Ok, so the title is a little misleading.
This isn’t going to be one of those “these are the best books to read this summer” lists. Or is it?
This is one of those “here’s what I’ve read this summer” lists. Or at least the stuff I think is worth sharing….. There were more…one in particular, but it’s getting a separate review because it was one of the best books I’ve ever read. (Yes, I know, I’m a tease.)
FYI, the links will take you to the Goodreads page for each book.
The Ten Best Days of My Life by Adena Halpern: I picked this up on a whim at the used bookstore. I think I paid $1 for it. It sounded cute, but I didn’t have high hopes. The general gist is that the 29-year old Alexandra dies, and finds herself in heaven. No, it’s not depressing. There are seven “levels” of heaven, and to stay in the top one she more or less has to convince the powers that be that she’s led a meaningful life. To do so, Alexandra has to write an essay on the 10 best days of her life. That’s the majority of the book.
I actually gave this a 5-star rating on Goodreads, which is a bit of an anomaly for me. This book was adorable. It was a quick, easy read, and made me smile. The character bordered on annoying in the beginning, but she quickly became someone I could relate to (maybe I’m just annoying?). The whole thing was endearing, and a great feel-good story.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I’ve read so many rave reviews of Rainbow Rowell’s books, and to be honest, it was hard to pick one to read first! I settled on Attachments because it sounded the least like a love story – and I just wasn’t in the mood for a love story when I picked it up. The premise is that Lincoln is an Internet Security officer…meaning he reads everyone’s email in the company. He gets caught up in the emails between Beth and Jennifer, and finds himself falling in love with Beth.
I know I said I wasn’t in the mood for a love story. This is a love story, but more than that, it’s a novel about living. Lincoln has more or less skated through life, not making decisions and avoiding responsibilities. He’s unhappy, and he feels stuck. As the story progresses, he comes out of his shell and begins to live. Without spoiling anything, Beth and Jennifer have similar experiences. At the heart of the story is what it means to live life the way you want to, getting the things you want. I gave it a 4 out of 5.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: This was our August book club book. It’s a mystery of sorts that centers around a peculiar bookstore and its even more peculiar owner. That’s all I’m giving you, because I don’t want to give it away.
Our book club liked this one; I gave it a 3 out of 5. Truthfully, I had a hard time getting into it. I’m not sure if that was the story, or if it was my mood at the time. The farther I’ve gotten from it, the more I realize it’s a great work of fiction. Well crafted, thought-provoking, and even somewhat whimsical.
One of the things that I think Robin Sloan did extremely well was blending old and new. The marriage of technology and print is a central theme that led to a lot of really interesting discussion. There were a few plot holes, and a few unbelievable characters, but in general we thought it was a good read. And another fun fact – the print cover glows in the dark. How fun is that?
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire: Our September book club book, which is the reason I’m sharing it. Sigh. I don’t really even know what to call this – besides a disaster of a love story.
First things first, if you’re under 25 and/or not emotionally stable, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. I shudder to think that young girls are reading this. The messages this story sends are just…ugh. The characters are codependent, and the relationships (all of them) are incredibly unhealthy. The main character, Abby, encourages the people around her to treat her like shit, because she likes feeling needed. She’s got Daddy issues. Travis has Daddy issues. Everyone has Daddy issues.
There’s also a pretty strong message that the only reason Abby gets the guy is because she kept her legs closed. (I can’t take credit for that – my good pal Linda mentioned that, but she’s spot on.) Travis is allowed to sleep around, which we know he does, and he’s a player. Any girl Travis sleeps with, however, regardless of the fact that – to our knowledge – Travis is the only one-night stand the girls have had….that makes the girls sluts. We had a lot of good discussion about this, and how horrible the messages are, particularly for young, impressionable teenagers. (Linda, did I get it all?!)
All of that said…I did give this a 3 out of 5. Yes, the writing was terrible. Yes, the characters were miserable. Yes, the messages were disparaging. BUT. The first half of the book, I loved. I devoured it. I enjoyed the chase, and then….it all fell apart. Halfway through, my thoughts totally changed, and I became disgusted. For the simple reason that this book moved me so much, I gave it 3 stars. One of the book club girls called it an Escapist novel, and I think she’s right…but would I recommend this? No. No, I wouldn’t.
The Kill Switch by James Rollins: I’ve been a James Rollins fan for years. YEARS. I’ve read all of them, I think. His books are well-researched, well-written, and just plain fun. So when I found out he had a new series (written with Grant Blackwood), I pounced. The fact that this new series features a former military dog handler and his dog….well, duh.
I read James Rollins because he’s consistent. I know what to expect. It’ll be a quick, suspenseful story with mostly likable characters. Are they predictable? Maybe, but when you’ve read so many thrillers, they’re all predictable. For that reason, I consistently rate his books at a good solid 3, and The Kill Switch was no exception.
I liked Tucker – he’s slightly broken. Kane is the dog, and an integral part of the story. You even get to read Kane’s point of view. Rollins is a dog lover and veterinarian, and it comes through in his writing. I’m glad to see him finally putting that into his writing.
What did you read this summer? What should I read next?