One of the best things about going on vacation for me is that I get big chunks of time to read. Even though it's my job to write books and reading is vital to that, I still struggle to fit it in sometimes. In fact, this year, I've been in a bit of a reading slump. Usually I read 50 books a year minimum. This year, I've only read 13 so far, which is way behind. Part of that is due to being busy, but I also had a number of books that I didn't finish because they weren't speaking to me. So I was looking forward to some vacation reading.
And I lucked out and enjoyed both of the ones I took on vacation. This first one, I finished on the plane ride over, lol. So it definitely was a compelling and quick read. American Girls by Alison Umminger is not a romance, though there is a small romantic thread. It's what I would call literary YA. The premise is what got me to pick it up in the first place. Fifteen year old girl is fed up at home and runs away to stay with her sister in California for the summer. But while she's there, she ends up researching the Manson girls for a project. That intrigued me. And though the Manson murders are a thread in the book, it doesn't dominate it. This is mostly a coming of age story with some angst, some grit, and a non-glossy look at LA. Recommend.
She was looking for a place to land.
Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she's had it with her life at home. So Anna "borrows" her stepmom's credit card and runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn't quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.
As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls—and although the violence in her own life isn't the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.
In Anna's singular voice, we glimpse not only a picture of life on the B-list in LA, but also a clear-eyed reflection on being young, vulnerable, lost, and female in America—in short, on the B-list of life. Alison Umminger writes about girls, sex, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn't, in a way not often seen in YA fiction.
The next one I read was Always on My Mind by Jill Shalvis. Believe it or not, this was my very first Shalvis read. I'm not sure how that happened, but I'm glad I finally picked one up. This was a sweet and sexy story about a firefighter and a pastry chef. The Great Dane Kevin stole the show for me though. I laughed in every scene that dog was in. And this is book 8 in the series, but I had no trouble jumping in without reading the previous books. I never felt lost.
After dropping out of pastry school and messing up her big break on a reality cooking show, Leah Sullivan needs to accomplish something in her life. But when she returns home to Lucky Harbor, she finds herself distracted by her best friend, Jack Harper. In an effort to cheer up Jack's ailing mother, Dee, Leah tells a little fib - that she and Jack are more than just friends. Soon pretending to be hot-and-heavy with this hunky firefighter feels too real to handle . . .
No-strings attachments suit Jack just fine - perfect for keeping the risk of heartbreak away. But as Jack and Leah break every one of their "just friends" rules, he longs to turn their pretend relationship into something permanent. Do best friends know too much about each other to risk falling in love? Or will Jack and Leah discover something new about each other in a little town called Lucky Harbor?
Last is one I haven't finished yet, but I thought I'd pass along because I breezed through the first half last night. It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell one is a memoir, which is outside my usual zone, but I saw it recommended on another site and decided to try it. So far, it's a very compelling read. The author has a great voice (funny and honest) and she grew up in the 90s, so a lot of the references resonate with me. And though the main topic is binge eating, it's really a story of growing up, dysfunctional families, and trying to find your way through life.
A yet heartbreakingly honest, endearing memoir of incredible weight loss by a young food blogger who battles body image issues and overcomes food addiction to find self-acceptance.
All her life, Andie Mitchell had eaten lustily and mindlessly. Food was her babysitter, her best friend, her confidant, and it provided a refuge from her fractured family. But when she stepped on the scale on her twentieth birthday and it registered a shocking 268 pounds, she knew she had to change the way she thought about food and herself; that her life was at stake.
It Was Me All Along takes Andie from working class Boston to the romantic streets of Rome, from morbidly obese to half her size, from seeking comfort in anything that came cream-filled and two-to-a-pack to finding balance in exquisite (but modest) bowls of handmade pasta. This story is about much more than a woman who loves food and abhors her body. It is about someone who made changes when her situation seemed too far gone and how she discovered balance in an off-kilter world. More than anything, though, it is the story of her finding beauty in acceptance and learning to love all parts of herself.
So that's what I'm reading. What are you reading right now? Or what have you read lately that was great?