April 11, 2019

Hot Six by Janet Evanovich

Low-rent bounty hunter Stephanie Plum reaches depths of personal experience that other women detectives never quite do. In Hot Six, for example, a sequence of new and hideous cars bite the dust; she finds herself lumbered with a policeman's multiply incontinent dog; and she has several bad skin days. All this when she is trying to prove her distinctly more competent colleague and occasional boyfriend Ranger innocent of a mob hit; avoid the heavies trailing her in the hope of finding him; and cope with a wife-abusing bail defaulter with nasty habits, such as setting Stephanie on fire.
It’s been awhile since I picked up this series, and I forgot exactly how much I love it. It was super easy to jump right back in to all of the crazy shenanigans.

I’m pretty sure we’re made to think Stephanie is a pretty slim character, but with the way she eats, I don’t see how she could be! If she is, I’m certainly jealous. I would love to have her diet and still be in shape.

There are parts of these books that drive me nuts. I know it’s supposed to add to the comedy, but sometimes the characters are so incompetent I feel like screaming. I get past it quickly, but it does make my eye twitch.

Also – can we just talk about how amazing Grandma Mazur is? She is such a gem of a character no matter what book you are reading. She’s hilarious and really gives these books a lot of life.

Now, for the storyline of Hot Six – it was pretty interesting. It seemed pretty normal for Stephanie and her “everything-goes-wrong” lifestyle. But, what is normal for her is absolutely NOT for us normal folks. So, it was a fun ride as usual even if she was running into danger around every corner.

I had a fun time reading Hot Six and it was one of those books that just flies by.

5/5 Stars

Memorable Quote: “Probably the pink stucco was very Mediterranean. And probably in the summer, when the awnings were unrolled and the porch furniture was uncovered, and the sun and the heat washed over the Jersey shore, the pink house felt like itself. In March it looked like it was waiting for the Prozac to kick in. Pale and cold and stolid.”

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March 29, 2019

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

First things first, I love being in nature. It’s still winter here in the Midwest. Even though we are starting to get hints of spring, it’s not in full bloom. Being able to escape into the forest and the marsh through this book was so awesome. Delia Owens’s descriptions really bring the scene to life. I’ve read a few opinions on the book saying that it was too descriptive, but it was perfect for me.

All of the characters had really interesting developments. I felt like every character had their stories wrapped up in a fitting fashion. One of them, we never really find out what happens – but, again, it’s fitting. Kya is the main character, and I don’t think you could even ask for more character development. It seems like we got just enough of her life story for it to be complete and wrapped up. That is SO satisfying to me because you don’t always get that.

I just absolutely loved this book. A mixture of a coming of age story as well as a murder mystery and a love note to nature. It’s just beautifully written. The story is told so well. I didn’t want it to end. I would recommend it to anyone who loves nature.

This book has one of the greatest last chapters I’ve ever read in a novel. It ties things up without blatantly just laying out answers to your questions. It’s so beautifully written and wraps up years of Kya’s life swiftly but respectfully.

5/5 Stars

Memorable Quotes: “Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land that caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her head upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”

“Crows can’t keep secrets any better than mud; once they see something curious in the forest they have to tell everybody.”

“Autumn was coming; the evergreens might not have noticed, but the sycamores did. They flashed thousands of golden leaves across slate-gray skies.”

“Evil was not in play, just life pulsing on, even at the expense of some of the players. Biology sees right and wrong as the same color in different light.”

