The Books I Read in July

 I read another dozen books this month and while I really loved most of them there are at least 2 on this list I could have happily passed on. I FINALLY got myself to read some more historical fiction and loved them-- I don't know why I have been so unmotivated to read historical fiction lately as it's usually my favorite genre but I have been drawn to lighter, happier stories instead.



1. Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood-- Elsie is juggling several adjunct teaching positions as well as a fake dating job to try and pay the rent while waiting around for her chance to land a tenured position at a prestigious university.  Elsie has spent years molding herself to be whatever other people expect her to be so when she finally has a chance to interview for a good academic position she's feeling pretty confident she can nail the interview. Until she finds out that Jack Smith, older brother to her latest fake date, turns out to be the experimental physicist that ruined the reputation of theoretical physicists everywhere-- like Elsie and the one heading up the hiring committee.  This was a really fun and cute story and with Jack's "help" Elsie actually grows a lot as a character and learns to assert herself and go after what she really wants. 


2. If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Wont) by Betty White-- Such a fun and quick read. I find that Betty's books are often light and sweet and I can hear her voice in my head as I read; which I happen to love.  In this book Betty tackles things like aging, love and friendship, animals, and of course plenty of Hollywood stories that are quite entertaining.


3. For the Love of Friends by Sarah Goodman Confino-- I was hooked on this story by the end of the first page! It was so funny.  When Lily is asked to be a bridesmaid in 5 weddings (all at pretty much the same time) she ends up starting an anonymous blog where she vents about the ridiculous brides, their momzillas, the crazy costs, the body shaming, and other overbearing bridesmaids she's encountered.  Of course, at some point she gets outed and has to make good with everyone she hurt-- though I honestly thought most of the snark was totally warranted as some of the brides and other wedding members were just nuts! It made me laugh out loud a few times and I just love books like this.


4. Glucose Revolution by Jessie Inchauspe-- I really enjoyed learning about how our bodies process and handle glucose. I learned quite a bit and picked up a few tips I'm going to try to put into practice for helping my body try and balance out the flow of blood sugar.  Thanks Jodie!!


5. Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum-- On Fire Island, off the coast of Long Island, a group of rich summer people invade the town of Sealcombe every summer. This year there is a dead body and the reader is taken back through all the lies, backstabbing, affairs, and craziness. It was a fun little mystery. 


6. The Seaside Library by Brenda Novak-- Cam, Ivy, and Ariana were inseparable as kids and teens living on tiny Mariner's Island but Ariana moved away for college and never returned.  When they were teenagers a little girl had gone missing and Cam had been prime suspect #1. Sure he couldn't have had anything to do with it, Ivy and Ariana stuck by him as alibis but now the body of the missing girl has surfaced and Ivy and Ariana are both questioning their decision to stick up for Cam; not they they believe he could have killed the girl, but because they are older and understand the implications of lying to the police and impeding the investigation.  Ariana returns to the island hoping to reconnect with both her old friends and put her fears and nagging doubts to rest. I definitely did not expect this book to be quite so suspenseful but I really enjoyed it; even if it wasn't the cute little beach read the cover made it look like! 


7. The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes-- I listened to this book on my Libby app and really enjoyed it. Another murder mystery this book was a really twisty tale that was a bit hard to follow at times (probably because I was listening to it in fits and spurts!). Maya was in high school when her best friend Aubrey died mysteriously in front of a man named Frank that the two girls had been hanging around with all summer. Seven years later, Maya is living with her boyfriend and still trying to cope with what happened years ago when a video emerges showing another young woman dying in front of a man who turns out to be Frank.  Determined to fill in those missing gaps in her own memory and try to figure out Frank's connection to these mysterious deaths, Maya heads back to her home town to investigate. 


