BookAuthorGenreBeach read/book club/personal introspection/how toRating
Black CakeCharmaine Wilkersonfiction/women’s fiction/relationships/family/resilience/friendshipBook club/Beach read1
Iona Iverson’s Rules for CommutingClare Pooleyfiction/light/intertwined stories/friendshipBeach Read2
Klara and the SunKazuo Ishigurosci fi/dystopianBook Club3
A woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of Virginia Hall, WWII’s Most Dangerous SpySonia Purnellnon fiction/female spy during WWIIBook Club4
Minimalista: Your Step by Step Guide to a Better Home, Wardrobe and LifeShira Gillhow tohow to5
The Candy HouseJennifer Eganliterary fiction/interconnected people/slight dystopianBook Club6
We came, We Saw, We Left: A Family Gap YearCharles Wheelannon fiction/memoir/travel journalBeach Read7
Nora Goes Off ScriptAnnabel Monaghanfiction/women’s fiction/rom comBeach Read8
Great ExpectationsCharles Dickensfiction/classics/coming of age/moralisticbook club9
Olga Dies DreamingXochitl Gonzalezfiction/political/women’s fictionbeach read10
The Messy Lives of Book PeoplePhaedra Patrickwomen’s fiction/finding your voice/relationshipsbeach read11
This Time TomorrowEmma Straubfiction/women’s fiction/time travel/findind oneselfbeach read12
Out of the Clear Blue SkyKristan Higginswomen’s fiction/light/divorce/relationshipsbeach read13
Minus MeMameve Medwedwoman’s fiction/marriage/infertility/illness/relationships/beach read14
Beautiful CountryQian Julie Wangmemoir/coming of age/immigrationbook club15
Mindful Thoughts at home: Finding Heart in the HomeKate Peersnon fiction/mindfulness/homehow to16
The Tea House on Mulberry StreetSharon Owensfiction/women’s fiction/light/intertwined stories Beach Read17
Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other CloseAminatour Sow & Ann Friedmannon fiction/friendship/relationshipshow to18
Group TherapyBB Eastonfiction/light/rom com/beach read19
Some of these books were rereads, or really, skims. I did not read all of these cover to cover this month- I just finished them in June. However, as I had a trying month, I did manage to go through quite a few light and plucky books because my brain needed a break. When the going gets tough, LA takes to reading.
  1. Black Cake– Loved this book- it does a rare thing- it’s easy to read, but also gives many layers to think about. Beautiful story about a woman who doesn’t let anything get her down- she just keeps going. Great look at the things we give our children, and how the parent child relationship is often difficult.
  2. Iona Iverson– I loved this book. But let me preface: this is not “the great (insert country here) novel”. There are no lush descriptions or brilliant dialogue, no literary tricks. It’s fairly predictable as to what’s going to happen. It’s just a simple story about an unlikely group of friends, but I was 100% in for the ride. The characters are a bit quirky, which I like, and there wasn’t too much “bad”, so it was a fairly pleasant diversion for me. If you like a light book that really centers around friendship, give this a try.
  3. Klara– Reread for Book Club/fulfills my science fiction square on my Bingo card. I don’t like the genre, but I thought this was a thoughtful and introspective read about what the future holds as far as friends, and what we consider friends
  4. A Woman of No Importance– Reread for book club/fills my book about a spy square for Bingo card. Brilliant story about an unsung hero, who is greatly responsible for how WWII played out. If you want to read about a strong woman- look no further. My book club did wonder about how true some of these exploits were however, because it seemed too much at times.
  5. Minimalista- If you are a fan of the organizing/minimalist genre, this book is same old same old. Though it’s written in a pleasing style, I didn’t learn any new tricks. However, the style of this book is awesome. Gill does a great job of summarizing and highlighting the take aways. The book itself is written in an organized and minimalist style, so I feel very confident listening to her as a authority on the subject.
  6. Candy House– There are some wonderful sentences in this book, with some really inspiring ideas. Egan knows how to write. However, this book is sort of six degrees of separation- she might write a chapter about a character, but then we only sparsely see that character again. There are so many characters, and I sort of forgot the back story to some of them- which means that I was lost sometimes as to both the character motivation, and the motivation of the author. Because of its odd lay out, it’s a stretch to call it a novel. However- as flawed as this book is, I still found certain parts extremely intriguing and thought provoking. But- I do have a hard time recommending it, because I know much of it seems inconsequential.
  7. We Came, We Saw, We Left– Two parents and three teens take nine months off and explore the world. I admit I enjoyed this book vicariously: while I reveled in the adventures that the family had, I know that there is no way I could do a trip like this. 1) lack of reliable plumbing 2) bugs 3) carrying my belongings on my back. But this is a breezy read about the amazing places they saw, and what it’s like to be with your family 24/7 for nine months. My only issue is there are a few pop culture references gone awry- I don’t care about grammar errors- but please don’t start to get facts wrong. I have an issue with the fact that facts are now loosely interpreted. I did email the author about the first error I caught, but after that I decided if he didn’t care, why should I. But- I’m glad my daughter isn’t learning from him. This book fulfills the BN monthly pick spot on my Bingo card.
  8. Nora Goes Off Script– For the record, this is a light book, and as I stated about something else, this is not brilliantly written nor thought provoking. It’s just a simple, slightly unbelievable story about a woman trying to rebound after a lousy marriage. I liked the main characters, it moved quickly, and it had a sort of quirky charm. This was a perfectly nice light, fluffy read .
  9. Great Expectations– I don’t love this book- I think it’s too long, too many words and chapters. However- the writing is beautiful. The bones of the story hold up. It just takes too long to get to the very satisfying last few chapters.
