September 2021–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:

Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler (Length: 402 pages). This is the second book in the Moose Springs trilogy (I reviewed Tourist Attraction last time). This time the focus is on Zoe’s best friend, the developer Lana Montgomery and Graham’s pool bar owning friend Rick. The trope is still the same and a bit tired (can’t be together for some BS reason–here, it’s because Lana travels so much for business.) But as with the first, the writing is strong, there are funny and cute side characters (including a costume wearing hedgehog), and the town setting make this worth picking up if you’re in the mood for a light-hearted, breezy romance that’s better written than most.  

Book #2:

The Housewives by Brian Moylan (Length: 294 pages).  This is a pretty specific book for a specific type of reader as it features the “real” story behind the Real Housewives TV franchises. The author writes episode recaps for Vulture Magazine, and I’ve always been a fan of his (often snarky) writing so I was eager to pick this up. I will say there’s not much groundbreaking information here for long-time fans. This is due to no fault of the author’s but is because Bravo threatened all cast members and staff with legal action if they spoke to the author. The author still revealed enough here that makes it interesting reading. (I did skim a few parts, namely the history of reality television.) The best parts of this book are the inside information on how much the housewives are paid (salaries/show vacations/etc) as well as when the author went on “vacation” with OG Vicki Gunvalson. Worth a library checkout if you’re a fan of this franchise.

Book #3:

The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (Length: 306 pages).  This book has been on my TBR for ages, and after I saw a few friends had read this recently, I picked it up. Wow! I love this book! Toggling between 1986 and 1942-45, this Seattle-based novel about the Japanese internment camps is captivating, and difficult to put down. Told from the perspective of a 12-year old Chinese boy, the author focuses on his friendship with a Japanese girl named Keiko, and then follows Henry’s life at 56 years old after his wife passes. The story is fantastic, the writing is smooth and the character development of Henry is top-notch. This is a must read for fans of historical fiction. (I’m VERY burnt out on World War 2 books but this one is told from such a unique and important perspective that it made the cut for me.)

Book #4:

Enjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler (Length: 260 pages).  This is the third book in the Moose Springs trilogy (the first 2 reviewed this month also). It’s the same grumpy mountain man/spunky woman trope as the first two but the majority of the action of this one occurs during a precarious mountain climb on a glacier. This book features Easton Lockett of the first two books (the best friend of Graham and Rick) as well as a famous actress from the lower 48 named River Lane. The writing here is decent, with similar fun dialogue, but as with the first two, the setting is the real winner here. And as with the first two, there’s an adorable animal–here it’s a lovesick marmot. Overall, it’s a fun, mindless read that’s better written than many light romances. I was a bit annoyed with a few typos in the Kindle version so be forewarned if that’s how you also choose to read this book.

September 2021–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:

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Length: 365 pages).   I realize this novel has been EVERYWHERE, but honestly, it’s for good reason. I found it to be an enjoyable story which is focused on the four adult children of a very famous rock star (Mick Riva). All four of the children are actually likeable, which I didn’t expect. The setting is gorgeous Malibu in the 1960s-1980s, and TJR features Los Angeles and California like no other author I know–the setting is almost another character. The structure of the novel is interesting with each hour of a 12-hour day before and during the end of a famous end of summer party at the oldest daughter’s cliffside beach house. This isn’t perfect, by any means, but if you’re a fan of TJR, you’ll enjoy this as much as I did. Perfect travel read! 

Book #2:

The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler (Length: 418 pages).  This is such a cute book. I believe it was an Amazon free monthly Kindle book choice, and it’s a surprisingly well-written romance. Set in the town of Moose Springs, Alaska, this is the first book in a series (there are 3 books so far). The plot is forward-moving, but the character development is a bit sparse. The female protagonist (Zoey) is a bit weak for my liking, in terms of her personality, but overall, I found myself rooting for her and her romantic interest Graham. The setting of Moose Springs is the best part, along with its residents both human and animal. (Jake the blind border collie and Ulysses the town moose are adorable). I will absolutely read more of this series when I’m in the mood for more light-hearted literary fare.

Book #3:

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (Length: 316 pages).  As I’ve mentioned here previously, I’m pretty picky about psychological thrillers so I was nervous to pick up this very popular book. I was pleasantly surprised about this one. In terms of writing quality and character development, this is really well done! The plot is inherently propulsive since right out the gate the wife receives a note from her newlywed husband to “protect her”, meaning his stepdaughter Bailey. He disappears and the rest of the novel is about the wife figuring out where he went, with the assistance of the surly teen girl. The WHY of his disappearance will require you to suspend your disbelief a bit (it certainly made me roll my eyes a few times) but if you’re willing to do that, it’s quite a fun ride. I definitely recommend this if you’re in the mood for a psychological thriller that is free of violence, but heavy on plot.

Book #4:

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (Length: 336 pages).  I’ve had this title on my bookshelf for over a decade, and thought it was about time that I picked it up. I’m so glad I did as I adore this book. A group of international visitors to an unnamed Latin American country (likely Peru) is held hostage for months in the country’s vice presidential residence. The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate the birthday of a wealthy Japanese businessman who was lured to the party by the promise of hearing his favorite opera singer sing for the group. This is very character AND plot-driven, and the writing is gorgeous here. This was very reminiscent of A Gentleman in Moscow, to me, thanks to the entire novel taking place in a singular location. I read this is one day, and it will be in my top 10 favorite books for sure.

