Hammock Reads

I’m not quite back from vacation yet, but it appears this campground has decent wifi strength so here it goes…

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.”

— Anne Lamott

My absolute favorite part of summer? The amount of reading I in which I get to indulge. Normally, on a regular old school-year day, I have a book going. I may get to read it for a minute or two throughout the day (maybe five if I lock the bathroom door…) and I read for as long as I can before my eyes get heavy before bed; but that’s about it for reading. You know how it is…there’s work to be done. But in summer? I have no problem with designating 2:30 – 4 as reading and quiet time. I grab a glass of lemonade or wine if I’m feeling feisty, hit the hammock with my Kindle and read. The best part? I don’t feel guilty! I’ve spent the rest of the day with the kids at the pool, at the park, playing catch, going to the library, folding laundry, cleaning, making dinner…you know the drill. So I have absolutely no problem giving myself that afternoon of bliss time. And if I happen to fall asleep in said hammock? Even better. Some of these books were so good there was no way I was drifting off to la-la land; others were good, but my heavy eyes won out.
P.S. Yes, I have read all these books in the past month. Yes, I’m a fast reader. Yes, I stay up way past my bedtime in the summer to read.

Buried Prey by John Sanford
If you like mysteries, you should read John Sanford’s “prey” series. They are centered around Lucas Davenport (who I imagine would look sort of like Patrick Dempsey with angrier eyes) who is a detective in Minneapolis. Each Prey book has a different mystery that he’s trying to solve. In Buried Prey, two girls’ bodies have been found under the foundation of a house. Lucas was on the case 20 years ago and is determined to find out who did it 20 years later. There aren’t really any twists or surprises but it’s still suspenseful as you feel as though you’re beside Lucas as he tries to catch the killer.

The Kid by Sapphire
This is the follow-up book to Precious by Sapphire. If you read Precious, you know these are difficult to read. Kid is about Precious’ son who is now an orphan after she dies of AIDS. Depressing, right? I have to be honest that I stopped about a third of the way through because I just didn’t want to be that depressed in summer. Sapphire’s writing is difficult to read to me; she writes as if she’s in the mind of the boy and sometimes it’s just strings of words or run-on sentences. It makes it difficult for me at times. I’m thinking I’ll come back to this one in February when my Seasonal Affective Disorder kicks in and I feel like I can’t get out of bed anyway. (Kidding! Sort of…)

Tell No One by Harlan Coben
Coben is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite authors. I’m kind of late to his party, I guess! I like his Myron Bolitar novels but he is not a main character in this book; his lawyer, strangely enough, is in this one. This is the story of Beck and Elizabeth who have been soulmates since the age of seven. She has been killed and he left for dead. Or has she? Eight years later some strange things start happening that make Beck think maybe she’s still alive. If so, why did she fake her death? If not, who is messing with him? It’s very suspenseful and very good. (Side note on something only I would notice: Coben uses the word “cliché” way too much in this book. It drove my crazy. But so do people who chew loudly so maybe it’s just me.)

Heart of the Matter Emily Giffin
Don’t hate me, but I’m not a big Emily Giffin fan. I don’t like love stories; I don’t really like “fluff”; I think her books are very predictable. But I tried this one anyway. It was fluffy but very good. It was very predictable and sappy but I read it from a different, kind of warped point of view. In a twisted way, I’m always fascinated by people who cheat. I just don’t get it. I don’t know how you could do that to someone. This book was really eye-opening in that it showed just how easily it can happen. The man is bored, feeling a little trapped by his mundane life, along comes a single mom, who happens to be sweet and gorgeous, and boom, it happens. It made me sad, actually. It was like a train wreck—I just couldn’t look away. I can’t say I liked the book; it made me angry and sad. But it was interesting. I’m not sure what I think of the ending. If you read it, drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Angel Falls Kristin Hannah
Kristin Hannah is the author of one of my all-time favorite books, Firefly Lane, so when my hairdresser said I had to read this one, I bought in on Amazon right away! Let me just warn you: major fluffiness ahead. I really enjoyed this book; Hannah does a great job of developing her characters, even the minor ones, so that you are invested in them, even if the story is a bit cheesy. The plot, I’m a little sad to say, was a bit like a soap opera. But the characters are good, damn good. The main character, Liam, is so wonderful you are cheering for him the whole way through. I can’t tell you too much without giving major plot twists away, but basically Liam and his family suffer a major tragedy and secrets are revealed and possibly unravel a picture-perfect life. It’s mind-candy, as my Mom says. Easy to read and fun but not anything that will make your Top 10 list.

No Second Chance by Harlan Coben
I said earlier that Coben is one of my favorite authors. I’m sorry to say this was not one of my favorite books. I read the whole thing hoping there was more to the story, but there wasn’t. It felt like a movie that should have been 45 minutes and they stretched it out to two hours. You know what I mean? In the opening scene, a man is shot, his wife killed and their baby kidnapped. Sounds thrilling, right? But it’s just…slow. And the twists and surprises weren’t all that…surprising. It was an easy ready but it was not a favorite.

