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.

November 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:

Curfew by Jayne Cowie (Length: 318 pages)  I first learned about this interesting novel through one of the bookish podcasts I listen to and I checked it out from my library–it was instantly available so I don’t think many know about this one. This is a mystery set in the near-future where all males over the age of 10 are fitted with a tracking device on their ankle by the government, and are not allowed to be outdoors between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am (thus, the title). Cohabitation certificates are also required for all couples who want to live together, necessitating counseling to ensure it’s a healthy relationship. If a partner needs to leave, the government helps with child care, etc. The penalty for breaking curfew is prison so it’s very rare that any males are found outdoors once this policy is instituted and the rates of domestic violence and stranger rape/violence are almost non-existent. Then a woman is found murdered after curfew, which means if the perpetrator is a man, the whole system is flawed. The premise here is very interesting, and the plot propels the reader forward. However, the execution isn’t optimal . . . the writing is a bit amateurish, and the characters aren’t sufficiently fleshed out to where the reader cares about what happens to them. If you lower your expectations about those things, it’s worth it . . . it would be a great pick for a book club discussion for sure.

Book #2:

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (Length: 461 pages). I ADORE this book. This is in my top 3 for the year, if not in the top spot (I still have a month of reading left to go). I told a friend that this reminds me of a cross between the novels The Lincoln Highway (by Amor Towles) and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The set-up here is four orphans escape their tragic circumstances in Minnesota in 1932 by canoeing down to the Mississippi River, and we get to tag along on their various mishaps and adventures. There are some tough subjects broached but many are seen from afar (ie, the author isn’t delving into the details) but the writing is simply gorgeous. The plot absolutely keeps you turning the pages; in fact, this is my favorite type of novel . . . where you think about it when you’re not reading it, and you can’t wait to get back to it. The characters are ones you won’t forget, and I thought the ending was perfect. Please read this one!

Book #3:

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (Length: 178 pages).  I’ve had this short non-fiction book on my Kindle for years and decided to dip into it when I was in the mood for something lighter. I’ve seen the few movies based on this book (series–this is the first of two) so I was aware of the basic premise . . . it’s the true story of a dozen kids in a family growing up in the early 1900s. The father was an efficiency expert and this career carried over into the kids’ household chores (the father would time the kids and figure out how to make teeth brushing more efficient, for example). The mother was a bit unusual for the time period as she’d assist the father with his career, editing his papers, etc. This is a very fast read, and super interesting. I did chuckle out loud a few times. But keep in mind the time period in which this was written (by 2 of the adult children) as it’s a bit archaic in tone, but ultimately, it’s very kind-hearted and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. Good for all ages too!

November 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:

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Length: 354 pages.)  I ADORE this author, and when I read that this novel is often cited by TJR fans as their favorite novel of hers, I knew I had to check it out. I chose to listen to this one, and bonus: it’s narrated by Julia Whelan, one of the best audiobook narrators in the business. The book starts with Emma Blair eating dinner with her fiance Sam and her parents, when Emma gets a phone call from her husband Jesse who was presumed dead in a plane crash a few years earlier. The “tone” of this novel is perfect, the character development is fantastic and the plot is definitely propulsive . . . who will Emma end up picking? While I figured that part pretty early on, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire ride to get there. Now I’ve joined the legions of fans who have declared this book to be their favorite. (My second favorite is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.)

Book #2:

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (Length: 319 pages). What a name for a memoir–but for this one, it’s absolutely apropos. Narrated by the author herself, who was a famous child actress (on the TV show iCarly), I recommend listening to this one for sure. There is a reason this is a runaway best seller. The author is very honest and vulnerable throughout, and I was fascinated by her account of being a child actor in Hollywood, especially with a very abusive stage mom (a modern Mommie Dearest if you will). Her love for her mom also shines through, which makes her account very poignant. This is a fantastic read and I definitely recommend!

