July 2022 Novel Ideas: 24 Quick Book Reviews

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July 2022 Novel Ideas features 17 book reviews across all genres. We were in full reading mode with our kids away at summer camp this month.

Maybe it was all our free time or the way we wanted to distract ourselves from missing our kids, but we got a lot of reading done!

Below you will find our favorite (and least favorite) reads of the month with quick reviews for each book.

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Kirsten’s July 2022 Novel Ideas

How to Face it in Hollywood

How to Fake it in Hollywood by Ava Wilder

Grey Brooks wants to stay relevant in Hollywood after her sitcom was canceled. Ethan Atkins is an A-level celebrity who needs to rehab his image. So when their publicist suggests they start fake dating, the duo decides it might be just the ticket.

But we all know the fake-dating trope is gonna lead to real dating and then a break-up and make-up. BUT IT WAS SO CUTE! Predictable but adorable.

Thanks to Random House for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Last Dress from Paris

The Last Dress from Paris by Jade Beer

This dual timeline story was such a fun read. At her grandmother’s request, Lucille has been sent to Paris to retrieve a Dior dress. But what should have been an easy task becomes a scavenger hunt when the dress is question is missing.

Lucille begins tracking down the dress and uncovering the history of Alice Ainsley, wife of the British Ambassador to France in the early 50s. Lucille’s hunt for the dress soon turns into her seeking Alice’s connection to her beloved grandmother.

I loved the way the timelines unfolded and secrets were unveiled. It was lovely to understand womanhood in the 1950s from the lens of Lucille, who uses the lessons of the past to resurrect her own floundering life.

Thanks to Berkley for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Parker Inheritance

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

The Parker Inheritance was such a fun listen! It reminded me of The Westing Game, which it references frequently and was clearly a source of inspiration in the best way.

Two new friends, both overcoming personal struggles, end up on a hunt to find a hidden fortune in the town of Lambert, South Carolina. Along the way, they encounter the racist past of the city and learned how the deep-rooted racism impacted Lambert long-term.

I loved the modern twist and more thought-provoking spin on the classic book trope of The Westing Game. It’s a must-listen!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
The Palace Papers and More  of the Best beach reads 2023

The Palace Papers by Tina Brown

This was like reading a JUMBO issue of People magazine. All gossip in the best way! It’s perfect for our beach reads 2023 list! Tina Brown goes deep into the scandals of the British Royal Family over the past 40 or so years.

I didn’t learn anything new, but I loved hearing the hot gossip laid out in book form. This is perfect for our list of books like The Crown and our Royal Reads roundup. This is definitely one of our favorite books about the royal family to take on vacation.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
The Beach Trip

The Beach Trap by Ali Brady

Estranged half-sisters inherit a dilapidated beach house when their father dies. One is desperate to sell, the other wants to hold onto the memories. Either way, they need to get over their differences and fix up the home!

I loved the romances that bloomed for each woman with town locals. They were mature relationships where each party actually communicated like adults! I love a good home renovation book, so that made me happy too.

Thanks to Berkley for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Measure

The Measure by Nikki Erlick

July 2022 Read With Jenna Book Club Pick

This is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. One day everyone in the world over the age of 22 wakes up to find a string on their doorstep. It’s soon clear that the length of one’s string determines the length of their life.

Soon short stringers are being discriminated against around the globe which begs the question – what is the true measure of a valuable life? This would be a fabulous book for a book club. There is so much to talk about!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
NOthing. but the Truth

Nothing But The Truth by Holly James

On the eve of her 30th birthday, Lucy wishes for a perfect day. In her mind, that means landing a promotion, a new client, and a proposal from her long-term boyfriend. 

But she wakes up unable to tell a lie, even to herself. Soon she’s facing truths she’d rather avoid, possibly blowing up her life in the process. 

While it might not be the perfect day she imagined, it might be the perfect day she needs. It’s certainly one this reader found quite entertaining!

Thanks to Dutton for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Kelly Yang 1

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

This recently banned book tells the story of Mia and her family who are immigrants from China. Mia’s struggles to be successful in America are met with the divide between classes in her school, the racism she faces, and her family’s quest to make ends meet.

I loved learning from Mia and watching her problem solve to help her family as they took over caring for the Calivista Motel.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Just by Looking at Him

Just by Looking at Him by Ryan O’Connell

I want to be besties with Elliott because he’s funny as hell even though he’s also kind of a hot mess. He’s got cerebral palsy and his struggle for acceptance has him acting out in a self-destructive way.

In his quest to find himself, he turns to sex workers and alcohol instead of his long-term boyfriend. His job as a TV executive leads to many funny scenarios, as does his commentary on life in general.

It’s a quick read and a hilarious, poignant look at life as a gay man with a disability trying to find himself.

