Reading List

Books #51

Well….if you are trapped in your house, now is a good time to read, right? If you have a kindle, you can download books from your library. I’m sure there are other ways to get books for free, too. Here are some suggestions for reads:

#1 My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams

I have mixed feelings about this book. I’d recommend it because the story is nuts and it’s a fascinating read. Anna was a fake heiress. Claimed to be German (was Russian), and lived in expensive hotels in New York while being a socialite, basically. But she was really a grifter, writing bad checks, cheating people out of money, not paying bills, scamming hedge funds out of investments to fund her lifestyle…it was all really crazy.

Rachel was a photographer at Vanity Fair who became friends with her and got swept up in her lifestyle, and in the end, Anna scammed her out of $70k and almost ruined her life.

What makes me hesitate in rating the book higher was that I didn’t really like Rachel. I felt for her, I really did. The $70k would be devastating to anyone. But…she kinda wanted to be part of that lifestyle. She let Anna “pay” for expensive lifestyle stuff and meals and trips because she enjoyed the fancy life. She just didn’t see that it was a scam, which is tragic. So it was hard for me to be entirely sympathetic since it felt like Rachel put aside a lot of stuff (like ignoring that Anna was kind of a mean girl) to enjoy the spoils.

Despite that part, the book was good because it’s a fast read and the story is pretty crazy. I even googled it after I finished the book and read more and looked at pictures. Anna was truly a sociopath.

#2 The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

This book was nuts. It sucked me in immediately. It was so weird, so out there, so twisty and surprising and different…I don’t want to give too much away because every step of the way was a “wow!” factor. Definitely pick this book up!

#3 Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown

This book was EXCELLENT! Get it immediately! While I didn’t enjoy the ending, if left me wanting more and feeling a little disturbed and unresolved…I loved the rest of it.

This book tells the story of a 1950’s housewife in New York and then current day. Usually this format isn’t very good, but it’s good in this book and I enjoyed both timelines. Alice, modern day, moves from Manhattan to the suburbs with her husband after losing her job. They buy an old house, “as is”, and finds some old belongs from the previous owner, Nellie (the 1950’s story line).

I don’t want to give away any more because the story unfolds in an excellent way, with some surprises. There’s some darkness, and a little bit of domestic violence (trigger warning) and miscarriage. But I loved the book. So good!

#4 Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Last time I was home sick I watched this show on Netflix and enjoyed it. It was a bit soap-opera-ish but I still liked it. I finally read the book. I probably would have liked the book better had I read it before seeing the tv series. I will also say I liked the book plot points better than what they changed in the tv series.

#5 Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow

I’ve had this book on hold forever and it was finally available…a few days after Harvey Weinstein was sentenced. I had a moment of, why do I need to even read this book now?

But damn, read the book.

“‘Textbook sexual harassment’ was how Nestor described Weinstein’s behavior. She recalled refusing his advances at least a dozen times. “‘No’ did not mean ‘no’ to him,” she said.”

It’s engrossing and in-depth about the background research, investigation, the coverup, how deeply HW was protected…how many people were complacent. How many people knew. I mean Ronan Farrow implicated so many people…Trump, the Clintons, soooo many people. Most of Hollywood.

“Arquette’s story was important because of how closely it hewed to others I’d heard: professional pretext, meeting moved upstairs, hotel room, request for massage, bathrobe.”

The details from the women were all awful and hard to read. But important.

” Sorvino had suspected that her romantic relationship with Tarantino at the time had shielded her from retaliation, and that this protection had dissipated when the two split up. Later, Tarantino would say publicly that he could have, should have, done more. “This is the big boys’ club, the Hollywood mafia,” she said. “They protect each other.” “

I am so glad Harvey got what was coming to him and this book shows just how hard people fought for this story to come forward.

#6 Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs by Michael Osterholm and Mark Olshaker

Timely read. I heard this author on the Joe Rogan Podcast when the Corona virus was first kind of taking hold in the US. The book is really interesting and was written about 4 years ago…but clearly we are seeing stuff happen NOW he wrote about then. Experts have been talking about pandemic for a long time and we are seeing now that the World wasn’t prepared.

” ‘The microbe that felled one child in a distant continent yesterday can reach yours today and seed a global pandemic tomorrow.’ “

“… a pandemic spreads around the world and lasts for an extended period of time. It does not hit just one locale, leaving all others with the ability to come to its aid.”

There was a whole chapter on Corona viruses (MERS and SARS, etc) that was super scary and chilling to read as we are in the middle of this crisis now.

“A pandemic hits many locales simultaneously, all of them needing emergency assistance. It has a rolling effect as it hits first individuals, then civil authority, then business, then interstate or international commerce or both. The effects are immediate and devastating, the consequences long-term.”

