September 2022–Part Two

Thank you for joining me here!   I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

The Hike by Susi Holliday (Length: 266 pages).  This was a free Kindle book that I heard about on a book podcast, I believe. As an avid hiker and a lover of mysteries and thrillers, I was hopeful this would be right up my alley. I’m still not sure how I feel about this one, a few weeks after finishing it. A group of 4 people (2 couples) goes on a hike in the Swiss Alps and only 2 people return. The plot is definitely propulsive (my favorite!) but the writing quality just is not great. I did finish because I wanted to see how it ended, but I guessed the plot twist fairly early on, at about the halfway point of the book, which is entirely too early. Bottom line, it’s okay for being free (or even a library checkout if you’d like a quick read while travelling) but definitely not recommended as a purchase.

Book #2:

American Predator by Maureen Callahan (Length: 299 pages).  This true crime non-fiction book is a MUST READ for any lovers of true crime. The quality of the writing and research is truly right up there with my all-time favorite true crime book (I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara) and the subject matter is just as creepy here. This account is about the most prolific and terrifying serial killers of the 21st century, and the scariest part? We never even knew about him–thanks to horrible prosecutorial misconduct (ie, insisting on conducting the interrogations of the suspect himself–grounds for automatic disbarment in many jurisdictions), as well as bumbling police work (but with some phenomenally talented FBI agents in the mix). This writer reminds of me of the old-style Ann Rule books, but with better writing. The details of the crimes are chilling, and the writer truly brings them to life . . . for better or worse you can picture Israel Keyes’ methodical tracking and killing of his victims. Definitely pick this one up, if you dare. 😉

Book #3:

The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz (Length: 408 pages).  This book was a popular read during the first summer of the pandemic but I just picked it up. It’s a novel about Big Law, from the point of view of a female first year associate in the mergers & acquisitions division. Touching on the Me Too movement, drug culture in law firms (surprisingly common!), insane billable hours and neglecting mental health–while these all make for interesting and drama-filled reading, they also make me grateful I chose a career in public law. This is well-written but moves a bit slow . . . a good 50 pages should have been cut from the beginning but the last third the plot picks up and made me want to finish the book. (I will say I wasn’t excited to pick this book up each day so that does tell me it’s not one of my favorites of the year). A solid 3.5 stars, and absolutely worth reading if you’re a law student or considering going to work for a big law firm someday.

Book #4:

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Length: 418 pages).  This novel has been hyped up on Bookstagram and several book podcasts that I follow and I found that it lives up to the hype! As a child of the 80s I loved the references to video game culture, especially in the early days (Leisure Suit Larry, anyone?!) and I do agree that it helps to have some understanding of the video game culture to truly enjoy this book. I loved it! The story of Sadie and Sam starts in 1983 when they met as children in a hospital when Sam was a patient thanks to a foot shattered from a car accident and Sadie was waiting for her sister who was undergoing chemo treatments. The pair eventually meet up again later in life and design and create video games together, becoming very successful. The writing is excellent, the depth of character development is right up my alley, and I enjoyed the decades-long, wandering plot. This nostalgic novel is one that I will remember, and that’s the best compliment this voracious reader can bestow on a book.

Book #5:

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding (Length: 315 pages).  I listened to this one and holy heck is it propulsive! I typically only listen to audiobooks during my commute, and I found myself taking the long way home sometimes, just to find out what happened next. Now, the premise is not for the faint of heart, specifically for moms to be, or parents of newborns as it involves a woman whose twin infant boys are abducted and when they are recovered, the mother is convinced they are changelings (ie, of fairy tale folklore). The character development here is decent; my favorite character by far is DS Joan Harper, the case detective, but the real draw here is the plot. This is being made into a movie and it will definitely be one that I will watch. This is a must LISTEN–the narration is excellent. (I rarely listen to fiction audiobooks because my mind tends to wander but this book kept my attention at every turn.) Let me know what you think if you check this one out!

September 2022–Part One

Thank you for joining me here!   I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan (Length: 268 pages).  I LOVED this book! It’s a rom com that’s well-written (the only type I enjoy) and the characters have depth. The set up here is screenwriter Nora hosts the filming of her latest script (based on her recent divorce) at her home, in her “tea house” in her backyard. Her worthless ex-husband and father to their 2 kids essentially abandons her to chase his own dreams. The Hollywood hunk who plays her ex in the movie stays on a while in the tea house to escape the Hollywood pressures. The plot goes on from there, and while it’s a bit unbelievable, I didn’t care . . . thanks to the author’s writing style, and how likeable Nora is, I loved every single page of this delightful novel.

