Our summers here in the PNW are short, but absolutely beautiful. From July through September there is no where else I would rather be. Specifically, in our pool, with a book in my hand. During the summer I always feel infinitely grateful that I get to write my own schedule and can batch out my work, in order to leave a lot of time during the middle of the day to swim, float, and read. So let's dive (pun intended) into my July reads, shall we? Check out my reviews of the books I read in June.
What did you read this month? What's your favorite book? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
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Book Review of "The Last Flight" by Julie Clark
“The Last Flight” by Julie Clark 4 / 5 ⭐️
In case you were not already aware, "The Flight" and "The Last Flight" by Julie Clark are the exact same book, but with different titles and a different cover. I feel like this renaming/new cover thing is starting to be more common. This happened with one of the Kristin Hannah Books I read last month also.
I really enjoy the quality and caliber of Julie Clarks writing overall. In fact, I got one of her other books, "The Lies I Tell" in my Book of the Month box and it was excellent. But while the premise of this book was interesting and plausible enough, and the characters were well-rounded, the story struggles to keep an even pace.
The opening few chapters are intriguing and start building suspense as you learn more about the two main characters Claire and Eva, their past and present lives and how their worlds came to intersect. It switches back and forth between Claire and Evas points of view and also between the past and present. This was done well and easy to follow. That in itself is a win as so many books with multiple POV and jumping timelines are so poorly executed, making them hard to follow and confusing.
But just when I felt committed to the story and was chomping at the bit for more, it started to drag on a bit. While the middle isn't bad, I just spent a lot of time waiting for something exciting to happen. Then about ¾ of the way through, I was once again met with excitement and intrigue as the suspense ramps back up, only for the book to wrap up really quickly. I would have loved to felt that same suspense in the beginning and the end, all the way through.
Synopsis of "The Last Flight" by Julie Clark
Claire Cook leads what appears to be a picture-perfect life. She is married into a wealthy political family, and enjoys the luxuries of the Manhattan elite, complete with a team of staff carefully choreographing her every move. However, behind closed doors, her reality is far from perfect. Her husband's explosive temper and relentless surveillance of her every move keep her trapped and living in fear.
Over the course of several months, and with very careful planning and execution, Claire puts plans in place to escape. However, things don’t go as planned and her path to freedom takes an unexpected turn when she meets a woman named Eva at the airport, who has reasons of her own to want to disappear. In a decision fueled by desperation, they switch plane tickets, hoping it will provide them both with a fresh start. Claire takes Eva's flight to Oakland, while Eva heads to Puerto Rico disguised as Claire.
Tragically, the flight bound for Puerto Rico crashes, leaving Claire with a new problem. Stranded and with limited options, she is forced to assume Eva’s identity. But by doing so, she also inherits the secrets that Eva fought so hard to conceal.
Book Review of "After I Do" by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“After I do” by Taylor Jenkins Reid 5 / 5 ⭐️
“We are tied to each other. We can hate and love, miss and loathe each other all within the same breath. We can never want to see each other again while never wanting to let go.”
This book has really mixed reviews. I believe this boils down to whether or not the reader has been married, how long they have been married, and if they have ever had to fight for their marriage.
I found it to be an incredibly honest depiction of long-term relationships/marriage. TV, movies, and books paint a picture of romantic love that is unwavering and all-consuming. That if only you meet the right person, it will be perfect and effortless, forever.
But what I've learned to be true over the last 15 years of my marriage is that love and attraction wax and wane. That relationships have seasons and cycles. That sometimes butterflies can be replaced with resentment or complacency, only to be replaced with butterflies again. It took me a long time to realize this was common and normal.
I've also learned that the smallest moments can feel far more intimate than physical intimacy ever will. The quiet acknowledgment that someone knows you and truly sees you. The finishing of each other's sentences. A subtle look across a crowded room that tells you you are thinking the same thing at the same time. To know someone so well that you know what they are about to ask you and you just answer the question before it is asked.
But the most important thing I have learned is that you have to choose each other every day. Some days it’s a choice made with an emphatic YES, and other days it's a choice made solely out of a promise you intend to keep.
On my wedding day I felt butterflies. But all these years later, I feel a deep and profound love that continues to grow through all cycles and seasons. A love that tells me that even though I could live without him, I don't ever want to.
Synopsis of "After I do" By Taylor Jenkins Reid
"When Lauren and Ryan's marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes."
Book Review of "The Four Winds" By Kristin Hannah
“The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah 4.5 / 5 ⭐️
“Life is tough. You need to be tougher or it will turn you inside out.”
Just as I have come to expect from a Kristin Hannah novel, I finished this gut-wrenching story with tears streaming down my face.
When I shared that I was reading this book, I received a deluge of messages from people having already read it, wanting to share a rant or rave. While a surprising number of those messages echoed disappointment, I never let the words of others take up space throughout my reading experience. I loved this book.
This was my 4th Kristin Hannah novel and I’ve noticed a theme emerging in her writing. All 4 books featured female characters that find their strength and resilience through surviving impossible odds. The books also share a focus on intergenerational female bonds, showcasing the complexity of their relationships throughout the stories.
"The Four Winds" Is set during the Great Depression / Dust Bowl era in America. It is a heartbreaking tale of sacrifice, loss, survival, and the unyielding strength of the human spirit. While the book is a work of fiction, it is an accurate representation of the times.
I really don’t remember learning much about this part of our nations history in school. It was such a devastating time for our country and so few people from that time period are even alive to give first hand accounts anymore. Our modern society feels so far removed from these struggles that I think we fail to realize that history could repeat itself.
Synopsis of "The Four Winds" By Kristin Hannah
The story is set in 1930's Texas, revolving around Elsa, a woman from a well-off family who has battled illness since childhood. She was told her whole life that she was unloveable and that no man would ever marry her because she was sick, unattractive and too tall. She is mistreated and disregarded by her entire family. All she desires is love, acceptance and to feel like she belongs.
When she is 25, she finds comfort in the arms (and the bed of a truck) of a young Italian farm boy, Rafe Martinelli. From that encounter she becomes pregnant. When her parents find out, they disown her and drop her off at the Martinelli farm and never look back.
Despite her deep sorrow and the knowledge that Rafe doesn’t really love her, Elsa adapts to farm life and forms a deep love for the farm and the Martinelli family. She learns to cook, sew, garden, and tend to the land and the animals. In doing so, she starts to find worth and purpose in being useful and contributing to the family.
That is until the Great Depression, and the most severe drought in the Great Plains' history, ultimately leading to the devastation that came to be known as the Dust Bowl. Season after season of drought and dust storms ravage the land and the homestead, making them all sick, and leaving her with no choice but to pack up and head west to California in the pursuit of a “The American Dream” and a better life for her children.
However, after making the treacherous trek to California, she arrives only to realize that the “land of milk and honey” is anything but and that now she is up against a whole new set of struggles.