what to read

Books #14

Sometimes I think about starting a new website just for book reviews. I keep thinking about it but I’m not sure if it’s something I want to do yet.

Anyhoo here’s some more books to add to your list!

1 ) Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

I wasn’t sure if I should include this book in my review series. I really liked the book, the writing was excellent, the character development was very good…I also could NOT put this book down. I stay up late, I couldn’t stop reading, I kept reading one more chapter and I finished it in two days.

However, and I won’t give away spoilers, there’s something that happens about 1/4 into the book that I find to be lazy writing and it irked me. The twist was a clique that I hate and I had a hard time getting over it. That being said, I couldn’t stop reading. It was fast-paced and exciting and the ending was very satisfying.

Estranged sisters are reunited to solve a mystery. And that’s all I’m going to say, so I don’t give anything away. ūüôā

2 ) Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde

What a story! It’s summer 1959 in Texas. Pete and Justin are 12 years old and become fast friends when Pete rescues an injured dog on the side of the road.

“What did it mean to be friends in a world where just walking down the street together could get someone viciously beaten? [pg 119]”

The catch? Pete is white and Justin is black and they aren’t allowed to be friends. Justin is beaten half to death because they were seen together. Dr. Lucy, who Pete just met when he asked for help with the hurt dog, steps in to help Justin. Justin’s dad, Calvin, is also helped by Dr. Lucy and they become sort of a little family…

It’s a story about racism, hate, love, animals, healing and loyalty.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story because it’s absolutely delightful and wonderful and heartwarming (and infuriating) to read.

“I began to get discouraged on the bus. I began to lose faith in what kind of world we live in. I wanted it to be a place where I could stay in Texas with you, harm no one, and live my life. But it’s not. It’s a world in which my son was beaten for doing nothing more heinous than being a friend. [pg 313]”

Unfortunately, things are too scary in Texas so Calvin takes his son Justin back to Philadelphia where it’s safer for them. Calvin and Dr. Lucy become pen pals over the years.

Dr. Lucy reads the newspaper every day following the case¬†Loving v. Virginia¬†and then one day…good news!

“Changing the laws of a country is not the same as changing its hearts and minds. [pg 340]”

The ending of the story was perfect! I loved the whole book. The story was often hard to read, but there was hope throughout, so that balanced it out.

3 ) Iron Lake (Cork O’Connor #1) by William Kent Krueger

This is the first book in the series. It takes place in Minnesota. Cork is half Irish and half¬†Anishinaabe Indian. He was a cop in Chicago and recently the sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota until an unfortunately event lead to him losing that job. He’s having a hard time letting go of his cop instincts and finds himself deep in the middle of many murders.

The book starts out slow but hang in there. It gets good in the middle and really picks up pace towards the end. I found it reminiscent of the Longmire book series, but it lacked the magic that Longmire has (in my opinion). I felt like some of the characters were a little flat, but by the end of the book I changed my opinion on that. I enjoyed it enough to read the next book in the series.

4 ) An Obvious Fact (Walt Longmire #12) by Craig Johnson

After reading “Iron Lake” and comparing it to Longmire I checked in to see if there was a new one out and there was!

In this book Walt and Henry are in Sturgis for the motorcycle rally and helping out an old colleague with a case. Vic joins them later. The first case is a hit-and-run with the victim in a coma. The second case ends up being a murder of an undercover ATF agent.

As always the story is fast-moving and the dialogue is hilarious. It wasn’t the best story in the series, and I was disappointed they didn’t follow up with the big story line from book #11, but overall it was a fun read.

5 ) Splinterlands by John Feffer

“Part Field Notes from a Catastrophe, part 1984, part World War Z, John Feffer’s striking new dystopian novel, takes us deep into the battered, shattered world of 2050.”

This was a short book, so a pretty fast read.¬†It was kind of a shocking read because it’s not THAT far into the future, like most dystopian novels, and there were a lot of things in the book that seemed to reference our current political times. And it makes it very scary and very real.

“…A grey fog of amnesia obscured the knowledge that war is hell. Perennially underestimated, nationalism did not go gently into the night. Quite the opposite: it literally remapped the world we live in. [pg 19]”

“The disunity that settled over our world came at precisely the wrong moment. As we are learning the hard way, a planet divided against itself cannot stand. [pg 19]”

The story is about how war, dishonest politicians and horrible global warming has ruined the earth. Flooding has taken out Washington DC and the surrounding areas. Everyone is out for themselves. The entire system has broken down.

