Reading

Rich People Problems – Kevin Kwan | A Book Review

Rich People Problems - Kevin Kwan

Title: Rich People Problems

Author: Kevin Kwan

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s the third and final book in the Crazy Rich Asians series. When Nicholas Young’s grandmother, Su Yi, has a heart attack, the family rushes to her side in Shanghai. Nick’s childhood home isn’t the same with everyone wondering who will inherit what from her fortune.

First impressions: I read the first two books already, and I would recommend reading the series in order as this novel references previous events. I was looking forward to seeing how Kwan would wrap things up.

Characters: There’s a family tree included at the beginning, and I found myself referencing it often. With so many characters and relationships, I had to read slowly and carefully. By the end, I grew to like a lot of the family members for different reasons. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out and well developed.

Quote:

“Sometimes, the thing that at first apears flawed can end up being the most perfect thing in the world for you.”

Writing: The book is almost 600 pages in length, but the chapters aren’t too long with breaks throughout them as well. Kwan has such a distinct, descriptive writing style. The pacing picks up as the plot unfolds, and he includes some interesting twists along the way.

Final thoughts: Even though I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’m satisfied with the ending. If you’re looking for a fun series filled with drama, humour, and romance, check out Rich People Problems.


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Reading

The Death of Mrs. Westaway – Ruth Ware | A Book Review

The Death of Mrs. Westaway - Ruth Ware

Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway

Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone novel following Hal Westaway who receives a letter about an inheritance, even though she isn’t the granddaughter of Mrs. Westaway. Hal finds herself attending the funeral of the deceased where she realizes there are many secrets surrounding the family.

First impressions: I’ve read Ware’s other novels, and I was curious about this one. I thought the story would just focus on the present, but the diary entries from the past added an interesting angle to the story.

Characters: There are some morally gray characters. I felt like the relationship dynamics between family members were unexpected in an interesting way. The book doesn’t have too many characters, so it was easy enough to remember everyone.

Quote:

“She had discovered that the most important truths often lay in what people didn’t say…”

Writing: I like when writers interweave the past and the present, and Ware does this well. Although the chapters aren’t too long, in my opinion, the plot takes a bit of time to develop. There are discussion questions and an interview with the author at the end of the book I read, which I enjoyed.

Final thoughts: The ending resolves the big mysteries while leaving some small questions unanswered. If you are a fan of contemporary thrillers with a dark, Gothic undertone, consider picking up The Death of Mrs. Westaway.


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Reading

Nothing Ventured – Jeffrey Archer | A Book Review

Nothing Ventured - Jeffrey Archer

Title: Nothing Ventured

Author: Jeffrey Archer

Genre: Mystery

About the book: It’s the first in a series that follows William Warwick. He investigates the theft of a Rembrandt painting that’s currently in the hands of an art collector with an influential lawyer. William also meets Beth, a research assistant at the art gallery, and they fall in love, but she has a secret that she doesn’t want him to find out.

First impressions: I’ve never read anything by Archer before, but I was excited to delve into this story. I thought the novel would focus on just one storyline, but William and his team look into multiple cases.

Characters: I thought the book would mainly revolve around William, but it jumps around a lot. As such, I wasn’t as invested in the characters, especially in the beginning. William and Beth’s relationship develops fairly quickly, but it gets more interesting as the story progresses.

Quote:

“Reputation is the shield of the righteous in difficult times.”

Writing: It’s a little over 400 pages with short chapters and scenes. The writing is simple, but there are a lot of different parts to the plot.

Final thoughts: The pace picks up at the end, and there’s a bit of a twist that might entice readers to check out the second novel in the series. While Nothing Ventured is a quick and easy read, I feel like this story could have worked better as a movie than as a book.


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A Castaway in Cornwall – Julie Klassen | A Book Review

A Castaway in Cornwall - Julie Klassen

Title: A Castaway in Cornwall

Author: Julie Klassen

Genre: Historical Fiction

About the book: It’s a standalone novel that follows Laura Callaway who feels like an outsider living with her uncle and his second wife in Cornwall after the death of her parents. When a man washes ashore after a shipwreck, she helps nurse him back to health but soon realizes he’s not who he says he is.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

First impressions: I like historical fiction, but this book isn’t what I normally reach for. I don’t know much about the early 19th century, Christianity, or Cornwall. Even so, I enjoyed learning more about that time period and the seaside setting.

Characters: Even though the characters live such different lives than we do nowadays, they’re still easy to relate to. I think the relationship dynamics developed well throughout the novel, especially between Laura and the castaway.

Quote:

“She had chosen this course and would choose it again.”

Writing: It’s almost 400 pages in length. The chapters aren’t too long with an epigraph at the beginning of each one. Klassen includes a short prologue and epilogue as well.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t too sure what to expect for the ending, but I like how the story ends. There’s also an author’s note with more information about the story in addition to discussion questions. If you’re interested in a historical romance set during the 1800s, check out A Castaway in Cornwall.


