What I Read in June 2019
June was a pretty unusual month for me. I finished fewer books than any other mont so far this year. And while I only read twelve books in June, six of them were 5-Stars, and that’s pretty noteworthy!
Considering my star ratings for this list made me realize I’ve never included those in my monthly reviews on this site! Starting this month, I’ll include those.
Here’s my breakdown of what Star Ratings mean to me:
1 star – I didn’t like it – Not many books get this rating. Many of the ones I choose not to finish will get one star. Usually I feel these books are poorly written.
2 stars – It was okay – This means I can’t quite say I liked the book, but I didn’t necessarily dislike it either. In this case, I didn’t feel any emotional connection to a book and wouldn’t recommend it.
3 stars – I liked it – Most books I read fall into this category. This means I found it generally good, just not exceptional in any category. This is a book I enjoyed, and might recommend, if I think it will resonate with a specific person.
4 stars – Really liked it – A book with this rating is still a great example of its genre. Generally there’s something lacking to prevent it to be 5 stars. Usually it’s a fantastic story with less than exceptional writing, or vice versa. Often I’ll be thinking a book is worth 5 stars and then the ending lets me down, so it’s bumped to a 4. These are books I’ll recommend often.
5 stars – It was amazing – This means a book was exceptional in every aspect. It’s extremely well written, tells a phenomenal story, and is a prime example of the genre. These are often books I write separate posts about, or talk about all the time, and recommend to anyone who will listen!
What I Read in June 2019
The Rumor – Lesley Kara
Advanced copy from NetGalley, published June 18, 2019 This is a solid thriller that was a fast, easy read. The plot-line is unique and had me invested immediately: a rumor begins among mothers in a small that a former child murderer may be living amongst them with a new identity. While it’s a mystery at heart, it’s also an exploration of human nature, and how people react to gossip.I liked the story-line a lot until the last 20%, it felt rushed and confusing. There are a lot of characters to keep track of but the added to the frantic-ness of the rumor spreading and people acting out. Overall, I say it’s worth reading if you’re looking for a quick beach read.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid
I went into this book with zero expectations and was blown away. It’s a beautiful story told with great skill and grace. Evelyn’s story (her life) is a lesson in how things are not always as they appear. This is the story of one woman, a starlet, and her rise to fame. That alone is interesting enough. Underneath are themes of societal expectations of sexuality and gender norms, domestic violence, and the effects of wealth. This is a story within a story, and I appreciate how the tales being told of the past affect the characters in the present. All of the characters are complex. Each is flawed and likable in different way at different places in the book.
*Worth noting* I listened to this audio book and think the multiple narrators really took this story to the next level for me. I doubt I would have liked it as much, or connected as strongly emotionally, if I’d read it on my own.
Necessary People – Anna Pitoniak
While this certainly isn’t a great literary work, it was a fast paced read that kept me thinking. I was invested in Violet’s story the entire time. On the surface, it’s a breezy beach read, but beneath that it’s actually a fascinating exploration into toxic female friendships so many women experience early in life. While Violet and Stella’s relationship seems extreme, I don’t think it’s too far off the mark from some realities. Violet’s story says a lot about how ambitious women must scramble to be successful.
Far From the Tree – Robin Benway
I’m utterly impressed with every aspect of this novel. It’s a touching story of three siblings who were share a mother, and were all given up for adoption as babies. Now as teens, they are meeting for the first time. Each teen has his/her own backstory and adoptive family. All of the different threads come together beautifully. This story touches on a lot of difficult subjects (teen pregnancy, race, sexuality, adoption, the foster care system) with grace and love. I was moved by each character’s individual journey, and how the people who loved them rallied around them. Technically it’s a young adult novel but it’s really about families and the parents play huge roles. I found the story relatable on a human level.
City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert
A juicy novel, that’s a fun read and at the same time is written beautifully with many thought provoking themes. This is an extraordinary work of historical fiction. Vivian is 95, recounting the story of her life in a letter. She is candid, sometimes crass, funny, and honest. I wish Vivian was real so I could meet her! On the surface, this is the story of 1940’s New York, of Vivian’s young adulthood, her introduction to sex and showgirls and theater life in the city. But there’s a lot more to this novel. Through one woman’s story, we learn how WWII affected the lives of Americans across the country, and those who served. There’s also a great deal of commentary on societal norms and judgements regarding sexuality in the 1940s-50s, even within a so-called liberal minded theater world. Vivian is bold with her sexuality, a rarity for women in those days and even still now somewhat. She reflects on how being a sexual woman affected her life in many ways, and how she eventually came to terms with who she is and released the shame.
