I read a lot of good books in June, including two of the best books I’ve read all year (!), but I also gave a lot of thought about when to put a book I’m not into down and move on. I used to make myself finish any book I started, even if they were terrible and I hated them the whole way through. However, I’ve changed my tune on this lately—if I can’t get into a book within the first hundred pages or so, I’ve been allowing myself to quit them. For instance, when I was at The Homestead, I was reading Mistress of the Ritz (c/o Random House) and I just could not get into it. When I was by the pool, a place I usually tear through books, I opted to play on my phone instead of reading—and that’s when I knew it was time to put it down and move onto something I was more excited to read. Life is too short to read bad books and I find I read more when I read books I enjoy. One of the best simple joys in life is tearing through a book you can’t put down!
As is custom on these posts, I wanted to call out that I’m part of a program where Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about any titles I receive, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. I’ve starred the books Random House sent me for free below. I’m so lucky to be sent books and that’s not lost on me!
If you’ve read anything great lately, please let me know—I love shopping the recommendations you all give me. You can also keep up with what I’m reading in real time on my Goodreads—feel free to friend me.
THE LEAGUE OF WIVES // HEATH HARDAGE LEE
This non-fiction work tells the story of how a group of wives worked together to bring their POW husbands home from Vietnam imprisonment and torture in the “Hanoi Hilton” after as long as eight years. The author shares the stories of a few different Naval Aviators who were captured and their families who coped with the absence of their husbands and fathers for years on end. After years of being ignored by the US Government, a group of Navy wives formed The National League of Families and lobbied relentlessly to bring their husbands home. Not only does this book tell that amazing story, it also shines like on the horrible conditions American POWs suffered at the hands of the North Vietnamese—including torture, and how one soldier even communicated that back to US intelligence by blinking his eyes in Morse code during a video his captors made him participate in. I also found it amazing how the POWs were able to communicate within the prisons, despite often being in solitary confinement, and maintained rank even when captured. This story really made me appreciate the saying land of the free, because of the brave.
Would I recommend it? I was especially interested in this non-fiction work because my grandpa was a Naval Aviator in the Vietnam War. This book made me realize how lucky he was to have never been captured by the North Vietnamese—I wish he was still here to talk about it with. I really enjoyed this book, but I did think it was about 100 pages too long—I think the story would have had more impact had the author condensed some of the minutiae that wasn’t relevant to her points.
THE ROYAL RUNAWAY // LINDSAY EMORY
Princess Theodora of Drieden is stood up on her wedding day by her fiancé, and so she heads to her family’s private island for four months to let the press die down. When she returns in secret, she sneaks out of the palace one night and mets Nick at a bar. She’s instantly attracted to him, only she soon finds out he’s the brother of her former fiancé, a British spy, and he’s willing to blackmail her. But, she decides to team up with him to find out what happened to her fiancé, and along the way, they discover a family secret that could take down the monarchy.
Would I recommend it? Yes! Especially if you love royal family fan fiction or enjoyed the movie Chasing Liberty back in the day. This one kept me turning the pages and wasn’t as predictable as some other in this genre!
TIME AFTER TIME // LISA GRUNWALD*
Joe works at Grand Central Station, and one morning on 1937, he meets Nora, at the famous gold clock in the main terminal. Her 1920s-style flapper outfit looks very out of place for depression-era New York, but he’s captivated by her. He offers to walk her home, only she disappears. He makes it his mission to find her again. As Nora comes back to Joe in Grand Central Station time after time, each December Manhattanhenge, when the sun rises or sets between the city’s skyscrapers, aligned perfectly with the streets below, they slowly realize her presence in Grand Central is governed by rules they work to understand as they fall for each other more each passing Manhattanhenge.
Would I recommend it? 100%! This is one of the best books I’ve read all year, and, for what it’s worth, this is my favorite version of the song of the same name.
SIGNS // LAURA LYNNE JACKSON*
Laura Lynne Jackson is a physic medium, and this is her second memoir where she shares vignettes of people who’s loved ones have crossed and how those loved ones have used signs to communicate. She then takes those stories and shows you how you can identify signs within your own life your loved ones on the other side are trying to send you.
Would I recommend it? I am a sucker for shows about psychic mediums on TV, so I thought this was a moving read and would be especially helpful if you’re in the throes of grief. However, it was a little out there for me at times, especially when the author advocated against the HPV vaccine.
PARK AVENUE SUMMER // RENEE ROSEN
This historical fiction tells the story of Alice Weiss, who leaves her small midwest town to pursue her dreams in the city of all cities, New York. She lands her first job working as the assistant to the first female editor-in-chief of Cosmo, the legendary Helen Gurley Brown. Alice joins the team with dreams of being a photographer, but quickly is immersed in the magazine world as Helen works to publish her first issue. As Helen fights with Hearst executives about the content of the magazine, Alice finds herself pulled into a scheme that could sabotage her boss.
Would I recommend it? Definitely—especially if you worked at a magazine or love reading about the heyday of the big magazine publishers!
EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER // LINDA HOLMES*
Evvie Drake is recently widowed, and although it’s been a year since her husband passed away, she rarely leaves the house—unless it’s to meet up with her platonic best friend, Andy, a divorcee and father of two. Everyone thinks it’s her grief that keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them. Andy’s childhood best friend, Dean, is a washed-up MLB pitcher who moves to town to escape the media storm after he loses his ability to pitch a good game, and Andy suggests to Evvie she rent her guest house out to Dean. When he moves in, the two make a deal—Evvie won’t ask Dean about baseball, and Dean won’t ask Evvie about her deceased husband. But rules were were made to be broken…
Would I recommend it? I tore through this book in 24 hours, and it is definitely one of the best books I’ve read all year. Pick it up ASAP!
THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW // TRACEY GARVIS GRAVES
This is the story of Josh and Annika, alternating between 1991, when they were college sweethearts and chess club members at the University of Illinois and 2001, when they’re both living in Chicago a decade after school. She’s a librarian now, he’s a Wall Street wiz who’s recently divorced. The love they once shared is easily rekindled, but until they confront what drove them apart, their second chance might not even get off the ground.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely—this read had me hooked from the first chapter! Add this one to your list if you love Christina Lauren or Taylor Jenkins Reid as much as me.