Monday, September 4, 2017

Summer Book Reviews 2017

With Labor Day upon us and the kids back in school, I think it's safe to say that summer is officially over which leaves me reminiscing about all the things we did (and didn't do) over the last three months. Back in June, I posted my list of Summer Reads. I've read seven books since then. Most of them were on that list, but not all. Overall, I was pleased with the books I chose. It became even clearer to me that historical fiction is by far my favorite genre. I have surprised myself, though, by being drawn to a couple "thrillers" which is not a genre I would have thought to be interesting a couple years ago. It's funny how our tastes change sometimes, isn't it?! Here's a rundown of what I read and what I thought. 
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain is set in North Carolina, the state I've lived in for most of my life, so it had a "hometown" draw for me. The story is set in a very rural part of the state in the 1960s when there was plenty of racial tension, women are still seen as "homemakers," and mental illness was very misunderstood. It tackles the issues of poverty, race relations, and government mandated sterilization head-on. There are parts of the novel that are not easy to swallow, but are they real and historically accurate - which is part of why it's hard to stomach. I gave this one ⭐⭐⭐ and would definitely recommend it to others. 

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins is the follow up to her incredibly popular The Girl on the Train. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of either. The one big criticism I have of this book is that the chapters are narrated by many different characters which became confusing. While the chapters are chronological, there is no real pattern among the narrators and each one seems to narrate from a different point of view (first person, third person, etc.). Some of the chapters overlap events, but are told from different perspectives. Overall, I liked the story, but frequently found myself thinking, "Wait, which character was that?" and having to backtrack a bit in order to keep up. Ultimately, I gave it ⭐⭐✩ (2.5)stars.

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck is a historical fiction novel, but when I read reviews comparing it to All The Light We Cannot See  and The Nightingale, I was skeptical. Those are two of my favorite books and I could not imagine anything coming close to them.  It turns out that I was wrong and the reviewers were right! The book is vivid and engrossing. It gives a clear picture of life after the WWII and those who were left to pick up the pieces of their lives and their country. This is by far my favorite book of the summer and will be added to my list of all time favorites. Definitely recommend!! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Last Letter From Your Lover by JoJo Moyes was my attempt to let this author redeem herself. I read Me Before You a few years ago and loved it, but the sequel, After You, was a grand disappointment. I was hoping that this one would renew my enthusiasm for her writing. It only got me about halfway there. The writing was pretty good, but the plot line was not unique and there were no real surprises for me in this one. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't amazing either. I gave it ⭐⭐✩ (2.5 stars). 

What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan was a bit difficult to read because it chronicles a parent's greatest fear - losing a child - and the angst was palpable as I read. This book had a real "Whodunnit" flare and there were certainly some twists that kept me engaged trying to figure out the answers. In the end, the answer was not what I expected. I gave this one ⭐⭐⭐.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman was the wild card on my list. Based on the book's synopsis, I knew it was not going to be anything like what I normally read and that's why I added it to my list. I was on the fence about this book through much of it. At times, the "make believe" aspect was a little too much and overdone. But, the ending saved it and it turned out to be a truly endearing story about how a little girl and a grandmother's past bring an unlikely group of people together. I gave it ⭐⭐⭐.

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown was only okay. Based on the book cover synopsis, I predicted this to be a real page turner, but ended up finding rather anti-climatic. It was an interesting story line and there were some surprises along the way, but nothing that really made my jaw hit the floor. Perhaps my expectations were just a bit too high. I gave it ⭐⭐✩ (2.5 stars).

I still have five books left to read from my List of Books to Read in 2017 as well as two additional books sitting on my nightstand! There are only four months left in the year, so I guess I better get busy reading!! 😄😉📚

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

What did you read this summer?



Janine Huldie said...

I definitely appreciate your sharing here as you know I love learning other's thoughts on books. I have a copy of Into the Water from last month's BOTM and still haven't had the desire to read it for some reason. But after reading your review, I think I am not rushing into reading it either. I will read a few that I had on my list before and when I do have the desire will try to give it a try. Thanks again, Lisa :)

Dana said...

What She Knew is the only one from this list that I've read, but I appreciate your reviews - adding a few to my list. You've been busy this summer! Hope you able to get to the other books on your list.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

I think it would have been good if it hadn't been so confusing with all the different narrators.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks Dana! Glad you found some here to add!

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