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You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith is a poignant, poetic account of the breakdown of the author’s marriage and her subsequent divorce. This is not a new story, but in Smith’s hands, it felt fresh and raw and compulsively readable. I had a really hard time putting this one down. Why I picked it up: I haven’t read any of Smith’s poetry, but this book got a lot of buzz when it came out and I was intrigued. Smith and her (unnamed) husband were married with two small kids when she discovered a postcard he had written

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I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy 2

I’M GLAD MY MOM DIED by Jennette McCurdy

I succumbed to the hype and read Jennette’s McCurdy’s new memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, which has been on a juggernaut tear this past month. (It was even sold out on Amazon for a while.) It’s about the child actress’ life growing up with a controlling mother who pushed her into acting, introduced her to the world of eating disorders and generally messed her up through guilt trips and manipulation. I’m Glad My Mom

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This Is Not a Pity Memoir by Abi Morgan 2


Memoirs have been working for me lately, especially on audio. I recently read This Is Not A Pity Memoir by British screenwriter Abi Morgan. It’s about the period when her partner Jacob experienced encephalitis and a seven-month coma, then woke up and didn’t believe that she was who she said she was. He recognized and remembered his kids, his parents, his friends… just not her. This Is Not A Pity Memoir is a bracing, honest

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When We Were Bright and Beautiful by Jillian Medoff 2


I finished When We Were Bright And Beautiful by Jillian Medoff several days ago, but I was unmotivated to review it then, and am almost equally unmotivated to do so now. This is going to be a short review, for a few reasons – 1) I don’t want to include any spoilers; 2) I didn’t really enjoy the book; and 3) I am still not 100% sure how I feel about it. But here goes.

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The Measure by Nikki Erlick 2

THE MEASURE by Nicki Erlick

Vacation read #4 was The Measure by Nikki Erlick, one of the hot books of summer and recent Read With Jenna pick. I’d heard many great things about this book and the premise intrigued me. One day, small wooden boxes appear on everyone’s doorstep in the entire world. The boxes each contain a piece of string, the length of which signifies the length of the recipient’s life. There is no explanation for where the boxes

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One’s Company A Novel by Ashley Hutson 2

ONE’S COMPANY by Ashley Hutson

My third vacation read was a wild one. In One’s Company, a debut novel by Ashley Hutson, a twentysomething named Bonnie has lived through some horrible trauma. To soothe herself, she turns to the late 70s/early 80s sitcom “Three’s Company”, which presents her with a simpler, happier world than the one she inhabits. She grows increasingly obsessed with the series as she withdraws from her current reality. When she wins a massive lottery prize (think

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French Braid A Novel by Anne Tyler 2

FRENCH BRAID by Anne Tyler

It has been a while since I read anything by Anne Tyler – 14 years since I read Digging To America, it turns out – but when I was briefly in the library getting a book for my son the day before leaving for vacation, I saw French Braid on the New Releases shelf. I impulsively grabbed it and added it to the vacation TBR pile, and picked it up for my second read on

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So Happy For You A Novel by Celia Laskey 2

SO HAPPY FOR YOU by Celia Laskey

My first vacation read was Celia Laskey’s novel So Happy For You, about a woman named Robin who is asked by her childhood best friend Ellie to be Ellie’s maid of honor in her upcoming wedding. The book is set in a time in the not too distant future when heterosexual marriage is more desired than ever: unmarried women in their 30s are considered “rotten” and single women become increasingly desperate to find and keep

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This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Philipps 2


I love a good celebrity memoir, especially when I have just finished a book and am not sure what to read next. I recently learned about Busy Philipps’ 2018 memoir, This Will Only Hurt A Little, and the timing was right to slot it in after my last audiobook. I finished it quickly – in less than a week – and found it pretty interesting. Busy Philipps is an actress whom I know best from

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Home Stretch A Novel by Graham Norton 2

HOME STRETCH by Graham Norton

One of the categories in the 2022 Everyday I Write The Book Blog Reading Challenge is “Book Discovered In A Bookstore”, which is intended to encourage browsing the stacks in a trusted bookstore and finding a previously unknown book. When I was in Corolla, North Carolina at the end of March, I paid a visit to my favorite indie, Island Bookstore, with this mission in mind. I discovered a book called Home Stretch by Graham

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We Do What We Do In The Dark by Michelle Hart 2


We Do What We Do In The Dark by Michelle Hart is a coming-of-age novel about a woman in college who has an affair with a married female professor at her school shortly after the death of her mother. The secret relationship has a significant impact on her, one that she still feels years after they stop seeing each other. We Do What We Do In The Dark is ultimately about loneliness and the need

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Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

SEVEN DAYS IN JUNE by Tia Williams

Warning: Unpopular opinion ahead. When I recommended Seven Days In June by Tia Williams to my book club, I had heard great things about this romance between two Black authors who had been involved as teenagers and then reunited in their 30s. I am not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I got, and in the end I was pretty disappointed by Seven Days In June. This is a very popular

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It All Comes Down To This by Therese Anne Fowler 2

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS by Therese Anne Fowler

I am a sucker for a family drama, so when I saw that Therese Anne Fowler (author of A Good Neighborhood, reviewed here) had a a new one out, I immediately wanted to read it. It All Comes Down To This is about three sisters, Beck, Claire and Sophie, who are in their 30s and 40s and are each dealing with some sort of dissatisfaction in their lives. When their mother dies and instructs them

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Sorrow and Bliss A Novel by Meg Mason


My second five star book of the year was Sorrow And Bliss by Meg Mason. It’s a novel about Martha, a British woman approaching 40 who has struggled with mental illness since she was young. She is married to a very kind man named Patrick, but when the book opens, they have decided to split up because their marriage has become untenable. Going back and forth between flashbacks and the present day, Mason describes how

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True Biz A Novel by Sara Novic

TRUE BIZ by Sara Nović

True Biz by Sara Nović is one of those books that I am glad I read, but that took me much longer to read than it should have because it didn’t go down that easily. It’s about a community I know very little about – a boarding school for deaf students. Tuesday, the school’s principal, is hearing but had deaf parents. She works hard to keep the lights on at the school, which is facing

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Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus


Lessons In Chemistry is a hot book this summer, and politically timely as well. It’s about Elizabeth Zott, a chemist and mother living in California in the 1960s who faces repeated discrimination against women scientists and is forced to give up her job. Out of desperation, Zott agrees to helm an afternoon television program about cooking, where she achieves a degree of fame but still has to contend with the irrational ire of the male

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