July Reads

Month Count: 8 texts, 2 audiobooks, 10 total
Year to Date: 38 texts (2020 updated goal – 50), 12 audiobooks, 50 total

Catch up on Jan/Feb reads here, March reads here, and April reads here, May reads here, and June reads here.

Image: Instagram

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal is one of those that’s been on everyone’s list and has been trending for months. It’s a beautiful story, a bit predictable, but I didn’t mind. I loved the parts where she was writing about surfing. I loved the flashbacks. I enjoyed the twists and conflict the characters go through. I loved the romance. And I wasn’t annoyed by the ending. Overall, a great summer read…

Image: Apple

The Crush by Sandra Brown is my second book by this author and she’s like the female James Patterson. She writes well, nothing too complicated, definitely entertaining, creative, and really fun reads. She usually has the best balance of thrill, sexual tension, action, and drama and this doesn’t disappoint. I love the strong female lead, with her light vulnerability. I would argue that I’ll probably read anything by Sandra Brown and find it entertaining and enjoyable. She’s proven to be a top author for my tastes.

Image: Penelope’s Oasis

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper is definitely a new 2020 fave! Recommended by Amanda of course, I’ve had it on my Kindle for a few months and finally jumped in. Well, DOVE in and couldn’t put it down for a second! Fun little quirks in odd humor that take uncomfortable family emotions and shove them right in your face. Basically, a non-traditional Jewish family loses their father and the four siblings, their partners, and their mother have been requested to sit through Shiva, a traditional Jewish grieving process, for seven full days while they mourn. Of course they can barely stand to be in the same room for a short period of time, let alone living in the same house for a full week together and the antics, drama, hysterics, mourning, and unshelving of emotions really are so well written I felt like I was watching a movie. I could not have put this down if I wanted to. I actually loved it so much, I bought the hardcover to have in my book collection and would absolutely read and reread. Five big ol’ stars on this one.

Run to the Finish by Amanda Brooks was started a few months ago (when I could run) and then I ran (haha) out of steam when I was injured (still am injured). I finally mustered up the focus to finish it up and ended up kind of skimming most of the chapters outside of the “Breaking down discomfort VS pain” (Chapter 3), and “Don’t play the injury game” (Chapter 4). There were good sections of Chapter 7, regarding a solid training plan, that I found helpful – but overall at this point in my running, I’m so injured I didn’t really feel connected to the rest of the book. I think it would be very different if I were actively working toward a running goal outside of “being able to run again,” but also following Amanda on IG for YEARS and reading her blogs, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of new information here. I also wanted the photos to be in color. Her IG is so full of life that seeing the images used to bolster her book printed in gray scale was just kind of – meh…

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow on Audible was recommended by April. I was deep in “Chaos: Charles Manson…” (see next) and needed something to toggle between. Catch and Kill is Ronan Farrow’s investigative reporting on the Harvey Weinstein case, agruably inspried by his sister’s very well publicised and note very well prosecuted sexual assault case against their father, Woody Allen. (He denies, but then oddly ended up marrying their adopted sister in 1997, whom he cheated on Mia Farrow with – yes Woody Allen cheated on Mia Farrow with their daughter – they’re still married so I guess it’s all cool??) Annnyyyyway, Ronan starts digging around on allegetions against Weinstein and the book follows the drama. He narrates it, and I think his accents and nuanced voices for different people he quotes is weird and distracting.

I did find his tenacity inspiring, and I think that has a lot to do with standing next to his sister throughout her abuse allegations against Woody Allen. Men in the #metoo movement usually don’t dig and pursue as he did for this story. In fact, he details the lengths to which Weinstein and other powerful Hollywood/showbiz personnel went to in order to try and shut him down. Overall, I read a review that stated something along the lines of his journalism is admirable, but his writing falls flat. I think that’s really the point here. I loved what he was doing, but didn’t love the product.

Image: Growth Faculty

The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo was a deal on Amazon Kindle. It was also my excuse to read at work, on the clock, and work on professional development. Although I got a few great tips out of it, I also thought sections would be better off as a blog. I did appreciate her perspective on seeking feedback, reinforcing that more frequent 1:1’s benefit everyone involved – things like that. Little tidbits that I could use as journaling prompts to better my own management style, that might be useful. However, sometimes I felt as though the topic was just enough, I didn’t need the entire section to be explained in detail with examples (i.e., “Some meetings don’t need you and some don’t need to exist at all” didn’t need 11 paragraphs over 4+ pages… I get it from the topic statement).

I did really love the section on hiring. Hiring isn’t just about filling holes…it’s about figuring out how to make your team and your own life much, much better. Develop better relationships with your recruiter and describe in detail what you’re looking for. The interview process is basically bullshit – “Hiring is a gamble, but make smart bets” Google did some research on tens of thousands of interviews and found zero correlation between high rated interviewees and how well the candidate went on to perform, calling it a “complete random mess.” I also learned I’ve been severely under valuing the references of my candidates.

Image: CriminalElement.com

The River by Peter Heller was what I’m going to call a “sneak attack.” The description caught my eye, it was on sale on Kindle deal of the day, and I thought I’d give it a shot. IT BLEW ME AWAY! Firstly, it reminded me a lot of canoeing the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota where I’m from. Secondly, it’s beautifully written. Thirdly, it’s a quick read, but not lacking in detail by any means… it grabs your attention, slips these stunning images in your mind, you feel like you’re watching it play out in front of you like a movie and the ending completely side swiped me. I had to read the plot twist twice just to believe what I was reading! Holy smokes, five stars. I’m now on a search to find more by Peter Heller!

Image: @Sipsandsensibility on IG

The Guest List by Lucy Foley was sent in a heavenly package from April back in Maryland. She was looking to “rehome” a few from her collection, and I underestimated how many “a few” really was! Most of the feedback I received was that it wasn’t completely worth the hype, but it was an entertaining read. This is about as accurate as I could describe it. I have this thing with thrillers and mysteries, where I’m constantly trying to solve them throughout the book or movie as I get more details. It’s always fun to see how the solution evolves as I get those details, or to see if I nailed it right out… Well, this was one that for the most part, I had solved pretty quickly. It was interesting to see how all of these multiple plot lines and multiple characters and backstories all came together in the end. Probably a 3.5 stars for me, because it was entertaining and well written. I could see a younger audience really enjoying this one.

Image: Jackiesbookshelf IG

The Last Flight by Julie Clark also came from April’s book stack. Actually, most of my books over the next few months probably will come from April’s book stack haha! This was completely captivating. Two women, from different worlds, both trying to escape their worlds, meet at an airport and decide to swap tickets before boarding their flights. The rest of the novel just gets better and better, and more intense and suspenseful! It’s my first introduction to Julie Clark and I’ll absolutely pick up anything she’s written. Five out of five stars, one hundred percent!

Image: IG – @breathingbooks_95

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell was my pick on Audible for my July credit. Slow start for an audiobook, but DAAAAAYUM did it pick up! I couldn’t stop listening. I loved the narration by Helen Duff. Her voice was dreamy, she nailed the different accents, A family loses their daughter in the beginning and the rest of the book is centered around her disappearance, the family coping with that loss, and her mother trying to move on. But – without ruining it – holy shit does it take some WILD turns! They give away what happened to Ellie in the beginning, well the outcome anyway, but that didn’t ruin it for me like it did for others whose reviews I read. The more I listened the more I had to keep listening. Five out of five stars for this one, and would recommend on Audible as well.

I’ve already started August with bang – but I’d love to know what you’re reading??

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