With a lot of time being spent at the beach, a long weekend for the 4th of July, and it being so hot out where I don’t want to do ANYTHING, I was able to get a lot of reading done in July! This past month, I read a mix of fiction and memoirs, and worked on reading more books from Black authors and I know you’ll love some of the books I read!
THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID
When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
My Review: Famous actress Evelyn Hugo has lead a glamorous, and scandalous, life. Her name was constantly in the headlines and now in her 80s, she’s retired, ready to talk about her life, and the seven husbands she’s had along the way. When she had selects Monique Grant for the job and summons her to her Manhattan home, Monique isn’t quite sure exactly why Evelyn has selected her but over time, Evelyn’s life begins to intersect with hers in ways she wasn’t expecting. The Seven Husbands is Evelyn Hugo is a captivating story that’ll keep you wondering how each husband fits into Evelyn’s story, what Monique has to do with it, and in the end, I promise you’ll be gasping! Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing is exquisite and I can’t wait to read more from her.
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
YOU LUCKY DOG BY JULIA LONDON
ARC provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review!
Carly Kennedy’s life is in a spiral. She is drowning in work, her divorced parents are going through their midlife crises, and somehow Carly’s sister convinces her to foster Baxter–a basset hound rescue with a bad case of the blues. When Carly comes home late from work one day to discover that the dog walker has accidentally switched out Baxter for another perkier, friendlier basset hound, she has reached the end of her leash.
When Max Sheffington finds a depressed male basset hound in place of his cheerful Hazel, he is bewildered. But when cute, fiery Carly arrives on his doorstep, he is intrigued. He was expecting the dog walker, not a pretty woman with firm ideas about dog discipline. And Carly was not expecting a handsome, bespectacled man to be feeding her dog mac and cheese. Baxter is besotted with Hazel, and Carly realizes she may have found the key to her puppy’s happiness. For his sake, she starts to spend more time with Hazel and Max, until she begins to understand the appeal of falling for your polar opposite.
My Review: After their dog walker was arrested and their basset hounds accidentally get mixed up, Carly Kennedy is not in the slightest bit amused. And after showing up on Max Sheffington’s front steps to retrieve her rather depressed pup Baxter, Max is completely smitten with Carly and as the plot continues, their relationship grows. I have to say, I am all for a cutesy romance, especially during quarantine, but there were times as I read this one that I kept thinking “okay when are they going to fall in love?” Despite the predictability, the real-life factors that Julia London incorporates into her latest book made it easy to connect with the characters and continued to entice me to keep reading. The struggles of working for yourself, an Autistic bother, a big promotion, crappy clients. If you’re looking for a beach read, let it be this one!
My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
THE BEAUTY IN BREAKING BY MICHELE HARPER
An emergency room physician explores how a life of service to others taught her how to heal herself.
Michele Harper is a female, African American emergency room physician in a profession that is overwhelmingly male and white. Brought up in Washington, DC, in an abusive family, she went to Harvard, where she met her husband. They stayed together through medical school until two months before she was scheduled to join the staff of a hospital in central Philadelphia, when he told her he couldn’t move with her. Her marriage at an end, Harper began her new life in a new city, in a new job, as a newly single woman.
In the ensuing years, as Harper learned to become an effective ER physician, bringing insight and empathy to every patient encounter, she came to understand that each of us is broken—physically, emotionally, psychically. How we recognize those breaks, how we try to mend them, and where we go from there are all crucial parts of the healing process.
My Review: In her memoir, Michelle Harper shares her life as an ER physician, the rollercoaster ride her life has been, and the patients she has met along the way. When I first picked this up, I was expecting to read gruesome stories about her patients and the decisions she made, but this book was so much more. Each story she tells has meaning behind it and instead of focusing solely on the patients, Harper shares her life philosophy in a way that will have you thinking about all of the people and situations you’ve experienced in your own life. I could not put this one down!
