August is over, and with it, I close the chapter on sixteen new books! Disclaimer that the first nine books I read this month were all at the beach. Why is this pertinent information? Because I believe that reading at the beach completely skews my perception of a book. Did I just finish a book that I liked even just slightly while sitting with my feet in the sand? Five stars! I’m sort of kidding, but sort of not. I think that my atmosphere had some heavy influence on how much I loved these books (which means if I gave something two stars at the beach, I really hated it). But it’s time to recap the sixteen books that I read in August – let’s go!
The Five Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand – 5 Stars
If it’s summertime, you can catch me with the latest Elin Hilderbrand book! My sister-in-law brought her copy of The Five Star Weekend to the beach with us, and of course I had to read it! I know she’s a little bit controversial, and her books can be hit or miss for me, but they’re still just so fun to read. Famous food blogger Hollis Shaw’s life is turned upside down when her husband is killed in a car accident on his way to the airport. Deciding it’s time to make some changes, Hollis puts together something called a “Five Star Weekend” – organizing a girls trip with one best friend from each stage of her life – at her home on Nantucket. But of course, gathering five women together for the weekend doesn’t go smoothly, and everyone has secrets they’re trying to hide.
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center – 5 Stars
Another fun read that was recently turned into a Netflix movie, so I was doubly excited to pick it up! Helen Carpenter is an English teacher who has been divorced for a year when she decides to take herself on a wilderness survival course as a personal challenge. When she discovers her brother’s annoying best friend is also going on the trip, her mind jumps to disaster. Three weeks in the wilderness with a motley crew of sorority girls, macho outdoorsmen, a teenage hiking instructor, and her brother’s annoying (but maybe secretly cute) best friend – what could go wrong? *Reader’s note: While the book was really fun to read, the age gap (she was 32 and he was 22) bothered me slightly, but the movie bothered me tremendously because the entire thing was heinous. Of course I watched the entire thing, but this is your warning.
She Started It by Sian Gilbert – 2 Stars
This was just… bad. I’m so disappointed because I chose this as my May Book of the Month, excited for another thriller to tear through while I was at the beach, but this was not it. She Started It is the story of four women who receive invitations to the bachelorette party of an old friend from school who they haven’t seen in years. But an all-expense paid trip to a private island in the Bahamas turns out to be not exactly as it seems when secrets are revealed and the nightmare begins. It’s billed as Lord of the Flies meets And Then There Were None for fans of Lucy Foley and Liane Moriarty, and I did not love it.
Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling – 5 Stars
The fifth book in my favorite series of all time. This is my yearly reminder to you to read the books!!
Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan – 3 Stars
My book club read Nora Goes Off Script in May, and I loved it, so I was very excited to read the newest book from Annabel Monaghan! While it was still a fun read, I didn’t love this one nearly as much as I loved Nora. It’s the story of Sam, going home to her family’s beach house on Long Island for the summer to visit a wedding venue and plan her wedding with her very fancy and uptight fiance Jack. But when Sam’s high school heartbreak comes home for the summer, too, she is forced to make a choice between the life she has now and the what ifs she’s always imagined.
The Stories We Tell by Joanna Gaines – 4 Stars
The Gaines family is so interesting to me, and I’ve eaten up every book they have published! While I still loved this look into Joanna’s life, I really expected it to be more memoir and personal stories, less self-help. It is very motivational and aspirational – how to be your best self – rather than any sort of memoir format. I love the Gaines family enough that that didn’t matter to me, but I know that has thrown a lot of people off when picking this book up.
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams – 4 Stars
This was a reread for me. A Hundred Summers is the very first book I ever won off of a Goodreads giveaway back in 2013. I read it at some point back then and had honestly forgotten most of what happened throughout the book, so I figured it was time to reread! It’s the story of Memorial Day Weekend 1938 in Seaview, Rhode Island. Lily Dane is back in Seaview with her family for the summer when her old flame shows up with his new wife, her former best friend. Long-held secrets are exposed, and when an unexpected hurricane hits the shore, everything might just come crashing down.
The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston – 5 Stars
This book is magical! Clementine’s beloved aunt has passed away and she is living in her old apartment, trying to stay busy and protect her heart from ever getting broken again. Until one day when she gets home, there is a strange man in her apartment, telling her that her aunt gave him permission to stay while she was out of the country on a trip. A trip that she and her aunt took together seven years ago. Are the stories that she’s been told all her life of the magical apartment with its sometimes time-traveling mystique actually true? And what happens if she falls for someone in the past? This book is so charming and sweet!
