I seem to be plowing through a lot of books this summer. Here are my reviews and recommendations for the stories that I have been reading recently.
The Dinner: I had heard this book described as the Dutch Gone Girl, so I instantly added it to my reading list for this summer. The story is about two couples that meet for dinner in a posh restaurant in New Amsterdam one evening. The two men are brothers. One is an ex-school teacher with a vaguely identified mental illness that makes him prone to violent outbursts. The other is a politician, and the likely next Prime Minister of the Netherlands. It is slowly revealed throughout the course of the story that they are really meeting to discuss a situation with their children, who have committed a horrific act. The parents must decide how to react and deal with the possible consequences and fallout.
I wanted to love this book, but I can only give it three out of five stars. All of the characters are highly unlikable and the narrator is completely unreliable, which is usually a huge plus for my reading enjoyment. The story just seemed so implausible to me. I wanted more to happen, and even to see the characters grow and possibly learn something, but that never happened. Then it ended predictably, the only way a story like this could. I was hoping for so much more. Maybe something is lost in the English translation?
Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of our Everyday Lives: If you read my blog regularly, it is no secret that I am a huge Gretchen Rubin fan. I pre-ordered this book on Audible,com, so I could listen to it the day it came out. As with all of her other books, I learned a lot about myself and why I do the things that I do. First I took her quiz on the four tendencies, to better understand how I deal with expectations. Once I was able to identify which tendency was my strongest (I am an obliger), I also started to identify the nature of those around me, and figure out how to better interact with them.
I find the science of how people form habits to be fascinating, and I feel like I gained a lot from reading this book. If you are already a fan of hers, you will dive right into this book as well. If you are new to her writing, I also highly recommend The Happiness Project, and Happier at Home. It probably goes without saying that I would rate this book a t strong five out of five stars.
Dirty Rocker Boys: I was a child of the 80's and a teen of the 90's. I grew up watching Star Search and hair band videos. I thought Bobbie Brown (the girl in the Cherry Pie video) was one of the most beautiful women ever, and her life seemed to be the stuff movies are made out of. So, as soon as I realized she had written her autobiography, I was in. Turns out her life wasn't all sunshine and roses, and the details of how things really happened for her were real page turners.
This book was sex, drugs, and rock n' roll. I would give it five stars, because of her honesty. Yeah, it was full of all of the juicy details of who was sleeping with who and what it was like being in relationships with some big-time rock stars. It was also about her trying to figure out who she really was while raising a daughter in the LA scene. Bobbie faced addictions and a doomed marriage. Her mother played a big part in giving her child the stability she needed. In the end, I really ended up rooting for her and hoping she can could get it all under control before it was too late.
Since You've Been Gone: Emily comes back from a family vacation to find that her best friend Sloane has disappeared. She receives a letter in the mail from Sloane with a list of tasks to accomplish before the end of the summer, with instructions to find her after she finishes the list. Sloane was always the more outgoing daredevil and Emily was more of a wallflower. This isn't the first time that Sloane has given Emily a list of tasks to accomplish that are slightly out of her comfort zone, but she has never seriously tried to complete them all, until now. This summer is different. Emily makes some new friends and with the help of the list has a pretty epic summer, totally bursting out of her shell and coming into her own. She just hopes that finishing the list will somehow lead her to solve the mystery of where her best friend has gone.
I loved this book, and would give it four out of five stars. It is geared toward young adults, but I a big fan of the genre. If you enjoy the kind of "where'd she go" mystery a la Paper Towns, then this is a great book for you.