November 2019 Book Reviews | On the Daily EXPRESS

11/11/19

November 2019 Book Reviews

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Welcome to my November 2019 Book Reviews! I don't have much to say by way of introduction here since it's book business as usual, so I'll let the reviews do the talking. Here's a look at my selections this month followed by my reviews.

Inside Out by Demi Moore
Basic Premise: The memoir of Demi Moore.
Read Via: Audible
My Verdict: Recommend. First, this was narrated by Demi and she did a great job. I felt like I was her friend who was just talking on the phone with her (er...listening to her talk) and having a heart to heart with her. I found her life and experiences totally fascinating and this was the audio version of "unputdownable." It was really interesting to hear her explanation on some of the career choices she made and why there were times she felt treated unfairly by the press or public. She is pretty candid about what went on in her marriages, but I felt she was honest while still trying to be respectful and tactful about her ex-husbands as possible. I have a lot of respect for how she chose to raise her children. If you are familiar with Demi at all I think you'll enjoy this.

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Basic Plot: Sometimes one choice we make seems like a small choice at the time, but can ultimately lead our life on a completely different path. This book explores what might have happened if the main character made a different choice on one night of her life.
Read Via: Kindle
My Verdict: Recommend. This concept was very fun and had a "choose your own adventure" feel. Except that as readers aren't doing the choosing, but you do get to see how one life can play out in a different way depending on a simple choice. It reminded me of the movie Sliding Doors, so if you enjoyed that you'll probably enjoy this. The writing style was very engaging, the characters were developed nicely so I really have no complaints. It was entertaining and I was eager to see how it would be "resolved." Also...side note for anyone who has read this as well as Katherine Center's "How to Walk Away." There were some parallel story elements that seemed a little too similar for my taste. This came out in 2015, that one in 2018. Anyone else notice this? Just me?


Know My Name by Chanel Miller
Basic Premise: In January 2015, Brock Turner sexually assaulted a woman on the Stanford campus. His trial made headlines and his victim's privacy was protected. She was referred to as Emily Doe, but now she's coming forward with her true identity and sharing her side of the story.
Read Via: Audible
My Verdict: Powerful. I cannot review this like a regular book, because after reading Chanel's memoir, I think she's been judged and rated enough. "Rating" the book feels like rating her life and her traumatic experience, and I'm not up for that. If you choose to read the book, know the context and decide if you're ready to tackle this. It was very emotional at times and gave me a more full (and upsetting) understanding of what it's like to be The Victim in a highly public case and yet at all times feel like YOU are the one on trial and having your life picked apart. It is a long book (15 hours) as Chanel is very detailed in her experiences and the impact this crime had on her life. The last couple of hours in the book also contain her thoughts on some other highly public cases (e.g. Bill Cosby). Chanel narrates the memoir herself, which I thought was the right choice for this memoir.

The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan
Basic Plot: A detective investigates a cold case and suspects it may have some correlation to a current case his department is handling.
Read Via: Kindle
My Verdict: Enjoyed. A little side note here, but how is it that I had never heard the term "Police Procedural" for a book genre until I started listening to book podcasts this year? I guess I was living under a rock, but regardless, this is the epitome of a police procedural. The pacing is a bit slow, but apparently that parallels real life police investigations. (I have no idea since I only know about police work from TV and movies!) I liked this well enough, but I didn't love it since it left me with some un-answered questions about some characters. (e.g. where did Maude get her money? What's Emma's story? There were hints dropped but not resolution.) I think I need a break from this genre for a bit in favor of faster pacing or easier reads to keep my interest right now.

An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal
Basic Premise: Ever wondered how the American healthcare system became so convoluted? Or ever paid a co-pay for a prescription medication and wondered how the drug company can get away with charging your insurance so much money? This book explains it all from top to bottom.
Read Via: Audible
My Verdict: Informative. This is not an exciting or entertaining book by any means, so I only recommend it if this a topic you want to understand better. The author does a really great job of breaking down the American healthcare system piece by piece and explaining how we got to now, why things are the way they are, and what you can possibly do about it. I learned a lot and I'm glad I read it because it did give me a much better understanding of a complex topic. I still only understood some points at a high level, but that's an improvement over where I was before!

