Book Reviews–June 2019 Part One

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.  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: 

The Last RomanticsThe Last Romantics by Tara Conklin (Length: 368 pages).  This is an excellent read!  The writing is top-notch, the characters are well-developed and I wanted to keep reading.  This novel is told from the perspective of the youngest sibling of 4 (Fiona), and is primarily about the familial/sibling bonds of this group.  While it’s broad in scope and of time, the pace is quick enough to hold a reader’s interest (which I was very pleased about).  Book clubs would enjoy this book as there are opportunities to discuss your own bonds with your siblings.  (Note:  climate-change deniers, whoever you are, may want to skip this book because there is a somewhat intense and VERY realistic peek into our planet’s near future in the flash-forward scenes.)

From the publisher:

When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.

It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected.  Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they’ve made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love.

A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue—the ones we love. A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, it is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories—how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future.

Book #2: 

Packing for MarsPacking for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach (Length: 335 pages).   I’m not sure where I heard about this non-fiction pick, but I’m SO glad I read this book.  I’ve read the author’s “Stiff” and “Gulp” previously, so I knew I’d find this exhaustive account of the preparation that must occur before spacewalks and our eventual travel to Mars to be worth my time.  This book, as with her previous books, showcases the author’s wit.  (For example, the line, “‘They didn’t want the hot water cooking the skin flakes'”, he said, speaking four words together that have no business being so.”)  The author does get bogged down into the minutiae (as is her style) . . . for example, what is it like to go without washing for two weeks in space, what it’s like going to the bathroom, etc but the minutiae IS so very interesting, in my opinion.  I will say, this book is difficult to read in one go, but by chapter it’s fine.  Definitely do NOT skip the footnotes!  (If you’re reading this on a Kindle, just click on the asterisks within the text itself).  These often contain the most interesting (and funny) factoids!

From the publisher:

“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) explores the irresistibly strange universe of life without gravity in this New York Times bestseller.

The best-selling author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity. From the Space Shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule, Mary Roach takes us on the surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

Book #3: 

Fierce KingdomFierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips (Length: 278 pages).  Whoa.  This book is INTENSE.  If you’re looking for a lightning-fast, thrill-ride of a read that you’ll finish in one sitting, this is it.   This novel is very well-paced, and the author is all about moving the plot (about some gunmen in a zoo at closing time) forward, but what characters there are, you absolutely understand them and their motivations along the way.  The main narrator, Joan, is a mom at the zoo with her young son.  She’s heroic at times, and shockingly not at others.  She’s very believable and makes you think about what you’d do in that same situation.  There is a secondary character of a retired third-grade teacher (who’s seen at least a dozen of her former students on the news in some capacity after they reach adulthood), and having been a substitute teacher for third-grade, I absolutely related to her character.  The novel’s ending is very sudden, and you can read what you want into it.  Love those types of endings–definitely worth a read.  This would be a fantastic book to read on a long airplane flight or car ride as the time will fly by!

From the publisher:

One of the New York Times Book Review’s Best Crime Novels of 2017

“Warning: you’ll finish this in one sitting.” —TheSkimm

“Expertly made thriller . . . clever and irresistible.” —The New York Times

An electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she’ll go to protect him.

The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few moments of playtime. They are happy, and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing time sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms. And for the next three hours—the entire scope of the novel—she keeps on running.

Joan’s intimate knowledge of her son and of the zoo itself—the hidden pathways and under-renovation exhibits, the best spots on the carousel and overstocked snack machines—is all that keeps them a step ahead of danger.

A masterful thrill ride and an exploration of motherhood itself—from its tender moments of grace to its savage power—Fierce Kingdom asks where the boundary is between our animal instinct to survive and our human duty to protect one another. For whom should a mother risk her life?

Book #4: 

Chasing FirefliesChasing Fireflies by Charles Martin (Length: 351 pages). I LOVE me some Charles Martin.  This is yet another great novel of his.  He does touch upon (briefly) some tough subjects such as child abuse (both physical and sexual) as well as HIV, but he’s never too graphic and it’s never gratuitous.  The narrator is a younger male (30 years old) who is a journalist.  He’s adopted and lives with an older couple he calls Uncle Willie and Aunt Lorna, and we learn about Uncle Willie’s very storied past.  As always, Martin does a fantastic job of painting a sense of place, in this case, the marshes of Georgia, with his always-beautiful writing style and a fantastically-paced plot.  You HAVE to keep reading to find out how it ends.  There’s a mystery within the plot, per usual, but Martin definitely doesn’t spoon feed it to you.  I LOVE this book!  

