Book Reviews–November 2018: Part Two

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: 

Tear me apart

Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison (Length: 496 pages).  This suspense novel was another fun, fast-paced read.  I absolutely wanted to keep reading to find out what happens next, which is always a delight!  I will say that this book deals with difficult subject matters for some readers (ie, suicide, molestation) but I think both topics are handled very appropriately.  The characters are developed well, even if I didn’t like all of them.  I will say there were a few factual errors in the writing itself that were disruptive to the narrative (ie, the “victim” in a capital murder case is the one who died–as well as the state, of course).   Hey Publisher–if you need a better editor with a bonus law degree, call me!  😉  Overall, I’d absolutely recommend this book!

From the publisher:

The follow-up to her critically acclaimed Lie to Me, J.T. Ellison’s Tear Me Apart is the powerful story of a mother willing to do anything to protect her daughter even as their carefully constructed world unravels around them.
One moment will change their lives forever…
Competitive skier Mindy Wright is a superstar in the making until a spectacular downhill crash threatens not just her racing career but her life. During surgery, doctors discover she’s suffering from a severe form of leukemia, and a stem cell transplant is her only hope. But when her parents are tested, a frightening truth emerges. Mindy is not their daughter.
Who knows the answers?
The race to save Mindy’s life means unraveling years of lies. Was she accidentally switched at birth or is there something more sinister at play? The search for the truth will tear a family apart…and someone is going to deadly extremes to protect the family’s deepest secrets.

Book #2: 

Red Rising

Red Rising: Book 1 by Pierce Brown (Length: 401 pages).  I enjoy a good sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian novel, and this read is absolutely on the top of my list!  This is book 1 of a five-book series, and I’d agree it’s an “adult” Hunger Games.  Set on the planet Mars well into the future, this novel is essentially about class warfare with Greek mythology references.  Excellent writing, pacing and plot.  I can’t wait to read more in this series!  (Given there are a few references–no descriptions but it is mentioned–to rape, I would only recommend to ages 14ish and up.)  Let me know what you think if you’ve read it or do read it!  It’s usually on a Kindle deal as well.  

From the publisher:

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, BUZZFEED, AND SHELF AWARENESS

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power.  He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Book #3: 

Where All Light Tends to Go

Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy (Length: 274 pages).  This book was a Finalist for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, so I was excited to read it.  Holy cow!  This was NOT what I expected to read, at all.  It’s been described as a “Breaking Bad” of rural Appalachia, and it absolutely is this.  I’m also reminded of one of my favorite books (Hillbilly Elegy) which I reviewed in July of 2017.  In fact, after reading a quarter of this book, I had to double-check that it wasn’t actually a memoir–it’s THAT realistic.  This novel is very dark, with violent scenes, but none of the violence is gratuitous here.  And the ending is truly shocking.  Truly.  But the writing really took my breath away in parts.  I sped through some of the more violent scenes, and slowed down and reread some other passages. All of this to say, this is not a “feel-good” novel, by any means, but it’s one that I know I will never forget.  

From the publisher:

The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually.  The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.

Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when a fatal mistake changes everything, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.

 

Book Reviews–November 2018: Part One

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: 

Then She Was GoneThen She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell (Length: 369 pages).  My mom loaned me this suspense novel because she thought I’d enjoy it, and she was correct!  This novel is told from three different perspectives, but not equally as the majority of the book is written from the perspective of a mother whose 15 year old daughter goes missing.  Ten years later we learn of the aftermath of the disappearance, including when the mother meets a new man, with a daughter who reminds everyone of the missing girl.  This book was well-written, and the plot absolutely kept me reading.  (In fact, I read the entire novel in one day when I was home sick.)  Would recommend!  

From the publisher:

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

Book #2: 

OriginalsOriginals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant (Length: 335 pages).  This non-fiction pick is based on an interesting concept–that original thinkers who go against the “normal” way of thinking are the ones who will move society forward in a way that’s consistent with our traditional values.  I absolutely loved this read!  It reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed.  Just three of the thoughts I bookmarked as I was reading: 

“In one study, for example, praising character boosted the moral actions of eight-year-olds but not five year-olds or ten-year olds. . . . When we shift our emphasis from behavior to character, people evaluate choices differently.  Instead of asking whether behavior will achieve the results they want, they take action because it is the right thing to do.”  (As a parent, I am going to make sure from now on that I focus on praising my girls for being good/kind/honest people versus praising their specific actions, based on what I’ve learned in this book.)