8. The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel-- It's been a long time since I've read a WWII historical fiction novel but I remember why I love them so much.  This heart wrenching and memorable story about mothers and children captivated me from the beginning.  3 women living in Paris, all friends, trying to survive the war and keep their children safe.  Ruth Levy, a Jewish woman from Germany living in Paris with her 2 children decides to send her children away for their own safety while she went into hiding.  Juliette Foulon, an American married to a Parisian man with 3 children of her own, trying to keep them safe during air raids and keep the family bookstore running to support them all.  Elise LeClair, married to a famous French painter trying to keep her daughter safe when her husband joins various underground organizations who is forced to turn her daughter over to Juliette one night when she learns her husband was killed and tortured and set her up for capture.  All three find their lives changing in unimaginable ways. 


9. Unexpected Stories by Octavia E. Butler-- I had to read a book by this author for the 52 Book challenge and I'll be honest in that book was a really long slog for me.  Science fiction is not generally an area I enjoy and since I'm not usually a fan of short stories either this book that is a set of 2 science fiction short stories was tough to get through but at only 97 total pages it's one of those rare books that I did make myself finish even though I didn't really enjoy it. 


10. The Five- Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand-- Such a fun summer beach read! Hollis' husband dies unexpected one winter and the following summer she decides to host a 5 star weekend at her home in Nantucket; inviting one friend from each decade of her life.  Tatum, her childhood bestie is struggling with some health issues and lives year round on Nantucket so she isn't sure she can get along with all these summer people for the weekend.  Dru-Ann, her college bestie is dealing with a major social media scandal that could lead to the loss of her job and is thankful for the escape.  Brooke, Hollis' "mom friend" is struggling with her marriage to her frat boy persona husband.  Gigi is a friend that Hollis has met and made online and never met in real life, but Gigi has secrets of her own.  It was delicious tale and reminded me more of Elin's old books. 



11. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho-- I'm still not sure how I feel about this story that I listened to using my Libby ap; though I do know that I was thankful it was only 4 hours because it felt like a very slow moving story. Santiago, a shepherd boy, yearns to travel and ends up trading in his sheep to listen to his heart.  Along the way he meets others that impart wisdom as he learns the importance of following his own dreams. 


12. Refugee by Alan Gratz-- I just KNEW I was going to love this book since Alan Gratz writes amazing middle grade historical fiction novels.  Told in 3 alternating timelines the perils and trials of these refugees and their families is just heartbreaking.  Josef and his family are fleeing Nazi occupied Germany on an ocean liner headed for Cuba but his father struggles with PTSD from his time in one of the concentration camps and while most of the crew are sympathetic to Josef and the other Jewish families on board, some of the crew members are downright cruel.  Isabel, her family, and her neighbors' family are fleeing Cuba in the mid 90's when Castro ruled and the Soviet Union collapsed. In a time of unrest and famine it seemed like a good idea to head north but their trip in a tiny, handmade boat nearly costs them their lives.  Mahmoud and his family are fleeing Syria in 2015 after a missile strikes the apartment building they call home and the whole building collapses.  Trying to get to Germany through Turkey proves to be one of the most difficult things this family has ever faced. 



Just 4 books left to my Challenge!

Linking up with:










Comments

  1. You read some great books last month! I love when books make me laugh out loud. The one I just read was that way. Thanks for sharing! I'm adding some of these to my list of books I want to read.

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    1. I just love books that make me laugh or make me cry!

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  2. I would read the Betty White book in her voice as well. I didn't know she'd written more than one. I had considered reading the House in the Pines when it came up on my library available list. Thanks for the reviews. I will keep these in mind!

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    1. Betty White has written a good handful of books.

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  3. I wasn't such a fan of The Alchemist either!

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    1. Kind of glad to know I'm not the only one! I mostly picked it out because I felt like I had heard a lot of positive reviews about it.

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  4. I loved the five star weekend! Thanks for some new book recommendations :)

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  5. I've really enjoyed Alan Gratz's books that I've read but I haven't read that one yet! I also loved Love Theoretically and For The Love of Friends - I have this author's newest one coming up in my pile!

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    1. I'm 1/2 way through Confino's newest and so far I am really enjoying it.

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  6. I have no clue what "Nordic Noir" is, but if you want Roaring 20s, read my favourite, The Great Gatsby, and if you want a book set in Dublin, read Normal People by Sally Rooney. It was a mini-series too, but I didn't see it, I just know the book is great. The same author wrote Conversations with Friends, where I only saw the mini-series and didn't read the book.

