Book Reviews June 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: 

NorthNorth by Scott Jurek (Length: 305 pages).  I really enjoyed this read about the setting of a new speed record northbound on the Appalachian Trail (47 days!) in 2015.  I’ve read two of Scott Jurek’s previous books and I am a fan of his writing style, and of his ultra-running abilities.  Very impressive guy!  In this book I enjoyed his  anecdotes regarding his vegan diet and the race support his wife provided.  This was a bit stressful to read whilst lounging on the couch 🙂 but definitely worth the library check out.  

From the publisher: From the author of the bestseller Eat and Run, a thrilling new memoir about his grueling, exhilarating, and immensely inspiring 46-day run to break the speed record for the Appalachian Trail.

Scott Jurek is one of the world’s best known and most beloved ultrarunners. Renowned for his remarkable endurance and speed, accomplished on a vegan diet, he’s finished first in nearly all of ultrarunning’s elite events over the course of his career. But after two decades of racing, training, speaking, and touring, Jurek felt an urgent need to discover something new about himself. He embarked on a wholly unique challenge, one that would force him to grow as a person and as an athlete: breaking the speed record for the Appalachian Trail. North is the story of the 2,189-mile journey that nearly shattered him.

Book #2: 

One in a Million BoyThe One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood (Length: 338 pages).  This is a really charming book about a friendship between a 104-year old woman and an 11-year old boy.  I’m a fan of character-driven novels, with excellent writing and witty dialogue, and this book meets all 3 requirements in spades.  This book is reminiscent of A Man Called Ove, so if you’re a fan of that type of novel, definitely check this one out!

From the publisher: The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don’t they teach you anything at school?

So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who’s been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she’s confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.

One Saturday, the boy doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed. The boy’s mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that the world can surprise us at any age, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find ourselves again.


Book #3: 

Crazy Rich Asians 1Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Length: 546 pages–a LONG one!).  SUCH a fun read!  I’ve had this one on my Kindle for the past 4 years, and just now got around to reading it (after a few false starts).  With the movie coming out, I thought it would be a nice summer read, and I was right!  The chapters are organized by characters, all centered around one plot line.  The plot is a bit flimsy, and the characters aren’t very well-developed, so don’t expect an award-winning read.  However, I enjoyed learning about the culture in Singapore/China, as well as the lives of the mega-rich young billionaire society.  Very interesting and fun read!  

From the publisher: The acclaimed international bestseller (“A dizzily shopaholic comedy.” —The New York Times) soon to be a MAJOR MOTION PICTURE starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh and Gemma Chan!

When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

Book #4: 

Our Little SecretOur Little Secret by Roz Nay (Length: 256 pages).  I couldn’t put down this thriller because it was well-written, with strong character development.  I kept reading to find out what happened with the characters I came to know.  However, be warned that the protagonist isn’t likeable, and the ending isn’t very surprising, but it is an interesting plot to follow throughout.  The plot construction itself (a flashback from inside a police station) reminded me of the movie The Usual Suspects.  

From the publisher:  

A cracking read…Our Little Secret builds to a deliciously dark conclusion.” —Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10

Roz Nay’s Our Little Secret is a twisted tale of love, pain, and revenge that will stay with the reader long after they turn the last page.

They say you never forget your first love. What they don’t say though, is that sometimes your first love won’t forget you…

Angela Petitjean sits in a cold, dull room. The police have been interrogating her for hours, asking about Saskia Parker. She’s the wife of Angela’s high school sweetheart, HP, and the mother of his child. She has vanished. Homicide Detective J. Novak believes Angela knows what happened to Saskia. He wants the truth, and he wants it now.


Book #5: 

A Life InterceptedA Life Intercepted by Charles Martin (Length: 328 pages).  I stumbled across this author (and novel), discovered he has many, many fans, and now I know why.  This particular book is about a football quarterback, and clearly has been written by someone who loves the game of football.  While I do not, I did enjoy learning about the intricacies of the sport.  This novel features very well-developed characters, with a bit of a surprise ending.  The resolution of the plot is a bit too pat, but overall, it’s well-constructed and makes me want to read more from this author.  

From the publisher: Twelve years ago Matthew “the Rocket” Rising had it all. Married to his high school sweetheart and one of the winningest quarterbacks in the history of college football, he was the number one NFL draft pick. But on the night of the draft, he plummeted from the pinnacle of esteem. Falsely accused of a heinous crime with irrefutable evidence, it seemed in an instant all was lost–his reputation, his career, his freedom, and most devastatingly, the love of his life. Having served his sentence and never played a down of professional football, Matthew leaves prison with one goal–to find his wife, Audrey, whom no one has seen since the trial. He returns to an unwelcoming reception from his Gardi, Georgia, hometown to learn that Audrey has taken shelter from the media with the nuns at a Catholic school. There she has discovered a young man with the talent to achieve the football career Matthew should have had. All he needs is the right coach. Although helping the boy means Matthew violates the conditions of his release and–if discovered–reincarceration for life, he’ll take the chance with hope of winning back Audrey’s love.


Book #6: 

Just MercyJust Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (Length: 354 pages).  Wow!  This book is officially on my top 10 book list, and it’s a MUST-READ for every citizen of the United States, regardless of your political beliefs.  As a former prosecutor, I have my own stories about the justice system, and I’ve seen a lot that I’m not proud to have seen, but this biographical account from a fellow attorney just blew me away!  His account of the various injustices on death row are heart-breaking, and must be heard for things to changes.  While this book follows the case of one individual who was wrongfully-convicted, in alternate chapters the author reveals other individuals (even children) who should not be on death row, and even individuals who were executed who were later found to be innocent.  Even as a member of the legal profession, I wasn’t aware of those cases.  This isn’t a sad or depressing book, but it is an important read.  

From the publisher: Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction | Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction | Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award | Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize | Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize | An American Library Association Notable Book

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

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