This August was a quiet month for reading. My niece and brother were home for the month so that meant lots of hanging out with them and honestly, I was so exhausted from minding a little person that reading just wasn’t on the cards. But now September is here I'm back to reading in a big way and that means I'm back to sharing my favourite reads here. Starting with his month’s reading list. It's a mixed bag and none of these books would fall into the “blow your mind/change your life” category, but I feel like they are good options for easing yourself back into reading for Autumn. The Wives and Crazy Rich Asians are books that I shouldn't have liked all that much, but actually really enjoyed. Pretty Girls is an intense thriller that will keep you gripped. The King of Lavender Square is a pleasure to read and written by an Irish author. And The Little Book of Hygge is obligatory Autumn reading if you want to do cosiness the Danish way.
Keep scrolling for my September Reading List
The Wives by Lauren Weisberger
From the author of The Devil Wears Prada comes The Wives or to give it its US title, When Life Gives You Lululemons. The Wives was always going to garner attention. Ask most people who their favourite character from the Devil Wears Prada is and I doubt many people will say Andrea (that's Anne Hathaway's character). I'm not the only one that found her intensely annoying, am I? Miranda and her original assistant Emily Charleton, played brilliantly by Emily Blunt in the film were much more my cup of tea. Emily is the principal character in the Wives and so immediately I liked the sound of it.
Emily is now 36, has left Runway and works as a celebrity fixer in LA. She has fallen out of favour with her clients and misses all things New York. As her career hits a low point, she reconnects with an old friend Miriam, who lives in Greenwich, Conneticut having given up her job in Manhatten to move there with her family. Miriam’s friend and ex-model Karolina Hartwell, wife to a US senator is arrested for driving under the influence, something she strongly denies. Emily and Miriam join forces with Karolina to uncover the truth behind her DUI, save her reputation and secure her custody of your step-son, who she has raised from a young age. The hate figure in the book is Karolina’s senator husband who has his eye on a presidential bid and frankly needs to upgrade his wife to a more policitically appealing model. The book is entertaining at times and I read it in a few days. However, it’s relentless mocking of the stereotypical Greenwich housewife and the over the top focus on body image with constant references to weight that border on cruel, can be tiresome. If you can get past those, this is an easy read and one that will ease you back into Autumn reading. However, temper your expectations. The Devil Wears Prada, this is not.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
This is a story we’ve heard a hundred times before. Normal girl falls in love with Prince Charming, complete with evil in-laws and fairy godmother style characters. It’s a book I should hate, but I loved it. I picked Crazy Rich Asians as I've heard so much about the newly released film that is breaking box office records in the US.
Rachel Chu is a NYU economics professor who has been dating Nick Young, a historian for two years. Their life is in New York and she hasn’t met his family back home in Singapore and knows nothing about them. That all changes very quickly when Nick invites Rachel to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. He does nothing to prepare Rachel for the world she’s about to step into for Nick is Singapore royalty, heir to the Young fortune and considered the most eligible bachelor on the island. Cue evil and coniving in-laws who will stop at nothing to scruper Nick's plans to propose to Rachel. The book takes you into a status obsessed world of climate controlled walk-in closets, private planes, haute couture dressing and million dollar shopping sprees. If this was set in America or England, I would have hated it. But set in Asia and it’s impossible not to get sucked in. Brand names are abundant in this novel where Carolina Herrara and Lanvin make for casual attire and dressing your kids in Ralph Lauren is considered tacky. The real appeal of Crazy Rich Asians isn’t the love story. Rather it’s the escape into over the top riches, the extravagance, the glitz and glamour and the cattiness and plotting. It’s tacky and predictable and I loved every page of it
Crazy Rich Asians is a whole other level of fantasy. The characters aren’t just rich, they’re the richest families in Asia. The prologue to the book sees Eleanor Young, Nick’s mother arriving in a luxury London hotel only to be turned away by a racist hotel manager. Eleanor makes a quick phone call and returns an hour later with news that her family have just purchased the hotel. It has that 'Julia Robers shopping on Rodea drive in Pretty Woman' vibe to it. I cannot wait to see the film!
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Karin Slaughter’s The Good Daughter was one of my favourite books that I’ve read this year so when I saw her novel Pretty Girls on special offer for €3.99 in the book store in Kilkenny, I bought it. Pretty Girls is a thriller featuring two sisters caught in a story of tragedy and deception. Twenty four years previously, Claire and Lydia Carroll’s older sister, 19-year-old Julia Carrol disappears after a night out. Each member of the Carroll family dealt with the tragedy in their own way. Julia’s dad Sam became consumed with the investigation and never moved on with his life, eventually committing suicide. Julia’s mother Helen tried to rebuild her life for the sake of Claire and Lydia. Twenty four years later, Lydia is a single mother and recovering drug addict and Claire is married to Paul, a millionaire architect. The sisters are estranged after Lydia accused Paul of assaulting her. Despite the estrangement they share a common loss that is brought to the surface when another young girl goes missing in circumstances similar to Julia's. When Paul is murdered in a robbery that goes wrong, the two sisters are reunited. From there Claire begins to learn the truth about the type of person her husband was and what happened to her family.
Pretty Girls is full of plot twists and non-stop action, with no shortage of brutality. At times, the description of violence and crime is hard to stomach and I found myself skimming over some of the more graphic chapters. Pretty Girls is intense and brutal which makes for difficult reading. Provided you have a strong stomach, this novel should keep you gripped.
The King of Lavender Square by Susan Ryan
This was on the “recommended Irish reads” shelf in the bookshop and I like the idea of including at least one Irish book each month. The King of Lavender Square is about an African-Irish boy who dreams of playing soccer for Ireland, and his relationships with his neighbours living on Lavendar Square. The residents of the square unknown to each other are forced together when Patrick Kimba’s mother is diagnosed with cancer. His neighbours are forced to look after Patrick and his mother as there is no-one else there to do so. I read this book over two sunny days back in July and it was a pleasure to read. It deals with many issues prevalent in modern Ireland, such as loneliness, isolation and community. It's impossible not to care about Patrick Kimba and the residents of Lavender Square.
The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
What can I say, I'm a sucker for Hygge. I love everything about the Danish concept of living well. It's so 2016, but I don't care. I was gifted this book last Christmas by my friend Dee and it's the kind of book that you keep handy and dip in and out of it. It isn't all about cosy blankets and burning candles, even though I'd be ok with it if it was. It's described by those in the know as an atmosphere or experience that emphasis close links to family and friends and a good work/life balance. Anyway if you think you need help to find your inner hygge, this might be a good place to start.