Lowell Reading Club: 2021 Summer Reads Edition

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Summertime seems to be an ideal time to read. Vacations, long days at the beach or pool and the relaxed pace of life that often comes with warmer weather all open up time to settle in with a good book. Here are some of our summer read suggestions for this year

Amanda’s Summer Reads

When I think of summer reads I look for something that’s more fun and entertaining. Many pick up chick lit or romance, however, I’ve mentioned numerous times I’m not a fan of either of these genres. For me a predictable plot that still keeps my attention or has likable characters is what I look for in a summer read.

The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis
3.5 out of 5

I would have rated this higher had the majority of the plot not been so predictable. I still found it enjoyable and the characters were interesting. I thought this book was like The Secret Life of Bees or The Help where you know there has to be a “happy ending” but you still like the journey on how you get there.

Lizzy Moon returns to her childhood home after the death of her grandmother. She is the last of her family, one that has special powers. This has made the family a bit of an outcast to some throughout the years. Two young girls were found dead on the family farm years ago and while never charged, Lizzy’s grandmother was suspected of having had something to do with it.

Lizzy has decided she wanted a life outside of her family’s good and bad reputation in a small town. She has been living for several years in a big city. However, when she returns to get her grandmother’s affairs in order and prepares to sell the family farm, she decides to look into the murder of the two girls and solve the mystery behind their death. The plot takes readers through Lizzy’s search for the truth with the help of an old neighbor who also has had a crush on Lizzy since they were kids.


Exit by Belinda Bauer
4.5 out of 5

While this book is a mystery, it’s not one with a fast-paced plot that will have you on the edge of your seat. I really enjoyed Felix. He’s 75 and has been a widow for more than a decade. In his retirement, he sits with people as they die. His assignments are usually those with a terminal illness who are near the end of life and want to speed the process along. He aids in their death in a way that it’s peaceful. All is going well with the most recent client until he and his partner Exiteer discover they’ve helped the wrong person die.

Felix is left to decide whether he should turn himself in or go into hiding. He struggles with how to make things right if that’s even possible. He feels bad about the mistake and thinks he’s responsible. He likes to help people. He just wants to live a lowkey and simple life in spite of his role in the death of others. Will he be able to overcome the guilt he feels over the death of the wrong person? Should he just go and turn himself in, hoping that by explaining the situation things will turn out okay – even though his assignments and others who also volunteer are to be kept secret?

This is a book where I liked not only the main character but also many of the supporting characters as well. There are some twists and turns but the plot does not move along with points of a great deal of tension that builds up. There’s also some humor throughout which I thought added to the likeability of the book and characters.


Maryalene’s Summer Reads

Summer feels like the time of year when you’re supposed to be slowing down and taking life easy — even though reality doesn’t always match that perception. So for summer reads, I am usually looking for something lighter. I save the more taxing titles — the ones that require more concentration — for the cooler months. Here are two books I’ve enjoyed that I think make good summer reads.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
5 out of 5 stars

A few years back, it felt like every book blog I read was recommending this novel from 1948. I dutifully read it and found it to be absolutely delightful. Really, could a novel about a 17-year old and her dysfunctional family who live in a crumbling castle be anything but delightful? Ok, yes, you’re right. It could be dismal and dreary and sad. But I Capture the Castle isn’t. Instead, it’s a quick and enjoyable read.

Since it’s been a few years since I read the book, I popped onto GoodReads to refresh my memory. From the reviews there, it seems that people have polarizing views on the book. Some people find it *gasp* boring and overwrought. However, I hope you will be a kindred spirit and find it as enjoyable as I did. This one is probably best for people who enjoy British period pieces that include improbable meetings with American bachelors.


The Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
4 out of 5 stars

I just read this one last month, and here’s what I had to say on GoodReads when reviewing it:

I rolled my eyes when I realized this book was about time traveling friends who meet a David Copperfield-esque magician and get a chance to relieve the year they turned 40. Then, I found myself strangely drawn into the story and invested in the characters. I’m not sure I liked how it ended, but we’ll go with 4 stars anyway.

The book starts with three friends who are taking a 50th birthday getaway to Las Vegas. There, they are given the chance to travel back and relive the year they turned 40, which was a pivotal year for them. At the end of the year, if they all decide to stay in their new lives, they would remain in that alternative timeline. Otherwise, they would fast-forward to their 50th birthday year.

Sounds cheesy, right? That’s what I thought too, which is what makes it so odd that I liked it so much. The characters also had the maddening habit of doing things that made no sense at all to me. Still, this book checked off all my summer reading boxes of being a fast read with a relatively light storyline. Trigger warning though: infertility plays a major role in the plot.

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