I was nose deep in four books this past month, bringing my total number of reads this year to 21. (Only 4 more to go to reach my goal!) The subject matter of these three reads were all very different, taking place in different times, or even different universes. It was a little bit of everything and was a good month of reading.
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The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
I found this book in a free book bin and couldn’t dare leave it behind! As soon as I read that it involved the Hemingways and Paris in the 20’s, I knew it was fate that someone left it behind before I walked by.
Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
I love anything about the roaring 20’s and the artists and literature greats of that time. I can watch movies like ‘Midnight in Paris’ over and over and never grow tired of seeing Dali, Gauguin, and Hemingway represented on screen, all truthful in the fact that these people were part of the art scene in Paris at that time and would have been familiar with each other, if not great friends.
One person that I was not familiar with from this time was Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife and muse for his famed novel A Moveable Feast, 1964. This book, (fiction) told from her perspective, gives us insight into their relationship as it began in Chicago in 1920 through its course as they married and lived in Paris.
One thing I really enjoyed were the crossover references to shared holidays away with the Fitzgeralds and others that were also mentioned in the book Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, a similar book told from Zelda’s perspective that I read in 2015. It’s one thing to know that the authors did their research and knew these excursions happened, but it’s another to hear them confirmed again from another source.
I really enjoyed this story, though it was heartbreaking and showed Ernest at his worst at times. (Sometimes it really makes you dislike him.) I could relate to some of Hadley’s feelings of being lonely in a new place after they moved to Paris while he would leave home daily to write. I wanted to reach out and be Hadley’s friend and couldn’t put this book down for want of knowing what would happen next.
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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This book was different than most things I’ve been reading lately, but after seeing it pop up repeatedly over the past year I couldn’t help but grab it when I saw a really great deal. If you’re into science fiction and he idea of multiple dimensions, I definitely recommend it. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before him a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
So much of what happened in this book was unexpected. Crouch’s writing is easily readable and easy to fall into; while some people seem to poke fun at his his editing style, I found that it pulled me in and encouraged a certain pace from me. I flew through this story and find myself wanting more. Just when you think things are as wild as they could possibly get, something else happens that reminds you that the possibilities in Jason’s world(s) are endless.
Blake Crouch is the writer of the Wayward Pines series, brought to life on FOX by M. Night Shyamalan. Crouch is currently writing the screenplay for Dark Matter for Sony Pictures, but little info has been released. I think this one will make a great movie instead of a show…it is far too fast paced for them to break it into episodes. I’ll definitely go see it when it comes out and have already been encouraging friends and Daniel to read the book ASAP.
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The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
Thank you to my wonderful friend Georgia for this book! She sent it to me back in the spring because she’s amazing and understands my love of reading.
Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.
Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all?
I didn’t know what to make of this book at first, but by the end I was hooked. I think my problem was with the way new backstory information was presented, almost casually but in a slightly confusing manner. By the middle of the book I felt caught up enough to move through the rest of the story without any more confusion. As pieces started coming together, it began to make more sense why some seemingly random memories had been and were being introduced.
Once the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place, I realized this story had a far deeper and more creepy past that even the main character knew. It makes you wonder if you really know your friends at all, and what secrets they may be hiding.
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Touch by Courtney Maum
This is another book that was sent to me by my dear friend Georgia. Thank you GA! Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Sloane Jacobsen is the most powerful trend forecaster in the world (she was the foreseer of the swipe), and global fashion, lifestyle, and tech companies pay to hear her opinions about the future. Her recent forecasts on the family are unwavering: the world is over-populated, and with unemployment, college costs, and food prices all on the rise, having children is an extravagant indulgence.
So it’s no surprise when the tech giant Mammoth hires Sloane to lead their groundbreaking annual conference, celebrating the voluntarily childless. But not far into her contract, Sloane begins to sense the undeniable signs of a movement against electronics that will see people embracing compassion, empathy, and in-personism again. Despite the risks to her professional reputation, Sloane is nevertheless convinced that her instincts are the right ones, and goes on a quest to defend real life human interaction, while finally allowing in the love and connectedness she’s long been denying herself.
I started reading this book thinking that it took place in the future, but I was wrong…the setting is pretty much present day, with a few more “futuristic” things in play. One example is her company-provided autonomous car with a “personality”—sort of like Siri, but better—with sensors that can read your body and voice for signs of things like dehydration, stress, etc, and the ability to make coffee and provide advice. Sign me up for one of these cars! In a way, it was sort of unsettling that the book was set in present times, because the world Sloan sees around her seems to be at a breaking point when it comes to our relationships to tech and each other.
Sloan’s life seems perfect: she’s highly successful and well known for it, she’s in-demand professionally, she has a popular boyfriend of ten years (Roman) with whom she collaborates frequently for work, and she’s living her dream life in Paris…but not everything is as it seems. When Sloan and Roman move to New York City so she can take a six month contract at the top tech company in the world, Mammoth (think Apple), Sloan comes face to face with the realities of her life. Is she really happy? How can she repair her strained relationship with her nearby family? She’s discovering an aversion to tech, right as she starts working for a tech company. How are all of these things interconnected? Then there’s the Roman problem, which turns Sloan’s world upside down.
I really enjoyed this story and how everything came together for Sloan. I definitely recommend this book, even if the blurb isn’t as enticing as I know it should be.
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Have you ever read any of these books? What did you think?
What did you read this month? I only have four to go to reach my goal this year, so give me some great recommendations!