Sunday, January 7, 2018

I'm Thinking of Ending Things By Iain Reid

Ever read a book and think to yourself, "What the fuck did, I just read?" because that just happened to me. It took me a while to actually unravel it all in my head and come up with my own theory/conclusion, which is what the writer wants you to do.

Here is the basics: We have our main character, Jake, who is an unreliable narrator. He is peculiar to say the least but very intelligent. He and his girlfriend embark on a trip to meet his parents. She uses this time to reflect in her mind if she should or shouldn't stay with, Jake. The visit to his parents house could be described as creepy and odd at best. After spending a short time there and having dinner they head back. It's a dark, snowy night and they are traveling the roads of a rural area when, Jake decides to make a stop at a school.

Right here.. this stop at the school is the unraveling of Jake and the creepy notch factor goes up. This is when things get out right confusing and you're scrambling to figure it all out.  I found myself re reading passages (something I seldom do) as I was certain I was missing something vital but I also wanted to finish the damn book as I was becoming increasingly irritated with it. Then it ends and you are left at WTF!

I suppose this might be one of those books that if you re read you would catch things and feel different about the entire thing but I don't want to reread it as I didn't care for it much in the first place. The characters and the story didn't deliver and I would suggest you pass on this one or read it if you don't have anything else in you to be read pile.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bring Her Home by David Bell

Two teenage girls go missing and then their badly beaten bodies are found in the city park. One is dead and the other is clinging to life. 

Bill Price the father of Summer (the girl who is still alive) runs to his daughters side. Life can't seem to give him a break. He lost his wife a few years ago to an accident and now his daughter is in a coma.  Bill makes it his mission to find out who harmed his daughter and killed her friend, Haley, however things make a turn for the worst when he finds out the girl laying in the bed in a coma is Haley and not his daughter Summer.

Bill pushes himself further into the investigation intent on finding out who is responsible but he might just end up with more than he bargained for as the unraveling of secrets proves how little we really know about the people we love.

I found this book entertaining enough but was slightly disappointed because the mystery element of the story, wasn't suspenseful as it is loosely based on the true life story of  Laura van Ryn and Whitney Cerak. If you aren't familiar with their story you can find it HERE.

There is a lot of drama, a lot of weird things are happening and it's fairly predictable but it is an easy read as Bell knows how to tie things together and simplify them. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Publication Date: March 20. 2018

You might know Lisa Genova from her other works such as, "Still Alice", "Left Neglected", "Love Anthony" and my personal favorite, "Inside the O'Briens". Lisa Genova is best known for her ability to take medical fiction to a new high. 

Her character's become your friends, family, loved one or you." Every Note Played" follows, Richard a professional, renowned classical pianist  diagnosed with ALS.  His entire life up until that point has been his music, his piano but ALS is cruel and he slowly loses his ability to play.  His hands will never again touch the ivory keys and the music will no longer flow through his veins. 

Richard keeps his diagnosis a secret and is in denial but he is quick to find out that while his mind is in denial his body isn't. He slowly starts to deteriorate and when he can no longer care for himself he moves in with this ex-wife, Karina who reluctantly becomes his caregiver. It is important to note that, Karina herself is a piano player and that their music is brought them together many, many years ago. 

Richard and Karina navigate this new world of theirs in which they both had to adjust to his illness in order to make his life as comfortable as possible. Along they way there is self discovery and healing.

ALS takes and takes from Richards. It takes body, his dignity, his independence and his essence but it gives him something he never knew he was missing, something he never knew he wanted. 
Genova wrapped the ending up perfectly and while this is my least favorite of her novels it is still worth the time and energy it takes. Just prepare yourself for an emotional journey as some self reflection. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way Down is a powerful portrayal of mental illness. Green captures the essence of being anxiety drawn and having OCD compulsion. As someone who has battled anxiety and panic attacks for over a decade, I can tell you that the circling thoughts that spiral from the main character are true to form. To date this is one of the best fiction novels I have read dealing with anxiety disorder. I see a great deal of myself in the main character, Aza.

Aza is sixteen years old and suffers from anxiety and compulsions. Daisy is Aza's best friend and a Star Wars fan-fiction writer. Davis is a friend from childhood with whom Aza reconnects with following the disappearance of his billionaire father.

Daisy and Aza attempt to solve the disappearance of the billionaire but along the way they, Aza in particular forms a bond with Davis and through this bond the readers are able to get a truer glimpse of the inside of Aza's mind and mental illness.

The relationships in this novel are interesting and entertaining. I love the way Green deals and details Aza's thought process but what I also enjoy is that Green also covers what it is like to be a friend or family member of someone who suffers from anxiety and OCD because it isn't easy to be on that end of the spectrum.

