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Book Reviews

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The Best Books to Read this Spring

As a writer, I read a lot of books.

In the last three months, I estimate I’ve read somewhere between 14 to 18 books.  Seriously, I read about one book a week. Which means I am more than four months behind on watching This Is Us and that is not a show you can binge watch because EVERY episode makes you cry! Also, I have only watched one episode of Big Little Lies and Sunday night is the finale. Basically I should walk around in life with a “No Spoilers” sign around my neck.

Reading is how I unwind after work, relax on the weekends and power down before going to bed at night. To support my reading habit without going broke buying books, I have a library card and an Audible account. Also with my Amazon Prime membership, you get one free Kindle download a month.

As far as the genre of books I prefer, I’ve gone through different phases. In my teens, I loved mystery, sci-fi and crime fiction. Then I graduated to romance novels literature, and women’s fictions. Right now I read mostly women’s fiction, Christian non-fiction and biography/memoirs.  I’ve committed to writing a book proposal this year, so I’ve also been reading books about writing and guides for writing memoirs. I’ll admit I am a little embarrassed that I checked out Memoir Writing for Dummies from the library, but I need guidance!

My Book Recommendations

Spring and Summer months are not as busy as the fall and winter, when it comes to my job in engineering. Which means I have more time to read!  As the weather gets warmer, I enjoy sitting outside on the patio and reading all afternoon. If you are like me, you need a good book to get lost in during Spring Break, Summer Vacation or just a sunny afternoon. All you need is some recommendations about what to read.

I’ve pulled together a list of the Best Books to Read this Spring.  These are all fiction books, ones that allow you to get lost in the story as you turn page after page. This list mainly contains recent releases, meaning books that were released in the last 6 to 12 months.  So most of them can be found in the library, or you can order them directly from Amazon or download them to your Kindle.

I have to include a disclaimer here: “I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”.

What does that mean?  Well if you click on one of the links below and purchase a book on Amazon, I will receive a small commission from your purchase. This good news is I will probably spend this money on books, which allows me to keep writing posts about books I recommend and we both benefit! If you prefer not to buy a book, then go to your local library and check it out for free. (This is how I keep my book budget in check)!

Best Books to Read This Spring

The Nest by Cynthia D’Prix Sweeney – released March 2016 (borrowed from the library)

“A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.” – via Amazon.

My comments on this book: The Nest was a hot topic in 2016, not for the actual content of the book but for the fact that the first time author received a one million dollar advance to write this book. I have read mixed reviews but I thought this was an easy read and finished it in one day. There is some criticism for the prologue, which includes an impressive paragraph long run on sentence. I think this part of the book did not match the writing style of the rest of the book and could have been left out entirely, but overall it did not distract from the story.

Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty – released July 2016 (borrowed from the library)

“The new novel from Liane Moriarty, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies, and What Alice Forgot, about how sometimes we don’t appreciate how extraordinary our ordinary lives are until it’s too late.

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.” – via Amazon.

My comments on this book: I’ve read at least three other books by this author and I’m a big fan. Her style of writing leaves you hanging at the end of each chapter, so you never want to put the book down. This story jumps back and forth between present day and two months prior, to the day of “the incident” during a cookout.  The first half of the book keeps you guessing about what happened on that sunny Sunday afternoon, while the second half is focused on restoration of the relationships afterwards.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – released September 2016 (borrowed from The Cuppa)

“Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.” – via Amazon.

My comments on this book: It took me awhile for this book to draw me in, but eventually I was invested in reading more about the lives of six children who are thrown together after their parents divorce and remarry. After the initial anger about their new family arrangement fades, unlikely bonds are formed.  This story is about two broken, damaged families and the lives they live after loss.  However love is still present and it binds them together in a story that spans 50 years.  

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews – released May 2016 (Purchased on Audible)

“Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends-and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.

Told with Mary Kay Andrews’ trademark blend of humor and warmth, and with characters and a setting that you can’t help but fall for, The Weekenders is the perfect summer escape.” – via Amazon.

My comments on this book: When you pack for summer vacation, be sure to throw this book in your beach bag.  It is the ultimate fun, intriguing, easy beach read.  The story is centered on Riley, who is headed to Belle Isle off North Carolina to spend the summer with her daughter. Instead of enjoying a lazy summer at the shore, Riley spends the summer months dealing with her husband’s personal and financial betrayal.    

