3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, U-V-W

Review: The Sixes by Kate White

The Sixes
by Kate White

The Sixes

 

Copyright: 2011

Pages: 376

Read: Aug 18 – 20, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap
Blurb: Phoebe Hall’s Manhattan life has suddenly begun to unravel. Right after her long-term boyfriend breaks off their relationship, she’s falsely accused of plagiarizing her latest bestselling celebrity biography. Looking for a quiet place to put her life back together, Phoebe jumps at the offer to teach in a sleepy Pennsylvania town at a small private college run by her former boarding school roommate and close friend, Glenda Johns.

But behind the campus’s quiet cafes and leafy maple trees lie evil happenings. The body of a female student washes up on the banks of a nearby river, and disturbing revelations begin to surface: accusations from coeds about abuses wrought by a secret society of girls on campus known as The Sixes. To help Glenda, Phoebe embarks on a search for clues – a quest that soon raises painful memories of her own boarding school days years ago.

As the investigation heats up, Phoebe unexpectedly finds herself falling for the school’s handsome psychology professor, Duncan Shaw. But when nasty pranks turn into deadly threats, Phoebe realizes she’s in the middle of a real-life nightmare, not knowing whom she can trust and if she will even survive.

Plunging deeper into danger with every step, Phoebe knows she’s close to unmasking a killer. But with truth comes a terrifying revelation: your darkest secrets can still be uncovered … and starting over may be a crime punishable by death.


Review: I excitedly ordered this one off of Paperbackswap a few years ago after reading some blog reviews of it. It sounded so creepy and enjoyable, and the reviews were all pretty positive. And then I let it sit on my shelves.

I decided that it was finally time to get it off my shelf, so I picked this one up hoping for a deliciously creepy read. However, this book fell slightly short of that for me. I found this one to be extremely readable and enjoyable, but the ending was a disappointment. Throughout the entire book I was running through different scenarios, imagining certain characters as the bad guy … and when the end was finally revealed, the bad guy was someone who was not only not even on my radar, but someone who I felt was a bit of a stretch to make the bad guy. It just didn’t fit with the vibe of the entire book. It didn’t work for me.

So overall a decent book with a let down of an ending … an “eh” read for sure.

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3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Promised Land by Robert B. Parker

Promised Land
by Robert B. Parker

Promised Land

 

Copyright: 1976

Pages: 218

Read: August 12 – 17, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: The man wore a leisure suit. His daughter wore a lime-green bikini.

And the woman was gone: a wife and mother who had suddenly left everything behind.

Spenser’s job was to find her. But chasing a runaway Hyannis housewife takes Spenser straight up against the most dangerous man he’s ever met: an enforcer who calls himself Hawk …


Review: This is the fourth book in the Spenser series. I read books 2 and 3 last year and had ordered this one after liking those two. And then I let it sit on my shelf. So I was excited to get around to it again.

For the most part, this was a good book. There were times that I wasn’t really all that interested in the storyline, but that was mainly the last half of the book. It was after Spenser found the wife and she managed to get herself into trouble of her own. Spenser took the lead to get her out of it, but I just didn’t care for the direction it went. I found it to be a little unbelievable if you want the truth.

But it was still an ok book. Okay enough for me to order the next two books in the series. So far these books have been quick little reads that keep my attention well enough. Just some escapism reading with this book … but sometimes that’s just what I need.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, J, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 306

Read: Aug 8 – 11, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library

 

Blurb: Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young business executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are suddenly ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined when, while visiting Roy’s parents in their small Louisiana town, Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years in prison for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.

Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend and Roy’s best man at her wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. When, after five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together, Celestial is faced with a soul-wrenching decision: whether to let go or to try to rebuild a marriage that has lost its underpinnings.

This stirring love story is an insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward – with hope and pain – into the future.


