Jennifer's books

Goodbye, Vitamin
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
Mrs. Hemingway
Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir
The Princess Diarist
Watch Me Disappear
Hello, Sunshine
Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
A Man Called Ove
The Heirs
Our Souls at Night
White Fur
Confessions of a Domestic Failure
The Map That Leads to You
The Little French Bistro
Love the Wine You're With
Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
The Party
New Boy

Jennifer Curry's favorite books »
Showing posts with label What I'm Reading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label What I'm Reading. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

It's Halfway Through 2020. Here are 10 Books That Have Helped Me Survive.

2020 has been one wild, crappy ride. Between having major surgery, tornadoes, a pandemic, and a moment of racial reckoning, I have managed to read 44 books in the first half of the most tumultuous year my generation has ever born witness to.

That's why I chose books that wind up all over the place. I leaned heavy into fluff fiction and rom-coms, trashy memoirs, and ridiculous thrillers.


And I am not ashamed! Actually, given what I've learned this year, I am proud to recommend all of these books because there is a time when we just need to read for fun or read to escape.


Here are 10 books that have helped me survive the first half of 2020

(And because I don't think you need to read a full review to be enticed to read it yourself, these reviews are super short.)

Hollywood Park

by Mikel Jollett

If you want to feel very literary and hip, read this memoir by the lead of Airborne Toxic Event about his cult upbringing.

The Guest List

by Lucy Foley 

If you want an Agatha Christie whodunit that keeps you guessing until the very end, this is a fun one.

Such a Fun Age

by Kiley Reid

If you want to learn about racism through fiction, this is a quick read with a fab story that will leave you thinking.

A Witch in Time

by Constance Sayers

If you need a fantasy escape, this one you'll read like you did Twilight (in other words, super fast).

Station Eleven

by Emily St. John Mandel

If you want a literary escape from this current pandemic by reading about a worse pandemic, this one is for you. Plus, read it before you watch the HBO miniseries.

Beach Read

by Emily Henry

If you want a true rom-com beach read, then look no further than the aptly titled Beach Read.

The Wives

by Tarryn Fisher

If you want a can't-put-down over-the-top thriller (with polygamy), then The Wives will have you gasping and laughing at its absurdity.

Open Book

by Jessica Simpson

If you want the complete opposite of a literary memoir like Hollywood Park, then dive into Jessica Simpson's fun and scandalous memoir.


The Wedding Party

by Jasmine Guillory

If you haven't started the terrific rom-com series by Jasmine Guillory, what is wrong with you?

Be the Bridge

by Latasha Morrison

If you want to learn more about why racial reconciliation is so important, then this Christian perspective is a great starting point.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

My Favorite Reads/Listens of 2019

2019 kicked me in the rear. Life got hard, so my reading got easy. This may explain why I stopped reviewing books or writing on this blog. But, many of you have requested a list of my favorite books from the year, and I am happy to deliver.

With the year I had, I pretty much avoided all wartime historical fiction and psychological thrillers. I pretty much read fluff from March through the end of the year. Somehow, I still managed to read (or listen to) 110 books.

Here are the 10 books I read in 2019 that stood out (in no particular order):

Evvie Drave Starts Over - Linda Holmes

*NPR Pop Culture Writer's Debut Novel. Excellent.

A Spark of Light - Jodi Picoult

*Very timely. Another win for Picoult.

I'll Be There for You: The One about Friends - Kelsey Miller (Audio)

*If you love Friends and you love literary analysis, this audio is super fun.

Us Against You - Fredrik Backman (all the stars)

*I could not love Beartown more. All the tears.

Daisy Jones and the Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid

*Like reading a transcript of Behind the Music.

Pachinko - Min Jin Lee 

*Very long. Very depressing. Very well written.

The Mother-in-Law - Sally Hepworth

*A thriller that accurately presents two sides of the story.

The Dreamers - Karen Thompson Walker 

*Unusual and lyrical.

Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever - Gavin Edwards 

*One of the best, short biographies about Mister Rogers I have read.

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know - Malcolm Gladwell (Audio)

*Podcast style audiobook that I could not stop listening to and discussing.

I have also fallen hard for the Rom-Com novels by Jasmine Guillory and Helen Hoang.

