Thursday, September 15, 2016

Quick Lit - What I've Been Reading - September 2016

It's that time of the month when I link up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and share (most) of what I've been reading lately.  These are supposed to be short summaries and thoughts...I don't always succeed at that...

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Sophie Kinsella is most famous for writing the Shopaholic books, none of which I've read.  I've read one of her other books and despised it so that I never picked up another one.  Then this was recommended to me and the library had it on the shelf so I read it.  And enjoyed it!

It is a YA book and isn't my favorite in that genre but also not the worst.  It's about Audrey who is 14 (I think) and living in England with her parents and two brothers.  She went through some traumatic experience (some extreme bullying?  You never find out.) and now has anxiety problems, so much that she is being held back a year at school.  She's at home for much of the book, afraid to venture out into the world.  She befriends her older brother's friend who helps her out of her shell a bit.  Her therapist encourages her to make a documentary about her life, thinking that seeing people from behind the camera will be easier to take than face to face.  Both things help her along.  It was an easy read and a strange reminder of that age (over half my life ago...yikes!).  I read this in about a day up at the lake, on a day we also kayaked, jet skiied, swam, went for a 4 mile run, did fireworks, and watched a movie together.  And still fit in reading an entire book.  If you like YA books I'd recommend this one.   

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
This was one of the books I was most looking forward to reading this summer.  Having now read all of those books I listened, as well as some others I was looking forward to but didn't make that list, I can say that, overall, they were a let down.  I don't think any of them absolutely blew me away which I realize is a high standard for a book but there is usually at least something.  Now, they weren't all bad by any means and some I really enjoyed, but overall I was letdown by most of the new new new books I read this summer.

Now, this book was in a similar format to Liane Moriarty's last few in that you read about these characters coping with some unknown tragedy.  You flash back and forth between the present and the events leading up to that event and slowly find out what happens.  I get it, that's her thing now, but it's also been done by many other authors, some I've read, and I'm a little tired of the format.  Just tell me what's going on!  I don't want to wait 200+ pages to find out what has these people all upset.  And then the actual event...kinda a let down which is a tough thing to say given what it was...but I don't know...I was just semi-annoyed the first half of the book and it didn't really recover from there for me.  BUT if you haven't read as many of these types of books lately maybe you'd be less annoyed/enjoy it more.  I still did like it but won't be rushing to reread it.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
I read this book because I greatly enjoy the movie and watch it every year around Christmas, usually while writing my Christmas thank yous.  It's very light and enjoyable, like a champagne of movies (I say that like I've actually had good champagne...which I'm not sure I have outside of a few weddings.)  The book was recommended on the "What Should I Read Next Podcast" and so I decided, at only 200ish pages, I should finally read it.

And it was good.  Having seen the movie multiple times made the story easier to follow.  It's about Miss Pettigrew who is sort of down on her luck in late 1930s (maybe?) in London.  Pre-war, I believe.  She somewhat mistakenly goes to take a private secretary job for Delysia who is an aspiring actress with a multitude of personal problems (and by that I mean men).  Miss Pettigrew helps her out and gets her through this one "magical" day they share and her entire life changes as a result.  It may have been a little shocking, the content, when it was published decades ago but nothing that would really raise an eyebrow now, at least in context?  It wasn't as much fun as the movie and just the old writing style made it a little harder to follow but it was a quick, easy, and enjoyable read.

At Home with Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott 
I think I saw this one as being read by a Goodreads friend and it sounded interesting enough so I got it.  It was a super easy read, I read it almost entirely in one day, possibly in under 2 hours.  It's supposed to be a guide to "becoming a connoisseur of daily life" which might be a tall step.  The author spent some time in Paris living with a women she calls "Madame Chic" and this is summarizing how that woman lived.  That's a little strange (apparently Madame Chic couldn't be bothered to write the book herself) but it was a nice enough read.  There is nothing shocking or revolutionary here.  A lot of it is stuff I've preached here before like taking care of clutter and such.  But it was enjoyable enough that I added another book by the same author to my to-read list.  So there is that. 

The One That Got Away by Leigh Himes 
I really enjoyed this book and there is no real good reason for that.  Almost all the books I read are from authors I've previously enjoyed or I've seen recommended in a magazine, blog, podcast, or on Goodreads.  It is super rare that I just pick up a random book at the library.  As in it happens maybe twice a year.  (And even then I still check Goodreads to make sure it has at least a 3.6 rating.)  This book was one of those for me.  Completely random library book that I wouldn't have even noticed if it hadn't been sitting cover facing out on the "new releases" shelf.  But I'm glad I did pick it up.