From the publisher:

On a stifling summer day, an old Chevy Impala ignored the warning signals and was annihilated by the oncoming train. What no one realized until much later was that the driver had paused just before entering the tracks and kicked a small boy out of the car. A small boy with broken glasses who is clutching a notebook with all his might . . . but who never speaks.

Chase Walker was one of the lucky ones. He was in foster care as a child, but he finally ended up with a family who loved him and cared for him. Now, as a journalist for the local paper, he’s moved on and put the past behind him.

But when he’s assigned the story of this young boy, painful, haunting questions about his own childhood begin to rise to the surface.

And as Chase Walker discovers, learning the truth about who you are can be as elusive—and as magical—as chasing fireflies on a summer night.

Book #5: 

Good Morning MidnightGood Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton (Length: 274 pages).   This book is based on SUCH an interesting premise, even for a dystopian novel.  The main characters (in alternating chapters) are:  An elderly scientist who stays put after an evacuation of a research station near the North Pole, and a female member of a crew of 6 en route back to Earth from a study/exploration of Jupiter.  The female crew member, Sully, is estranged from her daughter, much like August, the research scientist on Earth.  The author creates a fantastic sense of place in both locales–and since I really enjoy reading about space AND the Arctic, this novel is really my jam.  While this is more about “the journey” and the meaning of life than the arc of the plot, it’s definitely worth a read.  Just a warning that the last two chapters are definitely a bit of a surprise (that I suspected but really didn’t see coming).  I’m okay with the (rather abrupt) ending but some readers may not be.   I absolutely will read whatever else this author publishes!

From the publisher: NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SHELF AWARENESS AND THE CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS • COLSON WHITEHEAD’S FAVORITE BOOK OF 2016 (Esquire)

Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts, studying the sky for evidence of how the universe began. At his latest posting, in a research center in the Arctic, news of a catastrophic event arrives. The scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after the others have gone, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes that the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone.

At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. So far the journey has been a success. But when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crewmates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home.


As Augustine and Sully each face an uncertain future against forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion. In crystalline prose, Good Morning, Midnight poses the most important questions: What endures at the end of the world? How do we make sense of our lives? Lily Brooks-Dalton’s captivating debut is a meditation on the power of love and the bravery of the human heart.

Book #6: 

Becoming OdyssaBecoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis (Length: 322 pages).  Fun fact:  I’m OBSESSED with the Appalachian Trail, and have read more than half a dozen books about this trail, and thru-hikers in particular.  This particular memoir is now in my top 3 primarily because the author’s writing is very good, and descriptive, and for a 22 year-old woman (at the time she hiked the trail), she isn’t whiny, but instead is very positive and empathetic to others.  She definitely encounters some difficult people and dangerous situation and endures physical trials, but she handles all of them with admirable strengthe and grace.  Her writing (and viewpoint) is a bit too religious for my taste in part, but not enough to put me off reading (and recommending) this book.  

From the publisher:

After graduating from college, Jennifer isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Though her friends and family think she’s crazy, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next. The next four months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life. She quickly discovers that thru-hiking is harder than she had imagined: coping with blisters and aching shoulders from the 30-pound pack she carries; sleeping on the hard wooden floors of trail shelters; hiking through endless torrents of rain and even a blizzard. With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail, braving situations she never imagined before her thru-hike. The trail is full of unexpected kindness, generosity, and humor. And when tragedy strikes, she learns that she can depend on other people to help her in times of need.

July 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:

Unmissing by Minka Kent (Length: 251 pages).  This is a super short mystery thriller where the first wife who has been presumed dead for the past 10 years shows up on the doorstep of her husband’s home with his new wife and child. There are several twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, which is always fun, and it’s definitely a wild ride. The writing is decent, and the plot is propulsive. It’s not my favorite all-time thriller (see my review of The Chain below as that one is quite possibly one of the best I’ve read), but this is worth a library checkout for sure. It’s better written than a lot of the current thrillers out right now.

Book #2:

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old by Hester Velmans (Length: 342 pages). I enjoyed this novel written from the perspective of an elderly resident of an assisted-living home in Amsterdam, in the form of a daily diary written over the course of one calendar year. His tales of being a member of the Old But Not Dead gang, a group of 8 residents, are adorable, and he showcases all of their different personalities in an engaging manner. Hendrik is a bit grumpy (reminding me of Backman’s A Man Called Ove) but also with a big heart with a lot of empathy for others. His quick wit and asides make this a book worth reading. There are 2 more novels after this, which I may read too. I absolutely recommend this one for those who also love lovable curmudgeons.

