Summer Reading List: Legal Thrillers, Suspence, Memoirs, Chick Lit, and More!


I am so behind on writing about the books I've read!  I was actually able to read more on our California vacation (48 hours on the road with a husband and children to ignore) but haven't read much since being home.  Things like laundry and vacuuming always seem to get in the way.  :/

The Litigators by John Grisham  - I've never been shy about professing my love for Grisham.  He's one of the first "grown" authors I read and I still, to this day, absolutely devour his books.  (Exceptions being The Brethern and The Broker, both books he should've written under a psuedonym because . . . DAMN).  The Litigators is the story of David Zinc, a young Chicago attorney working his ass off in the salt mine known as a Big Law Firm.  He's on the fast track to a partnership and gobs of money when he, tired of the pressure, throws it all away.  He finds his way to a "boutique firm" that is more or less managed by a couple of ambulance chasers.  One of the partners has the inside track on a huge class action suit against a pharamceutical company.  What follows is a series of blunders, all in the pursuit of the "big one" and big bucks.

The Litigators is by no means another The Firm or The Partner or The Rainmaker.  It's not a legend and it's doubtful there will ever be a movie made of it.  But it IS a fun book, an enjoyable book.  The characters are classic Grisham-ish in that they're easy to like even with their goofiness and obvious character flaws.  There is not a lot of action in the book.  It's hardly what anyone would call a "legal thriller."  But it is a good, fun read.

Summer People by Elin Hilderbrand - I read this entire book in the stretch between Odessa, Texas, and Deming, New Mexico.  I was so completely captivated by it that I found myself getting irritated when we had to stop for potty breaks or what not because I DID NOT WANT TO STOP READING.  In the interest of full disclosure, Hilderbrand is probably my favorite author -- particuarly when it comes to a good beach read, but still . . . this book was just captivating.

Summer People is the story of the Newton family.  The mother, Beth, and teenage twins, Winnie and Garrett, are spending the summer in Nantucket, the first since the loss of family patriarch Arch.  Along for the ride is Marcus, the son of Arch's final client in his law practice.  The summer sees the family through their pain, Marcus deals with his own pain, and all three of the teenagers fall in love for the first time.  Meanwhile, Beth is dealing with a secret that she kept from her husband and children, a secret that comes back to haunt her as the summer wears on.

The book is good.  It's really good.  It's relateable and realistic in a lot of ways.  The "secret" that Beth carries is both obvious and pretty damn lame but, other than that, it's a total page turner. 

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg - Okay, we all know that Fried Green Tomatoes starring Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy is, like, one of the Best Movies Ever.  It's chick flickish and funny and pulls at your heart strings and, ohmygosh, don't you just love it?  I absolutely adore when I can catch it on one of the movie channels!  Since I enjoyed the movie so much, I knew I had to - had to! - read the book.

The book/ movie is the story of Evelyn, a middle-aged woman, who befriends Mrs. Threadgoode, an elderly woman at the local nursing home.  Over the course of their visits, Mrs. Threadgoode shares the stories of the Threadgood family, the cafe (Whistle Stop) ran by Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Bennett, and the time Idgie stood trial for the murder of Ruth's former husband.  Mrs. Threadgoode and Evelyn form a lasting bond and share a friendship that bridges the gap in their ages.  Evelyn begins to question her own life and choices and her penchant for always following the status quo in life.

The book is good.  It's very good.  But.  I think that MAYBE I liked the movie better.  It's not really something I can explain.  Perhaps I appreciate the movie more because I've been watching it every time it came on TBS for the past 20 years.  Maybe I like it more because the book skipped around too much (and skip around it did!  One chapter you're in the 1980's, next you're in the 50's, back to the 80's, then into the 20's).  The book does, however, delve into much  more detail than we ever see in the movie.  We learn more about Buddy Jr. as the book sees him past the age of eight or so where the movie left off.  We see much - much! - more of Big George and his family.  The book has an overall lesbian theme between Idgie and Ruth, something that seems to be missing from the movie.  Fannie Flagg never comes right out and says that they are in a lesbian relationship but it's much more than implied.

