review

Books #26

I have a question for you guys. If you could leave a comment on this post and let me know that would be great!

Question: What genre of books do you like to read the best? 

I tend to gravitate towards thriller/mystery/suspense books. I try and alternate “heavy” or dark books with more whimsical books. Sometimes I am not so successful. So I know that sometimes some of these books review posts can be pretty heavy. I know not all subject matters appeal to everyone, but I’m just wondering what people like best from the book reviews I do. Thanks! 🙂

Now, on to some reviews:

1 ) Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick

After reading a bunch of dark, heavy books lately, I wanted something light and “fluffy” to read and this chick lit book was perfect for that! It was actually REALLY good, too!

Erin, Casey and Stella become unlikely friends. They live in the same town but didn’t really know each other. They all happened to get married the same weekend and used the same pastor. A few months after their wedding day, they get the surprising news: the pastor died before signing the marriage licenses and the three ladies are NOT actually married.

Erin is a doctor and has the mother-in-law from HELL who moves in and tries to wreck her marriage. Casey’s husband almost left her at the altar. And Stella finds out on her wedding night that her new husband had a vasectomy ten years ago. Now all three ladies are wondering whether to walk away and start anew. They aren’t legally married anyways…

The book was fun, lighthearted, relatable, funny and gave me the warm-fuzzies. I will definitely read more by this author.

 

2 ) The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

I loved this book! It was a tear-jerker at the end, but in a positive way, too.

Alice is a single mother with a 15 year old daughter, Zoe, who has anxiety and crippling panic attacks. For her whole life, Zoe has relied on her mother. They have no family, no one else but each other. Then Alice is diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer. She goes through treatment but it’s spreading and infection is making them have to stop chemo.

Kate is one of the nurses who develops a bond with Alice and Zoe and starts helping Zoe out when Alice is having treatments. Sonja is the social worker assigned to Alice and Zoe to help them navigate the process of care. What Alice doesn’t realize at first, is that Kate and Sonja end up being her family.

This sounds like a heavy book but it was encouraging in a lot of ways. It was about trust and creating a community and family when you don’t have one. It’s about Zoe conquering her fears and trying to learn how to control her anxiety and panic disorders. It’s a really sweet, heartfelt book and I enjoyed it a lot. I will read more by this author!

3 ) Our Short Story by Lauren Grodstein

Karen is a single mother in Manhattan, working as a political consultant. This book is written in part story-form and part memoir. It reads like a true story, but I don’t think it was. 6 years ago, Karen was dating a man she thought was the one and accidentally got pregnant. He said he never wanted kids. They split up. She raised Jake on her own.

This book is about a love story–a love between a mother and child–about loss and motherhood.

“…we fell asleep pondering the condition of being mothers, which was, of course, the condition of helping the people you love most in the world leave you. [pg 207]”

A few years before the book begins, Karen finds out she has ovarian cancer–Stage IV. She’s given treatment and has the support of her sister and her family and Jake. But she only has a few years.

“I want them to be your soft place to land. This is, I think, the best thing a family can be. [pg 6]”

She spends half her time in New York and the other half in Seattle with her sister, so that Jake can get close to her sister and his cousins, basically preparing him for when she dies and her sister takes him in. Jake starts asking about his father and reluctantly she reaches out to Dave, who had no idea she had kept the baby. Suddenly, he wants to be very much involved in Jake’s life.

This makes Karen uncomfortable and rightly freaked out that Dave is going to try and take Jake from her because she’s dying. But in the end, everybody kind of makes peace with the past and she lets that go.

“Jake, there will always be days in your life, even if you can’t remember me, that you will miss me. That you’ll need me. A person never stops needing his mother. [pg 63]”

The book is about the story of cancer, treatment, preparing to die, and writing a book for her son telling him her story. She also gives him advice.

“When people are mean to you, remember something is probably lacking in their lives, not yours. Check for lumps. Try to get eight hours of sleep at a stretch as often as possible. Be thoughtful about money, fall in love with the right person, read a lot. Know that your family–they think of you as one of theirs. [pg 138]”

The book was good. There were parts that seemed a little unnecessary (like the stuff about her job that went on a little too long to hold my interest) but overall it was a good read. It sounds like it would be a tear-jerker type of a story, but it honestly wasn’t. There was some hope and closure.

 

4 ) The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

First off, this book is NOT for everyone. It’s very dark and will turn off a lot of people I think.
Second, this book is very very very well-written.

