December was a really great reading month. I had 1 dud, but the rest of them were so good and exactly the type of read that I was looking for. I wanted stories and characters that would pull me quickly and keep me enthralled in the story during an otherwise very busy season of life.
I hope you get a recommendation or two to add to your own TBR list.
Every Last Lie – Mary Kubica (B)
Okay, let’s get the one I liked the least out of the way. I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself with thrillers. I think I just did not care about any of the characters and all the red herrings just seemed like sad attempts at suspense. This book was a complete miss for me. 2/5 stars
Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases – Paul Holes (A)
So I was first introduced to Paul Holes and his career in criminology through the I’ll Be Gone In The Dark book (which is fantastic read/listen if you enjoy the True Crime genre) and then again with his The Murder Squad podcast where they attempted to bring awareness and solve cold cases from around the country. Across all of my reading/listening of Paul Holes, I have been drawn to and have always admired his steadfast dedication to solving crimes and bringing justice and peace to the families affected by murder. He clearly comes across as “one of the good guys” who has dedicated his life to making this world a safer place. Mad respect for him.
This book is absolutely about true crime and delivers on that. However, after listening to this book, I still see Paul Holes’ unwavering dedication, but now I also see the personal costs that it demanded from him and his family. Overall, this book is an interesting glimpse into the life of a cold case investigator and his hint for the Golden State Killer. 2.5/5 stars
Beartown – Fredrik Backman (A)
This book is easily one of the most recommended books I’ve read. In full disclosure I tried reading it a few years ago and couldn’t get into it. But with some not-so-subtle nudges from friends, I gave it another shot and I am so glad that I did! The narration is fantastic and the author is just so good at capturing the nuances of the flawed but loveable characters. The premise of this book takes place in a blue-collar hockey town in the middle of the woods. The town is dying and hockey is the only thing that seems to be bringing this community together. The junior team has a semi-final coming up and if they win it could be just the thing to save this dying town. During all of this, a teenage party is happening where all the hockey team attends. A rape happens, leaving the town split apart based on who they believe.
I must say that I am overly impressed with how Fredrik Backman wrote all of these characters. You truly love, root for, and have compassion for all of them, even the ones who do horrendous things. Also, how he wrote about the fallout of the rape was all-encompassing. Every time a girl gets raped, people ask if she said no, if she fought hard enough, or why she didn’t fight, when the fact is many women don’t fight at all… but that doesn’t mean they weren’t raped.
And while this book definitely centers around the fallout of the rape, it is also about what it means to be an athlete, the emotional side of sports, the psychology of a team, what it means to be a leader and so much more. There are layers upon layers of story. It is so good. 5/5 stars
The Cruelest Month – Louise Penny (A)
I love this series. It feels like Northern Exposure meets Sherlock Holmes meets cozy Canadian quirkiness and landscape. Many people have told me that this series is good, but really gets its groove starting with this one, Book 3. I can see that. The main characters have had time to develop and the story is able to focus more on the mystery instead of explaining the quirks of the regulars. The Inspector is his usual wise and paternal self with impressive insight into human behaviors. But now he is back in Three Pines to investigate a villager that dies during a séance at the creepy abandoned mansion up on the hill while the quirky townsfolk serve as a backdrop with quirky banter and antics. 4/5 stars
The Black Swan of Paris– Karen Robards (A)
Set in Paris during the Nazi occupation, this was a solid entertaining listen that held my attention the whole time. The story centers around Genevieve Dumont who is a celebrated singer in Paris known as The Black Swan. Much of her audience is made up on German soldiers and while she puts on quite a performance for them, her loyalties do not lie with the Nazis. This is a story about secrets, espionage, loyalty, and family set against the back drop of world war. 3.5/5 stars
Mad Honey – Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan (A)
Well, that was phenomenal! This will easily be one of my Top reads of 2022. Great storyline, great characters, and narration. So well done and it allowed me to walk in someone else’s shoes that I would otherwise have no real experience with. I won’t say anything more than that because I don’t want to give anything away, but it is my hope that it will build empathy and understanding where there is not much in today’s society in a way that only Jodi Picoult can do. 5/5 stars
B – Physical Book
A - Audiobook
As always, you can see a consolidated list of all my book reviews HERE.
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