The author also tackles the subject of public speaking and the best way to conquer that fear is to frame your fear as being “excited” versus “anxious”.  “To overcome fear, why does getting excited work better than trying to calm yourself down?  Fear is an intense emotion:   You feel your heart pumping and your blood coursing.  In that state, trying to relax is like slamming on the brakes when a car is going 80 miles an hour.  The vehicle still has momentum.  Rather than trying to suppress a strong emotion, it’s easier to convert it into a different emotion–one that’s equally intense, but propels us to step on the gas.”  

The author also discusses how venting your anger or negative feelings isn’t necessarily a healthy thing to do (online or in person), and backs this up with studies.  “The better you feel after venting, the more aggressive you get:  not only towards your critic, but also toward innocent bystanders.”  

From the publisher:

With Give and Take, Adam Grant not only introduced a landmark new paradigm for success but also established himself as one of his generation’s most compelling and provocative thought leaders. In Originals he again addresses the challenge of improving the world, but now from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all?

Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent. Learn from an entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest, a woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below, an analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA, a billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticize him, and a TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor. The payoff is a set of groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo.

 

 

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 TheChicSite.com 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.

 

Book Reviews–September 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 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.  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 AnimatorsThe Animators  by Kayla Rae Whitaker (Length: 386 pages).  Overall, this is an excellent, yet disturbing novel (ie, drugs, pedophilia are frequent themes so it’s not for everyone!).  And there is quite a bit of navel-gazing (not my favorite).  I put down this novel several times, with the intention of just giving up, but the incredibly strong character development throughout kept drawing me back in . . . just to see what happens to the two main protagonists (Mel and Sharon).  There is also a lot of very interesting background on the world of indie animation (not my thing, but I love to learn about new subjects).  So, the beginning dragged on a bit, but I’m glad I didn’t give up.  

From the publisher:

ONE OF THE BEST DEBUT NOVELS OF THE YEAR—Entertainment Weekly
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—NPR, Kirkus Reviews, BookPage

She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever.

In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their twenties ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing: Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.

Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel’s difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon’s home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known—her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy—reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

Book #2: 

Our HouseOur House  by Louise Candlish (Length: 416 pages).  My mom checked out this book from the library and let me read it after she was finished.  I thought this was a very fun read!  It will appeal to those who enjoy the “Gone Girl” suspense genre.  Very fast-paced (with a bit of a slow-down in the middle) and the most interesting premise I’ve seen in a while–coming home to your house that’s been sold without your knowledge or permission.  The writing is good, and the ending was a total twist (think Gift of the Magi).  I actually missed it the first read since I was speed-reading, and went back and re-read it for my a-ha moment.  Definitely worth reading!   

From the publisher:

There’s nothing unusual about a new family moving in at 91 Trinity Avenue. Except it’s her house. And she didn’t sell it.

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern coparenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

Book #3: 

Ill be your blue skyI’ll be Your Blue Sky  by Marisa de Los Santos (Length: 325 pages).  I LOVE this author!  She is such a talented writer, and evokes feelings and emotions with descriptive writing that never feels over-wrought.  This particular novel is the third in a “trilogy” (while I loved the first book–Love Walked In–I didn’t read the second one (Belong to Me) based on poor reviews.)  You can definitely read this particular novel without going back and reading the first two (although Love Walked In is also fantastic, and it’s so nice to reunite with a few of my favorite characters from the first novel–Clare and Dev). Both the plot (featuring an underground railroad of sorts for abused women in the 1950s) and the character development make this a worthwhile read.

From the publisher:

On the weekend of her wedding, Clare Hobbes meets an elderly woman named Edith Herron. During the course of a single conversation, Edith gives Clare the courage to do what she should have done months earlier: break off her engagement to her charming—yet overly possessive—fiancé.

Three weeks later, Clare learns that Edith has died—and has given her another gift. Nestled in crepe myrtle and hydrangea and perched at the marshy edge of a bay in a small seaside town in Delaware, Blue Sky House now belongs to Clare. Though the former guest house has been empty for years, Clare feels a deep connection to Edith inside its walls, which are decorated with old photographs taken by Edith and her beloved husband, Joseph.