Trust Your Vibes – Sonia Choquette
While this is a fairly basic guide, I am surprised at how much I took away from it. Mostly it was very affirming for me, reminding me that I am already on my true path, and I took away a lot of advice that will help me move onto a deeper level of spirituality and connectedness with my intuition. It’s a bit over simplified, to divide people as either five-sensory or six-sensory beings. And at times felt a little judgey of those who haven’t opened to their intuition and spiritual living. The book probably would have been better off without that content. Otherwise, the writing is straightforward and positive. The guidance given for each of Sonia’s tools is easy to understand (although 33 tools seems like a lot) and are broken down so the reader can take tangible steps toward practicing each tool. Overall this is a fantastic guide for those of us looking to utilize our sixth sense, and live a more spiritual existence.
The Shunning – Beverly Lewis
My first venture into Amish fiction! This isn’t a great literary work by any stretch of the imagination. The writing is pretty simple and repetitive. However the story was very interesting from the start, and I found the characters realistic and likable. It was a fast easy read. I listened to the audio book and didn’t love the narration, but the dialect seems accurate. I’m definitely going to continue to the next in this series, as I want to see how Katie’s journey turns out!
The Confession – Beverly Lewis
The middle of the book dragged on for far too long. The writing isn’t great and gets pretty cheesy at times. But with all that being said, I still liked the book, although not as much as the first, and I will continue to the third in the series. This is because I enjoy the storyline, which is intriguing and emotional. And I’ve really grown to like the main character Katie, I want to find out what happens to her next.
The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo – Ian Stansel
At just under 200 pages, it is an absolute marvel in regard to pacing and story development. We learn only the bare minimum of what we need to about these two feuding brothers, in order to piece together what happened. The writing is stunning, invoking vivid imagery of the West and of life as a horseman. While telling the story, Stansel also explores what it means to be family, the drama involved, and the loyalty. I’m certain I would have loved this book just as much if I’d read a physical copy, but the audio book narration is perfection, smooth tones and ideal pacing make the story even more compelling.
Fleishman is in Trouble – Taffy Brodesser-Akner-Akner
Advanced copy from NetGalley, published June 18, 2019 I almost quit this a few times because it was dragging on and on. I stuck with it because I wanted to know what had happened to Toby’s wife. Now I wish I had given up near the beginning and not wasted my time. The premise here is great, and at times it’s interesting. But the writing is too wordy and repetitive. Here we have Toby, a newly divorced dad who is getting a lot of tail via dating apps. Then his wife drops the kids off in the middle of the night and goes MIA for weeks. There was so much potential in that concept, and it fell flat. I understand the author is trying to make a point about societal expectations on women, and I appreciate it but it was so redundant I stopped caring. I will say I liked the narrator, who is Toby’s best female friend from their college years.
Shadow Daughter – Harriet Brown
This was a re-read for me. The research Brown has done, along with other studies she cites throughout the book, is enlightening and comforting to those of us who come from families dealing with estrangement. Brown shares the story of her own estrangement from her mother with honesty and grace. I can only imagine how painful yet cathartic it was for her to complete this book. Her personal anecdotes are woven with research and interviews, which come together to create a heart wrenching story, as well as an excellent resource for others.
Whisper Network – Chandler Baker
Advanced copy from NetGalley, publication date July 2, 2019 Overall, a compelling tale of women struggling to succeed in their corporate world, facing discrimination and sexual harassment on a regular basis, while balancing motherhood and home life. It’s kind of a thriller, an unnamed narrator relays the story, intermixed with transcripts from police interviews and depositions. It’s a very current book, which is understandable but some of the pop-culture references felt forced and were distracting. Those weren’t necessary for it to feel current. The writing is sharp and atmospheric. The characters are very realistic, and I had a genuine sense of what it must feel like to be a women working at this company.