Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Embalmer by Caillé Anne-Reneé and Mullins Rhonda

The Embalmer is a short book around 80 pages or so. It's not as macabre as I was hoping but it is rather interesting. The book centers around a daughter who has interviewed her father on his job as an embalmer. It details an array of cases he has come across in this lifetime told in short yet powerful passages.

The writing style is more of poetic form which isn't something I care for much but after a few pages in no longer became distracting as the story lines unfolded. It's a quick read for those who find this subject interesting.

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive Jan 22, 2019 by Stephanie Land and Barbara Ehrenreich

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive 
by Stephanie Land and Barbara Ehrenreich
Release Date: Jan 22.2019

I wanted to love this book. It had so much promise. I think the expectations I went in with were too high and I ultimately disappointed my reading experience before I dug my heels into it. I don't feel that Stephanie Lands experience was unique or any more difficult than anyone else's in similar situations. Poverty is a struggle and real. The book felt rushed and the story felt as though it was being told by someone else and not the individual who experienced the hardships. 

 Land shows through her writings and experiences how society judges those who are poverty stricken, how many in society take advantage of the poor (example: The wages she is paid as maid through the company she works for) and how something such as in illness or car accident can make a situation dire for someone who is poor rather than inconvenient for those who experience such circumstances. Land's book chronicle's how poverty cycles through generations and how difficult it is to break. 

Stephanie Land is a young single mother who finds herself in a failing domestic relationships that results in abuse and the only way to save herself and her daughter is to be homeless and rely on the government for help. She no real skills or experience resulting  in low wage jobs that make it impossible to beat the odds and get ahead in life (she luckily finds a way out of this). Her experiences working as a maid caused me to cringe on several occasions by the actions of those she worked for and her own. 

 I encourage those of you who read this to take the time to place yourself or someone you love in Stephanie's situation before you make judgments and think twice before you condemn someone for being less fortunate than you. 

I don't want to spoil the ending for you but I will say Stephanie Land has beat the odds! 

Monday, December 10, 2018

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

I Owe You One By Sophie Kinsella
Release Date: February 5. 2019

Fixie Farr is meek and lets her family, long time crush walk all over her and others walk all over her. She's Fixie Farr and know for fixing things it's what she does. However a chance encounter with a rich (of course!) handsome man name Sebastian puts her on a path that makes her grow as person and strengthen her character and finally get that much needed backbone!

Fixie works in her family shop with her mother but when her mother goes on a much needed vacation her siblings have to take a more active role and want to make drastic changes and have their own agenda's. Fixie knows these ideas are bad but she can't seem to find a way to make her voice heard.

Her childhood crush reenters the picture and he like many others want's Fixie to fix his life. He takes advantage of her kindness and is quite a shoddy fellow but the ever hopeful Fixie can't seem to stand up to the man she always wanted.

A chance encounter with Sebastian throws a bit of newness into her life rut. He writes an IOU on a coffee sleeve attached to his business card and while she never expects to claim it she finds herself in his office asking to redeem it.

Chaos and drama ensues. Fixie finds her self torn between her family and her own self. Will see find and get what she finally desires? You'll have to read to find out.

Kinsella writes another lovely novel with characters who have a mix or redeeming qualities and not so great ones. This is a easy, fun read. One that I really needed during this busy season of my life.
The will be a perfect addition or gift for an Kinsella fan. It's very reminiscent of her prior works and has inspired to pull out my copies of Confessions of a Shopaholic.

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is about a young teen girl navigating her life in between two worlds. The world she "lives" in (a poor neighborhood) and the suburban prep school she attends. She is one of two black students and she changes her personality and the way she talks to acclimate in the environment she is in.

Starr is no novice when it comes to institutional injustice or witnessing the murder of someone she loves but when her best friend Khalil is murdered in front of her by the very people who are suppose to protect us she struggles to accept the world around her until she finds her voice.

This novel examines racism and our broken down criminal justice system in which some police offices can and do violate the civil rights of others in particular those of color. This book is well written, character driven and emotional. I did have issues with the way the dog breed is portrayed in this novel and a few stereotypes that popped up on occasion which gave me moments of pause and made me dislike portions/passage of the book. I don't necessarily think this would effect everyone's reading experience but if you are like me you will find it distracting and disappointing.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
Release Date: January 15, 2019

I have been not so patiently awaiting a second novel from Karen Thompson Walker since I read
 Age of Miracles in 2012. When I was given the opportunity to read an advance readers copy of The Dreamers, I jumped at the opportunity.  Walker once again tackles a unique and imaginative topic. I was hesitant as the synopsis didn't pull me in but I am glad that I  read it as I was mesmerized from page one. 

It all starts innocently enough a young college student comes down with an illness and returns to her dorm room.  Her roomate, Mei is unable to wake her up and medics are called in. Doctors are perplexed and don't have answers and then another student falls ill. The cases multiple and a quarantine is put into place. The illness targets all ages and races no one is safe. It is determined that those who are in this unwakeable sleep are displaying unusual brain activity, activity that has never been recorded before.

This is a character driven story and is told by a variety of characters. Their point of views help to deliver an exceptionally creative and compulsive read.  It's clever yet not at tantalizing as
Age of Miracles.

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lian is only fifteen years old when Soviet Officers barge into her home in Lithuanian.   The year is 1941 and Stalin is giving orders. She is forced onto a dirty crowded train with her mother, brother and strangers. The conditions are horrific as the train makes its way north crossing the arctic circle into Serbia where they are forced to work.

