We’re back with another episode of 2019 Recent Reads! I love doing these quarterly recaps of what I’ve been reading. It’s a fun way to share the books that I’ve been enjoying, as I’ve loved books my entire life. In fact, I love books so much that I started a separate Instagram just for books! So here’s the deal: in these posts, I share the books I’ve read in these previous months. Simple! In this particular quarter, I read fewer books than usual because one (Wolf Hall) took me a while. Not sure why! But I’m still on track to meet my reading challenge goal of 30 books this year. I’m at 26 so far, and I’m currently reading 3 – one book when at home, one book when out and about, and one audiobook – so I should meet my goal.
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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (5/5) – “Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways” (x).
There is a reason this book has the reputation that it does! It’s amazing. I loved it. It also made me question every single celebrity relationship past and present. Basically, this book is structured as a story within a story. Evelyn is telling her life story to Monique, but also we see a bit from Monique’s life. It’s a really, really good book! Trigger warnings for intimate partner violence, addiction, and suicide.
Wolf Hall (5/5) – “England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?” (x) Wolf Hall is extremely my jam. So much so that I can’t believe that a) I hadn’t read it yet and b) I hadn’t even heard of it. I have read probably dozens of books about the Tudors, and most of them have centered on the Tudors themselves. It was very interesting reading a book centered on someone connected to the Tudors but not an actual Tudor. And there’s a reason that Wolf Hall won the awards it did! It’s amazing. It did, however, take me a full 2 months to read.
Please Send Help (5/5) – “Ava and Gen are best friends. Ava knows what she wants and has plans to achieve her goals. Gen…not so much. But no matter how annoying, dramatic, or utterly bananas a 2 a.m. rant might get — Ava has always been there for Gen and Gen for Ava. But then they graduated high school. Now, they’re in the same time zone (although over a thousand miles apart), and in the real world, and it’s the worst, but they still have each other’s support. For relationships. Questionable roommates. Internships. And whether or not it’s a good idea to take in a feral cat. Through their hilarious, sometimes emotional, conversations, Ava and Gen help each other navigate. But as the two of them start to change, will their friendship survive the distance?” (x) Gaby Dun and Allison Raskin are a great comedy duo you might know from Buzzfeed and their channel, Just Between Us. This is the second book in this duology – the first being I Hate Everyone But You – and both books are told via emails and text messages. They’re both great books! The first follows Ava and Gen in their freshman year of college and the second follows them in their first year out of college. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s a good time.
Pride and Prejudice (5/5) – “When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows us the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life” (x). This classic is known as one of the greats for a reason. When I read it this year, it was a reread, but it had been sooo long since I last read it. As always, it’s great. Not much more to say about it other than that!
Shadow on the Crown (4/5) – “In 1002, 15-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Æthelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her, and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son. Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life. Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Shadow on the Crown introduces listeners to a fascinating, overlooked period of history and an unforgettable heroine whose quest to find her place in the world will resonate with modern [readers]” (x).
As a medieval nerd, this book is extremely in my niche. Emma was the great-aunt of William the Conqueror, and she was a fascinating person. This is the first book in a trilogy about her, which makes sense because she was present for a very crucial time in England’s history. This first book covers shortly before her first marriage through its first couple of years. This type of historical fiction takes a lot more liberties with its subject’s life than novels about other queens because, while we know more about Emma than we do most medieval queens, including Æthelred’s first wife, we still don’t know a ton about great chunks of Emma’s life. What I really loved about Shadow on the Crown’s structure is that this book is based around the events depicted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. But as someone who has read many a section from the Chronicle, I’m very aware that the Chronicle doesn’t have a ton of information in it about the day-to-day. (It’s mostly a few sentences per year to cover that entire year.)
There are trigger warnings for multiple depictions of sexual assault and violence.
What have you read recently?
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All Recent Reads posts; The Books I Couldn’t Finish; Most Popular Books of the 21st Century; My 2019 TBR List; 20+ Dystopian, Science Fiction, and Fantasy Books To Escape With; Why You Should Read and Watch Outlander