Just Finished…

Hello!

I just finished the book This Is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel.

I loved this story! It gave me all the feelings!
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

I am going to share pieces of a review that I read due to the fact that it words my thoughst perfectly:
As Rosie and Penn’s fifth child, they had learned to take their children’s many quirks in stride. Claude is a sweet little boy, the youngest in his family of five boys. Claude is a happy well-adjusted, precocious child who knows what he wants. He wants to wear dresses, carry a purse for a lunchbox, play princess, and be a girl when he grows up. Rosie, Penn and his brothers want Claude to be happy with whoever he is, but there is no road map for how to do this. When it became apparent that Claude’s yearning was more than a phase, they didn’t panic as many parents might. Instead, Rosie and Penn did all they could to help Claude be the person he felt himself to be, Poppy. When it became too difficult in the small Wisconsin community where they lived, they moved their family to Seattle for a fresh start. I so loved the way the entire family took everything about Poppy in stride. Her brothers were amazingly off-handed about it, but never to the point where it didn’t ring true. Poppy was just another piece of their busy lives. Soon the whole family is keeping secrets to protect Poppy. Secrets too big to be secrets for long.

There is a part where Rosie and Claude/Poppy go to Thailand. (Not giving anything away.) I questioned this part of the book and thought it wasn’t really relevant, but…This section of the book helped me understand the hopelessness that Claude/Poppy felt. That last section allowed the reader to learn that transgender people are accepted in some cultures.(Earlier, Poppy even taught her parents about gender variations in some animals.) The Thai part showed that there are other issues much more critical in life and allowed Poppy/Claude to help others and thus gain strength and accept herself.

People Magazine’s Top 10 Books of 2017
Amazon’s Best Books of 2017: Top 20
Amazon’s Best Literature and Fiction of 2017
Bustle’s 17 Books Every Woman Should Read From 2017
PopSugar’s Our Favorite Books of the Year (So Far)
Refinery29’s Best Books of the Year So Far
BookBrowse’s The 20 Best Books of 2017
Pacific Northwest Book Awards Finalist
The Globe and Mail‘s Top 100 Books of 2017

Not Finishing…

Hello!

I usually post about books I have read, but this time, which I don’t do very often, I didn’t finish a book.

The book is Haunted By Chuck Palahniuk
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First, the cover is a bit freaky AND unknowing to me, it glows in the dark. UGH!

The book has received great reviews, but a word that comes up in several of the reviews is disturbing. And boy is it…disturbing. I thought, I can read this. I’ve read disturbing books before. Oh. My. Word. I must say, I haven’t read anything this bothersome….or disturbing.

Basically it’s about a group of eccentric people that are picked up by a bus in the middle of the night. They can’t tell anyone they are leaving, they may only bring one bag to their destination, which is an isolated mansion. While at the mansion, the owner pressures them to create, in writing, something…but not sure what.  That’s the thing…you meet all these people that are given an alias for their name and then suddenly you are reading a short story that one of the captives wrote. To put it simply, the short stories written by the “captives” are disturbing. (need to look up some synonyms for disturbing!) And here’s the kicker, they get more bothersome as the book goes on!! Oh. My.

So, I read the first chapter (which actually caught my attention) and the first “written” short story. Well, I didn’t read all of the first story due to it being, you guessed it, disturbing. I had to skip an entire page of description of an event. It grossed me out. It’s not bloody and gory…it’s just…disturbing.  How does someones mind go that way?

Later, I shared the story with Jason and he also thought “WOW! That is nasty!”  And he has read more disturbing things than me!

So, now you want to read the first chapter and short story in this book, but you have been warned…it is bothersome and disturbing.

Just Finished…

 Welcome Back!

I just finished the book
Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

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“I glance at my wife as she climbs into the passenger seat, and I am bursting with confidence. Today will be everything I’ve promised her…and more…”

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

I read a lot of reviews on this book and the vast majority loved this book, thought it was thrilling and suspenseful.  I wasn’t impressed.
The main character is Paul, he is narcissistic and SO extremely into himself, that he actually bored me when he wasn’t turning my stomach! What he was able to get away with, was at times, pretty farfetched.  The entire story is told by Paul and he would talk to himself to remind us how great he was and how all women loved him and they all threw themselves at their feet and how rich he was and how he lived in the best place ever. Barf.

Paul and his wife Mia are going to their cottage on the lake, for the weekend, kid free. He is planning on making it the best day ever, except we find out he has a much more sinister plan for her.

I usually like these types of books, but it really didn’t do anything for me. You can figure out what will happen. I thought it can’t be this predictable, but yep, it was. There were times I thought, here comes a twist, but nope. Nothing. The ending was pretty unsatisfying.

I’d give this book a 2.75 out of 5 stars.

You may want to give this book a chance, because MANY readers gave this book 4-5 stars. It just wasn’t for me.

 

Just Finished…

Welcome Back!

