What I Read: July 2020

Taylor Jenkins Reid: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Regardless, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens Evelyn’s story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

I feel this book is or will be life changing for everyone who reads it. It’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read in my life and I think it should be on every “Books you must read before you die” list. This book is about race, sexuality, sexism and confronting social norms but first and foremost about the fact that life is too short, too short to pretend you are someone who you’re not. Evelyn Hugo might just be the most complex character I ever read about. You either love or hate most characters but not Evelyn. With Evelyn you do both with the same passion. No matter how many terrible decisions she made I still admired her because she knew what she wanted and had the guts to do whatever it took to get it. The book is sort of written from two POVs. It’s mostly carried by Evelyn’s, spanning throughout multiple decades following her from age fourteen until well after she retired. Monique’s chapters are more like a break between different stages of Evelyn’s life. I didn’t care as much for Monique as I feel she’s an undeveloped character. I just rushed through her chapters to keep reading about Evelyn. In conclusion, I could rave about this book for days but I’m going to stop here. Just read it!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Louise Candlish: Our House

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

I don’t remember the last time I suffered so much while reading a book! I just wanted it to finish. Unfortunately this book was very long, like 200 pages longer than it should be. First thing first, this shouldn’t be called a thriller, maybe a light domestic suspense? I understand some people like books like this but this is just not my cup of tea. It really hooked me at the beginning but then it didn’t go anywhere and just dragged on and on and on. Too many pointless conversations and irrelevant information. The only reason I continued reading this is because I don’t like leaving a book on DNT.

⭐️⭐️


J.S. Monroe: The Other You

Kate was a super recogniser working with the police, meaning she never forgot a face, picking criminals out of CCTV footage, until one night she had a car accident and suffered a brain injury. In the months since she has been working with a psychiatrist to try to get her former recognition skills back. Her new man Rob, who she met in the hospital while she was recuperating, has been nothing but supportive and loving. Plus he’s filthy rich! Then one day, when she’s on the mend, Rob comes home, except it isn’t Rob, but someone that’s his double…

As soon as I read the description I was intrigued! Essentially this is a psychological domestic thriller but I feel it’s much more than that. The story is original and creepy. I find the concept of doppelgänger’s and doubles quite unique. I enjoyed reading about super recognisers and facial recognition and the technology behind it. I was so invested that I actually googled the term super recognisers and found the test to find out if I could maybe be one of those. Guess what? I passed! so maybe this book will be life changing for me? Moving on! The Other You is written from three points of view-Kate’s, her ex Jake and her former boss’s Silas Hart. There was plenty of action and the descriptions of the places were engaging. I especially enjoyed that half of the book was set in beautiful Cornwall! The storyline had twists and turns and kept me guessing until end. The only thing I didn’t like is the side plot about detective Silas and his son Connor. I felt it was useless for the plot. Also it’s quite a long book and I feel it would be shorter if the detective and Jake compared notes a bit more. Otherwise I would recommend this as it’s well-written and impressively researched with the science and technology and a clever twist at the end. J.S. Monroe is an author I intend to read more of!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Clare Pooley: The Authenticity Project

“Everybody lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth?” This is the question that Julian Jessop, an eccentric, seventy-nine-year-old artist, poses within a pale green exercise book that he labels The Authenticity Project, before leaving it behind in Monica’s Café. When Monica discovers Julian’s abandoned notebook, not only does she add her own story to the book, she is determined to find a way to help Julian feel less lonely. And so it goes with the others who find the green notebook that will soon contain their deepest selves. It will also knit the group together In Real Life at Monica’s Cafe, where they’ll discover the thrill and sometime-risk of being completely honest–and, for some, find unexpected love. 

This is such a charming, uplifting, feel good, thought-provoking and often relatable book that I needed right now. The characters are quirky and easy to relate to and the concept is really unique.  It’s the classic ‘grass is always greener on the other side’ story, it shows how misleading appearances can be and the effect that each person can have on each other. Actions can have a larger impact than what anyone may expect. If you are looking for a book that will make you smile from start to finish, and possibly cause you to shed some happy tears along the way…then look no further!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Romy Hausmann: Dear Child

In a windowless shack in the woods, Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: Meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them. One day Lena manages to flee–but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called “Lena,” who disappeared without a trace 14 years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle which doesn’t quite seem to fit. 

What a page-turner! I just couldn’t read this book fast enough! This is the first German thriller I’ve read so I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was everything I could’ve hoped for. It’s dark, tense and intriguing ,with a twist I didn’t see coming. The events are told from three points of view: Lena/Jasmin, Lana’s daughter Hannah and Lena’s father Matthias, who has never given up looking for her, as the police try to unravel the story and identify the abductor. All three have secrets and no one is telling the truth, least of all Hannah who is a very strange little girl. The victims of this tragic case all have very different reactions to the trauma, and demonstrate that there isn’t one way to try to ‘get over’ something like this. At times I got frustrated with every single one of them but of course, I’ve never been in their position. I would love to see this book made into a movie! I don’t want to give much else anyway, but can just say that this is a really intriguing, exciting debut from Romy Hausmann and I’m really excited to read more by her in the future.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Heather Morris: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

I’ve been keeping this book on my TBR pile because I wanted to be in the right state of mind to read it. After all, it was a story about Auschwitz and I’m always a bit reluctant to read about that. That being said, Lale’s story is definitely one that needed to be told and to remember. His bravery, the risk he took, the will he had to help others and the way he survived and found love in one of the worst concertration camps. For such a beautiful story I feel a bit heartless for giving only 4 starts but I didn’t like the writing and the way the story was told. Heather Morris is a screenwriter and that’s visible in her writing. There is no build up, atmosphere, prose…it’s just “he did this and then he did this..”. There was no depth in any other characters except Lale. I feel this book is missing another 200 pages just to add more emotion. But I do love how at the end of the book the author lets the reader know what happened to some of the main people in this novel. Overall, I would recommend this book as there is so many valuable lessons on what it means to be human, how far one would go to survive, how love can be found anywhere, and most importantly, the power of hope. 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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