What I Read in July 2019

Even though I feel like I’m always reading, I don’t get through as many books in the summer as I do in the winter. Once spring arrived, my total went down a little each month. I’m excited to see it went back up in July.

Last month, I finished 15 books. And while only two were five star reads, there were several four stars, which is pretty dang close! Several of the books I read this month are some of my favorites of the year so far (I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before 😂)

I also read a couple duds last month, the biggest dud of the year, in fact. I considered leaving those out of my post, then I realized I’d be doing my readers a disservice. So let’s use this standard for recommendations: Anything four stars and up, you should considering reading ASAP.  Three stars and less, use your own judgement!

 

What I Read in July 2019

 

Miracle Creek – Angie Kim
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This is one of those instances where labeling a book as “thriller” does an injustice, there’s so much more to this one! At the center of the novel is an immigrant family who own a controversial alternative medical therapy business. After a horrible accident, and threads unravel to figure out whether it was intentional and who is to blame. The scences flash between a trial currently happening and the time leading up to the incident a year prior. Through these flashbacks, the reader gets little snippets of the character’s lives and motivations. Kim’s writing is gorgeous, her scenes are detailed and realistic. The characters are all complicated human beings, fully demonstrating their dark and light sides. I highly recommend this novel for fans of literary fiction and character driven plots.

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Discover Your Psychic Type: Developing and Using Your Natural Intuition – Sherrie Dillard

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This is a useful guide for intuitives. I especially appreciated learning about the different types. I already know I’m highly intuitive and an emotional empath, but I didn’t know about all the different ways this can manifest. I learned I am a physical intuitive almost as much as emotional, and that explains a lot of things I experience in my life. I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the rest. I found some of the content repetitive.

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Time After Time – Lisa Grunwald

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Advanced copy from NetGalley, publication date June 11, 2019 This is a novel you’ll relish from start to finish! It’s a story about the many forms love can take, about devotion to family and place. It’s about the choices we make and why. The is an amazingly complex story-line. Grunwald manages to construct it with great care and credibility. She takes an unreliable concept and makes it not only believable but magical and heartwarming. The author’s note explaining the great deal of research she did adds a lot to the story. The writing style is simple, which makes it easy to read and follow the time jumps.  I highly recommend this novel.

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The Reckoning – Beverly Lewis 

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Oh what a huge letdown! I skimmed the last third because I wanted to know how Katie’s story ended, but I couldn’t stand the cheesey writing any more. Then, I was utterly disappointed with her choices and where she ended up in the end. She completely contradicted her own wishes and actions that drove her through the first two books! This trilogy could easily have been one book if it was executed better.

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Evvie Drake Starts Over – Linda Holmes

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Advanced copy from NetGalley, Publication date June 25, 2019   The writing here is sharp, witty, and true to life. I appreciate that while the plot is a tiny bit predictable, the path to getting there wasn’t. Everything wasn’t tied up in a nice neat bow. While this is Evvie’s story, it’s also the stories of all eh side characters who are important in her life. This novel is ultimately about adulthood not looking like we pictured it, and trying to figure out what the hell to do about it. It’s a wonderful story all around about being human and taking care of ourselves.

 

The First Mistake – Sandie Jones

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An intriguing read all the way through. At times it felt it was trying too hard to be suspenseful. I predicted a major portion of the plot, which always makes me grumpy, though I’ll admit there were a couple twists I never saw coming. It’s a quick, easy read that kept me thinking the entire time. I disliked all the characters a great deal. I wanted to root for Alice at times, but she was weak and wishy-washy. I liked how it ended though and I’ll certainly read whatever this author puts out next.

 

The Beastie Boys Book – Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz

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This book is pretty epic. It’s part personal history, part love letter to music, part memoriam to MCA, part full on brag. It’s a loooong book. There were times I laughed out loud, and others I rolled my eyes and felt like quitting. I’m glad I stuck with it, and if I ever have the chance to peruse a physical copy I certainly will. While the audio book is unique and well done for the most part, I felt I missed out on a lot by not being able to see the images included in the physical copy. It’s definitely worth a read/listen, especially if you are a big Beastie Boys fan, or a lover of music history. The writing is sharp, snarky, and touching throughout.

