Book Reviews

The Last House on the Street

The Last House on the StreetThe Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always loved Diane Chamberlain novels. I’ve read several. She has a unique way of mixing civil rights issues with incredible storytelling. The Last House on the Street is no exception.

Told in parallel timelines, we follow Ellie Hockings in 1965 and 2010. Back in the 60s, she joins a program called SCOPE where she canvasses black neighborhoods in the south in an effort to get people registered to vote as part of the The Voting Rights Act, a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. There are also many story arcs within the novel which I found engaging, primarily a murder mystery and love story.

The narration was extremely well done. From the very beginning, I could feel myself slipping into the south in the 1960s. Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction, family dramas, and civil rights.

Project Hail Mary

Project Hail MaryProject Hail Mary by Andy Weir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy guacamole. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to ever read science fiction again, let alone LOVE this story as much as I did. It is so much FUN.

Ryland Grace wakes up alone in space not remembering a thing. Slowly, he gets his memory back, and from there the adventure begins. The narration flashes back in time to the events leading up to the present situation. The dual storytelling is very well done.

Remarkably, this book stirs all the emotions. It’s extremely funny, heartwarming, happy, and sad all at the same time. There were also a couple of twists that I did not see coming. Lots of science and technical jargon may not appeal to some people, but this is one of the most CREATIVE stories ever written. I highly recommend people stepping out of their comfort zones and give this book a try.

This audiobook version of this was excellent. One of the best I’ve ever listened to. Five stars

The Book of Cold Cases

The Book of Cold CasesThe Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Simone St. James. I’ve read everything she’s written. She is the undisputed QUEEN of ghostly thrillers, my favorite being The Sundown Motel.

This story follows Shea Collins, a true crime blogger obsessed with The Lady Killer case from her small town of Claire Lake, Oregon. Was Beth Greer, who was acquitted of the crimes in the 70s, actually the killer or not?

The story was fun to read, but it wasn’t the paranormal elements, or even the mystery that kept me hooked. It was ice queen Beth Greer and her bizarre relationships with other characters in the novel. She plays a fascinating game of cat and mouse with Beth that keeps you turning the pages. I still don’t quite understand it. Her relationship with Lily also stumped me. Was there ever any love there or not? And what was going on with Detective Blake? I think St. James cleverly leaves that up to our imaginations.

I wasn’t feeling the ghostly atmosphere of the Greer mansion that I was hoping for. I think St. James has done better in her other novels. Also I was hoping that the Girl A story arc would tie in to the main story. A couple other things were not wrapped as well. Regardless, definitely a fun novel!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Going There

Going ThereGoing There by Katie Couric
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“It’s too late for us. But consider this my gift to you or anyone you know facing terminal illness. I did everything I did to keep Jay alive. Looking back, I wish I had done a better job helping him die”.

I loved this book for so many reasons. Not because I’m a huge Katie Couric fan, in fact I think she’s kind of annoying. And she can also be a diva, shallow, and quite desperate at the same time. (A big part of this book was her search for a partner and how badly men treated her). Really? You’re Katie Couric…but I digress. I found it very honest and brave of her to share her very personal stories, primary the ups and downs of her career. The death of her husband and sister at such young ages was very hard to read. And then her new husband’s diagnosis of liver cancer. OMG, can this woman get a break?

I think the most fun part for me was a stroll down memory lane as she details her 15 years on The Today Show. As a young mother with two little girls home at that time, I was there for all of it, (including 911 as we watched the second jet hit the towers together live). It was cool to access many of her interviews on YouTube as I read through the book. I was also intrigued with her relationship with Matt Lauer and her perspective on his creepy escapades. Recommended for lovers of feminist celebrity memoirs. Four stars

Klara and the Sun

Klara and the SunKlara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“Until recently, I didn’t think that humans could choose loneliness. That there were sometimes forces more powerful than the wish to avoid loneliness.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro

This was a sweet story. Too sweet. Also underwhelming, childish, and lacking in originality. Such a great premise, and it totally misses the mark. Many themes are introduced and superficially explored. There is no deep-dive or fleshing out of human nature. It’s actually quite insulting. Seriously, was this book for adults? There are no great insights, ideas, or revelations. I waited for brilliance. I read reviews that said this novel meandered dangerously to the dark side. Ha. I tried to see the beauty in its simplicity. All I got was annoyed. But all was not lost, two stars for Klara’s kindness, sweet nature, and humanity (see the joke here). Just too twee for my tastes.