June Book Wrap-Up

IMG_0628Happy Summer! Yesterday was the last day of school for my kids so we are officially on summer break. The plan is to enjoy a couple weeks of downtime including chilling at the beach and pool, which is code for R-E-A-D-I-N-G. Mid-month I’m taking my kiddos to visit my parents for 3 weeks – woo hoo! We will be swimming, shopping, sewing and reading. My mom is a huge reader so I look forward to lots of book discussions with her.

I read some great books in June. It’s a toss-up between Beartown and UNSUB for my favourite. Both were amazing stories that kept me fully engaged from the first page to the last page. What are you reading this summer?

The People We Hate at the Wedding – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
The People We Hate at the Wedding is scores of family dynamics and dysfunction. It was like watching an upper echelon reality show chock-full of painful moments and endless entertainment.

The Fourth Monkey – ⭐️⭐️ / 5
The Fourth Monkey is portrayed as a cross between Se7en and Silence of the Lambs. Both movies are creepy, have disturbing aspects, literally keep you on edge but most of all stay with you. Years later you still remember those movies and may re-watch them. The Fourth Monkey has none of those attributes. It did not check off those typical suspense / thriller checkboxes for me. I am surprised because a bit of research into J.D. Barker and he has some near-award worthy books out there, unfortunately this one isn’t one of them.

Beartown – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
This book can be summarized in one word: POWERFUL! Beartown instilled emotion in me that made my heart want to explode from page one. Backman transported me into a place where I could feel the pain of every resident who inhabited Beartown, flailing on the cusp of survival but longing for so much more.

Chemistry – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
Chemistry is a uniquely written story that reads like a non-fiction book. Wang’s brilliant depiction of an unnamed woman who recounts why she left a chemistry PhD program is coursely humourous. This kind of fiction writing is a departure from what I would normally pick up and read but I am so glad I ventured outside of my reading comfort zone. This book is written like a succinct diary and reads quickly so if you are looking for a book in between heavier stories this one is perfect.

Sweet Home Cowboy – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
This was my first book from the Love at the Chocolate Shop series and I thought it was a cute story. This was a pretty big variation in my reading choice. I normally don’t read romance-y books and definitely not western’s but this was light on the western romance. I thought it was entertaining and quick to read – perfect for summertime sitting poolside or at the beach.

UNSUB – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
UNSUB is the most intense and engrossing book I have read, which speaks volumes because I have read many true crime books. This book is fiction but Meg Gardiner made it feel like true crime. The story is a takeoff of the Zodiac Killer that haunted the Bay Area in the 60’s and 70’s but with a dialled up creepy factor. This book is not for the squeamish – it’s graphic and cuts to the quick, but totally suitable for any true crime lover. And the best part, a sequel is coming! This is a series I look forward to and know I will dig into.

The Secrets of Married Women – ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
Jill, Wendy and Leigh are best friends, each have very different personalities. Jill is married to Rob of 10 years, they adore each other but can’t have children because Rob is infertile. Wendy and Neil buried their baby daughter Nina and Wendy has never recovered from the loss but rarely complains and puts on a happy face. Leigh’s husband, Lawrence is a stay at home dad with OCD. He loves her dearly, would do anything for her but she no longer feels that spark with him and finds him a bit of a wuss.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
This book is super-cute! I listened to the audio book version narrated by Laura Knight Keating. Her narration is amazingly authentic as if Lara Jean herself were reading the story out loud. This book is entertaining and fast-paced making it a perfect summertime read.

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Book Review: The People We Hate At The Wedding

The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant GinderTitle: The People We Hate at the Wedding
Author: Grant Ginder
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Format: Netgalley Digital ARC
Verdict: Read it!
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Flatiron Books: Paul and Alice’s half-sister Eloise is getting married! In London! There will be fancy hotels, dinners at “it” restaurants and a reception at a country estate complete with tea lights and embroidered cloth napkins.
They couldn’t hate it more.

My Review: The People We Hate at the Wedding is scores of family dynamics and dysfunction. It was like watching an upper echelon reality show chock-full of painful moments and endless entertainment.

This was my first Grant Ginder read and it won’t be my last.  The People We Hate storyline and plot were so well developed.  Ginder has a devilish knack for drawing you into unlikable characters and wanting to get to know them – he is a gifted writer!

Early on I found the characters somewhat unlikable and a bit abrasive but as the story unfolds so do their personalities, which at first glance are mere facades.  The story is told from several points of view, which works well for me because the characters are fleshed out and I get a sense of who they really are and feel drawn into the story.

My favourite character is Paul.  He drinks a lot, is full of ups, downs and pure drama – likely from imbibing too often!  I got a chuckle out of his shenanigans throughout the story.  He is a caseworker with a jerk for a boss and a crazy caseload – literally!  He recently followed his professor boyfriend, Mark to Philadelphia.  Post tenure track promotion, Mark has become dismissive and patronizing towards Paul and to make matters worse wants an open relationship – inviting others into their bedroom for casual sex.  Estranged from his mother, Donna for three years, Paul has no idea that his father harboured bigoted feelings towards his sexuality and his mother fell on her own sword protecting Paul from the truth.  Towards the end of the book he tries to right his wrong with Donna, which gets him in a hilarious predicament winding up in a foreign jail the eve of his half-sister’s wedding.  He really does wear his emotions / heart on his sleeve!

Beneath all of the humour are the real issues guiding the characters.  Paul’s sister Alice, likened to a train wreck, is really a broken soul (thanks to Mexico) and lonely.  Their half-sister Eloise isn’t a spoiled brat with a trust fund.  She wants to be a big sister and protect them but lacks understanding who Paul and Alice really are.

I like digging into great family dynamic books because they are easy to relate to, funny and entertaining.  I think anyone who likes a good laugh, drama and well-rounded characters will also enjoy The People We Hate at the Wedding.

Thank you to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for a free digital ARC of this book.  My review is my own.