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Things We Didn’t Say – Amy Lynn Green | A Book Review

Things We Didn't Say - Amy Lynn Green

Title: Things We Didn’t Say

Author: Amy Lynn Green

Genre: Historical Fiction

About the book: It’s an epistolary novel set in Minnesota during World War II. Johanna Berglund, much to her reluctance, takes a job as a translator at a camp for German prisoners of war. On one hand, some individuals in the town don’t want anything to do with the POWs. On the other hand, Johanna treats them well and advocates for better treatment only for the lines between compassion and treason to blur.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

First impressions: I enjoy reading historical fiction novels set during wartime, so I was excited to read this story. I wasn’t expecting it to be written almost entirely in letters, but the format is different and interesting.

Characters: Although the author doesn’t get a chance to describe the physical appearance of the characters because everyone is writing letters to each other, they still came to life and felt real to me. I think Johanna is a relatable protagonist with her own strengths and flaws. I didn’t realize she was so young because she seemed older than her age. I also appreciate the inclusion of a Japanese American character in Peter Ito along with the exploration of racial issues between different races.

Quote:

“It is time for you to live the life in front of you, instead of wondering what might have been.”

Writing: I like the short length of the letters and how easy they are to read. The book also contains newspaper articles published in the local paper in addition to editorials.

Final thoughts: The epilogue answers lingering questions. I recommend Things We Didn’t Say to readers who want to learn more about American life during the Second World War.


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Before She Knew Him – Peter Swanson | A Book Review

Before She Knew Him - Peter Swanson

Title: Before She Knew Him

Author: Peter Swanson

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone novel about Henrietta Mazur who moves into a new house with her husband Lloyd. When she meets Mira and Matthew, the couple next door, Hen sees an object in Matthew’s office that is connected to an unsolved murder. It leads her to think he’s a killer, but no one believes her.

First impressions: I liked the premise because it sounded like a suspenseful and compelling thriller. Even from the beginning, there’s a creepy, dark undertone to the story that continues throughout the book.

Characters: I enjoyed learning about Hen and Matthew. The characters have their own flaws and shortcomings, but I found myself drawn to them nonetheless.

Quote:

“They had a secret, the two of them, and there was no better way to start a friendship than with a secret.”

Writing: It’s about 350 pages long, so the story isn’t too long or too short. The author is descriptive and writes in a way that makes the plot easy to follow.

Final thoughts: The book explores many mature issues, so it isn’t a suitable read for everyone. I didn’t see the plot twist at the end coming at all, but the ending more or less ties up loose sends. If you love psychological thrillers about killers, check out Before She Knew Him.


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A Reasonable Doubt – Philip Margolin | A Book Review

A Reasonable Doubt - Philip Margolin

Title: A Reasonable Doubt

Author: Philip Margolin

Genre: Mystery

About the book: It’s the third book in the Robin Lockwood series following a former MMA fighter who is now a criminal defense attorney. When a magician named Robert Chesterfield dies in the middle of his magic trick, Robin finds herself trying to figure out how he was murdered in front of three thousand people.

First impressions: I haven’t read the other books in the series, but I was intrigued by the premise. I was expecting more investigation scenes with Robin in them, yet the beginning goes over what happened more than a decade ago when Chesterfield is accused of killing two people.

Characters: At the beginning, I found myself trying to keep track of everyone involved. I liked Robin but I wanted to learn more about her, and some of the secondary characters.

Quote:

“My job is helping people in trouble, not judging them.”

Writing: The chapters are short with a good balance of dialogue and description. At around 350 pages, it’s a quick read. The story is easy to follow as a standalone, so you don’t have to read the series in order, but there are a few references to events that occurred in the first two novels.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed the ending with Robin solving the case. If you are a fan of magic and mystery with investigation and courtroom scenes, consider picking up A Reasonable Doubt.


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Hindsight – Iris and Roy Johansen | A Book Review

Hindsight - Iris and Roy Johansen

Title: Hindsight

Author: Iris and Roy Johansen

Genre: Mystery

About the book: It’s the seventh book in the Kendra Michaels series. She was blind for twenty years before getting a surgical procedure, and now she’s an investigator. When two staff members at a school Kendra attended are murdered, she puts her life on the line to discover why.

First impressions: I haven’t read anything written by these authors before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t even realize this novel was part of a series. It’s easy enough to follow along as a stand-alone though.

Characters: I liked some of the secondary characters, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kendra. She has a combative personality, constantly getting into arguments with others. I didn’t enjoy the relationships and interactions because it felt like the same issues were repeated throughout the book.

Quote:

“No one knows everything about a person, because everything around us keeps changing.”

Writing: There’s a lot of dialogue, so most of the information is revealed when characters speak to each other. I liked certain aspects of the plot, but at times, I had to suspend disbelief to enjoy the story. It’s a little under 400 pages, so the book isn’t too long.

Final thoughts: The pacing picks up at the end. I enjoyed the ending and learning about the killer’s motivations. If you are a fan of murder mysteries with some romance mixed in, you might enjoy Hindsight.


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