47. Next Stop Love by Rachel Stockbridge
This romance had potential. There was some good banter, but there were also a lot of weird melodramatic things that happened that just seemed out of place in the story. There was a plot surrounding a gang of some sort that just seemed ridiculous and the villain in the story seemed to have no real motivation for what he did. I give it a 4 out of 10.
46. The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley
Lucy Worsley look at the rise of the fascination with true crime in 18th century England through the development of crime and detective fiction. There were some interesting things in the book, but I found that the book struggled to hold my interest. The only reason I finished reading it was because it was for a book club. I give it a 5 out of 10.
45. Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker
Hidden Valley Road is both the story of the Galvin family in which 6 of their 12 children developed schizophrenia as well as a history of the view and treatment of the disease. The Galvins are one of the families that have been studied to help determine the genetic component to schizophrenia. It was a really fascinating story of a family dealing with very difficult mental health issues and how it affected both the family members with schizophrenia and those who had to live with and take care of them. This book was a on a lot of best of lists the year it came out and it definitely deserved to be there. I give it a 9 out of 10.
44. While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
Ben is a an ad exec in charge of his first big campaign starring movie star Anna Gardiner. They’re instantly attracted to each other, but both have their reasons for wanting to keep things strictly professional. However, their relationship takes a turn when Ben helps Anna out with a family emergency that brings them closer together. Then he agrees to play her fake boyfriend to help her get some good publicity in front of some roles she is trying to snag. Will their fake relationship finally help them admit the real feelings they already have for each other? This was a fine romance novel. I didn’t love it as much as some of Guillory’s other books that I’ve read. It’s fun and flirty, but I think I felt like some of the situations that the characters were put in were a little too ridiculous including the reason they wind up growing closer in the first place. I give it a 6 out of 10.
43. One Two Three by Laurie Frankel
Seventeen years ago things were looking up for the town of Bourne. A new factory was moving in and bringing what they thought would be lots of good jobs. Instead it left the town poisoned. Now pretty much everyone who could leave has and there isn’t much left in the town for those who are still there, most of whom still suffer health problems. Now the son of the factory’s original owner has returned to the town with his family with aims to reopen the plant. The story centers around the Mitchell triplets. Mab is the one who was born without any health issues. Monday has presumably some sort of autistic disorder, though it’s never specified. Mirabel is smarter than anyone, but is extremely physically disabled. Their mother is still looking for the evidence needed to hold the company accountable for the destruction they caused during their first run in the town and is now determined to stop the factory from reopening and causing even more damage to the town. The story is told in successive chapters starting with Mab, then Monday, and then Mirabel in repetitive order. I thought it was a very clever set-up and it was interesting to see how each of the triplets processed what was happening. Definitely a very engaging story. I give it an 8 out of 10.
42. When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson
It’s shortly before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in the early 2000s. Huda is a secretary at the Australian embassy who has been forced by the Iraqi secret police to befriend the ambassador’s wife Ally and report back to them any information she finds out. She has to comply or she puts her son’s life in jeopardy. Meanwhile, her estranged childhood friend, Rania, is also under the thumb of Saddam’s regime and trying to protect her daughter. The three women’s lives intersect trying to protect their families and their secrets.
I thought it was an excellent look at the lives that ordinary people lived during that period in Iraq and brought up many questions of what you would be willing to do in order to protect your family. I give it an 8 out of 10.
41. Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile
Broken Horses is a memoir by singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile. There is no possible way to for me to give an objective review of this book. I am a Brandi superfan. I have seen her in concert more times than any other artist in many states. As such I knew a lot of the stories at least from her adulthood that are included in the book, but not as many from her early childhood. I really enjoyed reading it, but I also have so many personal memories tied up in various songs or her stories about shows that I was actually at. I did really like how at the end of each chapter she included lyrics to either songs she referenced written by other people who influenced her or songs of her own that once you read the chapter you could see were very much written in reference to the events she talked about. I knew the origins of some of the songs from stage banter, but not all of them so it was great to get to see where they came from. I thought it was a great book, but as I said it’s impossible for me to separate myself enough from it to say how much people who aren’t Brandi fans would like the book. I give it a 9 out of 10.
40. Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
This was a cute little romance about Ruthie who lives and works at a retirement village. She has become very set in her ways and some people say she has started to act like one of the seniors living there. Teddy is the son of the developer who just bought the retirement center whose father has given him one last chance to get his act together and provides him a job as a caretaker and a place to stay right next to Ruthie. He helps her come out of her shell and she helps him get his life together. This was a sweet little kind of cozy romance. Definitely great if you’re looking for something light and fluffy to read. I give it a 6 out of 10.
39. The Whispering House by Elizabeth Brooks
It’s been five years since Freya’s sister Stella committed suicide and she has struggled to move on with her life since then. After attending a wedding at a large country estate not far from where Stella jumped off a cliff, she finds a picture that looks like her sister in the house. Freya returns to try and find out what connection her sister had to the house and gets taken in by Cory and his mother and the many secrets the house holds.
I know that psychological captivity is a real thing, but I was just so annoyed at Freya staying at the house when there were obviously many opportunities for her to leave even when the captivity did become somewhat more physically forced. This was a mostly forgettable psychological thriller. I give it a 5 out of 10.
38. Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy by Adam Jentleson
Jentleson digs into the history of the filibuster and shows how it was never part of the framers’ intent for the Senate to be ruled by anything but a simple majority, but the perversion of Senate rules over time has led to the current situation where legislation is not debated in the Senate and rarely passes. It’s a really excellent look into the people who managed to subvert the filibuster to their will and alter the way it was used over time to block legislation at first sparingly almost exclusively over civil rights issues and eventually pretty much every bill not put forth by their own party. Jentleson also offers suggestions about how to reform the filibuster to again make the Senate a functioning body. This book will make you angry or at least should make you angry and should be required reading for everyone, especially our senators. I give it a 9 out of 10.