2018 Book Review


It was my goal to read at least 10 books in 2018. I’m happy that I closed out the year finishing 15 different books. To some this number may be pathetic, but to me it was challenging. The temptation to sit on my phone and scroll aimlessly before bed was hard to break by pulling out a book instead. However it was always rewarding and reading proved much better use of my time than looking at my phone or binging Netflix. I hope to keep this habit in 2019.

I also really want to focus on writing more and I know that as an inspiring writer I should always be reading something!

So here’s my quick book review of all 15 books! I tried not to give away too much 😉

Book #1
The Iron Cowboy: Redefine Impossible
By: James Lawrence
As a fellow Ironman, I was drawn to this book. Redefine Impossible is a memoir from James Lawrence, the Iron Cowboy. He completed 50 Ironman distance triathlons in 50 days in 50 states. This book is a detailed look back on the good, the bad and the ugly of that summer. I actually saw James in state #39 in Ohio, so I was particularly interested in reading his story. It brought me back to the days of training for my first Ironman! I was really impressed with learning about his support crew, but often times I felt bad for his wife and family. I know from personal experience that Ironman is a selfish sport, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around what he asked his family to do. I also found it interesting to learn more about how he set up the races — from getting state ambassadors, to hounding companies to be sponsors. If I’m being honest this book altered my view on the whole 50 triathlons journey. He talked about burning bridges with friends, fighting with his wife and he lashed out often because of his irritability and general exhaustion (I mean I can’t really blame him!) Overall I do feel like this book tainted my view of the Iron Cowboy, which I found slightly disappointing, but I am glad I read this book and got a sneak peek into his mind and journey. I would recommend this book to any endurance athlete.

Book #2
By: Tina Fey
I purchased this book and tried to read it a few different times, but I just couldn’t get into it. The problem is, this book is written like standup comedy and it didn’t “read” as funny to me. It read as annoying and in long, run-on sentences. Determined to read it because I love Tina Fey, I picked up the audio book and decided that listening to it might be easier. And it was!! The audio book (read by Tina) was so much better and more entertaining. I found myself laughing out loud and reciting some of the stories to my husband later on. It felt like I was listening to her comedy act. But I don’t think I ever would have gotten through it without the audio book.

Book #3
The Outward Mindset
By: The Arbinger Institute
Our whole marketing department at work read this book.  We had a month to read it and then attended a facilitated book discussion regarding it. For being forced to read it as part of “work” it wasn’t terrible. Basically the entire book boiled down to this — Think about others and treat others as you would like to be treated. The whole principle is that organizations flourish under the thought leaderships of “outward” mindsets. AKA taking other people’s needs, feelings, etc. into consideration. When we stop focusing on our own wants and needs and start to think outward towards other’s wants and needs, everything else will fall into place. It seems a little bit too rainbows and butterflies, but I get the general message behind it.

Book #4
Heaven is for Real
By: Todd Burpo
This is the “true” story of a 4-year-old boy named Colton who had a near death experience. Supposedly Colton went to visit Jesus in heaven for a little bit. It was a really cool concept and well written, since Colton’s dad tells the story from his perspective. I am not sure how I feel about the actual thing happening though. In my heart I want to believe it’s real. The dad is a pastor at a church so you can’t help but think…well maybe the dad just wanted the fame and income from a story like this? But then you feel like an A-hole for thinking like that and the idea that it might actually have happened is really cool. My favorite parts of the book include Colton explaining that he met his unborn sister in heaven (who he later finds out “died in mommy’s tummy”) and when he explains meeting his Great Grandpa (who he never met when he was alive). This book is a quick read and left me wondering — could that have actually happened???

Book #5
The Wife Between Us
By: Sarah Pekkanen & Greer Hendricks
I had to wait a few weeks to get this audio book on OverDrive, but it was well worth the wait. The story concept kept me intrigued for the first half of the book, and by the second half it developed into a page turner. The main character is mysterious at first and there are bits and pieces of odd information and clues laced throughout the book. The ending loops everything together and the story comes full circle. It was a deep story line and covered the topics of mental illness, abuse, death and the development of two people in a toxic relationship. This is one of my highest recommended books!

Book #6
Irish Eyes
By: Mary Kay Andrews
I have read and loved several books by this author, but I almost stopped reading Irish Eyes multiple times. The story line was slow and I found some of the characters super annoying. Also the audio reader made some of the character’s voices almost unbearable to listen to. It took me almost two months to finish this book, but I was determined because I had already invested so much time. Only around chapter 14 did the book get vaguely interesting. The story line covers a string of robberies and a murder in Atlanta. After a series of weird clues, we find out that it seems like the Atlanta Police Department is strangely linked to everything happening. The main character, who annoyed me because she was just so stupidly stubborn, helps to solve the crime. I will say the ending is pretty disappointing and wasn’t very uplifting. The book ended and I seriously said out loud, “Wait really?? That’s it?