The Best Thing by Mariana Zapata
Basic Plot: Elena (Lenny) is an MMA Gym Owner who is surprised when a man from her past re-enters her life after she spent a year trying to get in contact with him to no avail.
Read Via: Kindle (Free with Kindle Unlimited)
My Verdict: Cute Enough. I enjoyed this okay, but not nearly as much as some of Zapata's other books like Kulti and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me. The main reason being that I just didn't feel as much chemistry and tension between the main characters as in her other books. Both of the books I just mentioned revolved around main characters who were professional athletes, and this book did as well, although in this book the sports aspect was just a side note and not as much a part of the plot. I think I complained in Kulti that there was too much detail about their soccer training, and in this book the pendulum swung the other way and I was actually a bit disappointed that there wasn't more detail! Ha! Sorry, I guess I'm tough to please on this front. I think because I started with Wall of Winnipeg and that had the sports-to-romance balance just right for me, it set the bar high. I liked this okay but won't say anyone should rush out and get it. But if you have Kindle Unlimited it's enjoyable enough.

The Dutch House
Basic Plot: A family saga that focuses on brother-sister siblings reflecting on their childhood home, parents, and more. It reads like a memoir of the younger brother, though it is fiction.
Read Via: Audible (Narrated by Tom Hanks!)
My Verdict: Enjoyed. This wasn't groundbreaking for me or especially gripping, and yet I enjoyed the sibling dynamic in this book a lot and did become invested in each of the main characters. It made me a little nostalgic for my childhood home. I think this will be one of those books where depending on where you are in life and your own family/sibling relationships will determine how much you enjoy it. I guess that's true of most books though - what we bring to it often determines how we experience it! I definitely enjoyed Tom Hanks as the narrator because it brought a familiarity to the story since his voice was familiar. I heard one podcaster say that he was a robotic narrator, and I totally disagree. I thought was a good storyteller and he didn't over-act, which rang true to the main character for me. I think a good litmus test for this is if you enjoy Lisa Jewell's character-driven (non-suspense) novels like The Making of Us, you might like this as well.

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
Basic Plot: A new woman moves in to a quiet Florida neighborhood and stirs things up at Book Club. She hints at knowing secrets and the main character (Amy) becomes unnerved since she has a dark past.
Read Via: Kindle
My Verdict: Recommend! I haven't read a page-turner like this in quite awhile! Honestly, based on the cover art and the book club angle I was expecting something more PTA/Liane Moriarty and this is not that. It's darker, and if you enjoyed books like Jar of Hearts you'll probably enjoy this. I really loved the thoughtful writing style and how smart and cunning both of the main characters were. I really can't stand moronic main characters who overlook obvious red flags in their partners/acquaintances etc., and this was the opposite of that so it was just a satisfying read on so many levels!

Roommates Wanted by Lisa Jewell
Basic Plot: Toby owns a large house that he fills up with odds and ends roommates who have no other place to go. Their lives start to overlap in interesting ways when one person dies.
Read Via: Audible
My Verdict: Enjoyed. This is classic old school Lisa Jewell - not the newer style of suspense books she's been writing. It's a slower paced, character-driven novel, and I enjoy these on Audible. I guess it makes me feel like I'm listening to a soap opera or something where you get to know the characters and are invested in what's going to happen to them next. This one started out a bit slow and it is a little confusing at first trying to work out what relevance one character has to the next. But it does come together in an enjoyable way before too long. If you want a page-turner, this is not it. But if you want enjoyable company throughout the day, this is nice and kind feel good-ish.

