book club, book recommendations, book review

June & July Reading Round-Up

In this episode of What Are You Reading? I will cover fluffy books for those (like me) who have had trouble concentrating during these crazy times. And I’ll throw in a few heavy reads for those who are still able to concentrate.

I’ve decided to only cover books that I’ve really enjoyed in the last two months; there have been quite a few that I didn’t finish or couldn’t get into, but we are going to stick to the positive for this review.

Fun and Inspiring

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister: This is actually the sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients. You don’t have to read the first one to enjoy the second, but they are both light and fun, uplifting and inspiring. Lillian owns a restaurant and has gotten to know all sorts of quirky and sweet people who come into her life as a result of following her dream.

The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard: Ruby is the local florist in a small town. She has put most of her personal needs aside and works to make others happy. Then a few important people come into her life to help her to find her own happiness as well.

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coban: I don’t typically like mysteries; but when the mystery includes a main character who was found raising himself in the woods (um what?) and a missing young couple, with some quirky and wild characters thrown in, then I’m up for the ride. It was an entertaining and colorful book.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George: Any book that has a similar theme to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye is one that will get my attention. Here we’ve got an emotionally suppressed bookseller in Paris who sells his book out of the floating bookstore on his barge on the Seine; one day he realizes that he needs an adventure and unties his barge to find himself (and a cast of others) floating towards a better life. So sweet.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling: My father and nephew have a summer book club and this book was on their list. I believe it was recommended by my nephew’s school. So, I decided to read it to see if my kids would enjoy either reading it themselves or having me read it aloud. It’s such a sweet book. The main character is a girl who was born without arms and she befriends two boys dealing with their own struggles. It’s just lovely for kids (and adults too!).

Heavy and Thought-Provoking

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins: This book has garnered some controversy, mostly because it was written by someone who isn’t Mexican. I decided to read it anyway and it was spellbinding. It’s the story of a well established family in Mexico torn apart by the drug cartel and the terrifying escape they make to get to the United States.

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo: This is the story of four grown women as they grapple with the way they were raised, how they relate to each other, and how they have carved out lives for themselves. It would make for an interesting book group read – and has a lot to say about family, jealousy, sibling rivalry and self acceptance.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri: I do not enjoy short stories – but if Lahiri has written them, then I will read them. She is a master storyteller with an incredible command of the language.

I’ve read many other books in the last two months, but most of them I either gave just so-so reviews, or I threw them across the room with a grumble before finishing. You can see all of my reviews at Goodreads for more information. I’m currently reading The Book of Salt (ok but not great) and another book from my nephew’s reading list (are you seeing a pattern here?) called Beyond the Bright Sea. I’m always looking for the next great book! I’d love to hear your suggestions and I hope that reading is serving as a great escape for everyone in this crazy, hectic time. Stay safe and healthy.

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