August 2020 Novel Ideas – 19 Quick Lit Reviews

August 2020

Jackie and I got a fair amount of reading done at the end of summer. After suffering a pretty major reading slump at the beginning of the month, I was able to pull myself out of it and ended up reading a book a day in the last 5 days of August! My reading was all over the map this month with romance, historical fiction, memoirs, contemporary fiction, thrillers….you name it, it was on the docket to be read this month! I even read 2 cozy British reads to cover our reading challenge for the month. So take a quick look at August 2020 Novel Ideas to find your next great read.

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Kirsten’s Stack

Hollywood ParkHollywood Park by Mikel Jollettir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=e43ec096d0ade91867bfa401eaa6bcbc& cb=1599004979034

Thanks to Celadon Books for my free review copy. All opinions are my own. I have not read a memoir so fascinating and compelling since Educated by Tara Westover. Jollett’s story about leaving a cult he was born into and the emotional scars his early childhood trauma left on him was so compelling. I was so impressed by his insight into himself and those around him, and his willingness to be so frank about his journey to adulthood. I can’t recommend this book enough. 5 stars.

Brontes mistressBronte’s Mistress by Finola Austinir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=06931df6fa2e2e5899f5d359e3e1afb2& cb=1599004984802

Thanks to Atria Books for my free review copy. All opinions are my own. I’m a sucker for the classics, but I don’t know much about the authors of the classics I love. Of course, I knew of the Bronte sisters, but I had no idea that they had a brother or that he was a naughty one 😉.⁣ This story was fascinating to me because while I don’t condone modern-day infidelity, I understand how women back in the day had limited options. I loved Lydia and her (selfish) views of the world around her and I felt how hard it must be to be a woman in historic times.⁣ Her antics were utterly entertaining as were the antics of her children. I was rooting for her the entire time, even when I wanted to slap her and tell her to come to her senses.⁣ 3.5 stars.

The death of vivek ojiThe Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emeziir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=d6504fb5d582f231e8b4374559ae133f& cb=1599004990752

Thanks to Libro.Fm for my audiobook review copy. I listened to this story in one sitting because I just couldn’t stop. The book opens with the death of Vivek and then the reader is taken on a journey to figure out exactly why Vivek was killed and what he was doing in the last months of his life. Its a coming-of-age story thats part mystery. The beautiful prose turn it into a treasure of a story. 4.5 stars.

The Wrong Mr. DarcyThe Wrong Mr. Darcy by Evelyn Lozadair?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=6e57973b60f91b6492d5c0005cc257c4& cb=1599004997055

Thanks to Macmillan for my review copy. All opinions are my own. I’m a sucker for a good pride and prejudice retelling. This particular one revolves around NBA basketball stars and their wives and girlfriends. In the beginning, it was fun to figure out which character matched up to Austen’s classic, but then the plot and characters definitely departed from the well-known text of the original. It was a fun, and often over-the-top retelling, but don’t expect it to be accurate. 3 stars.

Playing nicePlaying Nice by J.P. Delaneyir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=52a9797677baee7f429237eb9d018e28& cb=1599005004892

Thanks to Ballantine Books for my free review copy. All opinions are my own. Delaney did it again with this heartracing thriller about newborns that were switched at birth. There were times that my heart was beating so quickly I had to ask people what would happen next. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire last half of the book and found myself wishing I had medication to calm me down! It was thrilling up until the very last page. A perfect book to read this fall. 4 stars.

the secret keeper by kate mortonThe Secret Keeper by Kate Mortonir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=9585db7ea7e6b0b6117d856a8a9aeac6& cb=1599005032036

I adore Kate Morton. She is one of my absolute favorite authors and The Secret Keeper was Morton at her finest. Her books meld historical fiction, with contemporary fiction and romance with mystery. This particular story revolved around a woman trying to uncover why her mother commited a crime almost 50 years prior. I loved it! 5 stars.

TheThe Nix by Nathan Hillir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=78a1a0728eb4a44dca06719e1b2f4083& cb=1599005021501

This was one of the top books of 2017 for many people, but it fell flat for me. It was suppose to be a story about a man connecting with his mother and finding out why she left, but I found the story to be way too long and cumbersome. Plus there were full chapters where the whole aim was explain some kind of dungeons vs dragons virtual game and it was tediously boring. 2 stars.

Fallen Crest foreverFallen Crest Forever by Tijanir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=88276a336cb9b03ac9ce2d2c05972816& cb=1599005061560

Is the Fallen Crest series the best written series? No. But man is it addicting! This is the 7th and final book of the series, and while the series itself hit it’s peak in first 3 books, I had to see it through to the end. Predictable but fun, it was like an ice cream cone on a warm day – pure indulgence. 3 stars.

The Grace Kelly DressThe Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitzir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=37041a78ab639e5b07154ebca5f62542& cb=1599005049050

What a delightful tale of one dress and the three brides that wore it. If you are looking for a fun book to get inspired for a wedding, this is the one for you. 3 generations of women wear the same dress and this book swaps between the time in their lives when all three wore it. It was lovely to see how tradition and history repeat throughout multiple time periods in this charming tale. 3 stars.

