what I’m reading

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.Β 

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!

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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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