“For reasons we still don’t completely understand, certain individuals with coronavirus become ‘superspreaders.’ “

The book doesn’t really give you a silver lining, so right now may not be the right time to read this book if you are experiencing anxiety. The chapter on coronaviruses in particular was scary and the author gave a scenario of what would happen in a pandemic and so far it’s happening to a T. So that was scary to read what is probably coming…

“Ordinary civic and commercial functions were not being carried out because so much of the workforce was sick or dead. Some sick people starved to death, not because there was a food shortage but because so many people were afraid to come in contact with them. Unlike a virus such as Ebola, which is not communicable until the victim starts having symptoms, with influenza, you’re contagious before you even feel sick.”

“A catastrophic influenza pandemic will unfold like a slow-motion tsunami, lasting six to eighteen months. “

So yeah. Good read, scary though.

Happy reading!

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Books #48

My goal for 2019 was 165 books and I just reached that goal!

I’ve read some good ones lately! I also had a FLOOD of library books all come available at the same time, of course, so it was hard to get through everything. But here are some favorites:

#1 A Season to Lie (Detective Gemma Monroe #2) by Emily Littlejohn

Really strong sequel. I enjoyed this mystery a lot. Gemma is back, a new mother, and trying to fit back into work after maternity leave. She gets a big case–a famous author is murdered. I didn’t guess who the doer was until almost the end, so I liked the surprise. There were lots of twists and turns and red herrings. The characters showed some growth, too, and seemed a little more fleshed out.

#2 The Birth House by Ami McKay

I really enjoyed this book! It was a fascinating read and I loved the characters.

It takes place in the early 1900’s in a remote Canadian community in Nova Scotia. Dora is a teenager and is befriended by the town midwife, Miss B, who takes her under her wing and teachers her how to “catch babies.”

“Miss B. never asks for payment from those who come to her. She says a true traiteur never does. Grandmothers who still believe in her ways and thankful new mothers leave coffee tins, heavy with coins that have been collected after Sunday service. In season, families bring baskets of potatoes, carrots, cabbage and anything else she might need to get by.”

It’s a fascinating time period because it’s a clash of two worlds. The old world, where women went to the midwife for everyone, and the new “shiny birthing center” built by an insurance company and run by a man. This is also the time of “twilight birth” being touted as the BEST way to give birth! Chloroform and ether! Yay!

““The latest methods of obstetrics—chloroform, ether, chloral, opium, morphine, the use of forceps—these things can make birthing the joyful experience it was meant to be. I can even administer Twilight Sleep if desired.” “

There was so much history and interesting stuff in this book and it was a real joy to read. The book was well written and a fast read.

“If women lose the right to say where and how they birth their children, then they will have lost something that’s as dear to life as breathing. I’m tired of being afraid.”

#3 Old Bones (Nora Kelly) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

So good! Nora Kelly is “back”–she was first introduced in one of my FAVORITE books (Thunderhead) so it looks like they are making a series out of her. In this book, Nora is approached by a historian who has knowledge of a secret third camp from the Donner Party in the Sierra Nevadas. Together they convince her boss at the Museum to put together a team to search for it.

The book is really well written. You get sucked into the story immediately and it’s exciting and faced paced. Felt like an Indian Jones movie, with a little twist of horror. Loved the ending!

#4 Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Laurel Mack is a 50-something mother of three who never really got over the fact that her 15 year old daughter, Ellie, disappeared 10 years ago. It destroyed her, destroyed her marriage, fractured her relationship with her other two kids. Now she’s trying to piece together her life and move on. She starts by dating a handsome stranger, Floyd, whom she meets in a cafe.

But as the buzz of new happiness starts to dissipate, Laurel starts to question some things about Floyd and his 9 year old daughter, Poppy.

So the book was good. It kept me reading long after I should have put the book down. The writing and the dialogue was good. The atmosphere created was good. The plot points were obvious and predictable and unrealistic, but I still liked the book a lot so it kept me reading.

#5 The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Wow! This book blew me away. It was so so good. The author expertly created a vibe of creepiness that never wavered throughout the book. The creepy, remote house in the middle of nowhere in Scotland. Creepy kids. A house that is super high tech where you’re constantly feeling watched…All the elements were there.

Rowan takes a job as a live-in nanny in remote Scotland. The parents are rich architects and away a lot. Rowan is kind of thrown into the mix immediately and strange things start happening in this weird house, where there’s a history of “ghosts” and hauntings and there’s a poison garden on the grounds. Everything about the place and the kids and the situation has Rowan on edge. In the end, a child ends up dead. (Thankfully, it’s not described in detail, so don’t let that aspect deter you from reading the book like it almost did me.) The ending had several twists and turns that were surprising.

#6 The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

I found this book enduring and sweet and heartwarming. Arthur is an 80-something year old man who visits his wife in the cemetery every day for lunch. He’s lonely. Maddy is a teenager who is also lonely and visit her mom in the cemetery. They become unlikely friends. The book was reminiscent of Catherine Hyde Ryan books. I enjoyed it.

Happy Reading!

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