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With the holidays coming up, I thought I would share some of my recent reads here to help get you through the holiday season and reading, as well.
Whereas, I usually list the books I read chronologically in order of the way I read them, this time I thought I would group them by my overall rating.
Keep in mind most of my ratings range usually from 3 to 5 stars. As I mostly don’t give lower than a 3. Because if I feel that the book was only worthy of a 2 or lower, I most likely stopped reading it so as not to waste my time any further or I don’t rate it at all.
Conversely, I usually don’t give out as many 5 star rating unless the book truly struck a cord with me.
That said, take a look below now at what I have been reading and my ratings, too:
3 Star Rated Reads:
(Thank you to NetGalley for supplying me with ARC.) Upon first reading a sample of this book and initial reviews, I was mildly intrigued about the story of young olympic gymnast hopeful, Devon and how she had for strove for perfection with her family’s dedicated support, including her mother (Katie), her father (Eric) and her younger brother (Drew).
At the heart of this story was indeed Devon’s years of hard work to pave the way to the olympics. But when a monkey wrench in the form of a tragic and violent death rocks her close knit gymnastics community that is where the story is really supposed to take off.
However, early on, I would be remiss not to mention that the story just felt forced to me and about half way through I had pretty much guessed what and who had really caused the death of the young man in their community.
Honestly not sure, if I have been reading too many mystery/thrillers in the past or if the story was just that transparent, but still since I guessed what had happened pretty early on in the story, I was left feeling a let down in the end.
Also, as a side note, I really didn’t end up feeling any empathy or compassion for any of the characters in this book, because for the most part they all had very little in the way of redeemable qualities if any.
That said, I am not saying that this is book not to be read, but just giving a warning that if you are an avid reader of mysteries, you may also be able to figure out the reality of the crime in this novel. Therefore I would just say that you should read at your own risk.
This was one of the BOTM choices for the month of August. I originally had picked All the Wonderful and Ugly Things (which is still one of my favorites this year) to read, but then realized that I could read it free from NetGalley. However, I was too late in changing my selection for that month.
Still, I tried in vain to get a copy from OverDrive reading some of the reviews, but was on the waiting list even now as I was reviewing this here. So, I caved and bought the hard copy from Barnes and Noble using a 40% off coupon during their Labor Day promotional event.
That said, the book definitely was a contender when it first began with Laura (Lo) Blacklock being burgularized and assaulted in her home. As well as, with the early portions on the luxury liner ship she was staying on to review for the magazine she writes for, were definitely gripping.
However, as the book continued on, I felt like I was confused at times to say the least as to the interspersed thoughts and news being shared from the differing perspective of her boyfriend and family back home.
Also, the ending was in my opinion rushed and was left wondering why we didn’t get a better understanding as to what actually went down with the ship’s owner, Richard Bullmer and the Woman in Cabin 10.
Still, enjoyed this one, but just wished for stronger narrative and better payoff from the ending, as well.
(Thanks to NetGalley for ARC of this novel.) I am probably in the minority on this, but I have to admit that I was struggling to read this book, as well as truly get into it, too.
Maybe, because of all the hype I had heard about the two couples traveling together to Italy on vacation, I was just that taken in by this.
But still I was truly intrigued and couldn’t wait to read, Siracusa. That said, something was just missing and/or lacking for me. Don’t get me wrong, I got the overall plot of ex-lovers Finn and Lizzie possibly conspiring to spend this together even with their spouses, as well as Finn’s young daughter.
However, I saw right where the story was going with the two couples and the one couple’s daughter (Snow), as well as the twist. So, to me the thriller payoff just wasn’t, as sweet because of this.
It is a short read though and even more so why I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to fully immerse myself in this tale.
However, I have seen other reviews that have sang this book’s praises, so might just be me and wouldn’t rule it out to recommend for those interested in reading.
4 Star Rated Reads:
Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this novel, which was allowed for a special limited time due to it celebrating 10 years since it was originally released.
This was a book that I had wanted to read when it actually did first get published over 10 years ago, but somehow never did get around d to reading, but happy that NetGalley did offer it to finally give me the chance I didn’t get way back when.
The story of Cannie Shapiro, a 29 year old woman, who by society’s standards is considered plus-size, but in reality is just your normal average woman, who when this books opens has just had her heart and world crushed by her ex-boyfriend, Bruce. See, Bruce has taken to penning about his past relationship with Cannie in a national women’s magazine. His infamous article is titled, “Loving a Larger Woman”.
Just from the title alone, Cannie is sent reeling and left feeling downright miserable about herself. Therefore, it is this so-called article that catapults and jump starts the story.
I will say that this book was a fun and easy read and honestly was happy that I could join in on Cannie’s story and the path that this article lead her down for the year or so after it took place.
I have to admit that other than recently viewing Amy Schumer’s movie, Trainwreck I wasn’t much of a fan of hers. But after reading reviews for her book, as well as reading the sample on iBooks, I couldn’t help but want to read the rest of her book.
Because not only is she funny, but she told opened up about her life in such a way that you couldn’t help, but feel as though you were reliving these moments with an old friend even if that old friend just happens to be a now famous comedian and movie star.
