Book Reviews–January 2019

Welcome!  I have large stacks of books TBR (To Be Read) on my nightstand, plus electronic stacks of books lined up in my Kindle, as well as books on hold at the library.  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: 

thecuckoo27scallingThe Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (Length: 561 pages).  Wow!  I absolutely LOVED this book!  Of course I had heard about this book when it was first published, because Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym for J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame.  But for some odd reason, I thought the (now-series) was about something very different than it actually is.  What I enjoyed so much about this book is the two main characters, private eye Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robyn.  They are quirky, with tons of depth, and learning more about them and what makes them tick is what I’m looking forward to in future books in this series.  The plot is very interesting in this first installment, but I did figure out who the killer was early on.  The “why” wasn’t as easy to parse, and this very intricately planned-out mystery is very well done!  Please read this charming book if you haven’t yet.  

From the publisher:

A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel’s suicide.

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this.

Book #2: 

wherethecrawdadssingWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens(Length: 379 pages).  I was VERY excited to finally open this book, after hearing so much chatter about it.  And I think the praise is well deserved.   This book is very well-written, especially with its descriptive sense of place.  I adore the author’s descriptions of the marsh, with its flora and fauna.  The alternating chapters (in both time and place) take a bit getting used to, and the mystery at the center of the book is not as interesting as the setting, in my opinion, but the writing is where this is at!  (As a side note, this book is supposed to appeal to fans of Barbara Kingsolver, which I most admittedly am not, having met her in person at a book club over 20 years ago in Tucson, Arizona.  But that’s a story for another day. If you are a Kingsolver fan, this is definitely a similar genre. )   I love this book, and it’s one that I will always remember–it’s that good!

From the publisher:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Book #3: 

howibecamethefittestwomanonearth

How I Became the Fittest Woman on Earth by Tia-Clair Toomey (Length: 200 pages?).   I am obsessed with CrossFit, and have enjoyed my foray into functional fitness for the past few years, even in my “advanced” middle age.  😉  I discovered CrossFit by watching a few Netflix documentaries on the CrossFit Games, which is how I became a fan of Tia-Clair Toomey, the female winner of the 2017 and the 2018 Games.   The content of her book (published by a small Australian publisher) is very inspiring.  I really loved all of the details about her fitness journey, her training and her first-hand account of the 2017 Games.    That being said, she’s obviously not a good writer, as her writing style is that of a fifth-grader.  There are horrible grammatical errors throughout, which makes me think she either wasn’t assigned a copy editor, or someone was drunk on the job.  This is a fun, quick and easy read–but it’s not going to win any book awards.  

From the publisher:

I have loved to compete since primary school; where I lived for sport, particularly running, and would push myself to the limit to become better than yesterday. It may come as a surprise to you, but I always came second. I was always the underdog, that person who just fell short. I never gave up, I just felt that fire in my belly get stronger and stronger – I wanted do more, be more, achieve more.

The day I finally came first was something I had always dreamed of. At twenty-four years old, I was crowned the winner of the 2017 Crossfit Games and officially became the Fittest Woman on Earth. When I heard my name called in front of thousands of cheering fans, I felt like I was invincible. I was on top of the world and suddenly everything up until that point actually made sense.

With the support of my partner, Shane, my family and my coaches along the way, I was able to achieve my dream of being number one. This is the story of how I got to where I am today. I hope you enjoy it but more importantly I hope it inspires you to dream big, work hard and never give up!

Book #4: 

becomingBecoming by Michelle Obama (Length: 428 pages).  I was gifted this amazing book for Christmas, by my very sweet husband.  This absolutely perfect memoir will always be on my bookshelf as it’s that good.  It’s intelligent, thoughtful and incredibly well-written.  She includes dozens and dozens of amusing anecdotes, as well as introspective moments, and insightful analysis of historical and current events.  She does cover policies and politics but it’s not dry.  I will say that reading this made me even sadder about the current occupant of the White House, as well as the state of American politics and race relations, but like Michelle Obama, I’m very hopeful we will see another change in the tide of humanity in this country someday in the future.  (I have been told by several people that the audio version of this book is a do-not-miss.)   

From the publisher:

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.


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