Monday, April 3, 2017

March Reading Recap

It seems that March was not the month to get back to blogging, but it was a good month for reading! Since I can't seem to find the time and energy to write full reviews, I'm going to provide a quick review of each of the books I read last month. Every one of these was 4-5 stars in my opinion. I'd recommend all of them.

Hilbilly Elegy book cover

I started Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance in February but finished it in March. This nonfiction book was my book club's March selection and we discussed it last week. It's a memoir by a man who grew up in Appalachia and the Rust Belt, and eventually made it through Yale Law School. It's a fascinating account of his personal life and life in general in this part of the country. He gets into the struggles that people face pulling themselves out of the poverty that they're born into, and what helped to set him free. I found the book to be informative and an excellent book club choice.

The Lake House book cover

The Lake House by Kate Morton is the only full-length novel that I read in March. This mystery that spans seven decades pulled me in and kept me interested to the end. It's about the disappearance of a little boy and one woman's investigation into what happened to him 70 years later. Morton intertwines two time periods ~ 1933 and 2003 ~ as she uncovers what happened on that fateful night of his disappearance. This was clearly much lighter than everything else I read this month, and I really enjoyed getting lost in Morton's mystery.

Orange is the New Black book cover

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman is a book I got through a "blind date" thing at my library. I honestly guessed at what was under the wrapping but I was intrigued by the story. I haven't seen the  Netflix show but I loved the book and evidently the show is only based on her story, it's not really the same story as the book. Anyway, this is all about Piper's year in prison and I have to say I learned a lot about minimum security prisons for women. I was pretty shocked by the level of freedom they have and intrigued by the way the women related to one another throughout their time together. Highly recommended if you like memoirs. This would make a great book club pick too!

A Sound of Thunder book cover

My son had a reading assignment that included a passage by Ray Bradbury and it reminded me of A Sound of Thunder, a short story that I remember listening to during English class in eighth grade. I couldn't resist picking up a book of his stories so I could reread this classic! It's such a cool story about time travel and the impact that one small change can have on the world.

Born a Crime book cover

Born a Crime is a memoir by Trevor Noah about his childhood growing up in South Africa. I learned so much about Apartheid and race relations in South Africa. Noah's story is unique since he is "colored" rather than black or white. He shares the challenges he faced trying to fit in with other kids who didn't look like him and the way his life was impacted so much by his race and politics in his country. I enjoyed this memoir and again, would recommend this one for book clubs. There are plenty of topics around race, South African politics, and the choices parents make to discuss.

I just realized that I read three memoirs in March. Maybe I should have started some sort of March Memoirs challenge or something! Too late, I suppose.

I'm going to link up with It's Monday! What Are You Reading? even though I'm talking about a whole month of books rather than just a week! I'd love to hear what you're reading too!

Monday, February 27, 2017

February Reading Recap

It's been about a month since I last linked up with It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Since that time I've done quite a bit of reading and have managed to post a few reviews! It's a miracle!

On the home front, February was a fun month partly because my daughter and I both got to celebrate our birthdays, mine at the beginning of the month and hers just this past weekend. I also got back into Instagram, which has been a lot of fun. My friend Kim at The Kim Six Fix hosted a month-long photo challenge, which was a blast. I think I'm going to join her March one too. You can follow me on Instagram at mybookretreat. Her challenges are for all types of bloggers so it's been fun to try to find a way to pull reading into her prompts!

As far as reading goes, here are the books that I read since my last update at the end of January (click on the images to see my reviews):




Now Reading:


I'm now reading Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance for my March book club. I'm about halfway through and it's pretty engaging and enlightening to hear about the culture of Appalachia and the Rust Belt from a man who grew up there and went on to graduate from Yale Law School.

What are you reading?

Book links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Book Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh


Title: I See You
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Genre: thriller
Published: February 21, 2017
Format: ebook (NetGalley)
Source: publisher
Buy on Amazon(affiliate link)



Have you ever felt like someone was watching you? You will after reading Clare Mackintosh's latest release I See You. Told from the perspectives of two women, one who appears to be targeted by a criminal and the other who is the police officer working the case, this psychological thriller will have you looking over your own shoulder by the end.

Zoe is a typical working mother who takes the Underground through London to her office every day. Like most commuters, she has a routine that she follows every day, leaving home at the same time, sitting in the same train car, taking the same route to work from the station. It's habit. But she starts to realize this may not be a good idea after seeing her own photo in an advertisement in the newspaper. Another woman who appears in the advertisement is murdered and Zoe starts to get worried.

Kelly is an officer with the British Transport Police who has a history that has kept her off the big cases recently. But when a case she's covering ends up connecting to a murder investigation, she gets herself involved as fast as she can. She helps to investigate the advertisements that seem to be related to crimes happening to women around the city.

I got sucked right into I See You. I haven't read a thriller in a while so it was fun to get into one. I had several suspicions throughout the book about what exactly was going on with the advertisements and who was behind it, but the twists were not what I expected. There's tons of suspense and tense moments for both Zoe and Kelly, as well as some growth for both characters during the story. I highly recommend I See You if you're looking for a psychological thriller that will keep you guessing.

Author Clare Mackintosh uses her background as a police officer to build the world and the characters she creates in her novels. Watch this video to hear more about it.

 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Review: Ashes by Steven Manchester

Title: Ashes
Author: Steven Manchester
Genre: contemporary fiction
Published: February 21, 2017
Format: paperback (advanced reading copy)
Source: author
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)



Jason and Tom Prendergast may be brothers but they haven't had anything to do with each other for years. Raised by an abusive single father, the boys went their separate ways and never looked back. But when their father dies, his last impact on their lives is to push them together into a road trip across the country to spread his ashes and receive some sort of mysterious reward. Neither brother wants to take the trip, but they can't resist the potential inheritance that may be waiting for them at the end.

Ashes by Steven Manchester takes us along for the ride while Jason and Tom are forced to spend an entire week in a car together, unwillingly revisiting their past because of the one man that they both can agree to hate. The frustrations of hearing them speak but not listen to each other, and the humorous antics they adopt to annoy one another, make the ride rather bumpy but entertaining for the reader. Their dysfunctional childhood is brought to life as they reminisce about the way their father simultaneously brought them together and drove them apart.

I enjoyed these two brothers who drove me crazy at times. There's a lot more to the story than just the past. We get a glimpse into their current lives in which they both face challenges and changes. Both men grow throughout the ride, not just in their relationship with each other but also as individuals. It's definitely a character-driven novel that takes them both through important life changes.

If you enjoy humorous family stories, and the adventure of a road trip, I recommend you pick up Ashes by Steven Manchester, which will be released tomorrow. 

Read my reviews of other books by Steven Manchester: 
The Rockin' Chair 
Gooseberry Island
Pressed Pennies

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Book Review: No Man's Land by Simon Tolkien


No Man's Land by Simon Tolkien is a new novel by the grandson of J R R Tolkien. It's a sweeping story of a man's journey from a young impressionable teen to a soldier in the Battle of the Somme.

Book Facts

Genre: historical fiction
Published: January 24, 2017
Format: hardcover
Source: Doubleday

For a bit of a change, I've decided to do a video blog to share my review. Yes, I held the camera the wrong direction but it's my first vlog so bear with me! Let me know in the comments what you think!