July Reads

Month Count: 4 texts, 4 audiobook, 8 total
Year to Date: 38 texts, 15 audiobooks, 53 total

Goodreads profile HERE!

Bookstagram profile HERE!

Book of the Month Referral Link HERE!

Catch up on previous month’s read recaps: January – February – MarchAprilMayJune

Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff. Ohhh this was a great listen on Audible. My hubby got it a few months ago when he was wrestling with the decisions of taking a new position in a new company (fucking NASA!!!!) and I’ve been in a bit of a rut on my professional development so I decided to give it a shot. Oooof, this was needed! Soooo many notes to take, exercises to go through, small tweaks and big changes to work on. This will be a book I probably go back to over and over again just remember things and reframe my perspective.

If you’re looking for a quick read for professional or personal development with some motivational factors, this is it.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine has been sitting on my bookshelf for way too long! I actually have no idea where I got it, but the cover seemed like a good summer holiday weekend read. It’s listed as a thriller, and it has a good couple of twists to it.

DESCRIPTION: via Amazon, Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. 

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

DISCUSSION: I didn’t love this book. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t really find anything riveting about it. Overall, I can’t say I agree with the Amazon description of “fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive” or that it was from “imaginative talent.” I was often bored, trying to put pieces together that didn’t seem to fit, and trying to connect with any of the characters. I really disliked parts of it (for sake of not including spoilers, I’ll leave it out here; however, if you want to have a discussion just DM me!) and the overall message of this dickhead character, Amber, constantly playing like she deserves more wasn’t enough for me. They kept referencing her past actions but didn’t explain them very well until the very end… and even then it wasn’t very well explained.

I don’t know, I liked it more from Daphne’s perspective and didn’t have to “trudge” through it so hard as I did during the beginning reading from Amber’s perspective. I just didn’t like any of the development – character, plot or otherwise.

2.5-3 stars out of 5. I might recommend, kind of depends on the mood.

FAVORITE QUOTE: “Everything had begun with such promise. And then, like a windshield chipped by a tiny pebble, the chip turned into deep cracks that spread until there was noting left to repair.”

IG: @Beers_andBooks

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes via LibbyApp, narrated by the queen, Julie Whelan.
DESCRIPTION: a group of slightly liberal, and independent women create a traveling library system to bring books and magazines to families across the Kentucky Mountains. Of course the conservative old white men can’t stand to see women holding their own, and will prove that it’s not their place… sometimes regardless of the cost.
DISCUSSION: oh, how beautifully written this is. Alice’s journey, along with the other women under Marge’s leadership really sucked me in. I loved the relationship development, the growth of each character independently and as a group. I loved Marge and Sven’s relationship. I loved the mortality of some of the characters in stark contrast to the depravity and privileges of others.
I had never heard of the Pack Horse Librarians before, and all enthralled by the history of this! It was an initiative drawn up under the Roosevelt Administration, and is considered the bookmobile system of the Great Depression. How fascinating!
4.5/5 stars- would recommend… especially lovers of historical fiction!
FAVORITE QUOTE: “he makes my heart flutter like clean sheets on a long line” (literally made me giggle)

Cold Mourning by Brenda Chapman via Libbyapp. I downloaded this for a road trip and let me just tell you it’s a no.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was another great recommendation from Amanda Faul, who never disappoints. It was further validated when people found out that’s what I was reading and immediately responded with “oh my gosh I loved that book!”

DESCRIPTION: via Goodreads – Behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

DISCUSSION: So, first of all – it is good. I did enjoy it. There is clearly a beautiful writing style, and it was perfectly balanced on fantasy but not too out there that I couldn’t get the concept. I loved the love story, the descriptions of the circus, the clock, the Reveres… Many elements were just so great.

However… (and you knew from reading that last paragraph that there would be a “butt…”) there are parts that left me slightly confused or just didn’t wrap up well for me. In no particular order: I think I needed more explanation around the challenge itself. It didn’t bear a lot of detail throughout the whole book, and that was fine at first. But when I finished the book and still had so many questions and confusion around the challenge itself, I felt incomplete. I don’t think there was enough character development around Baily for me. I’m confused on the timeline of each chapter… is that relevant or was I supposed to be able to follow the order? The umbrella thing when Celia figures out Marco is her opponent, I still don’t get what happened and how that identified him. Sometimes I couldn’t figure out if Mr. A. H.— was real or not, or why sometimes he was referred to as Alexander, the man in the gray suit, and Mr. A. H—. Why didn’t they reveal his last name? Why did it always have a dash after the letter H? Then I have questions about the ending; however, I don’t think I can ask them without spoilers, so message me if you want to chat about it!