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
BIG SUMMER BY JENNIFER WEINER
Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.
Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.
My Review: A plus-size influencer. Her wealthy ex-best friend that has the perfect life. But things aren’t always as they seem. 6 years after their very public falling out, Drue has asked Daphne to be her maid of honor at the society wedding of the summer, she’s speechless but finds can’t resist accepting the offer. After all, it is a chance to show off her latest collaboration with a local designer and take gorgeous photos for Instagram. Once Daphne arrives on the Cape, things quickly turn and she realizes that things weren’t always as they seemed with Drue. Yet again, Jennifer Weiner’s writing and ability to tell a compelling story has me unable to put my book down, itching for more, and totally shocked.
My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
BIG FRIENDSHIP: HOW WE KEEP EACH OTHER CLOSE BY AMINATOU SOW AND ANN FRIEDMAN
A close friendship is one of the most influential and important relationships a human life can contain. Anyone will tell you that! But for all the rosy sentiments surrounding friendship, most people don’t talk much about what it really takes to stay close for the long haul.
Now two friends, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, tell the story of their equally messy and life-affirming Big Friendship in this honest and hilarious book that chronicles their first decade in one another’s lives. As the hosts of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend, they’ve become known for frank and intimate conversations. In this book, they bring that energy to their own friendship—its joys and its pitfalls.
An inspiring and entertaining testament to the power of society’s most underappreciated relationship, Big Friendship will invite you to think about how your own bonds are formed, challenged, and preserved. It is a call to value your friendships in all of their complexity. Actively choose them. And, sometimes, fight for them.
My Review: Call Your Girlfriend podcast co-hosts Aminatou Sow and Ann Friendman are sharing the story of their friendship, how they met, and the bumps along the way in their book Big Friendship: How We Keep Eachother Close. What I loved about this one is that they put their friendship out on the table, but unlike other memoirs, aren’t sharing allllll the dirt they have to tell. You can tell they still kept some information just for them, and I loved that. And while this isn’t my typical read, their story had me thinking about my friendships and the bonds that I have, especially during the hard times (*cough* global pandemic *cough*).
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH BY ELIZABETH ACEVEDO
With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.
My Review: Emoni instantly captured my heart with her strong will, passion for cooking, and her babygirl. She was dealt a difficult hand but she works so hard to give herself the life that she’s always wanted and to ensure she gets an education. After signing up for a cooking class elective her last year of high school, her cooking skills aren’t the only thing being put to the test. I loved reading her story and Elizabeth Acevedo does such a wonderful job giving each page such rich, vibrant details. I could almost smell the food Emoni was cooking! I couldn’t have finished this one faster!
My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
IT’S NOT ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE BY TERRY MCMILLAN
Loretha Curry’s life is full. A little crowded sometimes, but full indeed. On the eve of her sixty-eighth birthday, she has a booming beauty supply empire, a gaggle of lifelong friends, and a husband who’s still got moves that surprise. True, she’s carrying a few more pounds than she should be, but she’s not one of those women who thinks her best days are behind her, and she’s determined to prove her mother, her twin sister, and everyone else with that outdated view of aging wrong–it’s not all downhill from here.
But when an unexpected loss turns her world upside down, Loretha will have to summon all her strength, resourcefulness, and determination to keep on thriving, pursue joy, heal old wounds, and chart new paths. With a little help from her friends, of course.
My Review: After an unexpected loss, Loretha Curry is left to pick up the pieces of her life, summoning all of her strength, and finding joy in her life. With the support (and a nudge!) from her friendships, Loretha accepts that it’s not all downhill from here and makes YOU realize that it’s okay to be scared. Age truly is just a number in the grand scheme of things. This was the first book I’ve read by Terry McMillan and let me tell you, I will be reading more from her! I devoured this one in one day and can’t wait to read more from her.
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What have you read lately?
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Photography by Caroline The Photographer