Book Reviews–August 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: 

Say You're SorrySay You’re Sorry by Melinda Leigh (Length: 338 pages).  This is the first book in the Morgan Dane series.  Bottom line, I thought the writing in this novel is a bit cheesy, but I’m hopeful the quality of the writing will improve as the series progresses because I did enjoy reading this book.  There’s not much character development in this initial book, but the plot progression is very fun and exciting, to the point that I pictured the movie in my head as I was reading.  This series is reminiscent of the books by Greg Iles (who is a much more talented writer, to be honest).  I will read more by this author and in this series when I’m in the mood for a fast-paced, fun read.  

From the publisher: In this thrilling series from Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh, former prosecutor Morgan Dane faces the most personal—and deadly—case of her lifetime.

After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she’s finally found peace and a promising career opportunity—until her babysitter is killed and her neighbor asks her to defend his son, Nick, who stands accused of the murder.

Tessa was the ultimate girl next door, and the community is outraged by her death. But Morgan has known Nick for years and can’t believe he’s guilty, despite the damning evidence stacked against him. She asks her friend Lance Kruger, an ex-cop turned private eye, for help. Taking on the town, the police, and a zealous DA, Morgan and Lance plunge into the investigation, determined to find the real killer. But as they uncover secrets that rock the community, they become targets for the madman hiding in plain sight.

Book #2: 

I'll be Gone in the DarkI’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (Length: 340 pages).  Whoa!  This is the best true-crime book I think I’ve ever read (right up there with In Cold Blood by Truman Capote).  This book was meticulously researched, but with an incredibly well-written narrative woven throughout.  The author’s life was cut short way too soon, and I’m so sad about that . . . her sense of empathy shines through each and every sentence.  Be sure to Google the Golden State Killer after you finish reading this amazing book.  

From the publisher:

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle’s dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer

Book #3: 

The Lost GirlsThe Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett, et al (Length: 564 pages).  I’m a fan of first-person travel books, especially at this stage of my life when such travel isn’t a real possibility.  However, I’m not a fan of this particular book.  Firstly, the writing style is very juvenile; it is almost like a teenager’s diary written in three different perspectives.  However, the content itself is fascinating, and armchair travelers (like me) will enjoy visiting far-flung locales via this trio’s escapades.  I enjoyed reading specific details about the various modes of travel, the cultural differences and where not to visit.  Worth a library check-out!

From the publisher: Three friends, each on the brink of a quarter-life crisis, make a pact to quit their high pressure New York City media jobs and leave behind their friends, boyfriends, and everything familiar to embark on a year-long backpacking adventure around the world in The Lost Girls.

Book #4: 

LessLess: A Novel by Andrew Sean Greer (Length: 273 pages). Ugh.  I tried.  I read the first 15% of this book on my Kindle (via a library check-out, at least).  Then I gave up, because honestly, there are over 100 books on my TBR list and only so much time to read them.  While the writing itself is excellent (and I’m assuming Pulitzer-Prize worthy), I didn’t care for the (dare i say, whiny?) narrator/protagonist, and there was not a sufficient plot hook to keep me engaged and continuing to read.  Maybe you’ll have better luck?

From the publisher: WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
National Bestseller
A New York Times Notable Book of 2017
A Washington Post Top Ten Book of 2017
A San Francisco Chronicle Top Ten Book of 2017
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, the Lambda Award, and the California Book Award
Who says you can’t run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world. QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town? ANSWER: You accept them all.
What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.  Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.

Book #5: 

When Crickets CryWhen Crickets Cry by Charles Martin (Length: 336 pages).  I really loved this book!  This is the second book I’ve read from this author (check out my June review of A Life Intercepted), and I enjoyed it as much as the first one I read.  While Charles Martin is known as a faith-based author, I don’t find his writing to be overtly religious (which I appreciate as I’m not an organized religion fan).  As in his other books, this novel contains great factual details about a few subjects, namely the human heart and open-heart surgery techniques, as well as carpentry and boats.  I love learning something while I’m also being entertained.  I also enjoyed the strong character development as well as the excellent plot pacing.  While there is a smidge of emotional manipulation in the plot, in my opinion, I’m not annoyed enough to not continuing to seek out and read more of this author’s books.  Let me know what you think if you read, or have read it!

From the publisher:

A man with a painful past. A child with a doubtful future. And a shared journey toward healing for both their hearts.

It begins on the shaded town square in a sleepy Southern town. A spirited seven-year-old has a brisk business at her lemonade stand. But the little girl’s pretty yellow dress can’t quite hide the ugly scar on her chest.

Her latest customer, a bearded stranger, drains his cup and heads to his car, his mind on a boat he’s restoring at a nearby lake. The stranger understands more about the scar than he wants to admit. And the beat-up bread truck careening around the corner with its radio blaring is about to change the trajectory of both their lives.

Before it’s over, they’ll both know there are painful reasons why crickets cry . . . and that miracles lurk around unexpected corners.


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