Books #17

I’ve been reading some good books lately! Several of them have been rather “heavy” so to speak, and I wrote individual posts about those books. But I have been reading a lot of other types of books lately. So here is another post with some recommendations.

If you want to follow me on Goodreads, here I am. You can also read old book reviews here.

1 ) The Third Option (Mitch Rapp #4) by Vince Flynn

In this book, Mitch Rapp is back and working on a mission in Germany to assassinate a dirty Count. The mission goes wrong and his partners attempt to kill him. He goes on the run, not sure who to trust, and then eventually makes it back to the States to confront the higher ups in his organization. It turns out there’s a leak in the department and someone is out to get Mitch and his handler, Irene. It’s a really fast story and well written. The ending was both exciting and frustrating because it was a bit of a cliff hanger! Another good book in the series!

2 )  The Chalk Pit (Ruth Galloway #9) by Elly Griffiths

The last book in this series was a dud–major let down since I love the series. But this book turned it around. It was back to focusing on Ruth and her adventures.

This particular story was unique and creepy and fun to read. A homeless woman goes missing and suddenly several homeless men are murdered. At the same time, two women from the community go missing and there are rumors of kidnapping and underground societies.

It was an interesting story and I loved the ending and where it left off! Can’t wait for the next book!

3 )  The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood

Man, did I love this book! It was so good. I loved the characters–they came alive in this book and I felt the pain, sorrow, and happiness that the characters felt. I would describe this book as a cross between “A Man Called Ove” and “Take Me With You” by Catherine Ryan Hyde. So if you liked either of those books, you’ll like this one.

The story is told in different ways–Ona is 104 years old and “the boy” comes to her house every Saturday to help her and to work on his Boy Scout’s badge where he interviews her about her life.

Then the boy dies unexpectedly (heart-breaking!! get your Kleenex) and his estranged father, Quinn, takes over his quest to help Ona each Saturday. They basically become family and the entire family heals, and tries to fulfill the boy’s goal of getting Ona into the Guiness Book of World Records.

It’s a tear-jerker, but often in a happy way. The book is beautiful written and I did not want it to end. I wanted the story to keep going.  This book was so excellent! Read it!

4 ) Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

What a beautiful, heart-warming and heart-breaking book! The book is told from two points of view. The first is Soli, a 20 year old who is trying to escape the poverty in Mexico to cross the border into America. The story is about her journey, the absolutely horrific things she endures to cross the border, and the love she finds on her journey. She arrives in Berkeley, California, pregnant, poor, and safe. She lives with her cousin and gets a job as a housekeeper/nanny.

The second story is Kavya and Rishi, Indian-Americans living in Berkeley who want a child and try and try unsuccessfully to get pregnant or go to term. The desire to be a mother is palpable through the pages.

“Having a child was like turning inside out and exposing to the world the soft pulp of her heart. If something happened to Ignacio–if illness took him or an accident, she herself would never recover. If the night stole his breath away, as sometimes happened to the very very young, her own breath would never return. At night, thoughts like this sat vigil around her bed. [pg 181]”

Through a horrible twist of fate, Soli’s son is taken into DHS custody and Kavya gets the opportunity to become a mother. She is immediately in love with little Ignacio. This is a story of a very lucky boy, loved by two mothers.

“Why did people love children who were born to other people? For the same reason they lived in Berkeley, knowing the Big One was coming: because it was a beautiful place to be, and because there was no way to fathom the length or quality of life left to anyone, and because there was no point running from earthquakes into tornadoes, blizzards, terrorist attacks. Because destruction waited around every corner, and turning one corner would only lead to another…She’d built her love on a fault line, and the first tremors had begun. [pg 350]”

Rishi is a little slower to fall in love with the boy. He was afraid of getting too close, since they were temporary foster parents and knew the mother could try to get Ignacio back. But eventually, something clicks, and he becomes his son.

“Being a father made him a part of this place, Rishi realized. He was no longer just a scientist, a pizza eater, a line dweller, a street crosser. Ignacio rooted him to the hum of this sidewalk. Ignacio brought him to Earth. [pg 327]”

It was interesting to read the cultural differences between Soli and her Mexican heritage and Kavya and her Indian culture, a culture that apparently is not welcoming to the idea of adoption. Biological children were very important to her parents–but even her parents eventually fall in love with Ignacio. How could they not??

