4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Nonfiction, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life
by Anne Bogel

I'd Rather Be Reading

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 160

Read: July 16, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library

 

Blurb: Reading isn’t just a way to pass the time – it’s a lifestyle. Books shape, define, and enchant us. They are part of who we are and we can’t imagine life without them. In this collection of charming and relatable reflections, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads you to remember the book that first hooked you, the place where you first fell in love with reading, and all the books and moments afterward that helped make you the reader you are today.


Review:

Bookish enthusiasm is contagious, but it isn’t sufficient – not if I want to find the books that are truly right for me, and for you to find the ones right for you. It’s easy enough for me to say, “I liked that book,” or “I didn’t,” but I often struggle to explain why. I’m constantly surprised at how difficult it is to articulate my thoughts on what I’ve read in a way that is coherent, useful, and enjoyable, whether I’m sharing a five-thousand-word formal review or a twenty-word text message. But I feel I owe it to my fellow readers to try, because my comments help others decide what is worth reading and what should be read next. [p. 115]

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Anne Bogel and her blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy. I’ve also been a member of her online book club for over a year. So I’m not entirely sure why I’ve waited so long to read this book of hers. Well, it’s probably because a collection of essays is not something I’ve ever really been drawn to read. But I should have known better – these are bookish essays, and bookish things are my jam!

At 160 pages I knocked this book out in an afternoon at home with my sick daughter. I book darted the heck out of it as well. It was just a really fun read. I found myself nodding and smiling throughout the entire thing. All I could think of was – THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! And let’s be honest, if you’re reading this, you probably fall in that designation as well – BOOK PEOPLE!

So if you’re looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon reading a book about books pick this one up. Or you could spread it out and read one or two here and there. But let’s be honest – who has that kind of self-control when reading/thinking about books!? And be prepared for Chapter 10 – Bookworm Problems. If you’re like me, you will relate to every single sentence in that entire chapter. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE, folks!

Highly recommended!

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4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, X-Y-Z

Review: The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

The Girls at 17 Swann Street
by Yara Zgheib

The Girls at 17 Swann Street

 

Copyright: 2019

Pages: 384

Read: July 13 – July 15, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library

 

Blurb: The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound. 

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down into anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach-pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, who is always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.


Review: I picked this one up on a whim at my library. I was just browsing the shelf and this one caught my eye. I had seen it mentioned before online, but I was really drawn in by that cover (and the “Z” author certainly helped for my Goodreads challenges 🙂 )

This book is a heartbreaking tale. My stomach was just in knots most of the time. I suffered the same anxiety as the ladies did when it was their meal times. I was terrified for them and how they would make it through. It brought out such an emotional response from me that I was not prepared for.

This is not an easy read, but I feel like it’s an important read. I knew a girl in high school who sought treatment for anorexia. I don’t remember that she ever got that thin – I think her family caught it before it got too serious. But I remember not really understanding it at the time. This book really helped me to understand it better. I wish I had had a book like this all those years ago. It would have helped all of us understand what she was dealing with a little bit better.

Overall I highly recommend this book. It’s a tough read about a tough subject, but one that I think is necessary for us to better understand eating disorders and those suffering from them.

 

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Q, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network
by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network

 

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 494

Read: June 23 – July 5, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased new
Blurb: 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the “queen of spies,” who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth … no matter where it leads.


Review: I purchased this one new some time ago and I was really excited about this one – it sounded so good! And then I did what I always do – I let it languish on my bookshelves. So I was excited to finally get around to this one.

For the most part, I enjoyed it. However, I struggled in the beginning – it had quite a slow start for me. But I powered through it and was pleasantly rewarded by sticking it out.

I definitely enjoyed it and am glad that I finally got around to reading this one. I’d definitely recommend this one!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES, Stephanie Plum

Review: Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Twelve Sharp
by Janet Evanovich

Twelve Sharp

 

Copyright: 2006

Pages: 322

Read: June 12 – 16, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Goodwill

 

Blurb: While chasing down the usual cast of miscreants and weirdos, Stephanie discovers that a crazed woman is stalking her.

The woman dresses in black, carries a 9mm Glock, and has a bad attitude and a mysterious connection to dark and dangerous Carlos Manoso … street name, Ranger.

