Good Reads

Books #55

My goal for 2020 was to read 150 books, which is usually doable for me. At this point, I am 10 books behind in order to reach my goal. I am thinking I won’t be making it this year. Oh well. Pandemic and all. There were some times this year where I could not focus on books and it was just too hard to read books. That’s ok.

Here are some of the good ones I read recently:

1 – The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Excellent! Very well written, I loved the style and how the story was told by each person at the wedding. The atmosphere was perfect for a thriller/mystery: a remote, haunted island in Ireland with a crumbling castle remodeled to host guests. It felt like a cross between an Agatha Christie book and the movie Clue. It kept me guessing until the end, too. Very well done.

2 – When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

This book was amazing! So good, I would not change a thing. It was a well crafted novel, a slow burn that kept me guessing. The description was “Rear Window” meets “Get Out” and that is spot on. Sydney has returned to her mother’s home in Brooklyn after a nasty divorce and slowly realizes that something isn’t right. People are disappearing, but in weird ways, racism and gentrification is blatant and in your face, something dark and sinister is happening but she doesn’t know what.

The book is rich in history that most did not learn in history class. The story of redlining, gentrification, black people’s homes being stolen from them. The story is fascinating and horrifying and so well written.

3 – Belabored: A Vindication of the Rights of Pregnant Women by Lyz Lenz

This book is excellent! It came on my radar because I follow the author on Twitter and she is absolutely hilarious and smart and when her book came out, it sounded fascinating. Even if you are not pregnant, have never been pregnant, never plan to be pregnant, it is still a comprehensive, well-researched and informative read.

“In our cultural imagination the perfect mother is a white, middle-class, straight, cisgender, married woman. She announces her pregnancy on social media with a photo in which she’s smiling, draped in a gauzy dress, framing an almost nonexistent bump with her hands, wedding band glinting in the light. We are happy for her. We say, “Congrats,” over and over in the comments. Her hair is perfectly curled. Her husband smiles benignly behind her. She is the modern-day Virgin Mary.”

It’s funny, dark, depressing, hopeful and relevant in this current time. She writes about feminist issues, about women’s bodies, about pro-choice and anti-choice politics, about how men and politicians want to control women in all aspects of their lives. It felt like an “this day and age” Gloria Steinem book.

She writes about non-cis gendered women, writes about how women are supposed to 100% live up to an unreachable standard in all aspects (give birth, go back to work immediately, but DO NOT PUMP! Don’t bother your employer for modifications, but don’t take time off from work, but make sure you lose that baby weight in 2 weeks!). I liked that she was inclusive.

“America scorns a fat mother. In 2019, writer Virginia Sole-Smith reported in a story for New York Times Magazine that fertility clinics will refuse to work with women if they deem their body mass index (BMI) is too high.”

“To become pregnant and to have children is to wade deeper into a world where your body is no longer yours, your body is debated by politicians, your body is manhandled by medical practitioners who won’t listen, your body is a thing people in the Target checkout line and on the school playground and around a holiday table have opinions about.”

“Corporations will penalize you for taking time off. Childcare will be unaffordable. If you’re a white woman with a white smile, ruffly blouse, impossibly clean white jeans, a sign that reads “Live, Laugh, Love” on your wall, and perfect blonde curls cascading down your back (how does she do it, and with a baby?!), strangers will smile at you and tell you you’re blessed. But people will also tell you to use cloth diapers. Or disposable. Whichever one you are using is wrong. Whatever you do is wrong. You are exactly what society has told you to be, and yet, you are still wrong.”

This book will make you laugh, make you rage, make you want to BURN IT ALL DOWN. But I definitely recommend it. Read it. Especially now, when our rights are on the table, again.

(Under His Eye, right?)

4 – American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

This was a compelling, rich story about what the migrant’s story is. It was equal parts horrifying, sad, heartwarming and inspiring. These people are often fleeing horrific, deadly experiences and trying to save their lives or save their family member’s lives by trying to come to America. Immigration is a tough topic right now but reading about these stories and how hard it is to cross, it makes you wonder, perhaps they have earned their spot here?

5- Outsider (Kate Burkholder #12) by Linda Castillo

I really liked this installment in the series. I thought the story was good, the writing was great as usual. I liked that in this book they are taking refuge with the Amish as they hide from the bad guys. It was interesting reading about Kate’s background, too, and how she found law enforcement.

6 – The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Absolutely excellent. I loved the concept. It was relevant to our times. Rachel has a very popular crime podcast. She is on a new case for her podcast season, this time covering a rape trial. Intertwined with this trial is an unsolved murder from 25 years ago. There are small town politics, secrets, and classism. It was a very well done book and I enjoyed it a lot.

