28 May 2020

Michelle's Summer Reading Guide

Summer Reading is a term that may be different from most folks.  To me, it means books that I can devour quickly while shuffling in between sports, gardening, and just everyday life.  Since that is normally how I read anyway my list is comprised of books that I think you would love to spend some time with, especially if summertime is the only time of the year you really get to enjoy a book.  This is a list of books I have read and loved.  Some can be read in one afternoon sitting at the poolside and others you may need a couple of days, but they are worth it!

It's not all downhill from here by Terry McMillan is a coming of age story for the older set.  I adored the plot.  A couple has it all and decides to take a little vacation over a weekend.  What happens changes the course of everything.  How do you cope with your body falling apart?  How do you cope with the loss of a loved one?  How do you cope when family comes in and out of your life?  How do you maintain a job in your golden years?  All of this will be covered.  There are many fun times, a few sad, and loads of laughs.  This read clocks in at 353 pages.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
Where do you see yourself in five years?  Dannie has it all planned out, who she will marry, where she will live, her dream employer...it is all hers.  One night she has a dream that changes everything and she spends the next five years trying to keep it from coming true.  This is a short book, a tad over 250 pages, but a GREAT read.  I found that I could not put it down. 

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown (Read with Michelle's bonus book club pick for April)
I completely checked out this book based on the cover art.  A 1950's housewife!  Sign me up!! Only this one surprised me.  It takes place in the '50s but also in the modern-day. The only constant is the home, as it appears in both timelines.  I loved the 1950's wife so much, her name was Nellie and she did everything she could to be perfect, she followed the instructions left to her, recipes from an old cookbook and even wrote her dear mother letters.  Her husband was a jerk.  I won't talk about him much because I hated him, but he was an important part of how Nellie could become the perfect wife.  Transport 60 years in the future to Alice.  She wants to write a best selling novel and moved from the city to this rural little house.  She has many secrets too!!  She also finds a box of old things in the basements.  They are Nellie's things.  The first thing she really uses is the cookbook.  She makes all kinds of bizarre meals and completely dives into this 1950's lifestyle.  She also figures out Nellie's secret, and she will have to give up a few of her own too.  371 pages

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano (Read with Michelle's book club pick for February)
This book also has two timelines.  The day the plane full of passengers crashed and the aftermath a few years later.  Edward is the sole survivor of the crash and everyone tries to figure out why?  This book tells of Edward's struggles and his grief as well as the guilt that he feels for being "the lucky one".  His aunt and uncle struggle as well and somehow all these struggles have to end and they have to move on and become a family.   This was a beautiful book coming in at about 336 pages.

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey (Read with Michelle's January book pick)
I admit, I had a slow start to this one, but I ended up loving it so very much.  Selina is a Bright Young Thing (I thought it was like a club of rich people) in the 1920s.  She meets a guy and falls madly in love with him, but this isn't like another old love story.  What is a rich girl to do?   It all sounds simple and shallow, but it will prove to be completely different.  There is another timeline (I must like these two timeline books) set just a few years later.  There is a child named Alice, her mom is on a trip of some sort and has left her clues to a fun game.  The game becomes "real life" as Alice unravels her mom's past and the present, and something in the present that needs to be told.  There is some sadness here, but also true love, and the child's timeline is pure perfection.  This is a longer one, but so worth it, 481 pages.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare
This book was hard to read at times, but it is a story that needs to be read.  Adunni is a young girl with a father who only wants to have money and not so much work for it.  He sees a way to make lots of money by selling his daughter to a man she has never met.  The man is looking for his third wife because he needs more children.  All Adunni wanted to do was stay in school, she did not want to marry a man she did not love, a man that was older than her own father.  She finds a way out, only to be sold into slavery.  Again, it is a story that needs to be told and Adunni will fight with all her might to get back to school.  This is about 336 pages and took me a could of days to read.

