Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Reading Roundup - July 2016

Happy Book Day! Before I get started, I'd like to note that tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my blog! One year ago I said to myself that I'd see... a) if I enjoyed blogging, since the last thing I need is a hobby that feels like a chore, b) if I could manage a consistent schedule, and c) if anyone wants to read my random ramblings. The third item is still up for debate, but the other two are definitely yes, so here I am! And now... Let's chat about the books I read in July.


1) First Comes Love by Emily Giffin. 3.5/5 stars. This book goes back and forth between two very different sisters, Meredith and Josie, struggling with their life choices fifteen years after a family tragedy. Meredith is unhappy despite an outwardly perfect career and family. Josie is desperate to have a baby but hasn't found "the one" and starts pursing non-traditional paths to motherhood. I enjoyed the book but think it could have been done better, and I'd rather just follow one character rather than bouncing back and forth between the two narrators. One thing I did like was the glimpse back into Ellen's life from Love the One You're With, which I happened to reread on a whim back in May.


2) The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell. 3.5/5 stars. This book, as the title might indicate, is a Bronte spinoff, although it mostly features the lessor known Anne Bronte novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, rather than Charlotte's Jane Eyre. It follows the last living relative of the Bronte sisters, Samantha Whipple, on the hunt for a mysterious and long-lost family legacy with the help of her handsome and equally mysterious Oxford tutor. I enjoyed Samantha's quirky voice and references to the various Bronte novels, but the plot flagged a little at the end.


3) The Children by Ann Leary. 4/5 stars. This is one of those books where everything disintegrates slowly as you go along and was increasingly painful and sad to witness. The narrator is Charlotte Maynard, who lives with her mother Joan and often-visiting sister Sally in a sprawling Connecticut lake house which is now owned by her step-brothers Spin and Perry since the unexpected death of their father. When Spin comes to visit with his fiance Laurel... Cue the aforementioned disintegration of the seemingly well-adjusted family.


4) Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry. 3/5 stars. I think being a working mom (or a stay-at-home-mom, or any part-time variation of the two) is really difficult. I can't even imagine working in high-stress, male-dominated Wall Street, as Belle, the main character of this book, does in the years leading up to the recession. This is an interesting, and also depressing, glimpse into Wall Street culture and specifically at the greed and irresponsibility that caused the global economy to collapse. There are also struggles at home with her husband, and to a lessor extent, her kids, who are the least present aspect of the book, as well as a pretty unbelievable side plot involving an ex-boyfriend.


5) The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson. 2.5/5 stars. I could barely finish this book. It wasn't bad. It was just very slow paced and none of the characters pulled me in. Most of the book is the diary of Zinaida Lintvaryova, a young doctor struck with a fatal disease which has blinded her, who becomes friends with rising literary star Anton Chekhov at her home in the Ukrainian countryside in the summer of 1888. There are also two minor present day storylines - Katya, who is hoping the diary will rescue her struggling publishing house, and Ana, who she has hired to translate the diary into English.


6) The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay. 4/5 stars. This is the story of the four Turner sisters, aged 13-22, who set out on the road as a vaudeville act in 1919 after their father injures his hand and can no longer work. Narrated alternately by the shy and intellectual Winnie and the vivacious Gert, this was a really interesting look at a vanished era. I had no idea how popular vaudeville was in the years leading up to the introduction of movies and radio.

That's all! Have you read any of these books? Do you agree/disagree with my review? What have you been reading lately? As usual I'm linking up with Stephanie and Jana for Show Us Your Books.

Life According to Steph

25 comments:

  1. I think why I'm drawn to Ann Leary's books, or why I want to read them, is that she's Denis Leary's wife. I feel this is unfair to her so I just don't read them. I realize that makes no sense.

    I did not enjoy the new Emily Giffin at all. Although I did like it more than her previous book which doesn't say much because it was horrendous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't know that Ann Leary is married to Denis! I'm glad I didn't know because I can't help but have a different opinion of authors with "connections" and read their books in a different light.

      Delete
  2. I enjoy Emily Giffin and have read most of her books. I have not read this one but I have read "Love the one your with" but for the life of me I could not tell you what it was about because they tend to all run together at some point. I'm still waiting for the movie sequel to "Something Borrowed" to come out. I've read "something Blue" and thought the movie was in the works but it's been years now!

    I really started to like Sarah Strohmeyer. I have read "The Cinderella Pact", "Sleeping Beauty proposal", and today just finished "Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives". She's a pretty good author!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was really hoping they'd make a movie from Something Blue too, That was one of my favorites. I liked her earlier books more than the last two or three.
      I will have to check out Sarah Strohmeyer! The books sound fun!

