Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Book Reviews - Women's Friendships, Wresting, True Crime, and Other Random Topics I Read On

Okay, y'all, I'm back with another quartet. I'm not going to pretend I read on a theme. I will tell you that this was an especially strong quartet when it comes to books that captivated me. They were ones I found myself reading quickly because I needed to know what happened, and I was so drawn in my the humans involved. This is another round where one or more of these should speak to a variety of people.

One Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak was just the quintessential "beach read." I feel like Brenda Novak is one of those authors I always see with books in this genre, but have never read. When the opportunity came from Mira Books via NetGalley to read, I decided to take the time to finally check her out. And y'all, I'm so glad I did. This is the story of three adult half-sisters, but here's the thing - They are just now finding out the others exist. After taking a genetic test, they are connected with one another. They decide to spend some time together at Serenity's (one of the sisters) family cabin. Reagan, Lorelei and Serenity head to the cabin to build their relationship. In addition to the emotion of finding new family, they are each navigating something pretty big in their personal and/or professional life. The story then alternates between each of their stories as they get to know one another, but also explore what they want for themselves. I loved that this was a book that had three women as main characters and really, really developed their stories. I loved the depth they were each given, and the complexities of what was shared. I found I became invested in all three of their stories, and I needed to know how it ended up for them. While it was heavy at times given the situations, I also found this was a light read. It was something I could sit outside with and get lost in, and I really needed that. 

The Holdout by Graham Moore was a book I could not put down. It was the first book I got when my library reopened, and I then proceeded to read it over the course of a day. The story focuses on a high profile case and its jury. Ten years ago, high school teacher Bobby Nock was found not guilty of the murder of his student Jessica Silver. A primary reason for this acquittal was juror Maya Seale. Maya believed in Bobby's innocence and persuaded her other jurors to acquit him of this crime. Ten years later, the jury has been brought together for a reunion. Then, one of the jurors is murdered, and Maya is the primary suspect. From there, the story just goes. I don't want to give too many details because the excitement of the ride is seeing what develops. The story goes between the present with what has happened to Maya and the past with the story of each juror. As you can imagine, there are some secrets and lies in the mix, and those come into play as Maya works to prove that she is not responsible for the murder. These kind of books are generally my jam, and I'm a big fan of the writing of Graham Moore (see The Last Days of Night), so this was definitely something I dug. I loved how fast-paced it was, all the twists and turns, and then that there were even more twists and turns. As I often say, I regularly just need a good thriller in my life, and this was it.

Drawing Down the Moon by Shawn Keller Cooper was a book I found my way to as it was the selection for my online book club, and y'all, I'm so, so glad I did. This was such a wonderful story about women - how they grieve, how they connect, and how they learn to move forward. The story focuses on Jade who has retreated to James Island after suffering a third miscarriage and struggling in her marriage. She retreats to this place because she is struggling, and she attempts suicide. Her attempt is not successful, and she she finds connection with a woman named Agnes. Agnes starts to explore her emotional journey and reality, and this is some tough stuff. Additionally, 20 years earlier, Jade and two sorority sisters had agreed to a reunion. This is the time that is supposed to happen. These two women show up with their own stories and struggles. Additionally, there are longstanding wounds from previous situations that the women have never resolved. Y'all, this is a beautiful story centering women. For one, it talks about struggles of women, including infertility, that aren't always put into stories. It also talks about women's friendship and all those evolve, how they connect, and how they can vary across the lifespan. This was a book that was authentic and raw and so honest. I absolutely loved the way in which emotion was explored and explained through these women. 

The Eighth Wonder of the World: The True Story of Andre the Giant by Bertrand Hebert and Pat Laprage was one of the most comprehensive biographies I've ever read. The lengths these authors went to research and tell Andre's story was incredible. What I especially appreciated was that they even looked at previous media to check its accuracy. Often we just accept what has been written as truth, and surprise, that doesn't always work. This also looks at Andre as not just a wrestler, but also as a human. I liked that they took the time to not just do a retrospective on his career, but to help explain who he was a person, including his relationships, his health struggles, and what he wanted to do beyond just being in the ring. I will say this has a lot of information, and it's a lot to digest. Again, that's not a bad thing, but I when I say comprehensive, I mean comprehensive y'all. Thanks to ECW Press for the early look at this. I'm a bit behind in reading, but the advantage for y'all is that I can tell you this is out now, and for pro wrestling fans (and other people, too), it's worth checking out! Thanks to ECW Press for giving me early access to this book that's available now!

Onto the next ones!