Goodreads review

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!

These posts have Amazon affiliate links.

Books #18

I’ve been reading a lot lately. With all the stuff that’s been going on in my life recently, I really needed the distraction.

1 ) Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

What a crazy roller-coaster ride of a book! It was SO GOOD! If you’re going to pick up a book to read, this is the one you should check out. I read it in a day and a half and could not put it down.

The story is dark–Gwen/Gina’s life is turned upside down. The idyllic home life she thought she had, married with two small kids, was not what it seemed when it turns out that her husband is a serial killer. The story isn’t necessarily about the discovery or the trial, or him going to prison to sit on death row, it’s about her survival and it’s about the rabid internet trolls that are trying to hunt her down to make her pay. They are convinced that she was an accomplice.

So she goes on the run with her kids, moving and changing identities whenever she thinks the stalkers and trolls are getting too close to finding them. But now she’s settled in Tennessee on a quiet lake with her teen kids. She’s still diligent, but starting to relax. And that’s when her past catches up to her. It’s such a fast, exciting story. Trust me when I say you cannot stop reading this book once you start!

 

 

2 ) The Choices We Make by Karma Brown

This is a story about friendship, motherhood and grief. Hannah and Kate have been best friends most of their lives. Hannah has been trying to have a baby for years, unsuccessfully, and Kate does the selfless thing of offering to be a surrogate. It’s not an easy road for any of them. Kate’s husband isn’t on board with it, there are complications and twists of fate that change their lives forever. But the story is heartwarming, as well as tragic.

I really liked the character development. You could really feel the close friendship between Hannah and Kate and the author describes grief very well. It was a good book that I read in two days.

3 )  Cold Earth (Shetland Island #7) by Ann Cleeves

This series kind of dropped off my radar for about a year. Then I remembered about it and got the newest book. It was fairly easy to pick it back up and the story starts out in a pretty exciting way.

Detective Jimmy Perez is back and he’s at a funeral for a local friend who died of old age. During the service at the cemetery, there is a landslide of mud, water and peat that crashes into a nearby house. They all watch in horror as it sweeps down the hillside. Then Jimmy discovers a body. They all assume that it was the landslide that killed her, but it turns out to be murder.

There were lots of twists and turns, and another murder, and I liked the book and it was a fast read…but the ending was a bit flimsy for me. The murderer was not who I was expecting it to be, which in a murder mystery is usually pretty good, but in this case I didn’t quite buy it. Other than that, I enjoyed the story.

4 ) Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery

This was a really fascinating read about how cities and suburbs are designed and how they fail. The author discusses different cities — Bogota was especially fascinating in how they turned it around and also interesting was the San Joaquin Valley in California (and how it was completely destroyed by the housing crash).

So why are the citizens in Bogota so much happier?

“‘And what are our needs for happiness?’ he asked. ‘We need to walk, just as birds need to fly. We need to be around other people. We need beauty. We need contact with nature. And most of all, we need not to be excluded. We need to feel some sort of equality.’ [pg 6]”

It really is worth reading the book just for these two scenarios that are discussed, although the author talks about other countries and cities that have tried to make changes. 

“A city can be friendly to people or it can be friendly to cars, but it can’t be both. [pg 7]”

The story of Bogota was particularly interesting to me because Portland is going through something similar. There is SO much growth, so much building, so many condos and apartments and high rises…and no parking, horrible traffic, and people rallying on the side of biking rights to transform the city to something more livable. I saw a lot of parallels and I hope that our city leaders can try and find some kind of balance to make Portland…better….?

The horror-story of California was also an interesting read. Lots of people moved to this community and commuted to San Jose/San Francisco and their commutes were 2 HOURS EACH WAY! I cannot even imagine enduring that.

“A Swedish study found that people who endure more than a 45 minute commute were 40% more likely to divorce. People who live in mono-functional, car-dependent neighborhoods outside of urban centers are much less trusting of other people than people who live in walk-able neighborhoods where housing is mixed with shops, services, and places to work. [pg 55]”

I can definitely relate. We live in the suburbs of Portland and for years our neighborhood, while nice, didn’t exactly feel like a great neighborhood. We had to drive everywhere to do anything. There are no restaurants nearby, no bars, nothing really within walking distance. But once I had Logan and we started going on frequent walks (and runs) together, I started stopping by a local coffee-shop on our route. I chat with the people that work there, I chat with other patrons in the coffee-shop, people comment on my baby, and it’s a friendly experience. I also noticed that I started seeing the same people on our route who were also out walking/running/etc. We’d smile and say hi and it felt a little more like a community. It’s not quite the same because it would be nice to be able to walk to a restaurant close to the house. But it’s getting there.

The book was really interesting and gave me a lot to think about. It also made me think of what I want to look for in our next home/community. Having stuff within walking distance is a must have!

5 ) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

What a really great book! The story unfolds slowly, but you are engrossed the entire time. Eleanor is slightly weird…she’s very particular about things, is very black and white–has a routine and never deviates from that, and seems to have maybe some autistic tendencies but the book doesn’t really address that. She most certainly struggles with social skills and norms. But it’s quaint and funny.

She starts to become friends with Raymond, a coworker. Her and Raymond help a complete stranger, Sammy, an elderly man who collapses in the street. This series of events brings Eleanor out of her shell and forces her to re-evaluate her social life. Everything is off-kilter for her, but she starts making small changes and before she realizes it, her life is completely different. In a good way!

I absolutely loved the characters and the story. Eleanor is weird but charming and you are rooting for her the entire time. The ending was very shocking and unexpected, too. This is a really special book that I would recommend to anyone.

6) Al Franken: Giant of the Senate by Al Franken

I really liked this book! It had just the right amount of politics and humor. Al Franken writes briefly about his upbringing, his family and his career at SNL. Then he moves on to what made him decide to run for senate. The bulk of the book is about the campaign but he does spend some time writing about what it is like being a senator.

“And that’s how it’s supposed to be for every kid in America. You’re not supposed to have to be rich or lucky to have a chance to do great things…Democrats aren’t just the party of equality for all–we’re the party of opportunity for all. [pg 9]”

I also love how much “behind the scenes” stories he shares. They were interesting and funny. It was interesting to get more information on politics and how stuff happens and how the left and right actually do sometimes try to work together.

He also talked about the 2016 election and the aftermath, so there is relevant information in there, too. He ended his book with advice, too.

“Keep showing up and keep speaking out. The Women’s March didn’t force Trump to resign. It didn’t even stop any of his Cabinet nominees from going through. But it really, really mattered. It sent a clear message to the president (and to Republicans in Congress) that the American people won’t surrender their rights or their core values without a fight–and it sent a clear message to Democrats that, when we stand up to Trump, people will have our backs. [pg 382]”

He encourages people to come out at mid-elections and actually get involved and vote and try. Keep trying.

“This comeback starts with standing up for our values and making it clear that no president has a mandate to spread bigotry or roll back the clock on progress (especially not one who lost the popular vote by three million). It continues through next year, when we have a chance to punish Republicans for enabling this disaster and take back governorship and state legislatures all across the country. [pg 384]”

It’s worth a read!

These posts have Amazon affiliate links.