July 2019 Reading List

My favorite book reader is back today (taking a break from wedding content this week as I assume you've already had enough lol) with her July reads! For those who are new, Ashby is one of my BFFs in the city and she reads the best books. We used to share fun reads all the time but with my schedule getting a wee bit busy she has taken over the monthly reviews and is coming with some hot reads!

Hey hey! 

Welcome back to another round of Books-By-Ashby! This month was a real smorgasbord partially thanks to the fact that I went to Europe ill-prepared and was forced to peruse my mother’s Kindle account. 

We usually read all of the same books but lately, she has upped her game into more of a serious, historical and educational vibe, which wasn’t really what I was looking for while sipping rosé on the beaches of the Mediterranean. I usually lean towards the psychological thriller or at least a trashy beach read while on vacation but beggars can’t be choosers so here we are: 

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted (C+) 

I definitely recommend this if you enjoy a nice, slooowwww, simple book about a nice, slow, simple farmer who lives in the Australian Outback. Tom Hope is a lackluster farmer who’s only real joy in life was when his ex-wife suddenly left her child from another man on his doorstep and ran off, leaving him to raise the boy. 

Unfortunately, she changed her mind just as Tom was starting to get the hang of the whole father thing and took the child back, causing Tom’s heart to break all over again. His small town is shaken up by the arrival of a quirky Hungarian woman named Hannah who is opening up a bookshop and he is immediately drawn to her. 

I will say that I was barely paying attention to this book when all of a sudden you find out that Hannah is a Holocaust survivor (not a spoiler) and there are several intense flashbacks to her experience. NOW I am paying attention! Obviously, my interest perked up after that and the rest of the story ends up being quite heartwarming. I can’t say that I’d recommend anyone run to their nearest bookstore to grab this but if you happen to be on the French Riviera and have no other options, I say go for it! 

Orhan’s Inheritance (A-) 

Here we have another pretty intense historical fiction book but instead of the Holocaust, it centers on the Armenian Genocide (now do you see what I mean by the opposite of vacation reads?!). I am embarrassed to say that I was not very familiar with this horrible event outside of the Kardashian’s talking about it but after this book, you better believe I read several articles and am now very well-read on the subject thank you very much. 

Absolutely terrible is pretty much the gist. Anyways – this is the story of Orhan and his inheritance (shocker I know). Orhan’s grandfather Kemal, whom he was very close to, recently passed away leaving the family business to Orhan, much to his delight. The family estate, however, is left to a strange woman who lives in an Armenian retirement home in Los Angeles, causing the rest of the family to be outraged. No one knows who this woman is and what her connection to Kemal was, so Orhan volunteers to travel to the US to speak with her. 

Her story turns out to be very tragic, detailing her experience with being an Armenian girl living in Turkey in 1914 and how the Turkish government rounded up all of the Armenians and marched them to their death in the Syrian Desert, where very few survived. Hers is a story of resilience, tragedy, and love. The ending connection was a bit rushed in my opinion but I did end up liking this book much more than I was expecting to. 

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (B) 

Guys the history lessons just don’t stop coming! I will say that while I didn’t quite make it to any museums in Europe, I did leave feeling verrryyyy educated! So Hamilton. He has really been a hot topic these past few years thanks to Lin Manuel Miranda. I saw the play and loved it and then read all of the lyrics to the songs just in case I missed anything so in general, I feel pretty up to date on this guy. 

This story was told from the perspective of his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton which felt like a nice twist. Essentially, this is a full-blown play by play history book starting a few years before Eliza and Alexander met, ending with a widowed Eliza in her 80s. The most interesting aspect was how Eliza comes to terms with the fact that while Alexander was a profound leader during the creation of our country, he had many flaws and was the center of a few scandals along the way. 

I did find Eliza to be very smug and oblivious when things started to go wrong so I didn’t feel as bad for her as I probably should have during some of the parts. I also found it wildly interesting to read about how polarizing political parties existed even at the outset of the country. Obviously, in 2019, we are in a political climate that is extremely polarized with so much dissent (which I personally find very sad). 

I never stopped to think about how when we gained our freedom from the British, two parties immediately emerged – one heavily suspecting of a strong central government (because of the whole dominating King thing that they had PTSD from) and the other believing that the new country would never succeed without a central government. It must have been such a scary landscape to navigate knowing that everyone would never be satisfied and how that division is even more prevalent now seeing how the country is so split down the middle on many issues. 

The Death of Mrs. Westaway (A-) 

Ahhhh back to the safe haven that is a good old fashioned thriller. Written by a crowd favorite, Ruth Ware no less! Woohoo! I have a love-hate relationship with Ruth Ware because I have VERY high expectations from her and rarely are the lived up to. 

The Woman in Cabin 10 started us off very strong but I literally quit reading In a Dark, Dark Wood because it was so terrible and The Lying Game was fine I guess. I went into this one a little guarded but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The interesting thing about this was that I was on edge the entire time trying to anticipate the twist when honestly it was relatively straightforward. 

I think I ruined the experience a bit with getting too ahead of myself (ugh). In a nutshell, a poor down on her luck gal named Hal receives a letter saying that she stands to inherit a generous sum from her recently deceased grandmother. Hal immediately thinks that they have the wrong person but she is so desperate for money that she decides to travel to the family estate to try to claim the inheritance anyway. If you actually read this and think that the inheritance is a mistake like Hal does, then you should probably wisen up. 

I rolled my eyes immediately and was like ok obviously she is the right person but HOW does she connect with the family, which is the real mystery that needs solving. I am not even sorry if this is a small spoiler because I expect all of our readers to be smarter than that! The ending gets pretty fast-paced with a few twists and turns so you do have to pay attention but it was definitely worth the read!

The Night Before (B) 

Let me set the scene for this one. I was reading the hard backed version of this and had about 10% left to go after leisurely reading it for the better part of a week. I was enjoying it and couldn’t wait for the big crescendo plot twists that all of these thrillers have when it suddenly was time for Mike and me to leave for the airport for our European vacation. 

Bringing a giant hard backed book that I was going to finish in 20 minutes for the entire trip was obviously not an option so I was forced to sit on the couch and speed read the ending while Mike literally stood over me demanding that I read faster so we could leave. What a nightmare. Needless to say, I caught the gist of what happened but ended up a little confused since I didn’t have time to properly digest what I had read. Sort of a waste of a book if you ask me but oh well! 

For a quick summary: Laura has retreated to her sister Rosie’s home in Connecticut after yet another breakup that has left her devastated. She tries to pick herself back up by going on a date with a guy she meets online. The next morning Laura hasn’t returned home and Rosie is immediately terrified by what may have happened to Laura but also what may have happened to the guy, based on Laura’s sketchy past. 

The chapters alternate back and forth between the present and the night of the date slowly revealing the sequence of events. Again, not a super stand out book but definitely entertaining and sucks you in wondering what happened.

For more book reviews from Ashby + myself, you can click here!

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