I have a few mini reviews from wildly different authors. All are absolutely excellent and highly recommended.
I’m starting with Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry. Wow! This recommendation came from a colleague and it did not disappoint me one bit. It’s a dark retelling of Peter Pan and the origin story of Captain Hook. In this not so happy fairy tale, Peter is a spoiled narcissistic psychopath. Not a doctor here…but I’m going for it with the psychopath pronouncement. His right hand BFF is Jamie, a boy he “rescued” from the real world dozens of years ago. After Jamie, Peter rescued numerous other boys and together they rule Peter’s Island. They fight with pirates, play with mermaids, avoid crocodiles and fear the many eyed (boy eating monsters).
Jamie is a fair-minded boy, a fighter who keeps the peace and is in many ways a father figure for the boys. On one of Peter’s trips back to the other place (what they call the real world), he brings back a very young child, Charlie. Charlie is WAY to small and not mature enough to fend for himself and live on the island. Jamie takes him under his wing and that pushes Peter into a jealous spiral. He wants Jamie to be his best friend always and to play with him more than anyone else. Peter sets his sites on killing Charlie.
I felt major Lord of the Flies vibes. I listened this one and it took me a beat to get into the book and then I couldn’t put it down. Lots of action, character growth, twists and a dark foreboding feeling on every single page. It was like watching a horror movie and knowing that the bad guy wasn’t dead yet, he would be back and so much worse than before. Grade A, get this book.
Next, I listened to In a Jam by Kate Canterbury. This was my first book by Canterbary and it had this wonderful balance of charming love story and major spice. The cute cover hides a ton of steam.
Shay grew up with a mother who was constantly overseas, she went to boarding schools and lived with her step-grandmother for a time in a small town in Rhode Island. Shay is now an elementary school teacher who was left at the alter by a horrible fiancé. She’s in her upper 30’s and desperately wants a family. Her step-grandmother dies and leaves Shay her tulip farm. Ah…but there’s a catch! She must live there for a year AND get married. Enter Noah. Noah and Shay were friends in high school. Well, Shay thought they were friends. Meanwhile, Noah was completely in love with her. Noah, after doing the NYC lawyer thing for awhile, moved back to the same small town to take over his family farm. He’s also had a major glow up and cares for his sister’s only child, a precocious 6 year old who swears a lot. I loved her! By now you can probably figure out what happens. :). This was such a cute, fun book! Noah is perfection. Grade A, also read this one.
And finally, Educated by Tara Westover. You may have heard of this one a few years ago. It was on a lot of must-read lists, including President Obama’s. I thought the premise, it’s a memoir, sounded interesting. But the main driver for me was the actor, Julia Whelan, as the narrator. I had just finished Thank You for Listening (phenomenal!!) And just need more of Whelan.
Westover grew up in rural Idaho, the daughter of survivalist parents who were also very religious Latter Day Saints. Her father stockpiled weapons, they didn’t go to doctors, hospitals, school, and were so removed from any real education that she and her siblings grew up not knowing about the Holocaust or the Civil Rights Movement. The family endured horrific car accidents that nearly killed them and never sought out medical attention. She has an older brother who physically abused her. Lacking formal education, Tara started to educate herself. She took on part-time jobs to afford books and eventually achieved a high enough ACT score to be accepted to BYU.
She goes on to Harvard, Cambridge and traveled the world learning. Her story is just stunning. I still think about it. No matter what challenges I may have, nothing compares to what Westover overcame. Also fascinating is that two of her brothers also went on to college and are successful. Her parents had so many faults, some they could control, some they couldn’t. The author speculates that her father is bi-polar. I googled her parents to learn what they’re doing now. In the book, Westover tells the story of how her father nearly died from an explosion. He had terrible burns, and her mother, a healer who believes in oils and natural remedies, treated him for months. He survived. That incident was the best PR for her parents and they now have a very successful essential oils business. Go figure. Grade A, put this on your list!