Searching for Sylvie Lee

I seem to be following in Gayle Weiswasser’s reading footsteps this summer, as she just reviewed this one as well here. Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok was a wonderful read – the story of two sisters, one of whom goes missing, and the mystery of their lives. Chapters are told in alternating voices of family members and slowly the mystery is revealed. The pace is excellent and the story compelling. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

I liked, but didn’t love Balli Kaur Jaswal’s previous book, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows (read my review here). But, having read good reviews of The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters, I thought I would give her another try. This was OK, but not great either. It’s the story of sisters who are compelled to travel to India together by their mother’s dying wish. The story dragged a bit and I never fully got into the characters (and I forgot to post about it for two weeks!). I’d give this one a skip.

Ayesha at Last

Ayesha at Last has been on a lot of lists this year and, while I am not usually one for Pride and Prejudice remakes, this was an entertaining one. Ayesha dreams of being a poet, but works as a substitute teacher so she can pay off her school debts. She lives with her family and spends a lot of time dealing with her cousin who is constantly getting marriage proposals. Then Ayesha meets Khalid, and while she doesn’t want to like him, she is intrigued. You probably know the story of Pride and Prejudice, so I won’t get any deeper into the story, but this was a good read.

Love You Hard

Love You Hard is a wonderful memoir that’s hard to read. Abby’s husband TC was assaulted and left for dead on Capitol Hill in 2009. Her story is from that night forward, both the ups and downs. While I still had questions after I finished, it was well-done and a compelling read. I would add it to your “to-read” pile.

The Mother-in-Law

Despite a so-so review from one of my favorite book reviewers, Gayle Weiswasser of Everyday I Write the Book, I forged ahead with The Mother-in-Law, as, unlike Gayle, I do like psychological thrillers. This was was OK, but not the best. A family hears a knock on the door one day – the police have come to tell them that the matriarch of the family has died. Turns out, of course, that everything was not as it seemed. This was an OK read, though not the best.

Field Notes on Love

I enjoyed Field Notes on Love by Jennifer Smith, but I didn’t love it as much as some reviews would have led me to believe I would. It’s a love story, obviously, about a boy (part of a sextuplet), who has always done everything with his brothers and sisters. This summer he is planning a trip with his girlfriend across the US by train until the girlfriend breaks up with him. She kindly gifts him the tickets, but, since they are in her name, he posts a listing to find another woman with the girlfriend’s name to travel with him. I won’t say anything else. It’s a sweet story, but a little too predictable. Perfect for the beach, but a bit fluffier than I might usually choose.

the family next door

the family next door by Sally Hepworth got better as you went. It’s the story of families in an Australian neighborhood and their fascination with their new neighbor. I almost abandoned it mid-way through, as it felt like a not-as-good version of Big Little Lies, but I am glad I stuck with it, because the last third and the ending surprised me and made it a worthwhile pick. I’m excited to grab her new one The Mother-in-Law this summer.

Queenie

Queenie by Candice Cardy-Williams was OK but not fantastic. It’s been likened to a mix of Bridget Jones and Americanah. I’d say that’s about accurate. Queenie and her boyfriend are “on a break” and she is sowing her oats and figuring out life. There’s a little too much graphic sowing of oats in this one for me. I’m not adding it to my summer favorites.

the other americans

I read about the other americans by Laila Lalami and it sounded interesting. It’s the story of a family whose patriarch is killed in a hit-and-run accident and how they both cope with this loss and solve the murder mystery. I liked most of this book. The characters were interesting and the story was engaging. However, ultimately, I was disappointed. I thought the ending lacked ooompf and overall, it was unsatisfying. If I were you, I would give this one a pass.

The Secret of Clouds

The Secret of Clouds was a wonderful story. It’s partly about Katya and Sasha, Ukrainians who emigrate to America and have a son, Yuri, who has a heart defect. It’s also the tale of Maggie, a teacher who tutors Yuri at his home, since his illness prevents him from attending school. Maggie and Yuri’s relationship is the crux of the book, but the periphery stories about their relationships are interesting as well. If you are or have been a teacher, you’ll love this one.