Though our taste often times varies drastically, together we cover a wide spectrum of reading options to choose from. Each quarter we’ll be sharing all the books each of us has read over a four month period including a short synopsis and review providing a zero to five star rating.
* SOME REVIEWS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS *
Natalie's Quarterly Reading List
We are the Brennan’s by Tracey Lange
*2021* Psychological Fiction
Here we go with another family drama. With four siblings, and a father, this Irish family runs into trouble involving their Irish pub, but they manage to help each other and love each other even with their tumultuous personalities. Thrilling until the very end, and wonderfully heartwarming. I’m hoping someday there will be sequel, I could definitely spend more time with the Brennans.
Goldilocks by Laura Lam
*2020* Science Fiction
A crew of women steal a spaceship to find a new inhabitable planet following a deadly pandemic on Earth. This one was slow for me. I’m not even really sure why, I just found the drama to be predictable and was ultimately let down by their overall choices in the book. I had really hoped that a crew of badass women going through space would be more like someone I’d look up to rather than the people with disappointing personalities and decision making qualities.
Motherhood by Sheila Heti
*2018* Semi Fiction
I'm just at that age now where everyone is having kids, so I figured I’d try and see what the big deal was. I did really enjoy this book. It’s basically Sheila Heti’s train of thought on what she thinks of motherhood, and should she or should she not become a mother. I loved the way it was written and it really touches on a lot of what women are feeling today in terms of societal pressure of procreating versus the beauty and purpose of creation in all forms. *Spoiler Alert* I think by the end of the book she doesn’t reach a decision, but instead just runs out of time to be a mother. So, I don’t think she every really found what she was looking for until she was out of time. This would be something I’d love to discuss.
How High We Go In The Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
*2022* Science Fiction
Set in the future, where a virus is ravaging the world, we are following an overarching story through glimpses of people’s lives. This would have been a good story if the characters were able to develop a bit more, or if every chapter wasn’t a different window into a different story. The ending was okay, it wasn’t mind blowing, and it didn’t really make you think much, since you were so distracted with who you were going to meet in the next chapter. Not my favorite.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
*2018* Science Fiction
The Immortalists was awesome. I loved every minute of it. Family drama might be my theme for the year, as every book I pick up and can’t put down has some sort of familial issues. This one tells the story of four siblings, each from their own perspective, with a common thread that is tattooed on their future. The Immortalists is a brain-melt of “what-ifs,” philosophical questions of destiny vs self-fulfillment, psychological analysis, and a little bit of mysticism. Loved it.
The Nightengale by Kristin Hannah
*2015* Historical Fiction
I read Kristen Hannah’s “The Great Alone” last year and loved it, so I picked up the Nightengale with high hopes. The Nightengale was a story of sibling drama draped in World War 2 History in a small town in France. It’s a wonderful portrayal of family love despite differences. I do enjoy a great historical fiction, and this one had some lovely twists and turns, but I felt some of the plot was played out and at times a little cheesy. It still managed to occupy my brain a while after finishing it, and I’ll definitely go see the movie when it’s released.
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
I had high hopes for this book, thinking it would be more about the renovation of their home. Instead, it was more of a walk through of life in Provence, with more emphasis on the eating experience in southern France. It made my mouth water, but it wasn’t what I was craving at the time.
Chris' Quarterly Reading List
Vanderbilt (The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty) by Anderson Cooper
A fantastic read that takes an in depth look at The Vanderbilt's wild lifestyle and journey through the Gilded Age of New York City all the way up until the 1990s. The parties, the drama, and the unreal spending habits of this famous families lineage will definitely keep you hooked. I personally loved hearing about the bizarre choices this family made, and Anderson Cooper does a fantastic job of keeping you on the edge of your seat with his delivery. Leave it to a news anchor to keep you gripped. I loved this book, and I loved it more that Cooper wrote it to read less like a biography or textbook and more like a novel. My favorite line in the very beginning reads: "This is the story of the greatest American fortune ever squandered." Truly fascinating.
