What I Read in July

After enduring a dreadful book slump for several months (one book in April, six in May although four of those were middle grade books, and one in June), the dam finally burst in July. I got in nine books, four of which were audiobooks. It was a great reading month, with many excellent books, including a book that has soared to the top of my Best of the Year list.

Here’s hoping the reading streak continues in August!

Books I Read in July

📚Favorite Book of the Month (and Possibly Year)📚

The Push by Ashley Audrain  – Oh my goodness did I love this book. I don’t quite know how to characterize it – not quite thriller, but not not a thriller either. And I don’t really want to spoil it by trying to summarize it – suffice it to say that there is a mother who worries that her daughter is evil. The writing was stellar, as was the way Audrain depicted motherhood and grief and the decay of a marriage in these spare, powerful chapters. Fantastic book.

📚Really Good Books📚

The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor  – Eddie receives a chalk man in the mail – just like the ones he and his friends used as a code the summer that their lives fall apart. Eddie learns that all his friends received the same chalk man in the mail, but no one knows who’s sending them. And then one of them turns up dead. I still can’t believe it took me so long to read this book! It was less predictable than The Burning Girls, which I LOVED, but I found the reveal to be slightly disappointing. It was still a really vivid, solid read though. And it was Tudor’s DEBUT! Amazing. I need to read more C. J. Tudor.

Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak – This book was a really interesting read. Mallory is a recovering drug addict whose sponsor has found a great job for her as a nanny. But Mallory’s charge – Teddy – starts drawing disturbing pictures and Mallory feels like she’s being watched. This book has supernatural elements that were done really well, and I loved the main character’s back story and how it tied into the story. The villain was excellent and there were some real surprises throughout. Also, this book contained illustrations that were crucial to the story and I LOVED them. They were so creepy and really added to the atmosphere of the story.

The Wife Upstairs by Freida McFadden 🎧– At first I thought this was a retelling of Rebecca, but it has only the slightest resemblance. It’s about a woman who moves to a remote mansion to care for a wealthy man’s paralyzed wife. It’s a good, strong thriller although I wasn’t crazy about the main character, whom I found slightly annoying. (Maybe that was a result of the audiobook narration, though?)

📚Good Books📚

There, There by Tommy Orange 🎧 – My husband and I listened to this in the car together and it was really an interesting book. The audiobook was well done. It followed a bunch of Native Americans who live in and around Los Angeles and examines how their lives eventually intersect. There was a lot of darkness and grief in this book, but I thought the language and stories were super interesting. FYI, there is a LOT of cursing, so I don’t advise listening to it in the same car with your young child.

Eat It! The Most Sustainable Diet and Workout Ever Made by Jordan Syatt and Michael Vacanti – The tone of this book was friendly and upbeat, which I appreciated. And it had a pretty no-nonsense message. But aside from a few very specific suggestions, it was basically about how the only real way to lose weight is to expend more calories than you take in. And a whole book – even a slim, easy to skim book like this one – wasn’t really necessary to get that message across.

The Other Family by Wendy Corsi Staub 🎧 – A family moves from California to New York City, into a house where a gruesome multiple murder took place years ago. This was an enjoyable if unsurprising thriller. There was a secondary character who, I thought, did and said some weird things, and that wasn’t ever fleshed out the way I thought it might. 

The A. B. C. Murders by Agatha Christie – Standard Poirot in which he receives a note from a murderer, whose plan is to kill people alphabetically based on their names and hometowns. I think I may actually prefer Nine Lives, the Peter Swanson adaptation of this story.

Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay – Is it weird that one of my main gripes about this book is that the title had NOTHING to do with the story? There was even a moment where the book said the title (which I normally love), but it STILL didn’t make sense. The premise is that a woman goes missing and then some years later seemingly shows up at the door to her old house, shocked to find it’s been rebuilt. It was a fine book, held my attention. But nothing surprising here, either.

📚Books I Started but Haven’t Finished📚

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth 🎧 – I can already tell that this is a book I won’t want to turn off. 

Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen by Michelle Icard – This is one of those rare parenting books that seems completely down-to-earth and also full of useful, actually practicable advice. I am about halfway through (and my kid is nowhere near fourteen), but I have already found some of the ideas to be usable and helpful.

The Retreat by Sarah Pearse – This is the sequel to The Sanitorium, which I read last year and enjoyed. It started slow for me, but it’s picking up some momentum.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls – I am reading this out loud to my daughter. Can you believe I’ve never read it before? It’s totally a classic, but somehow I missed it in my early years.

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