Thanks to Atria for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Fake it till you bake it

Fake it Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley

Donovan is an NFL player who also owns a struggling cupcake bakery with a few of his friends. Jada is internet famous, and not in a good way. She rejected a proposal on a bachelor-like tv show and now she’s got haters all over!

After taking a job at Donovan’s store, she lies to a reporter and says she was still thinking of Donovan when she rejected the proposal. 

So now she is fake-dating Donovan and helping the cupcake store in the process. But can they turn this fake relationship into something more? 

Um yes, and with SIZZLING chemistry to boot! You will love this pick from Ultimate beach reads 2023.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Isaacs Storm

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

I’ve always been obsessed with the weather, specifically Hurricanes. These forces of nature are beautiful from above and deadly from below.

I loved this non-fiction story of the 1900 Galveston, TX tornado and the meteorologist on the ground – Isaac. From the warning signs to the devastating aftermath, this book read like a novel.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Zodiac Academy and more books set in college and high school

Zodiac Academy: The Awakening by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti

Whew. I have found my newest YA Fantasy series addiction. Orphan twins Tory and Darcy find out they are actually Fae after their 18th birthday. And not just any Fae, they are the heirs to the throne and they only need to graduate from Zodiac Academy to claim their throne.

The problem comes in the form of the 4 Heirs – The boys in each elemental order who have been raised to share the throne and rule Solaria together in the Twins’ absence.

They aren’t planning to give up their claim anytime soon and they use their considerable magic in the air, fire, earth, and water elements to put these girls to the test.

This urban fantasy series is on fire hot, with lots of steam, bullying romance, and deadly situations. Don’t read this one if you are under 18, but if you are looking for books like ACOTAR, you’ll devour this one too! Or check out our list of books like Zodiac Academy!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The Pink Hotel

The Pink Hotel by Liska Jacobs

If you loved White Lotus, you’ll love this snarky look at classism in this book set at The Pink Hotel (aka The Beverly Hills Hotel.)

Suburbanites Keith and Kit Collins are there are on their honeymoon, though Keith is secretly applying for a position at the illustrious hotel. As they are drawn into the glamourous trappings of the hotel, they become the playthings of the rich and famous.

Keith believes he can be one of them, but Kit feels lost. Will their marriage survive the crazy cast of characters inside and the wildfire raging outside the hotel’s walls? You’ll have to read this dark novel to find out.

Thanks to MCD for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Accomplished A Georgie Dacy Novel

Accomplished by Amanda Quain

I won’t be adding this pride and prejudice retelling to our Austen retellings post anytime soon. It’s set in the modern era where Pemberly is a boarding school and Georgie Darcy is the narrator.

And I sort of hated her. She has low self-esteem, and spends the majority of the book moping around and generally being a moody teenager. It just grated on my nerves in the end and there was not nearly enough Lizzy and Fitz for my liking.

Thanks to Wednesday Books for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Reputation by Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan, of Anatomy of a Scandal fame, is a killer when it comes to legal thrillers with a one-two punch. This particular story revolves around Emma, a British MP on trial for murder charges.

The victim? A tabloid reporter with a scoop on an inflammatory story revolving around the MP’s daughter. But it’s so much more complicated than that and secrets unravel at every turn. If you love political fiction, this is a great pick!

Thanks to Atria for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Thank you for Listening

Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan

Julia Whelan is my favorite audiobook narrator and I loved her debut book, so I eagerly plunged into this one. Sewanee Chester is a former actress and audiobook narrator who has been taped to read alongside the romance world’s biggest male audiobook reader for a new series.

As she falls for the mysterious Brock, who lives across the country and only communicates via text, she can’t stop thinking about her one-night stand in Vegas.

Additionally, she’s navigating a grandmother with Alzheimer’s and a possible chance to relaunch her acting career. But now that the dreams she had for so are in her grasp, are they really what she wants? And why does she feel so drawn to Brock? How could we not include this book in our list of ultimate beach reads 2023?

Thanks to Libro.Fm for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
a simpler motherhood

A Simpler Motherhood by Emily Eusanio

I loved Emily’s down-to-earth advice makes this one of the best books about simplifying your home, your commitments, and your expectations when it comes to Motherhood.

Chock full of helpful advice, this book felt like sitting down for a heart-to-heart with a mom friend who knows what’s up. While I knew a lot of the methods she was discussing already, I plan to pass this one on to my sister-in-law who is just starting out her motherhood journey.

Thanks to Mango for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Jackie’s July 2022 Novel Ideas

Daisy Darker

Daisy Darker: A Novel by Alice Feeney

Daisy’s family is gathering for Nan’s birthday on a tiny, private, tidal island after not seeing each other for years. When the tide comes in, they will be cut off from everybody for 8 hours.