      Delete
  3. The Children is on my list!

    Reading Opening Belle just made me angry about crap working moms have to deal with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Opening Belle made me so angry about basically all things Wall Street. Ugh.

      Delete
  4. the turner sisters book sounds super interesting.
    i didn't hate first comes love, but i didn't love it either. meredith was annoying and i agree that the whole thing could have been done better. i don't understand why because emily giffin wrote some great books and was super popular but it seems she's going downhill... which is sad!
    happy blogiversary to you tomorrow!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too bad that Emily Giffin didn't consult with me, I could really have helped her make this one a better book. ;-) I really liked her earlier books but not so much lately.

      Delete
  5. I agree - The Tumbling Turner sisters was really fascinating - I had no idea such an era really existed or what it entailed. I didn't like the dual narration at first because I found it hard to differentiate between the two sisters.

    Happy Bloggiversary! I'm glad you're sticking around :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly I am so sick of dual narrators. I just want to read ONE story told by ONE person! Is that too much too ask?!?! Half the books I read (literally, exactly half last month) feature multiple narrators. And I agree Gert and Winnie were supposed to be so different but their voices were so much alike I'd forget who's chapter it was.

      Delete
  6. Happy blogiversary!!! I think we all have our ups and downs with blogging, but overall it's so much fun to connect with other like-minded friends. BTW - per your advice, I finally joined Good Reads and love being able to keep all my to-do books in one place! I'll be adding a few of your suggestions here, as well. =) Thanks for sharing the link-up, I am going to join it too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will look for you on Good Reads!

      Delete
  7. I just added The Tumbling Sisters to my to read list. It sounds really interesting and is about an era that I don't know much about. I read Opening Belle a few months ago and I found the look into Wall Street interesting but couldn't stand the way they treated women. Happy One Year Blogiversary!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't imagine working in an environment like Wall Street - Awful!

      Delete
  8. I have The Children on my NetGalley list and haven't gotten to it yet. Glad to hear you liked it though! I thought Opening Belle was an interesting look at women (especially mothers) working on Wall Street, but I thought there was WAY too much financial jargon in it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, I'm sure she was trying to keep it as simple as possible but especially once she started talking about the mortgage bonds, etc - It was way over my head. And everyone else's... Which is one of the reasons we got into the whole mess - No one knew what was going on enough to know that it was a BAD investment idea.

      Delete
  9. Happy Blogiversary! I read the Madwoman Upstairs and it was a so-so read for me. I'm not a huge Bronte sisters, which probably needs to be factored in too. :) The Tumbling Sisters sounds interesting and I'm adding it to my TBR.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you probably have to be a Bronte fan to like Madwoman, or at least to be pretty familiar with ALL the books. I have a love/hate with them - Especially Wuthering Heights, The characters are SO awful, and yet I read it again and again every few years.

      Delete
  10. The Children sounds really interesting. I enjoy books with dysfunctional families (not sure what that says about me - ha!)
    It took me over a year before I felt like anyone was reading or engaging with my blog. Now, I have a small, but loyal group that do. This link-up helped with finding some that I connected with. Happy blogiversary!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of my favorite books (& movies, aka The Family Stone) and about big messy families. Coming from a small & quiet family it's a fascinatingly different world!
      I have a (very) small group of readers too that I feel like I've connected with and that's been one of the best things about starting my own blog. It's also made me start to read more smaller blogs that I can actually connect to the blogger vs the super popular ones that feel more anonymous and has overall made the blog reading experience better for me too!

      Delete
  11. One of the things that I love about Emily Giffin's books are that they all seem to fit together a little bit. It's almost like she's rewarding you for reading her other books. The Tumbling Turner Sisters sounds really interesting. I don't know if it would be a book that I would normally pick it up, but that's what I love about this linkup!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is one of my favorite things about Emily Giffin's books too! I love getting the little glimpse at what happened to the characters from the other books. It's like in movies where they show some scenes from after the happily-ever-after during the credits, I like knowing it worked out in the long term. :-)

      Delete
  12. Happy Blogiversary to you! I'm not familiar with any of these books, but I enjoyed reading your reviews. The Tumbling Turner Sisters looks interesting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!
      It's harder than I realized to write a succinct review that manages to convey plot details plus my thoughts. I've started trying to do it as I go along rather than all the books at once the day before the linkup.

      Delete
  13. I recently read First Comes Love and gave it 3.5 stars too-- I haven't read very much from Giffin, and I haven't read Love the One You're With, but I do love when authors add in little crossovers between books! The Children and Tumbling Sisters sound really good-- adding them to my tbr!

    ReplyDelete

Please comment if you feel so inclined! I will reply via email if you provide your email address. If not - Check back here for a reply.