Good morning, sunshines!
I hope you’re enjoying your summer and getting to spend some time having fun with friends and family and sneaking in a little reading.
Today, I’m going to review the books I’ve read so far this summer; each will be short and succinct. Fair warning, however—I’m a pretty gentle reviewer because I know what it takes to write a novel. When someone pours their whole heart and soul into their creative writing and it takes time to do so, I have a difficult time being overly critical, but I will share my overall feelings about the book. I recommend all of them.
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Jojo Moyes is one of my favorite writers. I like to think that my style is similar to hers, and I eat up anything she puts out there. That said, The Giver of Stars was a great book, but I won’t lie to you and say it didn’t take me a while to become fully vested in the characters. However, once I was roped in, I couldn’t put it down. In fairness to Jojo Moyes, I started reading it at the end of the semester when things are always a little hectic and my grading piles up, so it certainly could have been a factor. The story is about the women in Kentucky who rode on horseback for the Packhorse Library to deliver books to families during the Great Depression. Moyes does a great job placing you there, and she always writes amazing dialogue. You will be transported to the mountains of Kentucky where the story of five women and their friendships, the need for love and support, and the idea of community all come into play. I recommend this to those who enjoy historical fiction (and in fact, my favorite Jojo Moyes book is historical fiction—The Girl You Left Behind. It’s wonderful.)
The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry by Gabrielle Zevin
Let me start by saying I loved Gabrielle Zevin’s writing style. It’s crisp, choppy, succinct, and vivid. Because of her storytelling capabilities, The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry is a quick read. It’s about A.J. Fickry, a bookstore owner who lives on a fictional Nantucket-style island. The book opens with a sad depiction of Fickry, who has lost his wife, and a rare book by Edgar Allen Poe that he owns has been stolen at the same time that a surprise package lands on his doorstep. Told with humor, sarcasm, wit, and insights about life, you’ll love stepping inside this quirky novel to see that people can change and love has the power to unite us.
Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman
I had seen people on Instagram post about Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman, so I decided to give it a whirl. It was my vacation beach read. I enjoyed it, but felt it may have been a little too long for the plot that was unfolding, which was a simple one: girl can’t get over her boyfriend who can’t commit and gleans guidance from an unsuspecting old woman she has just met. The friendship that ensues between a ninety-plus year old Cecily and almost the almost 40-year-old, unmarried Kate Parker, is the best part of the book. I’m a sucker for friendships that form and are endearing. Zimmerman weaves this story well, and I enjoyed the setting of the novel in the U.K.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Funny thing, this book. I picked it up to read on vacation, but never got to it because I was finishing Miss Cecily at that point. But I flew through this novel by Emily Henry. Additionally, I was on a Zoom call with bestselling author Debbie Macomber who, when asked, said one of her most favorite recent novels that she has read was Beach Read. Henry’s a natural storyteller with a cute hook for a story. Two young writers, male and female, who knew each other in college, end up in vacation homes on the lake next door to one another. They decided to see if each of them can write in the other’s style and genre. It’s a story of love taking its time to find you, of contemporary family drama, and of community. I loved it so much I just picked up her follow-up novel that’s on my TBR (to be read) pile, The People You Meet on Vacation. It’s exactly what it said it was: a fun beach read.
The Magic of Missing You by Didi Cooper
Didi Cooper and I are both authors on Instagram and have become friendly via the platform. We also write similar styles of fiction. The Magic of Missing You is a fairytale love story that is told with whimsy and mysticism. The book is primarily set in Kennebunkport, Maine, as well as in Alexandria, Virginia, and begins when Lizzie Bennett, a schoolteacher, meets and falls in love with Jack Murphy. The feelings are mutual. However, something happens that causes the two to part, which causes a lot of heartbreak. Told over the course of 30 years, the story takes you through the relationship and a surprise decision that affects their lives forever. With a little bit of fantasy, a smattering of spirituality, and sweeping insights into the characters, I couldn’t wait to see what the outcome was for all of them—Lizzie, Jack, Meghan, Elliott, Jonathan, and even Julia.
On Speaking Well by Peggy Noonan
Wall Street Journal Writer Peggy Noonan has followed in the footsteps of William Zinsser, who wrote On Writing Well, and has penned this book On Speaking Well. As a communication professor who teachings public speaking, I had to pick up this book and read it. As well, with so many of us on social media and recording or going live, I decided to listen to what Noonan has to say. It’s a great book for those of us (which means most of us) who have yet to master the art of public speaking. Can it even be mastered? Noonan will certainly let you know her tips to be successful in today’s culture.
As for what I have on the docket to read over the next few weeks, see photo below!
I’ll keep you posted! Enjoy!