Sunday, December 15, 2019

Book Reviews - (E)reading while (Time) Traveling!

Given I was traveling in early December, I did a lot of "reading on the go" with my Kindle paperwhite. This worked out quite well as I (again) have quite the treasure chest of Netgalley selections to make my way through. Here's the latest four I checked out!

The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball's Afterlife by Brad Balukjian was an interesting baseball retrospective told in the most unique way. The author collected baseball cards as a kid during the peak of card collecting in the late 80s/early 90s. I'm married to a childhood baseball card collector (who has also rekindled his love), so this is a connection that was familiar to me. In the story, the author decides to take a random pack of baseball cards and see whatever became of the players on the cards that are inside. What follows is a truly unique cross-country adventure. Some of these men are easier to track down than others, and there is a variance who is willing to talk. With each man, he walks through the statistics and related career highlights. However, his quest isn't about the numbers, rather he is seeking to find out who these men are as humans. He wants to know who they were when they played, but more than that, he wants to know about the life they found after their playing days were over. This was a fascinating read as each card/player was so different. The author often found himself going to places the player loved, and it was so neat to see these men in their true element. Not only that, it was interesting to see how the author also saw connections in his own life, and he did his own self-work as he traveled. If you are like my husband and the author and baseball cards bring back a certain nostalgia for you, this is a book that will totally put you in your throwback feels. If you're just a fan of the game like me, you'll also probably dig this one. This is just such a wonderful collection of stories about humans who happened to be really great at baseball for awhile.

Read this book if - You have a love of baseball and/or card collecting. You want to read stories about the human side of athletes.

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier was a thriller that I could not read fast enough because I had to know what happened. In a moment, Marin's seemingly perfect life changes. While out shopping with her four year old son Sebastian, he is kidnapped when she is briefly distracted. She and her husband Derek work with the FBI, but all of the leads go cold. Desperate to find Sebastian, Marin hires a private investigator unbeknownst to her husband. The work of the PI then finds an additional secret- Marin's husband is having an affair. Marin then must navigate her husband's affair and her resulting emotions, as well as the continued grief of losing her son and keeping hope alive he will be found. This thriller was so well told in that it did deep dives into the motives, emotions and reactions of so many of the characters. There was focus on Marin as she navigated two life-changing experiences. There was focus on Derek as he works through what has happened in his own way. There is also focus on the other woman, Kenzie, an Instagram influencer who has found rich boyfriends help with her financial challenges. I liked that all of the characters in the story had a backstory and a depth. It made the experience all the more real as there wasn't just an air of "Here's what happened" rather there was also a "Here's WHY this happened" vibe. The twist at the end was unexpected, and as it slowly started to come together, I had that "WHOA!" moment I just love when I'm reading a thriller. This was a pageturner in its truest form. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this April 2020 release.

Read this book if - You like thrillers with webs of secrets that must be unraveled. You like thrillers built around characters with emotional depth.

Thin Ice by Paige Shelton is the story of Beth Rivers, an author who relocates to a remote Alaskan town after being kidnapped and held captive in a van for three days. Her kidnapper remains on the loose, so she keeps a lingering fear with her that he might find her. In her new town, a resident is found to have died by suicide, however there are questions surrounding the death. People wonder if this is what actually happened, or if this could be a murder. Given Beth's background, she also wonders if this has a connection to her story. Beth's story is then navigating the emotional aftermath of her trauma, acclimating to a new town, and having a hand in solving the mystery. The author does a good job of giving voice to all three aspects of the story. This is also noted as the first in a new series, and I could also see how this was setting up later (literal) chapters in Beth's story. Thanks to NetGalley for the look at this December 2019 release.

Read this book if - You want a thriller with a side of Alaskan adventure.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle was such an intriguing premise! What I love about this author (and this is my second of her books with the first being The DInner List) is how she takes questions we've all been asked and pondered, and she builds these incredible stories around them. This is a story built around "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Dannie's life is right where she wants to be. She's just interviewed at a prestigious law firm, and she's recently engaged. She goes to bed one night, but when she wakes up the next morning, it's five years later. She's in an unfamiliar apartment with a man she does not know. It is a jarring experience, but she then shakes it off as a dream when she wakes up back in 2020 with the life she knew. Then, 4 1/2 years later, the man from her 2025 "dream" reappears in an unexpected way. Y'all, this was a book packed full of feels. It was the type of book that made me think about my own life as I read Dannie's story. What would I do with that five years later vision? What if it wasn't what I expected? Dannie is someone who loves a plan, and I definitely also related to that need for control as she tried to make sense of what was happening in her life. Additionally, the revelations in this one as the story went emotionally hit me in a way I wasn't expecting. I spent two late nights reading this one because I was so drawn into Dannie's story, and these were the type of plot developments that made me gasp with shock and end up in tears. Again, this author tells her stories in such a unique and captivating way. As soon as I saw I was approved from NetGalley (#appreciateyou) for this, I moved it to the top of my list. This is one you'll want to check out when it's released in March 2020, and in the meantime, you should go read The Dinner List.

Read this book if - You want a story that'll get you all in your feels. You want a story that explores a question in an unexpected way.

Onto the next ones!