Exploring the house, Clare finds two mysterious ledgers hidden beneath the kitchen sink. Edith, it seems, was no ordinary woman—and Blue Sky House no ordinary place. With the help of her mother, Viviana, her surrogate mother, Cornelia Brown, and her former boyfriend and best friend, Dev Tremain, Clare begins to piece together the story of Blue Sky House—a decades-old mystery more complex and tangled than she could have imagined. As she peels back the layers of Edith’s life, Clare discovers a story of dark secrets, passionate love, heartbreaking sacrifice, and incredible courage. She also makes startling discoveries about herself: where she’s come from, where she’s going, and what—and who—she loves.

Book #4:  

A Noise DownstairsA Noise Downstairs  by Linwood Barkley (Length: 368 pages).  Another suspense novel, a la Gone Girl, but this one is different enough to make it stand out from the pack.  I had suspicions about the ultimate resolution, but when they were satisfied about 75% of the way through, there were enough loose ends to keep me reading.  The writing quality is decent.  The characters are not very likeable (except for 2), but the plot progression is satisfying enough to pique a reader’s interest.  Worth a read.   

From the publisher:

College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s “normal” existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.

However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.

Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.

Book #5: 

The high tide clubThe High Tide Club  by Mary Kay Andrews (Length: 465 pages).  I cannot, for the life of me, remember why I had a Mary Kay Andrews book on my TBR list.  I’m thinking I wanted a good beach read for the summer–but it just now popped up on my reserved library books ready to be loaned.  Anyway, I really enjoyed this cute, very fast-paced novel.  There is a bit of a mystery set on a small island in Georgia, but I figured it out almost immediately.  Again, there was enough of a hook that I wanted to keep reading.  The author does a great job of setting the scene, as there’s a fantastic sense of place.  The dialogue is a bit too juvenile and stilted in places (randomly so) but overall, a nice palate-cleansing “beach read”.  

From the publisher:

When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.

Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth and Varina. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met.

The High Tide Club is Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best, a compelling and witty tale of romance thwarted, friendships renewed, justice delivered, and true love found.

Book #6: 

Moody BitchesMoody Bitches  by Julie Holland (Length: 420 pages).  This book came highly recommended by a CrossFit pal after I mentioned to her how impressed I’ve been with CBD oil (for hot flashes, anxiety, inflammation, etc).  This is indeed a fantastic resource regarding the effects of various (often over-prescribed) medications on our mood.  The author discusses the pros and cons of various drugs as well as the link between food and our mood.  Her suggested strategies for regulating mood are obvious (exercise, sleep, diet) and not so obvious (natural therapies such as CBD to reduce and eliminate inflammation in our body’s systems).  This was a super-fast and well-written “self-help” book that’s not preachy in the slightest.  Two thumbs up from this middle-aged reader.  😉  

From the publisher:

As women, we learn from an early age that our moods are a problem. Bitches are moody. To succeed in life, we are told, we must have it all under control. We have to tamp down our inherent shifts in favor of a more static way of being. But our bodies are wiser than we imagine. Moods are not an annoyance to be stuffed away. They are a finely-tuned feedback system that, if heeded, can tell us how best to manage our lives. Our changing moods let us know when our bodies are primed to tackle different challenges and when we should be alert to developing problems. They help us select the right tool for each of our many jobs. If we deny our emotionality, we deny the breadth of our talents. With the right care of our inherently dynamic bodies, we can master our moods to avail ourselves of this great natural strength.

Yet millions of American women are medicating away their emotions because our culture says that moodiness is a problem to be fixed. One in four of us takes a psychiatric drug. If you add sleeping pills to the mix, the statistics become considerably higher. Over-prescribed medications can have devastating consequences for women in many areas of our lives: sex, relationships, sleep, eating, focus, balance, and aging.  And even if we don’t pop a pill, women everywhere are numbing their emotions with food, alcohol, and a host of addictive behaviors that deny the wisdom of our bodies and keep us from addressing the real issues that we face.

