Posted in Books and Shows

July 2022: What I’ve Been Reading


Well, nothing makes me happier than the fact that I have been able to get back on track with my reading. This month, I was able to read six books due to a bit more downtime and vacation time. They were all so different, but I would recommend them all!

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines:


A woman returns to her small southern hometown in the wake of her mother’s sudden death–only to find the past upended by stunning family secrets–in this intimate debut novel, written with deep compassion and sharp wit.

Lila Bruce Breedlove never quite felt at home in Wesleyan, Georgia, especially after her father’s untimely demise when she was a child. Both Lila and her brother, Henry, fled north after high school, establishing fulfilling lives of their own. In contrast, their younger sister, Abigail, opted to remain behind to dote on their domineering, larger-than-life mother, Geneva. Yet despite their independence, Lila and Henry know deep down that they’ve never quite reckoned with their upbringing.

When their elderly mother dies suddenly and suspiciously in the muscadine arbor behind the family estate, Lila and Henry return to the town that essentially raised them. But as they uncover more about Geneva’s death, shocking truths are revealed that overturn the family’s history as they know it, sending the pair on an extraordinary journey to chase a truth that will dramatically alter the course of their lives. The Sweet Taste of Muscadines reminds us all that true love never dies.

Quick Thoughts:

I’d been on the library wait list for quite a while, so I downloaded this as soon as it became available.

This book caught my attention on the first page. It’s beautifully written; the setting in the south coupled with the description of Wesleyan allowed the words to flow on the page. The family dynamic of Lila and her sister and brother was also interesting to me. The sadness and uncertainty of their mother’s death brought them together but showed how people respond differently in times of sadness. There’s also some suspense and family secrets too. I loved how this book ended.

Favorite Quotes:

  • Truth, like beauty, reveals itself as you notice it; the more you see, the more you see.
  • Maybe your home is more something you carry inside you than the ground on which you stand.


4.5 stars

One Italian Summer:


When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.

Quick Thoughts:

I love The Dinner List and In Five Years, so I had hoped that I would enjoy this one too! Newsflash: I did. Like her other books, this one tugged at my heartstrings a bit. There were definitely a couple of twists and turns that made me stop and re-read to keep up with the plot, but I really did love this book. I actually finished this book on the plane on the way to Mexico, and it was a great way to start my vacay reading.


Meant to Be:


The Kingsley family is practically American royalty, beloved for their military heroics, political service, and unmatched elegance. When Joseph S. Kingsley III is born in 1960, he inherits the weight of that legacy. Growing up with all the Kingsley looks and charisma, Joe should have no problem taking up the mantle after his father’s untimely death. But he is also a little bit reckless, and can’t seem to figure out how to channel the expectations of an entire country.

No one ever expected anything of Cate, on the other hand. She, too, grew up in a single-parent household—just her and her mom scraping by in their small apartment. As a teenager, though, Cate is discovered for her looks. Modeling may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited. Before too long, her face is everywhere, though she is always aware that she’d be a pariah in her social circles if anyone knew her true story.

When Joe and Cate’s paths cross, their connection is instant. What remains to be seen is whether their relationship will survive the glare of the spotlight that follows Joe everywhere. And just as they find themselves in the make-or-break moment, the tragedy that seems to run in Joe’s family right alongside all that privilege will repeat itself.

In a beautifully written novel that recaptures a gilded moment in American history, Emily Giffin tells a story of a love that may or may not have the power to transcend circumstances that seem arrayed against it… and the difficulty of finding your way to the place you belong.

Quick Thoughts:

When I saw this book was coming out this summer, I immediately requested it from the library. I also told myself that if I didn’t get the book before vacation, I would buy it. That’s exactly what I did. I love the cover, and I’m happy to have it on my bookshelf!

The plot is loosely based on JFK, Jr.’s life and his romance with Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy which had me excited to read the book. Of course, I had the time to read it since I was on vacation, but I flew through this book. I think I felt like I could read quickly because there were so many similarities to his life that I already knew. To be honest, at one point, I kind of thought it was too much like the real life version, but then I embraced it and kept reading. This book did live up to the hype and is a great, quick read.


The Lifeguards:


Austin’s Zilker Park neighborhood is a wonderland of greenbelt trails, live music, and moms who drink a few too many margaritas. Whitney, Annette, and Liza have grown thick as thieves as they have raised their children together for fifteen years, believing that they can shelter them their children from an increasingly dangerous world. Their friendship is unbreakable–as safe as the neighborhood where they’ve raised their sweet little boys.

Or so they think.

One night, the three women have been enjoying happy hour when their boys, lifeguards for the summer, come back on bicycles from a late-night dip in their favorite swimming hole. The boys share a secret–news that will shatter the perfect world their mothers have so painstakingly created.