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March 17, 2019

It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand by Megan Devine

When a painful loss or life-shattering event upends your world, here is the first thing to know: there is nothing wrong with grief. “Grief is simply love in its most wild and painful form,” says Megan Devine. “It is a natural and sane response to loss.” So why does our culture treat grief like a disease to be cured as quickly as possible?
In It’s OK That You’re Not OK, Devine offers a profound new approach to both the experience of grief and the way we try to help others who have endured tragedy. Having experienced grief from both sides—as both a therapist and as a woman who witnessed the accidental drowning of her beloved partner—Devine writes with deep insight about the unspoken truths of loss, love, and healing. She debunks the culturally prescribed goal of returning to a normal, “happy” life, replacing it with a far healthier middle path, one that invites us to build a life alongside grief rather than seeking to overcome it. In this compelling and heartful book, you’ll learn
• Why well-meaning advice, therapy, and spiritual wisdom so often end up making it harder for people in grief
• How challenging the myths of grief—doing away with stages, timetables, and unrealistic ideals about how grief should unfold—allows us to accept grief as a mystery to be honored instead of a problem to solve
• Practical guidance for managing stress, improving sleep, and decreasing anxiety without trying to “fix” your pain
• How to help the people you love—with essays to teach us the best skills, checklists, and suggestions for supporting and comforting others through the grieving process
Many people who have suffered a loss feel judged, dismissed, and misunderstood by a culture that wants to “solve” grief. Devine writes, “Grief no more needs a solution than love needs a solution.” Through stories, research, life tips, and creative and mindfulness-based practices, she offers a unique guide through an experience we all must face—in our personal lives, in the lives of those we love, and in the wider world.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK is a book for grieving people, those who love them, and all those seeking to love themselves—and each other—better.

Grief is such a monster. It treats everyone differently, hits at different times, and hurts in the worst way possible. You can’t predict how you’re going to feel day to day. Once you’re in grief, it never really goes away. You just find a way to life with it.

I honestly can’t say enough about this book. It came into my life exactly when I needed it, and I think I’ll probably end up reading it a few more times.

I would recommend it to anyone dealing with grief, anyone trying to comfort someone in grief, and everyone else. I think it provides info on a way to look at situations from a different viewpoint. Treat people with more empathy and care before you just don’t know what they’re going through.

This book is beautifully written and has plenty of the writer’s own experiences sprinkled throughout to show what has helped her and what was very unhelpful as she dealt with the loss of her husband.

If you’re looking for a book for yourself – pick this up. Give this book as a gift. Have this book available to anyone who needs it. It is important and it is validating.

5/5 Stars

Memorable Quotes: “If we commit to loving, we will inevitably know Loss and grief. If we try to avoid loss and grief, we will never truly know love.”

“There are losses that rearrange the world. Deaths that change the way you see everything, grief that tears everything down. Pain that transports you to an entirely different universe, even while everyone else thinks nothing has really changed.”

November 29, 2018

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker

Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker delivers a humanizing account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island and presents the first detailed look at the shadow world of online escorts, where making a living is easier than ever, and the dangers remain all too real. A triumph of reporting, a riveting narrative, and "a lashing critique of how society and the police let five young women down" (Dwight Garner, The New York Times), Lost Girls is a portrait of unsolved murders in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.

There is something about the writing style that bothered me. I kept trying to put my finger on it, but the best I can come up with is that it’s not very fluid. The short sentences make the reading very choppy. 

Jumping into true crime with I'll Be Gone in the Dark and The Stranger Beside Me may have been a bad idea. Those are very personal works, but this one is so distant. You don’t hear about Robert at all. Maybe that’s why the writing style wasn’t as intriguing to me too. I felt like I was reading a fifth party account of everything. Just a retelling - which all books are. . . They just don’t all FEEL that way. 

The writing in the second half of the book was better than the first, but there was something that just kept taking me out of it. It was easy to put it down after each chapter. At times, it even had me looking to see how many more pages were in the chapter. You never want that while reading. 

I was upset that I didn’t get sucked into the book. The case is really interesting and I was invested in the story, just not this telling of it. I stuck it out because I wanted to read it to completion, but it felt like a bit of a chore at times. 

Lost Girls does start important conversations about how sex workers are treated. From every day citizens to law enforcement. As he points out, it’s been a part of every culture since the beginning of time, so why does society still treat sex work as such a taboo subject and why does that profession lead to so much judgement? Sex workers need protections just like anyone else. I wish that was a commonly shared belief. 

