3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Harry’s Trees
by Jon Cohen

harry's trees

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 428

Read: Jan 4 – 14, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library

 

Blurb: Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane works as an analyst for the US Forest Service. When his wife dies suddenly, he is unable to cope. Leaving his job and his old life behind, Harry makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, determined to lose himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She and her mother, Amanda, are struggling to pick up the pieces from their own tragedy – Amanda stoically holding it together while Oriana roams the forest searching for answers. And in Oriana’s magical, willful mind, she believes that Harry is the key to righting her world.

After taking up residence in the woods behind Amanda’s house, Harry reluctantly agrees to help Oriana in a ludicrous scheme to escape his tragic past. In so doing, the unlikeliest of elements – a wolf, a stash of gold coins, a fairy tale called The Grum’s Ledger and a wise old librarian named Olive – come together to create a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open Harry’s heart to a whole new life.

Harry’s Trees is an uplifting story about the redeeming power of friendship and love and the magic to be found in life’s most surprising adventures.


Review: This book is the January selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. As usual, this selection is way outside my normal reading. It’s billed on Goodreads as magical realism. I was a little leery to take this one on, but having skipped the last few months I knew I wanted to at least give this one a shot – it didn’t sound terrible, just not necessarily my norm.

So what did I think? Well, ultimately, it wasn’t a bad book. In fact the first half of the book really swept me up and I was really enjoying it. And then right around the time that Oriana and Harry put their “scheme” into motion it kind of dropped off for me. I think it was right around that time that I could see the obvious about how the ending would happen – and for the most part, I nailed it. I don’t like predictability in my endings, and this one was just a little too predictable for my personal taste.

The book itself is well written and thought out.  The characters were all well-developed and each had their own interesting story. The character development was definitely a big part of this book and that was probably my favorite part about the entire book. I can definitely see the “magic” of this book, but I had a hard time buying into it personally.

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3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Dirk Pitt, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES

Review: Treasure by Clive Cussler

Treasure
by Clive Cussler

Treasure

Copyright: 1988

Pages: 547

Read: Dec. 24, 2018 – Jan 2, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: Charts of lost gold … breathtaking art and rare volumes … maps of hidden oil and mineral deposits that could change the world’s balance of power. Now Dirk Pitt has discovered the secret trail of the treasures of Alexandria – a trail that plunges him into a brutal conspiracy for total domination of the globe. Zealots threaten to unseat the governments of Egypt and Mexico, exposing America to invasion and economic collapse. Suddenly, from East to West, anarchists reach their deadly tentacles into the heart of the United States. And Dirk Pitt, the hard-hitting hero of Clive Cussler’s Deep Six and Raise the Titanic! is up against the most feared assassin known to man. An international band of terrorists is making its play for world power on the high seas – and Pitt is the only man alive who can stop them!


Review: I try and read one Clive Cussler book every year, but I kept putting this one off every time I thought about needing to get my yearly Dirk Pitt fix in. 😦 For some reason this one just didn’t call to me the way the other installments have. And for the most part, my original assessment was pretty close to spot on.

There were a lot of things going on in this book with multiple storylines. Some of those storylines I loved and yet the other one… not so much. It all came together in the end in an interesting way, but there was a lot of political scenes that I could have done without. I just found it a little bit of a stretch to believe what Dirk Pitt went through in this book (which I think is pretty par for the course for any Dirk Pitt novel).

So while overall I’m glad that I was able to cross this one off the list, at 547 pages it was a little long and it dragged in a few places. But I’m still looking forward to continuing on with this series! There’s just something about Dirk Pitt that keeps me coming back for more.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Michael Bennett, Mini Review, P, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Mini Review: Bullseye by James Patterson

Bullseye
by James Patterson

Bullseye

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 327

Read: Dec. 2-5, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Grandmother

 

Blurb: Caught in the crosshairs of a deadly standoff, Detective Michael Bennett must kill … or be killed. Tension between America and Russia is high as the UN convenes in New York City. Snow blankets the avenues of Manhattan’s exclusive Upper West Side. The storm is the perfect cover for a fashionable, highly trained team of lethal assassins as they prowl the streets. Their first hit is target practice. Their next hit could turn the Cold War red-hot once again – because they’re aiming for the president of the United States.

Pulled away from his family and pressed into service, Detective Michael Bennett must trace the source of a threat that could rip America apart – and ignite a war with the likes of which the world has never seen. With allegiances constantly in doubt and no one above suspicion, only Bennett can save the president – and the country – before the assassins’ deadly kill shot hits its mark.


Review: This is the 9th book in the Michael Bennett series. Unfortunately, I read this one quite a few weeks ago and ultimately have very little memory of it. 😦

I do remember reading it quite quickly and that it felt quite relevant. But other than that my memory of this one is quite lacking. I do enjoy the Michael Bennett series and am looking forward to reading the 10th book sooner rather than later!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Nina Reilly, O, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: Breach of Promise by Perri O’Shaughnessy

Breach of Promise
by Perri O’Shaughnessy

Breach of Promise

Copyright: 1998

Pages: 535

Read: Nov. 24 – Dec. 1, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Used book store

 

 

 
Blurb: In glitzy Lake Tahoe, couples break up every day. But few are as successful as Lindy and Mike Markov, who built a $200-million business together – before Mike took up with a younger woman. Now he’s claiming he doesn’t owe Lindy a dime since they never married. Attorney Nina Reilly, struggling to make a living in her one-woman office and raise a young son alone, agrees to take Lindy’s case. Nina knows winning is a long shot, even with a brilliant jury consultant and a palimony expert on her side. It’s the kind of case – full of passion and explosive secrets – that could make a fortune for a young lawyer. Or drive someone to commit murder – for love, money … or the right verdict.


Review: This is the 4th book in the Nina Reilly series and it had been over a year since I had read the 3rd installment. Which is a shame, because I always end up enjoying these books – but I’m always daunted by the sheer size of them 😦

Anyway, this particular installment had a quite interesting premise. It was an interesting look at palimony (something I had never even heard of). However, this book was entirely too long. I was a little frustrated when we had a resolution to the legal case and yet there was still another 140 pages left to go. It definitely could have been edited down to a page count in the 400s without losing too much of the overall story. And the way the book ended … well, I didn’t feel like it was all entirely necessary. I don’t know – just seemed to be more padding than worthy content at times.

Anyway, I still enjoy Nina’s character and I most definitely look forward to reading more of her in the future. But I really wish these books weren’t quite so long.

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.

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.