Book Reviews: Everything I Read in July & August
The kids are back in school for most of us by now (Wilder starts next week – hallelujah!) and it’s time to reclaim some of that time for ourselves. I love to fill my afternoon hours while Wilder naps with reading and am excited about finally having more time for that. My nightstand is currently stuffed with all sorts of to-be-read books. I just haven’t had the time this summer. On the plus side, I’ve listened to several amazing audiobooks as read by the author. Today I’ve got ten books to share with you and, of those, half were consumed in the audio format. Thank goodness for audiobooks!
Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ One of my favorites of 2021! Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile is a beautiful and honest memoir, filled with gorgeous songs throughout. What I find most inspiring about her life is her ability to connect with people and form her own little family as well as her ability to stay so humble and grounded. In the acknowledgements, Carlile encourages others to “write your life. . . It’s nice to be known. Even if it’s just by you.” I loved that sentiment. Writing, for me, is very much a thing I do for myself. To share my words and have them resonate with others and make others feel seen and understood is the ultimate joy but the goal is just to get my story out of myself.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The most profound book I’ve listened to in 2021. Holy moly. This book, which was read by the author (victim of the Stanford rape case), is 15 hours long but so worth it. I have so many things I’d love to say to her, but I will start with a simple thank you. As a victim of college campus sexual assault (you can find my story here), I am so grateful that this book is out there to help others. It wasn’t there for me when I needed it in 1998, but I am so glad it’s out in the world now so that others who come after will not feel the depth of loneliness that I did. This book is filled with raw honesty that made me cry and was hard to digest at some points, but in the end, I am filled with extreme gratitude for the strength Chanel Miller has to stand up and speak out.
No Time Like the Future by Michael J. Fox: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A really sweet and honest memoir. I knew that the author/actor had Parkinson’s Disease, but I wasn’t aware of his spinal tumor and surgery. That man has been through so much, and continues to reach to do better and act (as in behave, not as in career acting) with grace. I especially loved hearing a story he told about a fellow man living with Parkinson’s and found his story so moving and inspiring. I was. out walking, grateful it was still dark, as I wiped my eyes. This book will definitely inspire you to accept your life circumstances for what they are and make the best of it.
Trouble Maker by Leah Remini: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️This book was honestly so interesting as it peeks behind the Scientology curtain. It was read by the author, which I always appreciate. If you’ve ever been curious about Hollywood & Scientology, check it out! Aside from that, this book has an underlying message of trusting your own moral compass on what’s right and wrong. At one time, her young daughter says the most profound thing to her about knowing things here (as she pointed to her head) versus knowing them here (and pointed to her heart.) That was my favorite moment in the book.
Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A truly fascinating memoir! Rob Lowe candidly shares his life, acting career and friendships along the way. There were so many stories of people we’ve all heard of that were just so interesting! I really loved hearing how his path just serendipitously crossed with so many stars including Sarah Jessica Parker, the Penn brothers, Darryl Hannah, and the Estevez/Sean brothers.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book follows Nora, a quiet and lonely woman who decides to give up on life. However, rather than dying, she’s transported to The Midnight Library, a place where she can go back to any place in her life and make a different decision that will change the course of things. This book started so slowly for me and, to be honest, I found Nora rather annoying. It took me some time to get into, but once I did, I really enjoyed the second half. It’s a rather short and easy read, so definitely worth sticking through for the end. It’ll make you think about your own life and see things with fresh eyes.
Beach Read by Emily Henry: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ While passing my free little library in July, I came across this highly-acclaimed debut novel. I tore through it in just a couple of days! Was it predictable? Yes. But was it sweet, funny and everything a hopeless romantic loves? Also yes. If you’re looking for a light happily-ever-after that will make you laugh and cry, this is it.
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Maidens is a thrilling murder mystery set at Cambridge in England. A group of students, known as the Maidens, starts showing up murdered, one by one. Mariana, determined to protect her niece Zoe who’s a student and the best friend of the first victim, starts playing detective and is sure she’s found the killer in an off-kilter professor. To be honest, I really loved this book for its quick read, but I had it solved a little early on. I did enjoy the fact that the author has characters from his debut novel, The Silent Patient, make fun cameos!
Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This is a sweet story of a small town and the people whose paths cross and help each other through life. The story centers on 87-year-old Lucille, a woman who teaches baking classes in her home.I don’t want to give anything away, but it was a super quick read and beautiful story about finding love and friendship where you least expect it. BTW, this book is actually part two in a series but you don’t really have to have read the first for it to make sense. If you want to start with number one, here it is.
The Arsonist’s City by Hala Alyan: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A gripping story of an American family whose parents are Syrian and Lebanese. Their children have grown and spread out across America – one went back to Beirut – but the patriarch’s decision to sell the old family home in Beirut brings them all together under one roof again. This could be the story of your family or my own as it depicts the messy humanness of family ties. I really enjoyed this book so much more than I expected to!
As you can see, I enjoyed most of these books very much! Only one received less than 4 stars. Maybe I’m too kind. Maybe I just read good books. 😉 Your turn! Tell me something you’ve read lately that you loved!