I just finished a book that Jack gave me for Christmas called
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld.

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From Goodreads:

“Where are you, Madison Culver? Flying with the angels, a silver speck on a wing? Are you dreaming, buried under snow? Or—is it possible—you are still alive?”

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight-years-old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as “the Child Finder,” Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl, too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Told in the alternating voices of Naomi and a deeply imaginative child, The Child Finder is a breathtaking, exquisitely rendered literary page-turner about redemption, the line between reality and memories and dreams, and the human capacity to survive.

Me:
I had a hard time with this book for two reasons: First, I had a hard time with Madison’s abductor, Mr. B., and what he would do to her. (It is not graphic, but Madison shares things that make you realize what Mr. B. has done to her.) Also the repetition of Naomi being lost from herself was brought up over and over and over again. We got it.

Anyway, Madison, the little girl, is very imaginative, creates almost an alternative personality,The Snow Child, in order to survive and make sense to what is happening to her. It’s amazing what people can do to survive a horrible situation. I do not like Mr. B. He makes me sick. But, the author is such an amazing writer, that at times I actually felt bad for Mr. B. If a writer can make me feel for the “bad” person in a book, then that’s a well written book.

It’s a good story, disturbing at times, but it did keep my interest and I would recommend it to others. I think in the end, I would give this book 4 stars out of 5. (3.5 due to the disturbing things Mr. B does to Madison.)

 

Just Finished

Welcome Back!

Just Finished The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh

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This is a tricky book to review because I don’t want to give anything way! I read this review and it puts it perfectly:

We have a small town in Texas (the third least populated county of the country), a memory removing procedure, and a wide cast of criminals or witnesses who ended up there as a kind of witness protection program/alternative to prison. The residents are completely separated from their old lives; they even choose new name upon arrival. Anonymity, a fresh start. Everything is quiet for eight years until two people are shot in different instances.

I haven’t read anything like this before and really enjoyed it! The first half of this book is strong and pulls you right in.  It’s a great premise and I would give this book 5 stars, but when you begin to read  about the “inmates” past lives, suddenly the author decides to use long sentences with large adjectives to describe the crimes/events. This gets a bit drawn out in the middle, but I think the author redeems himself with a good ending.

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Just Finished…

Welcome!

I just finished the book Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker. https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1484434383l/33574211.jpg

Form Goodreads:

A thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

From Me!

“Not knowing, not seeing, being deceived—it makes you question everything you have come to trust. It makes you doubt your own judgment, and the truths you have come to believe in, which sometimes are so deeply embedded, you don’t even know they’re there, shaping your thoughts.”

While reading this book, I questioned everything. The two sisters just disappeared one evening and Cass, the youngest shows back up after three years. She shares quite the story of what happened to the sisters while gone and I kept thinking where is this going?

The mother is extremely narcissistic, which I enjoyed reading traits about narcissistic people. But instead of thinking about the mom, all I could think about was Trump. (ew.)

It does twist, but didn’t twist smoothly. At times I was like “What?” How did she get them to do that from what she just said and ended up rereading. Also, Cass took a lot of careful planning, which she would be only 15 when she disappeared, I considered her a  genius. Sam is 15 and I don’t think he could have made such an extravagant plan.

At one point towards the end of the book, it did have a twist that I really didn’t see coming and enjoyed. That was a nice chapter.

But, maybe I missed something due to reading rave review after rave review of this book. I can see why readers loved this book, it does take you on a ride, but I now feel like I should reread the book, knowing the ending, to put the pieces together in my mind a bit better.

I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars.

 

Just Finished

Hello!

Jason and I went to North Carolina this weekend to see friends and go to a Vikings game. More on that later, but I did start and finish an amazing short book on our trip!

I shared a review on the book, Alex, by Pierre Lemaitre and it is one of my top 5 books. While at the bookstore, I spotted another by Pierre Lemaitre  and thought it would be a great quick read for out trip! LOVED IT!

Blood Wedding
by Pierre Lemaitre

Blood Wedding by [Lemaitre, Pierre]

From Amazon:
Sophie Duguet–young, successful, and happily married–thought at first she was becoming absentminded when she started misplacing her mail and forgetting where she’d parked her car the night before. But then, as her husband and colleagues pointed out with increasing frustration, she began forgetting things she’d said and done, too. And when she was detained by the police for shoplifting, a crime she didn’t remember committing, the confusion and blackouts that had begun to plague her took on a more sinister cast. Her marriage started to come apart at the seams.

Now Sophie is in much deeper water: the young boy she nannies is dead while in her care, a tragedy of which she has no memory. Afraid for her sanity and of what the police will do to her when the body is discovered, Sophie goes on the run, changing her identity and appearance to evade the law. Forced to lead a very different kind of life, one on the margins of society, Sophie wonders where everything went wrong.

Still, with a new name and a new life, she hopes that she’ll be able to put her demons to rest for good. It soon becomes clear, however, that the real nightmare has only just begun . . .

