All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
Trigger warning: Rape (with some graphic content).
Jenny Kramer is brutally raped at a party. A few hours later, she is given a controversial drug that erases her memory of the assault. However, she still has emotional memory of the assault and finds it hard to function. This novel is told from the perspective of Jenny's psychiatrist as they work together to piece back her memory. It started out a bit slow (and bit repetitive at times) but turned into a great psychological thriller. I loved the way it was told, and the last 30 percent of the book was so good I read way past my bedtime. If you like psychological thrillers (and can handle a little graphic content), this one is definitely worth a read!
Swear on This Life: A Novel by Renee Carlino
Wow. It's been a long time since I've felt this emotional while reading a book. I knew Renee Carlino could write after reading Before We Were Strangers, but this book is a million times better. The story captivated me from the first page. Emiline, a creative writing professor living in San Diego and struggling with her own writing, is recommended a debut novel from J.Colby. From the first page, Emiline realizes the novel is written about her by the boy who was everything to her growing up...who she hasn't seen in 12 years. The past and present is intertwined perfectly with a book within a book format. As you read the book with Emiline, you get to see Emiline and Jase's love develop, and you truly feel all the pain Emiline experienced growing up. The book absolutely consumed me-I could think of nothing else until I finished. It's not perfect. There were several things that bothered me, and the ending felt a bit rushed, but it's five stars for me based on how emotionally invested I got and how much I want to tell everyone I know about it.
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
I struggled with how to review this thriller. On one hand, it kept me up reading late into the night. On the other hand, it didn't feel very suspenseful to me. You find out what's going on early in the book, so the rest of it is Grace's reaction and what she plans to do about it. I honestly think most people will like it more than I did. For some reason, I just felt like something was missing.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Even though I've read a lot of World War II historical fiction (and non-fiction), I feel like every time I pick up a WWII book, I learn something new. I had never heard of Caroline Ferriday and barely knew anything about the Ravensbrück "Rabbits." The thing that stands out to me about this book is a decent chunk of the story occurs after the war is over. It was interesting (and heartbreaking) to read a book that truly showed how difficult it was to glue a life back together after such unimaginable trauma. If you are a fan of WWII historical fiction, I think Lilac Girls is worth a read.
With Love from the Inside by Angela Pisel
This is a story of Grace, who is on death row after being accused of killing her infant son, and Sophie, her daughter, who believed her mother was guilty until she discovers evidence that changes everything. It's a unique premise that's both beautiful and heartbreaking.
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
I have always wanted to read a Colleen Hoover book. In fact, I have several of her books that have been hanging out on my Kindle for years waiting to be read. After reading It Ends with Us, I think I need to move them up higher on my list. I went into this book not knowing much about it. I thought it was just a love story. It's not just a love story. It's beautiful, heartbreaking, raw, and truly eye-opening. Even before I got to the Author's Note, I could tell the author had experience with the topic from the way it was written. I started this book blindly, and I don't want to give anything away because I think that's the best way to read it. You go into it not knowing anything and come out shaken by this powerful read.
Side note: This won't bother most people, but I get annoyed when authors make one of their characters a doctor and then don't do their research. In the first chapter of the book, Ryle moved to Boston two months prior for his neurosurgery residency. A few chapters later, it says he's almost done with residency. A neurosurgery residency lasts seven years. Then, when he buys Lily expensive things, he says it's OK because he's a doctor. Residents usually make somewhere between 40-60k a year (with the higher amount occurring towards the end of their residency). OK, rant over. I just really hate when books misrepresent what residency is like.
The Last One by Alexandra Olivia
I liked the idea of this book: a survival reality show during which a post-apocylptic event happens and one of the contestants has a hard time determining facts from fiction. I know you have to suspend your beliefs a bit in dystopian fiction, but I had a hard time believing it would take the main character that long to figure out that everything that happened wasn't part of the show. I also really didn't like the ending. Overall, it was still a decent read. I'm just not sure that it's memorable.
How to Party with an Infant by Kau Hart Hemmings
I was pretty disappointed in How to Party with an Infant. It started out well with Mele's story, but I think there were so many characters that you couldn't really get attached to any of them. Also since I'm not a mom yet, I don't think I could relate to the story really well. It was a quick read, but I thought it would be funnier and that I would like the characters more.
Collecting the Dead by Spencer Kope
This is the first book in a new series, but it can be read as a stand alone novel. It's about FBI tracker Magnus "Steps" Craig, who has a special ability to see others' imprints at places they have been (he calls it shine). In this first book, he tracks down a serial killer by following his shine. This is a fast-paced thriller with great characters. I loved both Steps and his partner, Jimmy. I will definitely be picking up the next book in this series!
Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon
Mystic Summer is a great summer read about a woman figuring out what's important in life after she gets laid off from her job. Mystic, Connecticut sounds like such a gorgeous summer destination (of course I had to Google it!) and was the perfect setting for the story. I really liked both Maggie and Cameron and felt for all the changes in their lives since they first dated. It's not amazing literature, but it would work well for a fun beach read!
Favorite reads in August: Swear on This Life, It Ends with Us, Lilac Girls, and All Is Not Forgotten