Review: Ok, so this book originally caught my attention when it was a Book of the Month Club selection back in February. I was a little hesitant on it simply because it’s outside my wheelhouse, but it sounded super interesting. I ultimately passed on it. But it kept creeping up everywhere! And it still sounded interesting. And then Modern Mrs. Darcy chose it as a book for her 2018 Summer Reading Guide. I couldn’t escape it … I knew I was going to have to read it. I just lucked out that my library had a copy of it!

And I’m really glad that my library had a copy of it. Because I would have been disappointed to spend my money on a hardcover copy of this. It wasn’t that it was necessarily a bad book … it just wasn’t what I was expecting at all.

I really detested Celestial’s character. I did not like who she was as a person or a wife. It just wasn’t becoming of her to behave in the manner she did. She was a married woman basically trying to pretend she wasn’t.

I’ve re-written my thoughts a million times and I still can’t get them right. It was definitely written differently than I had anticipated. I think I was expecting it to be more about Roy’s trial whereas it’s more about relationships between people. So while not bad, just not what I was looking for. It was easily readable, but I never liked the characters, other than Big Roy and Olive.

Just an ok book for me … but I can see why it’s made such a splash since its release.

 

 

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Nonfiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: George Washington in the American Revolution (1775-1783) by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington in the American Revolution (1775-1783)
by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington in the American Revolution

 

Copyright: 1967,1968

Pages: 552

Read: March 20 – July 10, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Powells.com

 

Blurb: History has blinded us to the all-too-human character of George Washington; in doing so, it has blinded us to the true nature of his greatness. We have urgent need to know this man we call the Father of Our Country. And now, at last, James Thomas Flexner has given us the biography that fully meets our need.

In George Washington in the American Revolution (1775-1783), we are witness to eight fateful years, as Washington lived them day by day and month by month. We see a Virginia officer catapulted – despite his obvious military limitations and his own protestations of inadequacy – into the command of an amateur army opposing an experienced European force under elite leadership. The fact that Washington was at first out-generated is not suppressed. His failures and reverses are not diminished or excused.

Yet even as we share the anguish of his unsuccessful battles – and the political unrest and uncertainty that marked the Revolution – we understand the slow but sure process by which Washington taught himself, through trial and error, to become the clear master of his English foes.

As James Thomas Flexner so brilliantly demonstrates, Washington’s command of the Continental Army was deeply marked by the extremes of his own complex personality: his compassion and his towering rages; his short-term pessimism and his abiding belief in the virtue of the American cause. By turns indiscreet, impulsive, and artfully dissembling, the General’s ruling mood was – as his wife Martha wrote – unhappiness: the troubled mind of a civilian in uniform, yearning for Mount Vernon, for his hearth and home.

When the war ended, it was as a civilian, too, not as a man of war or bloodshed, that Washington risked his personal leadership to turn back a movement that might well have (as has so often happened in history) resulted in a kind of fascism as cruel as the tyranny which it would have replaced.

To read George Washington in the American Revolution is to be in the vital presence of human aspiration and to enter into a drama of transcended interest and excitement. This is the story of America’s great hero revealed as all the greater because his human faults and foibles have not been denied their rightful place in the record of his leadership.


Review: This is the second book in Mr. Flexner’s four-book series on George Washington. I knew going into this one that I would struggle with it. I do not like to read about battles and wars, so I knew that the mere fact that this entire volume revolved around the American Revolution was going to slow me down. However, I didn’t anticipate it to take me 4 months to finish it either. And to be honest, near the end, I was definitely  skimming. I just couldn’t make myself sit down and read much at a time.

That’s not to say that the book wasn’t well written, because it most certainly was. The writing was easy to read. It’s just that my interest was not there for the subject matter. I didn’t really want or need such a detailed account of the American Revolution. I know that this time period is crucial to understanding who George Washington was, as a person and an American. However, it just ended up not being my cup of tea.

