Wednesday, September 2, 2020

August Reading List

One of my favorite things about books is that they are a great way to escape and get caught up in a different world structured around character, their own success and failures, and maybe to a place you haven’t been before, and even gain a new point of perspective when reading a piece of historical fiction. 


With everything that has been going on the past few months and how it has limited what we normally might do such as going on vacation, into work, or even just going out to eat or to the gym, it is definitely nice to pick up a book to take your mind off of all that is going on. The news lately has been stressful for me… I honestly don’t think it is healthy to have a constant updated death count that some of the news channels do and on top of that I find the political aspect a little scary. Maybe it’s because I’m older now and actually pay attention to what is going on, but I really feel like the gap between the Republican and Democratic Party used to not be so wide; I feel like the two parties used to have more common ground than they currently do. 


August has felt like one of the longest months ever to me. I think I just hit a wall and the sameness and everything just running together finally got to me. Needless to say I read a few more books this month than I usually do, and overall they were all pretty great reads!


Girl In The Blue Coat, by Monica Hesse

I think this particular book is technically classified in the young adult genre {make fun of me all you want, but I love YA novels; it’s my guilty pleasure}, and it is such a fantastic read, especially if you love historical fiction. 


Girl In The Blue Coat is set in German occupied 1943 Amsterdam. The main character, Hanneke, becomes the main finical contributor for her family. She works at a funeral home where the owner works in the black market. She spends her days procuring and delivering black market good to her regular paying customers. One customer, whom she knew before the war started, asks a favor of her that will lead her into more complicated waters and drudge up memories of her deceased boyfriend who passed away fighting on the front lines early on in the war. 


This book is such a quick read and will have you turning pages up until the late hours of the night.


Astonish Me, by Maggie Shipstead

I have been meaning to read this book for the longest time. I spotted the cover a few years ago at a local bookstore and completely feel in love with the cover art, but was in a hurry and didn’t have a chance to see what the title was and after they never seemed to have the book in stock again. A few weeks ago I saw a picture of the same cover on Instagram {you have to love the age of social media} and immediately ordered it off Amazon. 


Astonish Me tells the story of a young American dancer who helps a male Soviet ballet dancer defect in the 1970s. The have a passionate love affair that eventually runs its course. Joan finds herself reflecting on life and her progression and future within the dance company she is currently apart of. She reaches the conclusion that she will never rise out of the corps or be a prima ballerina. Fate steps in when she discovers she is pregnant; she decides to quite the company, marry, and start a new life out in California. Once her son Harry reaches a certain age it becomes apparent that he has a gift for dace and Joan is pulled back into the world of ballet. 


I will say that I have been wanting to read this books for a while, and maybe my hopes for the storyline were too overreaching, and overall it is a good book, but it wasn’t my favorite book I read in August. I think there were just one too many story twist for me, and it made the whole book feel a little off. 


The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett

I have gotten super into audio books lately. I have only listen to four in my life and three were in the month of August. Listening to music while I was  working out or getting ready for the day started to make me antsy, so I tried audio books, and it’s so much more relaxing listening to a book on audio than music some days. 


The Dutch House is narrated by Tom Hanks and hearing him narrate this book just makes the whole story. The story is told from the perspective of the younger brother, Danny. The story of The Dutch House is spread over five decades. Danny starts at his and his sister’s, Maeve childhood. His father originally purchased the Dutch House as a surprise for his wife after he came into some money by making a few smart real estate investments after World War II. 


The house in one way or another takes more than it gives and for the most part Danny and Maeve can really only depend on one another. It is a beautifully dark story that will leave you mesmerized at certain points. 


The Editor, by Steven Rowley

Who can ever resist a book where Jackie Kennedy Onassis is one of the central characters?! The Editor is set in the 1990s when Jackie Kennedy is an Editor in New York City. She acquires a new author, Eddie, whom she helps edit his non-fiction novel that is based on his family, and mainly his mother. 


I like the premise of the story, but the main character at times could be a little too all about himself and a little whiny and at times it just really took away from the overall story. 


The Sun Is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon

As you already know, young adult novels are my guilty pleasure… I haven’t watched the movie yet, but the book was fantastic. It’s a quick read and I love the overarching theme that sometimes moments in our lives exist to bring us to a certain point and time and that if something is meant to be, it will eventually happen. 


The Sun Is Also A Star centers around its two main characters, Natasha and Daniel. Natasha is girl of science; she doesn’t believe in fate or destiny, but on what could very well be her last day in New York City she meets Daniel who is the complete opposite and is bent on convincing Natasha that fate and true love are real. 


Educated, by Tara Westover

Educated is another book that I listened to on Audio and Tara Westover does a beautiful job of telling the story of her life. It is truly amazing the amount of determination the human spirit posses and the amount of courage and perseverance it took Tara Westover to rise above and make her own way in the world.


Truly an amazing story; cannot recommend enough


Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate

This is such a well-told story that unfolds in a beautifully tragic way. I have heard such wonderful things about this book and was excited to finally read it. 


The story alternates between the late 1930s Tennessee and present day South Carolina. Before We Were Yours is told through present day Avery Stafford and 1939 12 year old, Rill Foss. 


Rill Foss and her four siblings live on the river in a shantyboat. On the night her mother gives birth at a hospital to twins, while still under the effects of medication she is convinced to sign her children over to The Tennessee Children’s Home. At first the children are assured that they will be returned to their parents, but once the truth becomes more apparent Rill tried with all her might to keep her brother and sisters together. 


Avery moves back home with the intention of helping her family through her father’s health crisis and possibly to take over his position. A function at a nursing home leads her to meet to Mae, who she later finds out plays an important role in not only her life, but also her family’s.


The Guest List, by Lucy Foley

This story is made up of the bride, her sister, the best friend, the groom, the plus one, and a few old school friends. On an island in Ireland guest gather to celebrate a wedding that is soon to take place. The groom, a TV star, and the bride, a magazine publisher, seems like a match made in heaven on the surface. The ominous story of the island brings secrets to the surface and reveals unknown facts about various people present for the wedding. 


This is a book you definitely have to be in the mood for, but once you get into the swing of it, it is a face-paced read. 

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