Book Reviews–October 2018

I have large stacks of books TBR (To Be Read) on my nightstand, plus electronic stacks of books lined up in my Kindle.  As I read these books, I love to share my thoughts and opinions of what I’ve read here in this space, because I enjoy sharing my passion for books with 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.  (Disclosure I use Amazon affiliate links to help pay for the costs of this website.  Any and all posts on this site may contain affiliate links (which will not affect your cost).  Finally, the page numbers I list here reflect the number of Kindle pages, not paper pages.  Thank you!)  I hope you enjoy this series.

Book #1: 

Live Fast Die HotLive Fast, Die Hot by Jenny Mollen (Length: 273 pages).  First things first:  I did not finish this book.  I follow Jenny Mollen on Instagram (and I adore her dictator lunches she makes for her school-age son), but this memoir was WAY too neurotic and navel-gazing for me.  There are definitely funny anecdotes and her writing is decent, but I just reached a point of saturation and annoyance and quit.  Maybe you’ll have better luck?  

From the publisher:

Live Fast Die Hot is a collection of stories about what happens when you realize that some things are more important than crafting the perfect tweet. It follows Jenny to Morocco, where she embarks on a quest to prove to herself that she can travel alone without reenacting a plotline from Taken. It shows her confronting demons—most of them from childhood, a few from the spirit realm. And it culminates in Peru, where Jenny decides that maybe the cure for her anxiety as a mom lies at the bottom of a cup of ayahuasca.

Hilarious, outlandish, and surprisingly affecting, Live Fast Die Hot reminds you that even if you aren’t cut out for parenting, at least you can be better at it than your mother.

Book #2: 

the-outsider.jpgThe Outsider by Stephen King (Length: 577 pages!).  I LOVED this book!  The last King book I read was 11/22/63, and I really enjoyed that opus.  This suspense/horror novel, however, is a must-read, in my humble opinion.  This reminds me of old-school King, and showcases his talents in every respect.  There’s definitely a horror element but it’s not over-the-top, and his plot kept me reading.  (I will say that it’s a bit too long, and I didn’t get sucked in until about halfway through–exactly when the character Holly is first introduced).  Great pacing, strong writing, vivid dialogue and fast action scenes all make this one of my top 10 favorites of this year.  

From the publisher:

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

Book #3: 

The Paris ArchitectThe Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (Length: 383 pages).  I really enjoyed this book because it’s very well-written and well-researched.  This is a very novel perspective of the Holocaust, and I appreciated the author’s creativity here.  The narrator is not very likeable, but he is very human given the time period, whether I agreed with him or not.  The resolution of the plot is a bit too pat, so for those reasons it’s not a five-star book for me.  I’d happily recommend it though!

From the publisher:

In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money – and maybe get him killed. But if he’s clever enough, he’ll avoid any trouble. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won’t find it. He sorely needs the money, and outwitting the Nazis who have occupied his beloved city is a challenge he can’t resist.

But when one of his hiding spaces fails horribly, and the problem of where to hide a Jew becomes terribly personal, Lucien can no longer ignore what’s at stake. The Paris Architect asks us to consider what we owe each other, and just how far we’ll go to make things right.

Written by an architect whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every soul hidden and every life saved.

Book #4:

The Other WomanThe Other Woman by Sandie Jones (Length: 304 pages).I really wanted to love this book because the writing is very strong, and very good.  But the characters all behaved in frustrating and frankly, quite unbelievable manners.  (Reading this novel made me think of watching a scary movie and yelling at the screen “Don’t go in there!  What are you doing?!”)  The twist propelled me forward in wanting to keep reading, but I was shaking my head the whole time at how unbelievable the characters’ actions were.  I will definitely read any future novels by this author, however, as I do enjoy her writing style.    

From the publisher:

The most twisty, addictive and gripping debut thriller you’ll read this year.

HE LOVES YOU: Adam adores Emily. Emily thinks Adam’s perfect, the man she thought she’d never meet.
BUT SHE LOVES YOU NOT: Lurking in the shadows is a rival, a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.
AND SHE’LL STOP AT NOTHING: Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.

The Other Woman will have you questioning her on every page, in Sandie Jones’ chilling psychological suspense about a man, his new girlfriend, and the mother who will not let him go.


Book #5: 

Girl Wash Your FaceGirl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis (Length: 240 pages).  After hearing about this book everywhere, I finally read it.  My verdict: cute!  The author’s writing style is very readable and engaging.  However, I do think her advice is all very trite, and therefore, not very memorable (ie, I won’t remember her little tips in a few months). I do appreciate her underlying message, however, which is quit whining, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get ‘er done!  You’ll be happier and more confident when you do.  

