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!

 

Just Finished…

Hello, Fellow Readers!

I just finished a gem of a book Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson.

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Have you ever read a book that you didn’t want to end o just connected with the story? This was one of those for me. Not that my family is from the South or that I was pregnant and single when I was 38. It was the main character’s relationship with her Garmma. It reminded me of my feelings for my dear Gramma Shane.(I am spelling Gramma like they do in the South!) 🙂

  I stumbled onto this book by total chance. I went to my local bookstore to see if my ordered books had arrived and of course I was too eager…no books. The gal at the book store, Pam and I started chatting about books. She had just finished Almost Sisters and gave it a great review along with a high recommendation. So how could I pass it up? I started it as soon as I got home…and haven’t put it down until I was done!! It is such a wonderful, loving, sad and touching story between Leia, her unborn baby, her gramma: Birchie and Birchie’s BFF, Wattie.

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.
It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy – an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.
Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and the life of her unborn baby.

When I rate a book, I think about if I can’t wait to read it, if I take it with me to pick up Jack (I go early so I can read) or if I think about it during the day. I did all  of those with this book. I hope you do too!

I give this book a definite 5 out of 5 stars.

Just Finished…

Hello!

I just finished a really good non-fiction book…

American Fire
by Monica Hesse

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On November 12, 2012, in a rural county called Accomack on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, an abandoned house blazed. While no one was hurt, it was a long night for the firefighters — not because that particular fire proved a challenge, but because they were called to put out two more that night. Over the next five months, they’d be called out again and again, sometimes several times a night, often several nights in a row. “The county went about its business,” Hesse writes. “The county burned down.”

The culprit, and the path that led to these crimes, is a story of twenty-first century America. Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse first drove down to the reeling county to cover a hearing for Charlie Smith, a struggling mechanic who upon his capture had promptly pleaded guilty to sixty-seven counts of arson. But as Charlie’s confession unspooled, it got deeper and weirder. He wasn’t lighting fires alone; his crimes were galvanized by a surprising love story. Over a year of investigating, Hesse uncovered the motives of Charlie and his accomplice, girlfriend Tonya Bundick, a woman of steel-like strength and an inscrutable past. Theirs was a love built on impossibly tight budgets and simple pleasures. They were each other’s inspiration and escape…until they weren’t.

As a reader who enjoys fiction over non-fiction, I must admit this NF book ranks as one of my favorite books I have read this year.  It reads like a fiction book, it’s suspenseful, a page turner, focuses on the characters, I mean “real” people, and the effect of the fires that rage every night in their county for six months. The biggest question isn’t Who is doing the fires, but ends up being Why.

I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

 

Just Finished..

Welcome Back!

I just finished the book The Girl Before by JP Delaney.
(don’t confuse with the Iowa author of the book with the same title)

Oh. Boy. I liked this one!

EMMA
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

JANE
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

One “chapter,” anywhere from 2-4 pages, is told by Emma who lived in One Folgate first. She was looking for a new place to live because she was burglarized at her old house, loves the idea of the minimalist house and being controlled. The next chapter (2-4 pages) is told by Jane, who is currently living at One Folgate. With the chapters switching each time, you follow the women’s lives in the same order as they happened to each girl. (Make sense?) I loved how this was written…no trying to remember what happened to whom and when it happened, because it’s answered in the next chapter. I can’t say much more without telling too much. It’s a great mystery and does some twisting, which is always a bonus!

I would give this 4.5 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed this one!

 

20 Books Read!

Hello!

I just finished my 20th book of the year, Final Girls by Riley Sager.

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Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls.

A Final Girl is the last girl left alive in a horror movie. Quincy is a final girl as well as two other gals from different massacres.

This book kept my interest, wanting to know what happened on Quincy’s horrible night at Pine Cottage, where five other friends were killed. The last third of the book starts to twist and turn and I really didn’t see any of it coming…which I loved. But after finishing, I would love to know more of those “back stories” that developed in the last part of the book.  To get to to this part,  there’s a lot of build up and looking back, some of it not necessary.

This is a fun summer read that will keep your interest and twist at the end which is always enjoyable!

I would give this 3.5-4 out of 5 stars.

Just Finished…

Hello!

I have finished several books lately and need to share those reviews! The latest book I finished was Find Her by Lisa Gardner. It was the first book I have read by this author and have another book by her in my “to read” pile.

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Flora Dane is a victim.
Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure.

Flora Dane is a survivor.
Miraculously alive after her ordeal, Flora has spent the past five years reacquainting herself with the rhythms of normal life, working with her FBI victim advocate, Samuel Keynes. She has a mother who’s never stopped loving her, a brother who is scared of the person she’s become, and a bedroom wall, covered with photos of other girls who’ve never made it home.

Flora Dane is reckless.
…Or is she? When Boston Detective D.D. Warren is called to the scene of a crime– a dead man and the bound, naked woman who killed him– she learns that Flora has taken on three other suspects since her return to society. Is Flora a victim, or a vigilante? And with her firsthand knowledge of criminal behavior, could she hold the key to rescuing a missing college student whose abduction has rocked Boston? When Flora herself disappears, D.D. realizes a far more sinister predator is out there. One who’s determined that this time, Flora Dane will never escape.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a page turner and kept me guessing, but let me warn you, it is very dark. One chapter is from the detectives point of view, the next is present day Flora’s view and the next is told by Flora as she is held captive by her capture. I must share I would give this book 4 stars, except the end got wrapped up pretty quickly and had some typical wrap up events…the cops suddenly hearing a gun shoot and just being in the right place at the right time. So I will give this three stars. Its a fun read and will keep you guessing…almost until the end.

Just Finished…

Welcome Back!

This month I also read the book The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

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From Good Reads:
Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

I really liked this book! I can’t say for sure what drew me to this book. It’s not the kind of thing I usually pick up, and I haven’t read anything by Reid before. I was hooked in the first three chapters!

It’s perfect, easy beach read material. It’s not particularly deep, it does not take the genre to new levels or make you think about something new, and yet it DID feel different. Evelyn Hugo’s story was so delicious and compelling that it stood out, and kept me turning pages in a desperate need to discover the stories behind her seven husbands, and the answer to the one question everyone wants to know: who was her greatest love?

I give this book 4.5 stars!!