August 2016 Reading List.

August 2016 Reading List - The Stripe Blog

This month’s reading list is a longer one… but the great thing is that nearly all of these books can be read in a day or two if you’re a fast reader (I am). Lots of good beach books, this month – I really (more or less) enjoyed them all!!!

In last month’s reading list, I featured The Husband’s Secret. Loved it. That was probably my favorite book last month. You can probably tell by now that I love a good thriller. And so I started this month with Big Little Lies (by the same author, Liane Moriarty) and just adored it. It was one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I read it in less than two days. It’s a murder mystery “whodunnit” and you learn from the beginning that someone has been killed. You don’t know who died… and you don’t know who the killer is, either. More or less, it deals with three very different women – all mothers to kindergarten classmates, and their unique (but intertwined stories). The ending has so many twists and turns and I found myself being surprised at both who the victim was and who the killer was!

So anyway I liked Big Little Lies so much that I had to read What Alice Forgot next. I guess it’s safe to say that I’m really, really into all things Liane Moriarty right now. The main character (Alice, of course), wakes up at the gym. She’s fallen off of her spin bike and has forgotten the past ten years of her life… the years between 29 and 39. A lot has changed. She’s estranged from her husband, has three children who she does not remember, and finds all of her new friends to be… rather annoying and obnoxious. I thought it was especially interesting how the book explored the relationships between the characters… managing to portray such a realistic look at what can change in all types of relationships (family, friends, marriage) over time… and the work that you have to put in to repair them.

In a sea of thrillers, it was fun to read something sweet. I checked out A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (several of you had recommended reading it), and I loved every minute. It was one of the sweetest, most heartwarming books I’ve read in ages. I am not a big crier, but this one had me choking up (poolside, glass of rosé in hand… causing a lot of confusion to my friends). I can’t say enough good things about it… it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read all summer. It will make you look at the older, grumpier people in your life a bit differently.

I really enjoyed Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain. It alternates between the protagonist (Molly)’s upbringing in a small North Carolina town + her life in present day San Diego as she tries to adopt a child (whilst dealing with some pretty heavy issues from her own childhood). Although there were a lot of times throughout the story that I was very annoyed/frustrated with Molly, (I’m sure this was intentional on Chamberlain’s part)l, I eventually warmed to her and I really loved the ending.

Okay okay, I hate saying it, but I was very disappointed by The Widow from Fiona Barton. I am including it here because I still enjoyed it… it was well-written and intriguing to read… but everyone was hailing it as the next Gone Girl. So I read and I read, the whole time, expecting a big plot twist. There was no twist, and I was bummed out. It’s still a good book… but it wasn’t Gone Girl. A word to the literary critics out there – just because a book is ultra dark doesn’t make it the next Gone Girl.. it needs to have a good twist!

I absolutely LOVED The Assistants, by Camille Perri! This was such a fun read that I read it in under a day. If you loved The Devil Wears Prada, you’ll love this. The characters are incredibly real (and likeable) and the story is (while a bit implausible at times) totally crazy and fun. I really hope that they turn this one into a movie as I could completely envision it being such a good one.

Elin Hilderbrand’s Here’s to Us is another great beach read. I don’t know how, but I’ve never read any of Hilderbrand’s books and she has written SO MANY! (So many of my girlfriends are die-hard fans). Anyway, this one deals with the death of a celebrity chef and his crazy family (consisting of his three ex-wives and three children from each marriage). Could you imagine, three wives living together in a beach house for a long weekend? Oof. With lots of different stories and plot lines going on with each character, I found myself immersed in this one… I (again) read it in a day.

PS – Be sure to check out my June Reading List and my July Reading List… and please… let me know any book recommendations in the comments! I (truly!) live for your suggestions.

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  1. I love this feature on your site! I’m definitely adding a bunch of these to y reading list!

    8.10.16 Reply
  2. I just finished “Horns” by Joe Hill and I honestly LOVED it…a great thriller, well-written, dark at times but so, so good.

    I really liked The Widow but I agree, they need to STOP calling everything “the next Gone Girl” (only now it’s always “the next Girl on the Train!”). Like really, just stop. It only sets up unmet expectations, as you said.

    8.10.16 Reply
    • Oh, also just finished “The Rocks,” by Peter Nichols and loved it. You could call it a beach read in that the setting is Mallorca (and the descriptions are so lovely), but it’s really well-written and not fluffy. Really, really good.

      8.10.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Exactly! I probably would have had nothing but great things to say about The Widow had the comparison not been made. Thank you so much for the recommendations, I am going to check them out! xx

      8.10.16 Reply
  3. Judy Shappley:

    Grace, check out The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian ( I really loved the ending) and Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris (She wrote Chocolat from which the movie was made but this is totally different and has a surprising ending).

    8.10.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you so much for the recommendations, Judy! I really appreciate it 🙂

      8.10.16 Reply
  4. Kate:

    I just finished The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery. I thoroughly enjoyed it – easy reading, entertaining and heartwarming! Would highly recommend it.

    8.10.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Off to check that now – thank you for the suggestion! xx

      8.10.16 Reply
  5. I want to read so many of these! Thanks for the list girl!

    8.10.16 Reply
  6. Irene:

    Your Next read-
    Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – Mitch Albom
    I e of the best books I’ve read recently (and I’ve read all on your list!!)

    8.10.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you so much!!! Sounds like we like a lot of the same books 🙂

      8.10.16 Reply
  7. Yessss I just finished my book today and want a list for the rest of the week/weekend. I’m going to start Truly, Madly, Guilty tomorrow, but now I’m dying to read A Man Called Ove. If you haven’t read The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand, I really enjoyed it (though it’s been a while)!

    8.10.16 Reply
  8. Yes to everything you said about The Widow – so disappointing!! 🙁

    xo Jules

    8.11.16 Reply
  9. I suggest The Shadow of the Wind if you want a good cry and a slew of amazingly developed characters. It is by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Also, Ready Player One! I’m not really into sci fi or video games but I adored this book!

    8.11.16 Reply
  10. Loved OVE–his next, Britt Marie Was Here is also fun. I tend to binge read authors I find and like if they have older books. I’ve just gotten into Liane too–thru Husband’s Secret–next up is the new oone, but then I’ll read her backlist.

    Nice post!

    8.12.16 Reply
  11. Shelley Ahmed:

    I just finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah which was excellent! Also a great book full of twists is I Let You Go by Clare Macintosh! I’m reading The Husband’s Secret now, I’m about half way through! Loving it!

    8.12.16 Reply
  12. I’m SO happy to hear you didn’t enjoy the Widow. I couldn’t even get myself to finish it!

    But goodness gracious does Liane Moriarty deliver or what? Love her work!

    I’m currently reading Room, and I would definitely recommend! Wonderfully written.

    8.13.16 Reply
  13. Callie:

    Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams! It’s the 3rd in a 3 part series… I only read this one though and I LOVED it 🙂 You definitely don’t need to read the others first, although now I want to read them all because this was SO GOOD!

    I also read The Versions of Us which is about 1 couple but 3 versions of their lives…It goes back and forth between each version. (with or) without wine before bed, it got really confusing. I’m a quick reader, but this was just too much for my brain to follow before bedtime. I found myself pushing to stay up later to finish it because i enjoyed it but also maybe mostly so that I could remember what was going on! oops! But, if you have some time and are able to knock it out in a day or 2 it would be far less confusing and REALLY good!

    8.14.16 Reply
  14. Maggie Johnson:

    I love any Beatriz Williams book! They are all extreme page-turners and are like a puzzle in that she makes you figure out how all the characters fit together. “The Secret Life of Violet Grant” was amazing, but so were “Tiny Little Thing” and “A Hundred Summers” (it’s so hard to choose favorites!). The books flip back and forth between two different time periods and different characters, but she weaves the stories perfectly.

    8.18.16 Reply
  15. Katerina:

    I love, LOVE Lianne Moriarty!! She’s such a great writer. I always find myself super involved in the story. I’m finishing Truly, Madly, Guilty andit’s really good.

    8.20.16 Reply
  16. Cait:

    I couldn’t agree more with your review of The Widow. It was such a disappointing book in the end because I wanted a twist to come in the end. Love your recommendations!

    3.17.17 Reply
  17. I never knew you wrote so many book reviews! This is such a wonderful surprise. I have already added three books to my reading list from your posts.

    11.10.17 Reply