Monday, August 31, 2020

No Rules

1971 - Free love reigns and hippies are the center of the counterculture movement. Sixteen year old Sharon Dukett had enough of her parents and the rules and expectations laid out for her (get married and start a family) so she and her older sister move to California and thus begin some of the most formative coming of age experiences for Sharon. Drugs, new lovers, responsibilities (or lack thereof), protests, spiritualism, and travel. This memoir really encompasses what it was like to be a free spirit during the early seventies: communes, acid, feminism, hitchhiking, and so many elements are the norm. It's fascinating to grow up through her eyes as she experiences things that most of us will only ever read about. The level of memory it takes to recall all these stories (I assume the conversations are generalized - no one's memories are that good) is impressive. This memoir spans about two years and kind of has an abrupt ending. It was very enlightening - what a time to be alive!

The Only Good Indians

Four young American Indian men commit a crime, never knowing that the damage they were about to inflect would come back to haunt them. Ten years later the evil they wrought finds them one by one looking to settle the score. The men have moved on and moved apart - two of them no longer live on the reservation and one of them even married a white woman. They have never dwelled on what happened that fateful night - choosing to go about their life in willful ignorance. The Elk Head Woman has never forgotten though; she has bided her time and nothing less than blood and vengeance will settle the score. The Only Good Indians seamlessly merges culture and tradition with anxiety inducing horror. Stephan Graham Jones has been compared to as the Jordan Peele of horror literature and after reading this I am inclined to agree. The audio-book was phenomenal and the narrator chosen was of American Indian descent so he really embodied the characters, their cadences, their culture, and their language. For me this was more of a 4.5 because of the slow build at parts - but the creep and unease it generated was a full 5 stars.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Love Her or Lose Her

I really wanted to like this book because I so enjoyed the first one in the "Hot and Hammered" series but honestly this second installment was a let down. The romantic progression was entirely unbelievable, it was misogynistic, and did I mention unbelievable. This married couple has mind blowing sex - constantly - they've only ever been with each other and have never even flirted with someone else, let alone bone them. The sex is constant and amazing but they never talk anymore so the wife decides to get therapy to jolt them back to the way they used to be. UGH. I'm not even inspired to write anymore about this book - I'll still read the next one - but I did not care for this one.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The War of the Worlds

I know, I know - a classic that I'm just now reading. Prior to this I had only ever seen the Tom Cruise film adaptation! Better late than never. The fact that this was written when it was - before electronics and technology as we know it was incredible. It set the tone for science fiction as we know it. The parts I didn't love were the constant name dropping of towns (If I saw the word Woking one more damn time...) and the slow build - sometimes on the point of boring drudgery. Overall though it's a fantastic piece of literature - even if my lazy ass brain had to struggle through parts of it. It definitely made me want to watch more film versions if nothing else.

Big Summer

This would have gotten a 5 star from me but I was completely thrown by the *SPOILER ALERT* murder mystery portion in the second half of the novel. I really like Daphne and she seemed like a real well fleshed out (ha ha) character that I enjoyed. As a plus size lady myself she came across as authentic which doesn't always come across in books. Daphne is a plus size influencer who finally came to terms with her body about  6 or 7 years prior when her frenemy paid a man to flirt with her and then got mad when Daphne was upset. Once she cut out the frenemy (Drue) and came to terms with her body - doors opened up for her and she just landed a sweet new sponsorship for her instagram. Then out of the blue Drue comes crashing back into her life asking if Daphne will be her maid of honor because she doesn't really have any friends. Daphne gets sucked right back in because she is a sucker for a sob story and even though Drue has a mean streak - she just has that fun aura about her. First half of the book was great - second half was a little out there.

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Vanishing Act

A charming book that warms your heart and bursts with creativity. 12 year old Minou, lives on a small wintery island with her father, a priest, and an ex-magician with a dog named no-name. Her spunky mother was once counted as one of the inhabitants but she vanished one night and all the adults on the island are positive that she is dead. Minou however is not convinced - a fan of the philosophers that her father loves - she makes a list containing all the reasons that support her theory. When they find a frozen dead boy on the beach and bring him to the house to await the next boat shipment - both Minou and her father start to reflect on her mother and the circumstances that led to her disappearing from the small island. Filled with fun, quirky characters - this adorable story told through a child's eyes is not one that readers will forget.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Space Between Worlds

Wow - the amount of precision and craft put into this worldbuilding novel is impressive. Cara is a traverser or a world jumper. She lives on Earth 0 where the world's smartest man has figured out that there are 382 parallel worlds and he knows how to access them all. The only catch is the world will kill you and spit you back out if a version of you is still alive on that version of Earth. That's what makes Cara so special - in all the worlds she's had tough upbringings - and in most of them she's already dead. That means she can travel to all but 8 of them - collecting information from data ports to send back to her boss. But when something unexpected happens she begins to distrust the entire organization. Is she just a carrier pigeon to them? Is their something else going on that she isn't aware of. Honestly the scope of this novel is stunning - I wish it were part of a series instead of a standalone!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Peace Talks

