Quarterly Book Reviews (Kind of): July - August 2018

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*Shaky photo brought to you by Denver the Resuce Pup*

As I was beginning to write this post (one I've been so excited to write!) I realized that technically the Quarterly Book Review shouldn't be until the end of September!  But I have read 5 books in the last two months, so I've decided to post this quarter's books a month early.  You're welcome.  Summer to me has always been the easiest time of year to read.  It's too hot to stay outside, so you can curl up on the couch in the air conditioning, the fall TV shows are on their seasonal break (September 25th (aka This Is Us day) can't come soon enough!) so you have more time in the evening unless you're like Brett and I and are die hard Bachelor watchers (#BachNation), and you probably have a few days by the pool scheduled which is the perfect place to pull out a good book.  This summer I read five books.  FIVE!  I honestly can't believe I just typed that!  I think with the points listed above and the fact that I'm apart of two books (one virtual and one in person) I have just been flying through the pages and I don't plan on stopping!

Educated by Tara Westover

I decided to read Educated by the recommendation from bloggers, Grace Atwood and Carly Heitlinger.  They both had written reviews about how great this book was but that it also was a heavy and heartbreaking read.  I completely agree.  The author, Tara, grew up in the mountains of Idaho under doomsday Mormon extremist parents and 6 siblings.  She had never been to school, seen a doctor, and didn't even have a birth certificate until she was 17 years old.  (Her mother actually didn't know the exact date of her birth!)  The books recounts horrific and dangerous stories of her childhood that was littered with near death experiences due to her father's stubbornness, emotional and physical abuse by one of her older brothers, and eventually how she left the mountain, got accepted to BYU, went to Oxford, and achieved her PHD at Harvard.  While she loves her family deeply, despite their numerous short comings, she traded them in for education and making an actual life for herself.

The reason I personally found this book extremely heavy and heartbreaking was because being a Christian and seeing how her father used God to manipulate his family and put them in harms way on an almost daily basis absolutely sickened me.  This book took me two months to complete because I would get so mad at her dad that I couldn't even bare to read.  But don't let that keep you from reading this book.  Educated will open your eyes to an entirely different culture, show you the importance and downsides of unconditional love, and inspire you to always keep learning!

RATING: 4/5

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

  This was the first book in my in-person book club and again it was by recommendation of blogger Grace Atwood.  It follows the story of two female leads: Grace Munroe from London in 1955 and Eva d'Orsey from Paris (and briefly New York) in the 1920s-50s.  Grace Munroe leads a very boring life.  She only has one friend, no family, and she's pretty sure her husband is cheating on her.  She receives a large inheritance and apartment in Paris from a deceased Ms. Eva d'Orsey, a woman she's never met or even heard of.  Before she feels comfortable to fully accept the inheritance she heads to Paris to try and figure out why she is the beneficiary to this woman's estate.  The book flip flops back and forth between the story line of both women and takes you on an incredibly intricate, scandalous, and heartwarming story.  The art of perfumery and the way scents create and hold memories is used throughout the book to guide you along on your journey to figure how these two women are intwined. 

Whether you like historical fiction or not, this book is a must read!  The first half of the book seems to move about slowly with seemingly meaningless details but as you come closer to the last half, all those details start to fill in the pieces of the puzzle and the story really takes off!  The last half of the book is a true page turner and I promise you won't want to put it down till you finish it.  My book club loved this read!

RATING: 5/5

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gale Honeyman

This was my book club's second pick.  For months every person on social media and every magazine could not stop singing the praises of this book.  Set in Glasgow, Scotland, Eleanor Oliphant is a somewhat rigid, stuck in her ways loner.  She's definitely not your typical protagonist, but that's what makes this story so great.  After a random encounter with a coworker and an ill elderly man, Eleanor sets out on a journey of all around self improvement.  Learning about social norms and cues and what relationships both platonic and romantic should really look like, all while adding her incredibly dry and brash commentary that you can't help but laugh at.  One small caveat: On the cover you'll probably see a quote from Reese Witherspoon that says, "Beautifully written and incredibly funny."  Both of those statements are true but it's easy to misinterpret "incredibly funny".  This is not your usual American ha-ha jokey comedy, it's very much British humor which is sarcastic, a little rude, and sometimes dark, but fun nonetheless.  Just make sure you have that in your mind so you're not waiting around for some hilarious hijinks to happen...becase it won't. Okay, caveat done.  Throughout the book you learn more and more facts about Eleanor's bizarre and desperately sad upbringing which explains why she is who she is.  For instance, every Wednesday night she has a phone call with her emotionally abusive mother, whom you learn is no longer a physical presence in her life due to committing a heinous crime when Eleanor was young.  With the help of the sweet and caring coworker Raymond, Eleanor works through this toxic mother-daughter relationship to find peace, and the audience does eventually find out what the mother did, which brings about a great twist to the story!  It's really hard to encapsulate this book without giving too much away, so you're just going to have to read it! 