Book #2:

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole (Length: 364 pages).  Whoa–this thriller is a wild ride! Think the movie “Get Out” plus gentrification/redlining in Brooklyn and you have this very unusual thriller. This is very well-written and VERY disturbing. The first 25% was a bit slow for me, but if you have the same thoughts, push through–I promise you it’s worth it. This book made me sick to my stomach in parts (not due to gore but due to the racism at its core/premise) but there are very important themes with an even more important message here. (All Realtors should be required to read this, in my opinion). A thriller for a thinking person is what I’d label this one as.

Book #3:

Rules at the School by the Sea by Jenny Colgan (Length: 283 pages).  This is the second book in a trilogy which was reissued by the author’s publisher after she gained some fame with her other books. I’m a huge Jenny Colgan fan, and I’m a sucker for novels about boarding school. I read (and reviewed) the first book in the series and enjoyed it sufficiently to want to grab this one. The author is still hyper-obsessed with the weight of the teen girls in this series for some reason, this time focusing on an anorexic student. However, overall, this is mindless entertainment that is sufficiently well-written for me to just enjoy the ride and the author’s writing. Now that I’m thoroughly invested in these characters, I’ll be reading the last one in the series which is due to be re-released in March of next year.

Book #4:

Downton Shabby by Hopwood Dupree (Length: 315 pages).  This memoir written by an American film producer (and actor) who discovers and then renovates his family’s ancestral castle in England is an absolute delight! I listened to this one and the narrator is fantastic–my attention never faltered and I loved every minute. Hopwood doesn’t hesitate to poke fun at himself, and his self-awareness makes him very likeable. I immediately checked out the photos online of the dilapidated castle and I also watched a few news clips on YouTube and those added to my enjoyment of this fun book. I hope you enjoy it as well.

August 2022–Part Three

Thank you for joining me here!   I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

She’s Up to No Good by Sara Goodman Confino (Length: 395 pages).  I scored this book as a free Kindle read one month, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. It’s a women-based novel with strong characters, which I typically love. We meet Jenna who is recently divorced and who goes on a road trip with her sassy grandmother Evelyn who is drawn back to where she grew up in the seaside town of Hereford, Massachusetts. The timeline switches back and forth between present day and Evelyn’s past, growing up Jewish in that time period, but in love with a boy who isn’t Jewish. I found myself disliking the dual timelines as I wasn’t really interested in Jenna’s story (mainly because I found her to be too whiny), so I didn’t want to grab this novel when it was time for me to read something. But I stuck with it because I was invested in Evelyn’s story and I wanted to find out what happened. This is a 3 star book for me given the issues I had with the timelines but overall it is a decent Amazon First Reads pick. Sometimes you can’t beat free! 😉

Book #2:

Joan is Okay by Weike Wang (Length: 215 pages).  I randomly grabbed this short novel off the New Releases shelf at my local library because of the interesting cover. It’s about a Chinese attending physician who works in the ICU of a New York City hospital. While it’s never explicitly stated, it’s very obvious that Joan is on the spectrum and I adore books that show neurodivergent people in a positive light, which this novel does. The author writes about Joan’s life growing up as the daughter of immigrant parents, then how Joan copes with the sudden death of her father as well as navigating her complex relationships with her mother and her uber-driven and successful older brother. The writing is very strong, the characters are quirky and it’s a very quick read. I’d recommend!

Book #3:

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (Length: 245 pages).  I’ve been trying to read this book for years but it couldn’t hold my interest. After I enjoyed watching Brene in a Netflix special recently, I realized I should try an audiobook version, and that did the trick! I adore her voice and she does narrate this book. There is nothing earth-shattering in this particular book but I did find that it’s a great reminder, generally speaking, to get off the hamster wheel of life once in a while and to slow down. And it’s okay not to be perfect, which this self-described perfectionist needs to be reminded of now and again. You can’t go wrong with Brene Brown but this audiobook is worth a listen.