I do enjoy the story but I could have done without the mystery of the billionaire it just didn't showcase Green's best work and didn't add anything to it but don't let that stop you from picking up this book.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Sometimes I Lie: A NovelMar 13, 2018 by Alice Feeney

Sometimes I Lie will be released March 13, 2018 

"We are all made of flesh and stars, but we all become dust in the end. Best to shine while you can."

There is nothing more exciting than having a book, an advance readers copy a that arrive at your home unexpectedly for review.  I set this little gem aside because I wanted to be able to give it my full attention and read it in one or two days, rather than a week or longer. I wanted to put 100% of my attention into it and my biggest regret is not reading it sooner! I ended up devouring it in under a a day. The characters are fabulous, well developed and this story had more twists and turns then I have experienced in ages. 

Amber Reynolds our main character "wakes" up in a hospital, with no knowledge of what has happened to her. She can't speak or move but she can hear everything going on around her. Her coma status allows for so many people to say and do things one normally wouldn't say or do to a person who is awake. This gives, Amber insight into what is going on, while leaving readers in the dark (they just don't know they are in the dark!).  Amber uses her coma as a way to help her unravel and determine what has happened to her. 

Like many good psychological thrillers, our story teller is unreliable and mess with your head. Be prepared for an emotional mind crush. The characters are intriguing, chilling and frighting as you see bits of them in people you know and yourself.

The final twist took me by surprise ... and this doesn't happen to me! I can usually spot them
miles away!  It's pure genius and I am looking forward to many more novels by, Feeney! 
I marked more than 17 tabs in this novel of moments and passages that moved me in both a physical, emotional and mental way. I have a habit of writing down phrases from books that move me and this is a record high for me....

Friday, December 8, 2017

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella 
Publication Date: February 13, 2018

"Love is finding one person infinitely fascinating."

There are approximately10 authors who's books I read without question. I don't bother to read the synopsis, I just sink my teeth into it and trust that I will be entertained.  When given the opportunity to read Kinsella's newest book, I jumped at the chance. I was enchanted from the start.
Sylvie and Dan have been together for 10. They have lovely twin daughters, a happy marriage and a great life but when they are told that they can expect to live another 68 years panic sets in for both parties. That's nearly 7 more decades together! How will they survive? Will their marriage withstand it? Will they get bored of one another? How will they manage? 
They devise a plan to keep things interesting, Operation "Surprise Me". They make a plan to surprise one another and it leads to some funny and entertaining moments. There are twists, sexy bits and good laughs. 
Surprise Me is a wee bit different from Kinsella's other novels. The writing is different and there is a level of mystery but she succeeded in creating a great cast of characters and a charming story.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

This is dark thriller that takes place over the course of twenty-four hours.

Paul and Mia seem to have the perfect marriage and all the goodies that come with society's perception of perfect. The big homes, well paying job, money, children, etc but inside all of that beauty lies darkness.

Paul is an unreliable narrator and a narcissist (I would also suspect he is also a sociopath).  Paul is arrogant, a liar, a womanizer and puts on an Alpha male mentality. He plans the "best day" ever for him and his wife but as the day unravels hour by hour and Mia takes a stand for herself (which narc's hate!) he starts to lose his "power" and "control". His best day ever is falling apart and when a narc loses control and can no longer dominate he starts to fall apart. This is Paul's unraveling.

This is an excellent physiological thriller but dear reader it takes some time to really get into the grit of things. I had to read quite a ways in before I found myself invested in the characters but once I got involved, I was difficult to put down. I encourage you to push through and get to the good stuff.

Rounda captures the personality of someone who has to be in control perfectly. The arrogance and dominating personality fly off the pages, as does the manipulation and charisma. You will be drawn into Paul and Mia's world and left wondering, "Who the hell does this guy think he is?" He is an unlikable character yet intriguing.

This story stays with you longer after you've put it away. If you have ever been a victim of  emotional abuse from a partner you will find yourself nodding along and maybe even shedding a few tears.
I had to put the book down a few times to collect myself emotionally before continuing on, that is how strong of a writer, Rouda is. She makes you feel strong emotions. I will be picking up more of her books along the way.

This is one thriller you will want to read or make part of you book club to discuss.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

Tess DeMello is only 23 years old when she finds herself pregnant. The year is 1944 and she feels that she has no choice but to end her engagement, move away from home and reach out to the father of her child for assistance. 

Henry Kraft of Hickory, North Carolina quickly proposes marriage and Tess finds herself living with her husband, mother-in-law and sister in-law. The town isn't to pleased with this outsider as they have all believed that Henry would one day marry, Violet. Henry doesn't make things any easier on, Tess. He isn't cruel by any means and provides her with the necessities but he is not affectionate, stays out all night and is secretive.  