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    1. I will definitely look up Normal People but have since crossed Nordic Noir and Roaring 20's off my list. Thanks for the recommendations! (And a Nordic noir is basically a dark murder mystery type book that takes place in winter and usually set in Scandinavia).

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  7. What a great selection of books. I love the sound of For the Love of Friends.

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  8. Oh I love Betty White! I need to add that book to my list. I am so impressed at your reading chart... you're almost done filling it in and you still have five months to go!

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    1. Thanks! I think it helps that so many of the categories were nice and broad and I didn't have to search too hard for many of them.

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  9. I need to pick up more of Ali Hazelwood's books. And I found The Alchemist a slog too -- I don't think I "got it" if that makes sense.

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    1. It absolutely makes sense because that how I felt! I am usually quite literal when it comes to stories and don't dig for deeper meaning. Ali Hazelwood's books are fun.

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  10. I'm glad you read the Glucose Goddess and it will be interesting to see if you can tell a diference. I really think it helps with my moods.
    The Betty White one looks fabulous. I'll definitely add that to my list.
    XOOX
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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  11. Joanne,
    I amazed...I set a goal for 10 books this Summer and I am failing miserably...I am only on my 4th book...I have a hard time trying to find time to read but over the past few weeks, I have seriously tried to make time, at least an hour a day , to read...Hopefully, I will continue this into the Fall and Winter but I always seem to have a lot less time during those months...So my new goal is 10 before the end of the year....We will see!! Thanks so much for stopping by!!
    Hugs,
    Deb

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    1. Best of luck reaching your goal! Perhaps you'd do better listening to audiobooks? You could listen while decorating and crafting maybe?

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  12. My middle son loves YA & middle grade fantasy novels so when I need something more fantasy or bordering sci-fi I usually go to him first and get his recommendations.

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  13. I really liked For the Love of Friends too. Thanks for linking up. what a great month!

    Lauren @ www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  14. Joanne, I always appreciate when you guys share book reviews. I'm always looking for recommendations. I have Betty Whites book sitting in my Amazon wishlist list.
    Visiting today from Encouraging Hearts & Home.

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  15. Oh wow, you've done really well with your reading! There's quite a few I'd like to read from your list. I've just treated myself to a bundle of new books so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into those. :)

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  16. You're going really well on your 52 bookclub reading challenge Joanne - thanks for shaing some great titles with us.

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  17. Can't believe you're almost finished the challenge, and that you read a dozen books this month! Meanwhile, I'm currently having trouble just finishing the two I'm still working on. :sigh: Seasons of life, I suppose. I did read Betty White's book earlier this year and really enjoyed it, and I still have the Octavia Butler book to read for the challenge. I've seen mixed reactions to her books. I may look for the one you read since theoretically I could get through it quickly.

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    1. I picked that book because it was nice and short... but also it was the ONLY book by her that my library and any libraries that we can order books from even had.

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  18. Hi, Joanne - Congratulations on your outstanding work on the 52 Book's Club Reading Challenge. You are almost there. Shockingly, I have only read two of the books that you have read so far for that challenge (Remarkably Bright Creatures and This Time Tomorrow). Thank you for the inspiration for me to check out some others.
    And thank you for being a regular at What's On Your Bookshelf. You are greatly appreciated!

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    1. Thank you! I am pretty surprised at how quickly I've been checking off books.

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  19. Hi Joanne what a great collection of books you've read this month! You are powering through the 52 Bookclub Challenge too! I think I have 7 to go. I enjoyed Kindred by Octavia E. Butler but was disappointed you didn't enjoy Unexpected Stories. I read mixed reviews of Octavia's books so maybe I'll give this one a miss. I'm a murder mystery fan so might try The House in the Pines. Thanks for supportng #WOYBS each month we really appreciate you joining us. x

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  20. Loving how your challenge board is filling up - it looks great. Another great mix this month - none of which I've read... but a few I want to.

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