Book #3:

The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Length: 369 pages).  The premise of this thriller is incredibly unique and VERY chilling (spoiler alert: it’s awesome!): your child is kidnapped and to get him/her back, you must first pay ransom in the form of Bitcoins equivalent to half the balance of your bank accounts, and then you must kidnap a child yourself. Once these demands are met, then your child will be released but if the chain is ever broken, people will die (and they do). I will say no children get killed in this book so if you’re an HSP, don’t worry in that regard. This is very fast-paced, well-written and a wild ride emotionally. I give this 2 very enthusiastic thumbs up. Perfect travel read!

July 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:

Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews (Length: 337 pages).  It’s taken me a while to get around to reading this uber-popular mystery, but I’m glad I made the time to read it. Part mystery, part thriller, this novel is about Florence Darrow, a woman who becomes the assistant to an author who goes by the pen name, Maud Dixon. From NYC to a small town in the Hudson Valley, then to Morocco, this novel certainly features a very strong sense of place. As a reader you are THERE in the middle of the action, thanks to the descriptive writing. There are lots of twists and turns, and it’s a bit like the movie The Sixth Sense where you may be surprised by where it’s going and feel like you need to re-read parts of the book. Although I figured out the major plot twist fairly early on, I still thoroughly enjoyed the entire ride. Warning: there are zero likeable characters here, but that’s okay with me.

Book #2:

The Book of Cold Cases  by Simone St. James (Length: 350 pages).  This is another thriller/mystery, and is this month’s pick for my book club. The novel toggles between two time periods: 1977, following Beth Greer, a young wealthy woman accused of a grisly double murder and in 2027, following Shea, a true crime blogger in Claire Lake, Oregon. Eventually Beth and Shea meet, and a creepy mansion becomes character #3 in this novel. There’s a murder investigation and trial, along with a touch of romance. This novel truly has it all . . . it’s well-written, decent character development, a propulsive plot and an unforgettable story. I loved this book!

Book #3:

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan (Length: 300 pages).  Yet another crime thriller/mystery about a law student Hannah Rokeby who joins an Innocence Project case with the sole objective of tanking it because the Project is representing a man who screwed Hannah’s mother over several years earlier. The plot is absolutely propulsive as I couldn’t put it down. Short chapters so they fly by. I will say there are a few continuity errors which distracted me (for example, Hannah is told her apartment is on the 3rd floor but then she’s taken to 5B on the fifth floor) and there are quite a few unbelievable parts from a legal perspective (drawback of being a prosecutor when reading legal thrillers) but these legal impossibilities won’t detract from the story if you are a layperson. I would recommend this if you’re in the mood for a fast-paced mystery and you’re willing to suspend your disbelief in general.

Book #4:

Cover Story by Susan Rigetti (Length: 362 pages).  This is a story very similar to the Inventing Anna mini-series (a true story based on the con woman Anna Sorokin) but this novel features a Russian con artist named Cat Wolfe who convinces NYC dropout Lora Ricci to ghostwrite a book of short stories for her. The writing style here is a bit stilted but it almost works as this novel is wholly epistolary as the story is told in the form of emails, texts and entries in Lora’s diary. This book is very fast-paced (once you hit the 25% mark or so), the character development is decent (inasmuch as you are let inside the con artist’s head), and the twists do not stop coming. I was worried it would be too similar to Anna Sorokin’s story but there are definitely sufficient differences to make this worth checking out. This is the perfect beach read!

Book #5:

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau (Length: 335 pages).  This is a sweet novel that gave me Daisy Jones and the Six vibes. Set in the 1970s, it features Mary Jane, a fourteen year old girl living in Baltimore who becomes a nanny for a precocious young girl, Izzy, the daughter of Dr Cone, a psychiatrist and his wife. That same summer Izzy’s father treats a well-known rock star, Jimmy, for his drug addiction and invites Jimmy and his even more famous actress/singer wife Sheba to stay with them. Mary Jane is used to a buttoned-up “normal” husband-wife dynamic like she experiences at home but is treated to an entirely different way of living when she’s in the Cone household. Mary Jane imposes her sense of order on the household, one drawer and room at a time, while enjoying the rock and roll lifestyle from afar. This is not fluff at all, but it’s a very sweet, fun read, and the character development is fantastic. I adore this book!