Loserthink by Scott Adams
Basic Premise: ALL of us have some mental bubbles in which we live, but we have a much easier times seeing other people's rather than our own. This book aims to help us pop our bubbles and avoid engaging negatively with others who we perceive as being in a bubble.
Read Via: Audible
My Verdict: Enjoyed/Recommend-ish. First, I'll say I didn't realize Amazon categorized this book as Political Humor when I ordered it, or I never would have done so! I personally found this more along the lines of self-improvement, and it makes a nice follow-up to Gladwell's Talking To Strangers (reviewed last month), because they both spend considerable time trying to help us all understand that as humans, we're not great at interpreting other people's thoughts or true intentions, even though we all think we are. But in the case of this book, a lot of his examples are in the political realm, hence the categorization I suppose. I enjoyed this because I like Scott's writing style. I've read similar books in the past that I've found very helpful in my own self-reflection on this topic (e.g. Being Wrong, Adventures in the Margin of Error and Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me), so a lot of this didn't feel new to me. In fact I'd read all but one of Scott's recommendations for more reading on this topic! But he did have some new-to-me and interesting ideas for engaging in debates (political or otherwise) and keeping the discussion on track for civil discourse. This isn't one I would say I recommend to everyone, but I can see myself recommending it to some people on a case-by-case basis. Let your interest in this topic be your guide on whether you pick it up or not.

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:
Inside Out by Demi Moore
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

I'm on the fence about whether to add The Dutch House here. I liked it...but maybe I just liked Tom Hanks?? Not sure! I might need time to see how memorable this one is. And for my nonfiction selections, I liked all of them enough to recommend to certain people, but not across the board.

Current Reads + Up Next:
I'm currently reading The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, and so far it seems like an interesting marriage of her two typical styles. I just got to 60% and the suspense is building like crazy and making me want to Pause life to finish the book! I'm just starting Thinking Fast and Slow on Audible next since a family member (Hi, Heidi!) and Scott Adams recommended it.

And that's it for November! 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 for more recommendations!


CONVERSATION

35 comments:

  1. I've been interested in Inside Out and so I was glad to hear your review of it! Autobiographies can be good or not good at all. I think she's led a pretty interesting life so I am glad it comes across in the book!

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    1. Yes, I think anyone who is intrigued by it should try it. I'd love to hear from someone who didn't like it as to why they didn't. I thought it was totally fascinating.

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  2. Okay, so Never Have I Ever is on my list and so is Know My Name. You do such a great job explaining but not giving anything away and I always trust you! I've never read a book you recommended and felt disappointed.
    Thanks so much for doing this!
    xo,
    Kellyann

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    1. You are SO sweet! I'm so glad to hear you get some good recommendations from me. And thanks for saying I explain well without giving anything away! I really try on that front and it takes some mental gymnastics! Haha!

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  3. Never Have I Ever sounds like a fun read! I am in one of my reading slumps at the moment where I haven't been doing much of it at all, but I'm sure I'll get back to it here soon! Hope you're doing well friend, miss you.

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    1. I highly recommend Never Have I Ever as a reading slump breaker. It did the trick for me, that's for sure! Plus you might enjoy the Florida references. :)

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  4. I read all your quick picks, I finished roommates wanted this morning and I'm about to tackle another Lisa Jewell's book. Know my name sounds good but I don't think I'm ready for it emotionally.

    xo
    Pinksole

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  5. Never Have I Ever keeps popping up on my Audible recommendations, as do some books by Lisa Jewell. I'll have to check them out...and one of the other link up participants read another one by Dervla McTiernan - I've never heard of that author but I do love a good procedural so I'll have to check it out.

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    1. Oh I especially love Lisa Jewell's books on Audible. She picks great narrators and it just makes such an enjoyable listening experience!

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  6. Loved "Maybe in another life" and am looking forward to reading Demi Moore's book! I love a good memoir and this one sounds great.

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    1. It really was! I'll be surprised if anyone (who typically likes memoirs) doesn't like this one!

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  7. Roommates Wanted seems like my kind of book, adding it! I feel like everyone read something by Lisa Jewell this month! I need to get on her books! I picked up The Family Upstairs from BOTM, so that's on deck.

