"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

August Books


The Girl Who Survived by Lisa Jackson -- An OK book. I probably won't look for more from this author unless I get bored of others. Kara was nearly 8 years when most of her family is murdered in their mountain cabin. Twenty years later, her brother Jonas is released from prison due to a technicality that his lawyer found. She's reliving a lot of what happened back then and dealing with his sudden release.

I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Year Away by Bill Bryson -- Since I recently read his two books about living in and touring Britain, I decided to read another one, and it happened to be the one he wrote while his family lived in the US. (They are back in Britain now, last I checked. He married an Englishwoman.)  This book was actually a collection of newspaper columns that he wrote for a British audience so it was interesting to see what he wrote about being back in the US. Some parts made me chuckle out loud whereas a few parts were new to me (like some post office customer appreciation day. Maybe that just happened in his part of New Hampshire.) Anyway, a pretty cute book.

Count the Nights by Stars by Michelle Shocklee -- Told from the perspective of Audrey in the 1960s and one of the older tenants at the Maxwell House Hotel where her dad is the manager. Priscilla has lived as a near-recluse at the hotel for twenty years. When she suffers a stroke and Audrey is tasked with going through her belongings, she learns there is more to Miss Nichols' life than she thought. Pretty good.

Carved in Stone by Elizabeth Camden -- I realized I had book 2 on hand and hadn't read book 1 in this series (The Blackstone Legacy) so I ordered book 1 from the library and here it is. Gwen Blackstone Kellerman is a widow at age 29. Her love is the college where researchers were looking for cures for tetanus and botulism, things that disproportionately affected the lower classes. But the college is a money pit according to many in her wealthy family, and there is talk that the uncles want to discontinue funding it. Meanwhile Patrick O'Neill is hired to represent Mick Malone in his scathing memoir of the Blackstone family. Decent book. 

The Disinvited Guest by Carol Goodman -- This book takes place about ten years after the global pandemic that we lived through (are living through) when another virus is causing folks to isolate and all that fun stuff. Instead of living in the city, Reed and Lucy along with a handful of friends and family move to Reed's family's island off the coast of Maine where a lot of creepy stuff takes place.  Pretty good.

Look Closer by David Ellis -- A new author for me, but I saw this one on the New Books online list and decided to try it. Simon and Vicky are a sweet couple married nearly ten years, but they want different things. Simon wants children; Vicky does not. Vicky plans to divorce him soon after their tenth anniversary. She has to stay married to him at least ten years in order to get money from his trust. Meanwhile Simon has reconnected with a former love, Lauren, who is back in the Chicago area after nineteen years.  Pretty good mystery type book.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager -- After her father dies, Maggie is surprised to learn that her childhood home - the one her family fled because it was haunted - had never been sold and she'd inherited it. Now a house flipper, Maggie is determined to fix up Baneberry Hall and find out the reason her family fled without any of their belongings. Is it truly a haunted house or is there some other explanation? Pretty good.

Written on the Wind by Elizabeth Camden -- Book 2 in The Blackstone Legacy. I don't love this series as much as I liked other books that I remember from her. I remember really enjoying her books years ago, but these are just ok. Not bad, but not overly-interesting to me. Dmitri is Natalia's Russian contact whom she has a telegram relationship with. Both are mentioned in book 1, and their story is fleshed out in this one. Likeable enough characters really, but maybe not the most interesting story...I don't know.

Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard -- A story about Jackie Bouvier and her friendship with Lem Billings, a good friend to John "Jack" Kennedy. This book is told through the eyes of an older Lem about Jackie's friendship and becoming engaged to Jack. I must admit that I am not a fan of the Kennedy men (especially as they are portrayed in books I've read).  Decent story. It was a quick read.

Wish You Were Gone by Kieran Scott -- Emma deals with the aftermath of her husband's accidental death: he drove into the garage wall while driving drunk, but something about it seems a little off. Emma along with her friends Lizzie and Gray do a bit of investigating. Pretty good.

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center -- A cute, light, quick read about Hannah Brooks, a protection agent who gets assigned to a Hollywood star who has come home to Texas in order to be there for his mom who is undergoing surgery for cancer. To keep her cover, Hannah has to pose as Jack's girlfriend and stay at the family ranch. Pretty cute story. 

