August Wrap Up & September TBR’s

Where did the summer go?! It seems like I was graduating from college yesterday and somehow it’s already September! ¬†Here’s a recap of what I read this past month and what I’m planning on reading in September. Thanks again for being patient with me this month as I spent about 3 out of the 4 weeks of August being sick! I really appreciate it ūüôā

Let me know in the comments below what your favorite summer memory was/what you’re most looking forward to (reading or otherwise) in Sept!

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August Wrap Up:

The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson
5 out of 5 stars 

The Girls by Emma Cline
4 out of 5 stars 

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
3 out of 5 stars 

Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Justice by Adam Benforado
(Almost done–first review of Sept!)

September TBR’s:

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (to be released 10/11)

The Magpies by Mark Edwards

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

(Hopefully I’ll be able to knock off a few more books off my never-ending TBR list, but these are the reviews you can definitely count on for next month)

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Review of The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

Happy Saturday everyone! Below is the GoodReads synopsis of The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell followed by my review.

Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?¬†On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible? Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel packed with utterly believable characters and page turning suspense.

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When I first happened upon¬†The Girls in the Garden¬†by Lisa Jewell, I was confident that I was going to adore it for two reasons:¬†it was a mystery set in one of my favorite places in the world (London) and it was highly endorsed by JoJo Moyes. However, my high hopes were quickly dashed after about five pages of reading. While I loved the fact that Jewell threw the reader right into the action and sets up the bare bones of the mystery in the first five pages, I was quite frustrated by the fact that I was then forced to read a rather suspense-less 180+ pages of a backstory to set up an unconscious Grace being found in the rose garden. While reading this portion of the novel, I felt as though I was stuck in a relentless game of Clue, where the ties between characters seem to get more and more complicated with each roll of the dice, or in this case turn of a page. I simply couldn’t wait for someone to hurry up and figure out who attacked Grace. It wasn’t until the last hundred pages of the book that I regained interest in the story, only to be disappointed by the lack of resolution in the ending.

In terms of this being a “gripping” novel with “page-turning suspense,”¬†I felt as though the novel was more cagey than suspenseful or mysterious. The amount of secrets that each character had and decided to either reveal at the last minute or not reveal at all was frustrating to me and didn’t really get my heart racing as I had anticipated this novel to do. However, despite the issues that I had with the structure and pace of the plot, I do commend Jewell on her writing style. Her characterization of each of the quirky characters is excellent. I could clearly hear their distinct voices and see their distinct mannerisms which made them leap off the page.

Ultimately, I was not very impressed by¬†The Girls in the Garden,¬†despite my initial high expectations. I would, however, be interested in reading other works by Lisa Jewell because despite my lack of interest in this particular plot, I found her overall writing style to be superb. Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts on this book or if you would recommend any of Lisa Jewell’s other works!

3 out of 5 stars

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Review of The Girls by Emma Cline

Hi Everyone! I just wanted to apologize for the lack of posts lately. I had a nasty sinus infection and subsequent allergic reaction that left me with little energy to do anything other than sleep. But now, I’m fully recovered and ready to bring you more reviews. Thank you so much for being patient with me and without further ado, here is my review of¬†The Girls¬†by Emma Cline:

The Girls¬†by Emma Cline follows the story of Evie Boyd who is a rather lonely teenager that is struggling to find herself. She becomes absolutely mesmerized by an older girl named Suzanne who leads a seemingly carefree life on a commune in the outskirts of town.¬†Much to Evie’s surprise, this all loving group that she quickly becomes entangled with would become infamous for committing a heinous act of violence that would change her life forever.

This novel is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Emma Cline’s unique descriptions easily transported me to an era I had only heard about in passing from my parents. Her language also managed to created an aura of eeriness that shaped the entire mood and flow of the story. Furthermore, the relationship between Suzanne and Evie was absolutely exquisite and clearly depicts just how captivating even the most toxic relationship can be. Cline expertly highlights Suzanne’s fragile self-assuredness and calculated caring moments which allow the reader to both recognize her toxicity and understand how these same aspects made¬†her unconditionally entrancing to someone like Evie.

However, what truly impressed me the most about this novel was the multidimensionality of Evie’s voice. Cline juxtaposes the naive, outward-flowing thoughts and actions Evie with a much wiser, inner monologue that she seems to ignore until she is slapped in the face with what Suzanne and the rest of this cult were capable of. These contrasting perspectives are what humanize Evie and ultimately make her character¬†jump off the page and into the reader’s heart.

Ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised by this novel and thoroughly enjoyed the writing style of Emma Cline. I look forward to reading more of her work! Let me know in the comments below what you thought of The Girls and thanks again for being patient with me!!

4 out of 5 stars

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Review of The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson

I finished The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson about a week ago and I’m still struggling to put into words how much I loved this book. Set in Stockholm, Sweden, this novel is about a man who adheres to the same routine daily. He works part-time at local video show and spends his spare time either alone or in the company of his few close friends. This all changes when he receives an invoice from a national bureaucratic agency that is requesting him to pay for a lifetime’s worth of “experienced happiness.”

Everything about this book is simply perfect. The main character, who remains nameless throughout the novel, is so ordinary that it is impossible not to relate to him and root for him. Through his rather uneventful life, Karlsson expertly illustrates the idea that even the people who seem to have it all in terms of life experiences or opportunities can still struggle to find their place in the world and live life to the fullest.

Furthermore, the concept of having to convert each of life’s little moments into a monetary value is incredibly thought provoking. This idea that an upbringing without a struggles and a generally positive outlook on life led the main character to receive on of the highest invoices for his experienced happiness encourages the reader to reflect introspectively on the pricelessness¬†of their own experiences.

Ultimately, I’m absolutely enamored with this book. I apologize if this isn’t much of a review because I really struggled to find a way to describe the ways in which this story spoke to my soul. To put it quite simply, everyone should read this book (and proceed to hug their loved ones a little tighter.)

5 out of 5 stars

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**I received this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review**

July Wrap Up & August TBR’s

Hi friends! Happy August!¬†Summer is really flying by! Unfortunately, I was only able to read and review three out of the five books that I hoped to read this past month but I’m hoping to dedicate a lot more time to reading and blogging this month to make up for it! ūüôā Below is a recap of the books that I read in July and a list of the books I’m planning on reading and reviewing in August. Let me know in the comments below your thoughts on any of the books mentioned or anything you’re excited about reading this August!

July Reads

On The Run by Izai Amorium
3.5 out of 5 stars

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
5 out of 5 stars

Britt-Marie Was Here
4 out of 5 stars

August TBR’s

The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jeffries (to be released 9/6)

The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (to be released 10/11)