When Nana’s body is found dead with a creepy poem written on the wall beside her, they each begin to suspect each other- after all, one of them is a murderer. Soon, everybody’s secrets start to come out as the members of the family die one at a time.

This pick from isolation books had me guessing until the very end and definitely has the feeling of “And Then There Were None”. In the true Alice Feeney style, I had no idea what was going to happen next so, I stopped trying to guess so I could just enjoy the thrill of the ride. You will love this pick from the Ultimate List of Beach Reads 2023.

Thanks to Macmillian Audio for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

The Night Shift: A Novel by Alex Finlay

A pair of small-town murders 15 years apart are eerily similar. Employees of two stores in a small town are attacked by someone with a knife leaving only one survivor.

When the lone survivor of the first case is sent as the psychologist to help the survivor of the second set of murders, there is more to these murders than first meets the eye.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
marlow murder club

The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood

Judith is a 77-year-old crossword puzzle author who enjoys her quiet life with her whiskey in her dilapidated mansion in Marlow. When she is out skinny dipping one nice in the Thames, she hears her neighbor get shot.

The police think nothing is awry so Judith takes to investigating. Soon, there are two more murders and Judith unknowingly brings two more people into the investigation with her- Suzie, the dog walker, and Becks, the vicar’s wife.

This book was an absolute delight to read. It was witty and funny, and I enjoyed every minute. I am looking forward to the next book in this series that is perfect for our list of ultimate beach reads 2023.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Sophie Go

Sophie Go’s Lonely Heart Club by Roselle Lim

Sophie has just returned from Shanghai after studying for three years to become a matchmaker. She is ready to start her career when the full truth comes out. Sophie did not graduate.

Now, she must prove herself as a matchmaker but nobody will hire her. When she comes across a group of Septegenarian Chinese bachelors living in her apartment complex she makes it her mission to find them love.

As she develops relationships with these lonely men, she comes to realize that family is not always the people you are related to. I loved this wonderful book about believing in yourself and the power of love and friendship. It is a perfect book for our list of ultimate beach reads 2023.

Thanks to Berkely Publishing for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Dead Romantics

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

GMA Book Club Pick July 2022

This book was a complete delight to read from the very first page. Florence day is a ghostwriter for one of the most successful and well-known romance authors in the industry. The name is apt seeing as how she can also see ghosts. But, after a terrible break-up, she no longer believes in love.

When her new editor will not give her an extension on her deadline, she is in a panic and is on the verge of losing her career. Now, the unthinkable has happened. Her beloved father has died and she must return home to bury him. When she sees the ghost of her editor outside the funeral parlor, she cannot understand why he is there with her, and her life is turned upside down. I love this adorable paranormal romance book. Ashley Posten is quickly becoming my go-to for summer reads.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels, and Crooks by Patrick Radden Keefe

Patrick Radden Keefe is an award-winning author and it is clear why. He is a brilliant writer who meticulously researches his stories and whose writing is compelling.

This book is 12 stories of con artists and criminals and the almost unbelievable ways they committed their crimes. These stories range from forging vintage wines to a black market arms dealer. Each story is more intriguing than the next on this list of ultimate beach reads 2023.

Thanks to PRH Audio for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Jackie’s Top Pick: July 2022 Book Reviews

Carrie Soto

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Carrie Soto was the world’s most decorated tennis player who has come out of retirement to take back the title. Carrie was trained to be the best there was from a young age and has dedicated her entire life to winning- at the expense of everything else in her life.

I loved this book so much, that I could not put it down. I alternated between reading and listening to the book and have to say that the audio version was really fantastic. My heart was pounding with each and every game played. Taylor Jenkins Reid has done it again with this book.

Thanks to Random House and PRH Audio for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The Italian Ballerina by Kristy Cambron

The Italian Ballerina by Kristy Cambron

This amazing WW11 historical fiction novel takes place in three timelines. While I was a little bit confused initially, I could not put the book down by the end.

This book is based on the true accounts of Syndrome K, the deadly and highly contagious disease that was fabricated by doctors in Rome to save Jewish people from Nazi extermination.

In the past, Courtney Coleman has had a troubled past and decides to enlist when Pearl Harbor is bombed. While he is there, he meets Julia Bradbury, an Italian ballerina, and together with another allied medic and the hospital staff, they work together to try and save the Jewish people from the Nazis.

In the Present day, Delaney Coleman has recently lost her grandfather, a WW11 veteran. Soon after, Delaney’s family is contacted by an Italian woman who claims they have a family heirloom. Delaney travels to Italy to discover her grandfather’s past. This is one of the newest books set in Italy on our list and is also a perfect pick for our ultimate beach reads 2023!

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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