Thursday, May 30, 2019

Women Talking

DAYUM! This book was eye opening and painful to read. The writing was wonderful but the subject matter itself was so hard to stomach, even more so because even though this story is fictionalized, it's based off of true events. Between 2005 and 2009 hundreds of Mennonite women and children were drugged in their sleep and raped. The small Mennonite colonies thought that demons and ghosts were violating them in their sleep, when they reported it to their husbands and fathers no one believed it at first, when women started taking to each other they realized that it wasn't just them, nearly all women (regardless of age) were being attacked in the night and then waking up violated with blood and semen on their thighs and bed. The rapes continued happening until a woman caught two of the attackers sneaking into her house before they could knock her out with the Belladonna spray. The men were then arrested (for their own safety), but the woman found no solace. They were soon told that in order to get to heaven they had to forgive their attackers and allow them back into the community. Women Talking is a fictionalized account of the women meeting and trying to talk out their feelings and their best plan of action for when the men return. They decide that they have three options: stay and do nothing, stay and fight, or leave . Over the course of two days they discuss the pros and cons of each and in the process reveal their deepest, fears, concerns, and questions of faith. It's heartbreaking, empowering, and a must read. Wonderful, albeit upsetting.

We Hunt the Flame

Rich, complex, and fantastical; this young adult fantasy is filled to the brim with memorable characters, beautiful world-building (very old world Arabian), and atmosphere. Zafira has always braved the wicked forest of Arz to help feed the people in her community. Only a handful of people close to her know that she is "the hunter," the kingdom is rigidly patriarchal and would bite the hand that feeds them rather than accept that a woman disguised as a man is their savior. When Zafira is visited by a silver witch who invites her on a quest to bring back magic to the world, Zafira is torn, but ultimately decides that she has to go. Little does she realize that the people who will accompany her on this dangerous mission are more bloodthirsty and cruel then the darkness of the Arz. A little overwhelming at times with special language inserted into the dialogue and into the names of all that surrounds them, but as the reader gets further along in the story it all starts to click into place. It wouldn't be a young adult fantasy without some romance so of course we have a little of that and a LOT of action. I can't wait for the next one in the series!

Cari Mora

I had higher hopes for this. I've only been waiting half a lifetime to read something new by Thomas Harris. His Hannibal Lector trilogy is on of my all time favorite book series and as a kid I read it REPEATEDLY. His beautiful prose, fiendish villains, and strong female protagonists are still present, but the story-line and plot left a little to be desired. Cari Mora is about a young woman who fled violence in her own country only to fall back into it in the US. Cari is the caretaker for the infamous Escobar house in Miami; she's used to working with film crews and others who want to rent the space, but when a group of seedy looking men rent the house out, she quickly ascertains that they have something sinister in mind. They are looking for hidden gold, rumored to be hidden somewhere beneath the house, and they will stop at nothing to obtain it. Cari must resort to the cunning, shrewdness and survival instincts she thought she had left behind to keep from falling prey to these evil men.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey

I really wanted to like this book, but at most I could give it a "meh." I do like to see more inspirational romance hitting the market and I think many readers may enjoy it, but it was just a little over the top for me and I didn't necessarily love either of the characters. I didn't hate them, they were just a little to underwhelming for me. Cadie McCaffrey has a great job and a great boyfriend, well great"ish." She and her boyfriend have been together for four years although the past year has been a little off. He's been working more and she thinks things are a little strained because of their "sex talk." Things reach a braking point when Will works late and misses her birthday/their anniversary that SHE COOKED and their make-up dinner a few days later goes south (of her pants!!!!).  Cadie can't handle it anymore, she wants to spend the rest of her life with him, but she is resigned to the fact that he won't ever ask her to marry him. She breaks it off and Will is shattered. He decides to watch all her favorite romcoms for inspiration and recreate some of the biggest most romantic gestures in them to win her back. Of course, nothing goes to plan and things get derailed pretty quickly. Wooing Cadie McCaffrey is a meet cute rom com with a splash of religion and a heavy dose of romantic pop culture. I didn't hate it, but I really didn't love it either.

The Lost Family

I don't know where I expected this book to end up, but it wasn't what I imagined. That being said, it wasn't a bad thing, this book took me along for a ride that was different and unique. The characters are all horribly flawed, while still being likable and sympathetic. The book opens with Peter Rashkin, a Manhattan restaurant owner who is grateful for escaping the Nazis, but also feels safest hiding in a kitchen. He lost his wife and twin daughters in a camp and to honor them he names his flourishing restaurant after his wife. For two decades he's devoted every minute of his day to the success of his restaurant, he has no time for relationships or fun. That is until he meets a charming model named June Bouquet. She's easily two years his junior and they share next to nothing in common (except for their good looks) but they strike up a romance that turns out to be what neither of them expected. June always feels she is in the shadow of Peter's dead wife, and Peter just wants the simplicity of the kitchen with an occasional spice from June. As their story progresses it expands, shrinks, aches, and longs to be fulfilled. The Lost Family is the story of a non-traditional romance with heavy baggage and the tolls it takes on those involved. I liked how the story progressed across decades, the characters were also rich and complex and it felt so real. A fulfilling tale of loves progression and recession.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Mister

I did this to myself. No-one forced me to read this, but I said "screw it" and threw caution to the wind. I knew better, I had read the 50 Shades trilogy. In the back of my head, I thought, maybe she's improved, maybe all the fame helped her get better editors and better ideas. I was wrong. So wrong. The Mister makes 50 Shades look like a damn masterpiece. This was somehow far worse than 50 Shades; I honestly didn't know that could be possible. The Mister features a WEALTHY LORD (named Maxim... are you kidding me?!?!) who starts to fall for his new maid, Alessia. Alessia escaped from some "shady shit" in Albania and she is in London illegally. She hasn't been around for very long and is soo naive! She is literally screaming damsel in distress. Maxim is a rich playboy who bones a different woman every night of the week. Then he sees his new maid and becomes infatuated with her and helps save her from the "shady shit" that's following her from Albania. He wants to "keep her safe" and "keep her to himself." They soon start shagging and he's even a gentleman and takes her virginity... All the while, Alessia is so naive she doesn't even know that the man she has been cleaning for/making love to, is a Lord. I mean, for fucking real?!?!!?! Since it's E.L. James there is a ton of steamy sex (that's perfect every time - I mean a virgin who gets the hang of it that quick?! How neat!). If you're looking for a story that is short on plot and heavy on unrealistic sex, then this is the book for you. I'm tired of reading about naive dumb girls that need a man to rescue them and show them around a bedroom. Next!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Skin Game

This series continues to get better and better. I immerse myself so fully into when I'm listening to the audiobook, that it can be hard to come back to reality. It's so in depth and wonderful and their is no other series that has such wonderful character growth. In this book, Harry is ordered by Queen Mab to help his archenemy, Nicodemus, on a secret mission to rob Hades safe. Backed into a corner and with no way out his must think five steps of his enemies (now co-workers) and pull of the biggest job of his career. He enlists the help of his good friend (and hopefully soon lover!) Karen to help and they have to lean on each other now more than ever. Wonderfully written and plotted, this book was amazing from start to finish. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Moment of Glory

This was an interesting and in depth look at four golf players who went from being virtually unknown to overnight big winners by winning the four majors in one year. Tiger Woods was out of the picture as he tinkered with his swing and tried to "improve," his changes pretty much removed him from the competition and allowed rookies to step up to the plate and have remarkable years with him out of the picture. John Feinstein highlights these four player's back-stories as well as documents the year leading up to their big years. It was really fascinating and interesting to learn about how four players were able to get at the top of their game and take home the biggest golf prizes in the world. Feinstein also covers how the players dealt with their newfound fame and how it ultimately affected their golf game. Interesting, but VERY detail focused and a bit overwhelming at times. Recommended only for big time golf lovers and not the average Joe.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Where the Crawdads Sing

