Hi all, it’s been a minute, hasn’t it?
Reading so far in 2021 seems to be feast or famine – either I have some great books all in a row, or I read some they are “eh”, and get bogged down. But, here’s the latest I’ve been cruising though!
Red Widow by Alma Katsu sounded like my wheelhouse – a “behind the scenes” of spy life in the CIA, this time featuring a (somewhat) disgraced female agent who has been called in to find a mole who has exposed three top Russian assets. I love peeks at spycraft and a good whodunit, but I admit I struggled to get through this one. Lyndsey (the main character) just wasn’t super compelling to me… the pacing was super uneven… and it was a veeeerrry slow burn in my opinion, and just… nothing happened. For a really long time. Just… narrative. Oy.
Float Plan by Trish Doller was JUST the book I needed after a string of darker, dud-ish titles. Months ago, Anna lost her fiancé to suicide, even as they were planning to sail the Caribbean together. Anna impulsively decides to go on her own, and quickly realizes she’s out of her depth and needs help, thus hiring Keane, who is struggling with his own challenges. Everything about this novel filled my bucket – the exploration of the Caribbean islands, the foods and friends they make, the slow burn romance between Anna and Keane, how Anna grows as a person… it was just ahhhhh. I needed this lovely novel, for sure.
The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth was… ultimately disappointing, darn it! I LOVED Hepworth’s last novel (The Mother-in-Law) and the twists it included, and while this one is, I think, SUPPOSED to be twisty, it was telegraphed miles away. Rose and Fern are twins – Rose the responsible one, and Fern the one that needs taking care of (her quirks are revealed early and often for the reader to discern) – so when Fern decides to help Rose have the baby she always wanted, things get… odd. Hepworth’s writing is still fast and easy to get into and compelling, but for what I’m thinking is billed as a “psychological suspense”, it just kinda… wasn’t. I enjoyed it and enjoyed the unreliable narration, but it didn’t rock me back like her previous “domestic suspense” novels.
Too Good to be True by Carola Lovering is a tough one to review without spoilers – and you definitely don’t want spoilers for this suspense novel! Skye and Burke are two of the three (unreliable, of course) narrators, and are deeply in love and ready to marry – except that Burke is already happily married. So who is this third narrator? And who is playing who? And WHY? I couldn’t put this one down, and the twists rocked me back for sure – and I love it when that happens! The first half of the novel FLIES along, though admittedly, the second half (when the reader is clued in) moved more slowly to its conclusion – but I couldn’t wait to get there! This novel was entertaining, smart, fast, shocking and fun. Recommended for sure!
Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiney is a book about everything and nothing, and it was just what I wanted. 🙂 Jane, an elementary teacher, falls in love easily and quickly with Duncan, their small Michigan town’s Casanova, not knowing that loving Duncan means also being surrounded by his ex-wife, her husband, his employee, and all the other folks who move through their town. When tragedy strikes, all of their lives become even more entwined… and I loved being along for this lovely, meandering, funny, bittersweet, warm and welcome novel. This is a hard one to describe, but I really did love it. 🙂
Love Songs for Skeptics by Christina Pishiris was the perfect romance novel to take away to our cabin getaway. This fast, flirty, smartly written London-based romance pits Zoe, the editor of a music magazine, against the agent for some of the biggest names in music – and of course, sparks fly. 😉 Complicating things are the precariousness of the magazine’s future and an old (boy) friend returning to London and twisting Zoe’s feelings around completely. I really loved the sparks of this novel, and devoured in an afternoon. A great modern romance novel!
Broken by Jenny Lawson is a collection of essays that are by turns hilarious, heartbreaking, and human. Lawson writes about everything from mental illness to almost setting her house on fire with her vacuum. Her husband Victor is always in the background as the “straight man” to her hilarity, but some of her essays are truly heartbreaking, like how the medications that keep her mental health in check are constantly threatened by insurance, and how difficult it is to get help. I’ve never read Lawson’s books before, but I’m a convert now! (content warning: some of her material is NOT for everyone!)
How Iceland Changed the World: The Big History of a Small Island by Egill Bjarnason is a non-fiction book detailing the history and culture of Iceland from its earliest beginnings through today, including its influence on things like landing a man on the Moon, the formation of Israel, the election of the first woman elected President in the world, and the Viking influence on the island. Informative, but doesn’t take itself too seriously, this was a fun one to dip in and out of, since I loved Iceland when I visited in 2017. 🙂
Just My Luck by Adele Parks has such in intriguing premise – how a lottery win can tear apart friendships, families, and expose the dangers of greed. Six couples always played the lottery, but a week before “the big one”, two of the couples dropped out…. but still want their share. I found this novel less about the friendships and more about the rift in the lottery winner’s family, and the greed that runs rampant when money is no object. Fascinating, and really amped up in the last quarter or so (was slooow for me before that). Great premise!
You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes is the third in the “You” series, featuring bananapants main character Joe Goldberg. My entire review is this: no. Just… no. Kepnes should have quit when she was ahead. Nope. Skimmed about HALF of it just to get it done. Nope.