I think August is my favorite summer month. The weather is the best, you feel relaxed, I usually have some sort of fun trip and I always get lots of reading time in as I’m soaking in the last bits of summer. Work starts this week and soon I’ll be back to school with kiddos, masking up and navigating this new world of teaching. This month I managed to read five books, two romances (I’m a sucker for cheesy love stories), two contemporary fictions and a memoir. It was a great month, hopefully a book or two catches your eye as you are making your reading list for fall!
Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein
Like I said earlier, I’m a sucker for romantic books and when Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein was a Book of the Month choice I jumped at it, especially in the summer time when cute “beach reads” are perfect. The book follows Avery Abrams, a retired gymnast who trained her whole life for the Olympics only to get her hopes crushed with a career ending injury. It’s been seven years since her injury and she is trying to pick up her life. A breakup and a need for a reset brings her back to her small hometown in Massachusetts. An old Olympic athlete whom Avery crushed on in her youth is now one of the head coaches at her old Gymnastics Gym. Ryan asks Avery to come on board to help train an Olympic hopeful before the Tokyo Olympics. Worried that coming back to her gym and the gymnastics world will be challenging, Avery is reluctant but with few other options she agrees.
Soon Avery is back in the world of Competitive Gymnastics and teaming up with Ryan, sparks start to fly. As the coaches navigate staying professional, helping their Olympic hopeful and a Gymnastics world scandal, Avery tries to make it through while helping an old friend in the process. I liked Avery’s character, I thought she was likable and a strong lead. Parts of the book are cheesy and a little over the top but the story is endearing. I loved watching the Gymnasts in the Olympics growing up so getting a glimpse into the world of competitive Gymnastics from an author who was a Gymnast herself was insightful and entertaining. Also, since the Olympics were cancelled this year it was fun reading a Gymnastics story and feeling like Tokyo 2020 was really happening! Was this the best romantic book I’ve read this year? No, but it was cute and I did enjoy it. It’s a pretty easy read and if you want to escape into the world of Gymnastics with a little romance thrown in then pick this one up.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was my favorite book this month, definitely one of my top books from the year so far. The Vignes twins were inseparable growing up in their small Southern town a few hours outside of New Orleans. When they are sixteen, they run away, the two twins end up living their lives in very different ways. The book opens many years later with one twin, Desiree, returning to the small town of Mallard with her young black daughter. The other twin, Stella, left Desiree and is now living a separate life passing as white with her white husband who knows nothing of her past. Their lives seem far apart but when a chance encounter years later brings the twin’s daughters together, the family becomes reconnected and entwined.
The book travels across generations from the 1970s to the 1990s and across the country. It explores race and how our past and the decisions people make impact their future. The book looks at how some decisions can change the entire outcome of one’s life. This book was so hard to put down, I was engrossed in their lives and I was sad when the story ended. I wanted Bennett to continue the story and to keep giving me more moments with the Vignes family. The characters were so interesting and the way she switched from times and perspectives kept you turning the pages to see what would happen next. I highly recommend this book, I’ve already gotten a few friends to pick it up!
The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir by Michele Harper
I picked up The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper due to it’s subject matter. Harper is an African American, female, emergency room physician. She reflects about what it’s like to be in a profession that is overwhelmingly male and white. Throughout her memoir, she explores different moments in her career through retelling experiences with patients she’s cared for with empathy and respect. Through each patient, she realizes that each person is broken in some way and recognizing how we approach breaks will help us heal. Through her experiences as a physician, partner, daughter and woman she learns how to heal herself and the importance of finding inner peace.
My fiance is an emergency physician so I really enjoyed the insight into the ER world. Her stories are so interesting and the lessons she learns and conversations she has are inspiring and remarkable. The book was really quite moving and I found myself reading through it quickly so I could learn more and more about Dr. Harper. I finished it in about two days! Harper is a talented writer and her memoir is definitely worth checking out.
All Adults Here by Emma Straub
Emma Straub is an amazing author who has written her fair share of bestsellers. I myself have read, Modern Lovers and The Vacationers by her. When I saw that she was releasing a new book I pre-ordered it. The funny thing is, All Adults Here arrived on my Kindle in May and I just took the time to read it in August, but, I’m so glad I did! The book follows the Strick family as the kids are becoming adults, grandchildren are growing up and Astrid Strick, the matriarch, is looking at her past and trying to come to terms with mistakes she made raising her kids and being a mother. Astrid’s three kids are all different, the youngest lives in New York and is struggling with parenting his teenage daughter so he sends Cecilia to live with Astrid. Her middle daughter, Porter, is pregnant and trying to figure out how to be independent while letting go of her past. The eldest son is hardworking and striving to live up to impossible standards that even Astrid doesn’t quite understand.
I really loved the book because the family was so real and relatable. It was heartwarming, funny, and full of moments that made you think. Straub is such a great writer and her tone and storytelling draw you in. I loved the reflection on what makes a person an “adult” and how decisions can impact those around you in ways you don’t fully understand. At the root of the family was a strong foundation of love and support even when the members didn’t see eye to eye. Told from various perspectives, I really enjoyed all the characters and I was sad when the story ended. I highly recommend the book and hope you like it as much as I did!
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
First, let me start by saying I’m a big Jasmine Guillory fan. Are her books all a little predictable? Yes. Do her books all follow a similar plot? Yes. Are her books all pretty cheesy but cute? Yes. Was Party of Two just like her other books? Yes! Guillory is a mastermind at writing books with adorable meetings between two unlikely people and a love story that shares it’s ups and downs. Her characters are all very likable and you find yourself rooting for their love story throughout the book. In Party of Two, Olivia is a high powered lawyer who just started her own firm, at a bar one night she meets Max Powell the up and coming young Senator from Los Angeles and they feel instantly connected. As Olivia and Max try to navigate dating while both working demanding jobs, staying out of the spotlight and overcoming their differences, they have to see if their love is strong enough to survive it all!
This book is part of a series. In each book, characters slightly overlap. The first book is The Wedding Date, followed by The Proposal, The Wedding Party, Royal Holiday and last but not least, Party of Two. I’ve read all her books and each one is quick and heartwarming. I really like her style and I appreciate that she has a bit of a formula to her writing (even if it makes it a little predictable). If anyone is looking for a cute romance, I always suggest Guillory’s books. I can’t wait until she releases a new one!
That wraps up my August reading adventures. I just started two new books and I’m working my way through an audio book. With school starting, I can already tell I will have less time for reading. I’ll do my best though, there’s nothing quite like escaping into a good book after a long day of work! Can’t wait to see what September brings, happy reading!