I’m back, friends!! And it’s July!
I mean…I have so many rambling thoughts before we get to today’s PHENOMENAL book review. Phenomenal? Yes! Because I read the BEST books of the year to date this month. It’s an a-mazing line up, so sit tight!
First up, today is our sweet Samuel’s 2nd birthday!!
Oh my goodness! How is he already two? It just seem like yesterday that we were sleeping at the hospital with my entire family waiting for him to arrive. That still goes down as one of our best nights 🙂 . That sweet boy is TWO today, and we cannot wait to celebrate him this weekend!
Second thing…how is it already July? I’m a mix of emotions right now. This summer seems to be flying by and all I want it to do is slow down. The Shull Six has loads of fun stuff still in store for summer 2018…but time needs to stop just a bit.
Speaking of the Shull Six, we had the BEST time on our family vacation this year. There are TONS of pictures in your future. The best part? All the uninterrupted, un-plugged family time. That my friends, is priceless.
I know I say this every single time I take a little blogging break and return…but I honest to goodness miss you while I’m away. I think about you, I find things funny, interesting, spectacular when I’m gone and think “my friends need to know about that/hear about that”. You guys are such an important part of who I am, and I’m thankful to each and every one of you.
Third…guys, if you’re planning a Walt Disney World vacation for 2019, the rates are now officially out! #woohoo Email us and we can get you fixed up with the BEST vacation at WDW! firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂 . We love, love, love our Disney families!!
Okay, vacation pics coming up soon, but today, my JUNE BOOK REVIEW!
Spoiler alert: if I don’t name at least two of these as favorites for the entire year come December, I will be shocked. I read some AMAZING books, friends!
One month, some very long flights, and lots of downtime means I read six books for the month starting with…
Island Girls by Nancy Thayer.
It’s summer. Give me ALL the chick lit I can read. And Nancy Thayer never disappoints.
This sweet little novel is about three sisters all forced to return to Nantucket for a summer in order to claim their inheritance from their dad. This book is quintessential Thayer…strong female characters you love, complex families, descriptions of food that will make you want to run to the nearest gourmet market and stock up, and the beautiful setting of Nantucket. This was my first official read of the summer and it was PERFECTION. I loved all three sisters, I loved their friends/love interests, I thought the story was charming while also not being too obvious and I thought this was the PERFECT beach read. I loved this novel so much that I used Thayer as bookends for my month…I started and ended with her books because they are always the perfect reads this time of year. I would recommend this book to everyone from my girlfriend to my grandmother. Just easy.
The second book I read this month was a recommendation from you ladies last month…My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan. I don’t say this lightly…I cannot imagine this book not being in my top three for 2018. It was absolutely amazing. Friends! Thank you so much for suggesting this novel to me!!! Okay, I don’t want to give anything away…but this fictional tale gave me all the feels of The Royal We (a book I loved!) along with another very popular book (but if I say it…it will spoil it, so I won’t!). I could not put this one down, and it stayed with me long after the final page. This is about a young American woman, who after earning a Rhodes Scholarship, spends a year studying at Oxford. This reads like all of the chick lit I love BUT with some meat too. I found it very unpredictable, captivating, emotionally engaging, gripping and funny at the same time. It’s light and it’s heavy all at once. It was fantastic! You know how much I love chick lit…and it was that with a dash of something else too. Read it! I loved it.
Speaking of phenomenal books recommended last month by you ladies…Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge was a home run. This novel was nothing short of riveting, friends. I saw that several of you suggested it in the comment section of last month’s book review, so I looked it up on Amazon…it sounded kind of intriguing, so I bought it for my Kindle and didn’t really think much about it. Fast forward to the day I started reading it and before the first fourth of the book was even over, I told my girlfriends at the pool that it was most likely going to be in my top 3 for the year. It was captivating!
As soon as I finished it, I told Andrew it was one of the best books I’ve read. Ever. Thank you so much for suggesting it!!
In a nutshell, it’s a novel about two strangers who are plane crash survivors and how their stories unfold. This is not chick lit…this is just a fantastic piece of fiction full of depth with fate, hope, survival, and tenacity all woven into one fast-paced story. I honestly didn’t want it to end. I was completely caught up in both characters. Read this one! I was so surprised by how much I loved it!
Speaking of loving things…my very favorite author, Elin Hilderbrand released her much anticipated new novel the day we left for Scotland, and I read the entire thing on the flight over. Now, you know how much I love me some Hilderbrand…we all know that I should be the president of her fan club, and I liked this new one, The Perfect Couple, but it wasn’t my favorite (read last year’s The Identicals if this is your first time with Elin).
I know, I know, I know…when you’ve read like 20 books by the same author that you love so much, the bar is high. This novel reads less like the chick lit I love so much (she writes the BEST), and more like a “who done it”. Anyone else think that? It’s good, and I clearly read it quickly…but it was more “here’s a death at the very beginning of the book, now let’s find the killer” with the story told in a lot of flashbacks. Hilderbrand writes the best beach reads, and this one just wasn’t as light and carefree as she usually writes. So, if you’re over all the “chick lit”, you might actually love this one because it is a little more mystery than her typical novels. Of course, this novel also takes place in Nantucket (like all of her novels do) and is about a wedding weekend gone very wrong. This perfect family isn’t quite so perfect after all. I would love to hear what you thought about it too. I know there are many Elin Hilderbrand fans out there!
Annnnnnd book number five this month was ANOTHER recommendation by you from last month. Girls, you really knocked it out of the ballpark in May with your suggestions! After reading all of this fiction, I decided to read the memoir The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner. I don’t even feel adequate enough to review this one. It was brilliant. I have thought more about this book since I finished than any other book this year. It was tragic, hopeful, terrible, optimistic, and devastating all at once. Ruth describes growing up in the 1980’s in a polygamist compound in Mexico. Moved from her family in California, her mom and dad settled her and her siblings there to be raised in a very unique society. This story poignantly touches on everything from polygamy and its affects on families, sexual abuse to poverty, to dealing with family members who have psychiatric disabilities, physical disabilities, emotional problems, the death of loved ones and so much more. It is so well-written and so full of details and stories that will just tear at your heart. I still think about this one several times a day. It really from the bottom of my heart, moved me.
Whew! And wrapping up June…I needed a little lightness and happy after reading that last memoir, so I book-ended my month with another Nancy Thayer novel. #allthechicklitforsummer
Heat Wave is like my 400th Thayer book to read and it was just as delightful and easy to read as the first one this month. It was the perfect ending to a great lineup of books. This novel is about a young widow living on Nantucket (the predominate setting for my summer reading apparently) with her two daughters and how she navigates life with her in-laws, her friends, how she creates a new career for herself and of course, dips her toe back in the dating scene.
This book is just easy. If you need something light to read by the pool, the beach or on a plane this summer, pick this one up. Thayer just has a way with making me happy as I read her books. I promise you…there will be more Thayer books in my summer lineup.
Well, holy cow! What a way to come back from a two week blogging break, right?! Six books, all amazing, so many of them suggested by YOU and every last one of them a “must read” this summer.
I’m so happy to be home with you ladies again! I love this community so much. Thank you for showing up every day with me.
Okay…can you do it again? Can you recommend another stellar lineup of books like you did last month? Comment and tell me what I should be reading in July!! One of the best parts about summer is that I have extra time to read, so load me up with books that are a can’t miss.
See you tomorrow, friends! xo