I love the fall but this season I’ve been having trouble focusing on books! I feel like some of the books I read this month took me way longer than they usually would. Also, my audio book I finished this month I started back in July…I just couldn’t focus and listen for long chunks of time. For awhile I thought I would only have one book to review this month. I ended up buckling down and finishing up four books in September. Maybe with the weather getting cooler and less time outside, I will have more luck in October focusing and finishing books in a more timely manner. I think starting work didn’t help my reading plan either! I finished the month reading four fictional books. Some I liked more than others. Here we go…
The Paris Hours by Alex George
I picked up The Paris Hours by Alex George because it was compared to All the Light We Cannot See which I read a few years ago and really enjoyed. The novel follows four people who live in Paris across one day in 1927. Each character is searching for something they’ve lost. The characters move through the day and eventually their stories and paths entwine at the climax of the book towards the end. Camille is looking for a journal that once belonged to her employer, the journal holds a devastating secret that she is desperate to keep under wraps. Souren, is an Armenian refugee who is trying to feel at home in a city without all that he holds dear. Guillaume is an artist who is lovesick and trying to run from a debt. Finally, Jean-Paul is a journalist who is writing about Americans in Paris because he is not ready to share his own sad story.
Each characters story has heartbreak and hardship. This novel is not necessarily uplifting but the stories have beautiful moments. I enjoyed how the author weaved together the stories and intertwined the characters. I thought it was very thoughtful and creative. One review says the ending will leave you breathless, if anything I felt frustrated by it but it wasn’t what I was expecting so I guess that is good. The novel dragged on a little bit for me and I found myself being interested in certain story lines more than others. Overall, the story is creative, the characters tug at your heart strings and the concept of the novel is good. It wasn’t my favorite book but I would be interested to see what others thought of it. I didn’t think it was as good as All the Light You Cannot See but I’m glad I read it.
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
I saw Evvie Drake Starts Over on my sister’s lists of books read, she said it was a cute story and when I read the synopsis I was intrigued. I downloaded it on Audible and actually started listening back in July during my road trip home to Oregon. I think since I started it right after two other audio books and then didn’t listen to audible that often for a month or two it took me awhile to finish. I also think the second half of the story is better than the first. I found myself more interested as the book went on. Evvie (rhymes with Chevy) is a widow who lives in a big house in Maine. She rarely socializes and everyone, even her best friend Andy thinks grief over her husbands death is what is keeping her inside. In New York, Andy’s childhood best friend, Dean, is a pitcher for the New York Yankees who is facing a career ending condition called “the yips”. He can’t pitch anymore and the media is blowing up, Andy invites Dean to stay in Maine to get away from the drama of New York and to try to get a fresh start.
Dean moves into Evvie’s spare apartment and soon a friendship develops. They agree to talk about everything except Dean’s baseball career and Evvie’s husband who passed away. Eventually, rules are broken and their friendship turns into something else. Even though reading this synopsis you would think the story is full of romance, it focuses more on Evvie’s self growth. I liked the relationship between Dean and Evvie. I also felt like Evvie was a very real character, her struggles with getting over her husband’s death, friendships and new romances were believable. The piece of her falling in love with a recently retired baseball superstar was a little less believable but sweet nonetheless. I think this is a story that would have been read faster and I would have enjoyed it more if it was a hard copy rather than an audible book. Audible is hard, you have to like the narrator a lot and the story has to really draw you in. I think it’s a cute love story full of hope and joy which are helpful themes right now.
Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin
Happy & You Know It was a Book of the Month selection that I didn’t initially make. I then saw it pop up on a newsletter I follow and I saw it mentioned again on another book list I like so I decided to download it on my Kindle. It’s described as a good book for fans of Sex and the City and The Nanny Diaries full of drama and wit. The book follows Claire, a musician who was kicked out of her band and they then shot to stardom without her. In order to make ends meet, she becomes a play group musician for a group of wealthy young moms and their adorable babies in New York. Soon, Claire gets wrapped up into their seemingly glamorous lifestyles and gets entangled in the play group’s secrets.
Whitney is the young, beautiful, expert hostess who is on the verge of Instagram fame, but she actually is not as put together as she seems. Amara, the witty, new stay at home mom who left a highly successful career and is questioning her decision to do so. Finally, Gwen, the wealthy mom with the fabulous husband who always seems to have parenting advice for the others. Claire is drawn towards the mom’s lifestyles but she can’t believe some of the drama that comes with her new clique. The book explores motherhood, female relationships, women trying to “have it all”, finding yourself and the unlikely alliances and relationships that form when women are willing to be vulnerable. This book was witty and fun and even threw in a few twists to keep you guessing. I enjoyed the story and it was my second favorite book I read this month. If you are looking for a lighthearted read that will make you laugh, pick up this juicy one.
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout was definitely my favorite read this month. I had it on hold at the library and it finally came through! I read it in less than a week and it was the first book I picked up this month that I couldn’t put down. Strout brings back Olive Kitteridge for a follow up novel, Olive is older but has the same blunt and unapologetic demeanor that she had in the first novel. I read Strout’s first story about Olive earlier this year (Olive Kitteridge), Strout tells the story not only of Olive but of the inhabitants of a little town called Crosby located on the coast of Maine. Just like the first story she is such a wonderful storyteller and she weaves Olive throughout the stories she tells. Each chapter is a little like a short story. Some chapters are all from Olive’s perspective while others are from people from the town.
The stories that are not centrally focused on Olive, mention Olive in some way. Sometimes she has a short conversation with the person, other times she is mentioned in passing. I love Olive’s honesty and character. She can be a difficult person but Strout makes her lovable all the same. I personally liked this follow up novel more than the first Olive Kitteridge book. I don’t know if it’s because Olive is a little older, or if it was the supporting characters but I felt much sadder when this book was over than the first one. I wanted to keep reading about Olive and her interactions with the people of Crosby. I can see why this book made so many lists: NPR’s best books, Oprah’s Book Club, the best books of the year by Time, the accolades go on and on. Her first novel about Kitteridge earned her the Pulitzer Prize and I think this one is just as good, if not better!
That’s all for September. I’m sorry I’m so late on posting my blog this month. Starting work and finding time to sit down and write after being on a computer virtual teaching all day is tough. It also didn’t help that I finished Happy & You Know It and Olive, Again on September 30th. Hopefully for October I’ll be more on top of things. I’ve already started an Audible book that is 16 hours long but I’m already down to 9 hours left, I’m cruising. I also am 80% complete on my current kindle selection! Can’t wait to tell you about those stories. Happy spooky season and don’t forget to vote if you can!