Recently Read! (June 2021)

Here are my most recently read books from June 2021!

Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear what you thought!

The Trouble With Hating You (Sajni Patel)
I really enjoyed this! When I went to log it into my Goodreads challenge, I came across a few reviews that felt the representation of the characters’ culture wasn’t completely accurate, which is important to keep in mind. Otherwise, I liked the story line and the strength with which Liya’s character was written, despite all she has endured (and continues to) within her community. Even though she’s a successful biochemical engineer, being a woman, and thereby having pressure placed on her to consider marriage and children, was a topic that was explored really well. At first, I was a little thrown off by how long her hostility towards Jay endured, as well as the intensity of it, but it definitely added to the plot and made the ending all the better!

Other People’s Houses (Abbi Waxman)
After reading The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, I immediately requested all of Abbi Waxman’s books from the library and this was the fourth and last one I had yet to read! Other People’s Houses was very different from the other story lines, with stronger and more risque(?) language (in case that’s something you consider when choosing a book). The plot revolves around a small neighborhood and all of the different personalities and families that reside within it. Each has their own unique structure and challenges. It’s interesting to see the way that the characters interact with one another in public, as opposed to their personalities behind their own closed doors. When their own private reflections and thoughts are shared, yet another element is added to create a comprehensive picture of who they each are, complete with fears, secrets, and hopes. There was a lot to unpack here, from an affair that ends up affecting more than just the one couple, to raising children (from preschoolers to teenagers), and the everyday nuances of married life.

Life’s Too Short (Abby Jimenez)
This was my favourite book this month! I’ve really enjoyed Abby’s other novels, but this one really stands out. I loved everything from the development of the characters to the roller coaster of emotions throughout the book! One page would have me laughing, while I’d find myself concerned on the next, and then tearful, and so on. The honesty and vulnerability with which it all comes together is remarkable. Vanessa’s life is seemingly dictated by the fear of dying young, as many of the women in her family have, from an incurable illness. She lives her life knowing that tomorrow is not promised, until she steps in to become the caregiver for a baby girl, and everything changes. Adrian, her neighbor, offers to help one especially difficult night and the relationship that develops between them changes who they are from the first page to the very last. I liked how subjects were approached honestly and how Vanessa held her ground, not wavering on her principles, and making the sacrifices and decisions necessary to stay true to herself. There are heavy topics discussed throughout the course of the story, but it all flows so seamlessly that you don’t want to put the book down!

I’m Fine and Neither Are You (Camille Pagan)
This was an intense read, and at times very difficult. The main character, Penelope, is the main earner in her home as well as trying to be everything to everyone at all times, from her husband, to her kids, her father, her brother, and friends. After a devastating tragedy that carries throughout the story, she and her husband openly discuss things they’d like the other to work on. While her husband was initially painted as sort of hopeless, his success working on himself outdoes Penelope’s efforts and makes her even more frustrated. The reflection on friendships, marriage, and personal growth and achievement are seamlessly explored and developed in an honest and candid way.

The Jetsetters (Amanda Eyre Ward)
I’ll be honest – I didn’t especially enjoy this book. It was on so many summer read lists that I picked it up and managed to get to the end of it, but all the while it seemed disjointed and like I had missed something. I didn’t feel like there was ultimately a resolution as the story line came to it’s conclusion and while certain characters and situations pulled in my attention, I didn’t feel invested in what was happening. Everything revolves around a dysfunctional family, where each member brings their own baggage, so to speak. After a friend’s death, the mother, Charlotte, dreams of winning a cruise vacation and taking her (grown) children along. Lee, Cord and Regan all have their own issues, from a troublesome marriage, to a broken relationship, and loss of work and secrets that are hidden from family. Charlotte herself seems intent on finding a man on the cruise rather than focusing on the children she so wished would accompany her. Each of her kids are suffering in their own ways, all fairly serious, and yet they each do so alone and she seems to privately reflect on their circumstances but not really help in any way.

How To Stop Time (Matt Haig)
This was such a fascinating read! The story revolves around Tom Hazard and rotates between his past, which spans centuries, and the present day! He belongs to a secret group called the Albatross Society, whose motives I found questionable from the start. I was pulled in immediately and loved the characters included from different time periods and the relationships Tom develops with them. He has known so many people, but there’s an unmistakable sense of loneliness when he arrives in London and begins yet again. There’s something for everyone, from adventure and betrayal, to romance and tragedy. It’s fantastic!

The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah)
Usually at the end of each month, I’ve read at least a few historical fiction novels. Over the last little while, I’ve really struggled to turn to my favourite genre, what with the rise in antisemitism. After seeing @mayahoodblog’s recap of this particular book, I finally picked it up out of my TBR pile and my only regret was not having done so sooner! From the very first sentence, the writing is absolutely powerful and breathtaking. The emotion and sincerity with which each scene is described was incredible and it’s the first book in a very, very long time that brought me to tears. I loved how there were multiple story lines that seamlessly wove together and how, in the end, there was a sense of resolution and peace amidst the heartbreak. There were countless lines that I stopped and read again and again because the sentiment captured, the strength and wisdom conveyed, was extraordinary. The story itself revolves around Vianne and Isabelle, two sisters with a difficult past and relationship. As WW2 and the Holocaust begin, the roles they assume, the direction their paths take, and the burden they each carry, intersects and diverges again and again, with neither fully understanding what the other is capable of, at the time. This is definitely a must read!

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