Jun 122017
 

I love using Goodreads to track my books. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep track of what I’ve read, what I want to read, etc. But I kinda wish someone would invent a notification service for when a new book in the series you love is coming out soon. It’s so hard to remember to check! I have several book series that I love and read as soon as there is a new book out, but it’s hard to know when the new book is out. Can someone invent that for me please? Thanks!

And now on to the reviews!

1 ) The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway #8) by Elly Griffiths

Perfect example of what I described above! Somehow this series dropped off my radar and I missed that book #8 was out! Book #9 is supposed to come out soon!

I love this series and look forward to reading the books. This one was just average. I felt like it didn’t focus enough on the main character and archaeology and I found that disappointing. But I’m including this in the book post because I really like the series and recommend it!

2 ) Transfer of Power (Mitch Rapp #3) by Vince Flynn

Ok, why hasn’t this book been made into a movie yet?!?!?! I could not put it down. It was SO good!

First, the downside. There were a lot of characters in the book and it took me over half of the book to figure out who everyone was and how they played into the story.

Second, the upside. It was very, very exciting. A terrorist group has overtaken the White House. The Secret Service was able to get the president into the bunker with seconds to spare, but the terrorists have hostages. The book is about the FBI, CIA, and military trying to figure out how to rescue everyone. Mitch manages to get into the White House and he’s their onsite point person.

The book was very satisfying. I loved the story and the excitement and the ending was really good. Seriously, this needs to be a movie!

3 ) The Mothers by Brit Bennett

This was a really beautiful, gorgeously written, heart-wrenching book. The story is about three teens in San Diego whose lives intersect and then split — but a secret comes back to haunt them.

Nadia is the main character. Her mother commits suicide when she’s in high school. It’s a shock to the community and her and her father.

“She [her mom] had grown up in Texas, in between tornado and hurricane country, so she knew how to prepare for disaster. Unlike you California girls, she used to tell Nadia, who never thought about earthquakes until the world started shaking right under them. That winter, her mother’s death would be an earthquake jolting her out of her sleep. [pg 73]”

“Her father propped his sadness on a pew, but she put her sad in places no one could see. [pg 5]”

Nadia doesn’t know how to process her grief. She acts out, which is normal, but her path of self-destruction converges with Luke, the pastor’s son. Luke is a college drop-out whose professional football dreams are shattered with his leg. They comfort each other.

“Her mother had died a month ago and she was drawn to anyone who wore their pain outwardly, the way she couldn’t. [pg 8]”

She’s underage, 17, and he’s in his early 20’s and the pastor’s son…so when she gets pregnant…a decision is made quickly.

“She couldn’t let this baby nail her life in place when she’d just been given a chance to escape. [pg 13]”

“She should’ve known. She should’ve known when he’d brought her an envelope with six hundred dollars that the money was his part, and now she was a problem that he’d already dealt with. [pg 32]”

That was pretty much the end of their affair. She went off to college in Michigan, tried to forget Luke. Luke met someone else and then…a few years later Nadia returns to town and the stories intersect again.

The book is about grief and healing, relationships, motherhood and touches a little bit on race.

“Reckless white boys became politicians and bankers, reckless black boys became dead. [pg 60]”

“In a way, subtle racism was worse because it made you feel crazy. You were always left wondering, was that actually racist? Had you just imagined it? [pg 113]”

The book is also about families and individuality. Nadia seems like a strong girl, but there is a weakness for Luke in her that she never really gets over. But like all good tortured soul books, she denies herself happiness, mostly because of her mother’s suicide.

“This would be her life, accomplishing the things her mother had never done. She never celebrated this, unlike her friends who were proud to be the first in their family to go to college or the first to earn a prestigious internship. How could she be proud of lapping her mother, when she had been the one to slow her down in the first place? [pg 115]”

The book is a fast read and very, very good. I read it in one day and I absolutely loved it. I would really recommend it to anyone.

4 )  The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

There were things about this book that bugged me but none of it was bad enough to deter me from reading it. I honestly couldn’t put the book down, despite the weak/overused premise. (I don’t want to give it away but the premise has been done before and I honestly find it weak writing.)