The winter is brutal and the conditions on the train pale in comparison to what they are about to undergo. Difficult choices are to be made by all but human nature also shows some compassion and characters surprise you with choices they make. Many scenes are shocking and some could consider them graphic (this is also true for the train ride). 

Lina uses her art as a way to cope with her life and to get word to her father who was is separated from them. This combined with some flashbacks from the author helps provide some moments of emotional relief. 

Between Shades of Gray explores  the psychological and sociological ramifications of WWII. This fictional story is almost too much for the heart to bear  especially when you stop and think that  this one story is a reflection of the 20+millions of lives lost in the genocide. 

This is a well written, informative, emotional story filled with phenomenal characters. Sepetys has written a gem of a novel and it should be mandatory reading for all school age children. We know about Hitler and the atrocities he put people  under but somehow Stalin gets glossed over and what he did is just as horrific. This is the first novel I have run across regarding Stalin and the people he harmed. I strongly recommend this read for all.  Be prepared for emotional turmoil and to shed a tear or two.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

It's been five years since Sunnybrooke High had a cheerleading squad. Five cheerleaders died within one month of one another in 3 separate incidents. Monica Rayburn's sister is one of the five. She finds her sister's cellphone hidden upon her step-fathers things and when she starts to put things together she realize that something is off about the deaths of all five cheerleaders.

Monica Rayburn put on her investigators hat and starts to look into the death of these young teen girls. The story is told in different points of view and time periods. We get Monica's perspective and her sister, Jennifers. There lives, family and friend dynamics are explored.

The plot has many twists. The reveal is slow yet satisfying. This is probably one of the better YA mystery/thriller novels I have read. It is worth taking a few hour of your time to read.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Katerina by James Frey

Katerina is Frey's newest novel and flips back and forth between 1992 (Paris) and current day Los Angeles.  It's a story about love, betrayal, sex and the emotions that flow through your body as your are consumed by them in particular during youth when you are "finding" yourself..
While fictional the characters clearly mirror Frey's life. The main character is Jay and his story flips back and forth to his youth as a writer living in Paris who falls in love with a woman named Katerina and his life in current day Los Angeles as a married man, father and successful author. 

It all starts with an anonymous message pushing Jay's mind into the past and reminiscing of his prior life, including the controversy surrounding an infamous novel Jay had written. The writing is full of emotional highs and lows.  The sex scenes are hot (unless you are a prude), F words are abundant and  the story flows however at times the layout of the writing can be a bit maddening to read. 

The read is worth your time and energy. 

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist Book by Eli Saslow

I can't stop talking about this book and recommending it to everyone book reader I know especially those who, like me have a difficult time wrapping our minds around racism, white supremacy and in general hatred towards someone because they are "different" from us.

This book is about Derek Black, the son of  Don Black ( of the white nationalists). Derek Black was raised in the white nationalist movement. He became the face of it. He was raised to become the future of it and coined the phrase "white genocide".

Derek is incredibly intelligent, well mannered and when he leaves home to attend a liberal college, he easily blends in and seems like everyone else until --  it is revealed who he really is. Many students are outraged but others seek him out, those who he befriended before and over time dialogue flows between them and Derek. Derek slowly begins to see them in a different light.

Derek starts to have in depth conversations with a friend (who becomes more) and pull away from Stormfront. He eventually publicly denounces the white nationalist movement, changing the course of his life.

This is by far the most important book I have read this years and I encourage you do read it. Get insight into the hatred and discover what  a strong character Derek Black has.

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, September 24, 2018

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

A Spark Of Light by Jodi Picoult
Release Date: October 2, 2018

Jodi Picoult is no stranger to tackling tough subjects.  This particular one deals with abortions, women and guns. It is set in a reproductive health clinic. Staff and clients are being held as hostages. Negotiator, Hugh McElroy arrives at the scene and finds out that his sister and daughter are in the clinic. This further complicates the situation and Hugh is going to do whatever it takes to make sure his daughter and sister make it out alive. 

Picoult gives the reader information on who the characters are and why they are at the center that day. Their perspectives and stories are just as important as the main characters. They were well developed and left me wanting to know more about them. I want to know more about what happens to them and their plight in life. I particularly liked the major twist. It left me wanting to know more! 

This book is a bit different from, Picoults others in that is starts with the ending. Picoult has definitely done her research and presents a well written story. This book is emotional and shows both sides of the story. It's a powerful and thought provoking read.

My only complaint was the cover of the novel. I don't care much for it and had it not been a book by Picoult, I wouldn't have given in a second glance.

* I received  a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Cross Her Heart pulls you in from the first page and keeps you turning page after page.
It's suspenseful  and very intense. It's full of secrets and lies that eventually find there way to the surface.

Lisa is a single mother who is raising her teenage daughter, Ava on her own. Ava tired of her mom's being overprotective hides a secret that is dangerous and proves to be a pivotal to the story line. Lisa has her own secrets and when they are revealed it's easy to understand why.

I didn't see the end coming. The story is told through multiple point of view characters and is well written. This is a chilling read that I can't recommend enough.

The Embalmer by Caillé Anne-Reneé and Mullins Rhonda

The Embalmer is a short book around 80 pages or so. It's not as macabre as I was hoping but it is rather interesting. The book centers a...