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey and the Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar
I had to put both of these two together, not because they are identical, but because they are set in the same timeline and feature girls doing their part in WWII.  The Flight Girls is my favorite of the two, it features girls at a flight school at the time Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.  It is very vivid.  Very graphic in the destruction, but we don't need to forget what happened that day and we need to remember what these people went through on December 7, 1941.    The Beantown Girls is about a group of girls in Boston working the Clubmobile for the Red Cross.  While both books have some similar conversations they both take place on opposite ends of the US during the time of war and I think they are both worthy.  The Beantown Girls is a Kindle-only book, about 360 pages.  The Flight Girls will keep you on the edge of your seat for 383 pages. I featured the Beantown Girls last year, but it was so good I brought it back again. 

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
I got so lost in this book! It is a lovely tale of two children who lose everything they love, but just can't quite give up on what they have lost.  Their adult lives turn out to be completely different than they envisioned.  Each of the children will do things they never dreamed of doing and longing for The Dutch House.  There are some crappy people in this story.  Some that will win you back and some you will hate for all your days, but the journey is beautiful.  I turned around and did the audio as soon as I finished reading because Tom Hanks narrates it.  This one is around 350 pages.

Camino Winds by John Grisham
No summer reading is complete, for me anyway, without a good Grisham book.  I enjoyed that this one went back to Camino Island again.  If you have not read Camino Island, you need to do that before you pick up this one. If you read this one first a large plotline of Island will be revealed and ruin the whole story for you.  Camino Island is a great read and features stolen manuscripts written by F Scott Fitzgerald (you know I loved it!).  Camino Winds starts off with Camino Island getting hit by a hurricane.  Not only do the group of friends that live there (one owns a bookshop) have to deal with the floods and damage, but one of their friends died during the storm.  Upon a closer look, they realize their friend was murdered.  They have to get lots of agencies involved to not only get this declared a murder but also how to get it solved.  I think anything under 300 pages is short so this one is short, it sits at 290 pages.  

And They Called it Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton

I was lucky enough to get to read this one before it was released, and I have read it twice since then.  It was pure....well Camelot.  Over the last few years, I have developed more of love for JFK, and I think it is because I read everything I can about Jackie and John-John.  This book was all about the courtship and then the marriage of Jackie and John.  There are times I absolutely hate him, then there are times I think "oh he is wonderful", this book was full of those moments for me.  This is a longer book coming in at 448 pages, but it didn't feel like an overly long book to me.  

 Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
This one isn't my usual fare, I admit I read it because Jenna said it was good.  She was correct. I had so much fun with this one.  A light, mindless read, something you can just enjoy and not think about.  Evvie's husband dies in a car crash and she doesn't want to deal with it.  Dean's baseball career is in the toilet and he doesn't want to deal with it.  Dean rents out a place behind Evvie's house and they agree they won't take about the things they don't want to deal with.  Deal!  Deal for now anyway.  Things change, friendships form, trust happens and you have to deal with the things you avoided.  This one probably has more humor than any other on my reading list, so if you are looking for just pure fun, pick this one up first.  This book has around 300 pages.

The last book in my main summer guide is actually a series by Harper Lin.  I simply adore every book she writes.  She has many series, all mysteries, all fun, but this one is my favorite.  It is about a woman named Amelia and she owns a cupcake truck.  Simple enough.  She also has a nasty, nasty ex-husband, two wonderful kids, a very fantastic boyfriend, and a few, very loyal friends.  The problem is that her town has lots of murders, and she has a hand in assisting the police in solving them all.  Each of the books sits around 200 pages, easily read in an afternoon by the pool, or on the cruise ship deck.  These are Kindle-only books also, and many of them (like these first three) are FREE in the Kindle store.  

Thanks so much for reading my summer reading guide. If you check out any of these great titles, please let me know what you thought.  Enjoy and make time to read.  

Bonus picks!!!!!!

Here are a few books that are not released yet, but will be in time to be called a Summer Reading book, I for one am very excited to get my hands on all of them. 

 The last one, Jackie and Maria, I was able to get an advanced reader copy and it was magical, a must for any Jackie fan. I can't decide if I like Jackie and Maria or And They Called it Camelot better, they were both so good.