show us your books – july 2020 reads

As always, linking up with my hosts Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books!


I’m going to get the big one out of the way first even if it wasn’t chronologically the first one I read.

The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel was essentially my July reading project. It tipped the scales at 882 pages and every page was well worth it. This book rounds out Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy, which started with Wolf Hall. The whole trilogy is simply excellent and mind boggling in its ability to bring these people – Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour – to vivid life. No doubt my best read for 2020 as of yet and I would also recommend the PBS miniseries “Wolf Hall” which is actually a mashup of the first 2 books in the trilogy. It stars Mark Rylance as Cromwell, Damien Lewis as Henry, and Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn.

The Closers by Michael Connelly. An 882 page hardcover was just not going to happen for a “beach read” due to sheer size and lack of portability, so for my up-north outdoor reading I took along a battered Harry Bosch paperback and thoroughly enjoyed the change of gears from Cromwell. In this contribution to the Bosch franchise, Harry has returned to the Cold Case Unit after his short-lived retirement from the police force and tackles the unsolved case of a fifteen-year old girl abducted from her home and shot.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler tells two stories that join up at the end – the first, of a struggling librarian / researcher trying to keep his family home from sliding into the sea (literally) and a traveling carnival from the 1880’s. Aforementioned young librarian (aptly named ‘Simon’) comes to own a mysterious antique book about this circus inscribed with his grandmother’s name. Hopefully this book can help Simon unravel why women in his family are prone to drowning. I thought the premise was great but the execution missed the mark;  it left me a little disappointed. Still, it passed the time just fine.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have the Answer To When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco. Mastromonaco worked for Obama during his time as a Senator and also during his much-missed White House tenure. This book details her almost-magical entry into politics and in its chatty, breezy way tells you everything you need to know if you’re a privileged young female working in the White House. If I sound jealous I’m not really, although it would have been my dream during my senior year in college. I guess that’s why it’s a good thing you don’t get everything you want – I would NOT have been well suited for politics (I’m barely presentable for widgets). Anyway I enjoyed this book and it made me almost weep for missing Obama. My only criticisms are her fondness for the word “stoked” and that she is very prone to telling the reader all of the nicknames of the people she worked with and that got super name-droppy and cringy after awhile. (Sample: “The next day I assembled the SkedAdv team to deliver the news to them. Emmett, Dey, Jess, Big Liz, Astri, JoeJoe, Pho, Chaseh, Tedders, Nool, Teal, Q, Levitt, Donny, and Little Kate the intern.” I swear I almost stopped reading.)

Hope you all had some great summer reads and I look forward to catching up next month! xo

Life According to Steph


7 thoughts on “show us your books – july 2020 reads

  1. Elena

    I have heard of Who Thought This Was A Good Idea and I would like to read it eventually, though I agree that the name-dropping and words like “stoked” would annoy me too! Have you read Michelle Obama’s Becoming? I loved it. Also, if you like White House-related books, I also enjoyed First Women and The Residence, both by Kate Anderson Bower.

    Thanks for your comment on my blog!


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