Book #3:

Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro (Length: 241 pages).  This short novel is all the rage in the Bookstagram arena and I am glad I finally got a chance to see what the fuss is all about. I’ve never read this author’s non-fiction works, but I really enjoyed this one. If you like a family “saga” type novel, this is for you as the author follows a few families who live on one street over the time period of a few decades. The timeline does jump around quite a bit so this isn’t a novel you’re going to want to pick up here and there–just read it straight through in an afternoon if you are able to do so. The author’s writing style here reminds me of Fredrik Backman, so I really dug it! The writing is beautiful, it’s a very quick read with truly memorable characters and I give it a thumbs up.

Book #4:

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman (Length: 412 pages).  I’ve never gotten around to reading the Practical Magic series that is so beloved, so when this “prequel” was recently released I decided to start the (now four book) series by reading this one. This novel illustrates the start of the Owens’ women’s lineage, and how witches were treated in the early 1600s in Salem. This novel contains lots of references to the earlier novels which went over my head but that didn’t deter from my enjoyment of this book. The writing style is lyrical, the plot moves along and the character development is substantial, which is great as this series is so beloved by so many readers. I’ll absolutely continue reading along in the series based on what I’ve read here.

Book #5:

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing  by Matthew Perry (Length: 260 pages).  UGH. I listened to this audiobook and I’m just glad I got it free from my library instead of wasting money on it. I was a fan of Friends back in the day and was so excited to read this memoir. While I will say that overall it’s an interesting look at severe addiction and there’s some fun information about the TV show (and the Keanu Reeves comment is a nothingburger), I’m not a fan of this man after reading this book. Way too much navel-gazing, and while he sort of recognizes his privilege in being able to spend north of 7 million (!) dollars trying to fight his addiction, his defensiveness and his passive-aggressive comments toward so many people are pretty infuriating. Matthew tries to be funny but comes off as just plain mean. Don’t waste your time on this one. 😦

October 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:

Excuse Me While I Disappear by Laurie Notaro (Length: 246 pages.)  I have been a fan of this author’s writing since she was a columnist in our local newspaper. Her writing style is straightforward, not whiny and absolutely witty. This book contains Erma Bombeck-style humorous essays that are fun and easy to read. With this type of book I find it better to sample the essays here and there, rather than sitting down and reading it straight through. This would be the perfect book to read during a lunch hour. The target audience for this one is definitely women ages 40 and older. Any younger wouldn’t think it’s as funny as the rest of us do!

Book #2:

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipps Sendker (Length: 337 pages).  My mom recommended this novel on audio so of course I checked it out via the Libby app via my local library. I loved it! (It is pretty slow-going in the beginning so be patient and just push through). This is the story of the protagonist’s father’s childhood in Burma. Blind as a young boy, he falls in love with a girl who is unable to walk due to legs and feet that didn’t fully form before birth. He carries her everywhere around their village while she is the boy’s “eyes” and narrates to him over his shoulder. This is a love story, pure and simple, and it’s beautifully written. I made the mistake of finishing this while on a long hike and found myself sobbing openly, scaring a few fellow hikers. So perhaps read or listen to the ending of this one in private? This is an excellent novel! After I finished, I discovered it’s the first in a trilogy so if you’re a fan too, there’s more where this came from.

Book #3:

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (Length: 510 pages).  I’m not a fan of historical fiction, but I’m definitely a Kate Quinn fan so I was excited to finally pick this one up. Quinn bases all of her historical novels on female war heroines and this one is my favorite of hers that I’ve read thus far. Here, the focus is a trio of female spies in World War I (and II). The character development is top-notch (as always with Kate Quinn), the plot is propulsive . . . even with 500 pages it never lags for a minute which is incredible. I read this one in a day and a half and I was sad when it was over. It’s the type of book that you’ll think about when you’re not reading it, and those are my favorite.