“At home, it self-destructively refused to invest in the country’s decaying infrastructure, enabling foreign hackers and homegrown terrorists to exploit weaknesses in transportation and communication networks, causing several embarrassing and costly stoppages. [pg 112]”

“…domestic politics remained divided as Congress and the executive branch congealed like two pots of cold oatmeal…Up went higher walls to keep out foreigners and foreign products. [pg 112]”

Sound familiar? Very¬†apropos if you ask me…but I won’t get too political here.

“When a national educational system disappears, the nation itself is sure to follow, as it did in North America. [pg 70]”

“An increasingly embittered and armed white minority seemed determined to adopt a scorched-earth policy rather than leave anything of value to its mixed-race heirs. [pg 112]”

Hmmm…very very familiar….

“No one ever expected to see those images of people clinging to the base of the Statue of Freedom atop the US Capitol. The waters submerged the Supreme Court, the White House, the Pentagon, and everything else in what had once been the low-lying swamps between Maryland and Virginia. [pg 113]”

Because the book is short, it reads more like a short story and it ends in kind of an odd spot. It felt like the story could have easily gone forward. Despite that, it was a good read. And a very scary glimpse into what could be our future.

6 ) How The Light Gets In (Armand Gamache #9) by Louise Penny

Somehow I read book 10 before book 9 so I was anxious to go back and read 9 because apparently a lot had happened! And yes! TONS happened in this book.

First, the murder mystery was very interesting. One of the last surviving quintuplets (famous in Canada because they were conceived before IVF during the Depression) is murdered. Inspector Gamache is back in Three Pines to investigate. (I would love to live in Three Pines!) So of course the favorite characters are back, which is great because I’ve invested 9 books in these characters and they feel like family at this point.

Second, the bigger part of this book was the story that has been building through all of the books in the series and it comes to a head in a very exciting, very dramatic way at the end of the story.

Third, Jean-Guy, Gamache’s former second in command, is addicted to drugs and is now working for his arch-enemy. The deception, the revenge and betrayal is palpable in the book. Can Gamache and Jean-Guy ever fix their damaged relationship?

If you’ve read the other books in this series, you will not be disappointed in this one. You’ll like it so much you almost want to read it again.

7 ) Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This book is short. It’s a¬†collection of short stories/essays/letters to the author’s son about race in America and his experiences growing up African American in Baltimore.

“…people forced for centuries to live under fear. The law did not protect us. And now, in your time, the law has become an excuse for stopping and frisking you, which is to say, for furthering the assault on your body.”

And in contrast:

“There were little white boys with complete collections of football cards, and their only want was a popular girlfriend and their only worry was poison oak. That other world was suburban and endless, organized around pot roasts, blueberry pies, fireworks, ice cream sundaes, immaculate bathrooms, and small toy trucks that were loosed in wooded backyards with streams and glens.”

It also talks about current events like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. He talked a lot about police and his fear for his son with the police.

“…the police departments of your country have been endowed with the authority to destroy your body. It does not matter if the destruction is the result of an unfortunate overreaction…And I am afraid. I feel the fear most acutely whenever you leave me.”

This book was so heartbreaking and very eye-opening to the African American experiences and how current events are effecting their day to day life. It’s a hard book to read, but an important one, I think.

“Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains–whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains. The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine…You cannot forget how much they took from us and how they transfigured our very bodies into sugar, tobacco, and gold.”

Despite the heavy, heartbreaking topic, the author did not come across as angry. The theme was sadness, grief and fear.

“Black people love their children with a kind of obsession. You are all we have, and you come to us endangered…[we are] a people who control nothing, who can protect nothing, who are made to fear not just the criminals among them but the police who lord over them with the moral authority of a protection racket. It was only after you that I understood this love, that I understood the grip of my mother’s hand.”

The author was writing a piece about the verdict of a shooting and he met with the grieving mother.

“Then the mother of the murdered boy rose, turned to you, and said ‘You exist. You matter. You have value. You have every right to wear your hoodie, to play your music as loud as you want. You have every right to be you. And no one should deter you from being you. You have to be you. And you can never be afraid to be you.'”

Heavy, heavy stuff. I teared up a lot during this book. I definitely recommend this book for everyone!

Happy reading!

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Books #13

I have been reading! Actually a lot, but a read some not great books that I didn’t feel like reviewing or sharing with you guys. So here is a post with a few good ones I’ve read in 2017 so far!

 

1 ) Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license…records my first name simply as Cal.”

I don’t know where to start with this book because SO much happens in it. It’s a story that starts in the 1920’s in Greece…an unexpected love story with the couple fleeing the country amidst war and fire, where they travel to the United States. The story spans three generations and you are definitely interested in every single character in this story. The character development is brilliant and beautiful. The writing is like poetry–absolutely gorgeous and you don’t want to stop reading. It’s an epic read, but never feels too long or too wordy.