Luckily, this book was the September BOTM.
That said, I read her book in between other books, I was reading as I am not usually one to read non-fiction or auto-biography’s. So this one was more or less like catching a new episode of a TV show I enjoy, but DVR’d that I just so happen to set some time aside when time permitted.
A plus for me is that Amy Schumer is a NY thirty-something girl, who just so happens to be from Long Island like I am, as well.
Therefore, I would recommend to all who are looking some good laughs, as well as being able to relate on some level if you are a female, who is in her mid to late thirties, as well.
I happen to truly enjoy Elin Hildenbrand’s writing and was excited to see that the end to this trilogy was to be available this month. So much so that I couldn’t wait to read how it all turned out for the Quinn family.
While the book was a bit on the fast side and some of the plot lines, such as toeing up the loose ends of Ava’s romantic love life or revealing the fate of the youngest Quinn child, Bart, who served in the marines only to be MIA in this book, were ended equally quickly in this one. Still enjoyed and was happy I did finish the ending to this trilogy.
Gave it a solid 4 stars and would indeed recommend if you are looking for a quick, but satisfying winter/holiday read.
As soon as the October BOTM was announced, I just knew by the description that I had to read, Good As Gone by Amy Gentry.
But still I have learned to be cautious of book reviews that seem to compare the latest novel to Gone Girl or Girl on the Train.
However, the story of Julie Whittaker, sounded intriguing if nothing else to me. See, Julie was kidnapped at 13 years old from her bedroom with the only witness being her younger sister, Jane. Then one night over 8 years later, Julie shows up at her parents home.
I will admit at first the story was a bit slow going. but, the fact of reading and having some knowledge that all was not as it seemed kept me intent on reading on.
Honestly, I am glad I did and by the end the story was wrapped up nicely making perfect sense.
My only real issue was with some of the flashbacks at first that went back and forth in time. They made the flashback portions seem a bit disjoined on the onset. Yet, towards the conclusion of the book, those same flashbacks finally helped to truly understand the motivation of most of the major players in this novel.
So, overall I would recommend seeing this one through to the end as I think the payoff in this suspenseful novel is well worth it.
5 Star Rated Reads:
With the September BOTM, I knew immediately I wanted to choose The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer. However, once I read the description for The Couple Next Door, I knew I had to read this book, as well.
See the premise of this novel is that a couple, Anne and Marco Conti go out for the evening to their next door neighbor’s home for a get together, but when their babysitter conceals on them last minute leave their 6 month old daughter, Cora by herself. You read that correctly, that these two parents leave their baby alone while hanging out with their neighbors and friends next door. Their reasoning is that they have the baby monitor to watch her, as well as checking on her every half hour.
But lo and behold, the baby goes missing and is kidnapped from their home during this time. Immediately the detective, who is assigned to the case doesn’t trust nor believe the couple’s story. He believes that there is more to this story and that one or both of the parents are actually involved in the baby’s disappearance.
I had my own theories and honestly wasn’t sure what to believe at first, but as I continued to read truly enjoyed learning what really happened piece by piece. As a mom, myself, also just couldn’t believe that anyone would indeed leave their infant baby alone even if they were only next door for an evening out. But did find myself feeling remorse for the mom as it seemed pretty believable that she didn’t want to do this, but had her arm twisted by her husband and neighbors. But still, admit I never would have been able to have my mind swayed so easily to do this to either of my kids when they were babies.
That said this was a fairly quick read, as well and finished in less than 2 days time. Would highly recommend and would also be remiss to not mention that this thriller kept me on the edge of my seat, which made me want to finish even quicker than I did.
I admit it has been a long time coming for me to pick up another Nicholas Sparks book to read, but none of his recent novels’ descriptions really called out to me.
However, when I read on Goodreads what his most recent novel, Two By Two, was about I knew I wanted to read it when it came out.
Well, I was in Barnes and Nobles actually looking to purchase Winter Storms, by Elin Hilderbrand. I realized that Two By Two had just recently been released and ended up purchasing it alongside the aforementioned book.
While, I have seen some of the negative feedback here I truly did enjoy the story of Russ Green, who by appearances sake had it all with a beautiful wife and perfect young daughter. But looks can most definitely be deceiving as in one year’s time, Russ’s whole perfect world comes crashing down when his wife leaves him for her billionaire boss. He is left to pick up the pieces, while almost solely raising their little girl. He thankfully has the support of his family, especially his older sister, Marge. Also, he reconnects with ex-girlfriend from years back.
While some of the story may be predictable to some, there are some plot lines, I didn’t see coming at first, especially with Russ’s sister.
The one thing, I can agree with many on Goodreads is that, I truly disliked Russ’s wife Vivian. As a wife and mother to two young girls, I just couldn’t believe how thoughtless, selfish and rude she was throughout most of the book.
That said, I am happily giving this one 4.5+ stars as I once again mostly enjoyed and glad I finally read another Nicholas Sparks’ book.
Happy Reading now.
Tell me what you have read lately in the comments now, too..