Late Summer Book Report

An independent bookstore in Maine. Pictured is a long aisle of books and a stepladder to reach the ones up high. Over the summer, our family vacationed in Bar Harbor, Maine which is known for Acadia National Park. During the day, we hiked and explored Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, and other notable points around the park. At night, I could be found tucked away into one of the many aisles of books at Sherman’s Bookstore, an independent shop that is said to be the oldest bookstore in Maine.

I wanted to be locked up in there for the night so badly, but the staff is quite thorough about checking the stacks to make sure no book lover is left behind. The staff also has a great sense of humor and love of books.

I know this because I came across a step ladder with the following sign posted:

In case you can’t see it, the photo is of my favorite Disney princess, Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, riding a stepladder around a library full of books. There is also a big red circle around it forbidding people to attempt this in real life. LOL!

I can’t be the only one who has always wanted to do this, right? Apparently not because the staff had to make a sign for it. How cool is that?! These are my kind of people.

ANYWAY, I was able to read quite a few books during vacation and the subsequent free time I’ve had on my hands since being laid off. Without further ado, here is my August/September book report.

It Was an Ugly Couch Anyway: And Other Thoughts on Moving Forward
by Elizabeth Passarella

Essay collections are totally my jam when it comes to nonfiction. While I love a good memoir, I find these slices-of-life chapters honest, inspiring, relatable, and, oh so funny. It’s the type of writing style I embrace in this blog, and I love reading other authors who write in a similar fashion. And when the author is a woman of a certain age, I have to celebrate and say I’m all in!

In short, this collection is about a husband and wife navigating change in midlife. They are selling their NYC apartment and want to renovate a new one, which was owned by an elderly neighbor in their same building. In between the planning, the dreaming, the bidding, and the negotiating, she is raising her kids during the pandemic and dealing with her husband’s mysterious illness. I could have done without the Bible references, but it didn’t distract from her stories. Three essays that stood out to me were the time she lost her child in NYC, the time she couldn’t get a hold of her husband, and, of course, the story about that ugly couch. I give this book four stars!

Killers of a Certain Age
by Deanna Raybourn

The best description I read about this book is “Golden Girls meets Kill Bill.” How fun!

I’m not one to read spy novels or anything remotely violent, but I am a sucker for a novel where the four protagonists are women of a certain age (see above review). These women are trained assassins who recently retired from a secret international organization after 40 years of killing bad guys for the greater good. Now, the women find themselves targeted by that same government organization. They don’t know why they have been targeted, but they must keep their wits about them to stay alive. As the book blurb says, “It’s kill or be killed in this action-packed thriller.” The violence is pretty tame, which was a plus for me. Only one character, Billie, is given the whole backstory of how she became an assassin. I wish the other three were given the same treatment, but that did not happen. What I did enjoy was how the author smartly incIuded office politics in their master plan to save themselves. Who can they contact? Who can they trust? How does the organization select its targets? And so on… The story was clever, and a page turner. I give it three and a half stars.

Hey Hun: Sales, Sisterhood, Supremacy, and the Other Lies Behind Multilevel Marketing
by Emily Lynn Paulson

From the minute I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. I’ve always been intrigued by multilevel marketing (MLM) companies that sell everything from cute leggings to great skincare products and then promise the world to their army of salespeople in return. Primarily women, to be exact.

Written by a woman who moved up the corporate ladder as an immensely successful sales rep for an unnamed skincare company, this book is a behind-the-scenes look at the psychology behind MLMs and the women who dedicate their lives to them. The author shares her experience of how she was first welcomed into the company. From there, she became a sales rep and was strongly encouraged to do whatever it took to recruit more people into the fold. She shares the intense pressure she was under from higher-ups in the company, and the tactics she used to get ahead. In one case, she recruited a friend she knew did not have the money or resources to keep up with her demands, yet still encouraged her to stay the course. The author takes us inside the parties and conferences she attended, where she had to spend money to make money. And while she looked like she was successful on the outside, she was left with a house full of inventory, jeopardized her family finances, and became an alcoholic. It took a huge wake-up call for her to finally call it quits. Her story is both a fascinating and tragic one. I gave it four stars. The only reason I couldn’t give it five is because the company’s name was kept secret throughout the book. It seemed strange to me that the author would withhold that important piece of information after sharing her story. Otherwise, it was such an interesting read.

