I am on a reading roll this month! Halfway through the month and already, I’ve been able to finish reading not one but three books! It helped that I took a full week’s vacation leave from work! But really the main reason I was able to finish three books this July so far is because I was able to pick out interesting stories. For my July reads, I mixed it up – crime thriller, chick lit and romance novels and I bought them all from previous Big Bad Wolf Books sale events. Yay! I’ve now read 9 out of 20 books for 2021!
Read on below as I talk about my July reads with more detail.
Jojo Moyes’ One Plus One
So the first book on my July reads is another novel from Jojo Moyes. I’ve read four novels from this author so far including this. The Girl You Left Behind which I didn’t really like so much mainly because it focused too much on the past. The Last Letter from Your Lover (about to be shown on Netflix) and Paris for One and Other Stories.
About the Book
Single mother and eternal optimist Jess Thomas has always tried to Do the Right Thing, but life doesn’t make it easy – especially after her math-whiz daughter gets a life changing opportunity they can’t afford. Ed Nicholls is a brilliant tech millionaire whose life is falling apart when he happens upon Jess and her family stranded on the side of the road.
In perhaps his first unselfish act ever, Ed agrees to drive them, plus their pungent dog, Norman, to the Maths Olympiad – and to a prize that could change their lives forever – in this hilarious, heartwarming story of family dysfunction, devotion and love found in the unlikeliest of places.
Just as the plot above described it, this book is hilarious and heartwarming. The love that developed between Ed and Jess it wasn’t instant. But as they traveled on the road, on a very long journey to the Maths Olympiad. something shifts between them. From disliking each other to getting along and falling unexpectedly in love with each other. I laughed when Jess, finally seeing Ed attractive enough, tried to sleep with him one night, fueled by alcohol and told him it’s because she needed to get on the horse. But it’s not the romance between Jess and Ed that really made me like this book because it was so much more!
Norman, the dog
I loved the dog, Norman. The references to him as a big dog who looks scary but really, harmless and also lazy. Jojo Moyes wrote about a dog and most parts about him was funny! But also touching. He’s Tanzie’s best friend and he loves her so much. For anyone who has a pet dog, I’m sure you can relate to this. Even if they referred to Norman a lot as useless for preferring to lie down a lot than do any barking at strangers, he’s part of the family. And that’s why even he went on the trip with Jess, Nicky and Tanzie even if he was so big, he’d cramp up the space in Ed’s car.
So Jess was an independent woman. Had to be, being a single mom of two. Others might have found her interactions with Ed rude at first. After all, here was a man, a sort of stranger, who’s doing her family a good deed by offering his services to drive them when he didn’t have to. The least she could do was be polite when he offers to buy her food or pay for lodging. But I didn’t find it bothersome. I considered her behavior as a wall. It had to be thawed out for people to know and appreciate her.
Ed can be perceived as a self absorbed guy. But gotta give the guy a break. He too was struggling with his own problems. He could be going to jail!
The math genius of the family! You’d feel for her. Here was a bright young kid and she was being offered to go to a better school that could help give her a better future through a better education. But even if she wanted to go, how could she when her family’s financially struggling? Gotta say though if Tanzie was a real person, I’d envy her mathematical skills. I always struggled with Math!
Readers like me might feel the most for Nicky’s struggles. He didn’t fit in and was often bullied. Hard to find any reason to smile when you’re constantly getting beaten up just because you didn’t want to conform to the standards right?
In reference to Nicky’s struggle, this quote from the book’s worth highlighting:
You know you spend your whole life feeling like you don't fit in anywhere. And then you walk into a room one day, whether it's at university or an office or some kind of club, and you just go, "Ah. There they are." And suddenly you feel at home."
It was really all the characters of this book that made One Plus One such an enjoyable book to read and a great start to my July reads.
James Patterson and David Ellis’ The Murder House
Also part of my July reads is this crime thriller by James Patterson. The moment I picked it up from my book shelf and reread the plot, I knew it was going to be my next book to read.
About the Book
No. 7 Ocean Drive is a multimillion-dollar beachfront house in the Hamptons, but its beautiful exterior hides a horrific past. This house was the setting for a series of depraved killings that have never been solved. Neglected, empty and rumoured to be cursed, it’s known as the Murder House, and locals keep their distance.
