Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved but Never Reviewed

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books I Loved but Never Reviewed.

Between my blog and Goodreads, most of my more recent reads got at least a short review. So, for this topic, I mostly went back to books I read in my pre-blogging days… or books that I loved so much or that are so universally adored that there didn’t seem to be much point in writing a review (other than the old short stand-by: “I loved it!).

  1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (yes, really– for all that I talk about this book on my blog, I’ve never written an actual review)
  2. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
  3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  4. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  5. March trilogy by John Lewis
  6. Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall
  7. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
  8. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  9. The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
  10. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

What books are on your TTT this week? Please share your links!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid Jenkins [a spoiler-free review!]

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: June 13, 2017
Length: 389 pages
Genre: Contemporary/historical fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means–and what it costs–to face the truth. 

My first 5-star read of 2020! The only question is, why did it take me until now to read this excellent book?

I’ve been a fan of author Taylor Jenkins Reid for several years now. I first read her book Maybe in Another Life when it was released in 2015, then went back and read everything else she’s written. I loved, loved, loved last year’s Daisy Jones and the Six. But for whatever reason, despite having a copy on my shelf since 2017, I just didn’t get around to Evelyn Hugo. Now I finally see what all the buzz was about — and let me tell you, it’s all completely justified!

By now, most people have probably read this amazing book — but here’s the thing: I went into The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo remarkably unspoiled. I’d read the blurb, and knew it was about a former Hollywood icon who’d been married seven times. And that’s it.

(And thinking about it, perhaps that’s why I didn’t feel especially compelled to pick up the book, despite all the glowing reviews. Hollywood stars and scandals isn’t usually a topic that draws me.)

Now, having read the book, I know just how much more there is to Evelyn’s story. And I am so appreciative of the fact that I read it with no expectations and no advance knowledge of the true depths waiting to be discovered.

So, for the sake of anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo yet, I’m not going to give anything away!

Taylor Jenkins Reid introduces us to star Evelyn Hugo at age 79, as she’s finally ready to share her true story to a relatively unknown writer. Why does she choose Monique? Why tell her story now, after so many years outside of the spotlight? All will be revealed by the end!

Evelyn is a marvelous character, a girl who came from nothing and reached the pinnacle of Hollywood stardom. The public came to know her through her movies and awards, but she became equally (if not more) famous for her series of marriages and their scandals.

But each marriage is a key to understanding the puzzle that is Evelyn. Each reveals yet another chapter of her history and her control of her own narrative and destiny.

As I said, I simply refuse to give anything away, because I love the fact that all of Evelyn’s secrets ended up surprising me as I read the book. But here’s what I can share:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is filled with:

  • Complex, fascinating characters
  • Powerful emotional connections
  • Deep, abiding friendship
  • True, passionate love
  • A reverence for families of all sorts
  • Unflinchingly honest reflections on sacrifice, power, manipulation, scandal, and fame

… and so much more.

I just loved this book, plain and simple. I think it would make a fantastic book group choice, as there’s so much to mull over and think about. I’m pushing this book on a few key bookish friends so I can talk about it with them!

As if I were in any doubt, this book absolutely confirms the talent of Taylor Jenkins Reid. I can’t wait to see what she writes next! Whatever it is, I’ll be first in line to read it.

Interested in this author? Check out my reviews of:

Forever, Interrupted (2013)
After I Do (2014)
Maybe In Another Life (2015)
One True Loves (2016)
Daisy Jones & The Six (2019)


Top Ten Tuesday: Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

snowy10

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads.

It’s nice to be able to give some love to stellar books that not enough people know about! Here are some of my top-rated reads, all with fewer than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads. Where available, I’m including links to my reviews, so check ’em out if you’re interested!

1) All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen (1,463 ratings): A super-charming steampunk adventure, with nods to Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. I think I’m due for a re-read!

2) Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett (1,292 ratings): An Austen-esque novel about a whaling community in Australia in the early 1900s. Such a great read! (my review)

3) Extreme Makeover by Dan Wells (943 ratings): The end of the world, as brought about by a cosmetics company. Scary yet kind of funny in a bizarre sort of way. (my review)

4) Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel (358 ratings): Why haven’t more people read this book?? I rave about this book whenever I get a chance — a mash-up of Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice that works perfectly. (my review)

5) Alive in Necropolis by Doug Dorst (933 ratings): I read this book years ago, but remember being charmed by the shenanigans of the ghosts in a California cemetery.

6) Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn (1,468 ratings): I can’t for the life of me figure out why more people haven’t read this terrific book and its sequel, The Wild Dead. The world-building and storytelling are amazing. (my review)

7) Miniatures by John Scalzi (1,808 ratings): This collection of short fiction is adorable and highly entertaining. (my review)

8) Unequal Affection by Lara S. Ormiston (1,857 ratings): Yet another Austen-influenced book! This is one of the best riffs off of Pride and Prejudice that I’ve encountered — not a retelling exactly, but a continuation with an alternate ending. What if Elizabeth had accepted Mr. Darcy’s first proposal? This book explores what might have happened, and is a wonderful read. (my review)

9) All the Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson (1,534 ratings): A beautiful story about love, second chances, and survival, set in one of my very favorite places, Alaska. (my review)

10) The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (1,591 ratings): As I wrote on Goodreads: Weird, wonderful, beautiful, tragic. If you’re wondering how elephants could possibly fit into a story about the “radium girls” tragedy, check out this inventive, powerful novella. (my review)

Have you read any of these? What are your top underrated books?

If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link so I can check out your list!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Of My Most Recent 5-Star Reads

tulips-65036_1280

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is 10 Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads.

I feel like I’ve already praised most of these to death, but hey — if a book is that good, it’s always worth talking about again! My top ten, in no particular order:

 

1) Breakup by Dana Stabenow: I can’t help raving about this terrific series!

Breakup

2) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie: My first Christie, finally!

and then

3) Lock In by John Scalzi (review): Fascinating sci-fi.

lock in

4) All the Winters After by Seré Prince Halverson (review): Love and Alaska – what could be better?

All the Winters After

5) The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian (review): Disturbing, shocking, and moving.

Guest Room

6) In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (review): So far, every one of this author’s books has been a 5-star read for me.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

7) Uprooted by Naomi Novik (review): Utterly magical and absorbing.

Uprooted

8) Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn (review): An amazing graphic novel trilogy.

Alex + AdaAlex + Ada 2aa

9) Depth by Lev AC Rosen (review): Sci-fi noir — a detective story set in the drowned city of New York.

Depth

10) The Marvels by Brian Selznick (review): This author continues to amaze with his words-and-pictures approach to storytelling.

The Marvels

What books made your list this week? Please share your links!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Shelf Control and Thursday Quotables. Happy reading!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten (or so) Books I Read in 2015

snowy15

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I Read in 2015. I pulled up my Goodreads stats for 2015… and discovered that I gave 5-star ratings to 48 books.

Granted, some of these were re-reads (A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein) or audiobook versions of classics I read long ago (all the works of Jane Austen), but still, it’s kind of thrilling to see how many books I truly loved in 2015!

For the purposes of this list, I’m narrowing it down to the best of the bunch, excluding re-reads and graphic novels, and probably leaving out some of the books I’ve already raved about ad infinitum. In no particular order, here are the best of the bunch:

Note: If you want to know more about any of the books mentioned here, click on the links to see my reviews.

1) Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova (review)

Inside the O'Briens

2) The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (review)

Boston Girl

3) Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (review)

Our Souls At Night

4) The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (review)

Invention of Wings 2

5 & 6) The Uninvited (review) and The Cure for Dreaming (review) by Cat Winters

CWinters

7) The Marvels by Brian Selznick (review)

The Marvels

8) Winger by Andrew Smith (review)

Winger

9) Depth by Lev AC Rosen (review)

Depth

10) The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson (review)

the bookseller

Look, I read too many great books this year to stop at 10… so onward we go!

11) You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day (review)

You're Never Weird

12) The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher (review)

Aeronauts Windlass

13) The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian (review)

light

14) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (review)

All the Light

15) The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (review)

The Boys in the Boat

What were you favorite books from 2015? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10… or 15!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Shelf Control and Thursday Quotables. Happy reading!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!