I would still probably give it a 4/5 rating and definitely recommend to the right person. I don’t think this would go over as well for some friends, but others would really connect with the writing style like I did, and get over some of the “flaws” in the story.

FAVORITE QUOTE: “I would have written you, myself, if I could put down in words everything I want to say to you. A sea of ink would not be enough.’ ‘But you built me dreams instead.”

Where Men Win Glory: The Oddyssey of Pat Tillman via Libbyapp – three words: queue the tears. Ok, same author as Into the Wild, Into Thin Air… Jon Krakauer and he writes this perfectly.

DESCRIPTION: A dual-plotline over two different timelines merge together for the ultimate war-tragedy and a completely failed attempt at a cover up orchestrated by the US military. One timeline is the rise of Osama bin Laden and the history of the US’s involvement in the middle east over four presidents (Clinton, Bush, Bush, and Obama). This is fascinating, because it puts a lot of factual information behind parts of stories and claims I had heard (i.e., “well this all started with Bush senior!” – – “Clinton was the one who…” – – “dubble-yeh just wanted to finish what his daddy started.”) and created a very concise narrative of how things happened, and sometimes why they happened. The other timeline is Pat Tillman’s abbreviated life-story from growing up rowdy boys, his values, mistakes he made that shaped how he lived, his time with the NFL, and his not only his decision to join the Army Rangers, but also the very conscious decision he made to NOT be exploited because of that choice.

DISCUSSION: Well, as I mentioned, I found myself sobbing in traffic listening to this. Of course you know what happens, but I really didn’t KNOW what happened. It’s interested reading/listening from different perspectives: 1) as a friend who lost someone in this damned war around the same time. LCPL Levi Angell of the USMC was KIA on April 8, 2004 as the Humvee vehicle he was driving was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Abu Ghurayb, on the road to Fallujah in Iraq. This was exactly two weeks before Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan. So the details and the timeline hit close to home. 2) Reading as a wife, the thought of losing my husband and Krakauer’s details of Marie and the rest of Pat’s family finding out felt very graphic. 3) I knew parts of the details, and some of the rumblings of “cover up”, but holy shit… that asshole of a government and military… you can’t tell me it wasn’t! (don’t even try)

I wouldn’t call it a political book, but Jon Krakauer and the Tillmans do not mince words on their findings and allegations that Pat, his death, his body, his belongings, and a lot of the circumstances surrounding the case were mishandled. If you agree with the war in Iraq, you may feel triggered because Tillman’s journals reveal his frustration about the fight. It’s still an incredible book and I learned so much!

5/5 stars… 100% would recommend! It’s very well written and I think it does the family justice to have a timeline of research identified as to how the case was handled from the get-go. It’s very challenging to read the last 25% of this book. (By challenging, I mean frustrating!)

FAVORITE QUOTE: “There is an overwhelming inclination to keep the unsavory particulars hidden from public view, to pretend the calamity never occurred. Thus it has always been, and probably always will be. As Aeschylus, the illustrious Greek tragedian, noted in the fifth century B.C., “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

Four Winds by Kristin Hannah for sake of getting this blogpost out almost 3 weeks late and still not having found the time to write a full review, move this to the top of your TBR list! It’s historical fiction, beautifully written (of course, by the HF Queen), and covers the Dust Bowl, which has so little written about it.

Good Reads synopsis:

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby was my July pick for BOTM. I don’t know what drew me to it, but I’m so glad I picked this one! Two words: Buckle in.

Two grieving fathers, both ex-cons. One black, one white; neither of them agreed with or understood their sons’ homosexuality. Their sons were lovers and husbands, and they were gunned down. Murdered, and the cops have no leads. After months of grieving separately, Ike and Buddy Lee come together to track down the clues that they hope will lead to their sons’ killers and try to answer the heartbreaking question any family who loses loved ones too soon always ask: why?

It was really hard to read sometimes. It made me uncomfortable, and I’m so glad it was written from the perspective it was. S. A. Cosby is now on my top TBR author list. Twisting in racism, sexism, law enforcement challenges, LGBTQ+ issues, and leaving so much more on the table. For going into my July picks without a lot of faith, this one grabbed me, hook line and sinker.

For as far behind as I am in posting my July reads, I’m even further behind on updating anything on my August updates, too! Life is busy with a toddler, COVID, a teenager (high schooler!!), and a full-time job. I’ve definitely been reading, I just haven’t found the time to update anything. What are your recent fave-reads??

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