7 – When I was You by Amber Garza

“Then I drove to your house, irritated that you were forcing me to stalk you. It was annoying. I wanted to hang out with you in a noncreepy way, but you weren’t allowing it.”

This was a well done thriller. It was creepy, it kept me turning the page. I read 60% of the book in one sitting and then I had to stop to go to sleep because it was just getting too late!

The book reminded me of “You”. The creepy, stalker aspect. Kelly is a middle aged woman, her marriage is dying, she’s suffered some pretty horrible tragedies, and as a result had a mental break. The way the story unfolds is creative, slow and builds the suspense. Then Kelly meets a young mom and befriends her–but some people in Kelly’s life wonder if this new friend is real?

The story takes you in unexpected places and it’s very good. There were some parts towards the end I did not “buy” but overall I enjoyed the ride.

Happy Reading!

These posts have Amazon Affiliate links.

Books #54

I know, it’s been awhile. Life kinda got busy. I wasn’t reading as much, then when I was I didn’t feel like writing. But I finally do, so here are a few of my favorites from this summer:

1 – Malorie by Josh Malerman

I read Bird Box when it first came out and it was chilling and terrifying in a way I wasn’t expecting. It gave me crazy dreams, it made me think about it for a very long time. The movie done for Netflix was pretty good, and I loved Sandra Bullock as Malorie.

The sequel was great. Time has passed, Malorie, Tom and Olympia have survived on their own for 17 years. But something finally makes Malorie want to leave their safe place and go out into the world.

It was really well written, had some creepy parts like the first book. It was a satisfying sequel/conclusion and I absolutely loved the ending.

2 – Some Choose Darkness by Charlie Donlea

I was a little on the fence at first. It felt like the author was trying to make the main character “weird” to just be weird, instead of developing her character fully. I hate when authors just make their characters one-dimensional, but “quirky”. However, the book got better and I didn’t mind Rory. She grew on me. The story itself was VERY good. I liked it, did not expect the twists and turns and enjoyed how it was wrapped up. I highly recommend it!

3 – The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea

It’s about an elite private prep school, in the woods of Indiana. Mysterious murders, followed by questionable suicides, and while the killer has been caught, many people don’t think he did it.

Very good. I liked the story a lot. It kept me guessing, well written, great characters, great mystery, unfolded well. Only pet peeve is the author’s writing style of repeating things. It gets redundant and annoying. He needs an editor. But if you can get beyond that, it’s a great book.

4 – Well Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave

Very good book. I liked the story and the writing and the characters. I liked that it tackled some big topics–arranged marriage, the woman’s “place”, free will, women making their own destinies. I enjoyed the intertwining stories of the mother and daughter, showing some parallels. The double standards bothered me a lot, which was probably the point, and maybe it’s cultural–as an American feminist I kept getting angry at the Simran’s fiance having a hissy fit about things she did, when he did the same things….(no spoilers). But alas, I liked the way the book went and how it ended. Would definitely recommend!

5 – Once You Go This Far (Roxane Weary #4) by Kristen Lepionka

I didn’t love the previous book and felt like it went on a little too long, but this book caught my attention right away and kept me guessing the whole time. It was a really fascinating tale about cults and how people try and get others out of them. And in this book, Roxane was in the wrong place at the wrong time, a brief encounter with another hiker who ended up falling to her death, that lead her to her new case.

Roxane is a great character, flawed but not annoyingly so, and the storytelling is almost always well done. I like that she is not the cliched private eye, that her family and love dramas don’t overtake the whole story. Book was fast paced and satisfying.

6 – The River by Peter Heller

I didn’t even read the blurb of this book when I got it at my library, just started reading it. And thought, “This reminds me of The River Wild movie” and then of course, the review says it’s a cross between Call of the Wild and The River Wild. 

Jack and Wynn are young and have been friends for years. They love the wilderness, camping, the water, fishing and literature. They are unattached and decide to canoe a river in Northern Canada. Despite the serene start to their adventure, they reach terrible life and death challenges pretty quick. A forest fire, surviving on the wild river, saving a woman who’s husband tried to kill her, they are racing against the forest fire and quickly losing control of the situation–and running out of supplies and food.

It’s a book about friendship, survival and the wild. It was a fascinating read! The author has a very unique writing style, which is not for everyone and takes a little getting used to, but I enjoyed. (I also recommend his other book “The Dog Stars”–about a flu pandemic that kills most everyone!)

HAPPY READING!

This post has Amazon affiliate links.