Dr. Julie Holland knows there is a better way. She’s been sharing her frank and funny wisdom with her patients for years, and in Moody Bitches Dr. Holland offers readers a guide to our bodies and our moodiness that includes insider information about the pros and cons of the drugs we’re being offered, the direct link between food and mood, an honest discussion about sex, practical exercise and sleep strategies, as well as some surprising and highly effective natural therapies that can help us press the reset button on our own bodies and minds.

In the tradition of Our Bodies, Our Selves, this groundbreaking guide for women of all ages will forge a much needed new path in women’s health—and offer women invaluable information on how to live better, and be more balanced, at every stage of life.

 

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.

Book Reviews–July 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: 

The ImmortalistsThe Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (Length: 352 pages).  This book has been on so many recommended book lists, and I finally was able to get it off the Reserved list at the library.  Not sure it was worth the wait.  This book is VERY well-written, but it was too depressing for me (and I LIKE dark books!).  Essentially this is about four different siblings who have knowledge of the day they will die.  Each sibling is a dysfunctional human being, and each isn’t inherently likeable, which made it difficult for me to get emotionally involved with the novel.  The quality of the writing here is clearly why this book was an instant bestseller, but sadly, it’s not my cup of tea.  

From the publisher: If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

Book #2:  

Force of NatureForce of Nature by Jane Harper (Length: 329 pages).  This novel is a bit of a sequel to “The Dry” which was a bit annoying to find out after  I received it from the library, as the repeated references to the protagonist (Federal Agent Aaron Falk) were oblique in nature.  The plot (five women are on a team-building hike for their company and one goes missing) is interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading further.  The writing in this mystery novel isn’t exactly “stunning” or “breathless” per the reviews, but it’s definitely worth a library check-out.  In my opinion, this novel is more about the relationships among the various characters than the mystery-driven plot, so if you read this with that proviso in mind, you’ll enjoy it as well.

From the publisher:

Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path. But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?

Book #3:

Death of Mrs WestawayThe Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (Length: 384 pages).  This is the fourth novel by this author (I’ve read all three of her previous books:  In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game).  I’m a fan of British authors and settings in general, but while I haven’t been overly-impressed with Ms. Ware’s first three novels, I really enjoyed this fun read!  As Meredith Gray would say, “It’s very dark and twisty.”  I loved the setting and scenery in this book (Gothic manor in England), and I’m now eager to read my copy of  Rebecca  by Daphne du Maurier as this book apparently was influenced by that classic novel.  The author’s character development really shines in this book in comparison to her first three, but I was also pleasantly surprised at how difficult it was (for me at least) to solve the mystery at the book’s center.  Definitely check this one out!  

From the publisher: On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Book Reviews June 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: 

NorthNorth by Scott Jurek (Length: 305 pages).  I really enjoyed this read about the setting of a new speed record northbound on the Appalachian Trail (47 days!) in 2015.  I’ve read two of Scott Jurek’s previous books and I am a fan of his writing style, and of his ultra-running abilities.  Very impressive guy!  In this book I enjoyed his  anecdotes regarding his vegan diet and the race support his wife provided.  This was a bit stressful to read whilst lounging on the couch 🙂 but definitely worth the library check out.  

From the publisher: From the author of the bestseller Eat and Run, a thrilling new memoir about his grueling, exhilarating, and immensely inspiring 46-day run to break the speed record for the Appalachian Trail.

Scott Jurek is one of the world’s best known and most beloved ultrarunners. Renowned for his remarkable endurance and speed, accomplished on a vegan diet, he’s finished first in nearly all of ultrarunning’s elite events over the course of his career. But after two decades of racing, training, speaking, and touring, Jurek felt an urgent need to discover something new about himself. He embarked on a wholly unique challenge, one that would force him to grow as a person and as an athlete: breaking the speed record for the Appalachian Trail. North is the story of the 2,189-mile journey that nearly shattered him.

Book #2: 

One in a Million BoyThe One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood (Length: 338 pages).  This is a really charming book about a friendship between a 104-year old woman and an 11-year old boy.  I’m a fan of character-driven novels, with excellent writing and witty dialogue, and this book meets all 3 requirements in spades.  This book is reminiscent of A Man Called Ove, so if you’re a fan of that type of novel, definitely check this one out!

From the publisher: The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don’t they teach you anything at school?

So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who’s been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she’s confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.

