Twelve Book Reviews and Recommendations

This year I set myself a a reading goal of twenty-four books. I’m ahead of pace as I’m on my twenty-second. Today, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about the first eleven of the books I’ve read this year so far. These are not the same, in-depth book reviews you’ve read from my in the past but still a quick peak into what I’ve liked and not liked. And, for your sake as well as mine, listing twenty two books in one post seems a bit unyielding.

The List in Order of Being Read

  1. In the Heart of the Sea – The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (2001)- Nathaniel Philbrick Story: The true life story which inspired the classic Moby Dick. I was glued to it!
    1. Rating: 4/5 stars
    2. Incredible story of perseverance and bravery
  2. The Turn of the Key (2019) by Ruth Ware Story: Murder Mystery in Ms. Ware’s fashion. A. Rating 4/5 stars B. Entertaining, easy read but not as good as some of her others, in my opinion.
  3. The Hamilton Affair (2016) – Elizabeth Cobbs Story: The story of Alexander Hamilton’s Life A. Rating: 4.5/5 stars B. This book was very enjoyable but I have not seen the musical “Hamilton” and I did not know a lot about his life. I do remember being let down by the end of this book, however.
  4. Bayou Song (2018) – Margaret Simon Story: Poetry depicting life in Southern Louisiana. A. Rating 5/5 stars B. I bought this as a mentor text to guide my own poetry for children. The author posts in the same Poetry Friday group as I and has wonderful insights to children. She is a teacher of the gifted and talented, as well. We both appreciate being inspired by nature.
  5. The Lost Vintage (2018) by Ann Mah Story: Story about wine, love, and career with a little mystery thrown in involving the wine. A. Rating 4/5 stars B. I bought this as a book for my NOOK when I was desperate for something to read. I enjoyed the story and it was not heavy at all. I will probably choose to read something else by this author in the future. She writes well and the story was well crafted, in my opinion.
  6. The Goldfinch: A Novel (2013). By Donna Tartt Won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Story: Involves a famous piece of art from a Dutch Master, a boy, drugs, stolen objects, and the quest to return the artwork without consequences. Very Long….drawn out. A. Rating 3.5/5 stars. I think on Goodreads B. I rated this book higher than I am here but after thinking about the book, I am less enthralled with it than I was originally. It’s really 200-250 pages too long. I did not like the drug culture featured in the book and felt that was contrived to make it a “better” story or attract more people to it. I was attracted to the story because I have seen The Goldfinch in person in the actual museum where it is now housed in The Netherlands.
  7. Before the Fall (2016) Noah Hawley Story: A tale told in an odd way but it makes for an interesting story. A. Rating 4.5/5 Good book. B.I enjoyed this book because it was so different.
  8. The Underground Railroad (2017) by Colson Whitehead Won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Story: Unusual historical account of the famed secretive slave route to freedom with a dose of whimsy. A. Rating 4.5/5 stars B. I’ve always had an interest in the underground railroad so I was naturally attracted to this book. It is not for the faint of heart. Colson’s writing is superb – is is definitely a talented author. I was somewhat let down by the end of the novel but I’m hoping for a future installment.
  9. The Overstory (2019) By Richard Powers Pulitzer Prize Winner 2019 for Fiction Story: Huge, ancient trees are the focus of the novel as they become threatened and call to action some typical and some more unusual tree huggers. A. Rating 4/5 stars B. I both loved and hated this book. If you are concerned with the state of the planet, and have inclinations to save it, you’ll probably enjoy this book. As an environmental educator, I saw the value in this book. Like The Goldfinch, I felt it was a little too long. After reading three Pulitzer Prize winning books, I purposely moved on to something “less award winning” – I just wanted a book to enjoy – not one with a message, a lesson, or one that involved the drug culture. I’m glad I read all three of the prize winning books but won’t go out of my way to do that again.
  10. The Queen’s Gambit (2003) by Walter Tevis Story: A young girl becoming so adept at chess that she enters the world of champions in the game. A. Rating 5/5 stars B. I read this book at the recommendation of my 21 year old son, who had seen the show and read the book. It was fast paced and a great read, which I really enjoyed. Writing this post reminded me that I will have to try out the Netflix series which is based upon this book. A great, fast read with intriguing story line. Great entertainment for anyone who considers themselves an “outlier” or odd socially.
  11. The Four Winds (2021) by Kristin Hannah. Story: Saga of families during the 1940’s Dust Bowl in Texas and their escape to find a better life. A. Rating 5/5 stars B.I devoured this book in just a few days – much faster than I typically read a novel. As Hannah does so well with character development, they just draw you into the story. The history was intriguing (although sad) as well. I highly recommend this book if you haven’t already read it.
  12. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (2017) by David Grann. This is my current read and it is very good. A non-fiction novel sheds light on the 1920 Oil strikes that makes the Osage Nation members rich and the social injustices, including murders that take place because of it. I expect it will get a high rating from me when I am finished. Once again, a story more should know about from our nation’s past.

The links in this blog, activated by clicking on the highlighted titles will take you to either Amazon, Goodreads, or in a few cases the author’s website. I do not have affiliate links so I do not profit in any way from making these reading suggestions. I hope you find at least good read from my list. Either in December or January, I will make a list of the remaining books I’ve read this year. Happy Reading!

8 thoughts

    1. You are more than welcome, Margaret! As far as 10×10, you must have me confused with someone else. Sadly, I answered a late call
      a few more poems for that book and did not make the cut as Bridget had already accepted poems with similar ideas. I am sure it is a great book and will be ordering one as well. I’ll keep looking for other places for my work. Thx!


  1. I’ve read a bunch of these! 🙂 I’m reading Colson Whitehead’s new book (the Harlem Shuffle) right now and it’s pretty good. I haven’t managed the Underground Railroad yet but need to get on that, since I really like all his other stuff. I read ‘the Overstory’ a few years ago and absolutely loved it, but would agree it got a bit lengthy. I LOVE Kristin Hannah and try to read everything she puts out – I think the Four Winds is one of her best. And I also read the Hamilton Affair – it was pretty good. I actually have seen Hamilton the musical, and this helped fill in some of the blanks from that 🙂 A very good read. What else are you reading these days?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, M.B…. Thanks for the notes. I’ve also read two more of Ruth Ware’s books, and another Colson Whitehead – Nickel Boys – disturbing! I loved The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and The Lost Apothecary by Sara Penner. The Ophan House and The Paris Library were pretty good reads, too. I just ordered American Dirt and Braiding Sweetgrass…’ve probably already read all those. Lol. If you’ve read any great historical fiction let me know. Is your book out yet?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The ones I’ve read among these: the Midnight Library (excellent), the Lost Apothecary (also excellent), and the Nickel Boys (I agree – sad and disturbing, but an amazing read). American Dirt and the Paris Library have been on my radar for awhile, I just haven’t got around to them yet. As for good historical fiction, there’s a lot of it out there! I’d recommend anything by Kristin Hannah or Kate Quinn, if you haven’t read those already. Ruta Sepetys also has a lot of good HF books. My book comes out in May! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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