Book #6:

Breathless by Amy McCulloch (Length: 342 pages). Warning: do NOT start this book unless you’ve set aside a block of time to finish this book. Think a mix of Into Thin Air and The Descent, or a comparable outdoor thriller. This is a well-written, wild ride following journalist Cecily Wong, a relatively novice hiker from Great Britain who is chosen to accompany the world-famous Charles McVeigh on Manashu, the last of his 14 Peaks Clean hikes (hiking alpinist style without ropes, and without supplemental oxygen). The author was the youngest female Canadian to hike Manashu, and it’s clear she’s bringing her real-life knowledge to the details in this novel. There are murdered people, scary mountain scenes and thrills abound. You will be absolutely breathless while reading. A fantastic book to read while traveling.

July 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:

Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes (Length: 279 pages).  I first learned of Paul Holes when reading Michelle McNamara’s I’ll be Gone in the Dark, which I insist is the best true-crime book every written, period. Paul Hole discusses the Golden State Killer case covered by Michelle in her book in his book too, and how, after 24 years, he discovered the GSK’s true identity, just after Michelle passed away. Paul also discusses his professional evolution from lab tech to criminalist to detective, and how his obsessive focus and personality affected his personal life. This book is very well-written (his co-author won a Pulitzer Prize for news reporting) and contains lots of interesting details about his life’s work. Excellent book and I recommend to any mystery and true-crime book lover.

Book #2:

The Arc by Tory Henwood Hoen (Length: 344 pages).  People whose opinion I respect recommended this romance to me and I agree with their recommendation for sure. Ursula and Rafael are matched, courtesy of an uber-expensive ($40,000-50,000!) and high-tech dating service in New York City called “The Arc.” I adored the NYC setting here, the character development is very well-done, the characters’ snappy and witty dialogue sings on the pages and it’s very well-paced in terms of plot. A bit formulaic as most romances go, and for the love of GOD, just TALK to one another, but I guess that’s something that makes romance novels go round? This is something different though, and I absolutely recommend this to any discerning romance reader.

Book #3:

Welcome to the School by the Sea by Jenny Colgan (Length: 292 pages).  I adore Jenny Colgan’s books so when I saw she was re-releasing books she wrote over a decade ago under a pen name, I grabbed this one, the first in what will be a series of 6 books set in an elite girls’ boarding school by the sea in Cornwall, England. This series is geared toward adult women who are nostalgic for boarding school books but written from the point of view of adults. In this first book, the protagonist is a newer teacher from Scotland who accepts a job at this school coming from a more rough and tumble public school that she herself attended as a child. I do agree with reviewers here who wonder about Jenny Colgan’s obsession with the weight of her characters, but overall, I found this was an easy and fun read and a great way to spend an afternoon by the pool.

Book #4:

The Island by Adrian McKinty (Length: 385 pages).  This is a thriller (physical not psychological) set on a small island in Australia, where a family is stranded after things go awry during a quick drive around the island for the kids to see koala bears in the wild. There is minimal character development here, so you are reading this for the propulsive plot only (otherwise you will be eye-rolling the entire way through about WHY characters are acting the way that they are). This reads like a movie and sure enough, it’s already scheduled to be on Hulu as an original series. Think Deliverance plus Survivor on this one and enjoy this fun ride for summer! Perfect beach or travel read so long as your check your disbelief at the door.

June 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:

Like a House on Fire by Lauren McBrayer (Length: 316 pages).  I could NOT put this novel down. Merit, a 40-year-old architect with two young children goes back to work full-time for a very charismatic older woman, Jane. The two immediately click as co-workers and then as friends. Merit is very “comfortable” in a 10-year marriage but she (as many of us do) finds her husband not to be very super helpful with the kids, thoughtful, etc. Enter romantic crush in the form of Jane. This is not very open door at all and is more about the love story that starts between the two. I absolutely loved the writing style, the pacing was perfection, and while I was a bit annoyed with Merit at times, this was a win for me. (The ending did throw me for a bit of a loop given the preceding build up, but overall it’s a great read.)