The action turns deadly serious, and Stephanie goes from hunting skips to hunting a murderer.

Ranger needs Stephanie for more reasons than he can say. And now, the two are working together to find a killer, rescue a missing child, and stop a lunatic from raising the body count. When Stephanie Plum and Ranger get too close for comfort, vice cop Joe Morelli (her on-again, off-again boyfriend) steps in. Will the ticking clock stop at the stroke of twelve … or will a stranger in the wind find a way to stop Stephanie Plum … forever?


Review: I won’t lie. These books are not much more than some brain candy – total fluff books. But they’re usually entertaining so I try and read 1 or 2 of them a year – much more than that and I burn out.

This particular installment I feel was a little better than the last few. First, Stephanie went an entire book without having her car blow up. That’s got to be the end of like an 8 book streak. And then we see Ranger having a lot more of a presence in this book. Rather than flitting in and out as he pleases he’s got quite a bit role in this book. It was interesting to see the book from his perspective, but I’m solidly in the Joe Morelli camp.

So overall an installment that didn’t necessarily leave me in stitches, but I wasn’t rolling my eyes either. Decent.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, R, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: The Gown by Jennifer Robson

The Gown
by Jennifer Robson

The Gown

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 371

Read: June 1 – 10, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library

 

 

 

 

Blurb: London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.


Review: This book is the June selection for the Modern Mrs. Darcy online book club. I had had it on my radar since it came out but I wasn’t entirely sure that I would like it. I was drawn by the cover, but historical fiction (while I do generally enjoy it) is not necessarily something I go out of my way to read. But I also have a fascination with the Royal Family so I kind of enjoyed that connection with this book (although that connection ends up being very, very small).

So what did I ultimately think? It was good. Somewhere between good and really good, probably. For the most part I enjoyed it, but I had some issues with one of the characters. How could Heather’s mother (Ann’s daughter) not have a few more questions about why she didn’t know more about her mother? She knew nothing about her father. She couldn’t even answer whether or not Hughes was her married or maiden name. And yet – she didn’t even seem to have any curiosity regarding the huge gaps of information she knew about her mother and her own familial history! I just cannot imagine not wanting to know more. As the reader gets the answers to those questions I can certainly understand why Ann chose to keep so much to herself, but it still irritated me.

There were some pretty heavy scenes throughout the book. Definite trigger warning right here. And honestly … I didn’t really feel like some of it was really all that necessary. It could have gone a completely different way. It almost felt thrown in there for the shock factor. It just didn’t fit with the rest of the book itself.

So now that I’ve gotten the negative out of the way, I can say that the rest of the book was really good. I enjoyed how the story unfolded, going back and forth between Ann and Miriam and Heather. I was rooting for both Ann and Miriam individually and I was sad to see that they were not able to continue their friendship long-term.

I really don’t know what else to say about this book. I enjoyed it. It’s an interesting look at the post-war years in England – something that I personally have not read much about. This book is definitely not my usual reading style, but I’m glad that I gave it a go and I would definitely recommend it!

 

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Kinsey Millhone, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES

Review: H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton

H is for Homicide
by Sue Grafton

H is for Homicide

 

Copyright: 1991

Pages: 256

Read: May 27 – 30, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: His name is Parnell Perkins, and until shortly after midnight, he’d been a claims adjuster for California Fidelity. Then someone came along and put paid to that line of work. And to any other. Parnell Perkins had been shot at close range and left for dead in the parking lot outside California Fidelity’s offices.

To the cops, it looked like a robbery gone sour. To Kinsey Millhone, it looked like the cops were walking away from the case. She didn’t like the idea that a colleague and sometime drinking companion had been murdered. Or the idea that his murderer was loose and on the prowl. It made her feel exposed. Vulnerable.

Bibianna Diaz was afraid for her life. If there was one thing she knew for sure, it was that you didn’t cross Raymond Maldonado and live to tell the tale. And Bibianna had well and truly crossed him, running out on his crazy wedding plans and going into hiding in Santa Teresa – light years away from the Los Angeles barrio that was home turf to Raymond and his gang. Now she needed money to buy time, to make sure she’d put enough space between them. And the quickest way she knew to get money was to work an insurance scam – just like the ones Raymond was running down in L.A. The trouble was, Bibianna picked California Fidelity as her mark. And it wasn’t long before her name surfaced in one of Parnell Perkins’s open files and Kinsey was on her case. But so, too, was her spurned suitor, Raymon Maldonado.