I am definitely looking forward to moving on from here in this series. Mr. Flexner definitely has a writing style that I find enjoyable. Hist attention to detail and research is superb. And while I’m sure that in the end this particular installment will be the “weakest” of the four books for me personally, it certainly is a good book.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Trick or Treat Murder by Leslie Meier

Trick or Treat Murder
by Leslie Meier

Trick or Treat Murder

 

Copyright: 1996

Pages: 245

Read: July 2 – 6, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: It’s October in Maine, and everyone in Tinker’s Cove is preparing for the annual Halloween festival. While Lucy Stone is whipping up orange-frosted cupcakes, recycling tutus for her daughters’ Halloween costumes, helping her son with his pre-teen rebellion, and breastfeeding her brand-new baby, an arsonist is loose in Tinker’s Cove. When the latest fire claims the life of the owner of the town’s oldest house, arson turns into murder… 

While the townsfolk work to transform a dilapidated mansion into a haunted house for the All-Ghouls festival, the hunt for the culprit heats up. Trick-or-treat turns deadly as a little digging in all the wrong places puts Lucy too close to a shocking discovery that could send all her best-laid plans up in smoke.


Review: This is the third book in the Lucy Stone series. I read and enjoyed the first two books and I was really looking forward to getting back with Lucy and seeing what trouble she found herself into this time.

Overall, I found this one to be a cute little read. However … if I had to hear one more time about Lucy breastfeeding the baby, I was going to lose it. I know that nursing is a special part of motherhood in those early days, weeks and months. But it got to be a little too much for a short 245 page book. I swear it felt as if it was mentioned on every other page. I got sick of it, to be completely honest.

Other than that one little complaint, I found this to be a fun read. I didn’t know who the arsonist was until it was revealed at the end. I enjoyed the storyline and am definitely looking forward to continuing on with this series!

3/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

What I Saw and How I Lied
by Judy Blunder

What I Saw and How I Lied

Copyright: 2008

Pages: 281

Read: May 3-8, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library

 

 

Blurb: When Evie’s father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just war stories. Movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe’s company, shows up, and Evie finds herself falling for him … until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family breaks her life in two.

As she begins to realize that almost everything she believed was really a lie, Evie must get to the heart of the deceptions and choose between loyalty to her parents and feelings for the man she loves. Someone will have to be betrayed. The question is … who?


Review: This is the May book selection for the MMD Book Club. I was excited to see it available at my library and immediately fell in love with that cover! I was really looking forward to it. Young Adult isn’t necessarily a genre I’m overly familiar with, and I had never heard of this book, but I was really looking forward to digging into it!

And … it fell a little flat for me. It was very readable but I had trouble reconciling the fact that this was a National Book Award winner. I think I expected a little bit more out of this book just because it had won that award. But my feelings overall are kind of …. scattered?

As I already stated, it was extremely readable. But I couldn’t exactly figure out what the author was wanting to do with the book. Young adult, historical fiction, romance … yes! All of the above. But then near the end Ms. Blundell added in a murder mystery and that’s the part that didn’t really fit the whole book. It also didn’t help that we had at least 3/4 of the book with all this build up and then BOOM here comes the mystery part and she wraps it up in a very short 1/4 of the book. It just felt almost as if she needed something to “happen” and that’s the direction she took? I don’t know. I just felt like that entire part of the book didn’t really fit in with the vibe of the rest of the book. At least that’s my opinion on it…

Maybe it’s just because being a 30+ year old woman, I’m not really the targeted audience for this book. Maybe it’s because coming-of-age stories are not my forte. I don’t know. It wasn’t bad. Not at all! It was a fun and easy read. Ms. Blundell made me feel like I was right in the 1940s with Evie and her parents. I really loved the post-war setting. My “problem” was really with the murder part of the book. It just didn’t work for me in this book.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Nonfiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: George Washington: The Forge of Experience (1732-1775) by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington: The Forge of Experience (1732-1775)
by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington- The Forge of Experience

Copyright: 1965

Pages: 345

Read: Feb. 7 – March 7, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchased on powells.com

 

Blurb: In this deeply significant work, James Thomas Flexner has given life to the stony image of George Washington which stares at us so impersonally from Mount Rushmore, the dollar bill and the schoolroom wall.

