12 September 2019

Books - August 2019

August ended with me finishing SIX more books. I doubt I can keep this kind of pace going now that I'm back to work for the school year. But it was fun while it lasted. It was an almost even split for August, with four books read for review, and two books read just for the heck of it. Enjoy!

Off the Grid by Robert McCaw

I read this one and reviewed it as 5 out of 5 stars for Books I Think You Should Read. It's the second in a series, and I think I would enjoy backtracking to the first book. The setting sounded beautiful (Hawaii), and the characters were engaging. Here's the official Amazon synopsis:

"A scrap of cloth fluttering in the wind leads Hilo police Chief Detective Koa Kāne to the tortured remains of an unfortunate soul left to burn in the path of an advancing lava flow. For Koa, it’s the second gruesome homicide of the day, and he soon discovers the murders are linked. These grisly crimes on Hawaiʻi’s Big Island could rewrite history—or cost Chief Detective Koa Kāne his career.The dead, a reclusive couple living off the grid, turn out to be mysterious fugitives. The CIA, the Chinese government, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, attempt to thwart Koa’s investigation and obscure the victims’ true identities. Undeterred by mounting political pressure, Koa pursues the truth only to find himself drawn into a web of international intrigue.
While Koa investigates, the Big Island scrambles to prepare for the biggest and most explosive political rally in its history. Despite police resources stretched to the breaking point, Koa uncovers a government conspiracy so shocking its exposure topples senior officials far beyond Hawaiʻi’s shores."

A Fist or a Heart by Kristin Eiriksdottir

This is another book that made me grateful to be a book reviewer. I don't think I ever would have picked this one up on my own, but I gave it 3 out of 5 stars in my review. The writing was beautiful, but I found the story a bit convoluted. If I hadn't promised to read it, it may have been set aside before I made it to the end.

"Elín Jónsdóttir lives an isolated existence in Reykjavík, Iceland, making props and prosthetics for theatrical productions and Nordic crime flicks. In her early seventies, she has recently become fascinated with another loner, Ellen Álfsdóttir, a sensitive young playwright and illegitimate daughter of a famous writer. The girl has aroused maternal feelings in Elín, but she has also stirred discomfiting memories long packed away. Because their paths have crossed before. One doesn’t remember. The other is about to forget.Soon they’ll discover all they have in common: difficult childhoods, trauma, and being outliers who have found space to breathe in creative expression. Yet the more Elín tries to connect with the young woman and unbox painful memories, the more tenuous her grasp on reality becomes.
Winner of the Icelandic Literary Prize, A Fist or a Heart is a gripping, artfully interwoven novel of power, secrets, and isolation by one of the most bracing and original voices of the author’s generation."

When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew by Hendrika de Vries

While the title is certainly a mouthful, this was one of my favorite books last month. I gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars in my review. One of the things I found most interesting was that this memoir takes place just a few blocks from where Anne Frank was hidden during the war.

"Born in the Netherlands at a time when girls are to be housewives and mothers and nothing else, Hendrika de Vries is a “daddy’s girl” until her father is deported from Nazi-occupied Amsterdam to a POW camp in Germany and her mother joins the Resistance. In the aftermath of her father’s departure, Hendrika watches as freedoms formerly taken for granted are eroded with escalating brutality by men with swastika armbands who aim to exterminate those they deem “inferior” and those who do not obey.
As time goes on, Hendrika absorbs her mother’s strength and faith, and learns about moral choice and forced silence. She sees her hidden Jewish “stepsister” betrayed, and her mother interrogated at gunpoint. She and her mother suffer near starvation, and they narrowly escape death on the day of liberation. But they survive it all―and through these harrowing experiences, Hendrika discovers the woman she wants to become."

Rival's Break by Carla Neggers

This was another book that had me ready to pack and head on vacation! The descriptions of life on the east coast of the U.S. were great. I reviewed this book on Books I Think You Should Read, where I gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
"Emma Sharpe is recovering from a shattering loss while her husband, Colin Donovan, is deep into his latest undercover mission. So they’re grateful to enjoy a peaceful autumn weekend together on the southern Maine coast to celebrate Colin’s brother Andy’s wedding.
But the peace is short-lived when Kevin Donovan, a marine patrol officer, receives a call to check on suspected food poisoning at a party aboard a yacht. Colin decides to tag along. He is surprised to recognize one of the victims as an undercover British intelligence officer, and it quickly becomes evident they’re dealing with something very sinister. At the same time a valuable painting by Irish artist Aoife O’Byrne—a friend of Emma and Colin’s—is missing from the yacht, and the connections make the investigation international and extremely personal.
Emma and Colin discover they are up against a deadly foe who plans to strike again. With the help of HIT, their small, elite Boston-based FBI team, they must foil an attack that will have devastating effects. It’s a case that will alter their lives beyond anything they’ve ever imagined…"

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

This one had been on my library waiting list for a while. I'm working my way through the trilogy now. This is the second book, and I think a movie is yet to be made of it. The first book and movie were both good. I'm on the library waiting list for the third book now. These are great, entertaining books that make it fun imagining how people so different than myself live. I'd give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.
"It’s the eve of Rachel Chu’s wedding, and she should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond, a wedding dress she loves, and a fiancé willing to thwart his meddling relatives and give up one of the biggest fortunes in Asia in order to marry her. Still, Rachel mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be there to walk her down the aisle. 
Then a chance accident reveals his identity. Suddenly, Rachel is drawn into a dizzying world of Shanghai splendor, a world where people attend church in a penthouse, where exotic cars race down the boulevard, and where people aren’t just crazy rich … they’re China rich."

Camino Island by John Grisham

Sometimes my motivation for reading a particular book can be a little funny. I picked up this one from my to-be-read pile because it was a small-ish paperback with short chapters, and you can't go wrong with John Grisham! This book spent the day in my backpack at Cedar Point amusement park, and I read tiny parts of it while waiting for the kids to go on the rides they enjoyed.

A book about collectible books?!? It was a fun premise, and I loved how it all played out. I'd give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars.

"A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, impossible to resist.        Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in unsavory ventures.     Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous monetary offer convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Cable’s circle of literary friends, to get close to the ringleader, to discover his secrets.
But soon Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise—as only John Grisham can deliver it."

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