I I 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Book Review: The Mother-in-Law

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

Well, here's the first book you're going to want to put in your beach bag! Thanks to #netgalley I got to read this #soontobereleased novel by @sallyhepworth and you are going to want to read it, too.

Told from both the MILs and DILs perspective before and after the MIL had committed suicide (or did she?). This is not a spoiler because it takes place in the very beginning of the novel when Lucy finds out her mother-in-law is dead and the cops are investing the possibility that it was not suicide.

Lucy and her MIL, Diana, have a pretty typical relationship. They both want to be closer to one another but neither finds the right way to communicate this so they end up on opposite ends. In fact, Lucy has even imagined what life would be like without her MIL - and now she's dead.

Plot and character-driven, this novel kept me engaged the whole time - and up way past my bedtime! This book was a fun read because the author does a fantastic job of making it that way. For instance, Lucy has been without a mom for years and is desperate for a maternal relationship. Diana is viewed as this saintly perfect woman in their town, but she has plenty of secrets. Her past has made it difficult for her to open up to others, which makes Lucy feel unwelcomed. I wanted to keep reading as the secrets from both the past and present are revealed.

Plus, I appreciated that the author showed how often we form judgments without knowing the whole story and how often a simple misunderstanding leads to bad relationships by showing the good and bad in all the characters.

Overall, this is a book that makes for a great escape. You'll read it and be happy for the family you have when you finish it. Thanks to the author and Netgalley for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Book Review: The Library of Lost and Found

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

Recently I had the opportunity to read and review The Library of Lost and Found, the newest book from the author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.

The Library of Lost and Found is part whimsical tale, part familial scandal, and part redemption story. It follows a woman named Martha who has devoted her entire self to serving others - to the point of losing herself.

Fortunately, in the course of the novel, Martha finds her gumption. She discovers who she is and takes steps to take her life back. Hoorah! How this happens is through a whimsical series of events. Martha is gifted a book with a dedication written to her from her dead grandmother. However, the date of the inscription is years after her grandmother died. On her hunt to discover the mystery of her grandmother's description in this magical fairy tale collection, Martha learns more about her family than anyone ever knew.

In addition to quirky characters and unique settings, The Library of Lost and Found also contains several portions of these beautifully crafted fairy tales from the special book. It makes the novel feel slightly like a children's book, but in a good way. The tales directly relate to the adult story being told.

All in all, people who love books and books about books will enjoy this steady moving novel featuring a woman who redeems her own story.

Thanks to the author and Netgalley for providing me with this copy to read and review!

Book Review: Cat and Nat's Mom Truths

Cat and Nat's Mom Truths: Embarrassing Stories and Brutally Honest Advice on the Extremely Real Struggle of Motherhood 

If there is any book I want to recommend to moms in the thick of the baby, toddler, preschool years, it is this one! I flew through this book because it is super relatable, funny, and entertaining.

You may be familiar with Cat and Nat from their hilarious viral social media videos they film in their minivan/SUV. Their take on the craziness that is motherhood has made them popular with moms. So, when I saw they had a book coming out and then I saw the hilarious cover, I knew it was a must read.

And, they didn't let me down! They cover everything from giving birth to sex to the loneliness of motherhood. And, they somehow managed to make me laugh even when they were discussing the tough stuff.

Plus, the format works really well. The write as if they are talking to friends. In some chapters, the whole content is written in a conversation format between the two women. I found this very refreshing. It made it feel even more personable.

This is a quick read - I read it in an afternoon. With summer coming up, this is a great pick for days at the pool or the beach. Thanks to the authors and Netgalley for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Book Review: Fraternity

Fraternity by Alexandra Robbins

Fraternities have a bad rep - and often, for a good reason. The way fraternities are presented in movies pales in comparison to the true stories we hear about on the news of deaths due to hazing or date rape scandals occurring across college campuses.

Why then are the numbers of young men growing at an astonishing rate? That is the question that best-selling writer, Alexandra Robbins, attempts to answer in her latest investigative nonfiction novel, Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men.

In a behind the scenes take, Robbins follows different young men throughout one year of fraternity life. The results are vastly different.

