Book Reviews–April 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: 

Agatha Christie Book ClubThe Agatha Christie Book Club by C.A. Larmer (Length: 283 pages).  This mystery series is based on such an interesting premise–each book is focused on one particular Agatha Christie novel–and I’m a HUGE AC fan, so I was very excited about this series.  However, I was pretty disappointed with this first book.  The mystery in this particular novel is not well-plotted, nor are the characters well-developed.  Furthermore, the quality of writing is sub-par, with entirely too may grammatical and spelling errors.  Perhaps this book’s editor suffered from narcolepsy?!  

From the publisher:  
When Alicia Finlay walks out on her boring old book club and decides to start a new one—one devoted to her favorite mystery writer Agatha Christie—little does she know her new club is about to stumble into a mystery of their own. It’s a mystery so baffling it would leave even the Queen of Crime scratching her head…

After gathering seven crime buffs together—including young librarian Missy (as ditzy as Miss Marple and as sharp), fashionista Claire, paleontologist Perry (both stylish and fastidious like Poirot), dashing Dr Anders, a poisons expert, and socialite Barbara Parlour—Alicia grows suspicious when one of them fails to show for the next book club.
Barbara has disappeared from the face of the earth and her arrogant husband, Arthur, seems coldly unconcerned. The group suspects him of foul play until he suddenly shows up dead. With two baffling mysteries and time fast running out, the book club decides to do as the meddling Miss Marple would do and investigate!
C.A. Larmer, author of the popular Ghostwriter Mystery novels, shines again in this exciting new series that is fun and easy to read with eclectic characters and a plot you simply can’t put down.


Book #2: 

I am watching youI am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll (Length: 302 pages).  In this psychological thriller, the protagonist (Ella) sees 2 teen girls on a train in England being chatted up by 2 suspicious young men.  The encounter bothers her but she ultimately chooses to do nothing, and 1 girl ends up dead.  One year later after an appeal on the anniversary of the girl’s death, things start happening.  This book is very well-written, with strong characters.  I couldn’t guess who the killer was, which is always nice.  There are a few plot holes (ie, WHY was the killer the way he was) but overall, I’d highly recommend this.  Great beach or vacation read!

From the publisher:  

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

Book #3: 

I Liked my LIfeI Liked my Life by Teresa Driscoll (Length: 273 pages).  This novel centers around a mother’s suicide, and is written from 4 perspectives: the teen daughter, the widowed husband, the deceased (in purgatory?) and the woman the deceased decides would be a good replacement for her.  This is VERY well-written, with an excellent and satisfying plot resolution.  The topics raised here are thought-provoking and covered in a realistic, yet empathetic, manner.  Two thumbs up!

From the publisher: 

“An absolutely stunning book…remarkable.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 stars, Top Pick   A story from debut author Abby Fabiaschi that is “as absorbing as it is illuminating, and as witty as it is heartbreaking.”

Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch…until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.

Maddy, however, isn’t ready to leave her family forever. Watching from beyond, she tries to find the perfect replacement for herself. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge…but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal?

Book #4: 

When We Were the KennedysWhen We Were the Kennedys by Monica Wood(Length: 258 pages).  This is a memoir written by a woman who grew up in a large family in Mexico, Maine.  The time frame is mostly focused on a year after the father died, just before JFK was assassinated, and is written from the author’s 9 year old’s perspective.   This memoir is VERY well-written, and is more literary than a fluffy beach read.  I enjoyed the author’s examination of religion/Catholicism and labor disputes in this paper mill town.  Highly recommend this book, and I am going to check out others this author has written.  

From the publisher:  


Winner of the 2012 Sarton Memoir Award

“Every few years, a memoir comes along that revitalizes the form…With generous, precise, and unsentimental prose, Monica Wood brilliantly achieves this . . . When We Were the Kennedys is a deeply moving gem!”—Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog and Townie

Mexico, Maine, 1963: The Wood family is much like its close, Catholic, immigrant neighbors, all dependent on the fathers’ wages from the Oxford Paper Company. But when Dad suddenly dies on his way to work, Mum and the four deeply connected Wood girls are set adrift. When We Were the Kennedys is the story of how a family, a town, and then a nation mourns and finds the strength to move on.

“On her own terms, wry and empathetic, Wood locates the melodies in the aftershock of sudden loss.”—Boston Globe


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