One Saturday, the boy doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed. The boy’s mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that the world can surprise us at any age, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find ourselves again.

 

Book #3: 

Crazy Rich Asians 1Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Length: 546 pages–a LONG one!).  SUCH a fun read!  I’ve had this one on my Kindle for the past 4 years, and just now got around to reading it (after a few false starts).  With the movie coming out, I thought it would be a nice summer read, and I was right!  The chapters are organized by characters, all centered around one plot line.  The plot is a bit flimsy, and the characters aren’t very well-developed, so don’t expect an award-winning read.  However, I enjoyed learning about the culture in Singapore/China, as well as the lives of the mega-rich young billionaire society.  Very interesting and fun read!  

From the publisher: The acclaimed international bestseller (“A dizzily shopaholic comedy.” —The New York Times) soon to be a MAJOR MOTION PICTURE starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh and Gemma Chan!

When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

Book #4: 

Our Little SecretOur Little Secret by Roz Nay (Length: 256 pages).  I couldn’t put down this thriller because it was well-written, with strong character development.  I kept reading to find out what happened with the characters I came to know.  However, be warned that the protagonist isn’t likeable, and the ending isn’t very surprising, but it is an interesting plot to follow throughout.  The plot construction itself (a flashback from inside a police station) reminded me of the movie The Usual Suspects.  

From the publisher:  

A cracking read…Our Little Secret builds to a deliciously dark conclusion.” —Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10

Roz Nay’s Our Little Secret is a twisted tale of love, pain, and revenge that will stay with the reader long after they turn the last page.

They say you never forget your first love. What they don’t say though, is that sometimes your first love won’t forget you…

Angela Petitjean sits in a cold, dull room. The police have been interrogating her for hours, asking about Saskia Parker. She’s the wife of Angela’s high school sweetheart, HP, and the mother of his child. She has vanished. Homicide Detective J. Novak believes Angela knows what happened to Saskia. He wants the truth, and he wants it now.

 

Book #5: 

A Life InterceptedA Life Intercepted by Charles Martin (Length: 328 pages).  I stumbled across this author (and novel), discovered he has many, many fans, and now I know why.  This particular book is about a football quarterback, and clearly has been written by someone who loves the game of football.  While I do not, I did enjoy learning about the intricacies of the sport.  This novel features very well-developed characters, with a bit of a surprise ending.  The resolution of the plot is a bit too pat, but overall, it’s well-constructed and makes me want to read more from this author.  

From the publisher: Twelve years ago Matthew “the Rocket” Rising had it all. Married to his high school sweetheart and one of the winningest quarterbacks in the history of college football, he was the number one NFL draft pick. But on the night of the draft, he plummeted from the pinnacle of esteem. Falsely accused of a heinous crime with irrefutable evidence, it seemed in an instant all was lost–his reputation, his career, his freedom, and most devastatingly, the love of his life. Having served his sentence and never played a down of professional football, Matthew leaves prison with one goal–to find his wife, Audrey, whom no one has seen since the trial. He returns to an unwelcoming reception from his Gardi, Georgia, hometown to learn that Audrey has taken shelter from the media with the nuns at a Catholic school. There she has discovered a young man with the talent to achieve the football career Matthew should have had. All he needs is the right coach. Although helping the boy means Matthew violates the conditions of his release and–if discovered–reincarceration for life, he’ll take the chance with hope of winning back Audrey’s love.

 

Book #6: 

Just MercyJust Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (Length: 354 pages).  Wow!  This book is officially on my top 10 book list, and it’s a MUST-READ for every citizen of the United States, regardless of your political beliefs.  As a former prosecutor, I have my own stories about the justice system, and I’ve seen a lot that I’m not proud to have seen, but this biographical account from a fellow attorney just blew me away!  His account of the various injustices on death row are heart-breaking, and must be heard for things to changes.  While this book follows the case of one individual who was wrongfully-convicted, in alternate chapters the author reveals other individuals (even children) who should not be on death row, and even individuals who were executed who were later found to be innocent.  Even as a member of the legal profession, I wasn’t aware of those cases.  This isn’t a sad or depressing book, but it is an important read.  

From the publisher: Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction | Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction | Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award | Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize | Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize | An American Library Association Notable Book

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time
 
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.