Love, Joleen: Recent Reads

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Recent Reads


I haven't read much this year (like, at all), so I definitely didn't have a list of "Summer reads" to work down. It just worked out that the start of Tot School planning, meant regular trips to our local libraries. Plural, because I've visited four so far. Not that visiting a library or two four gets any books read!

However, every year I make a "books read" goal, and this year my goal is to read 20 books. This isn't the loftiest goal, but it's nothing to scoff at either. I was beginning to wonder how I'd ever accomplish this task, when all of a sudden I've become a reading machine, devouring novels in a day or two. Opportunity presented itself while Benjamin was sick last week, so many of these books were read while nursing or holding him in his sleep. In the last month (since August 3rd) I have read nearly all of the books shown below, plus one that isn't. I am currently reading the last book in this collection of library books now. (True Colors by Kristin Hannah) Below, I've graded them based on a 5-star rating. Sometimes I wish I could give "1/2" a star, but since I can't on Goodreads, I didn't here either. I've also included the description of each book, as found on Amazon.
"On an icy winter night, a terrible accident forces a family divided to come together and make a fateful decision. Cara, once protected by her father, Luke, is tormented by a secret that nobody knows. Her brother, Edward, has secrets of his own. He has kept them hidden, but now they may come to light, and if they do, Cara will be devastated. Their mother, Georgie, was never able to compete with her ex-husband’s obsessions, and now, his fate hangs in the balance and in the hands of her children. With conflicting motivations and emotions, what will this family decide? And will they be able to live with that decision, after the truth has been revealed? What happens when the hope that should sustain a family is the very thing tearing it apart?"
Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner -
"Jules Strauss is a Princeton senior with a full scholarship, acquaintances instead of friends, and a family she’s ashamed to invite to Parents’ Weekend. With the income she’ll receive from donating her “pedigree” eggs, she believes she can save her father from addiction.

Annie Barrow married her high school sweetheart and became the mother to two boys. After years of staying at home and struggling to support four people on her husband’s salary, she thinks she’s found a way to recover a sense of purpose and bring in some extra cash.

India Bishop, thirty-eight (really forty-three), has changed everything about herself: her name, her face, her past. In New York City, she falls for a wealthy older man, Marcus Croft, and decides a baby will ensure a happy ending. When her attempts at pregnancy fail, she turns to technology, and Annie and Jules, to help make her dreams come true.

But each of their plans is thrown into disarray when Marcus’ daughter Bettina, intent on protecting her father, becomes convinced that his new wife is not what she seems…"
Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (not pictured) - 
"Becky Brandon thinks that having a daughter is a dream come true: a shopping friend for life! But two-year-old Minnie has a quite different approach to shopping. The toddler creates havoc everywhere she goes, from Harrods to her own christening. Her favorite word is “Mine!” and she’s even trying to get into eBay! On top of everything else, Becky and Luke are still living with her parents (the deal on house #4 has fallen through), when suddenly there’s a huge nationwide financial crisis.

With people having to cut back, Becky decides to throw a surprise party for Luke to cheer everyone up. But when costs start to spiral out of control, she must decide whether to accept help from an unexpected source—and therefore run the risk of hurting the person she loves.

Will Becky be able to pull off the celebration of the year? Will she and Luke ever find a home of their own? Will Minnie ever learn to behave? And . . . most important . . . will Becky’s secret wishes ever come true?"
"Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world."
"Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t.

Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shame­ful secret and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths to which we will go in order to keep the past from dictating the future."
"Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.
For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever."
Updated 9/6 True Colors by Kristin Hannah-
"The Grey sisters have always been close. After their mother’s death, the girls banded together, becoming best friends. Their stern, disapproving father cares less about his children than about his reputation. To Henry Grey, appearances are everything, and years later, he still demands that his daughters reflect his standing in the community.

Winona, the oldest, needs her father’s approval most of all. An overweight bookworm who never felt at home on the sprawling horse ranch that has been in her family for three generations, she knows that she doesn’t have the qualities her father values. But as the best lawyer in town, she’s determined to someday find a way to prove her worth to him.

Aurora, the middle sister, is the family peacemaker. She brokers every dispute and tries to keep them all happy, even as she hides her own secret pain.

Vivi Ann is the undisputed star of the family. A stunningly beautiful dreamer with a heart as big as the ocean in front of her house, she is adored by all who know her. Everything comes easily for Vivi Ann, until a stranger comes to town. . . .

In a matter of moments, everything will change. The Grey sisters will be pitted against one another in ways that none could have imagined. Loyalties will be tested and secrets revealed, and a terrible, shocking crime will shatter both their family and their beloved town.

With breathtaking pace and penetrating emotional insight, True Colors is an unforgettable novel about sisters, rivalry, forgiveness, redemption---and ultimately, what it means to be a family."

It's been years since I reviewed a book with anything more than the star rating, but I feel moved to do so here. This book was so terrible that it honestly pained me at times to continue. I am seriously shocked at all the high ratings it has. For the first 3/4 of the book I hated the characters and not in a "love to hate" kind of way either. They simply were not likeable. I thought the writing style was elementary and I only continued because I'm a committed person and needed to see it through to the end. [Most of] the ending was it's only saving grace. Some of the characters redeemed themselves and I flew through the last 1/4 of the book, eager to see what would happen. I have read a couple of Kristin Hannah's books and really wanted to like this book, but I didn't.
Our book club this year, ended before we had our first meeting, but not before selecting the 12 books we'd read over the course of the year. Even though I'm not meeting with anyone to discuss the books, I've decided to still work my way through the list. After reading four of the books on our list this month alone, these are the remaining eight books. I'm also looking forward to reading new books by some of my favorite authors!
Read anything great this Summer? I'm always looking for suggestions to add to my list! Are you on Goodreads? You can find me, here.
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