books to read

Books #53

Sorry it’s been awhile! Honestly, I’ve been struggling to read lately. With the pandemic and everything in the news, it’s hard to focus. I used to read 2 or 3 books a week but lately, I’m lucky if I finish one book a week now. But nonetheless, here are some suggestions for you:

#1 The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston

This book is a terrifying read. It’s about anthrax, smallpox and weaponizing viruses. I did not know a ton about smallpox or anthrax before reading this book. I had a basic knowledge of it but reading this book was really eye-opening and absolutely terrifying. Yes, they “eradicated” smallpox….but….apparently the US and Russia still have some on hand, JUST IN CASE, to make biological weapons.

Don’t read this book if you freak out easily! It’s so scary!

#2 The Janes (Alice Vega Book #2) by Louisa Luna

This was a strong follow up to the first book in the series. In this one, Alice and Cap are in San Diego working “under the table” with a task force (DEA and local PD) that found two bodies of young girls. The story is about human trafficking.

The book is good and the story kept me guessing. It felt a little long at times and I’m not sure if it needed some editing, or if it was just the flow of the story, but there were a few times where it felt exceptionally long. Other than that, I liked the story and the characters.

#3 Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Edward is 12 years old when he loses his whole family. They are flying to LA from New York for his mom to start a new job. His mom is in first class, he’s sitting with his older brother and dad. When the plane crashes. Everyone on the plane but Edward dies. The book is about grief, healing, learning to rebuild your life after tragedy and to find your way after your life is so radically changed.

The book is about a tragedy and it’s sad, but it’s not a depressing read. It’s hopeful and sweet at times. It’s also a coming-of-age type of story as it follows Edward from age 12 to 18. I enjoyed the book and liked the unique way the story was written.

#4 The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

This was a really good story and uplifting. It was a story I never knew about, too! In all of the 9-11 books and articles I’ve read, somehow I missed this gem.

“Thirty-eight planes landed there on September 11, depositing 6,595 passengers and crew members in a town whose population is barely 10,000… They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed.”

Amidst the horrors of that day and the aftermath, here was a small Canadian village that dropped everything to take care of these stranded people.

“The volunteers at the fraternal organization had made a point of cooking something special for the passengers on their first night with them and had prepared a roast-beef banquet. Rather than serving the meal buffet style, the volunteers insisted on each of the 154 passengers taking their seats and being waited on as if they were in a restaurant.”

It was a really positive message.

#5 The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

I liked this book. My only complaint is that it was really long.

It takes place during WWI and then after WWII. Eve is a young spy during WWI for England. She’s in German-occupied France, working in a restaurant as a waitress. But no one knows she speaks German, too, so she eavesdrops and passes on important messages to the resistance as part of the “Alice Network” for England.

Then fast forward years later, Eve is an old woman, and she meets Charlie, an American girl in London looking for her missing cousin. They band together. The story is well written and the characters are multi-dimensional. I felt like Charlie’s cousin’s story line was the weak link and the rest of the story was more interesting, but overall I enjoyed the book and was fascinated that it was based on some true history.

#6 A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

I thought this book was really excellent! It definitely had a “Big Little Lies” vibe to it. Rich, private school, a murder, a trial, secrets coming out… It was well written and kept me guessing and kept me reading. It was a page turner for sure! And I liked the ending.

Happy Reading!

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Books #52

I am so thankful that I have access to library books on my kindle right now! If I didn’t, and had to rely on picking books up at a library during these closures, I would be losing my mind! πŸ™ I think I read on Facebook that Audible is offering some free books on their platform right now, so check that out too.

Here are some recommendations if you need some new things to add to your list:

#1 The Wife and the Widow by Christian White

I liked this book a lot. It took place on an eerie island in Australia, somewhere. The “Widow” is Kate. She thinks her life is going a long with no bumps in the road, when she goes to pick up her husband at the airport with their 10 year old daughter and he doesn’t show up. She tries to find him, he was supposed to be at a work conference, but it turns out he hasn’t worked in awhile.

Eventually, her husband’s body is found and she wants answers. She goes to the island where he was found and tries to find out what happened. Abby, the “Wife” has a story of her own. The story was a unique one and it was well done. The twist was unexpected. The ending was a bit obvious, but it was still a good book.

#2 In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

I could not put this book down. I started reading it after I read a few pretty heavy books and it was JUST the right type of story I needed. It was well written and pulled me in immediately. I read 60% of it in one sitting and had to force myself to go to bed.

In the end, it’s a story about love and friendship, grief and loss and learning to love and live again after tragedy. It was such a good story. The characters were all so well done. Loved it!