  10. Olga Dies Dreaming– This is not a bad book. However, it takes itself way too seriously. It tries to be political and anti establishment and is full of messages, but at the end of the day it’s a story about a cold, narcissistic, manipulative Mother and the emotional damage she does to her two children who spend their lives trying to make their mother love them. If you take it as a beach read, you will probably be satisfied. If you look at it as literary fiction, be forewarned.
  11. Messy Lives– Patrick is a decent writer- however, this story mucks itself up a bit too much. Plucky heroine and her growth as a person makes sense, but there are these little gaps that make it inconsistent. The book is missing something, but I’m not quite sure what. However, if you’ve ever been 40, and feel a little lost, this is a decent read.
  12. This Time Tomorrow– 40 year old woman wakes up on the morning of her 16th birthday. The old what would you change about your life trope…This is a fairly pleasant read if you like the genre, and accept a touch of sci fi in your novels. Decently written, not too cliché, not too preachy, but fails to give a completely satisfying story. That being said, if this was my airplane book I’d be able to read until I wanted to nap or watch a movie.
  13. Clear Blue Sky– On the plus side, there is clear character growth. On the minus side, pretty much everything in this book. I did not feel for either of the two main female characters in this book- they annoyed me, as women, as mother’s, as friends. as sisters and as partners. However, I know Higgins has a huge fan base, so there are some who will like this more than I did.
  14. Minus Me– I didn’t love the main character, and I think in a light fiction novel it is imperative that you like the main character. To be fair, I also didn’t like some of the other characters in this book- too one dimensional, or too cliché. However, there are days that I need to just shut off my brain, so this book came at a good point in my weekly journey.
  15. Beautiful Country– Memoir about an undocumented young woman’s journey. While this was an interesting story, I didn’t feel that the way it was written moved me very much- it comes across a bit sterile. I needed more feeling. There are many who love this book though, so this is just my take on it.
  16. Mindful Thoughts– This is a simple premise of how to be more mindful about your day to day. While this book has nothing wrong with it, and it is uplifting, it didn’t move me the way other books of this genre have. It’s fine- but nothing special.
  17. Tea House– Read for Tea Book Club. Hmmm.. where do I start? First- this book was written in 2005, and I think it would have felt dated in 2005, much less 2022. I just couldn’t get past some of the attitudes and such. I didn’t like a lot of the characters- and there were a lot of characters. Book was a bit creepy to me.
  18. Big Friendship– This book is supposed to tell you how to maintain friendships. But I will tell you what this book doesn’t say- you can’t be a friend if you are a narcissistic, over indulged person who doesn’t have a clue how to actually put someone else’s needs in front of your own. Do you know how to be a friend? Listen. Communicate. Cut your friends some slack. It’s not about you all the time. Clearly one of the worst books of the year for me, possibly in my life time. I now know why this book had been on my TBR longer than any other book.
  19. Group Therapy– This book is a mockery of so many things- therapy, strong women being at the forefront. There are very few books I will tell you DON’T Read. This would be one of them. Just a waste of words and time. In the running for worst books I read this year.
Title GenreWhere SeenRating
Top Gun: Maverickaction/adventure/sequelTheater/AMC1
Lost IllusionsForeign (French)/period/based on La Comedie Humaine by Honore de BalzacTheater/Film Forum2
Downton Abbey: A New Eraperiod/historical fluff/sequelTheater/AMC3
Lightyearanimated/childrens/sequel/action/adventureTheater/AMC4
Fire In The Mountainsfiction/drama/foreign (Hindi)Theater/Film Forum5
Alone Togetherfiction/dramedy/pandemicTheater/Tribeca Film Festival6
  1. Top Gun– I love the original Top Gun. I love the new Top Gun. This isn’t a deep, thinking person’s movie- this is just a plot driven by a crisis, and the story of a man searching for something. I was all in for every second of this ride. I know there are people who are not going to enjoy this, but if this type of movie is your thing- get thee to a theater now. One of the best sequels that I’ve ever seen.
  2. Lost Illusions -This is a really well done film. I have no idea how close it is to the book, but this is an engrossing tale of a young man trying to find his place/get ahead in the world. I thought the film was structured well- where we are sort of peering into his life and watching his ups and downs with him. But, it’s much wordier than most French films, so you have to either speak French or be OK with a lot of reading- plus the whole period thing…
  3. Downton– I am a huge fan of Downton, so this is another case of being all in for the ride. I love everything about Downton, and this satisfies me on all levels. But if you are not a fan, you can skip this- there’s no bells and whistles, just the continuing sage of the Family Crawley.
  4. Lightyear– Very average sequel to the Toy Story franchise. This movie lacks heart and whimsy, and the message gets lost in all the mish mosh. Unless you have a child between 5 and 10, I’d pass.
  5. Fire in the Mountains- Story of an Indian family trying to get by. Proves that dysfunctional families/relationships are universal. Subtlety shows gender gap, bureaucracy, patriarchal tendencies and superstition, which is good, however, it’s sometimes wanders a bit too much. Beautifully shot. All in all, I don’t think I’m telling anyone to run out and see this film.
  6. Alone Together– Katie Holmes directed this entrant at the Tribeca Film Festival. I call it two hours of my life that I will never get back. First off- this is a warning for people to not direct themselves in a movie- you need outside perspective as to what does and doesn’t work. Secondly, she is flat as an actress- I don’t know if I’ve ever seen less emotion. The script is dull- scenes never realize what they are supposed to be: comedy not really funny, emotions seem wooden. There are also so many incongruities- someone needs to teach her how to outline and fact check… This is definitely one of the worst films I’ve seen this year.

