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July 2023 Reading Recap: Best and Worst Reads of the Month

July reading recap! Honestly this month has to be a record for me. I don’t know if I’ve truly ever had a month where I read this many books.

But once I saw I was close to filling out my entire tracker for the month (#motivation), I set a goal to read 9 books. I didn’t plan on finishing things out with 11 and then defeated the purpose of my goal because I needed to use a new tracker.

July 2023 Reading Recap: Best and Worst Reads of the Month

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My Favorite Books from July

My Murder by Katie Williams

My absolute favorite read from July was My Murder by Katie Williams, earning itself a 5 star rating (something I don’t give out often!)

What I loved: This storyline was so unusual, and the writing (aside from being insanely talented) was just so quirky. And while I wouldn’t necessarily call this one a thriller, it was such a quick read that I devoured it cover to cover in 24 hours.

I didn’t expect to relate to the main character – and for the sake of not spoiling anything, I won’t tell you why. But let’s just say… when you get to the end and figure the whole thing out… heartbreaking in the best kind of way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

What if the murder you had to solve was your own?

Lou is a happily married mother of an adorable toddler. She’s also the victim of a local serial killer. Recently brought back to life and returned to her grieving family by a government project, she is grateful for this second chance. But as the new Lou re-adapts to her old routines, and as she bonds with other female victims, she realizes that disturbing questions remain about what exactly preceded her death and how much she can really trust those around her.

Now it’s not enough to care for her child, love her husband, and work the job she’s always enjoyed–she must also figure out the circumstances of her death. Darkly comic, tautly paced, and full of surprises, My Murder is a devour-in-one-sitting, clever twist on the classic thriller.

The Measure by Nikki Erlick

Coming in second was The Measure by Nikki Erlick. This one made me cry all the ugly tears… and I still haven’t decided if I would open my box.

My rating: 4.5 stars but this one has stayed with me. I may end up going back and giving this one the full five.

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

Eight ordinary people. One extraordinary choice.

It seems like any other day. You wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and head out.

But today, when you open your front door, waiting for you is a small wooden box. This box holds your fate inside: the answer to the exact number of years you will live.

From suburban doorsteps to desert tents, every person on every continent receives the same box. In an instant, the world is thrust into a collective frenzy. Where did these boxes come from? What do they mean? Is there truth to what they promise?

As society comes together and pulls apart, everyone faces the same shocking choice: Do they wish to know how long they’ll live? And, if so, what will they do with that knowledge?

The Measure charts the dawn of this new world through an unforgettable cast of characters whose decisions and fates interweave with one another: best friends whose dreams are forever entwined, pen pals finding refuge in the unknown, a couple who thought they didn’t have to rush, a doctor who cannot save himself, and a politician whose box becomes the powder keg that ultimately changes everything.

The Only One Left by Riley Sager

Riley Sager often doesn’t disappoint, and The Only One Left is no exception. What I loved most? The fact that I guessed the major twist in the first few chapters.

My Rating: 4 solid stars.

Synopsis (from goodreads)

At seventeen, Lenora Hope
Hung her sister with a rope

Now reduced to a schoolyard chant, the Hope family murders shocked the Maine coast one bloody night in 1929. While most people assume seventeen-year-old Lenora was responsible, the police were never able to prove it. Other than her denial after the killings, she has never spoken publicly about that night, nor has she set foot outside Hope’s End, the cliffside mansion where the massacre occurred.

Stabbed her father with a knife
Took her mother’s happy life

It’s now 1983, and home-health aide Kit McDeere arrives at a decaying Hope’s End to care for Lenora after her previous nurse fled in the middle of the night. In her seventies and confined to a wheelchair, Lenora was rendered mute by a series of strokes and can only communicate with Kit by tapping out sentences on an old typewriter. One night, Lenora uses it to make a tantalizing offer—I want to tell you everything.