2/5 Stars

November 22, 2018

Target: Alex Cross by James Patterson

A leader has fallen, and the procession route from Capitol Hill to the White House is lined with hundreds of thousands of mourners. None feel the loss of a President more keenly than Alex Cross, who has devoted his life to the public good. 
A sniper’s bullet strikes a target in the heart of DC. Alex Cross’s wife, Bree Stone, newly elevated chief of DC detectives, faces an ultimatum: solve the case, or lose the position for which she’s worked her entire career. The Secret Service and the FBI deploy as well in the race to find the shooter. Alex is tasked by the new President to take a personal role with the FBI, leading an investigation unprecedented in scale and scope. 
Alex has a horrible premonition: is the sniper’s strike only the beginning of a larger attack on the nation? It isn’t long before his fears explode into life, and the nation plunges into a full-blown Constitutional crisis. His ingenuity, his training, and his capacity for battle are tested beyond limits in the most far-reaching and urgently consequential case of his life. As the rule of law is shattered by chaos, and Alex fights to isolate a suspect, Alex’s loyalty may be the biggest danger of all.

First of all, is this book sponsored by Uber? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Uber mentioned that many times in. . . any sort of media ever. That was a strange detail that stuck out to me. 

Second of all, I can’t see this being all that realistic. That took me out of the book from time to time. It was very over the top. I will give it credit for being very action packed though. 

I thought I would like seeing Alex practicing more in his private practice, but I don’t think I do if we are going to have random therapy cases that only exist to add weird angles to his investigations. 

Well, that ending was certainly unexpected. I wrote the previous paragraph before I had finished the book. I guess this time, his client has a bigger role - but only if they follow up with the story in the next book. This one was certainly left on a cliffhanger. 

There was an upsetting lack of John Sampson. 

I have a lot of minor thought about this one. Nothing that really flows together. Overall, it was a solid Alex Cross book. None of them are entirely realistic, so it follows that trend. 

3/5 Stars

November 21, 2018

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

'Salem's Lot is a small New England town with white clapboard houses, tree-lined streets, and solid church steeples. That summer in 'Salem's Lot was a summer of home-coming and return; spring burned out and the land lying dry, crackling underfoot. Late that summer, Ben Mears returned to 'Salem's Lot hoping to cast out his own devils... and found instead a new unspeakable horror.
A stranger had also come to the Lot, a stranger with a secret as old as evil, a secret that would wreak irreparable harm on those he touched and in turn on those they loved.
All would be changed forever—Susan, whose love for Ben could not protect her; Father Callahan, the bad priest who put his eroded faith to one last test; and Mark, a young boy who sees his fantasy world become reality and ironically proves the best equipped to handle the relentless nightmare of 'Salem's Lot.
It took me three tries, but I have finally finished ‘Salem’s Lot. There’s something about King’s writing where you have to be in a very specific mood to read his stuff. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I think anyone who reads his books will understand. 

In typical King fashion, there was jumping around from character to character, but it allowed for a depth to the character development and everyone got their own arcs. It took awhile for things to get going, but once they started it was full speed ahead. It went so quickly that I feel like some things may have been left out (somehow, with Mr. Descriptive). I can’t put my finger on exactly what that would be. 

With some of the deaths, it felt sort of like “oh, they’re dead now. Okay.” They just came out of nowhere with not much build up. It was interesting. 

Much like with IT, it took a turn that I wasn’t expecting. I don’t really know what I expected from ‘Salem’s Lot, but I didn’t expect it to be a book about Vampires. That was a bit of a shock to the system, as I don’t typically go for vampire novels. But the time we get to that reveal, it’s a bit too late to turn back. 

Overall – I enjoyed it. I don’t know if it liked it due to the quality of the book or just because it’s a King classic. Either way, if you’re in the mood for some Stephen King, I’d say it’s a good read with some likeable characters. 

3/5 Stars

Memorable Quote: “The town cares for the devil’s work no more than it cares for God’s or man’s. It knew darkness. And darkness was enough.”

“At three in the morning the blood runs slow and thick, and slumber is heavy. The soul either sleeps in blessed ignorance of such an hour or gazes about itself in utter despair.”