The Sixth Winter by Douglas Orgill and John Gribbon
*1979* Science Fiction
The Sixth Winter is 70s Sci-fi at it's finest. Following a group of scientist's, and their journey through the stages of another ice age in *modern times* had me absolutely hooked. The authors here definitely did their climatology research, and it shows. I loved the fact that it read out exactly like a disaster movie, and it's scary how believable they make it. Obviously there's better sci-fi novels out there, but this was a great page turner.
Treasure Mountain by Louis L’Amore
Treasure Mountain is a great addition to Louis L'Amore's Sackett Series of books, but as a stand alone read it didn't quite do it for me. It follows the journey of the young Sackett boys in search of what happen to their father, or what's left of him. They run into some shady characters along the way, and I was pleasantly satisfied overall with the ending. If you're thinking of taking on the Sackett Series that follows the family through their journey from the 1600s to the late 1800s it's a great addition, and provides a solid back story for the Sackett family members. I would definitely stick to keep it in the series, and don't take it on as a stand alone.
The Key-Lock Man by Louis L’Amore
The Key-Lock Man follows the story of a group of outlaws out for justice when one of their own gets gunned down in a saloon. It's a classic western set up through and through, but as with most older novels it's extremely dated in all social aspects. Being a lover of western paperbacks, this wasn't my favorite. There are definitely better Louis L'Amore novels out there.
The Seven Per Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer
I absolutely loved The Seven Per Cent Solution. Nicholas Meyer did a fantastic job of utilizing Arthur Conan Doyle's classic characters, Sherlock Holmes & Watson. The story starts out with Holmes addicted to cocaine (remember, this was written in the 70s), and Watson essentially tricking him into getting out of town to a doctor who can help get him clean. From there the story sets up for a great murder mystery in classic Sherlock Holmes fashion, and I must admit it's extremely well written for not coming straight from Doyle himself. Loved it.
The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie
An absolute classic. The ABC Murders follows detective Hercule Poirot at the end of his career being sent letters from the mysterious and murderous ABC. Murder after murder, Agatha Christie brilliantly keeps you on edge until the last chapter. I've become a huge fan of the Hercule Poirot character, and this book showcases his detective work brilliantly. I highly recommend it, and definitely follow it up with Amazon Prime's mini series mini series based on the novel as well. They did a fantastic job.
Not Quite Dead Enough by Rex Stout
I had high hopes for Not Quite Dead Enough, but Rex Stout failed to deliver on the mystery front for me. Honestly, I won't bore you with a synopsis for this one other than the story itself being insanely choppy, and difficult to follow. I picked up a few of Stout's other novels that include his detective character, Nero Wolfe, so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed the others are pieced together a bit better.
Black Coffee by Agatha Christie (Adapted by Charles Osbourn)
Black Coffee is a classic "who done it" mystery novel. So classic in fact it involves the murder happening with every member of the family and friends in the same room when the lights get shut off. Enter Agatha Christie's detective, Hercule Poirot, who was conveniently asked to join the family for the weekend prior to the murder, but shows up just seconds after it takes place. As silly and typical of a set up it is, I must say Charles Osbourn did a fantastic job. Black Coffee definitely reads like a play, which is what Christie intended, and the whole book takes place in one room (they even include a layout of the room in the book which I thought was a nice touch). Overall, if you're looking for a book to read for the weekend, I definitely recommend it, but I will say The ABC Murders and Murder on The Orient Express are a hell of a lot more fun.
Murder on The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Another classic from Agatha Christie that's been on my list for awhile now to checkout, and I'm very happy I did. I've tackled quite a few of the Hercule Poirot books, but this one definitely pushes his investigation tactics to the fullest extent. A train full of suspicious characters who all have ties (in one way or another) with the now deceased gangster. The train runs adrift in a blizzard, and Poirot gets to work to solve the case before the train gets back up and running. I loved it, and I highly recommend checking out the 2017 movie adaptation of the same name starring Kenneth Branagh (AKA Gilderoy Lockhart from the Harry Potter films), who did a fantastic job of portraying Poirot.