I’m officially back from Oregon! It feels good to be back, but I was so sad to leave!
It was the BEST trip! If you missed it, my sister and I surprised my dad for a little family reunion and rented the lake house we grew up going to about 2 hours outside of Portland. The new owners renovated it beautifully, but it still felt like the same old house with the same charm. It was so wonderful to be able to make new memories in the place where we made so many old ones years ago.
We were there for five nights (Neal, my dad, and my nephews were there for three of them, and the last two days were just my sister, baby niece, mom and me) and it was honestly the most time I’ve had to relax and do nothing since our Mexico trip in January. It was SO VERY needed! I also got plenty of time to read; my favorite way to de-stress. So I’m excited for this post today!
The last time I shared what I’ve been reading lately on Instagram stories, you guys asked for an updated book review post. So here it is! This includes some I read earlier this year that I hadn’t gotten around to telling you about, as well as a few I tore through at the lake house. If you’ve been looking for some new books to read, you can’t go wrong with any of these! Here are some recent reads (along with their Amazon descriptions, in some instances, where applicable; sometimes they sum it up better than I can. ?)
9 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List
The story follows Lowen, a struggling writer who has just agreed to ghostwrite the rest of a series by the famous Verity Crawford, who is unable to finish her books due to an accident. She takes Verity’s husband up on his offer to come stay at their house so she can have full access to all of Verity’s notes in her home office, and stumbles upon Verity’s never before discovered autobiography, revealing horrifying admissions that would destroy her grieving husband–who Lowen is increasingly falling for. You won’t believe how the story unfolds.
Full disclosure, I’m not really one for twisted psychological thrillers. And I had ZERO clue what this book was about before I purchased it. Grace and Becca recommended it, so I downloaded it in preparation for my lake house trip. Then, dozens of you messaged me saying how good. But seriously twisted it was. No wonder it was rated the #1 psychological thriller and #1 Romantic Suspense on Amazon.
Did it live up to the hype?
YES. I finished it in less than 24 hours. If you liked Gone Girl–this is 100x more gripping, a faster read, and way more twisted (if you can imagine such a thing). Hands down the most f-ed up book I’ve ever read, but I couldn’t put it down! Do not start reading this on a weeknight, because you will read it through the night and never go to sleep.
I accidentally stumbled upon this on Amazon and I’m so glad I did. This is actually the prequel to Lilac Girls–If you liked that, you will love this book. (I reviewed Lilac Girls in this post.)
Honestly, I think this read faster than Lilac Girls did, and I think the storyline is a bit less complicated. So it makes for an easier summer read. It took a little bit to get into, but after that, I couldn’t put it down.
Also based on true events, this time, the story follows Eliza Ferriday (those familiar with Lilac Girls will remember this is Caroline Ferriday’s Mother) and parallel paths both her life as well as her Russian best friend, Sofya, a Russian Aristocrat (cousins with the infamous Romanov family – and we all know what happened to them) during WWI; specifically, the Russian Revolution.
One thing to note: I thought it was interesting that some of the reviews mentioned they think they would’ve appreciated the book more if they were more familiar with the events of the Russian Revolution, but from reading other books I have a bit of background on it (Winter Garden and The Secret Wife are two favorites set in the same time period), which is maybe why I loved it so much– finished this in less than 2 days!
I LOVED this author, Balli Kaur’s other book, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows (which was a Reese’ Book Club pick and HILARIOUS. I wrote about here). It follows three sisters–who have never gotten along–fulfilling their mother’s dying wish: that her daughters will make a pilgrimage to India to scatter her ashes and experience India–their mother’s home country. Together. While it sounds easy enough, is anything but–with lot’s of drama unfolding and complicated family dynamics at play.
Amazon describes it as, “Powerful, emotionally evocative, and wonderfully atmospheric, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a charming and thoughtful story that illuminates the bonds of family, sisterhood, and heritage that tether us despite our differences. Funny and heartbreaking, it is a reminder of the truly important things we must treasure in our lives.”
“Each character is compelling but Daisy Jones is the star. She’s a blazing talent who is unapologetic in her sexuality and lives life on her own terms. . . . Like a poignant song with lyrics that speak to your soul, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid will transport you to another place and time.”—Associated Press
Another Bad on Paper book recommendation that I’m so glad I read–this is probably the most unique book I’ve ever read in terms of the way the story is told and brought to life. It reads like a “Vh1 Behind the Music” special. It was great, real, raw, and really transports you to another era. The only thing that left me disappointed was the fact that it isn’t REAL. Although there are rumors that it’s based loosely on Fleetwood Mac, I really wish the band was real so I could listen to the music! I feel like some people are hot or cold about the ending, but I really liked it. I guess it’s all in how you interpret it!
“From the author of Daisy Jones & The Six—an entrancing novel “that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all” (Kirkus Reviews), in which a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.” – Amazon
The same author as Daisy Jones, I’m SO glad I read this book second, because I liked it even better. After reading this book, I have an immense appreciation for Taylor Jenkins Reid in how talented she is at creating complex characters and bringing their stories to life. Like Daisy Jones, the only thing that left me wanting was the fact that Evelyn isn’t a real person–although I couldn’t help but wonder if she was based loosely on Elizabeth Taylor.
You guys know my immense love of The Alice Network–which is why I couldn’t contain myself when Kate Quinn’s new book, The Huntress, was released. Yes, another WWII Historical Fiction. But the The characters are actually based loosely on a few different women, told in both past and present. You won’t be able to think about anything else when you read this book. I loved it so much. I would say it’s more…twisted–maybe is the word–than a lot of other historical fiction reads. You’ll see why.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard of Educated by now. This memoir/autobiography by Tera Westover, who grew up as a young girl in a survivalist family in rural Idaho–she tells the gut wrenching, complicated story of her childhood–not setting foot inside of a classroom before the age of 17, yet, going on to earn her PhD from Cambridge University. Highly recommend for anyone looking for an inspirational true story.
“Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!” Reese Witherspoon
I rarely read books that I think don’t live up to the hype (or a Reese Book Club pick I’m not obsessed with). But honestly, this was one of them. I really hated it in the beginning and almost gave up on it altogether, but I AM very glad I finished it! Eleanor’s character really irked me in the beginning, but I grew to love her once the book revealed more of her story, and why she is the way she is. Overall, I wouldn’t say this should go at the TOP of your list. But a lot of people say it’s one of the best books they’ve ever read. I say – it’s good but not great.
“From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.” Amazon
If you loved The Nightingale, We Were the Lucky Ones and Beneath a Scarlet Sky, you will love this book. It definitely belongs in that category. I’m so glad that Rebecca told me I had to read it. It’s one that will go down as one of my favorites, for sure!