The MaidBook cover of The Maid, by Nita Prose
by Nita Prose

This book was a big hit last winter. I saw a lot of people talking about it, and I felt major FOMO. I decided to see what all the fuss was about and downloaded it on my Kindle.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t my cup of tea. I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I still don’t know why people thought this book was so great. The main character, Molly, is a socially awkward hotel maid who is likely somewhere on the autism spectrum. With the exception of a few people, she is treated poorly and even bullied by the people she works with and genuinely likes. When Molly finds herself as the prime suspect in the murder of one of the hotel guests, she trusts everyone and appears to walk around completely oblivious that someone may be framing her. This character also frustrated me because at certain points in the book, she had some insightful comments, but then went right back to being clueless. There is also the whole storyline about the grandmother which I won’t get into here, but the end was an unexpected and disturbing eyeroll for me. I’ll be generous and give this book three stars since I did finish it. Don’t waste your money like I did; borrow it from the library instead.

Book cover of Elin Hilderbrand's The Five-Star WeekendThe Five Star Weekend
by Elin Hildebrand

I thought this book had a neat premise. The protagonist, Hollis, is a celebrity food blogger who recently lost her husband in a tragic car accident. Perhaps as part of her grieving process, she decides to invite four friends from different decades of her life to her Nantucket home for the weekend. Each friend brings their own baggage as well as some strong feelings about their friendships with Hollis, but they want to be there for her. What unfolds is what the book blurb calls “a surprising and captivating story about friendship.”

Not only did I enjoy this book, but I also started to think about who I would invite to my own five-star weekend. I imagined my childhood friends meeting the friends I have now and whether they would get along. I’m sure they would, but what stories would they share about me?

I gave this book four and a half stars.    

Book cover for The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit SeriesThe Big Bang Theory: The Definitive Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series
by Jessica Radloff

Whenever there is nothing I want to watch on television but I need background noise, I turn on The Big Bang Theory.

True confession: It’s on right now as I’m writing this blog. 🙂

The author covers everything from the real-life romance between the actors who played Leonard and Penny (whose names I can’t remember right now) to how the show was cast and small details and trivia from the show’s ten seasons.

This was a fun and fast read for fans of the show. I give it four stars. 

Phew, that’s a lot of books! And there are more where that came from because Fall is my favorite reading season. A lot of people like summer reading, but I love sitting on my patio with a blanket, a glass of wine, a bonfire, and a good book. Right now, I’m working on my “Ten Before the End of the Year” pile. I have ten more books to read to reach my Goodreads goal of 33 books in 2023. I will share that list with you soon.

So, what are you reading? Tell me in the comments.


10 comments on Late Summer Book Report

  1. Tamara
    October 3, 2023 at 3:31 am (2 months ago)

    What an awesome bookstore you found! Too bad they asked you to leave. Imagine the blog post you could have written if they actually allowed you to stay for the night 😉
    Somewhere I read about the ugly couch, and it made me laugh. However, I still have the entire stack i ordered last time. Of the author you recommended, I only read the one book where the guy pushed his former bosses wife over the edge. Soulmate?

    • Elisa
      October 3, 2023 at 11:24 am (2 months ago)

      Yes! The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth was so good.

  2. Meryl Lightstone
    October 3, 2023 at 3:01 am (2 months ago)

    As usual, I enjoyed reading your book reviews and upon your suggestion, I read Hey Hun. It is an important book to read. I had little idea what goes on behind the scenes of MLM companies. It really changes people to be almost unrecognizable. Thanks for the the book recommendations.

    • Elisa
      October 3, 2023 at 11:24 am (2 months ago)

      Thanks, Meryl!

  3. Alice Gerard
    October 2, 2023 at 7:55 pm (2 months ago)

    I am actually reading a novel about dragons, written by my 11-year-old great niece. It’s very creative, and what an awesome kid to write a book and get it published!

    • Elisa
      October 3, 2023 at 11:24 am (2 months ago)

      Very cool!

  4. Julie JordanScott
    October 2, 2023 at 7:54 pm (2 months ago)

    Oh my goodness. So many wonderful recommendations. I’ve only read one of these… Elin Hilderbrand’s 5 Star Weekend. This weekend I went to a couple used bookstores and got a bag with a map of the Hudson Valley Book tour. Can’t wait to see more.

    • Elisa
      October 3, 2023 at 11:25 am (2 months ago)

      Enjoy exploring and supporting those old bookstores!

  5. Lily Leung
    October 2, 2023 at 7:26 pm (2 months ago)

    Enjoyed your post, Elise. I love books, libraries and bookstores. In fact we had coffee and snack at a nearby bookstore. I’m feeling restored and fixed again. Enjoyed some of your reviews though I didn’t get to them all.

    • Elisa
      October 3, 2023 at 11:26 am (2 months ago)

      Thanks, Lilly. What could be better than books and coffee?!

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