He had a rap sheet as long as his arm, a hair-trigger temper that was best left untested, and an inability to take no for an answer. He also had Tourette’s syndrome, which did nothing to smooth out the kinks in his erratic and often violent behavior. All in all, Raymond Maldonado was not someone to spend a lot of time hanging out with. Unfortunately for Kinsey, she didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. Not after the love-sick Raymond kidnapped Bibianna. Like it or not, Kinsey was stuck baby-sitting Bibianna along with Raymond and his macho crew. You might say she was a prisoner of love.

It may be Kinsey Millhone’s most complicated and risk-filled case.


Review: This is the 8th book in the Kinsey Millhone series. It had been a while since I had read “G” but I remember really enjoying it, so I was looking forward to falling back in with Kinsey.

This one read a lot differently than any of the previous books in the series. It definitely had a grittier feel to it. Kinsey was in a more precarious position than I feel like she ever has been in previous books. It was a good read, I enjoyed it.

It read quickly and easily. It kept me interested in the storyline. I felt like all the characters were well-developed – even the less important characters had good development. I really liked this book.

Recommended. And I’m looking forward to “I”.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, T

Review: Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy

Monkeewrench
by P.J. Tracy

Monkeewrench

 

Copyright: 2003

Pages: 404

Read: May 13 – 24, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: People are dying for the new computer game by the software company Monkeewrench. Literally. With Serial Killer Detective in limited release, the real-life murders of a jogger and a young woman have already mimicked the first two scenarios in the game.

But Grace McBride and her eccentric Monkeewrench partners are caught in a vise. If they tell the Minneapolis police of the link between their game and the murders, they’ll shine a spotlight on the past they thought they had erased – and the horror they thought they’d left behind. If they don’t, eighteen more people will die…


Review: This is the first book in the Monkeewrench series. I have had this one on my shelf for quite some time so I was excited to finally get to it.

For the most part I enjoyed it. But it had a pretty slow start for me. I’m not sure exactly why, but I struggled to get to the halfway point. I think it was the bouncing back and forth between two distinct storylines that kind of held me up. They were completely different and I had no idea what on earth was going to tie this two plot lines together. But then it finally came together as to what the connection was. And from that point on it was a race to the finish to find out exactly what had happened and why.

I am on the fence about whether or not I want to continue on with this series or not. Part of my issue is that this one felt like a standalone, the storyline wrapped up nicely. I assume it’s because this book was not written with the intention of being the first in a series.

Either way this particular book was enjoyable enough. Once you get past that slow start the book itself is enjoyable and I liked it.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Non-Fiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: John Adams: A Life by John Ferling

John Adams: A Life
by John Ferling

John Adams-A Life

Copyright: 1992

Pages: 454

Read: April 20 – May. 19, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Abebooks.com

 

 

Blurb: John Ferling’s masterful John Adams: A Life is the most comprehensive single-volume biography of the man who succeeded George Washington in the presidency and shepherded the fragile new nation through the most dangerous of times. Drawing on extensive research, Ferling depicts a reluctant revolutionary, a leader who was deeply troubled by the warfare that he helped to make, and a fiercely independent statesman.


Review: This is my 4th book on John Adams. And I have to say, if you are looking for a really good single-volume biography of Mr. Adams – read this one! I wish I had read this book first, because it was extremely readable and provided just the right amount of information to give a pretty good broad overview.

I personally thought this book was easier to read than David McCullough’s work. But I think that is just my personal preference – I struggled that McCullough’s book kind of jumped around here and there at times. Ferling’s book was linear in the timeline and I just preferred the writing style of this one.

For the most part I found Ferling to be quite fair in his analysis of John Adams. I was glad that I finally read a book where the author finally called Adams out for basically being an absent husband for a good 3/4 of his married years. I wouldn’t say that he was over-critical of that, but it was refreshing to finally have it pointed it, not just swept under the rug like it was no big deal.

The book itself reads easily. I personally struggled to get through the diplomatic years. But that has nothing to do with this book. I struggled with those same years in the previous books I’ve read. (Just like I struggled through the war years in the George Washington books I read).

Honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It’s well-researched and well-written. I think it can appeal to casual readers as well as students of history. This one is definitely going to be a stand-out for me as far as the John Adams books I’m reading go. And like I said – if you’re looking for an easy-to-read single-volume biography on John Adams, I would highly recommend this one.

4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three Things
by Julie Buxbaum

V23 new typeface tagline.indd

 

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 336

Read: April 29 – May 5, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library e-book

 

Blurb: What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week as a junior at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short) offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?


Review:

My mom once told me that the world is divided into two kinds of people: the ones who love their high school years and the ones who spend the next decade recovering from them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, she said.

But something did kill her, and I’m not stronger. So go figure; maybe there’s a third kind of person: the ones who never recover from high school at all.

–p. 12

This book is the May selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. I thought it sounded like a decent read and I saw that I could get it in an e-book through my library. I figured if I didn’t like it after so many pages I’d just turn it back in and that would be that. But what I wasn’t expecting was to be really taken by this book! I don’t know why I say that – more often than not I really enjoy the books selected by Anne.

This book took me right back to high school. I personally didn’t have the greatest high school experience (I moved schools in 7th grade and the day I graduated high school I was still known as “the new girl” even though I had been there for over 5 years at that point). So I totally understood what Jessie was going through with that new school thing. I only wish I had had a “Somebody Nobody” to guide me through those early few days, weeks and months.

Enough reminiscing about high school, back to the book. I found it to be easily readable. And even though I am far removed from high school I still enjoyed the book. I was anxious to see who SN ended up being – and I had it totally pegged correctly. So while that part wasn’t necessarily a surprise, I personally thought the ending was just right.

It’s a cute book. I’m glad I gave it a shot. And I still find it amusing that every time I read a young adult I enjoy it – even though I never would have touched a young adult book when I was actually part of the target audience for that genre. It’s a fun and easy read. It’s really just a cute, sweet book. It didn’t feel fake – the teenage voices felt “real” to me. So yeah, I’d recommend it!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, H, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

The Liar’s Girl
by Catherine Ryan Howard

The Liar's Girl

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 332

Read: April 3 – April 24, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Barnes & Noble Serial Reads

 

Blurb: Will Hurley was an attractive, charming, and impressive student at Dublin’s elite St. John’s College-and Ireland’s most prolific serial killer. Having stalked his four young victims, he drowned them in the muddy waters of the Grand Canal. Sentenced to life imprisonment when he was just nineteen, Will is locked away in the city’s Central Psychiatric Hospital.

Freshman Alison Smith moved to the Big Smoke to enrol in St. John’s and soon fell hard for Will Hurley. Her world bloomed … and then imploded when Liz, her best friend, became the latest victim of the Canal Killer-and the Canal Killer turned out to be the boy who’d been sleeping in her bed. Alison fled to the Netherlands and, in ten years, has never once looked back.

When a young woman’s body is found in the Grand Canal, Garda detectives visit Will to see if he can assist them in solving what looks like a copycat killing. Instead, Will tells them he has something new to confess-but there’s only one person he’s prepared to confess it to. The last thing Alison wants is to be pulled back into the past she’s worked so hard to leave behind. Reluctantly, she returns to the city she hasn’t set foot in for more than a decade to face the man who murdered the woman she was supposed to become.

Only to discover that, until now, Will has left out the worst part of all …


Review: This book was the April selection on Barnes & Noble’s Serial Reads program. Sometimes the books interest me and sometimes they don’t. This particular book really caught my attention so I was excited to give it a go!

I had never even heard of this author before, but I could not get through this book fast enough. I found it really difficult to not be able to read enough of this book every time I picked it up. First thing I did every single morning when I woke up was to open up my Nook app and read that day’s chapter(s). It was really tough and honestly, had my library had it available (either print or e-book) I definitely would have gone and checked it out just so I could read it faster! It was that good of a book for me!

Let me just say that when the ending was finally revealed it was a kind of like, “whoa!” I didn’t really see it happening the way that it did, but I felt like it was a good way to end the book. Intriguing is the word I would use for the ending – but it was satisfying as well.

I’m definitely glad that I got a chance to discover this author and I look forward to following her work in the future!