More Than You'll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez -- The Spanglish was a bit off-putting to me at times (mostly because I didn't know all the words), but overall I liked this book pretty well. Cassie is a true-crimes blogger who is looking into the story of Lore who was married to two men at once: one in the US and the other in Mexico. As she meets with Lore, she finds out more details about the night her first husband allegedly killed her second husband. The author mentions in the back that she wanted to represent Mexican-Americans and their Spanglish which made me see it more positively because I did wonder why she put so much of it in the book.

Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins -- Lillie is a nurse-midwife on the Cape who is shocked when her husband takes her to their favorite restaurant only to tell her that he's leaving her for a beautiful, rich widow who moved into town. This was actually a pretty good story sharing Melissa, the rich widow-turned husband stealer, and Lillie's perspectives.

Looking for Leroy by Melody Carlson -- Brynna is a third grade teacher who decides to tag along with the vice principal as VP Jan takes a road trip in Oregon and California over the summer break. As they pass through a certain area, Brynna remembers a summer camp she attended nearly thirty years ago - and a young fellow whom she liked a lot! Whatever happened to Leroy anyway? As they drive through wine country, Jan and their new BFF Mike decide Brynna should reconnect with her lost love, but how do you find a certain vineyard among so many?  Pretty cute, clean book.  I actually liked parts of it better than the ending when Brynna got a little too flip-floppy for my tastes. Easy read.

The Housekeeper by Joy Fielding -- Another easy read for me, and totally different from the one just above. Jodi Bishop is the less-favored daughter who is looking out for her parents when she interviews and hires a live-in housekeeper for them. Her dad is nearly 80 caring for her mom who has had Parkinson's for years so why not? Elyse Woodley is helpful, attractive, attentive - she checks all the boxes and then some. But why does eventually things turn sour?

The Swell by Allie Reynolds -- When Kenna's BFF, now living thousands of miles away in Australia, mentions her upcoming wedding without asking Kenna to attend, Kenna decides to leave her life in London for a month to see how Mikki is doing - and to see about her intended husband. Why the rush of marrying someone anyway?  When Kenna just shows up on Mikki's porch, she's invited inside, but things are awkward between the friends. When Mikki's fiancĂ© gets home, he tells Kenna that they are leaving soon for a place they go to surf, a private location in a national park! Thus follows a Tribe of surfers - Sky, Victor, Ryan, Jake, Clemente, Jack, and Mikki - who try to keep a location in a national park off-limits to everyone else. Lots of talk of surfing, facing your fear, and such in this book, but maybe not in a wholesome way.

The 2% Way by Myron L. Rolle, MD, MSc --"How a Philosophy of Small Improvements Took Me to Oxford, the NFL, and Neurosurgery" ; The author was a small child when he moved from the Bahamas to New Jersey with his parents and four older brothers. In this book he talks some about his heritage and childhood, and then devotes chapters to his time playing college football at Florida State, his applying for a Rhodes scholarship, his months in England, his experience with the NFL, and furthering his education and helping out in the Bahamas after a hurricane devastated the region and his experience working in Massachusetts General Hospital during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Andrew read this book and told me I'd probably like it so I decided to read it before returning it to the library. Interesting story! A quick read, too.

Black Widows by Cate Quinn -- I wasn't sure I was going to like this book about Blake and his three wives, Rachel, Emily, and Tina. When Blake is found dead, the wives are suspected in his murder. Chapters alternate from each woman's point of view as they search for clues about what happened.

The Challenge by Danielle Steel -- I don't usually read this author, but this book seemed different from ones I used to associate with her. Wow...I got to the place where I was like, this is amusing because it's got so much going on. Like Tom moved to Fishtail, Montana, from New York City because he's tired of the big-city rat race. His wife said no way and files for divorce. Their daughter visits her dad his first summer in Montana and befriends a group of guys and they all hang out together and get lost on a mountain. I actually thought this was what most of the book was about, but that happened about 1/4 of the way in and was resolved fairly quickly.  Then it just meanders on about how these families deal with things: like one dad has pancreatic cancer and one of the boys has an insulin pump due to juvenile diabetes. It was an easy, relatively-short book, but not what I had in mind when I put it on hold at the library. Definitely not a good thriller.

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell -- When a mudlarker finds a bag of bones on the shore of the Thames, the London police move to identify the body and then figure out how this person's bones came to wash up over two decades later. Meanwhile Lucy and her children are house hunting, Rachel is dealing with the aftermath of a disastrous quickie marriage and Henry travels to Chicago searching for Phin. An OK story.