book reviews

(For the 50 Books Challenge list, click here.)

School update and a book review

September 2, 2014

We’ve begun our second week of school and if the boys keep at this pace we’ll be finished by March. Not really, but they are zooming […] Read more

My ten most influential books

September 9, 2014

I was tagged by our cousin, Annette, to list the ten books that have had the greatest influence on me or have presented me with […] Read more

Book Review: May We Be Forgiven

September 29, 2014

This is perhaps the most unusual book I’ve read in a while. I’ve tried to nail down a better adjective, but unusual always comes back […] Read more

Conclusions on Gone Girl

October 6, 2014

When I read this book last year, I was hooked on every word, relishing the twists and giddy over all of the things I didn’t […] Read more

Book Review: Left Neglected

October 14, 2014

The synopsis of Left Neglected prepares you for the accident. Sarah is a busy working mother of three, living the high life in Boston, working her […] Read more

Edge of Eternity and the 50 Book Challenge

January 8, 2015

So I finished the third and final installment of Ken Follett’s Century trilogy, Edge of Eternity, and I can say with certainty that he’s still […] Read more

Two days in Horrorstör

January 12, 2015

I don’t normally finish books in two days, but this one was a quick read. The short page count helped, but it was primarily the tension in the […] Read more

Book Review: In the Woods by Tana French

January 16, 2015

It’s important to note that In the Woods was Tana French’s first novel. Not only was it warmly received, but it spurred another four murder […] Read more

Book Reviews: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton and American Sniper

January 26, 2015

Noa is on death row in Pennsylvania for the murder of a girl her age. In a few months, she’ll be dead and she’s come to […] Read more

Book Review: Nightwoods

February 4, 2015

Small town North Carolina, early 1960s, two children who light fires and kill chickens. Unspeakable things happen when a crazy person infects your family, dipping […] Read more

I’m just like Wally Lamb.

February 10, 2015

That’s a stretch, I know, but hear me out. I just finished reading We Are Water, Wally Lamb’s latest piece of brilliant storytelling, and stumbled upon […] Read more

Book Review: The Patron Saint of Liars

February 13, 2015

I’ve not read anything by Ann Patchett before but I’m going to remedy that soon. She’s a lovely storyteller and The Patron Saint of Liars […] Read more

Book Reviews: Seventy-Seven Clocks and Dark Places

February 23, 2015

I have no experience with Christopher Fowler books, but based on Seventy-Seven Clocks, I won’t be trying out his work again anytime soon. I picked […] Read more

Book Reviews: The Longings of Wayward Girls and Help Thanks Wow

March 2, 2015

I found this book at a discount store for $2.99, and after reading it, I would’ve paid more. That in itself is a good plug. […] Read more

Book Review: The God of Animals

March 4, 2015

Alice Winston is a pensive girl and the entirety of this book is an outpouring of her thoughts throughout a snippet of her childhood. Her […] Read more

Book Review: The Circle

March 14, 2015

This image must have been used for promotion since it pinpoints the release date (which was in 2013), but I included it in this post […] Read more

Book Review: A Good Hard Look

March 26, 2015

Having only read her short story, A Good Man is Hard to Find, the one thing I really knew about Flannery O’Connor is that she died […] Read more

Book Review: The Husband’s Secret

March 26, 2015

Holy moly. I read The Husband’s Secret in three days. It would’ve been one day had I no children or a coonhound who wants to play RIGHT […] Read more

Book Review: The Night Circus

April 4, 2015

I didn’t know that a book could be completely vague and painfully detailed at the same time, but such is the case with The Night […] Read more

Book Review: The Senator’s Wife

April 10, 2015

Hmm. What to say about this one… To start, I picked it up at the Charleston County Library last week. It was on sale for […] Read more

Book Review: The Signature of All Things

April 15, 2015

I acquired this book in November 2013, so to read it so long after its release feels unsupportive of Liz Gilbert and lazy on my part. She’s […] Read more

Book Review: The Heights

April 20, 2015

The Heights caught my attention primarily for its cover. One cannot underestimate the power of a beautiful book cover! Other than author familiarity, the cover (including the spine) […] Read more

Book Review: The Goldfinch

May 4, 2015

At nearly 800 pages, The Goldfinch was a commitment, but it was one I was ready to make because I’d waited a year for this […] Read more

Book Review: If Jack’s in Love

May 13, 2015

The cover is foiled and crisp, but If Jack’s in Love could’ve been a novella or even a short story. In between the major plot […] Read more

Book Review: Faithful Place by Tana French

May 28, 2015

When I read In the Woods, I didn’t know it was part of a series about Dublin murder cases, but alas, it is. In Faithful […] Read more

Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

June 1, 2015

Man, I’d love to know what Gillian Flynn thinks about right before she falls asleep. Sharp Objects was her debut novel and my favorite of the […] Read more

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed

June 8, 2015

There are a handful of writers who have a place in my default folder of “People Whose Stuff I’ll Always Read.” Khaled Hosseini is one of […] Read more

Book Review: A Moveable Feast

June 23, 2015

This book has been on my To-Read list for years. More than a decade, really. My fascination with Ernest Hemingway dates back to tenth grade […] Read more

Book Review: Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen

July 6, 2015

You may not recognize the name Sara Gruen, but you probably recognize Water for Elephants – the beautiful novel, the romantic film. Riding Lessons was […] Read more

Book Review: The Light Between Oceans

July 8, 2015

This one took no time to finish because I couldn’t stop wondering how it would end. Major props to M.L. Stedman for pace and tension. […] Read more

Book Review: Pastrix

July 15, 2015

I first heard of Nadia Bolz-Weber about two or three years ago when I was in a heavy place of re-evaluating and reclaiming my faith. […] Read more

The Book Depository

July 17, 2015

I’ve recently become an affiliate with the Book Depository, an online bookstore that offers free delivery and discounted prices. I’m excited to make this connection […] Read more

Book Review: Lucky

July 20, 2015

I don’t remember the first time I saw the cover of Lucky (published in 1999), but when I did I know I put it in […] Read more

Book review: The Art of Fielding

July 28, 2015

Here’s a confession: The only reason I picked up this book was because of its fabulous lettering. The cover is gorgeous. The second thing that caught […] Read more

Book Review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

July 30, 2015

You guys. THIS BOOK. I don’t even know where to begin. Rosemary, the narrator and main character, doesn’t even start her story at the beginning but […] Read more

Book Review: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

July 31, 2015

What do you do when you toss and turn all night? Get up and read. I’m still reading Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, […] Read more

Book Review: We Were Liars

August 6, 2015

This book got a lot of accolade last year and was all the buzz among bloggers, BookTubers, and the GoodReads community. When a book gets […] Read more

Book review: Rescue

August 14, 2015

I think we’ve reached the first book – no, the second book – that I won’t recommend to you, and I feel really crappy about […] Read more

Book Review: Animal Farm

August 20, 2015

At first I didn’t think I’d review this book since I figure everyone read it in school, but considering I didn’t read it in school […] Read more

Book review: The Shock of the Fall

August 27, 2015

When I saw Silver Linings Playbook a couple of years ago, in which one of the main characters is bipolar, I left the theater completely exhausted. […] Read more

Book Review: Wildwood

September 14, 2015

It took me a while to finish this book, and not just because it’s 540 pages. Granted, the book is not the standard 5.25 x […] Read more

Book review: Gods in Alabama

September 29, 2015

Reading has slowed down considerably this month on account of several things, but I hope to get back to normal in October, particularly since I […] Read more

Book Review: The Martian

October 6, 2015

As I’ve chipped away at the 50 Books Challenge of 2015, I’ve made mental notes along the way counting the top five (or ten) books I’ve loved the […] Read more

Book Review: Help for the Haunted

October 26, 2015

This one will not make my top five favorites, or even my top ten. It’s going to swim somewhere in the middle of the 50 […] Read more

Book Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

November 5, 2015

Every Harry Potter fan knows what happened after JK Rowling moved on from the wizarding world. She wrote a subpar book called The Casual Vacancy […] Read more

Book Review: Big Magic

November 24, 2015

I finished reading my fiftieth book of the year last night and it was a good one. In the most fitting and providential way, Big Magic […] Read more

Book review: Housekeeping

December 3, 2015

I’m tempted to call Marilynne Robinson a favorite writer of mine, but this is the only work of hers that I’ve read so I’d be […] Read more

Book Review: Night Film

December 9, 2015

There are about ten pages I would cut from Night Film, but they don’t transpire until the last sliver of the book, and by then, you […] Read more

Book review: All the Light We Cannot See

December 28, 2015

This is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book. It spent two years on the NYT Bestseller list. On Goodreads, it averages 4.3 out of 5 stars. And […] Read more

Top Five Books of 2015

December 30, 2015

I completed the 50 Books Challenge by late November, a feat that both surprised and pleased me. I went on to read a few more […] Read more

Book Review: Station Eleven

January 6, 2016

After seeing the final Hunger Games movie with Jeremy the last week of December, I decided that I’m really, quite done with apocalyptic stories. I […] Read more

Book Review: The Enchanted

January 11, 2016

Set in present day between the damp, stone walls of an old prison, we are told the sobering story of what life looks life for […] Read more

Book Review: Hausfrau

January 17, 2016

Anna Benz is an American ex-pat living with her Swiss husband and three children in Zürich. She doesn’t work outside the home so she has […] Read more

Book Review: The Secret History

January 21, 2016

I’ve read enough books in my life to know not to be swayed by the remarks on the cover. Every book is “enthralling” and “captivating” […] Read more

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

January 29, 2016

When you think of Europe during World War II, the reign of Hitler and his persecution of the Jewish people come to mind. Much has […] Read more

Book Review: The Devil in the White City

February 3, 2016

I’m late to this game, and not just because it was published in 2003. Last year I noticed a handful of people I knew reading and […] Read more

Book Review: You

February 3, 2016

Two things: 1. This is a psychological thriller, emphasis on the psycho. 2. It is vulgar. Now that I’ve made those things clear, perhaps you […] Read more

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

February 10, 2016

When Clay Jannon lands a third-shift front desk job at a strange 24-hour bookstore in San Fransisco, he doesn’t suspect that an adventure would soon unfold. […] Read more

Book Review: Gilead

February 19, 2016

I don’t know what to say about this book. It is unlike anything I’ve read so there’s nothing that I can use for comparison. Just as […] Read more

Book Review: The Seven Storey Mountain

March 22, 2016

I gotta say – I miss fiction. It feels like I’ve been immersed in monks and heretics and religious history for ages, and my brain […] Read more

Book Review: One Second After

April 1, 2016

Since Lent is over I’m back to reading fiction and will be posting more book reviews frequently. Before I attacked my stack of Tana French […] Read more

Book Review: Heretics: The Creation of Christianity from the Gnostics to the Modern Church

April 4, 2016

To be a heretic in earlier centuries – that is, to denounce a proclamation from the church at-large – was worse than aligning yourself to another […] Read more

Book review: The Mermaid Chair

April 13, 2016

For the first time ever, I listened to an audiobook, and while I’m not sure it’s something I’ll do regularly, it was an efficient way […] Read more

Book Review: Special Topics in Calamity Physics

April 20, 2016

This one took me nearly three weeks, which is almost unprecedented. It was also surprising, considering how much I loved Night Film, a book by […] Read more

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

April 27, 2016

Similar to my review of All the Light We Cannot See, I’m going to break the mold with a unenthusiastic review of a highly popular […] Read more

Book Review: The Likeness

April 28, 2016

My first taste of Tana French was reading In the Woods last spring. Then I read Faithful Place. Of the two, In the Woods was […] Read more

Book Review: Long Man

May 5, 2016

The first thing I want to tell you is that Amy Greene is a local. For that reason alone, I wanted to buy this book […] Read more

Book Review: Broken Harbor

May 25, 2016

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that Tana French writes the traditional “Whodunit?” crime thriller because it’s almost always clear which character committed the murder. […] Read more

Book Review: The Secret Place

June 4, 2016

Well, the streak was bound to end. They can’t all be great. Unlike Into the Woods, Faithful Place, The Likeness, and Broken Harbor, I did […] Read more

Book review: The Submission

June 15, 2016

The irony of reading this book in the midst of the Orlando attack is not lost on me. The timing couldn’t have been better. The […] Read more

Book Review: Bel Canto

July 5, 2016

Pulling from a real event (the hijacking of a Japanese embassy in Peru in 1996), Ann Patchett creates a similar hostage situation in an unnamed South […] Read more

Book Review: Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

July 14, 2016

Do I really need to explain why I read this book? If you’re a parent, then you have already spent a minute wondering how your […] Read more

Book Review: The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

July 18, 2016

I found this book immediately after listening to author Elna Baker on a podcast (episode #589) from This American Life called “Tell Me I’m Fat.” […] Read more

Book Review: Wonder

August 10, 2016

If you recall, I’m teaching a middle school literature and creative writing class at our co-op this year. Wonder is the first book students will read, […] Read more

Book Review: The Little Friend

August 19, 2016

This is the third book I’ve read by Donna Tartt. Compared to The Goldfinch and The Secret History, it fell a bit short. While I […] Read more

Book Review: Cage of Stars

August 19, 2016

After finishing Cage of Stars, I sat still for a few minutes and wondered if I’d read the same book as those who gave it […] Read more

Book Review: The Devil of Nanking

August 22, 2016

I get book recommendations from myriad places – friends, acquaintances, online reviews, etc. It was from BookTube (the small literary corner of YouTube) that I […] Read more

Book Review: Dietland

August 22, 2016

I thought I was picking up a little light reading, but no. Dietland is social commentary, and I can’t make up my mind about it. Plum […] Read more

Book Review: Everything She Forgot

August 31, 2016

Margaret Holloway is involved in the worst pileup in London’s history. Crammed into her crunched vehicle, which is on fire, she fears she will die when the gas […] Read more

Book Review: From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant

September 12, 2016

I picked up this delightful on account of its cover design and title. After reading the inside flap, I was sold. A fashion designed gets […] Read more

Book Review: This is where I leave you

September 27, 2016

In the span of a short time, Judd Foxman’s marriage falls apart and his father dies. He’s living in a basement apartment while his wife’s […] Read more

Book Review: Her Fearful Symmetry

October 4, 2016

To officially welcome my favorite month, I started October with a ghost story written by Audrey Niffenegger (author of Time Traveler’s Wife). Double points for […] Read more

Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood

November 5, 2016

For Leonora, going to a hen party isn’t her cup of tea, but when an old friend from a decade prior is getting married, she’s […] Read more

Book Review: The Drop

November 15, 2016

Dennis Lehane might not be an author whose name you recognize, but you know his work. Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island… These are […] Read more

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

November 15, 2016

I assigned this book for my literature and creative writing class at the co-op, and I’m so glad I did because it provided a space […] Read more

Book Review: The Forgotten Girls

December 1, 2016

I’ve been on a kick of needing complete escapism, and for me, that means mystery, thriller, murder, scary, and what the hell am I reading. […] Read more

Book review: The Winter People

December 12, 2016

This book was so good I read it in two days. Then I found a second book by Jennifer McMahon (The Night Sister) at a […] Read more

Book Review: The Night Sister

December 12, 2016

In London, Vermont, there’s a small motel off of Route 6 that used to be the go-to place for travelers. But when the highway was […] Read more

Book Review: Tell the Wolves I’m Home

December 23, 2016

There is much to say about this book, but in the interest of not spoiling it for the reader, I’ll restrain myself. It’s 1987 and […] Read more

Book Review: The Snow Child

December 27, 2016

I’m working on a post about the favorite books I read this year, and I was about 30 pages into The Snow Child when I knew it […] Read more

Top Ten Favorite Books of 2016

December 30, 2016

In 2015, I read 53 books, verifying to myself that I could, indeed, read 50 books in a year. For 2016, I gave myself a […] Read more

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You

January 4, 2017

Lydia Lee is dead. It is 1977 in rural Ohio and she is the middle child of a mixed race couple. Her mom, Marilyn, is […] Read more

Book Review: The Good Girl

January 7, 2017

Instead of reading a paper book, I listened to this one (for free) in audiobook format. It’s not my favorite way to “read,” but it’s […] Read more

Book Review: Birdman

February 8, 2017

After reading The Devil of Nanking last year, I sought out Mo Hayder’s entire collection because I knew she was a writer whose works I […] Read more

Book Review: Hidden Bodies

February 13, 2017

First, an English lesson: Deus ex Machina (“god from the machine”) is a literary device often used when the writer has “painted herself into a corner.” […] Read more

Book Review: Searching for Sunday

March 7, 2017

If this reads like a break-up letter, that’s because it is. Rachel won’t receive it, and that’s fine. Her pool of fans is large enough, […] Read more

Book Review: The Great Divorce

March 14, 2017

After the cluster that was my Searching for Sunday reading experience, I craved a literary touchstone so spiritually challenging that I’d be knocked right off my high horse. I […] Read more

Book Review: No Wonder They Call Him the Savior

April 11, 2017

I unearthed Max Lucado’s 1986 book to read during Lent because I’ve been craving the story of the cross. In recent years I researched contemplative prayer […] Read more

Book Review: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

May 17, 2017

Reading this book was an act of magnetism because I’ve been drawn to the Lost Generation writers and their work since I went to Key West […] Read more


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