34 thoughts on “My Month in Books and Movies: June 2022

  1. Interesting post. You certainly did a lot of reading this month. Some sound desperately bad and many appropriately light for this season. I can’t see the words “Great Expectations” without thinking of my poor husband whose family moved A LOT! Required reading at each of his schools for each high school grade level was Great Expectations. So, 4 years in a row!😱

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had so much family drama this month I had trouble sleeping. I’m not a fan of the toss and turn, so I read until I fall asleep with my ereader hitting me in the face. I choose light, breezy reads because I need stories that are easy on my brain. Your poor husband!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know you ain’t big into graphic novels but you should consider Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol a partial memoir about a young Russian immigrant girl who attends a Russian camp in upstate NY. It can be emotional at times but it’s quite a good read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I still have to pick a book for the September book club. I appreciate your thoughtful analysis. Have you read Eudora Welty? I’ve finished my second book of hers “The Optimist’s Daughter.” Short quick read and beautifully written. I never heard of her until my English Lit son recommended her as one of his favorite authors.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I saw the recommendations for the Candy House and then discovered it’s a sort of follow-up to her earlier work the Goon Squad. So I read that. I had the same reaction to that one as you did to the follow-up. Not sure whether I’ll go on to read the Candy House now, although some of it has stayed with me, so… it goes on the TBR.

    Ishiguru’s dystopian works are so thought-provoking, if in an uncomfortable way. I rated Klara more than Never Let Me Go, because it was easier to build an emotional attachment to one character, rather than a cast of characters.

    The new Downton film was fluffy, frothy fun – so just what’s needed at the moment and I enjoyed it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooooh, a long wait. But maybe the book will have reached the top of my TBR list by then 🙂

        Like

    1. Basically, they wanted to be able to quickly move and be personally responsible for there stuff. For the most part, I’d call it backpacking…they had little fixed itinerary except for certain plane times, and times when they had plans to meet up with friends and family, and I think one specified reservation at a campsite. They pretty much went on the fly. There adventure was mega interesting…the things they saw, experienced etc. I was in awe of them. You might like it as a read because you’ve done your own sort of adventuring lately.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I briefly thought about it, but then you said something about errors, and you and I have similar reading styles, so you know I’d be counting and keeping track, like pg. 37, missed a comma; pg. 50, referenced Speak and Spell, which was popular in the 80s, etc., and so I figured I didn’t have time for that lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. These were pop culture mistakes…one about a Friend’s episode and one from it’s a wonderful life. Grammatically, even to my lousy eye, it was pretty solid

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