Bev’s Imaginary Book Club: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, The One, and The Nightingale

BEWKS, Y’ALL. (<–I’ve already made you insane.)

Welcome to another official book club blog post! It’s been a minute. Things look a little, um, different since my last book post. Well, I figured that instead of food, this might be a nice distraction amidst such a jittery time. Unless you’re reading The Nightingale then it’s like STOMACH KNOT CITY. But we’ll get there.

All the books I’ve chosen to review today are. . . pretty dark, actually. I guess IN PLACES they are. But overall they’re the type of books that stick to your ribs. Nestle into that one memory drawer and haunt all four corners for the rest of time. Basically I cannot stop thinking about them.

Let us diveth!

Okay, first up: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. omggggggggggggggg.

Don’t let that cutsie country cover fool you. This mess is SAVAGE.

You have three generations of gals. The grandmother Jenny (they call her Big), who has a daughter at FIFTEEN, then her wild child daughter Liza has a daughter AT FIFTEEN, and now her daughter Mosey (the granddaughter) is turning fifteen and they’re ishing bricks afraid she’s going to do the same. And that’s not even the story.

So, Liza (the daughter that’s now 30) has a random stroke and can barely talk. HER DAUGHTER (the 15-year old) unearths a tiny grave in their freaking back yard under a willow tree that’s being dug up and finds a box with teeny tiny bones in it, dude. BONES. And this all happens in the beginning so I’m not giving anything away.

Thing is, who’s in that box? Liza (with the stroke) screams two slurry words that turn ALL heads and cause ALL jaws to hit concrete, and it just completely unravels from there. Big is the grandmother WHO IS 45 (me in 20 minutes), and she’s the level-headed glue the entire time. Trying to tend to her daughter with extreme needs, trying to keep her detective granddaughter from falling apart about the bones box, trying to manage HER OWN decisions 15 years prior, and another 15 year prior to that. You guys it’s bonkers. So many layers. I’m not going to give anything away but I’m telling you, the M O M E N T you start this book it is on.

Okay, if you’ve read any other books besides this one by Jackson, tell me! I loved her style. I need more of her.

The end.

The One – hoooooooly moles.

So, it takes place in the super near future. There’s this DNA Match kit that you can take to find your soulmate. Much like Ancestry, but for wedding dresses.

WELL, the book follows five parallel London characters in their own “journey for love.” Each story is wildly different, but equally captivating slash totally disturbing. I’m looking at you, SERIAL KILLER CHRISTOPHER. (I had a few of you DM me whilst reading, “Uhhh can I skip his chapters?” If you can’t stomach it, absolutely skip it! Just read the very end to see how his fate ends up. It is guuuuud.)

The chapters are absurdly short, but I love that because you read two pages, get a taste, it leaves you hanging, then starts with the next chapter/character, and you can’t STOP. You’ll finish the book in 20 minutes. 15 minutes. 5 minutes.

Question – would you take the test? If it were to GUARANTEE to match you with who you were destined to be with, would you? What if you were already married? Would you take it “just to see?” Even if were to potentially unravel a whole life you’ve built with someone? Yeah I can see your eyes bug out. Just you wait, ‘Enry ‘Iggins. Just you wait.

Highly highly highly recommend!

The end.

The Nightingale.

Oooookay. It’s been established that I love me some Kristin Hannah. (hate the way I wrote that just now.) The Great Alone shook me to my core. That girl can write.

I have to say, The Nightingale is one of those books you miiiiight want to save for when the world is in a better, not-so-infected place. I read it during those first two intense weeks when the news kept bottoming out, then bottoming out more, then oh, yep – more. I already had a knot in my stomach watching lives and businesses come to a halt, hearing that everything was cancelled, getting the news that schools were closing for the rest of the year, NO TOILET PAPER TO BE FOUND, THE HORROR. That was all barely starting to sink in at the time, so reading about the grueling, lonely, barren times of World War 2 in France was almost more than I could take.

That said::::::: IT. WAS. FANTASTIC. Only when I finished the book could I finally breathe and say, “What a beautiful experience that was.”

You have two French sisters, Isabelle and Vianne, nearly a decade apart in age, both in a struggle to survive the war against the Nazis. Isabelle is feisty, a fighter, a leader – while Vianne tends to stay quiet, stay invisible and get through it. But as time passes, you watch how the book focuses on women’s individual and collective roles in the war, which is mostly left out of history books. It’s completely fascinating. And you won’t be able to breathe. Or sleep. Or wash your hair. Or put on deodorant. Or think about anything else ever. It is bloody, gruesome, and painful to read at times. But like, it was reality FOR SO MANY. That in itself was a Montana horse pill to swallow.

Incredible book to read. Absolutely 100% recommend. (I didn’t see that end coming!)

What else should I read by Hannah?!

Here’s what’s to come. I WILL SAY, I haven’t started A Tree Grows in Brooklyn yet, from our previous list. I will, I swear! I just need something light and fluffy and not so deathy right now.

(And please forgive this awfully confusing white text over all that print. GOSH BEV. In my head it looked much cleaner. What a freaking disaster.)

This week I started Bookends by Jane Green and it’s a delight! Exactly what my fragile soul needs.

Have you read any of the above? Let’s keep our list going. Tell me what to add. More Hannah, More Jackson – Oh THAT EVELYN HUGO HUSBAND BOOK. Need to add that. Tell me what you’re reading!

Also, what do you think the world will look like by the end of this stack? Do I dare even ask?

