The Imperfects

What I read: The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson

Why I picked it up: I liked the cover and downloaded it on Hoopla.

How I read it: On audio at 1.5x while planting bushes on my hill and working around the house over 4 days.

What it’s about: Their grandmother dies, and the email Bec sends to announce it to her family begins a reunion fraught with turmoil. Helen’s daughter and grandchildren have struggled with how to love each other, and now there’s a very large diamond coming between them. The story also includes a World War II story line as well, but there’s not a lot of confirmed knowledge about what happened to Helen and her mother, Flora.

What I liked: There’s a lot going on in this book, and I appreciated the varied storylines.

What I disliked: There’s a lot of distance between the family members throughout, and even when apologies are made, almost none of it is resolved. More like real life than a HAE story – which this one is not.

Genre: Family saga, dysfunctional family, World War II, grief.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes.

Vacationland

What I read: Vacationland by Meg Mitchell Moore

Why I picked it up: It was on a list of books set in Maine, and I wanted to read it while I was on vacation there earlier this year, but alas it didn’t come off hold in time so I just spent the weekend revisiting and wanting to go back!

How I read it: On hardcover.

What it’s about: Every year since she can remember Louisa has gone to their family house in Maine for at least 2 weeks if not the whole summer. She’s continued the tradition with her children – but this year, instead of their regular 2 weeks, she and the kids are going for the whole summer while Steven, her husband, stays home to work on his podcasting company. The whole summer is full of secrets and hardships and a reorienting of what’s important.

What I liked: I haven’t read a deep family saga in a while and I forgot how much I love them.

What I disliked: I wanted more of Kristie and Danny, and a little more of the children. I wouldn’t cut anything, but it could have been longer.

Genre: Dysfunctional family, vacation, Maine, Alzheimer’s.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and 100%, it’s a delight!

The Summer That Made Us

What I read: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Why I picked it up: When I picked up holes last week I tried to find a non-series book of Robyn’s after finishing the first in the Virgin River series.

How I read it: On paper.

What it’s about: One summer when the girls were little everything changed. It was a summer of tragedy and nothing was the same after. Now, 27 years later, Meg has cancer and wants one more summer at the beloved lake house. Everything changes again, and even though it ends in tragedy, this time they come together instead of being broken apart.

What I liked: I really enjoyed Krista’s story and point of view. Much of the book is from her side.

What I disliked: The mothers needed a little more attention; something from Louise’s perspective would have been good.

Genre: Family saga, dysfunctional family, closed door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and it was a good end of summer read!

The Stepsisters

What I read: The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: Still working my way through her back catalogue.

How I read it: On hardcover all in one day.

What it’s about: Daisy was so excited to get a mom and a stepsister, Sage, when she was 8. Except it quickly becomes obviously they will not be friends, mostly because of Joanne, the stepmother. Then they both get a new sister when Cassidy is born. When their parents divorce, things get worse between the step sisters and their half sister. Now, twenty years later, will they be able to overcome the hatred they’ve had since childhood.

What I liked: This is a book about forgiveness and moving on and healing relationships. It was really beautiful to read, even if sometimes it was so obviously the step mother who was filling her daughters’ minds with crap.

What I disliked: The step mother! She’s selfish, mean, conniving, always placing herself in the victim’s seat, and in general a terrible person. Susan Mallery writes this character very well and often, and I dislike her every single time.

Genre: Dysfunctional family, closed door, sisters, forgiveness.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and maybe. Not my favorite one.

Sisters Like Us

What I read: Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: It’s the fourth in the Mischief Bay series.

How I read it: On paper in a day by staying up way too late! But it was good I did because it took being quiet in the house to hear my hose was leaking!

What it’s about: Here we meet two sisters, Harper and Stacey, who couldn’t be more different regarding their career and style of motherhood. They’re both dealing with the toxicity of their mother, Bunny, who is just the worst. Her theories on life include a rule to decorate for every holiday, even National Ice Cream Day, setting the table with layers of linens for every meal, cooking everything from scratch including pasta and bread, and doing anything your husband wants to make and keep him happy.

What I liked: The men in this book were great: Kit, Lucas, and Aston. Lucas is from book #3 and I’m so glad we get more of him. He’s so blunt, and on point, when he speaks. This rubs off on Harper and makes her a better person.

What I disliked: Bunny, their mother, is awful. She is outright mean to her daughters, telling Harper all the ways she failed to keep her husband happy and she’s the cause of their divorce and telling Stacey, so clearly a a woman with high function Asperger’s that there’s something wrong with her.