From the publisher:

As the founder of the lifestyle website and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

Book #6: 

Your Second Life BeginsYour Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One  by Raphaelle Giordano (Length: 256 pages).  I have no idea why I wanted to read this book or where I first heard about it (I really ought to track the origin of my TBR choices).  This is a cute self-help book disguised as fiction.  But I think the messages in this book are geared toward 20-30 year old women, so it’s not really helpful to me at this point in my life.  (Would be a cute gift for a college graduate even.)  I read this in one sitting, and I will always think of it as an adult Mrs. Piggle Wiggle thanks to the advice given by the “routinologist” in the book.  If you get that reference, then you’re likely not the targeted audience for this book either.  😉

From the publisher:

The feel-good #1 bestselling French novel about a woman whose mission to cure her “routine-itis” leads her to lasting joy and true fulfillment, for fans of The Alchemist and Hector and the Search for Happiness.

At thirty-eight and a quarter years old, Paris native Camille has everything she needs to be happy, or so it seems: a good job, a loving husband, a wonderful son. Why then does she feel as if happiness has slipped through her fingers? All she wants is to find the path to joy.

When Claude, a French Sean Connery look-alike and routinologist, offers his unique advice to help get her there, she seizes the opportunity with both hands. Camille’s journey is full of surprising escapades, creative capers, and deep meaning, as she sets out to transform her life and realize her dreams one step at a time…

Book #7: 

Molly's GameMolly’s Game  by Molly Bloom (Length: 273 pages).  I watched the movie adaptation of this book about a real-life, high-stakes poker game first, with my husband.  We both really enjoyed it so I was curious to read the book.  The movie hints at the identities of the celebrities involved in this weekly game, but they are straight-out revealed in the book itself.  Holy name-dropping!!  I will never look at Tobey Maguire the same way again.  😉  This book was a fast and enjoyable read, and I would absolutely recommend it.  

From the publisher:  

Molly Bloom reveals how she built one of the most exclusive, high-stakes underground poker games in the world—an insider’s story of excess and danger, glamour and greed.

In the late 2000s, Molly Bloom, a twentysomething petite brunette from Loveland Colorado, ran the highest stakes, most exclusive poker game Hollywood had ever seen—she was its mistress, its lion tamer, its agent, and its oxygen. Everyone wanted in, few were invited to play.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were won and lost at her table. Molly’s game became the game for those in the know—celebrities, business moguls, and millionaires. Molly staged her games in palatial suites with beautiful views and exquisite amenities. She flew privately, dined at exclusive restaurants, hobnobbed with the heads of Hollywood studios, was courted by handsome leading men, and was privy to the world’s most delicious gossip, until it all came crashing down around her.


Book #8: 

I Work at a public libraryI Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan (Length: 161 pages).  This is a collection of cute, funny and crazy anecdotes collected by librarians who work in public libraries.  This book is definitely worth a check out from the library (!) if only to have a better understanding and empathy for these stewards of our favorite resources.  I will always think of this book every time I am in a library from here on out.  



From the publisher: Straight from the library–the strange and bizarre, ready to be checked out!

From a patron’s missing wetsuit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, I Work at a Public Library showcases the oddities that have come across Gina Sheridan’s circulation desk. Throughout these pages, she catalogs her encounters with local eccentrics as well as the questions that plague her, such as, “What is the standard length of eyebrow hairs?” Whether she’s helping someone scan his face onto an online dating site or explaining why the library doesn’t have any dragon autobiographies, Sheridan’s bizarre tales prove that she’s truly seen it all.

Stacked high with hundreds of strange-but-true stories, I Work at a Public Library celebrates librarians and the unforgettable patrons that roam the stacks every day.

Book #9: 

EducatedEducated by Tara Westover (Length: 336 pages).  One of my close friends loaned me her copy of this book urging me to read it ASAP.  I did, and wow!!!   The author was not just home-schooled, but she, along with her siblings in a survivalist family, was “unschooled”.  As a substitute teacher in an elementary school I’m horrified by this. And yet she went on to earn not only a BA, but a master’s as well as a PhD.   The author’s writing in this memoir is so vivid, and I was absolutely captivated throughout.  This is a must read!  I think it’s right up there with “The Glass Castle” and “Hillbilly Elegy”.  

From the publisher:

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.


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