Book Reviews–January 2018

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!

Book #1: 

Castle of Water

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge (Length: 287 pages).  This is a wonderful little novel about a couple (who were strangers to one another) stranded on a deserted island.  A fast read, but not fluffy due to strong character development and interesting locations (NYC, the Marquesas and Paris).  I read this literally in one sitting and I am still thinking about this charming book.

From the publisher:  

Two very different people, one very small island.

For Sophie Ducel, her honeymoon in French Polynesia was intended as a celebration of life. The proud owner of a thriving Parisian architecture firm, co-founded with her brilliant new husband, Sophie had much to look forward to—including a visit to the island home of her favorite singer, Jacques Brel.

For Barry Bleecker, the same trip was meant to mark a new beginning. Turning away from his dreary existence in Manhattan finance, Barry had set his sights on fine art, seeking creative inspiration on the other side of the world—just like his idol, Paul Gauguin.

But when their small plane is downed in the middle of the South Pacific, the sole survivors of the wreck are left with one common goal: to survive. Stranded hundreds of miles from civilization, on an island the size of a large city block, the two castaways must reconcile their differences and learn to draw on one another’s strengths if they are to have any hope of making it home.

Book #2: Love Does


Love Does by Bob Goff (Length: 241 pages).  While I enjoyed this memoir’s “voice” and his multiple stories, I found quite a few too many Biblical and Jesus references  throughout, which unfortunately detracted from his point.  Overall, however, this isn’t too preachy and his intrinsic message is a valid one.  (However, the copy editor must have phoned this one in, as there are several glaring errors, such as “track” home for “tract” home, etc.)  

From the publisher:  

As a college student he spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul. He pursued his wife for three years before she agreed to date him. His grades weren’t good enough to get into law school, so he sat on a bench outside the Dean’s office for seven days until they finally let him enroll. 

Bob Goff has become something of a legend, and his friends consider him the world’s best-kept secret. Those same friends have long insisted he write a book. What follows are paradigm shifts, musings, and stories from one of the world’s most delightfully engaging and winsome people. What fuels his impact? Love. But it’s not the kind of love that stops at thoughts and feelings. Bob’s love takes action. Bob believes Love Does.

When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don’t want to miss.


The Last Mrs. ParrishBook #3: 


The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine (Length: 405 pages).  Another fun, quick read with a VERY surprising twist halfway through the book.  This is absolutely worth checking out.  If you enjoyed Gone Girl, you’ll love this read!  

From the publisher:  

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. 

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.


Book #4: The Almost Sisters


The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson (Length: 357 pages).  This has been a Kindle deal for a while (only $2!) and it’s absolutely worth snapping up.  While I wasn’t a big fan of this author’s Gods in Alabama (see my September 2017 review), I decided to give her another chance with this novel and I’m very glad I did.  This is another Southern chick lit/romance which features a strong female narrator who is a very successful comic book writer (love!), but this particular novel goes deeper into the racial issues and attitudes still prevalent in today’s South.  I thought her treatment of these cultural issues is considerately sensitive and worth reading.  

From the publisher:  

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy—an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.


Book #5: An Astronauts guide


An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield(Length: 302 pages).  I ADORED this book!   This is an excellent read and very well-written.  While I thought it got off to a bit of a slow start, this memoir really gets interesting about 20% of the way in when the author delves into the nitty-gritty details of astronaut training, shuttle launches and the ISS (International Space Station).  I appreciated how humble, motivating and impressive the narrator is.   Be sure to also check out Col. Hadfield’s YouTube videos he produced in conjunction with CSA and ISS while in space (either during or after your reading of his book).  

From the publisher:   Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4000 hours in space. During this time he has broken into a Space Station with a Swiss army knife, disposed of a live snake while piloting a plane, and been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft. The secret to Col. Hadfield’s success-and survival-is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst-and enjoy every moment of it.

In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Col. Hadfield takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. Through eye-opening, entertaining stories filled with the adrenaline of launch, the mesmerizing wonder of spacewalks, and the measured, calm responses mandated by crises, he explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement-and happiness. His own extraordinary education in space has taught him some counterintuitive lessons: don’t visualize success, do care what others think, and always sweat the small stuff.

You might never be able to build a robot, pilot a spacecraft, make a music video or perform basic surgery in zero gravity like Col. Hadfield. But his vivid and refreshing insights will teach you how to think like an astronaut, and will change, completely, the way you view life on Earth-especially your own.


Book #6: Lie to me


Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison (Length: 416 pages).  This novel is being touted as the new Gone Girl (a la husband is the main suspect when wife disappears).  I agree, but it’s MUCH better, thanks to stronger character development and writing.  I thought the plot twist was very clever, but I did suspect it about 25% of the way through, which is a bit of a bummer.  Definitely worth checking out this novel if you are in the market for a quick, enjoyable read in the suspense genre!  

From the publisher:  Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

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