#3 Boundary Waters (Cork O’Connor #2) by William Kent Krueger

This was a solid mystery/thriller. A young country western singer is missing in the wilderness. Cork is no longer the sheriff. But he’s approached by the singer’s father to help him find her. The story has twists and turns and I liked the survival skills aspects of the story.

#4 Mercy House by Alena Dillon

This is an EXCELLENT book. It’s timely for the MeToo Movement.

Evelyn has been a nun in Brooklyn for most of her life. She runs Mercy House with a few other nuns for women who need help. Women who are victims of rape, abuse, domestic violence. Mercy House is a safe place for them to heal, find their footing and figure out their life.

But Evelyn’s past is coming back to her present to disrupt her good work and threaten to close Mercy House. The book is so so good. There are so many hot topics and it will make you so mad when you read it. Excellently done.

#5 In The Barren Ground by Loreth Ann White

This was an interesting good first book. I liked it because it was different and took place in a very remote area of Canada that was on the border of the Arctic Circle. The town is so remote, they have to rely on each other. A plane flies in once in awhile with supplies, but you are basically locked into the icy wilderness for months on end.

Tana is a new cop, and part native, so she is “Sort of” accepted by the community, but she has to police this community, cut off from everything, all by herself. And when some student scientists studying the local wildlife are mauled by wolves, Tana investigates but starts seeing things that are not quite right.

The story is pretty unique, the environment is creepy and remote, so good for a thriller. There are some pretty gory parts and in-depth descriptions, so if you are squeamish, maybe skim those parts, but it’s mostly in the beginning of the book, so if you get past that, you’ll be fine.

#6 Open Book by Jessica Simpson

I’ll be honest, what I new of Jessica Simpson was minimal. She wasn’t really on my radar except for what I read in tabloids back in the day (the body shaming, etc) and that infamous clip of “chicken of the sea” from her reality TV show. But when she became a big pop star, I was more of a Britney Spears fan, and even then I was on the tail end of that because of my age group so it wasn’t really for me. So I missed out on all of that.

This book was definitely a TELL ALL. She really did open up and because I didn’t know a lot about her going into it, it was all pretty new to me. I commend her openness. She really revealed a lot of stuff that is hard to talk about. She reveals she was sexual abused as a child by a family friend, she suffered from anxiety from a very young age and used medications (like Nyquil and Tylenol PM) to manage it and eventually a cocktail of alcohol, speed and Ambien. She opened up about her alcoholism and the failures in her marriage, her career, how much the public body-shamed her, and how she eventually found herself.

“The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at nightβ€”Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman.”

She went into detail about how she signed with Sony and as a young girl, barely 120 pounds, was told she had to lose 15. And that started the endless cycle of crash diet, dieting pills and body hating.

I immediately went on an extremely strict diet, and started taking diet pills, which I would do for the next twenty years. Off the diet, I obsessed over how I looked 24/7; on the diet, I was also hyperfocused on food. It made me nervous. My anxiety had something to hold on to, and instead of examining my emotions, I could just block them out by focusing on carb counts and waist sizes.

“..had managed to get myself down to 103 pounds. Everyone went on about how great I looked, but I couldn’t enjoy it because I was so freaking hungry. I envied people who could eat whatever they wanted, while I had to microwave slices of turkey with Velveeta cheese on top and call it a meal. But when I ate anything, I yelled at myself, asking why I was getting in my own way and why I hadn’t gone to the gym.”

I really appreciated and related to all the parts she wrote about her struggles with her weight, dieting, gaining 10 pounds and going into a shame spiral and then she had the added FUN of dealing with the public shaming (the whole “mom jeans” drama).

The book was definitely on the Jesus-leaning, which is not for me, but that’s where she found her strength. She probably should have gone into country music or Christian pop/rock, that seems to be where her heart is, but she clearly wanted to be a star and make money and at the time those were not the money-makers–pop music was.

I liked the book a lot. I appreciated her openness. I think a lot of people would enjoy it, even if her music is not your thing (I’ve never actually heard one of her songs)!

#7 The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The new “theme” for books now seems to be dual timelines. Most of the time this isn’t done very well. There are rarely books that do this format that hold my interest in both time lines. There’s usually a story or time period that I prefer and it drags on.

This book did a pretty good job holding my interest in both the current time and 1982. I did find myself confused a few times as to which time period I was reading but overall it was a good story. It kept me captivated and there was a lot of good creepy build up. There was a “supernatural” factor to the story, but not in a cheesy, unrealistic way.

I liked the book a lot.

Happy Reading!

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