Jana Says and Life According to Steph for hosting the Show Us Your Books link-up and holding me accountable for tracking my reading.
June was a month of ups and downs! I celebrated my birthday, but the day before that, my computer ended up with a virus. Hubs didn't hear me say to save anything with 'book' in the title of the folder, so I lost all of my book reviews (although they're published on either my site or the site I write for), and even more unfortunately, I lost my whole spreadsheet of books I have for review in the next few months. I chose to recreate that on Google Docs so it's in the cloud now. And I'm so thankful for the woman I work with for sharing her records of what I had coming. Between that and emails, we're back up and running. But I really never want to repeat that whole experience.
My drama isn't what you're here for - let's get to the books!
Daring to Live: How the Power of Sisterhood and Taking Risks Can Jump-Start Your Joy by Sheri Hunter - When Sheri Hunter's husband died unexpectedly, she was blessed to have a group of strong and supportive friends. They helped Sheri pull through the devestation and depression after her loss and were with her while Sheri learned to enjoy life again. Thank you to the publisher for my copy of the book. Receiving the book for free did not influence my opinions. My full 3/5 star review is at Books I Think You Should Read. ⭐⭐⭐
A Royal Kiss and Tell (A Royal Wedding #2) by Julia London - I enjoyed this amusing historial romance. Lady Caroline is sassy and expects most of the men in a room she occupies to be susceptible to her charms. Prince Leopold seems to be the exception, and she can't figure out why. Over time, we can guess how it all will end, but there's also an extra mystery they're solving to save poor young women from a neighboring country. I was happy to receive this book from the publisher and Netgalley, but it didn't influence my 4/5 star review (here). ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han - The books and Netflix movies in this series are all so much fun! Since they have all been about Lara Jean Covey's romantic and high school life, I'm thinking this is the end of the road. She graduates in this, the third book in the series. Or will we meet again when she's in college? I borrowed this book from the library and gave it 4/5 stars in my full review here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Electric Heir (Feverwake #2) by Victoria Lee - This is the second book in the duology, and I'd definitely recommend reading them both in order. This dystopian fiction examines the leader of a soceity that has been devestated by a virus that kills most adolescents, and leaves those who survive with unique powers. I was excited to receive this one from the publisher to review after reviewing the first book when it was released last year (free books don't influence my reviews). Together they are one of my favorite dystopian series. My full 4.5/5 star review for the second book is here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Conference of the Birds (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #5) by Ransom Riggs - I really, really love the premise of this story, and the movie based on the first book. Unfortunately, this book feels like it's running out of unique plot. We've got a new peculiar child, Noor, who is introduced to loop life, while all the kids work to find her role in it all, and keep them all safe. I'll keep reading and always need to know what comes next, but this book just warranted a 3/5 stars for me. I borrowed the book from the library and shared my full review here. ⭐⭐⭐
Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Díaz - This powerful memoir told the sometimes painful story of a poor, abused teenager growing up in Miami. But the author's tone was never 'poor me.' She acknowledged that while some of her choices weren't the best, they often were the least-worst given the circumstances she found herself in. I respected her story and what she's made of herself since. While I received the book from the publisher and Netgalley, this didn't influence my 3/5 star review, shared here. I'd recommend this book for those who enjoy memoirs. ⭐⭐⭐
Final Judgment (Samantha Brinkman #4) by Marcia Clark - Other reviewers have said that this series is going downhill. If that's true, I've got some back-tracking to do. I enjoyed this, the fourth book. Sam Brinkman is a sassy and smart defense attorney who enjoys a great rapport with the two friends who work in her office. In this book, her boyfriend is the prime suspect in the murder of an investment manager who lost a lot of people a lot of money. While investigating that, she also finds out about the rape of a 15-year-old girl who doesn't want to go public. Thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book. Receiving the book for free did not influence my 3.5/5 star review (read my review here). ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards - Genevieve Dumont is an international star, welcome to perform anywhere in 1944. She is the Nazi's darling, only because they don't know she's working with a network of spies. What a great cover! I enjoyed this historical fiction and reviewed it here. Receiving the book from the publisher and Netgalley did not influence my review. I gave it 3/5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐
Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein - This was a quick read that could have been fluff, but instead chose to mention the mostly retired gymnast and her student dealing with the gymnastic community's response to a scandal of a doctor abusing his high-level gymnast patients. Sounds a bit familiar, and infuriating every time. I liked the gymnast-turned-coach story, and the character's (and author's) use of their platform to share real-life problems. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy of the book. Receiving it for free did not influence my 3.5/5 star review - read it in full here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Last Sword Maker (The Course of Empire #1) by Brian Nelson - What a page-turner! What could have been a complicated story of science and international intrigue was exceptionally well-written. I found it easy to understand and very engaging. It's a race for the top science minds in the U.S. and China to reach replication and weaponize their science first. Whoever wins will have the most power in the world. I'm excited to read the next book in this dystopian series. Thanks to the publisher for my copy, although receiving it for free did not influence my review. I gave it 4/5 stars here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Prairie Fever by Michael Parker - Getting to know Lorena, Elise and Gus was an interesting process. They each had a unique narrating voice about their life and experiences on the prairie. While I enjoyed it, reading about each incident they chose to reflect on from each perspective was a bit tedious. The language was beautiful and descriptive, but sometimes redundant. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy, the receipt of which did not influence my review. Read my full review here, where I gave it 3/5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐
Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics by Heather Lende - The author's take on life in her small town in Alaska is amusing. She's actually written a few books. This one is about the time she ran for, and served on, the town assembly. I always find it interesting to hear what other people think is important. This sums up several observiations made by the author as an assembly person. She wants what's best for the town, but she's also friends with most of the residents, and doesn't want to risk those relationships either. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy of the book. I would recommend it to those interested in life in Alaska, or small town politics. My unbiased 3/5 star review is here. ⭐⭐⭐
No One Will Hear Your Screams by Thomas O'Callaghan - This book had great build-up. And I'll admit I love a little bit of religious ritual with serial killings. With an initial rage from his Catholic school upbringing and abuse, this killer goes to the extreme with his killings, and the presentations of his victims. Unfortunately, as I thought back on the story, there were several loose ends that I wish I knew more about. Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book. Receiving the book for free did not influence my opinions. My 3/5 star review is available here. ⭐⭐⭐
The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele - While dystopian or speculative fiction is usually one of my favorite genres, this book was unique within that. I really liked it a lot, but it was a more hopeful vibe than I usually feel from this type of book. The U.S. has been ravaged by a flu before the whole infrastructure shuts down. Carson is trying to make his way across the country to his girlfriend, Beatrix. Beatrix is trying to create a new community and hope within the ravaged neighborhood where she lived with two roommates, until they left for a commune further north. They both provided an interesting view of all the conveniences we take for granted. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy of the book. This did not influence my review. Read my full 4/5 star review here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton - I settled quickly into this book, as my daughter and I had just enjoyed watching Hidden Figures. While the details were quite different, the book and the movie were set in a similar time and location. The book was a unique view that I hadn't seen discussed before. Ruth Robb has moved with her family from New York to Atlanta. While being Jewish in New York was pretty common, in Atlanta her grandparents send her to a private Methodist school, and she hears of KKK actions agains negroes and Jews in Atlanta and surrounding communities. She decides to not discuss being Jewish with her school friends, and only go to synagogue when her mother insists. It all seems to be working out for her til the temple is bombed and her two worlds collide. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my free copy of the book. This did not influence my 4/5 star review, which can be read in its entirety here (there's also a giveaway that ends 7/16/20). ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Falling Woman by Richard Farrell - While the premise of this story (a woman falls from an exploding aircraft and survives) sounds farfetched, the cases cited within the book are true. People have survived miraculous falls from planes that scientifically don't sound possible. In the story, Charlie Radford is a NTSB investigator who starts out identifying bodies from the crash, but he then goes on to be in charge of finding the one missing body - perhaps an unlikely survivor? Erin is the woman he finds, but he initially doesn't believe her story. He's not sure where she came from, but it couldn't have been that plane, right? The best part of this book was the examination by Charlie and Erin of their own conscience, motivation, and how to do the right thing, as much as they can. I received this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my unbiased review. Read my full 4/5 star review here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The computer snafu has gotten a lot of things sideways for me. I keep finding books with promised review dates that have already passed - whoops. Right now I'm reading Fire and Vengeance by Robert McCaw (thanks to the publisher), Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld (thanks to the library), and I just finished Mayhem by Estelle Laure (thanks to the publisher and Netgalley).
Planning to Read:
Later today I'll start No One Saw by Beverly Long (excited for this, the second in a series I've received from the publisher and Netgalley), and then The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull and The Lives of Edie Pritchard by Larry Watson (thank you to the publishers and/or Netgalley).