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Summer Reading Update: Recent Reads + My List

I've finished a few more books since I last shared my summer reading list a month ago. I wanted to give a little update on what I loved and didn't love, as well as what's next on my list! I previously had finished Faithful by Alice HoffmanFortune's Daughter by Alice Hoffman, and The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand that I shared about in my last post and have since finished Castaways by Elin HilderbrandThe Island by Elin Hilderbrand, and Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. Right now I am starting The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand (sensing a theme?!) Here are my thoughts...

CASTAWAYS // I really liked this one! Compared to the Identicals I wasn't as in love, but it was definitely enjoyable. I liked the whole story but I prefer other Hilderbrand books to this one in particular. A quick summary: two parents are killed in a sailing accident, and their kids are left to their best friends on the Island, three different couples with their own grief and guilt for the death. Each couple, and each individual within, has their own experience with the two that died, and how they all come together while also breaking apart throughout the summer that follows the death makes the story a page-turner.

THE ISLAND // Okay, if I had to rank the Hilderbrand books I've read so far, The Island falls second to the Identicals and ranks above the Castaways. This story was really wild, with one daughter having a life crisis and turning to Tuckernuck Island out of nothing else to look forward to, and the other sister coming to Tuckernuck with will and enthusiasm, searching for and finding love. I really loved the characters in this book.

COMMONWEALTH // I was really excited to pick up this book at the library because I had heard such great reviews and thought I should branch outside of reading another Elin Hilderbrand book for a hot sec. Unfortunately, I found the plot of Commonwealth pretty lame... maybe I just wasn't that engaged in it because I just wanted another Nantucket-based Hilderbrand book in my hands, but I felt like I was flipping through this book waiting for something to happen, and next thing I knew it was just over and I didn't get much out of it. I liked the whole concept of the story, but there wasn't really a moment where I was eager to know what happened.

For background, here's a little summary from Goodreads:

"Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another. "

THE RUMOR // I started this on Sunday night after finishing Commonwealth and I'm excited to keep reading. For summary,

"Madeline King and Grace Pancik are best friends and the envy of Nantucket for their perfect marriages, their beautiful kids, their Sunday night double dates with their devoted husbands. But this summer, something's changed, and if there's anything Nantucket likes better than cocktails on the beach at sunset, it's a good rumor.

And rumor has it...
...that Madeline, a novelist, is battling writer's block, with a deadline looming, bills piling up, and blank pages driving he
r to desperation--and a desperately bad decision;
...that Grace, hard at work to transform her backyard into a garden paradise, has been collaborating a bit more closely than necessary with her ruggedly handsome landscape architect;
...that Grace's husband, successful island real estate developer "Fast Eddie" Pancik, has embarked on quite an unusual side project;
...that the storybook romance between Madeline's son, Brick, and Grace's daughter Allegra is on the rocks, heading for disaster."

Up next on my list after The Rumor:

I'm hoping to read a few books that I've heard great things about/are a little more well-renowned before picking back up another "beach read" just to mix it up...

UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN // I'm not really excited to read this one, but I want to try it because a friend recommended it to me. Being an Italian, I'm sure it won't be too hard to get on board with this story, namely based in Tuscany. 

"An enchanting and lyrical look at the life, the traditions, and the cuisine of Tuscany, in the spirit of Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. 

Frances Mayes entered a wondrous new world when she began restoring an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. There were unexpected treasures at every turn: faded frescos beneath the whitewash in her dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles in the garden, and, in the nearby hill towns, vibrant markets and delightful people. In Under the Tuscan Sun, she brings the lyrical voice of a poet, the eye of a seasoned traveler, and the discerning palate of a cook and food writer to invite readers to explore the pleasures of Italian life and to feast at her table."

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN // This was another recommended book and comes from the view of a dog. I need to know what that looks like...

"Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through."

THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS // The last of the recommended books on my list this time around, and I'm probably most excited for this one compared to the previous two.

"This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.
This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.
This is how children change…and then change the world.
This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.
When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes."

THE HOPEFULS // If all else fails, this beach read sounds amazing to me.

"When Beth arrives in Washington, D.C., she hates everything about it: the confusing traffic circles, the ubiquitous Ann Taylor suits, the humidity that descends each summer. At dinner parties, guests compare their security clearance levels. They leave their BlackBerrys on the table. They speak in acronyms. And once they realize Beth doesn't work in politics, they smile blandly and turn away. Soon Beth and her husband, Matt, meet a charismatic White House staffer named Jimmy and his wife, Ashleigh, and the four become inseparable, coordinating brunch, birthdays, and long weekends away. But as Jimmy's star rises higher and higher, their friendship--and Beth's relationship with Matt--is threatened by jealousy, competition and rumors."


I'd love to know what you're currently reading or any books you'd recommend! If you want to keep up with my reads, you can check out my Goodreads page here!

1 comment

  1. Fran,
    As unusual as it sounds, I enjoyed The Art of Racing in the Rain. Can't wait to hear what you think!


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