September 2019 Book Reviews | On the Daily EXPRESS

9/10/19

September 2019 Book Reviews

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Welcome to my September 2019 Book Reviews!  It wasn't an epic reading month by any means since there was a lot going on with Back to School and what not. But almost everything I read was reasonably enjoyable, so I'll just say I went for quality over quantity! Here's a look at my selections this month followed by my reviews!

Someone We Know by Shari LaPena
Basic Plot: A neighborhood is full of secrets that all start coming because someone spies and someone dies.
Read Via: Kindle
My Verdict: Enjoyed. Shari LaPena is a solid suspense writer for me and this one did not disappoint. I don't think it had quite the same, "OMG must turn pages" factor that her book The Couple Next Door had for me, but it was still entertaining throughout. There were plenty of possible suspects for the murder to keep me guessing and it was a fun ride seeing how it all played out. I'm not going to say I strongly recommend it since it didn't have anything especially new or unique to make it really stand out from other suspense novels, but I don't regret reading it.

Hello Lovelies by Hayley DeRoche
Basic Plot: A small time blogger who looks up to Top Bloggers (but also loves reading her favorite Blogger Gossip site) plots away to befriend her favorite Top Blogger.
Read Via: Audible (Audible Exclusive)
My Verdict: Entertaining and Annoying. The narrator for this book had a really cute voice that reminded me a lot of Kristen Bell, which I thoroughly enjoyed. That said, she had a tendency to pronounce the name Jessica with two syllables rather than three (dropping the "i"). That name seemed like it was the most used word in the book, and that pronunciation really started to irritate me over time. Second, the characters in this book used the F-word a lot. If you've read any books I've read, you'll know I'm not a stranger to seeing this word in print (or hearing it on audio), and yet somehow for this book and these characters, it seemed excessive. That's just one of those personal preference things, but for my preference it was overdone. Those are some of my nit-picky details, but in general the book was okay. It was amusing to me because of the fictional yet kind of realistic behind the scenes look at the Influencer world, but the plot was a bit predictable and the characters not especially likeable, so it wasn't a favorite or a "must read."

I'm Fine and Neither are You by Camille Pagan
Basic Plot: Adulting is hard. Penny struggles to manage her marriage, family, friendships and career while dealing with tragedy
Read Via: Audible (Free with Kindle Unlimited)
My Verdict: It Was Fine (and neither am I?) Just kidding...I'm fine. But after reading a couple of books in this "real life at mid life" genre, I've realized it's just not my thing. I did think this book was well done and very realistic. But I guess maybe it's too realistic for me? I like characters who behave realistically, but I'd also prefer a few more pure entertainment elements (romance, humor, plot twist, suspense!) thrown in the mix to move things along and hold my interest. This did keep me entertained reasonably well and I'd recommend it if you enjoy this genre, but I think I need a break from it for awhile.

Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Basic Plot: Rowan is in prison for a crime she says she didn't commit against a child. In her own defense, she retells the story of how she became the nanny for an ultra-rich family in Scotland living in their house full of luxury and creepy secrets.
Read Via: Kindle
My Verdict: Entertaining. When I pick up a Ruth Ware book, I expect the pacing to be fairly slow, and that was indeed the case with this so it's good to go in with that expectation. In fact it didn't really pick up for me until the last third of the book. That's not to say I wasn't interested or that I didn't like it up to that point...I did enjoy the story. It just wasn't intense for me until the end, even though I think it was supposed to be creepy and scary in parts throughout. I could see how it was for the main character (Rowan), but I didn't have that edge of my seat feeling until almost the very end. I think Ruth Ware's other books are the best litmus test for this one. If you generally enjoy hers, you'll probably like this (as I did). If you've read one or two and didn't care for her style, this probably won't change your mind.

What You Did by Clare McGowan
Basic Plot: A group of six friends who have been friends for over 20 years get together for a little reunion weekend. One friend accuses another of rape and their lives and friendships unravel.
Read Via: Audible (Free with Kindle Unlimited)
My Verdict: Recommend.  This was a solid, entertaining suspense novel. The characters were believable enough in their actions and reactions, the story pacing was good, and the suspense of trying to figure out who to believe kept me turning the pages. This had a similar to style to some of Lisa Jewell's suspense novels (The Girls in the Garden had an especially similar vibe), so if you enjoyed that you'll probably enjoy this. My friend Britt read this too (her review here) and we both felt it was about a 4/5 stars book. There wasn't anything OMG AMAZING or unique about it that would make it five stars, but it was still totally enjoyable and I didn't have any big complaints or things that bothered me in this book.