Bye, Baby by Carola Lovering – 3 Stars
Cassie and Billie have been best friends since childhood, but at some point in their adulthood, they’ve begun drifting apart. Billie continues to reach out, but Cassie has put distance between them. Until the fateful night of Cassie’s birthday party when she realizes that her infant daughter has gone missing and Billie is the first person she thinks to call. But what happens when the one person she turns to has deep, dark secrets of her own? This book is not a thriller, even though it seems to be billed as such, but I still really enjoyed the story and wanted to see how it ended.
Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin – 2 Stars
I saw that Hulu recently released a limited series based off of this book, so I immediately added it to my list, as I am a sucker for a screen adaptation. I thought it was going to be a thriller that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, but I found myself bored through most of this book. It’s the story of seven year old Claire on vacation with her family when her college-aged sister Allison disappears. When her body is found four days later, the family goes home and tries to move on with their lives. But Claire never forgets. Decades later, Claire sees one of the men initially accused of Allison’s murder in NYC and she becomes obsessed with finding out the truth of what happened to her sister. It is billed as for fans of Emma Cline and Lauren Groff, which makes sense to me because this is a long book where virtually nothing happens.
Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson – 4 Stars
Strangely enough, this is also a book where virtually nothing happened, but I loved it! It’s the story of the extremely wealthy Stockton family in New York City, their adult children, and the family drama that comes about when their son marries someone from a different class. There is hardly any plot, but the descriptions of the beautiful homes and interiors and the sharp wit the characters bring was just delightful.
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfield – 5 Stars
If you’re a fan of SNL, you must read this book! It’s about comedy writer Sally Milz, a sketch writer for the SNL-inspired show “The Night Owls” (also known as TNO). When she writes a sketch poking fun at how her friend and fellow writer Danny Horst is always able to date stunning female celebrities (does this sound familiar to anyone) called “The Danny Horst Rule”, the joke is that a woman would never be able to achieve the same in reverse. Noah Brewster is the celebrity guest for the show that night, and it feels like there might actually be a connection there between Noah and Sally, but of course, that can’t be possible, right? I really loved this story! I will give a warning that part of it takes place in the thick of 2020, so it could be a little much for some right now.
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead – 2 Stars
Great Circle was on my summer reading TBR after I found it for five dollars at a used bookstore in perfect condition! It’s a story told in dual timelines from Prohibition-era Montana to modern-day Los Angeles. We meet Marian Graves, a young girl with a tragic past who falls in love with the idea of being a pilot in the 1920s and Hadley Baxter, a woman in her late 20s cast to play Marian Graves in a film in LA. This book is long and it seemed to drag on forever to me. I found both of the women unlikable and expected there to be more crossover in the dual timelines other than the obvious. It wasn’t my favorite read.
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult – 2 Stars
I honestly hated this book, and I don’t say that very often. I realized earlier this year that I was interested in Jodi Picoult’s writing because she often covers very polarizing topics in an interesting way, and her stories always suck me in. So I picked up The Book of Two Ways. This book was not it. I immediately didn’t like it because of the main plot point – Dawn Edelstein survives a plane crash at the very beginning of the book, and then she flies herself to Egypt to reconnect with her college love rather than flying home to her husband and daughter. What?! If that wasn’t enough, the chapters set in Egypt dragged on and on. The details about ancient Egypt and hieroglyphics and everything had me incredibly bored. Maybe Jodi Picoult books just aren’t for me – this one definitely wasn’t.
The Guest by Emma Cline – 2 Stars
I loved Cline’s book The Girls, about the Manson murders in the 60s, so I was excited to pick up The Guest! It was the same writing style, but this story was just not interesting to me since it wasn’t about a historical event I was interested in. It’s focused on one woman’s weekend in the Hamptons – she gets dumped by her boyfriend and then bounces around the Hamptons for several days while trying to kill time until her boyfriend’s big party where she knows he will take her back. Nothing really happened throughout the entire book, and the characters were just so unlikable.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling – 5 Stars
Book six of my favorite series of all time. There isn’t words for how much I love these books and how passionate I am about you reading them, too!
You can find all of the books I’ve read this year here: