Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Book Review - Volume Two

Hi there, friends! My second book review is finally here, and just in time for the holiday weekend! My first book review post had such a positive response, that I couldn't wait to do another. To be honest, it was actually my most read blog post...ever! 

This time I'm featuring five of my most recent reads, and including one I read back in 2015 (thanks Amazon for keeping track of my purchases). I'm sharing 'an oldie but goodie' because it's one of the best books I've ever read. Seriously, anyone I've recommended it to has fallen in love with it, as well. 

Like last time, I am going to share the synopsis of the book from the author, as well as my rating (1 through 5), and comments. I try not to reveal too much, in case you want to read it yourself! If you've read any of these books, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a T├Ątowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

Rating: 5/5. An incredibly powerful love story and grim look at the evils of WW2. The book, which is based on a true story, read like a magical movie that you did not want to end. The way the author detailed all the harrowing events was incredibly poignant. Once I finished the book, I was left with such a powerful impression that I researched Lale's life, and did further research. 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . 

Rating: 1/5. I read this book in Cabo, and let's just say, had I not been sitting on the beach with nothing else to do, it would have gotten tossed out right away. I found the main character to be incredibly irritating, and didn't like the storyline at all. I feel like it gets 'rave' reviews because it's part of Reese Witherspoon's book club. Don't waste your time.

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations―a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....

Rating: 4/5. I truly enjoyed reading this book. It was a great page turner, and a true"whodunit" that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Each chapter left me guessing, and I definitely did not see the end coming. Lots of great twists and turns, plus a compelling + interesting story.

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.

Rating: 3/5.  I found the main character to be unlikable, but relatable. It's a fast read with some unexpected twists, and the end was one I definitely did not see coming. Also, who doesn't like daydreaming about being a travel writer and sailing on an exclusive cruise ship? Overall, summary is a lot more intriguing than the book. 

Dr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.

That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.

Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list. . .

In The Last Time I Saw You, Liv Constantine takes the lightning pace of The Last Mrs. Parrish and raises the stakes, creating an exquisitely tension-filled and absorbing tale of psychological suspense in which innocent lives—and one woman’s sanity—hang in the balance.

Rating: 4/5. I thoroughly enjoy Liv Constantine's books. I loved The Last Mrs. Parrish and reviewed it in my previous post. This book definitely didn't disappoint. It has an incredibly intriguing plot, and I loved how the author strung the pieces together.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

Rating: 5/5! This is the book from 2015 that I mentioned. I cannot sing it's praises enough. It's been four years since I read it, and literally every chance I get I recommend it to someone. Not only was it interesting learning the meaning behind every flower (yes, it's a thing, and there's a glossary at the end of the book), but the story was fantastic. The main character was relatable, and you could not help empathize with her and all that she'd been through. It also took place in San Francisco, so you know I loved that.

In the future, I'm debating whether I should do a book review after each book, or continue doing one large review after I've finished several. Definitely let me know what you think!

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