The ending made up for the holes in the story. I liked the twists and turns and I read it in just a few days.

5 ) A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #12) by Louise Penny

By far, this was the best book in the series! This time, Armand has come out of retirement and into a new job–He’s now in charge of the Surete du Quebec police academy. It’s his job to clean it up, get rid of the crooked cops and ensure that the future police well-trained.

There are two stories going on –the first is a map that is found in Three Pines that creates a mystery he wants to solve and he tasks four young cadets in the academy to solve it. At the same time, there is a murder of one of the professors in the academy. This is a story about corruption, power, influence and morality. There were so many levels in this book and it was so beautifully written and compelling. The story was gripping and the aha moment when the mysteries were solved were so good! Very fulfilling read!

6 ) The Dry (Aaron Falk #1) by Jane Harper

What a fantastic first book!

It takes place in Australia, in the middle of nowhere where there’s been a drought for years. Tempers and stressors are high in this town as a result of the drought and how that is effecting the town and the farmland. Aaron Falk, a Federal Agent in Melbourne, goes back home to attend his childhood friend’s funeral. A horrific murder-suicide happened and everyone is shell-shocked. Aaron is not so sure it’s an open and closed case so he sticks around longer than the two days he planned to solve it.

It’s a really fast read and well-written. The characters are well-rounded and the bad guys are really unlikable and you are rooting for the good guys. This is a home run for a first novel and I can’t wait for book #2!

HAPPY READING!

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May 022017
 

If you want to catch up on old book reviews I’ve done, there is a page for that! Just go here!

1 ) Kill Shot (Mitch Rapp #2) by Vince Flynn

Book #2 in the series starts off with a bang! Super-bad-ass Mitch Rapp is now a “seasoned” assassin, after a year on the job, and is in Paris for what should be an easy task. Of course it goes wrong. Very wrong, and then Mitch isn’t sure who to trust. All signs point to a leak in the dark organization he’s a part of. And he definitely has an enemy who is out to get him.

The book reads super fast. I read the book in one day. The action is non-stop and the double-crossing of everyone is really good. I loved how the book ended. It was very satisfying and made me want to immediately read book #3.  I can totally see these books as movies. But knowing our luck they’d cast Tom Cruise and ruin it…like they did with my beloved Jack Reacher!! 😛

 

2 ) Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon by Kelley and Thomas French

“Our baby was born at a unique window of time, at twenty-three weeks and six days gestation. She was an averted miscarriage, not yet fully her own person with her own standing. Because the questions were so unanswerable, the decision to put her on life support and allow her a chance to live had belonged to Tom and me, not the doctors and not the state. [pg 111]”

Don’t worry, the baby lives. I don’t think they could have gotten people to read this book had they not been upfront in the description that the baby lives and is healthy. Because this is a HARD book to read. I heard an interview of Tom and Kelley on a podcast and it was such an amazing story–a miracle, really–that I had to read the book!

The story begins with a little background into Tom and Kelley’s relationship and how they met, the rocky road that tore them apart a few times, their eventual marriage and the struggle to get pregnant. They ended up getting an egg donor (from a friend) and everything seemed to be going well until…little Juniper was born early. Way too early.

“Babies born this young almost always exceeded $1 million in medical expenses. If she lived, there would be deductibles, therapies, maybe even long-term care. Ability to pay did not determine who got treatment and who did not. Most of the babies ended up on Medicaid. [pg 114]”

“The card on the foot of her incubator said, simply, ‘French, Baby Girl’ and gave her birth weight: 570 grams. I’ve eaten burritos at Chipotle bigger than that. [pg 115]”

Each chapter is told from either Tom or Kelley’s point of view and I really enjoyed that. You got a different perspective on the entire thing with each chapter.

It was very, very touch and go for Juniper from the start. The 190+ days or so she was in the NICU were not easy ones and it was a roller-coaster of horrific ailments and then recovery and growth. Kelley was pumping at home and bringing milk in for her every day, even though should couldn’t really drink it.

