Early this summer, I decided that I HAD to read a few of the older books on my Kindle. Most of them are books I got through the Amazon First Reads program over the last couple years. Monsoon Mansion was the oldest book I had waiting (published in May, 2018).
I didn't realize as I was first reading this that it was a memoir. Wow - crazy childhood! It makes me sad sometimes to find out how some children grow up, not realizing their parents are doing anything 'unusual.'
"Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been.
In this remarkable ode to survival, Cinelle creates something magical out of her truth—underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family—and what it takes to grow up."
Overall, I'd give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. I still think about parts of this book and feel terrible that her childhood was like this, but glad that she was able to make something so intriguing out of it.
Losing Brave by Bailee Madison & Stefne Miller
I read this book to review for Books I Think You Should Read, so check out my full review there. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.
"Lost in the mystery and turmoil of her sister’s disappearance, Payton must overcome the aftermath of being the one left behind. She’s unable to remember even the smallest piece of what happened the day Dylan vanished. When sudden and reckless outbursts throw her from the graces of popularity to the outskirts of high school society, her new status attracts a crowd of friends she never anticipated—including a troubling romance with her sister’s boyfriend, Cole.
New clues unearth about the circumstances of her disappearance when another missing girl’s body is recovered from a nearby lake, the victim’s features eerily similar to Dylan’s. The more Payton pries open the clenches of her blocked memories, yielding to her need to know what happened, the further down the path of danger she goes. The darkness around her sister’s disappearance grows and the truth becomes more and more unbearable. And what she finds might just cost her her life."
Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King
This was another book that had been on my Kindle for a long time. I wasn't really sure what to expect when I read the description/summary. It ended up being a great suspense-filled story of family secrets finally coming to light. I'd give it 3.75 out of 5 stars.
"Single mother Maisey Addington has always fallen short of her own mother’s expectations—never married, a bit adrift, wasting her high IQ on dead-end jobs. The only thing Maisey’s sure she’s gotten right is her relationship with her twelve-year-old daughter, Elle…until a phone call blows apart the precarious balance of their lives. Maisey’s mother is in a coma, and her aging father faces charges of abuse and neglect.
Back at her childhood home, Maisey must make a heartrending life-or-death decision. Her confused father has destroyed family records, including her mother’s final wishes. Searching for answers, Maisey uncovers one unspeakable secret after another when she stumbles upon a shattering truth: a twin sister named Marley.
Maisey’s obsession with solving the mystery of her sister forces her to examine her darkest memories and triggers a custody battle with Elle’s father. Will Maisey’s love for her daughter be strong enough to break a cycle of abuse and create a new beginning for them all?"
Puddin' by Julie Murphy
I had been waiting to borrow this online from the library since I read Dumplin' back in March. The writing style is fun and easy to read, and the characters are so likeable. Puddin' picks up with the same characters where Dumplin' left off. I'd recommend reading them in order. While the characters are introduced a bit in each book, the events they've gone through are chronological, so Puddin' does reference a few events from Dumplin'. I'd give Puddin' 3.75 stars out of 5, as it was a fun summer read. No one from Netflix has commented so far if there's likely to be a movie sequel to go with the book sequel.
"Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a little girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream of being a newscaster—and to kiss the boy she’s crushing on.
Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend.
When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing that they might have more in common than they ever imagined."
Girl Unknown by Karen Perry
This is another book I read to review on Books I Think You Should Read. Check out my full review there to find out why I gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
"David and Caroline Connolly are swimming successfully through their marriage’s middle years—raising two children; overseeing care for David’s ailing mother; leaning into their careers, both at David’s university teaching job, where he’s up for an important promotion, and at the ad agency where Caroline has recently returned to work after years away while the children were little. The recent stresses of home renovation and of a brief romantic betrayal (Caroline’s) are behind them. The Connollys know and care for each other deeply.
Then one early fall afternoon, a student of sublime, waiflike beauty appears in David’s university office and says, “I think you might be my father.” And the fact of a youthful passion that David had tried to forget comes rushing back. In the person of this intriguing young woman, the Connollys may have a chance to expand who they are and how much they can love, or they may be making themselves vulnerable to menace. They face either an opportunity or a threat—but which is which? What happens when their hard-won family happiness meets a hard-luck beautiful girl?"