In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume: oh, man. What can I say about this? It's Judy Blume and it's good. In Elizabeth, New Jersey in the 1950s, three planes crashed over the course of two months. Naturally, the town was thrown into turmoil, and Blume uses her exceptional storytelling skills to weave a tale about love, loss and family in a way that only she can. I read an interview where Blume said she had thought about including a chart of the characters (because there are many to keep up with, and they are all interconnected), but her husband convinced her not to. Indeed, a chart would have been helpful in keeping track of the various narrators, but discovering how the characters are linked together is also part of the beauty of the book. Highly recommended (in fact, it's not pictured above because I lent my copy to my mom, who reports that she loved it).
Savor by Shauna Niequist: I've never read a daily devotional before but bought a copy of Savor with a birthday gift card after flipping through it a few times at the store. Each page has a bible verse, a short essay and a question or two to ponder (which would make excellent journaling prompts). It's a little daily dose of positivity.
Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin: I tried (and failed) to read this book when it came out. At the time, I was super bummed because I'm always interested in cultivating a better home life. But I just couldn't get into Rubin's voice as an author and quickly abandoned it (fortunately it was a library book, so no money wasted there). But I recently read (and really enjoyed) Rubin's Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, so I decided to go back and give this a shot, now that I'm more familiar with Rubin's style. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was just as hooked on Happier as I was Better (though I think that Better is still, well, better). In Happier at Home, Rubin embarks on a follow-up to her happiness project (which formed the basis of her best-selling book, which is next on my list, of course). She chooses a handful of resolutions to try each month for the duration of the school year, and then reports on the results. What I find interesting about Rubin's books is that very few people would go to the lengths that she does to start and keep numerous resolutions, but anyone could read Happier at Home and find a handful of things they might want to implement in their own lives. It's a great end-of-summer read as everyone gears up for the new school year.
The Best Medicine by Elizabeth Hayley: One of the common misconceptions people have about librarians is that we only like to read serious literature. Not at all. In fact, classics and literary fiction interest me not at all, and one of my guiltiest pleasures is reading romance novels, the steamier the better. They're light, fluffy, and guaranteed to end well. I grabbed The Best Medicine on a Target run because it fit my romance novel criteria: contemporary and steamy. Grad student Lauren Hastings ends up taking a gig in her mom's office and soon ends up in a friends-with-benefits situation with her boss, Dr. Scott Jacobs. In the end I thought it was just okay, although I do have to award points with the Doogie Howser references. The "I won't let myself fall in love, ever, because of my parents" trope is just a little boring for me, I guess. I'd prefer a more imaginative obstacle to the main characters getting together. This is the first in a new series but I'm not sure I would pick up subsequent titles.
Going off Script by Giuliana Rancic: I was thrilled when I received a copy of Going off Script, because I love Giuliana & Bill and, in general, love dishy celebrity memoirs. Giuliana had an interesting childhood (her family immigrated from Italy when she was young), and those experiences certainly make for great stories. Aspiring celebrity journalists will be riveted by Rancic's career trajectory (spoiler alert: just like everyone else, she stumbled along the way). And every woman can empathize with her longing for a family and the terror she felt with her breast cancer diagnosis. Where the book falls flat, I think, is her cattiness towards other women. I was a little surprised, because this representation of herself didn't really jive with the version of herself from Giuliana & Bill. I mean, she runs Fab-U-Wish, which helps women undergoing breast cancer treatment feel fabulous. I expected a little more positivity and sisterhood, rather than referring to multiple women as "bitches." It was a quick read, but I think there are other, better, celebrity memoirs to jump into if that's what you're looking for. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Paper Towns by John Green: I hadn't read a YA novel in awhile and decided to pick up Paper Towns after seeing the trailer for the movie. This has been a popular book for a long time and I think that's the reason I'd put off reading it (when something is continuously raved about, it becomes less interesting to me). Anyway, I was quickly hooked into Quentin's quest to find his missing neighbor, the beautiful and tragic Margo Roth Spiegelman. Green certainly has a way with drawing realistic teen characters, and in Paper Towns he's crafted an epic story that's part mystery, part romance. The ending got a little existential for my taste, but overall it was a "can't put it down" read.