good reads

Books #28

So we went camping over the weekend and I FORGOT MY KINDLE AT HOME. How does that even happen? It’s one of the first things I always pack for trips! I was really bummed. So I had a few days break from reading. (Boo.)

Here are the latest reads:

1 ) Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

This was a really interesting book. Clara has a 4 year old daughter and a new baby, just 4 days old, when her husband is killed in a car accident. Her daughter was in the car, too, but ok. Clara is told it was an accident–Nick was driving too fast. But then her daughter starts having night terrors and bad dreams about a “bad man in a black car chasing” them.

The book is told in alternating chapters of current day with Clara dealing with the grief, disbelief and then suspicion and then chapters told from her husband’s point of view,ย  the months leading up to Nick’s death. This one really did have me guessing until the very end.

It was suspenseful and there was a twist, it was well-written but could have used a little bit of editing down in places…other than that, great read!


2 ) The Echo Killing (Harper McClain #1) by Christi Daugherty

Excellent book! I’m excited to read book #2!

Harper is a 20-something crime reporter who works nights and is kind of an adrenaline junkie. She lives in Savannah, Georgia. When she was 12 years old, she discovered the brutally murdered body of her mother–a crime that was never solved. She was definitely traumatized as a kid, but she’s a strong female character that you like a lot. She’s not the typical cliched “alcoholic female protagonist that has problems”.

I liked that she had such a good relationship with the local cops. It seemed that they had all kind of taken her under their wing when she was a kid. There was a love interest in the story that definitely had some palpable chemistry (I rarely feel like “love” stories in mystery books have chemistry but this was done well).

15 years ago her mother was murdered and now, there’s a new murder that is remarkably similar to that one. Harper is writing the story for the newspaper and sees the similarities, and of course goes off the books to do her own investigation.

It was a riveting, fast, fun read and I really loved all the characters!

3 ) The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley

Rory and Arden are cousins, only a few months apart. They grew up more like sisters and look a lot alike. Of course, there are family secrets and issues that make this story a powerful read.

Rory’s dad and Arden’s mom are co-owners and chefs of their own restaurant, which we find out is failing. As a result, Rory and Arden do not get to go to the colleges of their choice (Harvard and art school in California). Instead they end up going to a local university and share a dorm together. Conflicts arise between Rory and Arden and between Vince and Natalie.

The story is told from the point of view of Natalie, Rory and Arden, and you don’t find out what really happen to cause the horrific fire that landed both girls in the hospital unconscious. The ending was an interesting twist. Very compelling and suspenseful read.


4 ) The Last Child (Johnny Merrimon #1) by John Hart

I almost gave up on this book a few times. It was pretty slow to start. The first half of the book felt like it dragged, but all of a sudden the story took off and it never slowed down.

Johnny is 13 years old and his twin sister, Alyssa went missing a year ago. His father was supposed to pick Alyssa up from the library and forgot and that tore the family apart. Now Johnny’s mom is a drunk, depressed woman in an abusive relationship with a local rich guy who is keeping her on pills. Johnny spends every waking moment he has searching for his sister. He knows she’s still alive.

Detective Hunt has also been searching for Alyssa for the last year and his obsession with finding her broke up his own marriage.

This is a story about faith and loyalty, lies, family, obsession and crime. If you can stick with it, the last half of the book is stellar!

5 ) The One by John Marrs

What a creepy book! I don’t want to give too much away because it was a really unique book. But the short description: it takes place in England and there is a groundbreaking dating service that pairs couples based on their DNA matches. It’s 99% accurate. The problem? It broke up a lot of marriages when people “for fun” checked their DNA matches and found out they had another match somewhere else in the world.

This book tells a few different stories of couples that get matched. The ending was such a shocker, that I don’t want to spoil it. But let me tell you, this book was creative, unique, SUPER creepy and a great read!


6 ) Savage Season (Hap and Leonard #1) by Joe R. Landsdale

How did I not know about this author? He’s such a good writer! The book immediately hooks you because the characters jump off the page and feel so real and the writing style is beautiful. It’s classified as “mystery noir” and it definitely has that feel to it.

Hap was a hippy, anti-war guy who went to Leavenworth because he refused to go to Vietnam. Leonard is a black Vietnam Vet who also happens to be gay and is Hap’s best friend. Trudy is Hap’s ex-wife who apparently has a hold on every man she’s ever slept with. They all pair up to find some money that someone else stole and hid.

It’s a fast-paced read with lots of quirky humor, interesting character development and ahead-of-its-time progressive attitude about race, gays, and war.