Book #4:

True Biz by Sara Novic (Length: 388 pages).  This novel is one that will educate you AND entertain you, which is always a bonus. The author bases this novel in a deaf boarding school, featuring 3 major protagonists: February, the school’s headmistress, Charlie, a CI (cochlear implant) kid who is new to ASL (American Sign Language) and Austin, a fully deaf ASL kid from a legacy deaf family. I was fascinated to learn about the current deaf culture, as well as how deaf children have historically been educated and treated in schools. The plot goes a bit off the rails toward the end, but I found the ultimate resolution of the various plot points to be believable and satisfying. I absolutely recommend this gem!

Book #5:

The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E Smith (Length: 292 pages).  I grabbed this book on a whim during a bookstore sale and I’m so glad I did! Think Daisy Jones and the Six plus The Floating Feldmans and you’ve got a fun read. Greta James is a legit rockstar who accompanies her father and 4 of his friends on an Alaskan cruise, taking the place of her mom who recently passed before the cruise. The novel takes place over the 8 days of the cruise and it’s really fun to read, but the depth of the characters (especially the father/daughter relationship) is what made it better than average. Having said that, this is a perfect vacation/travel read.

October 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:

Part of Your World by Abby Jiminez (Length: 401 pages).  I am a forever-Abby Jiminez fan and her latest release is officially one of my favorite books she has written. A wealthy surgeon from a legacy family and a famous hospital in Minnesota (think Mayo) stops in a small town 2 hours away from home and meets a hot carpenter who is babysitting a baby goal, and she’s a goner. But they are from two entirely different worlds and neither can move to where the other one lives, for a multitude of (believable) reasons. Can they possibly make it work? Abby Jiminez’s standard snappy repartee, believable chemistry between the two protagonists and great writing make this one a MUST READ. A fantastic rom-com that will break you out of any reading rut . . . I promise!

Book #2:

The Winners by Fredrik Backman (Length: 684 pages).  Since this author’s Beartown is in my top 3 novels EVER, I was equal parts excited and sad to read this one, the last in the Beartown trilogy. I’m not sure how Backman is able to make almost 700 pages fly by, but he does. This novel is my favorite of the three as it features most of the same characters we have come to know (and love) as well as ties up all of the storylines. I will say that Backman is a bit manipulative with the reader’s emotions but if you’re willing to hang on, it’s worth the ride. I do appreciate that he tells you in the very beginning who will die, so it’s not a shock, but you can then see exactly why it happens because he is there with you every step of the way. This is definitely a book where you must read the first two in the series–it’s not as effective as a stand-alone novel, but even if it’s been a minute since you’ve read the first two, you’ll immediately remember who each of the major characters are and where they’ve been. I adored this novel!

Book #3:

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Length: 394 pages).  This thinking person’s “rom com” was my book club’s pick for September. It reads more like a novel though . . . there is a bit of romance and a few funny lines, but this book is really an ode to feminism and female scientists in the 1960s. There are many lines which I highlighted during reading. This is one of my favorites: “[religion] lets us off the hook . . . it teaches us that nothing is really our fault; that something or someone else is pulling the strings, that ultimately we are not to blame for the way things are; that to improve things we should pray. But the truth is, we are very much responsible for the badness in the world. And we have the power to fix it.” If this also rings true to you, and you believe in science, you will also adore this book. Excellent character development, and the plot moves forward at a sufficiently entertaining pace. A must read in my opinion!

Book #4:

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren (Length: 395 pages).  I literally hugged this book when I was finished. Written by a duo, this rom com features single mom Jessica who meets hot scientist River Pena, who has just happened to have invented a DNA-match dating service. Jessica’s 7 year old daughter Juno is a precocious, yet not annoying, character and the snappy dialogue in most of the book is from her, as well as Jessica’s BFF, Fizzy, a romance author. I love the depth of all of the characters, and unlike the previously-reviewed novel Lessons in Chemistry, they are all likeable here (if that’s important to you). The writing quality is strong and this novel has the best ending EVER. I’m immediately passing it on to my best friend. 🙂

September 2022–Part Two

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

Book #1:

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

Book #2:

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

Book #3:

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

Book #4:

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

Book #5:

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