The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna Everhart – released October 2016 (borrowed from the library)

“In 1969, Dixie Dupree is eleven years old and already an expert liar. Sometimes the lies are for her mama, Evie’s sake—to explain away a bruise brought on by her quick-as-lightning temper. And sometimes the lies are to spite Evie, who longs to leave her unhappy marriage in Perry County, Alabama, and return to her beloved New Hampshire. But for Dixie and her brother, Alabama is home, a place of pine-scented breezes and hot, languid afternoons.

Narrated by her young heroine in a voice as sure and resonant as The Secret Life of Bees’ Lily or Bastard Out of Carolina’s Bone, Donna Everhart’s remarkable debut is a story about mothers and daughters, the guilt and pain that pass between generations, and the truths that are impossible to hide, especially from ourselves.” – via Amazon.

My comments on this book: Dixie is a daddy’s girl and only seems to make her mama mad. One time after her mama leaves bruises on her face, she decides to lie to her daddy to keep them from fighting. Unfortunately, her parents unhappy marriage continues to unravel and all her mama talks about is moving back to New Hampshire. Dixie has never met her mama’s family, so she wonders why her mama is so secretive. This story focuses on the secrets that we keep, even from our own family. 

 Here I Go Again by Jen Lacaster – released January 2013 (borrowed from the library)

“Twenty years after ruling the halls of her suburban Chicago high school, Lissy Ryder doesn’t understand why her glory days ended. Back then, she was worshipped…beloved…feared. Present day, not so much. She’s been pink-slipped from her high-paying job, dumped by her husband and kicked out of her condo. Now, at thirty-seven, she’s struggling to start a business out of her parents’ garage and sleeping under the hair-band posters in her old bedroom.

Lissy finally realizes karma is the only bitch bigger than she was. Her present is miserable because of her past. But it’s not like she can go back in time and change who she was…or can she?” – via Amazon.

My comments on this book: If you are looking for another fun, easy beach read,  this is it! Twenty years after high school, Lissy is still the same self-centered, image obsessed, mean girl who never grew up.  What would her life be like if she could go back to high school and change her mean girl ways? Funny, fast-paced and the perfect book to read while laying by the pool. 

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson – released February 2016 (borrowed from the library)

“A fiercely independent divorce lawyer learns the power of family and connection when she receives a cryptic message from her estranged mother in this bittersweet, witty novel from the nationally bestselling author of Someone Else’s Love Story and gods in Alabama—an emotionally resonant tale about the endurance of love and the power of stories to shape and transform our lives.

The Opposite of Everyone is a story about story itself, how the tales we tell connect us, break us, and define us, and how the endings and beginnings we choose can destroy us . . . and make us whole. Laced with sharp humor and poignant insight, it is beloved New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson at her very best.” – via Amazon.

My comments on this book: This book surprised me in a good way. I love a story about stories, so this book was one of my favorites.  Even though we may have hurt, loss or pain in our past, we have the power to change our future.  This is a story about redemption, love and the power of new beginnings. Sometimes we have to be willing to risk losing the ones we love, in order to do what is best for ourselves.  Touching, sweet, sad and powerful. 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – released July 2016 (borrowed from the library)

“In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.” – via Amazon.

My comments on this book: This book has been compared to a faster-paced “Women on the Train,” and after finishing it I agree. It has the same elements of a missing woman, multiple suspects and a hysterical witness.  The boat setting was a little distracting for me, as I kept trying to create a mental picture of the boat and the other guests on board.  Completely unbelievable story line but it was still a quick, fun read.

What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan – released December 2015 (borrowed from the library)

“In a heartbeat, everything changes… Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most. Where is Ben? The clock is ticking…” – via Amazon.

My comments on this book:  The thought of losing a child is a nightmare for any parent. This story is written from Rachel’s point of view, when her son vanishes after she lets him run ahead of her at the park. The crushing heartbreak, the attention of the media and the awkward interaction with her ex-husband and new wife make you sympathize with Rachel. However, I still had a hard time connecting with the main character. I would say this is a good (not great) read.

What is your favorite genre to read? What are you currently reading? Do you have any recommendations for what I should read next?  Leave me a comment!