Genre: motherhood, dysfunctional family.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, even as a stand alone, but better as a follow up to number 3 where you get the first half of Lucas’ story.

The Summer Getaway

What I read: The Summer Getaway by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: I like her books, and it was on the new release shelf last time I was at the library.

How I read it: On hardcover today. It was a nice escape read.

What it’s about: Robyn takes the summer to go spend time with her Aunt Lillian as she comes to the realization she has no firm plans for her life. Everyone around her who’s having the slightest concern about life ends up following her.

What I liked: Robyn sounded like a delightful person who I thought “I could be a bit like her.”

What I disliked: Mindy and her decision to cheat, that’s not a story line I can get behind. There were two characters who seemed to struggle deeply with monogamy.

Genre: Family drama, open door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and maybe, if you like this kind of thing.

The Other Woman

What I read: The Other Woman by Sandip Jones

Why I picked it up: No idea. I’ve had the audiobook on hold forever and keep saying “borrow later” because I forgot why I wanted to read it.

How I read it: On audio during two long drives in Illinois this weekend.

What it’s about: Emily has fallen for Adam, but her mother, Pammie, makes everything horrible. But in the worst way – no one else can see it. Emily thinks she’s going crazy, but it turns out she’s not the only crazy one.

What I liked: The story is fast paced and the entire time I couldn’t help but scream “It’s Pammie!! Can no one see she’s ridiculous?”

What I disliked: Talking and not making assumptions could have fixed so many things for all of them … but then there wouldn’t be a book!

Genre: Thriller, dysfunctional family.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and for sure!

The Summer Place

What I read: The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner

Why I picked it up: I’ve read Jennifer’s new release each summer and really loved them every since we read Mrs. Everything in book club a few years ago. They’re always thought provoking and beach set!

How I read it: On hardback.

What it’s about: It’s set in 2021, post Covid with all of the stay at home orders, vaccines, masking, and working/schooling from home stuff we all experienced the year before. Ruby and Gabe are getting married. Sarah and Eli are drifting apart (this damn flip flops are driving her crazy). Ronnie learns some devastating news. Sam discovers something new about himself. Annette acts motherly for the first time ever. Rosa finally comes clean.

What I liked: I liked the setting. I also liked Ruby’s story, I think she’s the star of the show. Connor is amazing too, and his recovery from trauma is really beautiful.

What I disliked: There’s a lot of infidelity in this story. It’s almost celebrated because “well I wanted to” or “we loved each other.” Yet they were married or engaged to other people, this is not a thing I appreciate celebrating.

Genre: Fiction, dysfunctional family, parenthood, long term consequences.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and no, choose a different Jennifer Weiner with “summer” in the title. You’ll like it better!

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted

What I read: Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen

Why I picked it up: A goodreads friend shared this and the next recently and said they were amazing so I picked it up.

How I read it: On paper in just a couple of days.

What it’s about: Tabby’s journey starts at the doctor’s office where she learns her eggs are running out. As a Black woman in her early 30s who’s up for a promotion this isn’t good news. The next few months are filled with relationship concerns, friendship drama, and family loss.

What I liked: Her Grandmother Tabitha is an amazing character who’s had her own journey she’s just now revealing to Tabby. I appreciated seeing a perspective I’ve never known and loved how the author wrote about it so beautifully.

What I disliked: Chapter 34! So many poor decisions. One right after the other. This almost ruined the entire book for me, if I’m being honest. Only 1 star knocked off because it redeems itself a bit later and the beginning was so fabulous. Not just decisions I wouldn’t personally make, but ones I didn’t think were even in line with the character or her story.

Genre: Fiction, race, family saga, fertility.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, I think it’s worth reading.

The Vineyard at Painted Moon

What I read: The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: I’ve loved this author and needed some audiobooks for my trip so I downloaded her new one.

How I read it: On audio while driving.

What it’s about: Mackenzie and Reese decide to divorce after living five years as roommates. The complication is that she’s THE winemaker at the family vineyard. Except she’s not blood family so now she’s starting over.

What I liked: I loved Mackenzie, Stephanie, and Four along with Bruno and how they rally around Mackenzie and her new adventure. Also I want to tour her winery and taste her wines!!

What I disliked: Barbara and Reese were terrible and never redeemed. Even in the epilogue set three years in the future, they were awful. I yelled at her a bunch!

Genre: Contemporary women’s fiction with a side of starting over.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes if you can stand terrible mothers in law!