It's about Abby who starts the books as a tired, rundown, working mother and wife.  She sees a picture in a magazine of a guy who had asked her on a date before she was married (or even knew her husband, I believe).  This guy is running for congress and appears to have things much more together than Abby feels like she does.  Then a little bit of magic happens (suspend a little belief here) and she finds herself living life as a wife to this guy, as if she had said yes to that date so many years ago.  Conveniently she has (almost) the same two kids but obviously not her original husband.  She went from money strapped to filthy rich.  It's a complete 180.  But she figures out that this rich life isn't so great and that she does miss her original husband.  You can probably guess where this was going.  I've read other "alt world" stories but I still just really enjoyed this one. After a summer of feeling like most books didn't live up to the hype, it was really nice to just have fun reading one.

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch 
This book was the last one I really wanted to read for the summer.  The last one that screamed "summer read" to me.  And it didn't disappoint.  It's about 5 friends who reunite at the house they lived in during college on what would have been the 40th birthday of their 6th friend who died 13 (I think?) years earlier.  This 6th friend is the one that got them all back together, via her attorney, because they were pretty splintered from various events that had happened in the first ~5 years after college.  They sort through their differences and own issues and, mostly, remember why they were friends in the first place.  I've read so many split narrative books lately and historical fiction that it was a nice break to read something current that was pretty much told linearly.  I didn't agree with all the character's choices but you could mostly understand their motivations which is pretty important to me when I can't immediately identify with them.

I think this would be better for people at least a few years out of college, you can understand how friends might drift apart better.  It was enjoyable.

The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler
It feels like I have read so much historical fiction lately.  This one is about a Mary Browning who is in her 80s and has spend her entire life hiding from her family.  Through her writing group she meets a 15 year old girl and decides to employ this young lady to help her transcribe her stories.  The book flashes between the current day when Mary and Elyse, her young friend, are going through the stories and their own lives, and the 1940s when "Miriam" was going through flight school to become a pilot to help in the war effort.  I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say Mary and Miriam are the same person but what lead to the name change and where Mary is now takes a little reading.

I much preferred the historical sections of this books.  I would have been happy to read a book just set in that time that fleshed it out a little more!  It was a little jarring to go between Miriam in the 40s, to Mary in the current day and then to Elyse in the current day.  The story wandered a bit more than I think it needed to (a whole lot about Elyse's teenage problems which I'm not sure needed so many pages) and the ending might have been a little obvious but that didn't mean it wasn't enjoyable.  I learned some things about these women pilots from the WWII time and I usually enjoy a little education with my historical fiction.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
This is a story told entirely through letters and telegrams and a bit of a journal which I was not expecting and took a tiny bit to get used to.  It's about an author, Juliet, who begins corresponding with residents of Guernsey - one of the Channel Islands between France and England (but part of England).  It's the only part of England that was occupied by the Germans during World War II and this story takes place not too long after that.  I feel like every book I've read about World War II lately has shown me a completely different perspective, often about something I didn't even know happened during the war.  This is yet another example of that.

The characters were a little difficult to keep straight, even by the end I didn't have all the islanders completely straight but it mostly didn't matter.  The stories were charming and enjoyable and it was just a really sweet, but education in a an enjoyable way, book.  It was pretty short too - under 300 pages - so a fairly quick read.  I don't remember hearing anything about this book until a few weeks ago and then realized almost all my Goodreads friends had read it.  Apparently I was really behind the curve. 
The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
Maybe not the best sign when I have to go confirm on Goodreads the plot summary of a book, even though I just read it a few weeks ago?  Apparently this wasn't the most memorable book I've read lately.  I liked, but didn't love it.

It's the story of Madeleine who is unhappy in her marriage (to an apparently terrible guy) and ends up back at her childhood home, somewhere in the south.  There she is blindsided by the news that her mother is selling the house and Madeleine starts sorting through possessions before the sale.  She comes across her Grandmother's diaries from her (Grandmother's) time in Paris before Madeleine's own mother was born.  This Grandmother died when Madeleine was a tween and was always a little distant; they didn't have much of a bond.  Madeleine finds a completely different person as she gets into the diaries, very different from the Grandmother she knew.

The story is told from Madeleine's perspective in the late 90s (I think) and also her Grandmother's time in Paris.  It's that split narrative I've feel like I've read a lot lately which might be a good plot device but also can get tedious after awhile.  But still, Paris.  I've read a lot of books about it and still am almost always fascinated.  Worth the read if you are interested in historical fiction or Paris or just married to a horrible person and are wondering how to get out of it.  

What have you been reading?  What are you planning to read soon?  I'd love to know if you've read anything I've shared, ever, whether you loved, hated, or been ehhhhh about it!  Let me know!  Also, as always, you can follow my very up-to-date current and "TBR" (to be read) list on Goodreads.  Friend me and we can mutually stalk each others books! 

No comments: