June Reads and Reviews (Plus 2022 Favorites so far)

Happy July! This was a pretty busy and fun month for me, and I definitely used reading as a stress relief. Since we moved I was able to try out a new library (luckily in the same system so I didn't have to get a new card) and I'm definitely on a role with new books! Here's a look at what I read and listened to this month, as well as a recap of my favorites so far for the year!

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
by Patrick Radden Keefe

Note: this won Goodread's 2021 Best History and Biography

The Sackler name adorns the walls of many storied institutions: Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford, the Louvre. They are one of the richest families in the world, known for their lavish donations to the arts and sciences. The source of the family fortune was vague, however, until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing OxyContin, a blockbuster painkiller that was a catalyst for the opioid crisis.

Empire of Pain is a masterpiece of narrative reporting and writing, exhaustively documented and ferociously compelling.

This is one of those books that I never would have picked up if I wasn't trying to read all of the winners of last year's Goodreads Awards. I'm glad that I did because I learned about a crisis that has really shaped the country in the past few decades and is way more devastating than I ever knew. This book is extremely detailed and follows the Sackler family from when they first arrived in the United States, up to the current generation that created and marketed OxyContin. The earlier chapters were easier for me to read, and as it got further in the book it was more about the legal proceedings and affects of the drug, which was harder for me to follow. I think this is a great and important book to read though and I'm glad I got the chance to learn more.

My Rating: 3/5

The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner

When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house on Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.

I edited about half of the description from Goodreads because there is A LOT going on in this story. It's basically 3 decades of lying, deceit, and cheating (kind of a spoiler but not really). Even with all of that, it's a quick and easy read- would be fun for a beach or pool read. So much family drama so if that's not your thing you won't like this. Most of it seemed unrealistic or over-the-top but it was entertaining in the same way a gossip magazine is. 

My Rating: 3/5

Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

Then. Twentysomething writer Chani Horowitz is stuck. While her former MFA classmates are nabbing book deals, she's in the trenches writing puff pieces. Then she's hired to write a profile of movie star Gabe Parker. The Gabe Parker--her forever celebrity crush, the object of her fantasies, the background photo on her phone--who's also just been cast as the new James Bond. It's terrifying and thrilling all at once . . . yet if she can keep her cool and nail the piece, it could be a huge win. Gabe will get good press, and her career will skyrocket. But what comes next proves to be life-changing in ways Chani never saw coming, as the interview turns into a whirlwind weekend that has the tabloids buzzing.

Now. Ten years later, after a brutal divorce and a heavy dose of therapy, Chani is back in Los Angeles, laser-focused on one thing: her work. But she's still spent the better part of the last decade getting asked about her deeply personal Gabe Parker profile at every turn. No matter what new essay collection or viral editorial she's promoting, it always comes back to Gabe. So when his PR team requests that they reunite for a second interview, she wants to say no. She wants to pretend that she's forgotten about the time they spent together, years ago. But the truth is that those seventy-two hours are still crystal clear, etched in her memory. And so . . . she says yes.

Chani knows that facing Gabe again also means facing feelings she's tried so hard to push away. Alternating between their first meeting and their reunion a decade later, this deliciously irresistible novel will have you hanging on until the last word.

I liked the book a lot- it was really entertaining and perfect beach read. The format was also interesting with the articles and going back and forth in time- I thought that was really well done! What I didn’t like were the characters or the actual story line. It didn’t feel believable to me (with how quickly the relationship developed on the basis of basically nothing). I also didn’t really find anyone likable unfortunately, especially Chani! Ollie was probably my favorite character so I would love a follow up book just about him.

My Rating: 4/5

The Answer Is...: Reflections on my Life by Alex Trebek

The book combines illuminating personal anecdotes with Trebek’s thoughts on a range of topics, including marriage, parenthood, education, success, spirituality, and philanthropy. Trebek also addresses the questions he gets asked most often by Jeopardy! fans, such as what prompted him to shave his signature mustache, his insights on legendary players like Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, and his opinion of Will Ferrell’s Saturday Night Live impersonation. The book uses a novel structure inspired by Jeopardy!, with each chapter title in the form of a question, and features dozens of never-before-seen photos that candidly capture Trebek over the years.

This wise, charming, and inspiring book is further evidence why Trebek has long been considered one of the most beloved and respected figures in entertainment.

I absolutely love reading celebrity memoirs and this was definitely one of the more interesting one, since most that I read are about athletes or actors. It was really cool to hear about how Alex got his start in game show hosting, and also about how Jeopardy started! I really enjoyed all of his stories. My only complaint about this book (and some other memoirs) is there was not a lot of flow between chapters. Each one was an unrelated story - which were all entertaining and told very well - but made it hard for me to enjoy as a complete book.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer.

In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell.

Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies?

Entertaining and sweet, with an interesting setting and characters. A little flimsy with the “drama” that gets wrapped up way too simply but it’s a good low stress book to read if you just need something easy but with realistic characters that aren’t "perfect" and seemed more human.

My Rating: 4/5


The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams - The first in a series (I previously read another book in this series so it was interesting to see how they started). I didn't like this one as much, mostly because I didn't find the characters believable or very likeable in general.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides - I previously read this but had to re-read it for book club and listened to the audiobook this time. Great experience and I liked it even more knowing what the big twist was!

And now I just wanted to share my favorite books so far for the year! We're halfway through 2022 and so far I've read 45 books! Here are the best ones I've read-

Good Night Beautiful - favorite thriller that I've read in a while. kept me on my toes and had so many surprises that made me gasp!

The Violin Conspiracy - a little slower to get into but once I was in it I was in it. loved the critical look into racism in classical music along with a mystery.

The Soulmate Equation - favorite romance of the year! just an easy, sweet read

The Paper Palace - favorite book club pick so far but was very mixed in everyone else's opinions.

People We Meet on Vacation - the start of my love affair with Emily Henry books. cured my wanderlust and was also one of the first books I read this year.


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