August 2021–Part Three

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

Book #1:

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix (Length: 182 pages).   This is one of the most interesting novels I’ve read in quite a while . . . it’s a horror novel set inside an “Ikea” type superstore. The store in this novel is identical to an IKEA, down to the layout and products. This is not a character-driven book at all, but it’s absolutely propulsive in terms of plot because you HAVE to find out what happens. The first 58% of the book (via my Kindle) was interesting and a fun workplace drama, and then bam! it gets really weird. This is very gory, creepy and odd, but it’s absolutely worth the ride if you’re not too squeamish. I’ll never look at an IKEA the same way again. 😉

Book #2:

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams (Length: 337 pages).  This romance novel has been all over the interwebs and in every bookish podcast that I listen to, and it’s absolutely worth the hype! This is more of a literary romance in that it has more heft than most. Populated primarily with Black characters, I actually loved all of them here. Shane and Eva are the central couple, Audre who is Eva’s daughter is fantastic, and I enjoyed the two supporting characters, Belinda and Cece. This is pretty gritty with some triggers you might not expect in a garden-variety romance (violence, drugs) but that’s what elevates this book in my opinion. I enjoyed the fun, snappy dialogue (especially between Eva and Audre), and I really appreciated how the author incorporates her own chronic disability (debilitating migraines) into Eva’s character. This is a VERY open door romance so steer clear if that bothers you. I adored this book and immediately texted my bookish friends upon completing it and urged them to pick up a copy ASAP.

Book #3:

Haven Point by Virginia Hume (Length: 377 pages).  I’ve seen this title hyped up in a few places recently so I finally decided to take a look. This is a sweeping family drama, which I typically adore, but I found this novel couldn’t keep my attention focused as it switched perspectives and timelines quite a bit, often without rhyme or reason. It felt like narrative whiplash. I will say the character development is excellent here (primarily of the grandmother and her granddaughter) and the plot keeps moving forward. My favorite parts of the novel were centered at the FourWinds house in Maine. Ultimately this novel felt a bit too long-winded and the ending was anti-climactic. If the author (or editor?) had omitted a good 20% of the middle of the book, it would have been a winner.

August 2021–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:

Falling by TJ Newman (Length: 303 pages).   What a ride! This thriller was penned by a flight attendant who wrote it from the jump seat on red-eye cross-country flights. Mostly set on an airplane, a pilot is ordered to crash the plane or his family (wife and two children) will be killed. This is propulsive, on the edge of your seat writing, but the quality of the writing doesn’t suffer a bit here . . . it’s very vivid with dialogue that continually flows. I couldn’t put this one down and give it two thumbs up! (Just don’t read it while on a flight.)

Book #2:

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn (Length: 646 pages). This is a fantastic historical fiction novel about codebreakers stationed at Bletchley Park outside London during World War 2. A sweeping plot with excellent character development makes this my favorite historical fiction pick in years. The author focuses on three women, all who are loosely based on real women, and while I wasn’t equally enamored with all three, none are unlikeable or annoying, and are fully human. I adored this book, and couldn’t wait to pick it up and continue reading, which is a good sign for me. It will make a great travel book as it’s a whopper–over 600 pages long. Not a page is wasted here, and be sure to read the author’s note at the end.

Book #3:

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn (Length: 319 pages).  I’m conflicted about this thriller. It’s gotten a lot of good press, and I love any novel set on a college campus (who doesn’t?). This particular novel is set in Wesleyan, with two main characters who are entirely UNlikeable (they’re textbook narcissists), but the plot is definitely interesting enough to keep you reading. Set at a college reunion, the majority of the novel is comprised of flashbacks to the lives and interactions amongst the girls who all lived in the same college dorm. The thriller part (set at the reunion itself) isn’t as dark and twisty as advertised, and I found myself enjoying the flashbacks more than the thriller portion of the novel. However, the final twist is not what I was expecting, so that’s a huge plus for me. I will say the ending is a bit too pat, but on the whole it’s worth a library check out if you are like me and enjoy a college campus novel.

August 2021–Part One

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

Book #1:

The Sixth Wedding by Elin Hilderbrand (Length: 76 pages).   This is a short story sequel to the author’s novel 28 Summers (previously reviewed May 2021). I’m not sure this was a necessary sequel for her to write, but it was an semi-enjoyable, quick read. The plot essentially focuses on Mallory’s brother Cooper wanting a “re do” of that fateful summer 28 years ago. He believes that summer is the reason he’s married five times. This seems a bit like an outline for a future book that needs to be fleshed out a bit more, and quite frankly the ending sucks. I wouldn’t waste any money purchasing it, but if you were a fan of the previous book (like I am), it is worth a library read to find out what happens to the characters.

Book #2:

The Arrangement by Robyn Harding (Length: 353 pages). This novel has an intriguing set-up with a sugar daddy and his “baby” in New York City. The sugar daddy ends up dead and the baby is suspect #1. Zero characters in this book are people you’d genuinely like in real life, so if that bugs you, skip this book. That doesn’t bother me, and I enjoyed both the plot and the setting in this “fluff” novel. This is definitely a page-turner, but without great writing. Therefore, I’d recommend as a library check out only.

Book #3:

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy (Length: 278 pages).  Whoa. This is INTENSE. Apparently this is part of a new breed of novel called an “eco” novel. Focusing on an Irish/Australian woman who travels via a fishing boat to follow the alleged last flight of Arctic Terns before their extinction. This is set in the very near future, after climate change wreaks its havoc, killing off most of the animals on earth. The main character has extreme mental health issues, the causes of which are gradually revealed as you read further. This is a VERY sad novel but it’s also beautifully written. I couldn’t stop reading it, even when it was tough to read, mostly because I wanted to see if the narrator makes it to the end. This has been named a “best book” by many podcasters and bloggers and I’d definitely recommend it as well.