One young man is an introverted nerd going through rush (recruitment) and his pledge period. He desperately wants connection and has a father who was in a fraternity in college. He enters the fraternity scene with hesitation and strong views against hazing, the negative treatment of women, and alcohol abuse. However, as he joins a traditional fraternity, his views change drastically. By the end of the novel, he has done almost everything he said he wouldn't. And he defends his new brothers and himself for the things they do. Many of which come straight out of the papers or movies.

However, Robbins also follows the new sophomore president of a more inclusive fraternity that is more focused on brotherhood than partying. While he encounters plenty of obstacles, this young man's experience within his fraternity is vastly different. His fraternity does set him up to be better prepared for leadership roles in his career and paves the way for genuine relationships.

Robbins argues that today's young men are drawn to fraternities because this generation is seriously lacking genuine social connections. As they interact primarily through technology and then leave home, these young men are desperate to find a new family. Unfortunately, the family they find can vary greatly depending on the school and chapter. No two fraternities (even of the same name) are alike.

Packed with statistics and insider information from the brothers themselves, the book was insightful. I also really appreciated that Robbins ended the novel with a section for parents or young men considering joining the Greek system. It includes tips on how to decipher the types of fraternities based on clues found during recruitment events and other tips for finding a fraternity that will empower rather than weaken young men.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Beautiful Strangers

A Review of The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio 

Historical fiction that includes a beautiful setting, a ghost, and Marilyn Monroe? Yes, please!

The Beautiful Strangers is an easy-breezy read that is just what I needed while being bogged down by a bunch of nonfiction. This fictional take on Hotel del Coronado during the filming of Some Like It Hot is a nice escape read.

I followed a young woman breaking free from the family mold to try something for herself - also on her grandfather's orders. He wants her to find "the beautiful stranger" at this historic hotel. She lands a job at the hotel, impresses the right person quickly, and winds up being a waitress for the stars of the film.

However, along with the pop culturish setting and characters, you also meet the ghost of the hotel and hear her story as it is interwoven between the chapters. There is a reason that she is intertwined with our main character - and while you may guess it early on, it does not take away from the reading experience.

Add in some romance and you have a nice little read for spring break of summer vacation. Guess what else? This book is currently FREE on Kindle Unlimited or just $4.99 for regular Kindle subscribers.

Thanks to the author and Netgalley for providing me with this copy to read and review.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Book Review: Daisy Jones and the Six

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

If you have not heard of Daisy Jones and the Six, get ready because this book/band is about to be everywhere! For all of you who loved Almost Famous and Behind the Music, this is a book that you are going to devour.

Daisy Jones and the Six is a fictional rock documentary transcript (in novel form) about a famous 70s socialite singer who joins up with an on-the-rise rock band (The Six) and whose joint venture implodes just as it begins.

While there are things I didn't love about the novel (such as the chemistry between several of the characters), I could not stop reading this book once I started. It really does read just as if you are reading the transcript of a documentary like Behind the Music. I am still trying to figure out how the author was able to write in a way that seems just like an extended interview involving all the band members and those who interacted with them during their heyday.

Daisy Jones is a hot mess. It is clear she is hot - beautiful and talent wise. But, she is also a clear stereotype of the 70s drug and alcohol abuse in the rock/club scene. But, even while she is high as a kite, she manages to hold her own in the record studio and on stage. However, she does not know a thing about how to hold her own in relationships.

The Six is a mix of men and one woman who you get to know just as well. Some characters shine and others fizzle. But, you leave the book feeling like you got to know the inner gossip within a real rock band. And, then you remember, it is fiction.

All in all, it was a super fun read. I highly expect to see this one end up in people's spring break bags and summer beach bags for good reason. You know - sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It is an escape into music, pop culture, and romantic relationships - all in a format that works extremely well for beach reading.

Plus, Random House has a Daisy Jones and the Six Spotify playlist that was so fun to listen to as I read. I highly recommend this free playlist as you read along.

Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy! Daisy and the Six was released today. Go ahead and pick it up or add it to your library hold list. This is one you're going to want to read.

Book Review: The Secrets of Paper and Ink

The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

Recently, I read the novel The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel. While it is not a book I would recommend to everyone, it is a book that stands well on its own.