“In her gaze, even from this distance, Soli could see a mist of love. She couldn’t deny this, and it shrank her inside, the love. [pg 417]”

Reading about the horrible treatment of illegal immigrants by ICE was absolutely awful and revolting. It made me really angry. The book was very well-written and I did NOT want the book to end. I didn’t like the ending, really, but there wasn’t an easy answer on how the story should end. Throughout the book you feel very strongly and root for Soli to win in the end–but at the same time you are rooting for Kavya and Rishi because they love Ignacio like he was their own. So it was truly a no-win situation. 🙁

“Grief was a solitary practice, though they would cling to each other that day and in the days to come. [pg 461]”

As a mother, the book was very hard to read but it was so so good. I absolutely loved it. When I got towards the end of the book, I felt a panic and raced to daycare to pick up Logan. All I wanted was to pick him up and hug him and never let him go. 

5 ) The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews

After reading several super heavy, dark, difficult reads, I needed something light and fluffy to give myself a break. I read another chick lit type of book, that wasn’t very good, and then picked up this one from the library. I actually really enjoyed it! For a “chick lit” book it was pretty well-written.

Dempsey is a lobbyist in DC who loses her job, and could possibly be heading to prison, after a boss with her scandal breaks. Perfect timing: a distant, elderly relative died and left his house to her father. She decides to go down to Georgia to fix up the house, called Birdsong, and get it ready to sell, while she figures out how to fix her life.

She gets down to the house and it’s a mess. Overgrown yard, house falling apart, piles and piles of junk and magazines. Plus–an ornery old squatter! So the book is basically about her fixing up this house, meeting someone down in Georgia, clearing her name from the scandal and figuring out what she wants to do with her life.

It was a very satisfying read and the characters were well-developed. The story was good, even for a fluffy book! I liked the book a lot.

6 )  Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

This book starts out with a bang! LOVED the writing style, the crisp, fun writing and the way the author reveals parts of the story in bits and pieces in a shocking way. The first chapter is one the best first chapters I’ve read in a long time and it instantly sucked me in and made me want to read the whole book in one sitting.

This is a story about Georgia, about to get married and move to London to start a new job. She goes home to wine country, and finds her whole family in shambles. Everyone in her life is having relationship issues.

” ‘Because that’s the only way to get somewhere better.” He shrugged. “If you fight, you work it out. If you don’t fight, you move into your own corners, and nothing gets decided there.'[pg 146]”

She’s conflicted about getting married in a week. Everyone in her life has advice for her.

” ‘I stopped paying attention to her. I stopped doing the things that someone does for the person he loves. Because I was tired. Because other things always seemed to matter a little bit more…That doesn’t happen overnight, you know. It happens slowly. You should be careful of that. You should be careful not to take the person you love for granted. Not only because they’ll notice. But you’ll notice too. You’ll think it means something it doesn’t.’ [pg 239]”

There is a lot of “will they, won’t they” in the middle of the book, back and forth on the wedding, but the story is so well written and engaging that it wasn’t cliqued. And I absolutely LOVED the ending! I wanted the book to keep going, I wanted more. I loved the world and characters this author created. I will definitely be reading more of her work. And I hope they make this book into a movie!

Happy reading!

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Books #16

I love using Goodreads to track my books. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep track of what I’ve read, what I want to read, etc. But I kinda wish someone would invent a notification service for when a new book in the series you love is coming out soon. It’s so hard to remember to check! I have several book series that I love and read as soon as there is a new book out, but it’s hard to know when the new book is out. Can someone invent that for me please? Thanks!

And now on to the reviews!

1 ) The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway #8) by Elly Griffiths

Perfect example of what I described above! Somehow this series dropped off my radar and I missed that book #8 was out! Book #9 is supposed to come out soon!

I love this series and look forward to reading the books. This one was just average. I felt like it didn’t focus enough on the main character and archaeology and I found that disappointing. But I’m including this in the book post because I really like the series and recommend it!

2 ) Transfer of Power (Mitch Rapp #3) by Vince Flynn

Ok, why hasn’t this book been made into a movie yet?!?!?! I could not put it down. It was SO good!

First, the downside. There were a lot of characters in the book and it took me over half of the book to figure out who everyone was and how they played into the story.