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21 Responses to Bev’s Imaginary Book Club: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, The One, and The Nightingale

  1. Juliette March 31, 2020 at 8:18 am #
    I LOVED the seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo!!! Top 3 read ever!! Gotta say that I went on a Joshilyn Jackson binge after reading Grown up kind of pretty and they were all MEH. Bummer. I just finished Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah and it was GREAT!
  2. Jen March 31, 2020 at 8:26 am #
    I just finished Never have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson and loved it. Super thriller. I really like her style too!
    • Dara April 2, 2020 at 7:53 pm #
      I have read all of Joshilyn Jackson’s books. Love her books! You have to read “Never Have I Ever.”
  3. Kelsey Page March 31, 2020 at 10:24 am #
    I just went on a Beatriz Williams kick, I read “The Wicked City”; “The Wicked Redhead” (sequel); and I’m almost finished with “The Glass Ocean.” All great, I wouldn’t call them “fluffy” but maybe a little less intense than “The Nightingale,” fast reads-I couldn’t put them down. The first two are set during the prohibition (with a modern storyline set in 1998) and the last one is set on the Lusitania (with a storyline in 2013).
  4. Nancy March 31, 2020 at 11:06 am #
    So here's the thing. When I read a good book or watch a good movie, I'm all in. I totally escape into them. But once I'm done, I rarely remember a lot about them. Apparently, they are very good distractions for me but forget remembering much about them. So I appreciate your recap of "A Grown Up kind of Pretty"! Made me remember that I loved it. So much so, that I wanted to read another one of hers so read "Some Else's Love Story" but I had to go google all her books to remember which one I read. Ughhh! Anyway, I enjoyed that one too. What I remember of it! Ha! I've got The Nightingale sitting here ready to read but I haven't started yet, but I love me some Kristen Hannah too. I loved The Winter Garden. I also loved The Husband's Secret by Liane Morality. It probably had one of the best endings ever. At least to me. I can't stand when a book basically ends up "and they all lived happily ever after". Whew! That was a lot but what else I got to do?????
  5. Nancy March 31, 2020 at 11:07 am #
    Liane Moriarity (stupid spell check!)
    • Erika W March 31, 2020 at 11:09 am #
      YES. Her books are fantastic.
  6. Erika W March 31, 2020 at 11:08 am #
    I’ve only read The Nightingale in this list, but it’s one of those books I recommend to everyone. The other too sound good, I’m putting them on the list.
    • Erika W March 31, 2020 at 11:10 am #
      Just about anything by Jojo Moyes is going to be fantastic as well. The Girl You Left Behind was the first I read, and she hasn’t let me down since.
  7. Kristy March 31, 2020 at 11:10 am #
    I commented on Instagram too, but Joshilyn Jackson is my favorite author and i only discovered her last summer! I love her writing and all of her characters have so much depth and growth and they pull you IN. Read Someone Else’s Love Story next. It’s my absolute favorite favorite of hers!
  8. Tobi March 31, 2020 at 11:27 am #
    I am obsessed with Kristin Hannah! I read Nightingale a few months ago, and just finished Great Alone. I perused amazon and decided on the following: Fly Away, Waiting for the Moon, Firefly Lane, and Night Road. Also got a few from your list above. Since we're all holed up at home it's a great time to catch up on reading! (provided I get them before the quarantine is over hahaha)
  9. Simone March 31, 2020 at 11:28 am #
    I just finished The Two Lives of Lydia Bird and loved it! Up next is a re-read of "Are You There God, It's me Margaret" because I heard a rumor they are making a movie and I wanted to brush up.
  10. Courtney McGrale March 31, 2020 at 11:29 am #
    Bev, you need to read “Mercy House “ next! About a group of nuns who open a home for abused women. It’s stunning! I’ve read “The Nightengale.” I love your reviews! As regards the world, I think this wave will roll over us, but things will look quite changed in its aftermath. I think it’s a painful reset; but there will be some very good outcomes.
  11. Kristen March 31, 2020 at 11:40 am #
    The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson was one of my favorite books last year! I read it before GUKOP and loved every second. There’s a weird similarity between the two that I’d love to hear your take on.
  12. Susan March 31, 2020 at 4:00 pm #
    The Nightingale was my favorite Kristin Hannah book but before that, I LOVED her book, Winter Garden. I think I've read just about every one of her books (obsessed?). I also love all Lianne Moriarity books. I get what you say about intense books during these intense times. I'm just finishing Mary Sutter which is set during the Civil War.. Mary is a mid-wife who wants to be a surgeon in a time when women weren't even considered for admission to medical schools (such as they were then). I'm going go find something light and fluffy as soon as I'm done with this grim, dark book. Bring on some light romcom or other such mindless stuff. I need it!
  13. Amy B March 31, 2020 at 9:18 pm #
    The Outsider by Stephen King (obviously dark but so readable and intriguing). I can’t put it down. For something lighter try The Lager Queen of Minnesota. I loved all the midwestern references. Also Sarah Addison Allen’s books are my favorite for lighter, happy reads.
    • Anonymous April 3, 2020 at 1:27 pm #
      K Hannah; Night Road was ok, Home Front was the first I read of hers and I would recommend it! Almost as good as The Great Alone.
  14. Lynn B April 3, 2020 at 8:13 am #
    "The Nightingale" is one of my top five books! I finished it while commuting on the train, trying not to ugly cry in front of a train full of commuters.
  15. Laura April 8, 2020 at 12:27 am #
    I absolutely loved All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


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