Book Reviews-June 2017

I often post short reviews of books I’ve read in my personal social media pages, as I love to share my passion for books with others.  I’m listing the books I’ve read each month here on this blog, with my thoughts on each as well as whether I’d recommend them to others.  I do have an eclectic taste in books, and will choose books based on my mood, or what’s going on in my life that week.  (Most, if not all, of the books below include links to the Kindle store on Amazon, and the page numbers reflect the number of Kindle pages).  I hope you enjoy this series on my blog!

June 2017 Books:

Book #1:  

Woman in Cabin 10 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (Length: 384 pages).  Having read Ruth Ware’s previous books In a Dark, Dark Wood as well as The Lying Game, I was really interested in reading another mystery novel from this best-selling author.  This novel primarily takes place on a small cruise ship, and reminded me a bit of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express in the sense that the reader needs to eliminate potential suspects within a small space to solve the mystery.  While I did enjoy the suspenseful build-up in the plot, I did find that I had to suspend my disbelief to continue reading.  The main character’s actions were a bit unrealistic at times, and the mystery was a bit of a dud once I figured it out.  However, it was a fun, mindless read on the whole, and I’d recommend it to someone looking for a fast-paced read whilst on vacation or the beach.

From the Publisher: From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful and haunting novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.

Book #2: 

Crossing to Safety

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (370 pages).  I read Stegner’s Angle of Repose a few decades ago, and absolutely loved it.  This author creates literary masterpieces, and this book is no exception.  What I loved about this book is that it’s character-driven and not plot-driven, so I was able to really get to know the characters (whether I liked them or not) and their relationships with each other, and not be worried about what was going to happen next, because honestly, it didn’t matter.  Stegner is also a master of scenery, and I was able to visualize very clearly the gorgeous landscapes surrounding the characters.  While it’s not an “easy” or light read, Crossing to Safety is absolutely a book I’d recommend picking up.

From the Publisher:  Called a “magnificently crafted story . . . brimming with wisdom” by Howard Frank Mosher in The Washington Post Book World, Crossing to Safety has, since its publication in 1987, established itself as one of the greatest and most cherished American novels of the twentieth century. Tracing the lives, loves, and aspirations of two couples who move between Vermont and Wisconsin, it is a work of quiet majesty, deep compassion, and powerful insight into the alchemy of friendship and marriage.

Book #3: 

I Let You Go

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (377 pages).  I’m a sucker for a good crime novel, and this novel was one of the New York Times Book Review’s top 10 Best Crime Novels of 2016.  As a former criminal prosecutor, I pride myself in being able to figure out whodunnits faster than a layperson, but this one really had me guessing up until the end.  There were a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, and the surprise ending blew me away.  This is a very fast read, and I literally could not put it down.  I definitely recommend reading this novel!

From the Publisher: On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street…

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them. Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner, says, “I read I Let You Go in two sittings; it made me cry (at least twice), made me gasp out loud (once), and above all made me wish I’d written it…a stellar achievement.”

Book #4: 

The Sea Keeper's Daughters

The Sea Keeper’s Daughters by Lisa Wingate (447 pages).  Having traveled to North Carolina and the Outer Banks, I was really excited to read this book as it’s set in the Outer Banks.  It’s also what I think of as a chick-lit book, but with a little more historical accuracy and better writing than I typically find in this genre.  There are two alternating plots and timelines, which I’m not typically a fan of, but they really work here, especially when they come together at the very end of the book.  This was a fun read, and I’m still thinking about some of these characters, even months later, which is a good sign!  

From the Publisher: 

From modern-day Roanoke Island to the sweeping backdrop of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and Roosevelt’s WPA folklore writers, past and present intertwine to create an unexpected destiny.

Restaurant owner Whitney Monroe is desperate to save her business from a hostile takeover. The inheritance of a decaying Gilded Age hotel on North Carolina’s Outer Banks may provide just the ray of hope she needs. But things at the Excelsior are more complicated than they seem. Whitney’s estranged stepfather is entrenched on the third floor, and the downstairs tenants are determined to save the historic building. Searching through years of stored family heirlooms may be Whitney’s only hope of quick cash, but will the discovery of an old necklace and a Depression-era love story change everything?

Book #5: 

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco (257 pages).   I absolutely LOVED this book.  I haven’t read too many political memoirs but this one from President Obama (and Senator Kerry’s) scheduler is definitely making me a fan of this genre.  This book was really well-written and intelligent, and I actually laughed out loud in a few places.  I highly recommend!

From the Publisher:  

Alyssa Mastromonaco worked for Barack Obama for almost a decade, and long before his run for president. From the then-senator’s early days in Congress to his years in the Oval Office, she made Hope and Change happen through blood, sweat, tears, and lots of briefing binders.

But for every historic occasion-meeting the queen at Buckingham Palace, bursting in on secret climate talks, or nailing a campaign speech in a hailstorm-there were dozens of less-than-perfect moments when it was up to Alyssa to save the day. Like the time she learned the hard way that there aren’t nearly enough bathrooms at the Vatican.

Full of hilarious, never-before-told stories, WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? is an intimate portrait of a president, a book about how to get stuff done, and the story of how one woman challenged, again and again, what a “White House official” is supposed to look like. Here Alyssa shares the strategies that made her successful in politics and beyond, including the importance of confidence, the value of not being a jerk, and why ultimately everything comes down to hard work (and always carrying a spare tampon).

Told in a smart, original voice and topped off with a couple of really good cat stories, WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? is a promising debut from a savvy political star.

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