A polio epidemic strikes the quaint little city of, Hickory and the townspeople work together to build a small little makeshift hospital in which to treat and care for those who are struck with, polio (This really did happen! Check it out Here). Tess is finally able to shine, as she is a nurse and starts working on the hospital. She is thriving and then her past pops complication her life further. This complication along with Henry's secretive make Tess rethink her life and marriage in Hickory. 

Truths are revealed and tragedies strike. Read, The Stolen Marriage to find out more.

The story is told in, Tess's voice and covers are variety of topics such as racism, religion, morals, beliefs and human strength. Overall, I enjoyed the story but I did see some things coming and felt the ending was a little to pretty and perfect for me but can see how someone else would enjoy it. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Jacks husband, James dies in a tragic car accident in Maui. The problem is, James wasn't suppose to be in Maui and surprise, surprise he was also having an affair and his mistress, Dylan also perished in the crash.
Jacks teams up with Nick (Dylan's fiance) and they travel together to Maui to piece together the last moments in the lives of their loved ones. This proves to be very intriguing and brings Nick and Jacks together in their grief, anger and pain.

The story is told in alternating points of views giving the reader information before, during and after the deaths of James and Dylan. It also gives you insight into what Jacks and  Dylan are thinking and going through as their stories unfold. 

This book is full of love, loss, betrayal, mystery and suspense. I fear that if I go into too much detail I will give things away because there is a twist (that I saw coming) but that doesn't mean I should spoil it for other readers.

I can say that this novel is character driven and each character has attributes that make them lovable and unlikable, which is true to life.  This suspense in minimal and the denouement abrupt but that doesn't mean it isn't an enjoyable read because it is. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The more time he spent around her, the more he realized how rarely he thought anybody else was actually good. Nice, maybe, but niceness was something anyone could be, whether they meant it or not. But goodness was another thing altogether.  - The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Nadia Turner(17) is young, beautiful and tragic. She is grief stricken and dealing with the recent suicide of her mother. She finds solace in the arms of Luke Sheppard (21). He was once the star athlete in college whose leg injury ended his football plight and he is now reduced to waiting tables at the local diner. He is also the pastor's son.

A pregnancy  and it's cover up ends the relationship and the two go their own separate ways, each dealing with the ramifications of choices. Nadia keeps the secret to herself, moves away to college and the years pass swiftly.

Luke Sheppard's life hasn't changed much since Nadia left until one night an event occurs that puts him on a path and a life with Aubrey (Who just so happens to be, Nadia's best friend! Scandalous!). Nadia returns and as, Benjamin Franklin once said, Three can keep a secret, if one of them is dead.

Secrets spill, emotional tidal waves crash but will it become a tsunami of destruction? Read more to find out...

The book takes place in San Diego, my heart, my home, my happy place and as I no longer live there it made me nostalgic. If you have ever lived in San Diego or visited it for an extended period of time, the landmarks and places will jump out at you and bring the places alive.

This is an excellent debut novel.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Border by Steve Schafer

A quincenera is a right of passage. A large celebration for most latin girls. It is when a girl turns fifteen years old. A big party to celebrate this milestone in life is usually thrown. There is family, lots and lots of family, friends, good food, cake and music.  It marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood. There is a big pretty dress and a court made up of friends and family. It is a memorable event. Not one I see mentioned in novels or movies, much. Schafer opens up his novel with this celebratory event.

The reader is lured into a fun and safe place but  tragedy strikes fast and the story unfolds right before your eyes. Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Glady are our main characters and they have stepped away from the main event when gunshots ring out. When they return to the scene they find they are the only survivors. Everyone else is gone except the gunmen. The gunmen are Narcos and the only way to escape with their lives is to flee.

The fighted, young group of teens are wanted  by the narcos and  have price put on their heads. The only way to make it alive it to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. Getting to the border is the easy part.  Crossing the vast empty, hot land with little to no supplies and surviving will be near impossible. 

Their voyage is fraught with many issues and one can't help but to imagine the desperation not only these characters feel but that of those who attempt to cross the border into the United States every day. There are predators all around, animal and human. Minimal water, oppressive heat, no medication, no map are a few of the issues they will be forced to face. 

The character's are realistic. The story is touching and covers a variety of topics that we don't see in the media or that isn't understood. 

The characters' are flawed and Schafer does an excellent job of giving them voice and making them "alive". I felt a connection to each of them and could easily see them in the people I know, the people I lov and  the strangers on the street whose background story I don't know. 

This was an extremely emotional read for me and it left me feeling helpless, powerless and slightly misanthropic yet I  encourage you to read this. I highly recommend it. 

There is spanish in the novel and it isn't always translated or translated correctly but I feel that a reader would still get the gist of what is being said. 

I'm Thinking of Ending Things By Iain Reid

Ever read a book and think to yourself, "What the fuck did, I just read?" because that just happened to me. It took me a while to ...