Happy Reading!

These posts have Amazon affiliate links.

Books #8

I wanted to get this post out because it might be awhile before I get around to posting it — or reading books!! Who knows. ๐Ÿ™‚ย Here are myย past book reviews: ย Book Reviews. And now for some recent reads I wanted to recommend:

1 ) The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

I was looking for a fast read, something kind of “mindless” and fluffy and saw good reviews of this book so I gave it a try. It’s aย better than average chick-lit book. It takes place in the South — there’s socialites and old money and then a skeleton is found under a peach tree on the grounds of a majestic old house that’s being remodeled into a fancy inn.

I enjoyed the story and the characters. I felt like the “mystery” wasn’t the main focus of the story like it sounded from the description but it was still a pleasant, fun read. The “magical” aspect wasn’t necessary at all in my opinion. But if you’re looking for a nice, romantic chick-lit type of book this is a good one.


2 ) My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

A charming story about 7 year old Elsa. Her 77 year old crazy grandmother is basically her best friend and fills her head with stories of adventure and make-believe kingdoms. Then her grandma dies and leaves Elsa a bunch of letters and asks her to deliver these letters to people. It’s another adventure and Elsa takes it on secretly, deceiving her parents in order to deliver these apology letters.

This book was not as good as “A Man Called Ove“–which I LOVED–but it was still charming in its own way. This author does cranky and crazy old people well. You just love them. The two flaws in this book — I wish the grandma hadn’t died so early on in the story because she was awesome. And the make-believe kingdom/fairytale stuff went on a little too long for my tastes. But the actual story about Elsa and all the people in her world, made up for that. The ending was really excellent, too.


3 ) Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

I LOVE this book so much! It was such a good read. It was a definite “feel good” book just in general. It was really well written and not dry or boring like a biography can sometimes be. The way it was written was interesting and fast-paced and kept you engrossed.

Reading about Ruth Bader-Ginsberg was refreshing, inspiring and just awesome. What an amazing person. Her drive and independence started young.ย Her mother’s advice: “Always be independent.” And she was.ย She broke down barriers on so many fronts, but especially for women’s rights.

“Every time she thought she could just do her work, RBG was reminded again that she didn’t belong there. ‘You felt in class as if all eyes were on you and that if you didn’t perform well, you would be failing not only for yourself, but for all women.’ Some professors held Ladies’ Day, when they would call only on women, with humiliating questions.”

“RBG firmly believed that for women to be equal, men had to be free.”

She comes across as a thoughtful, progressive, decisive person who wants equality for all, not just women. But the amazing things she did for women? Impressive.

“This wonderful woman whose statue I have in my chambers, Eleanor Roosevelt, said ‘ Anger, resentment, envy. These are emotions that just sap your energy. They’re not productive and don’t get you anyplace, so get over it.'”

“I think that men and women, shoulder to shoulder, will work together to make this a better world. Just as I don’t think that men are the superior sex, neither do I think women are. I think that it is great that we are beginning to use the talents of all of the people, in all walks of life, and that we no longer have the closed doors we once had.”

The book was about her life, going to college and law school, breaking down barriers and becoming the first tenured femaleย professor at Columbia, co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU, and was appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia before joining the Supreme Court.

The book was also about her marriage to Marty, a tax attorney who loved cooking and taking care of Ruth. They were together for 60 years before he died and you could really tell that they absolutely adored, respected and loved each other. It was so sweet.

“RBG’s use of the phraseย life partner was a marriage in which the woman didn’t lose herself and her autonomy, in which two humans shared their lives and goals on equal footing.”

“Marty would tell her that if she went to bed, in the morning everything would be clearer. ‘He was right,’ RBG said after Marty’s death. ‘Sometimes I feel like I’m in a maze, then go to sleep thinking about the way out, and when I wake up in the morning, I see the path. But now there’s no one telling me it’s time to quit.”

The entire book was awe-inspiring and humbling. It was humorous and serious, interesting and informative. It included some analysis of some of her decisions in court. It showed the softer side of her life, her close friendship with Scalia, and even included the fitness routine she does with her personal trainer. This teeny tiny woman that is a firecracker in all aspects of life has a trainer helping her do one-legged squats! It was such a joy to read this book and I cannot recommend it enough!



4 ) Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller

This was a really interesting book, not all that uplifting though. It’s been on my to read list for awhile and finally read it. It was a memoir about the author’s life inย Rhodesia/Zimbabwe with her parents and sister. But it was more about her marriage and the end of her marriage. So like I said, kind of dark, but still a good read.