10th Anniversary James Patterson
Oh James Patterson and your two-page chapters and mind-candy books…how I love thee. I love that I can start one of his books and usually finish it by the end of the day. I love how after 20 minutes of reading, and because his chapters are so short, I can proudly say “I’m on Chapter 42!”. This was the 10th book in the Women’s Murder Club series and it was good. Not great, not thrilling, but good. I felt as thought the main story, a teenage girl who is found after giving birth but without the baby, ended up being a side story. It was weird how he wove all the little and big plots together. It didn’t seem to fit right. But I love the characters, good old Lindsay Boxer and crew, so I read on. It was decent. I’m hoping 11 is better.

Can you Keep a Secret? By Sophie Kinsella
I feel similarly about Kinsella as I do about Giffin. A little too cheesy, too fluffy, too lovey-dovey. But I read it anyway because the People Magazine reviewer said it was worthwhile. (What? Where do you get your news from?) You know what? It was cheesy, fluffy and lovey-dovey but I really, really liked it. I guess I was in the mood for it. Emma is a late 20-something who feels like a big loser. She has no career, no money and an ok boyfriend that she’s considering moving in with just to have something new to do. She is on her way home from an important business meeting that she botched and gets upgraded to first class on the plane. The plane hits major turbulence, she thinks she’s going to die, and spills all of her secrets, big and small, to her seatmate, who also happens to be devastatingly handsome. You’ll have to read more to see what else happens because I don’t want to give anything away, but you won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for a classic beach read.

Remember Me? Also by Sophie Kinsella
A 25-year-old quasi-loser nicknamed “Snaggletooth” gets into a car accident and wakes up with amnesia; she can’t remember the last 3 years of her life. The last 3 years in which she became uber-rich, married a Ken doll and became “The Cobra” a.k.a. “The Bitch Boss from Hell” at her job! The rest of the book uncovers what the hell happened to this woman and how she became this new, and entirely different, person. Another great beach read! I couldn’t wait until her memory came back…or does it?

One Summer David Baldacci
Cheesy? Check. Love story? Check. Tragedy? Check. Love story #2 and 3? Check. Did I read it anyway? Check. It was…ok. I haven’t read much of Baldacci’s books to know if this is his norm or not. I liked his writing and development of characters but the story was just way too cheesy. Now I feel like Coben with his overuse of “cliché”; maybe I shouldn’t judge.

The Weight of Silence Heather Gudenkauf
I had just read These Things Hidden and loved it, and one of my book buddies said she couldn’t put this one down, so I jumped right in. Totally worth it! The little girl who is the main character in the story doesn’t speak. At all. She did until the age of four and then she stopped. I was dying to know why! She and her best friend disappear in the woods and the entire book is about finding them while also weaving in very intriguing back stories. The ending was heart-wrenching and not predictable. I love the way Gudenkauf writes, develops her characters and develops her plot. This was one of my favorites so far this summer.

Smokin’ Seventeen Janet Evanovich
Raise your Cluck-in-a-bucket if you love yourself some Stephanie Plum and crew! I just love when these books finally come out. I couldn’t wait to read this one. These books in the Plum series are hoo-lar-i-ous. I laugh out loud throughout the whole book; so much so that Matt will keep asking “Aren’t you reading a book?” This one does not disappoint and was much funnier (more funny?) than the last couple of books in this series. Grandma and Lula do not disappoint in the laugh-out-loud department. The Ranger and Morelli saga also continues which is always enjoyable. She leaves you hanging at the end though. We don’t have to wait long…18 comes out in November!

That’s it for now. I’d love to hear what you’re reading, or your take on any of the books I’ve read, in the comments.

Off to the hammock…

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4 responses to “Hammock Reads

  1. I agree with you that Kinsella and Griffin are fluffy, but sometimes I just have to mix it up. Sometimes it is great to just read something fun, something you can finish in a day and a half, something that makes you laugh. I really like the Shopholic books from Kinsella (nothing like the movie) and I loved Something borrowed by Griffin. I read a book that you may like it is called Room. But I have no idea who wrote it. If you read it let me know what you think.

  2. I love that quote by Anne Lamott (one of my fav writers). Glad you are getting some reading in during your vaca.

    What I am reading now? Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Lisa See);
    State of Wonder (Ann Patchett); Devotion (Dani Shapiro); Same Kind of Different As Me (Ron Hall).

    Happy reading!

  3. I heart Stephanie Plum! Who do you think she should end up with, Morelli or Ranger??

  4. Getting through my summer reads too :) Gotta love summer vacations at the cabin where there’s nothing much else to do!!!

    I finished The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters – a possible good novel to freak you out. Then the story just kind of drops off. It had good potential but it was almost like Waters just didn’t know how to finish it.

    I also read One Summer. Jane loves Baldacci but has only ever read his thriller novels. She loves them. I cried a bunch during this book just because. I felt the characters could have been more well developed. It was far too predictable for my tastes. I read it in a day.

    Currently I’m reading The Art of Saying Goodbye by Ellyn Bache. So far it’s a very complex story about a woman dying from cancer and the struggles her friends go through. It isn’t sad. It really is just about how people handle these things differently and about how life goes on. I’m about half way through and am finding it a good read.

    I’m hoping to finish my other two novels from the library before they’re due back since they are new reads for the summer so I can’t renew them!

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