Better late than never on posting books I read in August, I guess, right?
Among the Ten Thousand Things | Julia Pierpont
Jack Shanley is a well-known New York artist, charming and vain, who doesn’t mean to plunge his family into crisis. His wife, Deb, gladly left behind a difficult career as a dancer to raise the two children she adores. In the ensuing years, she has mostly avoided coming face-to-face with the weaknesses of the man she married. But then an anonymously sent package arrives in the mail: a cardboard box containing sheaves of printed emails chronicling Jack’s secret life. The package is addressed to Deb, but it’s delivered into the wrong hands: her children’s.
I wanted to like this book, because the book jacket described it as funny and engaging. But it wasn’t funny, and I didn’t find that anything of value really happened. It took me weeks to finish because I was suffering through it. I pretty much found nothing redeeming about this book, sadly. I had to push myself to finish it. I didn’t care for any of the characters at all, which is rare – I normally can find one or two redeeming character traits. Not so here. I think my biggest issue was that after the main issue described in the synopsis, nothing at all happened! I normally like character-driven novels, but something about this was absolutely not for me.
Behind Her Eyes | Sarah Pinborough
Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.
When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.
And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?
Before I read this, I’d heard a few things about it: it’s super captivating, you shouldn’t look into it before you read it, and the ending is wild. The first one was true, the second one was a good tip, and I’m totally in agreement with the last one. I stayed up for an hour past my bedtime to finish this book, and I was left thinking “what the heck did I just read?” I regretted it. The book definitely gets people talking, but the ending ruined the whole thing.
The Selection | Kiera Cass
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
I read this one for Collaboreads and covered my thoughts here.
The Elite | Kiera Cass
The Selection began with thirty-five girls. Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?
America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.
I sat down on my couch with this book and read the whole thing in one sitting. It’s mainly a filler between this one and the third in the series, but I still enjoyed it. ‘Very cheesy and addicting’ is how I’d describe it.
The One-in-a-Million-Boy | Monica Wood
For years, guitarist Quinn Porter has been on the road, chasing gig after gig, largely absent to his twice-ex-wife Belle and their odd, Guinness records–obsessed son. When the boy dies suddenly, Quinn seeks forgiveness for his paternal shortcomings by completing the requirements for his son’s unfinished Boy Scout badge.
For seven Saturdays, Quinn does yard work for Ona Vitkus, the wily 104-year-old Lithuanian immigrant the boy had visited weekly. Quinn soon discovers that the boy had talked Ona into gunning for the world record for Oldest Licensed Driver — and that’s the least of her secrets. Despite himself, Quinn picks up where the boy left off, forging a friendship with Ona that allows him to know the son he never understood, a boy who was always listening, always learning.
I wasn’t crazy about this one. I found it sweet, if a little kooky, but it was a little bit too much like The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which I read earlier this year. Both books are very character-driven, with unique challenges the characters are looking to complete. I’d recommend this one, but it’s not a favorite of this year.
Lone Wolf | Jodi Picoult
Edward Warren, twenty-four, has been living in Thailand for five years, a prodigal son who left his family after an irreparable fight with his father, Luke. But he gets a frantic phone call: His dad lies comatose, gravely injured in the same accident that has also injured his younger sister Cara.
With her father’s chances for recovery dwindling, Cara wants to wait for a miracle. But Edward wants to terminate life support and donate his father’s organs. Is he motivated by altruism, or revenge? And to what lengths will his sister go to stop him from making an irrevocable decision?
I’ve read much better Jodi Picoult novels than this one, and I’ve read ones I liked much less. This one falls somewhere in the middle: it was good but not great. It made me think in the moment,, but it hasn’t particularly stuck with me. Still glad I read it.
The One | Kiera Cass
The time has come for one winner to be crowned.
When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.
When I read this one, I could start to see why my friends said these books were pretty cheesy. I just hated the internal monologue of America – everything she felt or thought was frustrating for me to experience. The book has two more companion books that follow it, using different characters in the same universe, but this is the close of the trilogy with these specific characters.
Castle of Water | Dane Huckelbridge
Two very different people, one very small island.
For Sophie Ducel, her honeymoon in French Polynesia was intended as a celebration of life. The proud owner of a thriving Parisian architecture firm, co-founded with her brilliant new husband, Sophie had much to look forward to—including a visit to the island home of her favorite singer, Jacques Brel.
For Barry Bleecker, the same trip was meant to mark a new beginning. Turning away from his dreary existence in Manhattan finance, Barry had set his sights on fine art, seeking creative inspiration on the other side of the world—just like his idol, Paul Gauguin.
But when their small plane is downed in the middle of the South Pacific, the sole survivors of the wreck are left with one common goal: to survive. Stranded hundreds of miles from civilization, on an island the size of a large city block, the two castaways must reconcile their differences and learn to draw on one another’s strengths if they are to have any hope of making it home.
Without a doubt, one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It’s beautiful and heart wrenching and redemptive. It bounces from a deserted island in the middle of the South Pacific to New York to Paris. It’s beautifully crafted and I adored it.
I Almost Forgot About You | Terry McMillian
Dr. Georgia Young’s wonderful life–great friends, family, and successful career–aren’t enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, quitting her job as an optometrist, and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love.
I think this was a good book, but I didn’t read it at the right time. It wasn’t right for me right now. I had to struggle through it, spending many weeks with it on my bedside table as I started and finished other books I liked much more. Finally I decided that I’d invested all that time and I needed to finish it. It was….fine. It did remind me that it’s never too late to change your life, cheesy as that sounds.
Dear Reader | Mary O’Connell
For seventeen-year-old Flannery Fields, the only respite from the plaid-skirted mean girls at Sacred Heart High School at is her beloved teacher Miss Sweeney’s AP English class. But when Miss Sweeney doesn’t show up to teach Flannery’s favorite book, Wuthering Heights, and leaves behind her purse, Flannery knows something is wrong.
The police are called, and Flannery gives them everything—except Miss Sweeney’s copy of Wuthering Heights. This she holds onto. And it’s a good thing she does, because when she opens it, something very strange happens. It has somehow transformed into Miss Sweeney’s real-time diary. It seems Miss Sweeney is in New York City—and she’s in trouble.
So Flannery does something very unFlannery-like: she skips school and sets out for Manhattan, with the book as her guide. But as soon as she arrives, she meets a boy named Heath. Heath is British, on a gap year, and has strangely nineteenth-century mannerisms. In fact, Flannery can’t help thinking that he seems to have stepped from the pages of Brontë’s novel. Could it be that Flannery is actually spending this topsy-turvy day with her ultimate fictional romantic hero?
This book is SO boring. There’s so much magical realism and it didn’t work for me. It’s New York City and books and Wuthering Heights and a diary and none of it made much sense to me. I think it had a lot of potential but the writing was just not good.
Total number of books in August: ten
Number of fiction books in August: ten
Number of nonfiction books in August: zero
Total number of books this year: forty four