Her parents were hilarious and one of the highlights of the book, for me. Her dad was funny and often had insightful comments to share:

“The problem with most people, is that they want to be alive for as long as possible without having any idea whatsoever how to live. [pg 9]”

How true is that statement?? And then her mother, who was bipolar, made this comment about the author’sย epicย long birth of her first child:

“About once every three hours, Mum looked at her watch and said, ‘This has been a biblically long pregnancy, Bobo. Why don’t you drink some Epsom salts and hop up and down?’ [pg 149]”

The author met her husband, Charlie, in Africa. He was an American who was living there as a river guide. They met and fell in love, got married (where the author came down with Malaria on her wedding day) and they lived in Africa together for a few years and had a baby together. Then they moved to the States.

“Motherhood – the way too many of us do it alone now – without an exaltation of female relatives, without a heft of knowing matrons to buoy us up, is unnatural. [pg 156]”

That quote made me a little sad. She was comparing the difference between giving birth to their first child while still in Africa and having the support of other women in the village, to their second child after they were in America.

Things were not great in America. Work was scarce for both of them and I think the author both missed her parents and the African life she had grown up in. She never really felt like she adjusted to living in Wyoming, where her husband was from. This is where the book turned into more about the decline of her marriage to Charlie. She compared her own marriage to that of her parents:

“Together they had lost three children, a war, a few farms, and for awhile my mother had seriously lost her mind. And yet they incorporated these losses into their marriage along with what they had gained, assigning very little in the way of either blame or praise almost anywhere. They put no more weight on despair than they did on joy. The way they did love was also the way they did tragedy, as if it was all an inevitable part of the gift of being alive. [pg 74]”

“Ours had contracted into a grocery list relationship – finances, children, housekeeping. We concentrated on logistics, cautiously withholding, careful of what we said to one another in case it was used against us later. And instead of disclosing our souls, we recounted complaints and kept score of the ways in which we had irritated one another or let each other down. After that we had nothing left to say. [pg 81]”

They were married nearly 20 years and had three kids, and things weren’t always bad. She wrote about the good times, too. But as their careers started to improve and things got a little better for them, it seemed like they were growing apart quickly. One time Charlie went back to Africa for a little while for work as a guide again and he called her with this story:

“‘I was almost eaten by a lion last night,’ he said. I said, ‘Oh.’ ‘Two of them. I was stalked. They followed me into camp.’…and perhaps there was more to the story than that, but none of it seemed to matter then because the fact of Charlie having been stalked by lions changed nothing. He sounded no more alive, or grateful, or excited for having been nearly dead. And his inability to get hurt by animals had long ago ceased to impress me. [pg 209]”

As a reader, that was pretty much the turning point in my eyes. I read that and the lack of emotion from both parties said to me: this relationship is doomed/over.

Despite the book being about the end of her marriage, it wasn’t entirely depressing or negative. There was enough positivity in it and enough interesting anecdotal stories about Africa that I didn’t feel bummed out reading the book and I found it really, really fascinating. So don’t let the theme of divorce turn you off from reading this memoir!


5 ) Remember Me This Way by Sabine Durrant

Same author that wrote “Under Your Skin” — which I LOVED and was really, really good.ย In comparison this one was not as strong, but still worth a read. The concept is creepy and the villain of the story is super creepy as it all unfolds. It makes your skin crawl.

The story is about Lizzie, a widow who is starting to wonder if maybe her husband isn’t really dead. As you read you feel sorry for her and the tragedy of losing her husband…until things start to come out and you slowly realize it wasn’t the love affair/tragedy you think it is. ย Youย really like the main character as you read it and it kind of keeps you guessing until the very end.

A lot of books these days compare themselves to “Gone Girl” and this is the first one like that that actually did feel reminiscent of Gone Girl.


6 ) Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

I didn’t quite know what to expect from this book. Reading the summary it sounded like an upper-middle class married mom from Chicago rescues a homeless teen from the streets who has an infant that is clearly suffering from an illness and malnutrition. Of course, the girl and baby are not what they seem… But the book is so much more about that.

Heidi brings Willow and baby Ruby home to her posh condo in Chicago, where her 12 year old daughter Zoe and husband Chris are, saying that they are going to stay with them for just one night. It turns into a lot longer and each chapter is told from either Chris, Heidi or Willow, and the REAL story unfolds. Little by little you realize there is more to the story–both Heidi’s and Willow’s stories–and by the end you are both shocked and saddened once the story is told. It was an excellent story, very well-written, and kind of haunting!


These book posts have Amazon affiliate links.