If you’re squeamish, don’t worry–while the book is very descriptive, they do a really excellent job describing what’s happening medically without going over your head, bogging down the story with medical jargon, or being gross.

“None of our friends knew what kind of card to send. Were we celebrating or grieving? Even we didn’t know. [pg 116]”

Tom and Kelley basically live in the very special wing of the NICU for micro-premies. Juniper has so many procedures and surgeries done in the beginning of her life…and what helped them all were the amazing doctors and nurses who became like family for them. It was really heart-warming to read.

“Even if she died, trying to save her had been the right decision. We’d gotten to know her. We’d let her hear our voices, and hear music, and feel our hands on her. Some of the greatest moments of my life had been tucked inside this misery. Memorizing her face. Holding her hand. Feeling her warm and weightless form on my chest. Reading her a story. [pg 185]”

During Juniper’s stay in the NICU, Tom read her the Harry Potter series. Kelley read Winnie the Pooh.

“‘A story is a promise,’ Tom had told me, ‘It’s a promise that the end is worth waiting for.’ [pg 199]”

And the ending is worth it. I cried many times during this book. The story is amazing, terrifying, heart-breaking, heart-warming and in the end, wonderful. I hope you read this book!

 

3 ) The Nature of The Beast (Gamache #11) by Louise Penny

I went into this book a little skeptical. In the last book Chief Inspector Gamache has retired and moved to Three Pines with his wife. I wasn’t sure how the books could continue with him retired. It wasn’t quite the same BUT it was still pretty good because Armand gets sucked into a new mystery in Three Pines. The usual characters are still present, with a few new ones, and it’s a satisfying read but not the best book in the series. The story was a bit confusing at times but the author wrapped it up at the end.

 

4 ) The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

The sort-of memoir by Carrie Fisher is a fast read, a short book, and very open. She talks about her time filming Star Wars as a 19 year old girl who wasn’t sure she wanted to be an actress. The role defined her life in big ways.

“I had never been Princess Leia before and now I would be her forever. I would never not be Princess Leia. [pg 31]”

“The hairstyle that was chosen would impact how everyone–every filmgoing human–would envision me for the rest of my life. (And probably even beyond–it’s hard to imagine any TV obituary not using a photo of that cute little round-faced girl with goofy buns on either side of her inexperienced head.) [pg 34]”

It was interesting how she looked back at that role fondly, and I think with a little resentment. She made peace with the fact that that was who she would always be to people–Princess Leia.

In the book she also reveals that she had a short-lived affair with Harrison Ford. At first it was a little off-putting to me. Harrison Ford was 35, she was 19, and he was married with kids. Apparently his marriage was failing, but…still…it made me look at him a little differently.

Carrie started the story about Harrison with talking about how she’d never thought she’d be the other woman. Especially after seeing what it did to her mother–she briefly discusses what it was like when her father left her mother for Elizabeth Taylor. Yet at 19 Carrie does become the other woman, at least for one summer in London on the movie set.

“We have no feeling for one another. We lie buried together during the night and haunt each other by day. Acting out something that we don’t feel and seeing through something that doesn’t deserve any focus. [pg 114]”

She tried to make it seem like the affair wasn’t that big of a deal and they both moved on…but…she was very much in love with Harrison Ford and a bit obsessed. In the middle of the book she included excerpts from her diary during that time and it was what you’d think–the sad, longing, obsessing thoughts of a teenager in love, who can’t move on.

“I wish you would love me more so that I could love you less. [pg 118]”

I think every woman could relate to that!

She also discussed aging and how that effected her life, her identity and her career. I found this quote particularly wonderful:

“I didn’t like my face when I should have and now that it’s melted, I look back on that face fondly. [pg 241]”

I feel the same way, when I look back at old pictures and think “I looked great!” and yet at the time I didn’t appreciate it and I was very critical of myself.

I liked this book. Sometimes Carrie’s writing style was a little difficult for me to read. She would often ramble in stream of consciousness run-on-sentences. But I did like the book. She came across as very open and vulnerable and shared a lot!

 

5 ) Venomous by Christie Wilcox

If you get the creepy-crawlies easily, this book may not be for you. She discusses a lot of venomous creatures–from the platypus (who knew they were venomous?!) to spiders and snakes and sea creatures, bees and zombie wasps and bullet ants.

