Saturday, October 7, 2017

What's Val Reading? (September 2017)

You may not know this, but I'm not the only avid reader in my family. In fact, I think everyone in my immediate family (parents, siblings) loves to read, though two of us read much more than the rest. My sister Val reads nearly as much as I do, but we rarely read the same books. Since our reading tastes are so different, we thought it would be fun for Val to do a monthly wrap-up of her reads here on Christian Chick's Thoughts. So here's Val, and from here on out I'll try to be more timely in posting her monthly recap!

(I've linked each book's Amazon page in the title in case you want to check it out. These are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase, I'll get a small commission.)

Disclaimer: I can’t really say which of the following fiction books included language of any kind because that doesn’t really register when I’m reading. None of the fiction is Christian, so there is a chance that they used strong language at some point.  I tried to indicate when there was any sexual content, but I’m a little fuzzy about the books I read earlier in the month.

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (Goodreads)

This book is by no means literature, but it is a fun read.  The story is about a woman who finds out that her husband was killed in a car crash in Hawaii…with his girlfriend. Jacks (the protagonist) didn’t know her husband was cheating (or that he was in Hawaii), so she goes to Hawaii to piece together his final days and to try to determine what happened. Suspension of disbelief is key to really getting into this book, but if you just roll with it as an entertaining read, it works.  There was a twist I totally didn’t see coming, which is always fun in this type of book.  Great for an airplane or car ride when you just want some escapist fiction. (Content warning: there is one sex scene, but it’s short and easy to skip.) 3.5 stars.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (Goodreads)

I have so many feelings about this book.  I almost quit it after the first chapter, as I didn’t really care for the writing/setting/set-up, but I’m SO GLAD I pushed through, because this book GRABBED A HOLD OF ME like few do.  I woke up in the night thinking about this book – that’s how much it resonated with me.

There are some content warnings (three graphic sex scenes which I’m SO SAD were included, as well as domestic violence) so I can’t recommend this to many people, but aside from those three sex scenes, this book is just amazing.  It gives you a glimpse into domestic violence in a way that helps you understand the difficulties and complexities of the choices people in these situations make. In the author’s notes at the end, Hoover explains that her mother had been in an abusive marriage, and that is what inspired her to write this book. 5 stars.

Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs (Goodreads)

This is the only non-fiction book I read in September.  I tend to only occasionally read non-fiction, and when I do, I read little chunks over the course of several months.  That was the case with this book as well, but don’t let my slow reading make you think this book isn’t worth reading – it totally is. No matter what season of life you’re in, this book has much to teach you about what it means to be brave with your life. 4 stars.

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge (Goodreads)

I kept seeing this book featured on various bookstagram accounts, and it was always accompanied by the highest praise.  So naturally, I had to read it.  The setup of the story is that a man and a woman (strangers at the time) both survive a small plane crash over the pacific ocean and must learn to live on a tiny island. Given the plot summary, I was expecting a page-turner, but the writing was closer to a literary fiction style of prose, and it took me about half the book to really get into it. Despite being slow going for a while, once it got good, it was really good.  I did cry at the end (no spoilers!), but I kind of felt manipulated into crying since I hadn’t loved the characters all that much. Sex is mentioned in the book, but to my recollection, it wasn’t descriptive or long. 4 stars.

Lie to Me by J. T. Ellison (Goodreads)

This book falls within the domestic noir genre and centers around Ethan and Sutton, a married couple with a troubled past.  When Sutton goes missing, Ethan is the prime suspect.  Initially, the book so closely mirrored Gone Girl that I was afraid I was reading a literal knock-off until about halfway through, when it became clear there was more going on.  The main characters aren’t particularly lovable, so if that’s a “must” for you, you may want to skip it. This book is entertaining for sure, though I hesitate to recommend it because there is one sex scene and a couple of sexual conversations. Eliminate that content, and this is a fun thriller. 3.5 stars.

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum (Goodreads)

I had high expectations for this book since I’d read (and LOVED) Tell Me Three Things by Buxbaum at the beginning of 2017.  This is a YA novel centering around Kit, who has just lost her dad in a tragic accident, and David, who is just trying to survive high school without making waves, something made more difficult by the fact that he likely has Asperger’s. This one started a little more slowly, and I didn’t love the characters at first, but by about halfway through the book, I was totally hooked and couldn’t wait to see what happened.  It is a little heavier at times simply because of the struggles of the main characters, but it is SO GOOD. There’s one scene of teenage drinking, but nothing sexual and very little (if any – I really can’t remember) language. 4.5 stars.

Becky here again: I've read—and loved—Let's All Be Brave. See my thoughts here. Val also mentioned Tell Me Three Things, which I also loved. My review is here.

Thanks for joining us for the first installment of "What's Val Reading?" Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. How fun is it to come from a family of readers!! Makes it all the more fun when you have people to chat all things bookish with. :)

    Really enjoyed What to Say Next. It "feels" like a break from the norm of YA, and yet retains the YA "feel" with its wonderfully awkward (and loveable) cast of characters. Now to read Tell Me Three Things! :)

    1. It certainly is fun, Rissi! You definitely should get to Tell Me Three Things ... I bought it because of my sister, but I read it because of your Instagram post, which reminded me I owned it :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...