Book Reviews: That Summer, All the Light we Cannot See & The Last Thing He Told Me

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Goodreads blurb: Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful; her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy? From the manicured Main Line of Philadelphia to the wild landscape of the Outer Cape, written with Jennifer Weiner’s signature wit and sharp observations, THAT SUMMER is a story about surviving our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of friendship. 

My take: 3.5 out of 5. I kind of miss the Jennifer Weiner of my college years. I was obsessed with her books and I still consider her one of my favorite writers (i preordered this book a long time ago). However I’m not sure I’m a fan of her new more mystery genre. Like Lisa Jewel I think her books have taken a pivot, which makes sense, but i think Lisa is doing it more successfully. This was a good book, don’t get me wrong but its below expectations. Also it is definitely not a romance book. Do not get fooled by the mix of the name + author. More than it not being a romance this is pretty much on the other end of the scale, a #metoo inspired reckoning of sexual abuse and female relationships. It is an interesting story, you just need to be in the mindframe for it, which for me it took a bit of time to get into and that’s why its not as highly marked.

All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Goodreads blurb: Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

My take: 4.5 out of 5. I bought this book a long time ago when it came out given all its praise and I never got into it. This month a friend chose it for book club so i decided to delve into it again. It was not an easy start. The first half of the book was hard and i kept leaving it behind. However once i got into it, I was into it and I was thoroughly invested in Marie Laure and Werner. IT is beautiful and sad all at the same time, which couldn’t be a better description of what we are as humans. I love historical fiction and this is a beautiful example of it, in that you can get lost in the humanity without loosing the lessons

The Last thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Goodreads blurb: We all have stories we never tell.
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her.

Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother. As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared. Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated

My take: 4 out of 5. This book surprised me. It was not what I expected and I enjoyed it so much. It seemed straight forward once i started but it is anything but, and i got sucked into the mystery and quite surprised by some of the turns. Is is the best book I’ve read this year, no, but it is a great solid mystery to dig your teeth into.

I’ve read some great non fiction fare this month as well that I highly recommend!

Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day by Jay Shetty

Goodreads blurb: When you think like a monk, you’ll understand:
– How to overcome negativity
– How to stop overthinking
– Why comparison kills love
– How to use your fear
– Why you can’t find happiness by looking for it
– How to learn from everyone you meet
– Why you are not your thoughts
– How to find your purpose
– Why kindness is crucial to success
– And much more…

Shetty grew up in a family where you could become one of three things—a doctor, a lawyer, or a failure. His family was convinced he had chosen option three: instead of attending his college graduation ceremony, he headed to India to become a monk, to meditate every day for four to eight hours, and devote his life to helping others. After three years, one of his teachers told him that he would have more impact on the world if he left the monk’s path to share his experience and wisdom with others. Heavily in debt, and with no recognizable skills on his résumé, he moved back home in north London with his parents.

Shetty reconnected with old school friends—many working for some of the world’s largest corporations—who were experiencing tremendous stress, pressure, and unhappiness, and they invited Shetty to coach them on well-being, purpose, and mindfulness. Since then, Shetty has become one of the world’s most popular influencers. In 2017, he was named in the Forbes magazine 30-under-30 for being a game-changer in the world of media. In 2018, he had the #1 video on Facebook with over 360 million views. His social media following totals over 38 million, he has produced over 400 viral videos which have amassed more than 8 billion views, and his podcast, On Purpose, is consistently ranked the world’s #1 Health and Wellness podcast.

In this inspiring, empowering book, Shetty draws on his time as a monk to show us how we can clear the roadblocks to our potential and power. Combining ancient wisdom and his own rich experiences in the ashram, Think Like a Monk reveals how to overcome negative thoughts and habits, and access the calm and purpose that lie within all of us. He transforms abstract lessons into advice and exercises we can all apply to reduce stress, improve relationships, and give the gifts we find in ourselves to the world. Shetty proves that everyone can—and should—think like a monk.

Think Again by Adam Grant

Goodreads blurb: Think Again is a book about the benefit of doubt, and about how we can get better at embracing the unknown and the joy of being wrong. Evidence has shown that creative geniuses are not attached to one identity, but constantly willing to rethink their stances and that leaders who admit they don’t know something and seek critical feedback lead more productive and innovative teams.

New evidence shows us that as a mindset and a skilllset, rethinking can be taught and Grant explains how to develop the necessary qualities to do it. Section 1 explores why we struggle to think again and how we can learn to do it as individuals, arguing that ‘grit’ alone can actually be counterproductive. Section 2 discusses how we can help others think again through learning about ‘argument literacy’. And the final section 3 looks at how schools, businesses and governments fall short in building cultures that encourage rethinking.

In the end, learning to rethink may be the secret skill to give you the edge in a world changing faster than ever

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