 

Wolfpack – Abby Wambach

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The presentation is a little cheesy, but the message is solid. It’s a short book, which allows it to be to the point and pack a lot of punch. I appreciate how she illustrates her points with personal examples. The idea that we are all leaders whether we realize it or not, hit me hard. This is a book that came to me at an ideal time. It’s entirely positive and motivating. I listened to the audio book, which probably gave it a little more emotional heft.

 

Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood

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It’s one of those books I’m appreciating more now that I’m finished and have reflected on the piece as a whole, along with the author’s note at the end. The way Atwood wove together fact and fiction is marvelous.  It was extremely difficult to get into – it took me well over 100 pages. The format jumps around from straight forward narration to verse to letter and back again. The writing style is definitely more intellectual and literary than the contemporary writing I’m used to. Since it takes place in the late 1800s, it’s written in the style of the time. That’s an impressive feat, but makes for slow reading! After a while though, I fell into the rhythm and I was fully invested in the story. I can’t say this book is an easy read, or that I recommend it!

100 Days of Sunlight – Abbie Emmons

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Advanced copy from NetGalley, expected publication August 7, 2019 This novel would probably have a profound effect on its intended audience (young adult,) as opposed to my response as an adult woman. Overall, it’s a lovely story with great intentions and a lot of potential, it’s heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. But the story is rushed. I want more backstory, it would go a long way to make me more compassionate toward the characters. I felt thrown into this trauma immediately and it was unsettling. Perhaps that was the intent, but it kept the emotions of the story superficial for me. The writing is simple, making for a quick, easy read. I was engaged in from start to finish. I appreciate the message the author is sending; that one creates her own reality regardless of the circumstances and does not need to suffer even when it seems like that’s the only option. I definitely like this novel, and recommend it for fans of the genre.

 

 

Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice – Brene Brown

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This is a fantastic reiteration of the Rising Strong material, taken to a deeper level with an exploration of spirituality. It’s not a book, but a recording of a live speech Brene gave to an audience. The tone is very similar to the audio books she has narrated. As always, I appreciate her willingness to share her own personal experiences as examples of her work. I highly recommend this for anyone who has enjoyed Brene’s other work.

Care for What You Wish For – Hallie Ephron

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Advanced copy from NetGalley, expected publication date August 6, 2019 This is a fun thriller that kept me guessing. It’s a unique premise, a professional organizer who is married to a pack rat, who makes interesting, potentially criminal discoveries when she takes on some new clients. It’s a quick, easy read, written in a simple straightforward style. The characters aren’t exactly likable, but that added to the reading experience. It made me think a lot about the clutter I keep and what I would do in any of these characters’ circumstances!

 

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

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This novel is so much more than it seems at first glance. The writing is simple yet the language is rich and there’s great emotional depth. There’s so much going on in this story: While there is lightness and humor, there’s also darkness and sadness. It’s a raw look at the effects of grief and depression, and also what it looks like to ask for help and begin to heal. While Eleanor is an odd duck, I found her surprisingly relatable. Her story resonated with me because she is much stronger than she seems. She and Raymond are both utterly human characters. It was a joy to meet them and follow their stories.

 

 

Ramona – Helen Hunt Jackson

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For the While I Was Reading Challenge category: A classic you’ve been meaning to get to        I was utterly impressed with this book from start to end. First of all, this does NOT feel like it was written in 1884. The writing is wordy at times, but doesn’t prevent the story from flowing nicely. It’s an epic account of life for the Mexicans and Native Americans who inhabited California before and after the Americans arrived and conquered the land. Because it was written at the time of these events, and not now looking back as historical fiction, it was incredibly powerful and informing. I was not aware of some of the things that took place during that time. This is a love story, although it wasn’t intended to be that. It’s a story of survival, prejudices, and societal expectations.

 

 

 

Lost You – Haylen Beck

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Advanced copy from NetGalley, Expected publication August 6, 2019   Totally meh.There are many other new thrillers out there that are much better. The kidnapped child trope is overdone. Here, the author tries to give it a unique twist and it almost works. There were a few successful red herrings, yet the plot was predictable. I kept reading because I was curious about how it would all unfold, but I wasn’t super eager to get back to the story. I didn’t care much for any of the characters, and there were a lot of important facts that were glossed over. They all went into this super important scenario much too carelessly, and they were hardly any consequences for their terrible actions.

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