The FF Reads | Summer Books

August 29, 2019

It's officially official! I completed my reading challenge for 2019!

I met my goal of 10 books for the year with four months to spare. Remember when I said I chose 10 because I didn't want to feel too much pressure to achieve a goal that was supposed to be fun? Well it WAS  fun! I spent more of my free time reading instead of scrolling through my phone or watching TV.

That amount may seem extremely small to avid readers, but I have truthfully never been big on reading leisurely. I'm very particular about the kind of books I like and I also prefer to write instead, so dedicating myself to this goal was a little risky. I'm SO glad I decided to do it though; quality reading time is one of my new favorite things.  Maybe next year I should kick it up to 12?!

Here are the books I read this summer to meet my goal:

This book was featured in a few magazines before it released and most articles said it was a "must-read" for the summer. Because I'm a sucker for stars and pretty book covers, it caught my attention and I bought it from Amazon on its release date. A love story based on astrology sounded just like something I would enjoy.

Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke is a story about a girl and a boy, but also about a world even bigger than that. Justine (Sagittarius) and Nick (Aquarius) are childhood friends whose families grew up together. Life happens and they lose touch, but bump into each other again as adults. Justine is working for the local paper, the Star, and Nick is an aspiring actor AND a firm believer in astrology and all things concerning the stars. As Justine gains more responsibility at work and ends up with the horoscopes in her inbox each week, she takes editing to a whole new level and adds creative twists to Aquarius in hopes to capture Nick's attention. Along the way, a whole cast of characters is woven into the story to show that fate is in fact in the hands of the stars.

When I began reading Star-Crossed, I was immediately annoyed because I didn't realize it took place in Australia and I struggle reading books that have a different dialect. I almost stopped reading, but I'm really glad I didn't because this was one of the best books I've read. The dialect was a tad difficult, but I didn't feel completely lost at any point, which is important. Not only do I love the tale of Nick and Justine, but all of the other stories that are sprinkled in. All the little paragraphs about different people seem odd at first, but they all have connections to each other in the end. It was a unique story about the lengths we'll go to for love, the trust we put in the stars and the realization that what we're looking for may be right in front of us, and I was swooning with every passing chapter.

"'Astrology provides the comforting illusion that these external forces can be known,' Alison said. 'While at the same time reminding us that they are far beyond us, and far greater than us.' 'It's a mystery,' Roma added. 'With just a hint,' Alison said, 'of magic.'" 

I give it a: 5/5

When browsing new books for the summer on Goodreads, I came across this recent release. The cover is literally the cutest with its bright blue background, gold lettering and pink details. I read the synopsis and picked it up at Barnes and Noble because I was sold as soon as they mentioned Chinese food.

A story about three generations of women, Natalie Tan's Book of Luck & Fortune is told from Natalie's point of view, a 20-something woman who returns home after learning her mother has died. Home is Chinatown in San Francisco, where Natalie lived her whole life until she decided to leave and see the world. Her mother, Miranda, suffered from agoraphobia and her father left long ago, leaving Natalie stuck taking care of her mom until she was old enough to leave. As she arrives back home feeling guilty for not being there, Natalie learns she's inherited her grandmother's restaurant in the disintegrating Chinatown neighborhood. She decides to reopen the restaurant as she receives her grandma's book full of recipes that have healing capabilities. She is tasked with cooking dishes to help her neighbors and restore their home, but when the plan falls apart, Natalie learns that it is her recipes that have the new healing powers her surroundings needed.

Although this was a good story about finding yourself after a major loss, I did find it to be really strange with its mythological-like references. When a character would eat Natalie's food, the author described in deep detail what would happen to the character, such as light bursting out of their chest, etc. I'm not a huge fan when a writing style switches from storytelling to something more unrealistic. I also found myself aggravated with how repetitive Natalie's character was. She always had the same worries and it was constantly repeated when she would talk to herself from chapter to chapter. I did enjoy the cultural references and learning more about Chinatown in San Francisco. This wasn't my favorite book, but it was, to put it simply, interesting. 

“Anything worth having involves some measure of pain and work. Because of this, you will treasure it more.” 

I give it a: 3/5

Since I LOVED From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein, this book was recommended to me by Goodreads. I hadn't heard of Alyssa Mastromonaco before, but she sounded really funny and insightful, so I gave it a shot.

Another memoir from inside the White House, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?  is the hilarious autobiography about Alyssa's life and experience working for Barack Obama, from his role as senator to president. Although she didn't work for Obama through the entire duration of his presidency, she spent almost a decade working for him, ultimately serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the White House. She was the youngest woman to be appointed the position and worked on projects such as scheduling speeches to coordinating disaster relief efforts during hurricane Katrina and Sandy. Alyssa's job was HARD, and lucky for readers, she's very transparent about that. But she's also incredibly funny and sprinkles her humor and downright awesome Obama stories throughout the book. It's a story about working hard, making connections and learning when to let go.

Let me start off by saying that this book was SO. GOOD. I love these types of books from women who worked under Obama because they're FUN and INSPIRING and always find a way to make your heart feel all mushy; NOT because they're political. The stories Alyssa shared about Obama, like when she was doing sit ups in her office and Obama said "good for you," or when Obama called to offer his condolences about Alyssa's cat passing away; these are the stories that I WANT to hear. Alyssa is so funny, and even though she doesn't have it all figured out, she gives great life advice throughout each chapter that make her personality very relatable. I'd recommend this one a million times.

“I don't remember seeing what other people had and wanting them. I remember specific moments when I just felt content, and I still am. I think that even at a young age, I had a sense that life was what you make of it. That, and the confidence that jelly donuts are about the best thing on Earth. The two things are probably related; if a $1 jelly donut makes you really, really happy, you can get through a lot with a little.”

I give it a: 5/5

Just because I completed my challenge doesn't mean I'll stop reading for the year! I'll keep you posted on the latest from my bookshelf.

On to the next,

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