This may have gotten a 5 star review if it wasn't for all the hype surrounding this book. For months, all I've heard is rave reviews about this book, it's THE hot book of 2019. Obviously, I had to find out what the hype was about. Honestly, it was a pretty decent book... it just wasn't AMAZING. It was very atmospheric with lush prose and beautiful setting. The quick and dirty summary of this book is the sad story of the marsh girl (Kya). A five year old girl is abandoned by her mother and siblings and left to "live" in heir dingy swamp cabin with her abusive father. She learns to avoid his tempers and keep her distance - but soon even that relationship will end. Having only attended school one day in her life and only having known her family, she is a shy recluse and hides from strangers. She is content to hide out in her corner of the marsh and study the shells, grasses, birds, and fish. That is until, she meets a boy. Flash forward a few years later when a boy is found murdered. How does it tie into the marsh girl? Or does it all? Beautifully written and heart-wrenching - this story of an abandoned child is haunting. Good book, but it falls just short of greatness and the expectations that everyone set. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Notes to Self

A collection of raw essays filled with emotion, character, and bravery. Emilie Pine has had a challenging life, not that she wants your sympathy; she wants the power and release of writing it down and trying to make sense of what she's internalized and learned over the years. From learning to accept and love a father who suffers from alcoholism so severe that his body is starting to shut down to making peace with the fact that her body didn't "betray her" by not having children to coming to terms with her tumultuous teenage years; this poignant and deeply personal essays are beautifully written and will resonate with readers. It's unflinching glimpse into Emilie Pine's greatest regrets, sorrows, truths, and mistakes; and turning the table on those negatives and making them a crucial, vital part of self.

Miracle Creek

DAYUM! This book was gripping from page one. A "submarine" used to immerse patients with high oxygen flow explodes, killing a few patients and injuring others. The submarine was a new kind of treatment used to treat disabled kids as well as other ailments so the deaths and injuries are even more harrowing. All fingers point to Elizabeth, the mom of the little boy who was killed, as the culprit. She "suspiciously" sat out from the submarine and was caught drinking and smoking with the same kind of cigarettes that were used to start the fire. As the story unfolds, each chapter is told through another character; from the people who ran it, to the people inside the submarine when it caught fire.  Angie Kim did a damn good job writing complex characters that make it impossible to determine who the culprit is. Slowly it emerges that many have motives, many have weak alibis, and many have way more involvement in this tragedy then they realize. This book is fast paced and heartbreaking. Full of twists and turns that kept me guessing. Storytelling at it's finest.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Under the Table

UGH! I can usually suspend my disbelief when I read romance, but this was too much even for me. This was over the top RIDICULOUS! No aspect of this romance was believable, starting with the characters themselves. Zoey Sullivan is spending a year in New York reinventing herself as a chef for hire. She and her dead beat husband agreed to separate for a year and then try again; the problem is Zoey has been super checked out from that relationships for years. Not that she hasn't been faithful, her younger, plucky sister (who she shares an apartment with) is always partying and getting laid while Zoey cooks and wallows around... until she meets Tristan. She picks up a new client who requests a big Cajun dinner to impress some clients. When she shows up to his apartment she realizes that not only is he wealthy, he's drop dead sexy. Only catch is, he's a total nerd and has some social anxiety. The two hit it off and Zoey decides to befriend the stud and show him how to dress, talk to people, and have a good time (pot calling the kettle black - bitch can't do any of those things either). We are supposed to believe that Tristan doesn't own a cellphone, doesn't know "any slang," doesn't know about politics or TV shows, and the only video game he knows is Sonic.... But he's also drop dead gorgeous and doesn't know how to talk to girls. Of course they are smitten with each other, but Zoey is trying to stay faithful to her stupid husband. Spoiler alert, she caves and seduces Tristan in the most over the top way that doesn't even begin to fit her personality. It's dumb. And the ending is even dumber. The whole book Zoey goes on and on about how she doesn't want kids. Then (huge spoiler - don't continue reading!!) she marries Tristan and gets knocked up and is suddenly cool with it...... ok. Not a fan of this stand alone. Not at all.