REVIEW of Summer Reading List 2013

At the beginning of summer, I posted a list of titles I hoped to read this season: Summer Reading List 2013. I didn’t read all the books on the list, but I did get to several. Here are my brief synopses and a review of each:

Cleopatra (biography) by Stacy Schiff. This was one of the first books I bought this summer. I was  disappointed. It was written in a high-toned biographical style that I did not take to, particularly as a summer read. There were wars, affairs, manipulations, and incest, and yet the tone was so dry that I was BORED. Given the content, I had been hoping for something juicier.  I didn’t finish this one, although it’s still in my Kindle.

Beautiful Day (novel) by Elin Hilderbrand. I read this one during our trip to Schroon Lake, and like all Hilderbrand books, I couldn’t put it down. In her books, the Nantucket setting is more than a backdrop; it’s an integral part of the plot and often even feels like its own character (as Manhattan did in Sex and the City.) This book is about a young couple weathering their wedding weekend, while all around them their family relationships are falling apart and being put back together in unexpected ways. It wasn’t my very favorite of Hilderbrand’s books (I think that was The Castaways), but it was still great.

I also read The Beach Club, one of her older novels, later in the summer. I’ve now read all of her older books and will be excitedly anticipating her new releases.

Sisterland (novel) by Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep and American Wife. A pair of sisters has psychic powers, but one chooses to make them into a career, while the other tries to block her powers completely. When Vi, the career psychic, gets national attention for predicting a major earthquake, it brings back her sister Kate’s powers, but not soon enough to prevent her from making a horrible mistake. This book was very engaging, but also extremely farfetched, even if you believe in psychic ability, which wasn’t even the weirdest part of the story. I recommend it as a unique and engrossing read.

Ladies’ Night (novel) by Mary Kay Andrews, my favorite Southern author. This book centered around a bitter woman who simultaneously loses her husband and her popular lifestyle blog. She is court-ordered to attend divorce therapy sessions, where she meets several other women (and one man) who are similarly down and out. The group bands together to remake all of their lives for the better, but not before taking down the judge who made them all pay.

I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. It was ok, but the characters were whiny and boring at times, and it wasn’t a memorable read. I actually had to refresh my memory to write this synopsis, and I read it more recently than some of the other books on this list.

Fly Away (novel) by Kristin Hannah, the sequel to Firefly Lane. Before reading this one, I went back and re-read Firefly Lane, which is about a pair of best friends, Kate and Tully, and their journey through life, from growing up in the turbulent 70s, to becoming career women in the 80s, and forming families (or not) in the 90s. That synopsis sounds rather dull, but it’s a fantastic read, mostly due to the relationship between Kate and Tully, and the fun of reading through different time periods in American history. I was excited to read the sequel. But I did NOT enjoy Fly Away. It was well-written, and the characters had a lot of depth, but it was dark and depressing. It was very hard for me to get through.

I still have some books left on my original list- I guess they’ll become fall or winter reads. Here are a few more books I read this summer that weren’t on the original list:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I had never read it in high school, but I love futuristic reads, and this was no exception. It gave me tingles, remembering that it was written during the rise of fascism in Germany. The Bokanovsky Process and the brainwashing of children weren’t too far off from Hitler’s Aryan nation. If Hitler had the technology, this novel might have become reality. Very creepy.

Summer Island by Kristin Hannah. That makes three Hannah books this summer. I liked this one best- it’s about an estranged mother-daughter pair who come together under unusual circumstances. The healing that takes place within the family is beautiful to read.

You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins, my new favorite blogger (thanks to my brother-in-law Mark for introducing me to Goins). This is a short book and didn’t do much for me personally- taking myself seriously as a writer has never been a problem for me- but there were a few helpful tidbits here and there, and I like his style. I’m planning to read his newest book next, The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing.

Ford County: Stories by John Grisham. A collection of short stories about dumb criminals, crooked lawyers, and death-row inmates. Most were fairly enjoyable, though I didn’t have enough interest to finish the book. (I wrote about losing respect for Grisham in this post.)

Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger, the long-awaited sequel to The Devil Wears Prada. Andy is back, ten years later, with a husband, a daughter, and a thriving wedding magazine co-produced with her old nemesis/new bestie Emily. Everything is going great for her… until Miranda returns with an offer to buy the magazine. An offer that, because it’s Miranda, can’t be refused. It was actually a better read than I’d expected, after cringing my way through the first Prada, and having had issues with Weisberger in her book Everyone Worth KnowingAndy still has major issues communicating properly with everyone close to her, but at least in this book, she had a backbone.

I think I might have read some other books too, but I don’t remember what they were! All in all, it was a pretty good summer for reading.

What did you read this summer?

2 Responses to “REVIEW of Summer Reading List 2013”

  1. Leanne Sowul says:

    Testing to see if my new Gravatar worked!

  2. Leanne Sowul says:

    It did!

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