What I’m Reading: July-September 2016

10054335Rules of Civility

If the cover isn’t a dead giveaway, Rules of Civility is a Great Gatbsy-esk book set in the 1920’s. Every character is larger than life, so the whole book seemed a bit over the top to me. However, I really enjoyed reading it and would easily race through large sections in each sitting.

Despite all of their missteps and seemingly reckless lifestyles, I really enjoyed getting to know all of the characters. There isn’t much to say about the plot itself because the whole book is pretty much an intimate look into the life of a young woman and her circle of friends as they find their place in the world.

I know it seems weird, but I really enjoyed the Epilogue. Although it seemed like an after thought, it gave closure to a book that otherwise ended fairly abruptly. I wish the final chapter circled back to the scene in chapter one, instead of slapping in a “where are they now” type Epilogue.

However, overall, this was a great book to read while cursing through the Mediterranean!

 

51xzpo1-gl-_sx322_bo1204203200_The Stuff That Never Happened

I found this book on BookBub and was intrigued enough to purchase it. However, after reading it, I would not recommend it, even at a discount.

Reading The Stuff That Never Happened was like watching a marriage start on a bad path and continue further and further down. It’s pretty terrifying to see how quickly and easily a marriage can go from bad to worse, or even good to bad.

The author introduced a few characters to serve as voices of reason and guidance (friends, family members, a therapist, etc.) but sadly, there didn’t seem to be one ounce of good advice from any of them.

The ending was the most disturbing part of this book. The main characters apologize for their wrongdoing in the marriage and the author gives us an “all’s well that ends well” sort of ending. However, this new found marital foundation is based 100% on a lie. I know The Stuff That Never Happened is fiction, not a guide to marriage, but I couldn’t help but feel the author was using the characters and the story to promote a very selfish and unhealthy blueprint. In my opinion, the book ended with the couple adding one more lie to the fire, and yet the author’s tone is positive and upbeat.

If you feel like you just can’t die without reading this book, then PLEASE promise me you won’t apply any of it to your real life relationship!

 

the-coincidence-of-coconut-cake-9781501100710_hrThe Coincidence of Coconut Cake

This book got a lot of rave reviews, but honestly I’m not sure why. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake seemed more like a draft version of a story then a published book. Every aspect of it felt unfinished.

As far as the plot, it’s basically a You’ve Got Mail copycat but with a restaurant instead of a bookstore. There’s nothing unique, surprising, or interesting as far as plot goes.

The relationships in the book were pretty unrealistic, which made it nearly impossible to feel connected to the characters. The book starts with Lou and Delvin engaged, but there is never a believable connection between the two of them. The author is so concerned with making sure we know Delvin is the “bad guy” she forgets to actually convince us they are a couple. In the author’s portrayal of Lou and Al’s dating relationship (which is the majority of the book), you feel like you’re reading the same scene over and over again. The truth (that Al is the writer who ruined Lou’s restaurant) doesn’t come out until the very end of the book, and then is quickly resolved in the last two chapters. So basically you already know everything that will happen in chapters 1-25 just by reading the book summary on the back cover.

There are so many good books in the world, don’t waste your time on this one.

 

celeste_ng_-_everything_i_never_told_youEverything I Never Told You

Just because you loved The Lovely Bones doesn’t mean you will love Everything I Never Told You. Don’t let the summary fool you. The only thing these books have in common is the mysterious death of a girl. Everything I Never Told You is really the story of a family and the choices they make leading up to their daughter’s death.

Everything I Never Told You is a truly heartbreaking story. To me, the saddest part is that every tragic situation (and there are several) could have been avoided if the family members just talked about their fears, hopes, dreams and desires instead of keeping everything bottled inside.

Although there is a hopeful ending, most of the book is very sad. If you’re not a fan of sad stories, you should probably steer clear of this one.

However, if you can stand a sad story here and there, I would encourage you to give it a go. I am certain there are thousands of families out there just like the Lee’s. Their story challenged me to speak my feelings (no matter the perceived consequence) and encourage others to do the same.

 

41zc8idrpdl-_sy344_bo1204203200_The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook

After several months of sad and not so great books, The Real Thing was a breath of fresh air. It had been too long since a book was fun!

At times The Real Thing reads a little like a news article, but that’s to be expected of a reporter. Although it’s not a Christian book, I completely agreed with almost every bit of advice offered. It’s a real common sense approach to dating, engagement and marriage. I was happy to see that so far, Sean and I have followed a lot of the advice without even realizing it.

More importantly than the advice, it’s just a fun read! The stories and the couples are really intriguing. After day 1, Sean got tired of hearing me say, “Let me read this section to you.” There were just so many stories I really enjoyed that I couldn’t help but want to share them! No matter what stage of life you are in (single, dating, married, divorced, widowed) I would recommend this book to you.

 

aviators-wife-pb-225-shadowThe Aviator’s Wife

In September I joined a book club. The Aviator’s Wife was supposed to be the book for October. However, two days before I finished it, they decided to push it to January. So much for trying to get ahead.

The Aviator’s Wife is a pretty slow read. However, because I knew basically nothing about the Lindbergh’s (except for Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight) there were times when I found myself wanting to read a little further or stay up a little longer to find out what would happen next.

Because we will never really know the truth about certain aspects of the Lindbergh’s story, there is no way of really knowing if the author’s portrayal was biased or dangerously close to the truth; but let me say, it sure as heck felt biased! At every turn Charles is portrayed as evil and calculated and Anne is portrayed as the innocent victim, tricked and manipulated into going along with Charles’ plans. Although many of Anne’s actions are FAR from innocent, the author is always quick to void her of any responsibility for her actions. Still there are many lessons to be learned about marriage and relationships from the author’s portrayal of the Lindbergh’s.

Writing about actual people in a half fact/half fiction context is a dangerous game, and I think the author’s literary choices pushed the envelope a little too much for my taste. But if you’re a real big history nut or just LOVE the Lindbergh’s, go ahead and give this book a shot.

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