Book #7
Any Dream Will Do
By: Debbie Macomber
This book was a cool concept because it switched points of view between the two main characters — who wind up falling in love with each other. It was neat to have insight into each character as their relationship progresses throughout the story. I also like that one of the main characters is a pastor and you get to peek into his world of leading a church. There was a nice little God link that I appreciated and a good message that tied it all together at the end. It was a light and uplifting read!


Book #8
Primates of Park Avenue
By: Wednesday Martin
This book looked interesting to me because I love New York City. It was a little different because I typically don’t like memoirs.I found the book funny and slightly tacky — but still good, does that make sense?! LOL. It tells the stories of the author’s experience living in and raising children in New York City. Parts of it are written like a field guide describing animal behavior, which I thought was an interesting and funny concept.


Book #9
Leaving Time
By: Jodi Picoult
I’ve read a few books by this author and as soon as I started reading this one I remembered why I like her books so much. She writers so beautifully and her story lines are always thought provoking and deep. This story instantly hooked me and actually scared me a few times! It was really intriguing and it’s written with just enough suspense that it wasn’t cheesy since it kinnnnndddaaaa deals with ghosts. (I promise it’s not cheesy like Casper.) But that’s all I’ll give away! It also ends with a weird plot twist that I didn’t see coming.

Book #10
Paris For One & Other Stories
By: Jojo Moyes
I loved this book! The first of the short stories is the longest and about Paris — hence the name. Since we had just come back from Paris I found it very interesting because I knew most of the places they were referencing. I’ve never read a book with multiple short stories before and it really kept my attention. There were so many cute characters introduced and I loved that they were all based in London. Many of the stories had a deeper and intriguing theme. One of the shorter stories I really liked was called “Crocodile Shoes” which follows a women who accidentally switches shoes with someone and they transform her life. Funny, cute little stories with deeper meaning — it made for a quick read.

Book #11
Luckiest Girl Alive
By: Jessica Knoll
This book came recommended to me on the Overdrive App, and without even reading the summary I decided I was just going to go with it. I realized I’d never not known what a book is going to be about, which really intrigued me as I continued. Jessica Knoll may be my new favorite author. She wrote this book so hilariously, yet it’s so dark and twisty. I cannot get over it! The main character goes through so much pain and growth before the reader’s eyes. It switches between past memories and present day and as the story unfolds you see where exactly the pieces add up. It’s incredible and so well thought out. And as the story comes to a turning point you find out what exactly happened in the past. I legit gasped out loud! Then I couldn’t sleep that night because I was thinking about what had happened in the story. You guys — THIS IS A MUST READ. It’s Sex and the City mixed with a murdery action/love movie. Your heart goes out to the main character and there’s so many themes that any one who has ever survived middle school will relate to. It’s a really, really incredible book.

Book #12
Sisters Like Us
By: Susan Mallery
This was a cute little story! Anyone looking for a lighthearted read would love this book. It has some good themes, but isn’t over the top and is easy to follow. You see the characters evolve and the ending is very sweet and leaves you feeling good. I was slightly annoyed by one of the main characters, Harper, who I basically wanted to scream at to get a backbone — but she ended up redeeming herself in the end. It was also vaguely predictable, but again it was a cute and light read.


Book #13
Girl, Wash Your Face
By: Rachel Hollis
I had to give this book a try since everyone was talking about it. I think this book was good, however it wasn’t the life changing life manuscript that many made it out to be. Also I really don’t know why she named the book like she did. I think she made one comment about washing your face in it?? But I still picked up a few knowledge nuggets and was inspired to keep trying to write more. I also liked the chapter about the lie you tell yourself “I’ll do it tomorrow.” — as I was reading this chapter I looked up to see two big baskets of laundry that I was procrastinating putting away. You better believe I put those clothes away after I finished the chapter!

Book #14
Because of Bethlehem
By: Max Lucado
I read this book three years ago and really liked it. I think I may have started reading it last Christmas too, but never finished it. This holiday season I was determined to read it all again and I’m glad I did. Obviously this is a christian book, so it was chalked full with pieces of advice and wisdom about preparing your heart to celebrate the birth of Christ. It was very  “Jesus is the reason for the season”, but you know what? Sometimes we need the reminder in the hustle and bustle of Christmas! I am a big fan of Max Lucado.

Book #15
Angels at the Table
By: Debbie Macomber
I don’t think I’ve read any other “fantasy” book besides Harry Potter. So when I read the summary of this book and learned it was about a couple of angels, I decided to give it a try. It was pretty cute, yet very predictable. I would relate it to a traditional Hallmark Christmas movie. I wanted to read something cute and festive and that’s just what this book was.

3 thoughts on “2018 Book Review

  1. Thanks Mary! I hope to beat my own rookie reading number in 2019. I’ll have to get some recommendations from you.

  2. As an extremely avid reader I enjoyed your reviews. I’m always looking for good books.
    I have only read two of these and agree with your reviews.
    A couple I will check out based on your comments.
    Keep up with the writing as you have talent that needs to be nurtured.

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