Book Reviews

Book Review: Love at First Flight by Tess Woods

love at first flight

Love at First Flight explores the taboo topic of infidelity, but it’s far from your average clichéd story about a married woman who has a tumultuous affair. Woods digs much deeper by forcing readers to ponder all of the following questions:

  • What causes people to fall in love?
  • How long does it take to fall in love?
  • How important is it to have a passionate, can’t-get-enough-of you connection with your spouse?
  • Should you stay in an unsatisfying marriage simply because children are involved?
  • Is it wise to follow your heart even if it might mean hurting the people you love?

This story is told from the alternating perspectives of Mel (a doctor and married mother of two) and Matt (an introspective humanitarian with a fiancé). The alternating viewpoints really helped me to understand why Mel and Matt are drawn to each other. Woods did a great job of making me like both of them and an even better job of making me want them to end up together, despite the fact that they are in relationships with other people. However, Woods threw me for a loop by making Mel’s husband Adam likeable as well. As a result, part of me wanted Mel to stay faithful to Adam. I was so confused!

Not only did this book cause knots in my stomach because I was torn about what I wanted Mel to do, but it also surprised me several times. Did things end up the way I’d hoped? Yes and no. Was I satisfied with the ending? To be honest, I was a bit sad and in disbelief, but I’m okay with that because real-life situations like this rarely end with rainbows and sunshine for everyone involved. So, yes, I was 100% satisfied with the ending.

Favorite Quotes:

“…by losing everything I was introduced to myself for the first time.”

“The verb love is what counts, not the feeling of love. When you feel love, it’s selfish, it’s just for you and it affects nobody but you. But when you act love, you are committing the act of loving somebody.”

AMAZON

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Holdout by Laurel Osterkamp

I have been a fan of Survivor since the U.S. version first aired in 2000. Every season, I find myself wondering what goes on behind the scenes, how much the editing has affected my opinions about the castaways and to what extent cast members keep in touch when filming ends. I also love a good showmance, especially one that has gone bad, so I was very excited to read The Holdout. While this book offers Survivor-like drama and an interesting take on what life could be like for a reality show contestant after filming ends, it contained several subplots that didn’t really grab my interest.

The story is told through the main character’s eyes and shifts back and forth from the present (during the airing of the show, while Robin serves as a jury member) to the past (leading up to and during the filming of the show). At first, I had a hard time with the flashing back and forth, but it wasn’t a big issue once I knew to expect it. Another thing that kind of bothered me was that I didn’t understand the point of the jury duty storyline until near the end. I found myself skimming those sections because I wanted to get to details about The Holdout.

The sections about The Holdout were just as entertaining as watching an episode of Survivor, which is what I was hoping for. I think anyone, whether a fan of Survivor or not, would enjoy these parts. Osterkamp did a nice job of describing the contestants, behind-the-scenes betrayals, challenges and Island Assembly (aka Tribal Council). One thing that got to be a bit too much was the overuse of exact Survivor phrases, such as “Want to know what you’re playing for?” and “Worth playing for?” In fact, most of what the host of The Holdout (Joe Pine) says mirrors the things that the host of Survivor (Jeff Probst) says.

There were A LOT of characters to keep track of, but Osterkamp did a nice job of weaving them into the story. Whether all of the characters were essential or not, I just don’t know. I definitely enjoyed getting to know the cast of The Holdout more than I enjoyed learning about Robin’s family and fellow jury members, but that’s simply because I was more interested in the reality show aspect of this book. As for Robin, I liked her, but she was kind of flat. Many of her thoughts and feelings were never conveyed to others, making a lot of her interactions trivial. One of my favorite parts of the story was when she fully expressed herself during an Island Assembly. Grant was a total jerk, as expected, but I did wonder about his intentions at the end. Hmm…

Memorable quotes:

“They say hindsight is twenty/twenty. No. Not when hindsight is aired every week on broadcast TV. Then it’s beyond twenty/twenty. Hindsight is Superman, x-ray vision with psychic powers built in.”

“We search for absolute justice because it doesn’t exist, and not the other way around.”

“Endings and beginnings merge all the time, so it’s not always easy to distinguish when change happens.”

If you enjoy Survivor, you might enjoy this book, but keep in mind that there is much more to the story than all the reality show drama.

Rating: 3 STARS

Amazon | Goodreads

Book Reviews

Book Review: Of Mice and Money by Winifred Morris

Of Mice and Money tells the story of Kiva, a woman in her late thirties who wants to make a clean break from her drug-smuggling husband. After a decade of putting up with his “scary business” and being told things on a “need-to-know” basis, she decides to give up a life of luxury for one that is simpler, quieter, and much safer—or so she thinks. When she finds a place that seems perfect for a fresh start, chaos (and humor) ensues as new and familiar faces begin showing up on her doorstep.

Much of the first half of the book, which was a tad slow but packed with the hilarious inner dialogue of Kiva, is spent setting up the plot and introducing key characters. However, if the author hadn’t done such a thorough job of introducing each character, I’m not sure the second half would have flowed as well as it does. As soon as Kiva’s hippie parents show up, the story really takes off. I finished the book in one sitting from that point on. There were no loose ends by the end, and I felt thoroughly satisfied with how everything shakes out.

I really enjoyed getting to know Kiva, who is funny and likeable despite the mistakes she has made in the past, especially in regards to her daughter. When Amy shows up after not seeing Kiva for four years, their rocky relationship adds a layer of drama that any mother or daughter can probably relate to.

This book sort of reminds me of the popular TV series Weeds. Despite the seriousness of some of the themes in the story (drug dealing, drug use, mother/daughter drama, deadbeat parenting), it is still humorous and quite entertaining. No, Kiva is not a drug dealer like Nancy Botwin in Weeds, but their personalities are quite similar. If you were a fan of Weeds, then this book is right up your alley.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

4 STARS

Amazon | Goodreads

Book Reviews

Book Review: Birdbrain by Virginia Arthur

Don’t let the cover of this book fool you. Not only does Birdbrain chronicle a young woman’s path to self-discovery, but it is also thought-provoking in regards to nature and the environment. Virginia Arthur took me on an emotional roller coaster. If you enjoy books that make you laugh, cry, analyze your beliefs, and reflect on relationships, then this one is for you.

The first half focuses a lot on Ellie leaving her husband of six years. She goes back and forth with her decision, driving her best friend Patty crazy. There were times when even I became annoyed with her, but then it occurred to me that I have been in her shoes. In fact, I don’t know many women who haven’t had their hearts broken by emotionally stunted men. The indecision Ellie suffers from is so relatable, and her discussions with Patty about her ex reminded me of so many discussions I have had with friends. I could see myself in both Ellie’s and Patty’s shoes. Despite Ellie’s lingering sadness over the divorce, she is still an extremely endearing character.

If reading about failed-relationship-induced heartache is not your cup of tea, don’t worry, there’s so much more to this book. Ellowyn’s inadvertent journey into the world of bird watching is another theme that will keep you entertained. It begins as something that helps her through the divorce and evolves into a fierce passion for nature. I loved reading about Ellie’s bird watching and about all the eco-related things in this book. In fact, it is doubtful that some of the ideas presented in this book will ever leave my mind or my heart.

Quotes from Birdbrain that I loved:

“if we would only plant a tree when someone dies instead of erecting dead stone monuments…”

“…is calculated freedom really freedom?”

“Materialism was the order of the day in the race to see who could become even more superficial.”

Note to readers: The author was kind enough to provide me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am so glad to have read it. I may even take up bird watching.

AMAZON

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