The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood
Basic Plot: A Kansas woman with a troubled past wants to save her probably-kidnapped sister and gets help from a man on the autism spectrum.
Read Via: Kindle
My Verdict: Recommend. Good grief my plot summary just can't do this justice! This book was unique, engaging, and impressive. When I finished this book I read the author's bio, which says she has a Master's Degree in creative writing. All I can say is...it shows! The characters and story were very well developed. This author is not afraid to push boundaries and let the story get messy and complicated. If you enjoyed her book All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, I think you'll like this too. If you were bothered by the age difference by that one, that won't be an issue here. This is also totally different from any of the other books I've read that featured characters on the autism spectrum, so don't worry that it's going to be like those. It's one of a kind and I definitely enjoyed it! I will also add that a good chunk of the book is written in Ye Olde English and that can take your brain a minute to adjust and "translate." I noticed that some reviewers didn't like that, and I can understand that, but I thought it added to the charm of a certain character.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Basic Plot: The *quasi-memoir of a therapist: her journey to becoming a therapist, her challenges in treating her patients and what she learns from seeing her own therapist.
Read Via: Audible
My Verdict: Recommend. I really enjoyed this and thought Lori was a great storyteller. *I call it a "quasi-memoir" because in order to maintain her patient's confidentiality, she had to fictionalize a lot of details about them. That did make me wonder throughout the book what percentage was memoir vs. fiction, and sometimes that took me away from the story. e.g. I would be analyzing each anecdote with thoughts like, "did that part really happen? Is just the name fake and the experience real?" Aside from that, I thought it was full of good little lessons and insights into the work of therapy and the value it can add to people's lives. When I finished it I felt like I had been to therapy for the week and it wasn't a bad thing!

Things you Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
Basic Plot: Cassie is a firefighter who deals with the challenges of being the only female in a male dominated workplace along with significant personal and family challenges.
Read Via: Kindle
My Verdict: Cute but Just Okay For Me. This book was majorly hyped, but in this case I don't think that was the reason I didn't love it. It just felt too contrived in parts and I really had a hard time believing some of Cassie's capabilities, e.g. self-taught expert level parkour in a matter of months. I also expected a little more from this author. Usually she does romance with some element of deeper meaning/life lesson, and the balance of this one was far more on the romance side. And by all means it was perfectly cute and enjoyable that way, just not something I really loved or think I'll find memorable in time.

Quick Picks:
For quick recommendation without the specifics of what I did/didn't like, here are the books from this month that I'm likely to recommend to friends and family in real life:
Someone We Know by Shari LaPena
Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
What You Did by Clare McGowan
The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Current Reads + Up Next:
I just finished Things You Save in a Fire last night and need a complete change of pace from Romance, so I got Harlan Coben's Don't Let Go to read next. I'm over halfway through Magpies by Mark Edwards (free on Audible with Kindle Unlimited) and it's alright for a free Audiobook. It's a good "companion" book since it keeps me company throughout the day without requiring my full attention every second to follow the plot. I pre-ordered Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell and that comes out today! I'll be starting that as soon as I finish Magpies!

Can't wait to hear what you've all be reading or which books from this month you'll be adding to your list! As usual I'm joining Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books so head on over there if you need more recommendations!




CONVERSATION

25 comments:

  1. Another great review and now I have some new books to stalk at the library! I am anxious to read The Reckless Oath We Made and What You Did - they sound great! Laughing at your comment about being fine - ha!!! I love little comments like that. You keep me reading my friend!!
    xo,
    Kellyann

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    1. Aw, thank you Kellyann! I'm glad you can enjoy my dorky sense of humor. :) Especially hope you enjoy those books!

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  2. I'm getting the Reckless oats next, also added don't let go to my TBR. Now off to read MG's new book.


    xo
    Pinksole

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    1. Happy Birthday! I better put Magpies on 2x speed to get through so we can read Strangers together!

