Sunday, April 21, 2019

Book Reviews - Mysteries & Biographies

If you haven't figured it out already, I read a lot of mystery/thrillers. This was another round that included some. They weren't the best ever, but they weren't the worst, so that's good? The memoir and biography I read won't be for everyone, but something to consider if those types of books are your jam. Okay, cool.

Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith and Family by Garrad Conley is a heavy read. I knew that going in, and I cannot imagine what it was like for the author to go back and revisit this experience. I always struggle with reviewing memoirs, as these are people sharing their lives with the world. That said, it's what I'm here to do. This memoir is not told in a sequential way, so that took some getting used to as a reader. The focus of the book is the author's complicated relationship with his faith. The crux of that is his experience with the Love In Action conversion camp. The author is enrolled in the outpatient version of this camp at 19 after his freshman year of college. The memoir is an emotional look at how the author felt, lived and acted as his identity was at odds with the faith he had been raised to look to for comfort and direction. Again, to revisit this, he has to share incredible pain as he struggles through what this all means for him. Overall, this is a hard read as he details his internal feelings and external experiences in this process. It's also a hard read in that you realize there are others who went through this horrendous experience, but it is also important to understand the realities of what these camps are.

Read this book if - You want a memoir that is a look at an emotional and at time painful journey. You want a memoir that gives voice to an important topic.

The Missing Wife by Sam Carrington started with an intriguing premise. Louisa shows up to her surprise fortieth birthday party. She looks around to see a room full of her Facebook friends. Only problem is these are her "friends" that she doesn't keep in touch with and haven't talked to in years. They are people she would not have invited to the party herself, and she is certainly confused as to how these people ended up in this room. Specifically, she cannot believe her ex-boyfriend Oliver is there. Following the party, the plot thickens as Oliver's wife has gone missing. Louisa is pulled back into Oliver's life and the investigation as police try to find his wife. So, here's the deal y'all. This is a thriller that involves a missing woman. At this point, this is a pretty standard genre, and you know what you get when you read a book like this. You get some unexpected twists - several of them usually, and the main character will be in some kind of trouble at some point. That's what this was, and that's not a bad thing, rather it just is what it is. For me, I really liked the initial premise. I could imagine showing up at that party and the emotions it would invoke. The rest of the story was good, and it keep me captivated as books like this do. There are others in this realm that I have enjoyed more, but this is still a decent thriller to check out. Thanks to NetGalley for the early preview at this June 2019 release.

Read this book if - You like one of those thrillers with some of those twists, and then there is a big twist about something at the end.

Girl Most Likely by Max Allan Collins is a thriller revolving around several murders from a 2009 high school graduating class from Galena, Illinois. The story focuses on Krista Larsen, the police chief in Galena who is also from the class. Krista and her classmates are getting ready for their ten year high school reunion when they find out one of their classmates has been murdered. An additional murder occurs in Galena on the night of the reunion. This is a crime Krista doesn't have to navigate often in this town. She calls on her father, Keith, a retired detective to consult on how to proceed. I really enjoyed reading this one. While there is crime happening, this story also focuses more on the process that Krista goes through. It was really about how she was going to question her classmates, piece together clues, and figure out the identify of the murderer. The book did a good job of building suspicion for different characters, so much so that I couldn't figure out who the killer was. I always appreciate when I have that suspense along with the plot/characters. I kept reading because I had to get resolution, and I was along for the ride on each lead that Krista and Keith explored. This is apparently going to be a series, and it's one I'll definitely check back in on from here. Thanks to NetGalley for letting me check this recent release out.

Read this book if - You like procedural-based thrillers. You like a thriller that explores multiple suspects as a way to raise suspense.

President McKinley: Architect of the American Century by Robert W. Merry was a thorough exploration of the life and times of William McKinley. You should I picked this one up because I once was assigned to do a report on President McKinley in fifth grade. Me being me, I took the opportunity to write a 30 page play that involved most of my class. I wanted to revisit his story as an adult which is an interesting angle. This book does a really great job of exploring his story from multiple angles. Specifically, there are people (then and now) who feel all kind of ways about his leadership and decisions. I appreciated the chance to read through his role in history in this way. This is a book that has so much information and so much research, but it also kept me captivated and reading. This is a president you don't always hear a lot about, so I appreciated the chance to do a deep dive into a different part of the American story. Also, I'm super bummed I didn't save the play I once wrote because I would have loved to compare my grade school telling of this story with this one. Regardless, this wasn't something I'd normally read, but I really dug the chance to do such an intense and detailed dive into someone's story. Especially because it was so thorough and interesting.

Read this book if - You dig presidential biographies and/or American history.

Until the next round!