moving his wife Cora and his teenage daughter Leni to the wilderness of Alaska in the 1970’s. With little advanced planning, the Allbright’s have no idea what they are getting into with the harsh Alaskan winters and realize once they’ve arrived that they are completely unprepared for the new homesteading lifestyle they face. To make matters worse, Ernt Allbright is a Vietnam Vet who is fighting demons that remain from the war. He’s unhinged and mentally unstable, which makes the long winters even more difficult. The local neighbors try to help the Allbright’s out by donating livestock and food to help get their new life in Alaska started, but over time Ernt’s hostile, unpredictable and abusive ways tend to alienate the Allbright family from others who can help them.
Kristin Hannah is an incredible storyteller and it’s evident in the way she crafted this beautifully sad story of the Allbright family. This is definitely not a happy book, but one that will capture your attention from page one and continue to hold you captive until the very end. If you love Kristin Hannah’s other books, you will definitely love The Great Alone. You can add this book to your Goodreads shelf here or buy it from Amazon here.
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
About the book: This is a true story about two very different teens who spend just a few minutes on a public bus at the same time each day and how their lives drastically change when one of them does something really stupid and ends up being charged with a hate crime. It’s a timely read about gender identity, racial tension and unexpected forgiveness.
This is an important read that will both break your heart and open your mind to the daily reality of those who might be different from us. You can add this book to your Goodreads shelf here or purchase it from Amazon here.
OK friends, I fell like I just dumped a ton of books on you, but hopefully, out of these 8 must-read books, you’ll find a couple that piques your interest.
When you get a moment leave a comment letting me know what must-read books you’ve been reading lately! In addition, if you’ve read any of the books I recommended today, let me know your thoughts about it. As always, check out all of my reading activity on Goodreads and follow my 2 Minute Book Chats on Instagram Stories for more of a live look at what books I’m reading.
All the best,
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