With a clear, swiftly readable style, Flexner shows the wholly human way in which the character of one of the greatest men in history was shaped and how it, in turn, shaped his achievements. Able and energetic, impulsive and vulnerable, Washington from the first had major virtues – but he was also fallible.

Put into a position of leadership in the French-Indian conflict at the age of twenty-two – a position for which he was not yet ready – the young Lieutenant Colonel initiated actions which showed more bravery than good judgment. His hasty attack in the forest, on what the French insisted was a party escorting an ambassador, proved to be the first shot fired in the global Seven Years’ War. Yet each mistake – and success – of these early years was part of the vast experience which ultimately molded Washington into what Flexner calls “one of the noblest and greatest men who ever lived,” a man prepared to become, during the American Revolution, “more than a military leader: he was the eagle, the standard, the flag, the living symbol of the cause.”

Flexure covers forty-three years of Washington’s life in this volume, the first in a series of four planned to carry Washington through the Revolutionary War and on to the end of his life.

Vivid on the one hand and factually solid on the other, Flexner’s narrative absorbingly shows us the future hero as a callow youth, writing bad verse and in love with love. We see the era and the society which formed Washington and the individuals who mattered to him: his mother, who became an obdurate squatter on the farm he inherited; his beloved and ailing older brother, Lawrence, who married into the distinguished Fairfax family; George William Fairfax, who, in turn, married Sally Cary; and Sally, who stirred in Washington such forbidden ardor that twenty-five years later he could write her that none of the great events of his career, “nor all of them together, have been able to eradicate from my mine those happy moments, the happiest of my life, which I have enjoyed in your company.”

But it was Martha Custis, the handsome, domestic, timid and loyal widow he married, who brought the future President that happiness of a serener order which made “domestic enjoyments” at Mount Vernon and effective counterpoise, throughout his career, to ambition in the world of fame.

Impeccably researched, this work quotes directly from Washington’s letters, diaries and documents in presenting the most engrossing biography yet of the Father of Our Country.


Review: This is my second George Washington book on my Presidential Reading journey. I have the other three installments by Mr. Flexner and I intend to eventually put together an all-encompassing review of the four volumes together. So for now I will just write up a few of my thoughts on this particular installment.

My chief complaint regarding Ellis’ His Excellency was that I wanted more of George Washington – who he was and where he came from. This installment definitely fulfilled that desire. I was glad to really get a good idea of who Washington was from his earlier years. I found it interesting to read about his mother – who was not exactly what you would call a supportive/loving mother. His marriage to Martha was also discussed more in depth, and I greatly appreciated learning more about the relationship they shared.

I enjoyed learning new things about Washington’s earlier years. But I also struggled to get through the book at times. Having been written in the 1960s, I didn’t find it as readable as more contemporary books are. Mr. Flexner made great use of direct quotes from Washington’s personal letters/diaries, which was interesting to a certain extent, but I felt that it bogged down at times.

A great portion of this book surrounded the French and Indian War years. As usual, I do not really like reading about wars. (Which makes me very nervous to read the next installment, which covers the Revolutionary War years). I don’t really care to know about battle strategy and things like that. So I definitely stalled out quite a bit in reading this book when it hit that point.

Overall, it’s an okay book. I’m going to reserve my final judgment until I have finished the entire series because I feel like it’s going to come out much better when taken in its entirety rather than just each installment individually.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Two Dollar Bill by Stuart Woods

Two Dollar Bill
by Stuart Woods

Two Dollar Bill

Copyright: 2004

Pages: 349

Read: Feb.19-26, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: Not long after Stone and his ex-partner Dino make the acquaintance of Billy Bob – a smooth-talkie’ Texan packing a wad of rare two-dollar bills – someone takes a shot at them. Against his better judgment, Stone offers Billy Bob a safe haven for the night but almost immediately regrets it. The slippery out-of-towner goes missing and someone is found dead – in Stone’s town house no less. Stone is now caught by a beautiful federal prosecutor and a love from his past, a con man with more arises than hairs on his head, and a murder investigation that could ruin them all.


