Book Report: Quick Reviews of What I’ve Been Reading

It’s been a while since we’ve talked books. That’s probably because my reading has slowed way down (I read 32 books in 2020 and just 8 so far this year). I have some ideas about why (social media being a big reason) but I’m not stressing out about it too much and just letting things be for now.

Still, I wanted to share with you what I have read lately. A word about these reviews: I generally don’t finish books I don’t like (although there’s an exception this time) so if a book makes this report I was at least interested enough to read to the end.

Also, this post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. More details are here if you’re interested.

Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen details how he went from covering crimes as a journalist to investigating them himself. I was super intrigued by how he used the internet to crowdsource clues and information. He also outlines how other citizen sleuths can do the same thing if they are so inclined. I was interested in Billy’s book because of his role in the Golden State Killer case (see Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark) and his Unraveled podcast about the Long Island Serial Killer which Tom and I listened to and enjoyed on car trips.

The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis. Michael Lewis is a master of writing non-fiction that reads like fiction (The Big Short, The Blind Side, Moneyball) and if you like that genre, you’ll love this book. The Premonition: A Pandemic Story tells the story of several people who saw the pandemic coming, but couldn’t get anyone high up enough to listen and implement their solutions. Their stories (both pre-pandemic and during) are fascinating. There is exactly one blurb on the back cover of the book by John Williams of the New York Times Book Review: “I would read an 800-page history of the stapler if (Michael Lewis) wrote it.” I agree!

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. I’ll be honest: I hated this book about a too-good-to-be-true newlywed couple whose private lives are nothing like what they show to the outside world. The premise is interesting but the writing was repetitive and the story was more than a little disturbing. I usually don’t finish books I’m not into but Behind Closed Doors was a book club book and I wanted to be able to discuss it. Many of us agreed that there was a promising storyline that we thought was going somewhere and ended up being mostly dropped. That was an opportunity missed, in my opinion, and would have made a far more interesting book.

I haven’t read a Jennifer Weiner book in years and after reading and enjoying Big Summer I have to wonder why. The main character Daphne is a plus-size influencer whose old frenemy Drue comes back into her life to ask her to be her maid of honor at her high-profile wedding on Cape Cod. (Okay, already I’m in!) What follows is a little bit romance, a little bit mystery, and a story about the complexities of female friendship. I enjoyed this one so much so that I picked up Jennifer Weiner’s 2021 release That Summer to read soon.

My small book club read The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradaland it was such an unexpected pleasure. Two sisters in the Midwest become estranged after their father leaves the family farm entirely to one of them. That sister, Helen, goes on to help found one of the country’s most successful breweries while the other sister, Edith, lives a quieter, simpler, but meaningful life. Years later, Edith’s granddaughter, Diana, finds herself involved in the brewing industry and that has implications for all involved. The characters in this book are so well written; I absolutely loved this read.

The Last Flight by Julie Clark. Claire and Eva, two women in very different but equally problematic circumstances meet randomly in an airport bar and decide to switch tickets so they can each disappear for a while to work out their situations. But when Eva’s flight crashes, Claire realizes she has a chance at a whole new life. This was a highly entertaining book that kept me turning pages until the surprise ending.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre set in the south. Our main character Jane meets and falls in love with Eddie Rochester while working as a dog walker in Thornfield Estates (see what the author did there?) but the memory of Eddie’s deceased wife Bea, who founded a successful lifestyle business before her death, keeps popping up. As Jane learns more about Bea she questions whether she and Eddie can ever be free of her. The Upstairs Wife was a fast, fun, easy read; perfect for summer!

Camino Winds by John Grisham is the sequel to Camino Island, where the same main character, bookstore owner Bruce Cable, finds himself in the middle of a hurricane and then a murder mystery on the Florida island where he lives. Bruce decides to ride out the storm, as does his friend Nelson, but when Nelson winds up dead his death seems not to be a result of the storm, as first assumed. With the police overwhelmed by the aftermath of the hurricane, Bruce decides to investigate himself. While these books are a departure from Grisham’s usual legal thrillers, they are still the highly entertaining, fast-paced stories that Grisham is known for. Great beach reads!

What have you been reading? Anything good?

P.S. 5 reasons I love being a Book of the Month subscriber and what I’m loving right now.

One Comment

  1. Thanks for this review! I needed some fiction book suggestions and this is perfect!

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