There was even a chapter about mosquitoes. Why not just get rid of ALL the mosquitoes on the planet? Well, the author kind of maps out what could happen if we didn’t have mosquitoes. One example:

“In the arctic, mosquito populations can be so dense that caribou herds will alter their migration course just to avoid them…even small alteration by such a large herd have dramatic effect on the land they trample…[pg 36]”

Bummer. I’d love it if the mosquitoes were wiped from the planet.

The stories about bullet ant stings, and the horrific initiation rites of the Satere-Mawe people of Brazil that include the ants…are just cringe-worthy.

“Bullet ant stings are so insanely painful because unlike snakes or spiders, which use their toxins to capture or digest prey, the little ant has one goal: defense. [pg 68]”

The book sometimes gets a little too technical and there were definitely medical and scientific things that went over my head, but that didn’t impede me from reading and enjoying the book and I learned a LOT.

The author also did a good job describing what these venomous creatures can do, what the toxins feel like, and she shared anecdotal and personal stories that were very interesting.

“You feel dizzy, nauseous, lightheaded. There’s a coppery taste in your mouth, like you’re rolling pennies around on your tongue. Then it’s like a truck has hit you–massive bruises appear throughout your body…massive internal hemorrhaging…you’ve just had a close encounter with a Lonomia moth caterpillar, one of the most venomous insects in the world. [pg 96]”

There were a lot of near-death stories in this book. I did a LOT of googling of creatures that she described to see pictures of these things. YIKES.

When you think about venom, your first thought is probably snakes. And she does talk a lot about snakes! Rattlesnake bites are common in the US but rarely lead to death. But in other parts of the world, especially poor parts, vipers that are even more venomous are often fatal because the victims don’t have access to doctors or anti-venom. She goes into great deal about snakebite necrosis–I will spare you the description here, but it was gross and fascinating at the same time.

I have a very hard time with spiders. Seeing them, reading about them, YUCK! But I was able to read about them in this book. I found this interesting:

“30% of people who thought they had spider bites actually had the potentially deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA. [pg 129]”

(MRSA scares the shit out of me, so that was very scary to read!)

The book also covers a LOT of sea life, and talks a lot about things found off Hawaii! That scared me to death! Apparently there are cute little blue-ringed octopuses off Australia that are just as deadly as pufferfishes:

“Tetrodotixin is among the deadliest compounds known to man. It’s more potent than arsenic, cyanide or even anthrax. It’s 120,000 times as deadly as cocaine and 40,000 times as deadly as meth. [pg 137]”

The book ends with a chapter talking about how different venoms are being tested for medical cures. That sounded really interesting to me and there were a few stories about that I won’t share here (too long) but are fascinating if they are true!

It’s a good book! Definitely recommend it.

 

6 ) Eleanor & Park by by Rainbow Rowell

Oh man! Loved this book! It takes place in the 80’s and it was a walk down memory lane…the music, making mixed tapes and sharing your favorite songs with friends, endlessly talking about bands like The Cure and The Smiths…be still my heart! Great nostalgia!

The story is absolutely sweet and heart breaking and romantic and lovely at the same time. The writer really wrote Eleanor’s story well–the horrible home life, the awful stepdad…I felt every emotion of anger and fear that Eleanor felt.

“Richie had been drinking all day again, so he was all kinds of festive at dinner–laughing too much and too loud. But you couldn’t enjoy the fact that he was in a good mood, because it was the kind of good mood that was just on the edge of a bad one. They were all waiting for him to cross over… [pg 198]”

The bullying that Eleanor experienced at school–the horrors or riding the bus, the misery of gym class…Very well written.

The love story was great.

“Thinking about going out with Park, in public, was kind of like thinking about taking your helmet off in space. [pg 173]”

I also loved Park’s parents. They were wonderful and, no spoilers, the ending where his parents step up and help them is so good. I was not a huge fan of how the book ended but at the same time, it kind of worked.

Happy reading!

These posts have Amazon affiliate links.