The Perfect Beach Book – Whatever that means

June 29, 2018 at 1:22 pm Leave a comment

I am not typically a big fan of the largely acclaimed beach books. They are often overrated books that come out in late Spring/early Summer with a lot of marketing and fanfare. For me they often fall flat and are disappointing.  Below are some books that have better alternatives, books that were fine, and books that were super fun and you should read anywhere (even the beach).  And here’s to hoping better books get fanfare and the marketing Gods shine on them as well….Unknown-5.jpeg

  1. Tangerine by Christine Mangan: This book was really set up for great success.  The setting is Tangier, Morocco. The tension is between two old college roommates, Alice and Lucy, who attended the all girls school in Vermont a few years before.   Lucy shows up uninvited to Tangier where Alice is living with her new husband, John.  The question for the reader is what happened between them in Vermont and why is Lucy in Tangiers suddenly.  So, we have some really good elements at play. But truly the characters are stereotypical and either entirely lackluster or just ridiculously flagrant in their character flaws.  There are no unexpected twists or turns and even the interesting setting doesn’t help this book.  Think Single White Female meets Sheltering Sky meets The Talented Mr. Ripley but you also don’t care about anyone in the story. For a Book about friendship gone wrong in an interesting backdrop with suspense (it exists!) read instead: The Unforgotten by Laura Powell.  Quite honestly, I have not even finished this book  but it is again about two young women who have a sorted past with each other.  It is set in a small English fishing town where Betty lives with her bi-polar mother who manages a boarding house on the days she is herself and able.  Mary, her best friend, is constantly jealous of Betty seemingly unable to see how complicated her life is.  In the midst of their town, there is a serial killer and dead girls’ bodies keep popping up.  Every character so far is complex and trying hard to balance their better natures with their faults.  The setting is also interesting. The tension in the story is carefully built between many of the key players as they try to just get through their days, while the town is in disquiet around them.  There are multiple questions for the reader to contemplate which makes me feel like this writer might actually think we all have the ability to understand the complexities of life.  See, sounds better already right? Even if the end falls apart the rest of the book is far superior so I stand behind this partially read recommendation.
  2. The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy: This has been described (marketing Gods again) as an addictive thriller. That, it is definitely not. I am not even sure this is a thriller to be honest.  A group of new mothers who get together weekly in a Brooklyn park find themselves in quite a pickle (yep, I said pickle) when they go to a bar leaving their babies at home with sitters, spouses, etc.  Not only do they spend the night judging each other, but then one of the babies is stolen while the mother was at the bar and the sitter was at home napping.  Who stole the baby? Who is the mother? Do any of these new mothers really know each other? Who has cracked nipples? Is anyone sleeping through the night and if so, how are they doing it? All of that sarcastically said, I will give the book credit for looking at the crazy, awful, stressful, and psychologically damaging world that new mothers create for themselves and each other. I have been in that crazy upside world and I am happy I got out alive. But the other pieces of the book are pretty routine and not all that interesting – including the ending which I finished and then went about my day unaddictively and not at all thrilled.  For an Addictive Thriller read instead: I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara.   It is a very real account of the Golden State Killer. Sometimes truth is much better than fiction and here that is definitely the case.  I listened to this one on audible and it is scary and awful and intriguing.
  3. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: This book has no “read instead” because I loved it.  It is a fun, interesting and crazy story about rich people so I was totally in.  Rachel Chu and Nick Young have been dating for two years while they both teach at NYU.  For their summer break, Rachel agrees to fly to Singapore with Nick so she can meet his family.  Nick failed to mention that his family is one of the richest families in Singapore and Rachel finds herself in the bizarre world of petty rich people – their expectations and all of their competitions.  There is really no deep lesson from this book (except I would like my own plane), it is just fun and at the time I read it that was exactly what I needed.
  4. The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka: I need to first say this author is from my hometown of Columbus, Ohio so I wanted to love this book.  I didn’t love it but I enjoyed it. There is a lot of potential here that I think will get better in the next book.  Roxanne, a woman with a sorted history of bad choices and daddy baggage, is hired to investigate a 15 year old case.  The parents of teenager Sarah Cook were murdered in their home and the body of Sarah Cook was never found.  The easiest suspect was the African-American boyfriend, Brad, who consequently has been in jail since his guilty verdict and has two months until he is executed.  Brad’s sister is positive that she saw Sarah Cook, presumed to be dead, at a gas station and wants Roxanne to find her to try to save Brad from execution. Lepionka’s story has some nice touches and some interesting twists.  I get the impression that it was not originally written for a broader audience because of the way she names places around Columbus with minimal explanation for an audience unfamiliar with our city (like what does living in Bexley mean?).  But, there are also some nice name dropping in the book like the restaurant Wings, which made me smile.  I would like the character of Roxanne to be fleshed out better so hopefully that will happen in the future. Just making her bi-sexual or the daughter of a flawed cop doesn’t make me care about her.  Her relationship with her brothers seemed very real though and some of her own personal issues are very relatable – hence the earlier referenced hope. The overarching story carried me through and had some really good twists.  So you should read it because (a) it is a pretty good book and (b) we should support our Columbus writers (even if you aren’t from Columbus, come on be a mensch).

Otherwise have fun at the beach, enjoy a gin and tonic or a martini, take deep breaths, watch a sunset, and read. Always read.


Entry filed under: June 2018 reads, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Truth has its own path – “A Shout in the Ruins” by Kevin Powers The Waning Days of Summer Reading

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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