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Books Can Make You Happy

This month’s selections don’t have a common thread at all. They were all so good, however, so I guess that might be the theme. Just good books!

These five books have friends attacking their bucket list, children being sold, people spending millions of dollars in one shopping trip, a supernatural thriller, and a story about a boy that wants to be a girl.

Five book reviews on this post- all 5 star books for me. See which one is your favorite!

Good Luck with That by Kristin Higgins

Three really good friends encounter real life. The girls, Emerson, Georgia, and Marley met at summer camp as teens who were all trying to lose weight.

Now, many years later Georgia and Marley attend the funeral of Emerson. Emerson never lost the extra weight as she grew into adulthood. In fact, she gained an enormous amount and this led to her death.

At the funeral, the two friends are given the “Thin Girl” bucket list they had all written at the summer camp. In honor of Emerson, they decide to complete the list.

This is a different kind of bucket list! They want to hold hands with a boyfriend, eat dessert in public, ride piggy-back on someone. Why are these things so difficult? The book will let you know just how biased the public is about overweight women. Georgia and Marley still struggle with weight gain and weight loss and their body images.

The book is quite readable and very funny at times. (There is one improbable scene with a rabbit, but the rest of the book is great!) You will love the friendship of these two women and cheer when they are able to conquer the fears they are tackling with their bucket lists! 5 stars

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

This is the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians and I enjoyed it just as much as that first book. In the first book, Rachel Chu discovers that the father she never knew is alive. In this book, Rachel and her new husband Nick travel to meet him.

It also seems that Rachel has a half-brother, Carlton.

The book begins with shenanigans with Carlton and his mother’s cover-up of the tragedy (it involves a car crash and a dead passenger). As Rachel soon discovers, this scheming mother does not want Rachel in the way of her son’s lavish lifestyle or his inheritance.

Of course, many of the people from Book 1 appear as they continue their extravagant lives. Astrid, Nick’s cousin, and her husband are featured, as are many others. It’s all very well written and completely readable- even though the spending of millions of dollars during one shopping trip is definitely something that cannot be comprehended.

These books are also quite funny – especially the footnotes the author includes. Be sure to read those. Read Book 1 first and then dive into this one! You will love it, too! 5 stars

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I had no idea what to expect from this little book, but, oh, my goodness, it was really good!

The story opens with a middle-aged man returning to his original home to attend a funeral. While there he decides to visit the site of his home and also take a walk down the lane. As a seven-year-old, he walked down that lane one day and met Lettie Hempstock.

It turns out that Lettie, her mother, and her grandmother have some mystical, mysterious, and supernatural powers. (Think Stephen King, here.)

As the man sits beside a pond (that Lettie always called an ocean) he begins to remember things that happened with himself and Lettie many years before. The friendship deepened quickly as the boy found himself with Lettie as she created a fantasy world to solve a problem. As this is happening the boy is told to hold Lettie’s hand and not let go, but he does. He is stabbed or bitten and a day or so later discovers a “worm” embedded in his foot.

Do I need to tell you that this might not have been a worm, but a parasite with human qualities? And, how on earth, can Lettie and her family help him?

That is all I am telling you about this one! Put it on your list, for sure! It’s a really quick read with a little less than 200 pages. You will think of Stephen King throughout the book and it also reminded me of Tuck Everlasting. I loved it! 5 stars!

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

It is 1931 and America is at a low point. Jobs are scarce, money is scarcer, and people are just trying to make it all work. A young reporter, Ellis Reed, is traveling through Pennsylvania and happens upon a sight that startles him.

On the front porch of a weathered farmhouse, he finds two children sitting and just observing their world.

Next to them is a small wooden sign that reads,

“2 Children for sale”

Ellis snaps a photo and later submits the photo to his editor. His editor approves the photo and article for the newspaper and Ellis scrambles to publish his story. Unfortunately, something happens to the photo and he does not have the negative to reprint it.

The choice Ellis makes next will have a profound effect on his life and the lives of a family. He returns to the farmhouse to try to recreate the children and the sign. The family no longer lives there, but a next-door neighbor with two children catch his attention. Could he possibly get those kids to pose with the old sign and let him take the picture? Could this turn into an impossible situation?

With the help of a co-worker, Lily, Ellis embarks on trying to fix the mess he created with the second photo. Lily lives in the city and works at the newspaper and has a secret of her own. She and Ellis become good friends.

This is a well-written book with some twists and turns and a predictable ending, but I enjoyed it! I think you will, too. 5 stars!

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

Claude is five years old. He has four older brothers and two fairly amazing parents that are just spending their days enjoying these five sons and all that parenting entails.

Until one day Claude announces that he would like to be a girl.

He loves to wear dresses and wants to be a princess. Rosie and Penn (the parents) have allowed Claude the freedom to do what makes him happy, but there is a catch to this.

What do they tell everyone else? The older brothers are alright with Claude, but what happens when he goes to school? The decision to keep Claude’s gender a secret explodes one day when an overnight stay with a friend creates quite a scene since they think Claude is a girl. This is when the family decides to move.

Claude will have a fresh start as his new persona, Poppy. The secret continues in this new home.

This book is well written and addresses the issue of gender identification. There are many other side stories to this book- with all of the boys in the family and the parents. The children are all precocious and quite intelligent- sometimes more than is necessary to tell the story.

The parents are easy-going and allow the kids their freedoms- but sometimes it’s a little much. I really wonder how many parents are like this. It is quite eye-opening, however. I think it is worth reading to get a perspective on this topic.  4.5 stars!

Some amazing books from which to choose this month! You will enjoy them all!

My rating system: 5 stars- perfection, the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.

Five book reviews on this post- all 5 star books for me. See which one is your favorite!