Combining three mothers’ points of view in a powerful narrative tale with commentary from entertaining neighborhood listservs, secret text messages, and police reports, The Lifeguards is both a story about the secrets we tell to protect the ones we love and a riveting novel of suspense filled with half-truths and betrayals, fierce love and complicated friendships, and the loss of innocence on one hot summer night.

Quick Thoughts:

I read The Jetsetters last summer and really enjoyed it. I honestly hadn’t heard of this book, and then someone shared it (I can’t remember who), and I requested it from the library. It was available on Kindle right as we were leaving for vacation.

I loved the idea of the three moms who were all very different, but had a strong friendship. Their boys also were very different, but had a strong friendship. There was just enough action combined with “who done it,” and background that this was a great read that came together nicely in the end.


4.5 stars

The Hotel Nantucket:


After a tragic fire in 1922 that killed 19-year-old chambermaid, Grace Hadley, The Hotel Nantucket descended from a gilded age gem to a mediocre budget-friendly lodge to inevitably an abandoned eyesore — until it’s purchased and renovated top to bottom by London billionaire, Xavier Darling.  Xavier hires Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton as his general manager, and Lizbet, in turn, pulls together a charismatic, if inexperienced, staff who share the vision of turning the fate of the hotel around. They face challenges in getting along with one another (and with the guests), in overcoming the hotel’s bad reputation, and in surviving the (mostly) harmless shenanigans of Grace Hadley herself — who won’t stop haunting the hotel until her murder is acknowledged.
Filled with the emotional tension and multiple points of view that characterize Elin’s books (The Blue BistroGolden Girl) as well as an added touch of historical realityHotel Nantucket offers something for everyone in this summer drama for the ages. 

Quick Thoughts:

Again, this was another “book of the summer” that I was hoping to read on vacation. I almost purchased it to take on vacation, but I realized I probably had enough books to read. Well, a couple of days before vacation, it was available at the library.

I started this book on our last full day in Mexico and was also reading The Lifeguards at the same time.

I really loved all of the characters. I was rooting for the hotel to succeed and for Lizbeth’s love life. I did like the multiple points of view and sense of history in the story. This is another EH book with a ghost…which I know is a polarizing topic for readers. Sometimes the bits with Grace felt hokey, but obviously EH knows how to tell a story. I did love the ending and there were definitely a few surprising moments.


4.5 stars

This Tender Land:


In the summer of 1932, on the banks of Minnesota’s Gilead River, the Lincoln Indian Training School is a pitiless place where Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to Odie O’Banion, a lively orphan boy whose exploits constantly earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Odie and his brother, Albert, are the only white faces among the hundreds of Native American children at the school.

After committing a terrible crime, Odie and Albert are forced to flee for their lives along with their best friend, Mose, a mute young man of Sioux heritage. Out of pity, they also take with them a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy. Together, they steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi in search for a place to call home.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphan vagabonds journey into the unknown, crossing paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, bighearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.

Quick Thoughts:

I can’t remember where I saw this book title, but again, I had to wait a bit on the library waitlist. This book felt like a mix of Where the Crawdads Sing + Four Winds + The Girls in the Stilt House, and I loved it. It did take me a the first few chapters to get hooked but after the inciting incident, the plot picked up. I loved the characters and the bond that they had together. My English teacher heart loved the nods to The Odyssey which also connected the parts of their journey together. There was suspense and heartache, but also moments of joy and accomplishment. This was a book that wasn’t on my radar and all, but I’m so glad I read it. It could be a top read of 2022.


Summer Reading Update:

Of course, I’ve read other books too, but I’ve made a serious dent in my SRL.

  • Read: Summer Love, The Summer Job, The Summer Getaway, One Italian Summer, The Hotel Nantucket
  • Just checked out: The Boardwalk Bookshop
  • On the wait list: Out of the Clear Blue Sky & Under the Southern Sky (the last two titles have been available on Kindle, but I’ve delayed the checkout because I was already reading other books. Hopefully, I can get one more of these read this summer!)

I was behind on my Goodreads Reading Challenge, but now I’m caught up. I hope to have another good reading month because I know once I get back to school, I won’t have as much time to read at first.

Have you read any of the books I read this month?

8 thoughts on “July 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

  1. Of these, I’ve only read Meant to Be and felt the same. Great summer read! I am still on hold for a few summer books but I won’t feel like reading summer themes much longer. I am really enjoying Lessons in Chemistry and it’s made me laugh out loud several times. I’ve slowed down with reading because I’ve been choosing tv and AC!

    Liked by 1 person

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