Detective Jenna Murphy has moved to the area to escape her troubled past and rehabilitate a career on the rocks. But when a Hollywood power broker and his mistress are found dead in the abandoned Murder House, Jenna becomes involved in a case that at first seems open and shut, but reveals more secrets than she could possibly imagine.
As more horrific bodies surface and Jenna is drawn deeper into the dark history of No. 7, she must risk her own life to expose the truth – before the Murder House claims another victim.
The book opens to a school shooting told in the point of view of the shooter. A kid in a mask. Instantly a mystery because the identity is not revealed! And that’s just where the excitement begins really. This book is a real page turner! Just like Detective Murphy, I was drawn to the Murder House and the mystery it contained. Who was it that kept killing people in this house? A few suspects were presented in the book. Noah, the caretaker who ends up in jail for the double murders but turns out he was framed… or was he really feigning innocence? The chief of police who’s power hungry and doesn’t want Detective Murphy snooping around the case. Makes you beg the question WHY NOT? And there’s Aiden, the loner. So whodunnit? Intriguing right?
The Murder House also had an interesting and dark history. Patterson and Ellis really gave it a very detailed back story that as a reader, you’d appreciate. Seriously, if the story about the house’s owner was true, one would definitely think twice about living in No.7 Ocean Drive, It won’t be as appealing as it looks even if it gives you a view of the ocean.
I was so hooked into the story! And as I read the book, I kept guessing who could be the killer. Actually for a brief second, I thought the writers finally revealed who it was near the end. But then I second guessed myself. I thought no, it couldn’t possibly be this guy! Didn’t guess until the very end! The twists offered by this book were so great! You won’t be able to put it down until you’re done.
Jane Green’s Promises to Keep
The last book I’m sharing as part of my July reads is also from a familiar author, Jane Green. I’ve read three books from this author so far including this and I wrote book reviews on both novels. My experience with this author is a hit and miss. Out of the three chick lit novels from Green, I’ve enjoyed two: The Beach House and this.
About the Book
Callie Perry is a successful photographer living in tony Bedford, New York. She adores her settled family life and is one of those people who lights up every room she enters. Steffi is Callie’s free-spirited younger sister who, after years of city living, will discover another side of herself – one that finds a simpler life in the country surprisingly seductive. Callie’s best friend, Lila, has finally met the man of her dreams, but there’s a problem: a demanding harridan ex-wife. And then there are Callie and Steffi’s divorced parents, Walter and Honor who rarely speak to each other. But when Callie is diagnosed with a recurrence of the breast cancer she thought she had beaten, they will come together in the hardest of times for one unforgettable – and ultimately life-changing-year.
Jasmine Guillory’s trademark as an author is having characters that really love to eat and talk about food. Jane Green? I’m beginning to think her trademark is writing about characters who find life changes in the country. The first two, The Beach House and Summer Secrets were both in Nantucket and Promises to Keep, it’s also set in the country, just a different location. She writes about country living so beautifully. Makes it sound so charming to live in! And I’m all about slow living these days so I’m even more drawn in.
I cried reading this book specially because death by sickness, particularly cancer, was at the center of the story. I’m reminded of my own loss when I lost my Dad to the big C. I took care of my Dad too when he was sick along with my mom.
It’s true what this book says about loss.
Life carries on around the pain, making room for it, absorbing it until it becomes part of the daily fabric, wrapping itself around you and lodging itself in your heart.
Promises to keep is also a story about the power of love and friendship. I liked how love was shown in different ways in this book. Love in the happy marriage of Reece and Callie. A rekindled love for Walter and Honor. Patient love for Ed and Lila who came from two very different backgrounds and him with a baggage. Sisterly love with Steffi and Lila. Steffi willingly stepped into the role of big sister when Callie needed her. Lila may not be family by blood but she was there for Callie, lending a helping hand to take care of her family when her best friend fell sick. And there was the unexpected love that blossomed from friendship between Mason and Steffi.
Each and every one of their stories warmed my heart and tugged at my emotions.
July is only halfway through. But if these three are the only ones that end up part of my July reads, I’d say it’s been a great month for reading! I loved each book I read because they all brought on something different to the table. I rated each book five stars on GoodReads.
If you’re looking for your next great read, I suggest picking up any one of these three.