And only just begun is soooo true! The review shares only the tip of the iceberg about this story. Halfway through it takes a HUGE twist I did not see coming!! YES!!Love a twist!!  Again, I can’t say too much about the book because I don’t want to give anything away. You’ve got to read this one!!

I give this 5 out of  5 stars!

Also, I have heard that this author isn’t very easy to find in the library. His books are available on Amazon and I have found many at second-hand book stores or the Half Price Book Store.

Just Finished…

Welcome Back!

Just Finished the book
“The Stars Are Fire”
by Anita Shreve

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From Amazon:
In October 1947, after a summer long drought, fires break out all along the Maine coast from Bar Harbor to Kittery and are soon racing out of control from town to village. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her husband, Gene, joins the volunteer firefighters. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie’s two young children, Grace watches helplessly as their houses burn to the ground, the flames finally forcing them all into the ocean as a last resort. The women spend the night frantically protecting their children, and in the morning find their lives forever changed: homeless, penniless, awaiting news of their husbands’ fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. In the midst of this devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms–joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain–and her spirit soars. And then the unthinkable happens–and Grace’s bravery is tested as never before.

I really enjoyed this story. The main character, Grace, so impressed me with her loyalty, devotion and determination. I also was angry with her decisions at times. She did what was expected of her then doing what was best for her.  But, that was how many women behaved and did during the 40s. What I really liked, is that Grace faces some heart breaking struggles and she breaks down. She gives up.  She doesn’t  persevere through the whole book. It seemed so real life to me, which was refreshing.

While reading, I also found myself wondering what I would do in her situation. Could I be as strong?  Would I put others before me in situations that did not involve my kids?  Would I be able to make the decisions she did to move forward?  This is a quick, thought provoking book and definitely worth your time!

I would give this 4 out of 5 stars.

Just Finished…

Hello, Fellow Readers!

I just finished
The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas

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From Amazon:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

Wow. This book was hard to read at times due to the range of emotions that you go through chapter by chapter, but a HUGE eye opener. It brings a different perspective of police shootings of African Americans. It made me start to think how shootings are reported by the media. We usually hear about the police side of the story and rarely do we hear from the victims family or friends. This story is about the issue of police brutality from the perspective of the victim’s loved ones. Too many people are quick to jump to the conclusion that somehow the victim “deserved it”, particularly when the victim is black. Lost in all of this is how the families and communities are affected.   The Hate U Give isn’t about a movement. It’s about black lives living, and about black lives loving, and about black lives pursuing happiness and deserving freedom—just like everyone. This novel’s protagonist is sixteen years old, and she lives without an ulterior motive or agenda. Starr is just a girl who experienced a horrific tragedy, and the novel follows her journey through her grief and self-actualizations.

I am actually going to have Sam read this book. I think it provides a different insight with everything that is gong on in the world.

Definitely a 5 out of 5 stars.

Just Finished…

Hello, Fellow Readers!

I just finished another amazing story!
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gale Honeyman

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Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. Eleanor lives alone and doesn’t have any friends, but that’s okay. She’s doing real well, thank you very much.

Except maybe she isn’t.

I read the following review and it hits the nail on the head with how I would review the book and about the story and Eleanor. While reading I kept thinking about the book A Man Called Ove. As you learn more about Ove, you fell more and more in love with him. You will do the same with Eleanor. Ove was funny, tragic, sad and heartwarming. You will find that with  Eleanor. You will cheer for Eleanor through the story, just like you did with Ove.

This book actually turned out to be one of those perfectly-balanced sad/funny books. Maybe like some combination of The Rosie Project, Me Before You, Finding Audrey and A Man Called Ove. It takes a serious, traumatic issue and weaves it into a warm, funny and, yes, sometimes sad tale.

I read a lot of books and many characters come and go. Some are well-developed and interesting, others less so. But on a rare occasion I find one of those truly memorable characters that will stay with me a long time. Eleanor is one of them. She is socially clueless in a way that puts my teen self to shame. She is literal to a degree that everyone finds odd. It’s painful to witness and yet so, so endearing.

I think I like this book so much because it is actually really sad, but never manipulative. On a surface level, it’s a very funny novel about a socially-inept twenty-nine year-old woman. Her attempts to become “normal” and integrate into society by having manicures and waxes are sources of hilarity. But it is very sad. It’s sad when we see her coworkers talking about her, but Eleanor is oblivious to their scorn. It’s sad how alone in life she is. It’s sad when she “falls in love” with an idea of a person.

It’s not a romantic book and I’m glad. There are hints that the central relationship will eventually develop into romance, but this is really a book about Eleanor. I am thankful that the author didn’t cure Eleanor and lead her out of the darkness by having her fall in love.

I really enjoyed it. It’s great to find a book so packed full of emotion without seeming overly-sentimental.

This is one of my favorite reads and was sad to see it end.
I would give this one a 5 out of 5 stars!