Jackie’s Stack

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Anxious PeopleAnxious People by Fredrik Backmanir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=fe9034fcb2ee53e7a0019a6343c9ec7e& cb=1599004443169

Fredrik Backman is a master storyteller and he does it again with the book #AnxiousPeople. ⁣He somehow manages to tackle difficult subjects without trivializing them but still allowing them to be humorous. ⁣This book is a story of a bank robbery gone very wrong and the idiots in the story (his word, not mine) who are taken hostage after the failed robbery. ⁣It is also a story about compassion, human relationships, and the daily struggles that we all have. ⁣I love how Backman shows the good in people despite the flaws that make them human. Backman is such a talented writer and is able to vary his style to best tell the story. I loved this book! Thank you to @Atriabooks for my advanced copy of the story!⁣ 4.5 stars

court of lions

Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud

Thank you Flatiron for my advanced copy of this book.  Court of Lions is the second book in the Mirage series. I was left hanging at the end of that book and I’m so excited to have an ARC the sequel.⁣ In the first book, Amani was abducted and taken to serve as a body double for Maran who will be queen. Court of Lions picks up quickly where Mirage left off.  Amani who is still torn between her loyalty to Maram and her dedication to help her people. Amani is also in love with Maram’s fiancé…..this is a YA fantasy at its best. ⁣ Congrats to @somaiiiya on the newest book release. (Also, can we discuss the gorgeousness that is this cover?!?!) ⁣ 3.5 stars

Sex and Vanity⁣Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwanir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=9f0f615042f27caae495e3414503a390& cb=1599004761875

Kevin Kwan is such a fun writer.  I loved Crazy Rich Asians and this book is just as witty.  However, this book deals with some more serious topics as Lucie Churchill find herself torn between the world of her father’s family and their WASP ways and her American-born Chinese mother.  Lucie finds herself undeniably drawn to George Zao.  When she meets him again 5 years later while with her fiance, things become more complicated.  I love the way Kwan deals with the complex emotions in a story that is funny and completely engaging.  4 stars

Red at the bone

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodsonir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=514176c6f8cb7c7912d2dc6a85adb76c& cb=1599004769454

Wow.  I loved this story that moves back and forth in time.  It takes a master storyteller to move seamlessly between storylines and people to uncover a family history.  in 2001, Melody is having her coming of age party at her grandparent’s house.  She is wearing the dress that her mother was supposed to wear 16 years earlier.  The story is to the point, poignant, and examines the cost and tolls of love, life and the decisions that we make  4.5 stars

Bright side sanctuary for Animals

The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals by Becky Mandelbaumir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=e505c65a5791445c2f48516f31f82f6e& cb=1599004798479

When Ariel returns home to her estranged mother, Mona, after 6 years, she discovers that the animal sanctuary has been a target of an anti-Semitic crime and is in financial ruin. If that was not an uncomfortable reunion, the fact that Ariel’s first love still works at the sanctuary adds to the tension. When Ariel’s fiancé, Dex becomes suspicious about Ariel’s sudden departure, he decides to follow her home. ⁣

The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals is a book that looks at relationships between mothers and daughters, people and animals, & friends and lovers. The writing is engaging and the storyline is original. I found myself constantly frustrated with Mona’s stubbornness and selfishness. Becky Mandelbaum has a unique perspective on complex relationships. 3.5 stars

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hidden valley roadHidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolkerir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=3f30829c1deba50396556a525bb55c5d& cb=1599004837480

Stop everything and add Hidden Valley Road to your TBR now!! Thank you so much and Double Day for my advanced copy of this book.  All I can say is wow! This is the amazing story of Don and Mimi Galvin whose family paved the way for schizophrenia research over the past 50 years. Of their 12 children- 10 sons and 2 daughters, 6 of the boys have schizophrenia. The struggles of this family to survive through the age of lobotomies and institutionalization provides a look into the history of this disorder. It’s unbelievable to think how far we’ve come and yet, we are not even close to understanding this disease.

been there married thatBeen There, Married That by Gigi Levangie Grazerir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=d5fd10bb0f4f346ebe61831394003c6c& cb=1599004844118

Thank you St. Martin’s Press for my copy of this book.  I started the book at the beginning of the pandemic and was not in the headspace to read anything.  I am glad that I was able to finish the book.  It is fun and light although at times I found it a little too much frivolity.  The book is hilarious in a War of the Roses meets Real Housewives kind of way.  At times I was laughing out loud but at other times, I kept thinking how predictable it was.  I was torn with how I feel about this book.  3 stars.

A Woman is no ManA Woman is No Man by Etaf Rumir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=c29a6e67c70e5629b9d3f806139a1484& cb=1599004860769

This book is so wonderful.  I loved it.  I have to say some parts were so difficult to read.  The abuse suffered by the women in the book was heartwrenching.  A Woman is no Man looks at three generations of Palestinian-American women and their struggles to bloom and become independent.  I am shocked at the treatment of these women.  Isra is a 17-year-old girl in Palestine entertaining suitors.  She finds herself betrothed and off to live in the United States with a new husband that she has met only a few times.  In New York, 17-year-old Deya wants to go to college before she is married,  Her grandmother Fareeda is insistent that she be married first. Rum does an unbelievable job telling this story.  5 stars

The LibrariansThe Librarian by Christy Sloatir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=4ccf2bf6b9ee506e576f3a9e8e05a888& cb=1599004883329

This is the perfect book for fans of Outlander! When Emme’s grandmother dies, she agrees to take over Gram’s library despite plans to head to college abroad. When she opens a book from Gra’s special collection, she finds herself face to face with Jack Ridgewell in  1892 England.  Emme is part of an elite group of women who can travel to the past through books.  This brings a whole new meaning to book boyfriend.  3.5 stars

pardonable liesPardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs #3) by Jacqueline Winspearir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=154ff4979e86ded585682eae1bf307e7& cb=1599004891428

This series is the quintessential cozy mystery.  There is something about Maisie that is comforting- even when someone is trying to do her in.  The books are well written and easy to read.  3.5 stars.

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