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    1. Ooh I'm almost done with Family Upstairs and really liking it. Can't wait to hear what others think of it!

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  8. Pretty sure I just added half of these books to my TBR! Mariana Zapata books always are hit or miss for me, so I'll definitely wait until I have another trial of KU to pick that one up. I closely followed the whole Brock Turner case, so I'm anxious to pick up Chanel's book as well. Never Have I Ever sounds like such a good read, too!

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

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    1. If you followed the trial it's definitely worth reading her memoir, IMO!

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  9. Never Have I Ever is everywhere this month! Love Jackson so adding it to the TBR.

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    1. I need to read more of hers! Glad to hear she's such a favorite!

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  10. definitely adding Demi Moore's book to my list. i really liked maybe in another life, no surprise, sliding doors is one of my favourite movies... though i admit, i prefer the ending in sliding doors over the one in maybe in another life. i have read how to walk away, but i read maybe in another life years ago so don't remember it clearly enough. very interesting about the similarities!
    i didn't love love love the best thing, but i thought it was because of what was happening in my life at the time, but maybe not.
    i have the family upstairs on my kindle and i'm even more excited to get to it now, after your review! i keep seeing that Joshilyn Jackson book lately, never read one of hers. adding it as well!

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    1. Since you generally like celeb memoirs I really think you'll like Demi's. I think she's also been through some parallel situations to yours, so that may or many be therapeutic for you? And definitely check out the Joshilyn Jackson book!

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  11. I just learned about Know my Name a week ago, I had no idea she had a memoir.

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    1. I think I learned about it from a Podcast since that and SUYB are the only places I find out about new books!

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  12. Joshilyn Jackson is not afraid to get dark and I love that about her.

    I don't think I can do Chanel's memoir. I am intrigued by Demi's though.

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    1. Chanel's is probably the heaviest book I've read this year. Maybe ever. I wanted to quit multiple times and needed a MAJOR change of pace afterwards. Demi's takes much less of an emotional toll, that's for sure. I definitely want to read more by Jackson after this one!

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  13. Know my name is my book clubs pic for this month. I havent gotten to it yet.

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    1. Oh boy...that's a daunting selection for a book club!! Would love to hear from someone else who reads it but at the same time, wouldn't want to ask anyone to read this one!!

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  14. Maybe in Another Life definitely had that Sliding Doors vibe going on. But it's TJR so of course it was good.

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    1. Yep! It didn't feel too similar to me, though it's been decades since I watched Sliding Doors so that helps too!

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  15. I've been wanting to read that Demi Moore's book!

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  16. An American Sickness actually sounds interesting. I read Maybe in Another Life and How to Walk Away but don't remember much about either of them to be able to comment on the similarity. It's been too long and too many books ago! Never Have I Ever has been on my to read list. This was on another book post with rave reviews, so I'll have to get to this sooner than later.

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    1. LOL, it probably only stood out to me because I read them within a couple of months. I'll tell you the overlap via email since I don't want to spoil it.

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  17. I want to read Never Have I Ever and more of Lisa Jewell's books!

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  18. I definitely need to check out Demi's book. These are great reviews dear, thanks!

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

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  19. Ooh, what a great roundup! So glad to hear you liked Never Have I Ever (I thought it was great), and that you had a chance to pick up The Ruin. Definitely "procedural" can have a different feel than thriller or psychological thriller, etc. when it comes to a mystery. I've learned that's actually what I enjoy (as long as there's some good character development too, and the moody Irish setting always helps), so I'm forever on the hunt for things like it. I did like the follow-up (The Scholar), next time you're ready to come back to the category :) And oooh I so rarely listen to fiction on audio, but I do love Tom Hanks! And I do love Ann Patchett, even if the more character-driven ones are my less beloved of her works...

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  20. The Demi Moore book has been on my list and I'm looking forward to reading it. An American Sickness sounds so informative and I'm also going to add Maybe in Another Life and Never Have I Ever!

    Jill - Doused in Pink

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