Happy Thursday, friends! First up, thank you so much for the love on our GxHSP Cavallo Dress! I’m thrilled you love the colors and prints, and can’t wait for you to get your dress and see it in person! I’ve actually been wearing mine around the house lately… it’s pretty much my new ‘house dress.’
It makes me feel more like myself, but is still super comfy. Plus, I’m always Zoom-ready with the cute ruffled neck! And don’t forget to use code SUGARPLUM25 to save 25% and receive free shipping!
One of the best things about spending so much time at home, is the chance to reintroduce one of my favorite pastimes… reading! Since I was an only-child for 16 years, books were oftentimes my best friends. I love nothing more than getting lost in a story, and can’t tell you the number of times I’ve stayed up all night to finish one.
But when life gets busy, the things we do for ourselves often take a back seat… and for me, that was reading. Sure I’d read a book on beach vacations, but often times they collected dust on my nightstand, deserted by my good intentions.
Then came quarantine, plus my desire to get off my freaking phone… and BAM, I was back to books! And today I’m excited, and honestly, a little nervous, to bring you my first book review! Books are so subjective, and no two people will have the same thoughts, feelings and opinions about a book. But never-the-less, I love reading other book reviews, and have discovered so many incredible reads through your recommendations.
So here’s a look at what I’ve been reading lately…
Definitely a mixed bag of topics, from heavy to light, but I like to mix it up! I love the feel of a real book in my hands, but have been turning to my Kindle Paperwhite more often. It’s crazy lightweight, waterproof, and so easy to read in all light! Even the beach (remember those?). Here’s a pic I snapped from our Mexico trip earlier this year… see how easy the text is to read, even in the bright sunlight?
The Dressmakers Gift by Fiona Valpy
I devour pretty much any World War 2 novel, and particularly love the ones based on true stories. I am so humbled and inspired by people who survive and thrive amidst incomprehensible adversity, so I love them in a book character. The Dressmakers Gift is set in war-torn Paris, overrun by Nazi soldiers, and follows the story of three incredibly brave women who live in the stuffy attic apartment above the couture book shop where they work.
They lead double lives designing clothes for wealthy German women, while secretly working with the resistance movement. The story is told through each of the three women, and I fell in love with their heroism, defiance and friendship, along with all the supporting characters who loved them fiercely.
The story begins in current time with one of the granddaughters, and flashes back as she discovers more of their history. I’m not usually a fan of moving between time periods, but I was enthralled with every aspect of their stories, and this book.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient is a psychological thriller about a glamorous couple… Alicia a complicated artist, Gabriel a famous photographer… and they’re desperately in love. Until she shoots him in the face five times and refuses to speak again! Alicia is sentenced to a psychological hospital outside London, where a psychotherapist, Theo, becomes obsessed with her case and is determined to make her speak again.
The story jumps between Theo and Alicia, with tons of twists and dark turns, and ends with a huge shocker. It started a little slow, and while the story was good, I found it easy to put down. I appreciated the ‘Sixth Sense‘ style ending, but was a tad annoyed for some reason. Thinking about it now, maybe I was more annoyed with myself for not figuring it out, ha! There is definitely a lot of hype around this book, and maybe that was a problem for me. It had too much to live up to!?
Beneath a Scarlett Sky by Mark Sullivan
Another riveting WW2 novel, Beneath a Scarlett Sky is based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Pino Lella. Pino is a vibrant 17-year old living in Italy when he’s suddenly thrust in to the middle of a ravaging war when Germany invades his hometown. He’s soon risking his life to help as many souls as physically possible escape through the Swiss Alps, then enlists as a German solider and becomes an Allied spy as the driver of Hitler’s Number 3 in command.
This fascinating true story of his life is written as fiction, and an easy, fast read. (Sometimes it’s a little elementary.) It starts a little slow, dwelling longer than necessary on the foundation, but Pino’s experiences left me gutted. His bravery and allegiance to his country is inspiring, and I found myself as invested in him, as I was in the author who gave up a decade of his life to find Pino’s truth. (I always read every word of a book, including author’s notes.)
Winter in Paradise and What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
After three heavy, nerve-racking books, I was ready for something light… and Elin Hilderbrand always delivers! She’s the queen of the summer read, and the reason why I’m desperate to go to Nantucket! Mama Sugarplum passed Winter in Paradise and What Happens in Paradise on to me, and I devoured them both in a weekend.
The books follow the story of Irene, who’s blissfully married with two grown sons, when she finds out her husband died in a helicopter crash off the coast of St. John, USVI. When she and her sons arrive in paradise, they discover her adoring husband of 30 years has been living a secret double life. The books weave between these three characters, along with several others living the idyllic island life.
The only problem is, these are only two books in a trilogy (the two don’t stand alone), and the third book isn’t being released until October! So while the story is great and fast-moving, you’ll be left with a cliffhanger until Fall. #boo But they transported me to the islands and I loved the escape.
Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand
This was also in my book swap with Mama Sugarplum, so in desperation to keep the ‘Paradise’ feeling going, I quickly moved on to Summer of ’69. This one is set in Hilderbrand’s Nantucket, but is more historical than her usual stories, as it follows four siblings and their mother who’s summer experiences the huge upheaval that was the late ’60s.
The superstar son is drafted to war, the perfect daughter finds herself pregnant in a miserable marriage, the wild child gets caught up in Civil Rights, and the teenage sister is stuck in an outdated house with her stern grandmother and worried mother. I liked some characters more than others, but was rooting for them all and couldn’t wait to see how they got through their tumultuous summer.
It wasn’t my favorite Hilderbrand novel to date, but I appreciated the historical setting.
As for what I’m reading next… I’ve got both of these books on my nightstand. Both seem a little heavy for early-Summer, but I’m here for it. Any tips on which I should read first?
As for other books running through our house… Mr. SP and I use this book as a conversation starter, One Question a Day for You & Me: Daily Reflections for Couples. It’s sometimes silly and trivial, and we usually do a batch of questions at a time (not daily), but it never fails to get us talking and make each other laugh.
I put This is Me: A Journal for Teens in Little Miss’s Easter basket, and she loves the prompts for journaling. I gave Welcome to Adulting, written by our former pastor who has a gift for encouraging and challenging young people, to Mr. College. I’m crossing my fingers he’ll read it, and I’ll probably swipe it from him for a read, too.
I subscribed to Kindle Unlimited last year and have found so many great reads that way! It’s less than $10 a month, so it pays for itself after one book! There are literally 1000s of titles to choose from, and new ones added every day. I’m going to try Audible next, and listen to books on my long walks…and hopefully someday soon, road trips!
Okay…your turn! Comment, share, discuss… what have you read lately? What are your thoughts on any of these books? What should I add to my list for this stay-at-home summer!?