November 14, 2018

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Founder of the lifestyle website and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.
Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.
From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son's request that she buy a necklace to "be like the other moms," Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.

When I started this book, I didn’t realize how polarizing it was. A lot of people love it and a lot of people HATE IT.

Here’s what I take away from it – It’s not so much a self-help book as it is a motivational book. It’s more of a kick your ass into doing something rather than giving you tools on how to improve yourself. And that’s fine. That’s what this book is, don’t expect more than that.

If you’re religious, you’ll probably relate to it more than someone who isn’t. Rachel is a rather religious person, so she mentions it a lot. It never seemed preachy to me or pushy, so it wasn’t something that turned me off.

I’m not a huge fan of her writing style. I enjoy that it’s more conversational than it is dry and boring. But, being called “sister” way too many times certainly isn’t for me.

2/5 Stars. Overall, I don’t think it deserves ALL the hate it gets (some, yes), but it doesn’t deserve the absolute love it gets either. It’s just a book, and it wouldn’t be on my recommended list.

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November 13, 2018

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. 

 I’m not sure how this book turned out to be a feel good story. Nothing during the reading of it suggested it would be that way except, maybe, for the fact that it’s a Young Adult novel. I find, more often than not, Young Adult goes the feel-good route instead of soul-crushing route.

Now, there was one twist in this book that shook me to my core and nearly made me cry. I had to put it down and process it for a minute before I could continue.

The two main characters, Alex and Miles, are very strong and well developed. Made You Up gives you an interesting take on mental health and high school. There is a really weird side plot with the principal which ends up being an important plot point in the end, but I just thought it was really strange an unnecessary.

Overall, this book was really easy to get through. It doesn’t take long to read, and the characters are likeable. If you’re looking for a lighter read (with difficult topics) I would recommend it. Be warned, it will make you question everything that you know while reading it.

4/5 Stars

November 11, 2018

Traffick by Ellen Hopkins

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.
And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heartwrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.
To be honest, it’s been a long time since I read Tricks. I remembered the premise, but not all of the characters or what happened. So, jumping into Traffick – it was hard to keep all of the characters straight until about halfway through the book. I probably should have made myself a key so I could remember everything. 

The best way to sum it up is a novel about lost kids finding their way back home. 

I liked it. It’s always nice to jump back in to an Ellen Hopkins book with her unique writing style. They’re deep, they hit hard, but they stick with you and are easy to get through. 

It would be easy to leave this universe and stick with just two books, but I wouldn’t mind another book showing if they can really integrate themselves back into their families after spending time turning ‘Tricks’ in Vegas. The addiction and the PTSD are interesting storylines that could be further explored, and I think Ellen Hopkins would do a great job writing it. 

4/5 Stars

November 7, 2018

Elevation by Stephen King

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.
In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

I’m . . . not really sure what I just read if I’m being honest. I don’t really know what the point of this book was. It seems like it was supposed to be a social commentary. I guess, in a way, it was.

I appreciate King accept LGBTQ folks, so that’s a plus. But I don’t really understand what Scott’s place in the story was. Unless it was the typical “man saves the women” trope. We also get absolutely zero answers about his condition. He just. . . floats off into space after uniting the gays and the religious people?

I don’t . . . get it? It also wasn’t written with any real sense of intelligence. I know Stephen King is a very good writer and his books can have some great depth. So I’m left sitting here confused about this one. It kinda felt like one of James Patterson’s bookshots.

I don’t know. It was okay. I don’t think I would recommend it. The cover art is beautiful though!

2/5 Stars

Fifty Fifty by James Patterson

It’s not easy being a good detective – when your brother’s a serial killer.
Sam Blue stands accused of the brutal murders of three young students, their bodies dumped near the Georges River. Only one person believes he is innocent: his sister, Detective Harriet Blue. And she’s determined to prove it.
Except she’s now been banished to the outback town of Last Chance Valley (population 75), where a diary found on the roadside outlines a shocking plan – the massacre of the entire town. And the first death, shortly after Harry’s arrival, suggests the clock is already ticking.
Meanwhile, back in Sydney, a young woman holds the key to crack Sam’s case wide open.
If only she could escape the madman holding her hostage . . .

I took a break from fiction for a few weeks to dive into True Crime books. The total heaviness of them made me come back to fiction for a quick break before I dive back in. I don’t know why I even tried. Once I got to the end of this one, I started stress eating and my heart rate was rising with each chapter.

And then I got hit with a completely emotional ending that I was not prepared for and I almost cried.

So, thank you for that. I thought I was escaping harsh emotions for a bit, but I was plunged right back in. At least they were fake characters this time. But, now that we are more than one book into the series, you start becoming attached anyways.

So, this is the second book in the Harriet Blue series. We see her get shipped off to the Australian desert to try to solve another case. What seems like just a homicide turns into so much more and she is forced to choose between saving herself or saving a whole village that she has come to protect.

Meanwhile, the search is on back home for who is framing her brother of serial murder. Strides are made in the case, but will it ultimately be solved? Almost. It leads into there being at least one more book in the series, but I can only imagine how emotional it will be.

I’ve had some issues with some of James Patterson’s recent releases. The writing doesn’t seem to be up to snuff, and they just haven’t stuck with me like they used to. This budding series seems to be bringing fresh life to his resume. I can only assume that’s through the help of his co-writer Candice Fox.

4/5 stars