“It wasn’t me,” Lenora said
But she’s the only one not dead

As Kit helps Lenora write about the events leading to the Hope family massacre, it becomes clear there’s more to the tale than people know. But when new details about her predecessor’s departure come to light, Kit starts to suspect Lenora might not be telling the complete truth—and that the seemingly harmless woman in her care could be far more dangerous than she first thought.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth thoroughly surprised me. While it’s technically a thriller, it delivered so much more. It made me laugh, it made me cry.. the familial relationships and other storylines were written to perfection.. and at the end of the day, you had a thriller to go along with it. Now that, my friends… is the kind of book I love to read.

My rating: 4 solid stars

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

THE HUSBAND
A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself.

THE DAUGHTERS
Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancée, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money.

THE FORMER WIFE
With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is.

THE YOUNGER WIFE
Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses in all of them?

The Connellys of County Down by Tracey Lange

This was a read that wouldn’t typically wouldn’t be something I would pick, but I’m glad that I did. The way this family came together amidst their brokenness was beautiful and touching, although I was left wanting more. I felt like things ended a little abruptly, but all in all this one ended up in my top picks for the month.

My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

When Tara Connelly is released from prison after serving eighteen months on a drug charge, she knows rebuilding her life at thirty years old won’t be easy. With no money and no prospects, she returns home to live with her siblings, who are both busy with their own problems. Her brother, a single dad, struggles with the ongoing effects of a brain injury he sustained years ago, and her sister’s fragile facade of calm and order is cracking under the burden of big secrets. Life becomes even more complicated when the cop who put her in prison keeps showing up unannounced, leaving Tara to wonder what he wants from her now.

While she works to build a new career and hold her family together, Tara finds a chance at love in a most unlikely place. But when the Connellys’ secrets start to unravel and threaten her future, they all must face their worst fears and come clean, or risk losing each other forever.

The Connellys of County Down is a moving novel about testing the bounds of love and loyalty. It explores the possibility of beginning our lives anew, and reveals the pitfalls of shielding each other from the bitter truth.

My Least Favorite Books From July

Sadly, these two books were probably my least favorite from the month. While I typically enjoy Megan Goldin books, Stay Awake just didn’t do it for me.

There were way too many holes in the story that never got explained at the end of the book (it’s almost like she forgot she wrote about them initially), and I just didn’t really enjoy the main character.

Her memory problems really annoyed me (and that was pretty much the entire plot line.. so…). I was tired just reading the dang thing. This one gained a solid 3 star review from me, and the average on Goodreads is 3.8.

The second book I didn’t really care for was Obsessed by James Patterson. Now, before you come at me, I want it to be known that I checked in with two die-hard James Patterson fans and they both told me that the Michael Bennett series is their least favorite. So I am definitely willing to give JP another chance (yes this was my first).

Honestly what annoyed me the most (and I don’t believe this is a spoiler) is the synopsis tells us that a serial killer is obsessed with Michael Bennett’s daughter, and MB is obsessed with finding this guy (or girl). But.. truth to be told, the serial killer doesn’t even know that Michael Bennet HAS a daughter. That is nowhere in the storyline. Anywhere. Ever. Not even a little bit.

So I felt duped. Plus there were so many details (like his 10 children and wanting an 11th) that just didn’t really play into the plot and felt unnecessary to the story.

I gave it two stars but the average rating on Goodreads is 4.39 so I am clearly in the minority.

Somewhere in the Middle Books

  • Zero Days by Ruth Ware: Not one of my favorites by RW. Storyline was a little predictable and drug out far too long. Three stars.
  • Everything We Didn’t Say by Nicole Baart: I wanted to love this one, but honestly, it was a little hard for me to get in to, and at some points, difficult for me to follow. Three stars.
  • Everyone Here is Lying by Shari Lapena: This one wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. It was hard to feel a connection to the storyline just because there were so many characters, and we only got to read about them for short bursts. I will say, though, that I never saw the ending coming. Three stars.
  • Dark Corners by Megan Goldin: I liked this one, but the bad guy gave me some major ick. On a positive, because of the main character, Rachael Krall, I’ve decided to dust off my running shoes and get back into that old hobby. Three stars.

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