After some intense Googling, I found out that Reese Witherspoon's production company has bought the rights for this book and intends to turn it into a movie.  I think this will be phenomenal on film and I can't wait to see who they cast as Eleanor, because she is a character like no other! 

RATING: 5/5

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

This was the book I finished in one day during my four days without Instagram (you can read about that here!).  It was part of the my virtual book club with Bad on Paper Podcast, which is hosted by Grace Atwood (seriously guys she is the reading queen she reads like 10 books A MONTH!) and one of her best friends and fellow book nerd, Becca Freeman.  I've talked about this podcast before and I'll probably never stop talking about it because I truly look forward to it every Wednesday!  Ghosted was one of their picks for the month of August.  The main character Sarah is on her yearly trip home to England to visit family and friends, but this time she's also there to heal after a divorce.  On this yearly trip she always takes a reflective walk by the location of a fatal car accident she was in at sixteen.  On this walk she runs into Eddie who is trying to return a stray sheep back with its herd.  It's love at first sight. They end up seeing each other every day for a week before Eddie goes on holiday (how British) to Spain.  They both are head over heels for each other and decide this is forever until he never calls when he lands, stops responding to all Sarah's emails, unfriends her on Facebook, and pretty much goes AWOL.  While Sarah's friends tell her to just get over it and admit that Eddie was just playing her, Sarah refuses to believe that Eddie would do this.  At times there is no better word to describe Sarah than desperate, but is that worth it when you're certain you've met your soulmate?  The more the story unfolds we learn a lot about both Sarah and Eddie's pasts and how their lives have unbeknownst-ly intersected before.  But the best part about this book is that the moment you think you have it all figured out the author drops in a major twist and you're back at square one scratching your head.  This book keeps you engaged the whole way through.

RATING: 5/5

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

The final book I read this summer was The Perfect Couple.  This was the latest pick for my personal book club and it is the epitome of a summer beach read.  Like almost all of Elin Hilderbrand's books, it is set on the island of Nantucket.  The book opens on the morning of a wedding and the bride finding her maid of honor's body washed up on the shore of her soon to be in-law's beach compound.  The book is told from the the perspective of multiple characters, the detectives, the bridal party, and even some wedding guests.  It's your classic whodunnit type of mystery full of secrets and scandals.  The title The Perfect Couple is fitting as each person is apart of a couple (or two) and not one of them is perfect, even if they appear to be on the outside.  This is the perfect book for anyone who likes a mystery but doesn't like thrillers.  I'm much more a thriller murder mystery junkie (i.e. The Girl on the Train), but this book still kept me on my toes.  Every time I thought I figured out did it, a new twist would come in.  I will say the murder is definitely unexpected, it wasn't an OH MY GOSH type of moment, which is usually the most satisfying.  Nonetheless, I'd still recommend it if you're looking for a fun and light read.

RATING: 3.5/5

I already have six more books waiting to be read on my nightstand!  The first being Jenny Han's To All The Boy I've Loved Before trilogy.  I already read the first two a few years ago, but after the Netflix movie come out a few weeks ago I decided to reread them all!  I'm sorry if my TALBILB obsession is getting annoying on Instagram, but I just can't stop.  If you haven't watched the movie or read the books, I think I just made your weekend plans for you.  As always I love getting any book recommendations, so drop me a comment or DM on Instagram.  I don't think I'll ever be at Grace Atwood status of reading 10 books a month but I think 3-4 is pretty dang good.  Also, I'm curious to know if you'd like to see a post about how to become a reader?  Everyone always says they want to read more but usually never do, so I'd love to share my tips on how to make it a habit and fall in love with reading.  

And before you go, here's a cute photo of that mischievous Denver pup stealing my hat and causing the shaky photo above.  It's a good thing he's so cute!

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