Summer ReadingPosted by in Books
First off is Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. When her daughter dies in a fall from the roof of her private Brooklyn high school, single mom Kate is devastated. The fall is immediately ruled a suicide. But then Kate begins to find evidence that something more was going on, including texts, notes, and online activity. The book shifts between Kate’s point of view and that of her daughter and you are on the edge of your seat until the very end. Nothing is as it originally seems. The view inside a mean girls’ clique, the sensitivity with which the author handles a young girl’s sexuality, and the very authentic reactions of a devastated, self-blaming, and angry mom resonate. If you liked Gone Girl, you will like this. It’s not as upside down and twisted, but it is suspenseful and honest.
The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank was unfortunately a book I couldn’t get through. I read Frank’s books because they are about the Low Country and I’m a sucker for the Low Country. The premise of this is that Les is the last first wife in their group of friends. All of the husbands have remarried younger women. She packs up and leaves her husband for a month to stay in her brother’s home in Charleston while she figures out what she wants. There is plenty of trouble in her marriage: patronizing behavior, lack of attention, and some secrets about money. I couldn’t get past the terrible portrayal of Les’s gay brother as a supremely swishy caricature of a gay man. The dialogue was stilted and mostly I was annoyed at the main character for allowing her husband to treat her the way he had. I didn’t care enough to keep reading to find out what the money secret was.
The Widow Waltz by Sally Koslow didn’t exactly have an original premise. Georgia lives a privileged life with her successful attorney husband. When he unexpectedly dies, suddenly all of their wealth seems to be mysteriously gone. I feel as if I’ve read other books with this concept, so at first I wasn’t too interested. However, I ended up really wanting to know where all the money went! There are lots of wrinkles and sub-plots involving their two daughters. Georgia at first is helpless but begins to find her way (although it seems to come a little too easily). Overall, this is a good beach read. I had an inkling where it was going but it was a satisfying read.
I love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. They are definitely silly, but the books have amazing sexual tension, Lulu makes me laugh, and it’s simply comforting to see Stephanie have her car blown up, eat doughnuts and her mom’s pot roast, and feed her hamster. I haven’t been interested in the other books Evanovich has put out – many of them recycled old romances. Her new book, The Heist, is co-authored with Lee Goldberg and is getting lots of attention (it’s high on the bestseller list). The premise is intriguing: FBI agent Kate O’Hare has spent her career trying to catch master thief Nick Fox. In a twist, Nick is caught but makes a secret deal to stay out of jail by helping the FBI catch other criminals for five years- teamed up with Kate. The book begins by dangling some attraction between Kate and Nick, but this never pays off. In fact, it basically disappears and the book becomes a blow by blow of their over the top scheme to catch another criminal. There are some interesting characters that may develop into favorites like Lulu and Ranger (although I’m not sold yet), but my main complaint is there is simply not enough of the sexual tension and chemistry that makes the Stephanie Plum books so addictive. I suspect there is a lot of Goldberg in this book and not a lot of Evanovich. Still, it’s a fun read and the capers are intricate and over the top, but they always waver on the edge between seriousness and silliness and I found myself just wanting the book to make a decision as to which it was going to be.
This is the perfect beach read. Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand is a satisfying and engrossing novel that takes place on Nantucket (all of Hilderbrand’s books do) and centers around Jenna and Stuart’s wedding. The main character is Jenna’s older sister Margot, but there are many sub-plots that all tie together. Margot is dealing with a difficult relationship, some mistakes she made, and her family who have all gathered at the family summer home on Nantucket for the wedding weekend. Jenna’s wedding is the centerpiece of the story and it is made interesting because the women’s mother died several years ago, leaving behind a notebook of her vision for Jenna’s eventual wedding. Excerpts from the notebook are throughout the book and are lovely additions to the story. Hook ups, break ups, dirty secrets, rivalries, and close family connections tumble across each page. I loved the array of characters and how well I came to know them by the end of the book. I couldn’t put this down and it could only have been a more perfect read if I had had my toes in the sand while reading! Take this on your summer vacation.
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