August 2022–Part Two

Thank you for joining me here!   I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko (Length: 448 pages).  I could have sworn I already posted a review of this non-fiction book but apparently, I haven’t. This is a tale of the fastest trip through the Grand Canyon via boat (a wooden dory) thanks to an overflow of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1983. The parts of this book where the author focuses on the boat trip are my favorite as he is a fantastic writer and puts the reader directly in the middle of the pulse-pounding action. It’s the rest of the book that was a bit slow for me, especially regarding the building of the dam and the issues with water surrounding the Colorado River. I recommended this book to a coworker of mine who geeks out over water stuff as I think he’d enjoy the entire thing. I’d give it a 3.5/5 stars for an interesting non-fiction read.

Book #2:

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka (Length: 132 pages).  I really enjoyed this novella set at a community swimming pool thanks to the author’s truly lyrical writing that describes, from a macro to a microlevel, the various swimmers who visit the pool. She writes about their type of swimming styles, how often they visit the pool, and who they are “aboveground”. Then she narrows her focus to Alice, a woman who suffers from dementia. Then even more narrow, the author describes Alice’s move to a memory care facility and her relationship with her husband and daughter who are navigating these changes along with Alice. This is a gorgeous and unforgettable book that you won’t be sorry you read. It took me two hours to read and I enjoyed every single second and then immediately pressed into the hands of my best friend.

Book #3:

Hide by Kiersten White (Length: 342 pages).  After I heard one of my favorite book podcasters rave about this horror novel, I immediately placed a hold on it at my local library. I LOVE this book! It’s a horror/supernatural thriller set inside an abandoned amusement park and the premise here is very unique. The local townspeople have devised a contest where 14 contestants (who were carefully chosen beforehand) have to play a game of hide and seek for 7 days. There can be only one winner, but that winner will walk away with $50,000. This is very well-written, pulse-pounding and I enjoyed the creative plotline, with a very satisfying resolution. It is a bit violent in parts but it was never “too much” for me. I give this a very enthusiastic two thumbs up!

August 2022–Part One

Thank you for joining me here!   I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center (Length: 310 pages).  I am a fan of this author and her work (Things We Save in a Fire is my favorite of hers) so I was excited to read this one, her latest. While it’s not my favorite, it’s a fun way to pass the time if you’re in the mood for an easy rom-com. The set-up is a female private bodyguard is hired to protect a mega actor/celebrity from a crazed stalker. Somehow the actor contrives a plan for the two of them to pretend to be dating before they go to stay with his parents on their gorgeous ranch in Texas as his mother is recovering from illness. There isn’t a lot of great dialogue in this one (something Center is known for) but I did like both of the main characters. The central “conflict” here is too contrived and utterly unbelievable, so if you’re looking for a really good romance novel, skip this one. Perhaps it’s worth a library read? 2.5 out of 5 stars if I was pressed to rate this one.

Book #2:

The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne (Length: 304 pages).  I listened to this non-fiction book and it reminded me of while I love to read memoirs . . . learning about the different facets of other people’s lives is fascinating and I always walk away having learned something new. This particular memoir is authored by a (former?) member of the LDS church who is a librarian who lives with Tourette’s and discovers weightlifting (in various forms) as a way to temporarily mitigate the symptoms of his disease. Josh discusses his ongoing struggles with his faith, which is the most interesting part of this book, how books have enriched his life, as well as telling tales of working in a public library in Salt Lake City. I enjoyed this on audio–the narrator’s voice was perfect for this book. The topics in this memoir are a bit niche but I do believe there is something in here for everyone, especially if you love reading.

Book #3:

Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller (Length: 366 pages).  This memoir written by the rape victim of Brock Turner (the Stanford swimmer) was this month’s book club pick, and I’m SO glad I finally read this incredibly well-written book. Chanel’s writing is exquisite . . . the tone is always perfectly appropriate, her turns of phrase are beautifully written and her powers of persuasion evoke incredible empathy for crime victims everywhere, especially female victims. Chanel was sexually assaulted by Turner in January of 2015 on the Stanford campus, but was known only by the name Emily Doe, to protect her privacy. Chanel’s victim impact statement (all 12 pages of it) was published by Buzzfeed and went viral with over 15 million views. That statement galvanized a movement which ultimately unseated the idiotic judge who sentenced Brock to a measly 6 months in jail (3 months due to overcrowding). This book is a must-read for anyone and everyone, to understand how female victims of violent sexual crimes are treated by the system, a system that I personally am a part of. I plan to share this title with the victim advocates in my office (even though they don’t “need” it as they are incredible advocates) but because they will also appreciate the nuances of how victims of crime perceive the system. This is one of those rare books that the reader will always remember . . . mostly for how it makes them feel. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!