All in all, the book was good.  It was very enjoyable.  But the movie is the real masterpiece. "Face it girls.  I'm older and I have more insurance."

The Gap Year by Sarah Bird - If you have a daughter, this book will make you think.  When I finished it, I couldn't stop thinking about the hopes and wishes I have for my daughter -- and how they will collide with the hopes and wishes she has for herself.

The Gap Year is told from two different points of view: that of mother Cam after daughter Aubrey has graduated from high school and in Aubrey's voice throught out her senior year.  Cam is a single mother and gave up a life she loved in the city for the superb school districts of the suburbs.  When Aubrey begins her final year of high school, the mother/ daughter relationship turns more tumultuous.  Aubrey falls in love with a young man Cam doesn't approve of.  And all Cam really wants is Aubrey to keep her eyes on the prize: college.

It was hard for me to know which "side" I was supposed to stand on with this book.  I'm a mother - a mother of a daughter at that - but it doesn't feel like it was that long ago that *I* was a senior in high school and the entire world was my oyster.  I can understand Cam wanting Aubrey to pursue higher education but, at the same time, I could understand everything that Aubrey was going through as well.

There are several different elements of the book that I won't give away and they serve to make the book more interesting.  And at least one of them makes it slightly squicky.  Aubrey's father left when she was just two-years-old to join a Scientology-type cult.  The whole cult angle is both weird and kind of necessary to the storyline.  Both main characters, Cam and Aubrey, made me want to scream from time to time and there is a certain disdain/ stereotyping of the suburbs.  In the end, I think the book was pretty true-to-life of the mother/ daughter relationship.  And, mannnnn, did it make me THINK!

The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark - Ya'll.  I think maybe it's time for Mary Higgins Clark to put away the pen and paper.  Her books.  They ain't what they used to be.

The Lost Years tells us of biblical scholar Jonathan Lyons who is murdered after he reveals to his priest and a handfull of friends that he thinks he has found a sacred parchment.  His wife, suffering from alzhiemers, is found in the closet clutching the gun.  Their daughter, Mariah, is left to pick up the pieces of their life and try to figure out what happened to her father.

This book was just . . . I don't know how to describe it but I think "meh" is probably the beset adjective.  It was better than Shadow of your Smile but it was nothing - nothing! - like the earlier works of Clark that I fell in love with so many years ago.  I didn't care WHO committed the murder.  The main character lacked the charisma of the heroines of other MHC novels.  It was just a boring novel that I only barrelled my way through because I make it a point to always at least try to finish a book. This is also yet another novel where Alvirah Meehan makes an appearance.  I understand that she's a loveable character and many of Clark's fans are also fans of Alvirah. However, I think it's time to retire Alvirah's sunburst pin . . .

Interestingly: When I googled this book, I found a discussion wherein several people seem to think that her last few novels haven't been written by Mary Higgins Clark but, rather, her daughter Carol.  Veddy interesting.  Veddy interesting.

Bossypants by Tina Fey - Man.  I love Tina Fey.  She's hillarious (hello!  Bitch is the new black??  Comedic genius) and she's also one of those people, along with Amy Poeler, that you like to think you'd be BFF'd up with if, you know, your paths ever happened to cross.

This book starts off great.  It's funny and - even better - you find yourself reading it in her voice.  She tosses in sarcasm and every chance she gets and I love her even more for it.  Once she gets to the middle of the book, and begins discussing the SNL years and then 30 Rock, it was a little harder for me to read.  It wasn't as interesting and it seemed like she went on and on (and on!) way after all the "good" jokes about those times in her life were out of the way.  She picked up steam again when discussing her portrayal of Sarah Palin and her chapter on motherhood was downright hilarity.  She touches on the whole mommywars and everything she said about breastfeeding had me saying, "yes!' and "preach it, sista!"

The book is good.  It's one that you'll want to read -- but I won't be mad atcha if you skip over the SNL and 30 Rock parts.
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