Recently Read! (July 2021)

Here are my most recently read books from July 2021!

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

Early Morning Riser (Katherine Heiny)
I will be honest and admit that I had a hard time getting through this one. I was so looking forward to it, but I just felt like there wasn’t much substance to it overall. Jane falls in love with Duncan who seems to have had the same effect on pretty much every woman in the city (and neighboring cities as well). When a tragedy occurs in the town, their lives become further intertwined and together they assume the responsibility for their friend and neighbor Jimmy, whose diagnosis is never fully revealed. The novel spans years of their lives and ultimately their relationship does seem to become more natural and less a result of circumstance. Love, marriage, parenthood, community and allowing our past to shape our future, are all explored and delved into.

The Paris Library (Janet Skeslein Charles)
This was a great read! I loved how the main character, Odile, doesn’t let anyone stand in the way of her ambitions and goes out and lands her dream job. Although this novel takes place during the war, I felt like it was very lightly touched upon, with heavier moments scattered about. It’s a great historical fiction read for someone who is looking for something a little less intense and graphic. Odile and her fellow Librarians join the resistance in a way that seems simple, but whose dedication to patrons, regardless of religion or background, is powerful all the same. The story also centers around Odile’s life in Montana almost 4 decades after the end of the war. The relationship she develops with her neighbour, Lily, is fraught with miscommunications which lead to misunderstandings, with a good measure of the typical teenage angst thrown in as well, and helps to uncover and clarify events from the past, in a seamless and moving way.

Second First Impressions (Sally Thorne)
This was a very light, easy read! Ruthie is one of the most innocent and almost childlike protagonists I’ve come across in a long time. She works as admin in a retirement complex and takes her role very seriously. She is shadowed by her past and the ways in which she disappointed her parents, and now seeks to be as perfect and pulled together as possible. She can’t see that she’s actually the one that was wronged. Her guilt, and the way in which it impacts her to the present day is, at times, hard to read. The cast of characters is strong, with Teddy Prescott (son of the property owner), Melanie, an eccentric office temp who seeks to set up Ruthie in a relationship using a method she’s devised and trying to trademark, and the Parloni sisters, who bring it all together with their antics and love (beneath layers of sarcasm and meddling!). All in all, it’s a charming read!

That Summer (Jennifer Weiner)
This was a much heavier storyline than I was expecting. I read Big Summer last year and felt the same way, as the impression I got was initially an easy summer read and ultimately ended up requiring a lot more concentration and emotional investment in both the plot and characters. Jennifer’s writing is straightforward and she doesn’t sugarcoat difficult topics, which at times makes it difficult to read. The story centers around two women who live within very different circumstances, but have a lingering dark past tying them together. Daisy is married, a mother to a teenage daughter, and has a thriving cooking business. There is an undercurrent of discontent within her life and the guilt for feeling such, when she realizes she is blessed with so much. On the other hand, Diana had such a promising future ahead of her until one traumatic evening that sets the rest of her life off course. The way she addresses her trauma, as well as the way in which she continues on with her life, is remarkable. There are a couple of graphic scenes that may leave readers uncomfortable, to put it mildly, but I believe they’re necessary to establish the power of Diana’s story – of both being broken and trying to recover. The way these women come together and the repercussions of having done so make for a powerful read!

The Home Edit (Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin)
A few months ago, I read The Home Edit Life (you can find my review here) and loved it! I’ve been following THE on Instagram for a while now, but I’ll admit that it wasn’t until their Netflix series that I really became a full-fledged fan! After a couple of episodes, I had reorganized a few drawers, and then moved on to our pantry, and haven’t stopped since! Their personalities and humour shine through each page and you can almost hear their voices while reading little anecdotes or hilarious observations! The encouragement they provide is always done so in a way that is not stressful, with humour and sincerity overpowering any pressure! The photos throughout the book were stunning and, while not something that I completely expected to replicate in our own home, they were a great starting place. The foundational concepts are able to be translated into any space! I personally found this one a lot more approachable, informative, and attainable than the second book and really enjoyed reading it!

The Diplomat’s Wife (Pam Jenoff)
This was definitely my favourite read of the month! I was not expecting the twists and turns throughout the plot, and not only were they done so seamlessly and well, the unanticipated nature of each one made them all the more powerful! The story revolves around Marta Nederman who has barely survived the war and is in a sort of rehabilitation hospital setting after being rescued by an American soldier, Paul. She comes across Paul again when recovering and the relationship they form carries throughout the rest of the story. Marta’s strength through everything she endures – from the very war itself as a member of the Polish resistance, to marriage, motherhood, trauma, love and loss, is told beautifully and paints the picture of a strong, heroic woman. There is so much I want to say about this book, but I don’t want to give anything away, even in the littlest bit, so I’ll just end this by saying this is a must read!

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