Second, the upside. It was very, very exciting. A terrorist group has overtaken the White House. The Secret Service was able to get the president into the bunker with seconds to spare, but the terrorists have hostages. The book is about the FBI, CIA, and military trying to figure out how to rescue everyone. Mitch manages to get into the White House and he’s their onsite point person.

The book was very satisfying. I loved the story and the excitement and the ending was really good. Seriously, this needs to be a movie!

3 ) The Mothers by Brit Bennett

This was a really beautiful, gorgeously written, heart-wrenching book. The story is about three teens in San Diego whose lives intersect and then split — but a secret comes back to haunt them.

Nadia is the main character. Her mother commits suicide when she’s in high school. It’s a shock to the community and her and her father.

“She [her mom] had grown up in Texas, in between tornado and hurricane country, so she knew how to prepare for disaster. Unlike you California girls, she used to tell Nadia, who never thought about earthquakes until the world started shaking right under them. That winter, her mother’s death would be an earthquake jolting her out of her sleep. [pg 73]”

“Her father propped his sadness on a pew, but she put her sad in places no one could see. [pg 5]”

Nadia doesn’t know how to process her grief. She acts out, which is normal, but her path of self-destruction converges with Luke, the pastor’s son. Luke is a college drop-out whose professional football dreams are shattered with his leg. They comfort each other.

“Her mother had died a month ago and she was drawn to anyone who wore their pain outwardly, the way she couldn’t. [pg 8]”

She’s underage, 17, and he’s in his early 20’s and the pastor’s son…so when she gets pregnant…a decision is made quickly.

“She couldn’t let this baby nail her life in place when she’d just been given a chance to escape. [pg 13]”

“She should’ve known. She should’ve known when he’d brought her an envelope with six hundred dollars that the money was his part, and now she was a problem that he’d already dealt with. [pg 32]”

That was pretty much the end of their affair. She went off to college in Michigan, tried to forget Luke. Luke met someone else and then…a few years later Nadia returns to town and the stories intersect again.

The book is about grief and healing, relationships, motherhood and touches a little bit on race.

“Reckless white boys became politicians and bankers, reckless black boys became dead. [pg 60]”

“In a way, subtle racism was worse because it made you feel crazy. You were always left wondering, was that actually racist? Had you just imagined it? [pg 113]”

The book is also about families and individuality. Nadia seems like a strong girl, but there is a weakness for Luke in her that she never really gets over. But like all good tortured soul books, she denies herself happiness, mostly because of her mother’s suicide.

“This would be her life, accomplishing the things her mother had never done. She never celebrated this, unlike her friends who were proud to be the first in their family to go to college or the first to earn a prestigious internship. How could she be proud of lapping her mother, when she had been the one to slow her down in the first place? [pg 115]”

The book is a fast read and very, very good. I read it in one day and I absolutely loved it. I would really recommend it to anyone.

4 )  The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

There were things about this book that bugged me but none of it was bad enough to deter me from reading it. I honestly couldn’t put the book down, despite the weak/overused premise. (I don’t want to give it away but the premise has been done before and I honestly find it weak writing.)

The ending made up for the holes in the story. I liked the twists and turns and I read it in just a few days.

5 ) A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #12) by Louise Penny

By far, this was the best book in the series! This time, Armand has come out of retirement and into a new job–He’s now in charge of the Surete du Quebec police academy. It’s his job to clean it up, get rid of the crooked cops and ensure that the future police well-trained.

There are two stories going on –the first is a map that is found in Three Pines that creates a mystery he wants to solve and he tasks four young cadets in the academy to solve it. At the same time, there is a murder of one of the professors in the academy. This is a story about corruption, power, influence and morality. There were so many levels in this book and it was so beautifully written and compelling. The story was gripping and the aha moment when the mysteries were solved were so good! Very fulfilling read!

6 ) The Dry (Aaron Falk #1) by Jane Harper

What a fantastic first book!

It takes place in Australia, in the middle of nowhere where there’s been a drought for years. Tempers and stressors are high in this town as a result of the drought and how that is effecting the town and the farmland. Aaron Falk, a Federal Agent in Melbourne, goes back home to attend his childhood friend’s funeral. A horrific murder-suicide happened and everyone is shell-shocked. Aaron is not so sure it’s an open and closed case so he sticks around longer than the two days he planned to solve it.

It’s a really fast read and well-written. The characters are well-rounded and the bad guys are really unlikable and you are rooting for the good guys. This is a home run for a first novel and I can’t wait for book #2!


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