This novel follows a woman named Sophia dealing with the feelings of relief and guilt she has after her fiance passes away. As a counselor herself, she beats herself up for falling for a man who manipulated her and abused her. Then, she struggles with all the feelings that are brought to the surface upon his death. So many feelings that she has to put her counseling career on pause. During her required vacation, she heads to England where she lives above a bookshop and works there in exchange for rent.

While there, she befriends the owner, a woman named Ginny who has also been hurt by the man she loves. The two women bond over their different, yet similar heartbreaks. Additionally, Sophia becomes enthralled with an old journal she finds.

The journal is what really makes this novel stand out. You get a story within a story - and you get to move across vastly different time periods. This is the kind of stuff I love. While the twist involving the journal was obvious from the very beginning, it was still a nice way to weave the stories together.

Here's my only negative. This is a work of Christian fiction. As a Christian, I grow tired of reading fiction that has to so explicitly spell out a salvation (finding Jesus) message. While I understand the point is to try to share this message with others who may not be Christians, I don't think that is the book's audience. So, it seems overdone to me.

Overall, it was a pleasant read. Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a copy to read and review! This book is currently on sale.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Book Roundup A Book to Thrill, A Book to Love, a Book for Tears, and a Book to Hate

Here's a big confession - I like to read books more than I like to write reviews about books. So, sometimes I get way behind on my book reviews. Like now. I am currently four books behind, but I have read them all and I am prepared to tell you why you should (or should not) read each one.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen 

I said I wouldn't read as many psychological thrillers in 2019, but this one is a holdover from last year. Thankfully, this is one of the better ones I have read, so I feel confident in recommending it. This novel focuses on a young woman who becomes involved in a clinical psychological study with the mysterious, Dr. Shields. As the novel unravels, it becomes evident that Dr. Shields is manipulating the main character. With villainous manipulations, you won't be able to look away. While I did pick up on the big twist before it happened, it was still a rush of a read. I was continually shocked by the wickedness and genius of the antagonist, and I could not put it down. Plus, it will make you question what you would do in similar situations.

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

I love a good romantic comedy, and Sophie Kinsella is a master of this genre. But, I wasn't that happy with her last one, so I went into I Owe You One with some hesitation. There was no need! This book was an absolute delight from start to finish. It follows a woman named Fixie who is fixer by nature. Unfortunately, people take advantage of her need to fix (like her family). But, one day, she fixes something huge for a stranger, and he insists he owes her one. Fixie takes him up on it (to get her longtime crush a job) and love and comedy follow. I loved this novel because it combines my two favorite things - family drama and romantic comedy. There were several points in the novel when I wanted to yell at the people in Fixie's life - or yell at Fixie herself.  But, in true genre form, lessons are learned, relationships are mended, and love is found.

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib 

This debut novel is a beautifully written sad journey into a home for women struggling with eating disorders. It is a hard read that will shock you and sadden you, but it is also hopeful. As someone who has never dealt with eating disorders or homes of this sort, this was all new information for me. The author does a wonderful job of putting readers into the head of the main character - a former ballerina who has entered treatment as a last result to save herself and her marriage. It is all told through Anna's voice, but you get to know the other women living at 17 Swann Street throughout the novel. Since the book aims to be a realistic representation of these situations, there are traumatic scenes and scenes that will leave you in tears. However, the author does provide the reader with glimpses of hope. I appreciated how hard the author worked at explaining the mindset of individuals struggling with eating disorders, as well as showing the difficulty of overcoming. Overall, I recommend this book but feel the need to say it contains obvious triggers.

Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

Okay, I read another book by Jessica Strawser and loved it. She is quickly developing a reputation for a writer of psychological thrillers for women. But, this is not the book for me - and I think others will feel the same. To put it simply, in this novel, Strawser jumped the shark. Forget You Know Me goes straight off the grid into the land of bonkers. The book opens with long distance best friends, Molly and Liza, having an online Facetime conversation when Molly goes to check on the kids and Liza sees a masked intruder enter Molly's home. The computer is closed. Now, that is a GOOD start. But, if goes off the rails right after. No intruder is found, Molly does not call Liza back to let her know she's okay, when Liza drives through the night to check on her, Molly closes the door on her face. Weird, right? I could stick with it at this point. But, then as you get to know Molly, it gets way weirder. Molly is dealing with chronic pain issues and has run up massive debt hidden from her husband and she is being targeted by a group of loansharks - who may or may not have been the intruder. They even show up and leave cryptic symbols on trees. Then, her husband is also facing some seedy stuff at work and is being threatened by someone who may or may not have been the intruder. Then, Molly thinks the intruder was the neighbor she has fallen in love with but hasn't acted on and convinces herself he snuck over to her home to fulfill some secret masked man fantasy. Again, this affair has not actually even begun...

***Get ready because I am going to totally spoil it now***

Then, when it seems like this book could not be anymore unimaginable, you learn that Molly's husband was the masked intruder because he wanted her attention and to feel like her hero again. Wonk wonk wonk. Basically, choose this one if you are looking for a hate read.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with all these copies to read and review.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Book Review: Watching You

Lisa Jewell is a hit or miss author for me. I loved Then She was Gone, but I hated The Third Wife. Her newest book was released right before the new year and is called Watching You.

I read Watching You over a month ago, but I am just now getting to the review. Fortunately, I still remember the basic plot lines. Like the rest of Jewell's novels, this is a suspenseful thriller with female protagonists. Also, like her other novels, this one has a few twists.

Unfortunately, I picked up on the big twist (or guess who did it) early into the book making the big reveal not so much as a reveal but a why-did-this-take-so-long feeling. Here's what you need to know:

This book is about a small upper-class community and its inhabitants. In particular, it focuses on a grown woman but doesn't act it named Joey who is married but doesn't act it. She is infatuated with one of the neighbors - the head teacher of a nearby school.

However, she is not the only person who is into the teacher. Some of his students seem to also find him attractive. Except for a student named Jenna and her mother who believes he is stalking her.

This teacher, Mr. Fitzwilliam also has a son who seems to be obsessed with the neighbors and takes pictures of them without their knowledge.

But, it wouldn't be a Lisa Jewell novel if someone didn't end up dead. And someone does. And it was easy to guess who did it.

Overall, it was not my favorite, but it may be that I am have been oversaturated my this genre. If you are new to Lisa Jewell, and especially if you are new to this genre, then you will probably think it is great.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a copy to read and review!

Monday, December 31, 2018

I read 127 Books in 2018. Here are the 18 I recommend.

This was an absolutely fantastic reading year! I read all the time all year long. I read genres I usually don't and I stepped outside of my comfort zone.

Part of the reason for my big number is largely in part of my Book of the Month subscription and my discovery of the joys of listening to audiobooks when in public rather than dealing with the public.

I know you don't have all day, so I am sharing my 18 favorite reads this year using ten words or less for each. Let's get on with it.

My Favorite Books of 2018

Beartown - Friday Night Lights for hockey. Favorite read of the year.

The Chilbury Ladies Choir - Historical fiction novel told through letters with sassy strong women.

An American Marriage - False accusation, jail, marriage whoas. The book and audio = incredible.

The Woman in the Window - Hitchcock throwback thriller set in modern times. Creepy page turner!

The Music Shop - My heart swelled with this music shop love story.

How to Walk Away - An accident + hospital stay + hot Scottish physical therapist

Inspired - Inspired me to read the Bible in hopeful new ways

All We Ever Wanted - "Me too" rich kid and rich parent drama

Whiskey & Ribbons - About a fatally wounded cop, his wife, and his bff

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win - Female in politics drama with a very abrupt ending

Rush - The Help meets Greek Like

The Wedding Date - Romcom about a couple pretending to date for a wedding

Calypso - The latest work of satire by humorist David Sedaris

The Library Book - Part nonfiction, part true crime about libraries and a fire

The Girl Who Drank the Moon - Outstanding fantasy for middle grades - full of magic

Last Christmas in Paris - Bawled my eyes through this love story told through letters

Almost Everything - Latest by Anne Lamott - almost everything she knows for sure

The Summer Wives - Soapy historical fiction with dynamics of the rich and poor

What books did you read and love in 2018? Tell me!