The story is dark and twisted. But the good news is that there weren’t a lot of really gross details. It kind of leaves it up to you to come to conclusions in your minds eye.

Lane is 16, living in NYC with her mother when her mom commits suicide. She’s sent to live with grandparents she never knew down in the South somewhere (Missouri?). She discovers she has a cousin, Allegra, who oddly looks a lot like her.

This is where Lane finds out about the Roanoke girls. All the women in her family died tragically or ran away and disappeared. She spends her summer with Allegra, falls in love with a local boy, and then something happens to make her run far away from Roanoke.

Flash forward about 10 years and Lane gets word that Allegra is missing. She returns reluctantly to Roanoke and tries to find out what happened.

The characters are all written brilliantly. They are complex and feel real and they are flawed and disturbed and the story is compelling. It was such a good read, but definitely not something everyone would like.

 

5 ) Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan

This is a sort of memoir, sort of collection of essays about some of the author’s hardest life lessons she’s learned. Some were good lessons, some were about death and grief.

The first lesson in grief was when he dad, whom she described as her hero, passed away:

“I walked next to him in that festival light for almost fifty years and then, one night in February, his hand went still in mine and here I am, same as ever, except quicker to anger and thirteen pounds heavier. [pg 26]”

She shared lots of stories of her father’s advice and wisdom. His biggest piece of advice was that she was “Good Enough.” She struggled a lot growing up and her father never criticized her mistakes, he knew she had to learn the lessons. He just wanted her to know he was there for her no matter what. It was very touching.

“Being in our lives as they are is probably one of the most common struggles people have. [pg 23]”

The next lesson in grief she experienced was when a close friend died after a long battle with cancer. They way the author described the woman, her dying, her family’s grief and healing afterwards, was very poignant and moving. It wasn’t overly sad, but inspiring.

She also wrote about motherhood and I appreciated that. I really liked this quote:

” ‘Thirteen is a pivotal moment, and not just because of mustaches and curves. It’s a time of explosive intellectual and emotional growth. But it’s also when life tends to get treacherous. They are going into the eye of the hurricane. We want our faith, our community, to help them find and feel their own power.’ What he meant by power was specifically the power to participate meaningfully in the world. [pg 204]”

I don’t know why it stood out so much for me, but it did. There were a lot of little tidbits in the book that made you really think.

6 ) Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

This is the second book by this author that I’ve read and even though I was a bit skeptical (and turned off by) the religious theme of the book, I ended up enjoying it a lot. She’s a good writer.  The first line of the book is “There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel’s, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits and also Jesus.” I can’t relate to ANY of those things…but I still liked the book!

Lena fled Alabama and has been living in Chicago going to school and dating an African American lawyer whom she loves and wants to marry but he insists on meeting her family first. She’s reluctant because they are openly racist and she left her hometown because of…something deeply dark and scary. She doesn’t want to go home but she doesn’t want to lose her boyfriend.

The book was funny at times, touching and also a bit uncomfortable (in relation to the open racism). But I liked the well-developed characters, the family, the surprise ending and the main character’s aunt.

Happy Reading!

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Best 10 Books of 2017

What makes a book a GOOD book?

For me, a good book is one I can’t stop reading. It’s a book that I stay up late reading because I keep saying “just one more chapter, then I’ll go to sleep.” A good book is a story that sticks with you long after you are done reading it.

I read a lot of books. I like gritty, well-written mystery/suspense books. Sometimes they can be a little graphic, which I know is not for everyone. I also love books that evoke serious emotions while reading it. These are the ones that stay with me for a long time.

Since I’ve already done full reviews on these books in previous posts, I won’t do it again here. But I did want to share my favorite 10 books of 2017. These are books that were so beautifully written, so poignant, so important in some way, that I hope everyone reads them! You can follow me on Goodreads, too.

Without further ado, the BEST BOOK I read of 2017 was LUCKY BOY.

1 ) Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

Most heart-breaking and most heart-warming story

 

2 ) The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Most Beautifully Written

3 ) Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

Most “Feel Good” book with a great message

4 ) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Best characters

5 ) Stillhouse Lake #1 by Rachel Caine

Most exciting, can’t-stop-reading book

 

6 ) Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Best story that stays with you

7 ) The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

Best Happy Tear-Jerker

8 ) The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Best book about grief, healing, motherhood and love

9 ) Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Best social movement/social justice book

10 ) Arrowood by Laura McHugh

Best gothic/atmospheric thriller

Happy reading!