Book #2:

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich (Length: 395 pages). Two thumbs up for me for this wonderful book! It’s been on my radar for quite a while thanks to several book podcasters raving about it, but they’re right. The protagonist is Tookie, an Ojibwe Indian living in Minneapolis, working at the author’s real-life bookshop (the author Louise is mentioned throughout which is fun!) when she realizes that the bookshop is haunted by its most annoying customer, Flora, who recently passed away. Flora was a white woman who wanted to be a tribal member. The timeline is centered pre-pandemic and during the pandemic and the author covers the murder of George Floyd, the pandemic, Indigenous culture, etc so it’s very immersive and very “now”. I absolutely adore this book and will be recommending it to my discerning reader friends for sure.

Book #3:

The Anthropocene Reviewed  by John Green (Length: 302 pages).  This is a another very hot book now, and it lives up to its hype. It’s a book of essays, subtitled Essays on a Human-Centered Planet. The author has random musings, some deep such as “Our Capacity for Wonder” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” but most are fun “Diet Dr Pepper” and “Scratch n Sniff Stickers” but with a core of heart. He reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell as he reveals the “truth” behind many assumptions we all have about people and events. The theme is the author is “reviewing” various aspects of the anthropocene (a geological time frame starting from the time humans arrived on earth) with a star rating system. I found this to be the PERFECT audiobook. The essays are a perfect length for a commute, and they are read by the author himself.

June 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:

Dear Bob and Sue Season 3 by Matt and Karen Smith (Length: 345 pages).  This is the fourth book I’ve read by this couple, so I’m obviously a fan. Again, I listened to this one and it makes a fantastic road trip (or even daily commute) audiobook. In this book, Matt and Karen venture to several different national parks and monuments, including down to Tucson, AZ (which I loved!), Glacier National Park, Alaska a few times and Yellowstone. The audiobook features the same narrators as the second season, but they didn’t annoy me as much this time around for some reason. I loved the authors’ Bison Tour of 2018 especially, and their personal anecdotes and trip details are a delight to read/listen to. Please check them out!

Book #2:

The Husbands by Chandler Baker (Length: 349 pages).  When I first heard the premise of this novel I thought, Stepford Wives but with husbands. That wasn’t too far off. Part psychological thriller, a teensy part horror/gore and part standard fictional novel. The plot is definitely propulsive because you “have” to find out how it ends, but the “how” of it is very easy to figure out as the author’s clues are way too obvious. The ending also struck me as a bit odd given what we learned about the characters in the book, but maybe that’s just me. You absolutely will need to suspend your disbelief to enjoy this novel. While I don’t think this quite lives up to its hype, I enjoyed it for what it is–an easy, fun summer read.

Book #3:

The Divorce Party by Laura Dave (Length: 268 pages).  I enjoyed this author’s The Last Thing He Ever Told Me (which I reviewed here in September of 2021), so I was looking forward to this one. This primarily character-driven novel features the story of two parallel marriages (one ending and one just beginning). Gwyn and Thomas are separating after 35 years of marriage, and are throwing a Divorce Party on their anniversary; Nate, their son, is about to marry Maggie, and brings her to his parent’s famous house on the island of Montauk to meet his parents for the first time, at the party. The author slowly reveals the older couple’s real reason for divorcing while also revealing the secrets Nate has kept from Maggie, and parallels abound. I do enjoy a good family drama, and the writing is very strong here. But I ultimately finished this book feeling like the character development was too surface . . . perhaps because we are only hearing from Maggie and Gwyn, and not from Nate and his father? So you, as a reader, find out what happens but not really “why”. The ending is sad, which is predictable from the minute you start reading it, so if you’re going to read this, read it for the character development, not the plot.

Book #4:

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn (Length: 447 pages).  I’ve mentioned here before that I’m a bit burned out on historical fiction, especially fiction about World War 2. It’s difficult to find a new and different retelling. Well, this is one! This is my second Kate Quinn book, and I’m officially a fan (I’ve got her other 2 most popular books in the queue). My book club is reading this pick and I am very excited to discuss it with my group of smart women because it’s fantastic! Based on the true story of Mila, a female sniper in the Russian Red Army who had 309 confirmed kills of Hitlerites (and likely dozens more than the official total), this is a wild ride. The author based this novel on Mila’s own memoir, with the addition of a few more characters to flesh out the narrative. My only (small) complaint is that the ending (in Rock Creek Park in Washington DC) was very “Hollywood” and I’m not sure I feel better or worse knowing that the author just made that part up. The entire ride is fun, the plot is absolutely propulsive, I loved the friendship Mila enjoyed with Eleanor Roosevelt and the romance(s) were well-done and not cheesy. Read this!! You will NOT regret it.