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  3. I always have my goodreads app ready when I read your book reviews so I can add some new ones to my reading list! Turn the Key, Reckless Oath and What You Did all sound great!

    Jill - Doused in Pink

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  4. I absolutely loved The Turn of the Key, definitely a quick read for me! Glad you enjoyed it too!

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    1. I was really getting worried at the end that it wasn't going to wrap up in time, but it did!

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  5. hmm i think your review for i'm fine and neither are you hit the nail on the head for why i don't always love those kinds of books, the 'real life at mid life'. like you said, i want it to be realistic but i also want some entertainment, if i wanted real life with no entertainment, i'd examine my own life lol.
    i still haven't read a ruth ware book, though i think i own one. ok, definitely adding the reckless oath book to my list - actually, it might be on hold at the library already.
    we read the therapist book for book club and it was such a good book to discuss, but i agree - i was constantly thinking 'is this real?' like the guy with the tv show? i want to know what tv show!
    i really enjoyed things you save in a fire, but the parkour stuff was kind of ridiculous lol.

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    1. Okay 100% yes on Real Life at Mid Life. I'm living this, my friends are living this, we talk to each other about it. That's enough analysis for me. Ha!

      The Therapist book would be a fun one for a book club! And yes, I was wondering SO MUCH about the TV guy! Was he even a TV writer?? There were many tragic events with her patients and I always wondered what was real.

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  6. I so look forward to your reviews every single month! What You Did was just added to my reading list - it sounds like a solid read. I'm also interested in The Reckless Oath We Made since I was a fan of that author's last book, and I've had I'm Fine and Neither Are You on my Kindle for months - need to make time for it!

    Just sayin',
    Karly
    https://www.whatkarlysaid.com

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    1. Yeah I didn't expect much from What You Did so I was quite pleasantly surprised on that one!

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  7. I hated Cassie for half of Fire. Trite and old to blame parents for things as an adult. Come on, Katherine Center.

    I think the Greenwood book is brilliant but I know a lot of people won't be able to get past the olde english.

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    1. I hear you on the Cassie issues. :) And 100% yes on Greenwood's book. I thought it was amazing but I know everyone won't.

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  8. I agree about the mid-life story in I'm Fine and Neither are You. All the characters just seemed very whiney! Thanks for the recommendations. Tanya - The Other Side of the Road

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    1. LOL, yeah. I guess they were a bit whiney. Yet another way it was just like people in real life. Ha!

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  9. The Reckless Oath We Made sounds fascinating! I seem to be on a kick with reading books with different perspectives. Even though it's fiction, it kind of gives insight into people whose minds might work differently than mine!

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    1. Oh it's fantastic for that! When I read the description on Amazon I wasn't too sure about it but it really impressed me.

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  10. I'm super torn about the Ware book. I have never read her but a few friends dislike her intensely and my reading preferences align strongly with theirs. But ... for whatever reason, the premise of this book intrigues me more so than her past books. But ... the slowness does not. I am an impatient reader, mostly. What to do? Well, I'm actually gonna add it to my TBR and if I stumble upon it at the library, I may give it a try. I'll probably know quickly whether I'm a fan or not!

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    1. Gosh, I probably could have worded that better. It's not that the book was soooo slow, but just that it's not INTENSE until the end. There were always things happening to hold my interest. I think the library route is a good idea. If you like the premise here I think that would make this a good starter book for this author!

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  11. What You Did has been on my TBR... I think it's time to move it up the list. Part of me wants to read the new Ruth Ware, but overall I have to force myself to finish her books. I hated The Woman in Cabin 10. The Lying Game was only slightly better. I think I'm just going to pass on her.

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  12. I read What You Did and Things You Save In A Fire. I have Maybe You Should Talk To Someone on my library list. I wasn't sure if I should read The Reckless Oath We Made...I did just read All The Ugly and Wonderful Things but I heard Reckless Oath isn't as good.

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  13. I definitely intend to read a few of these at some point so I appreciate your reviews!!! I loved Things you Save in a Fire but my favourite Katherine Center book will always be Happiness for Beginners :)

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I sincerely appreciate each and every one and always do my best to answer questions promptly!