“Eugenides weaves together a kaleidoscopic narrative spanning 80 years of a stained family history, from a fateful incestuous union in a small town in early 1920s Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit; from the early days of Ford Motors to the heated 1967 race riots; from the tony suburbs of Grosse Pointe and a confusing, aching adolescent love story to modern-day Berlin. Eugenides’s command of the narrative is astonishing. He balances Cal/Callie’s shifting voices convincingly, spinning this strange and often unsettling story with intelligence, insight, and generous amounts of humor.”

I cannot recommend this book enough. It might be one of the best books I read in 2016.

2 ) American Assassin (Mitch Rapp #1) by Vince Flynn

This book was recommended to me and I really liked it a lot! If you are a fan of Jack Reacher, you will probably like this book. The story is about Mitch Rapp becoming a spy and assassin loosely associated with the CIA. The Cold War is over and Islamic terrorism is the new thing–and these mysterious (CIA) operatives are creating a group of spies that “don’t exist.”

Since this was the first book in the series it was a lot of set-up and backstory but it didn’t feel bogged down or boring. It was interwoven well with the action of the story.

Spy novels can sometimes get tedious with too many details, or too much “spy” stuff that is sometimes over my head, but this book never fell in that trap. I will definitely keep reading the series.

3 ) The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Harry Bosch #21) by Michael Connelly

Books by Michael Connelly are ones that I wait for each year (same with the Jack Reacher series). The books are SO good and I devour them in a matter of days (sometimes hours). So I was very excited to see that the new Bosch book was out.

Harry isn’t a detective anymore, but don’t worry, the book is still good. He’s a reserve detective now, and also doing private investigation cases on the side. This book was about two stories–a serial rapist cold case investigation he was assisting with, and a private investigation case to find an heir for a very wealthy man in LA.

Both stories were excellent and fast-paced. The ending was unexpected and very fulfilling and I was bummed when I finished the book! SO GOOD!

4 ) Hidden Bodies (You #2) by Caroline Kepnes

Joe Goldberg is back. The story takes up pretty soon after where “You” left off. But this time Joe is double-crossed by Amy, his new love, and he leaves New York to chase her out to Hollywood and find her. He wants revenge.

I read some mixed reviews so I went into this book without high expectations but it was actually pretty good. I love the fast, crazy writing style and the first half of the book is great. It sucked me in right away and I couldn’t stop reading, much like “You.”

The second half of the book lagged a little bit and I didn’t really like the ending, but that didn’t necessarily ruin the book for me. I will say that this book wasn’t quite as dark as the first one–and less shocking–but maybe that’s just a magic that you can’t repeat once the shock is over.¬†It was still a fun (and twisted) read.

 

5 ) Sideways by Rex Pickett

Sideways is easily in my Top 10 favorite movies. I absolutely love it! It’s so funny and fun and perfectly cast. So when my book club decided to read the book for our February choice I happily bought the book. I mean–how on earth had I¬†not already read this book?!?!

The book is just as good as the movie, and pretty darn close to it. So if you’ve seen the movie you can hear the actor’s voices in the book. (I usually read books before they are movies, so it was weird to do it this way!) Sideways is a fun, hilarious and fast read. I read it in about two days and loved every minute of it.

6 ) The Royal We by Heather Cocks

I loved this book so much! It’s a modern fairy-tale about Bex, an American, who is studying abroad at Oxford and she falls in love with Nick, who will be King someday. (The story sometimes sounded like it was copying aspects of William and Kate.) Their secret romance goes on for years, with the normal ups and downs of relationships and the not-so-normal royal problems.

I devoured the book in just a few days. I didn’t want to stop reading it. It was so romantic and fantastical and it’s fun living in that fantasy world for a bit. There were a few things I didn’t like about the book: I felt like it needed some editing in places and I did not like the story line with Bex’s sister–I felt she was unnecessary. But other than that, I loved it and was so bummed when I finished the book!

7 ) The Beach by Alex Garland

I saw this movie years ago and remember it being really good. It’s been so long that reading the book now it felt fresh and new; I didn’t really remember most of the story so it wasn’t “spoiled” for me.

The book is a fast read and you’ll have a hard time putting it down. The chapters are short, too, so that also makes it easy to just keep reading…One more chapter, one more chapter…

Richard is a 20-something (I think) British backpacker in Thailand who is given a map to a secret beach from a stranger he meets in a hostel (who dies mysteriously–suicide??) the next day. He pairs up with a couple of French travelers and they find the beach….This story is basically a modern version of Lord of The Flies. The ending it pretty dramatic and brutal. The experiences on the beach with the community is also an interesting look into group dynamics, ego and people breaking from reality. Very very interesting read.

Happy reading!

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