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.