Review: This is the 11th book in the Stone Barrington series. I’m not going to lie, these books are not anywhere near literary feats. But they can usually be depended upon for some good fun!

This particular installment saw Stone in some precarious situations. And at some point I was shaking my head wondering how on earth Stone would get himself out of the jam he was in. He made some bonehead moves. And yet he managed to come out on top. It was all a little unbelievable at one point. But hey, it was still a fun read.

An entertaining book that leaves me eagerly anticipating the 12th book!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, R, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Seven Deadly Wonders by Matthew Reilly

Seven Deadly Wonders
by Matthew Reilly

Seven Deadly Wonders

Copyright: 2006

Pages: 543

Read: Jan. 22-28, 2018

Rating: 2/5

Source: Paperbackswap

Blurb: A legend of the ancient world decrees that every 4,500 years, a terrible solar event will wreak worldwide destruction … but whoever sets the Golden Capstone atop the Great Pyramid at Giza will avert disaster and gain the ultimate prize: a millennium of world dominance.

Now the Sun is turning once again and nation will battle nation to retrieve the missing Capstone … but a group of small nations, led by super-soldier Jack West Jr., bands together to prevent any one country from attaining this frightening power. Thus the greatest treasure hunt of all time begins – an adrenaline-fueled race on a global battlefield.

From the Colossus of Rhodes to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the Great Egyptian Pyramid itself, unlock the thrills of Seven Deadly Wonders.


Review: This book has been lingering on my shelves for many years, at least 5 I would say. It sounded really good, but I have a feeling the 500+ pages kept me from picking it up to finally read (that and the fact that it’s the start of a new series, like that’s something I really need, lol). But it was a selection from a Goodreads challenge call-out, so I finally picked it up.

So what did I think? Imagine an Indiana Jones movie in book form. Yep, that’s pretty much it. It read fast and was fun, but there was a lot of filler that I think the story could have done without. Yet looking back, I understand why that filler was there – to set up the series. I don’t know. Sometimes I struggle to keep my attention on longer books.

So as I stated, this is the first in a series …. the question remains: will I continue on?! Honestly, I’m not 100% certain. I do have the second (and third) book on my shelf, but I’m not entirely sure I want to continue on. I guess I’ll leave it up in the air at this time.

Either way, it was a fun adventure book. There’s a lot of character development and the writing is good. If it was just a tad shorter it would have been a little more enjoyable for me. But still a good book that I would recommend to those Indiana Jones lovers out there 😉 … and I can always hope this eventually gets made into a movie!!

 

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, Jack Reacher, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: Die Trying by Lee Child

Die Trying
by Lee Child

Die Trying by Lee Child

Copyright: 1998

Pages: 422

Read: Jan. 12-19, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

Blurb: Jack Reacher is an innocent bystander – in the wrong place at the wrong time – when a woman is kidnapped. Now, he’s at the mercy of a group of men demanding an impossible ransom, for this mysterious woman is worth far more than Reacher’s ever suspected. And though she doesn’t ask for his help, he’s going to give it to her…

Because ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a hero. He’s used to saving lives. But this time he’s going to take a few before he’s through…


Review: This is the second book in the Jack Reacher series. I read the first one, Killing Floor, nearly 4 years ago. Oops!

This one, for the most part, I enjoyed. I felt like the plot was a little convoluted and far-reaching. But I suppose that’s kind of what you get when you’ve got a character like Jack Reacher….But I like Jack Reacher the character. He’s got charm, and yet he’s indisputably badass at the same time. There’s just something about him. I honest think that his character is the reason I kept reading this one, because to be honest with you, the overall storyline was not really my cup of tea. Clocking in at 422 pages, this book was a little chunkier than I have been reading lately. Unfortunately, I also feel like at least 100 pages could have been cut out and not much would have been missed.

Can a reader like a book because they like the main character? Because that’s really my feeling on this one. I didn’t care for the storyline itself, but I felt like Reacher made the book worth reading. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more Jack Reacher … let’s just hope it’s not 3+ years before I get to it 😉