Ahhhh!!!! You can't  end with a cliffhanger like that! I mean at least the next book is coming out next month - but still - I wasn't mentally prepared! It was great to listen to James Martsers narrate Harry again - it's been far too long and it was good to see how the ol' gang was doing. Harry has been tasked with making sure that things go smoothly at the upcoming Peace Talks but things get off to a rough start when his brother Thomas is caught after murdering an emissary. Harry knows that there is no way that Thomas could have murdered him - but he doesn't know how he got at the scene of the crime or why he would be the scapegoat. To top it off his grandfather is really pushing the anti-vampire shit and Harry just has too much on his plate to deal and it would be nice if he could ever get some sleep. So many layers of awesome and it ends at such a crucial moment! I need more already! This sated my thirst but not for long!

Final Girls

Riley Sager is one hell of a writer. This book had so many twists and turns - I couldn't put it down or stop thinking about it after I finished it. Quincy was dubbed a "final girl" by the press - it's not flattering, but it is true. She was the only one to survive a massacre that took 5 of her friends. She's blocked out that part of her life and can't even remember that fatal night - only the guilt at being the only survivor. She's not alone though - there are two other final girls who have survived similar nightmarish slaughters against the odds. When the woman who survived a sorority massacre in Muncie, Indiana commits suicide - Quincy feels betrayal. How could you kill yourself after surviving such an ordeal?! Quincy and Lisa weren't close but they had talked before - the Final Girl bond is hard to break. The third Final Girl has pretty much hid out for years - never talking to the media and constantly moving around. After Lisa's suicide she suddenly shows up at Quincy's New York apartment. What does she want after all this time and why is she being so weird? Soo deliciously good!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Fields of Corn

A young woman enters new territory as she is uprooted from the city and set to manage in a restaurant in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She finds an apartment for rent on an Amish farm and the price is so good she can't pass it up. She is quickly enchanted by her surroundings, the lifestyle, and one of the sons, Emmanuel. The more time she's there the more she resents her job and yearns for the freedom and industrious of the farm and it's inhabitants. When she discovers that Emmanuel also has feelings for her she discovers that she and him will soon have to make some big decisions. Will he leave the faith or will she give up the world as she knows it?

An Empty Cup

Another great Amish novel from Sarah Price! A mother who is constantly beset with requests (or demands) of help feels herself being worn down. She keeps giving but everything is starting to lose its luster. She keeps praying to God to give her back her zeal and positivity but each day is a challenge. After her emotionally abusive and alcoholic husband died in accident she spent a few lonely years with her two children until she was approached by a widower and re-married. Things have been mostly good - but he's not use to children or living on a farm. Sometimes he's harsher on his new wife then intended - and to top it off there is a new Amish woman working at his leather shop who is causing all sorts of problems. A quick and satisfying read that obviously has a happy ending.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Too Much and Never Enough

This isn't just about Donald, this is about his whole family and man are the royally screwed up. Not a redeemable one among them - no wonder Donald is such a pathological liar. Prior to reading this I didn't really know too much the family as a whole. I had read an article about what a cheap racist Fred Trump was and I knew that Donald had a slew of wives and mistresses but that about as far as my knowledge went. This book eviscerates the family and really helps readers understand the crazed environment that Donald grew up in and explains so much about his lack of empathy and selfish personality. This book made Donald Trump stoop to an even lower estimation in my eyes (I didn't know that was even possible). Worth the read!

Plain Fame

I liked this a lot - but I liked this the least out of all the Sarah Price Amish books I've read. It seemed so implausible. An Amish woman who is only in New York City on a "layover" gets hit by a limo as she jaywalks to buy a pair of sunglasses. The man in the limo? One of the most famous musicians in the world, Viper. He's a bad boy - but when he looks into Amanda Beiler's eyes as she lays hurt in the street he finds himself wanting to protect her. He becomes enamored with her - staying by her side in the hospital and giving her gifts. He even makes sure her family (who has no phone) is notified. Amanda finds herself getting a little ferhoodled with this strange Englischer but she knows that will do her no good, he's not Amish. Wanting to take a little break from the spotlight he accompanies Amanda back to Pennsylvania and spends a week on her parent's farm helping her father and getting to know the Amish lifestyle. What could possibly go wrong?! Good but... unbelievable. I may continue the series.

Friday, August 7, 2020

American Vampire

Vampires - the Wild West - Hollywood - Blade. Skinner Sweet is an outlaw - an American Vampire with a bone to pick. After mistakenly being turned by some pompous rich European Vampires - he is left trapped in the dessert for years. When he finally get's freed he seeks vengeance and destruction. Fast forward to 1920s Los Angeles where an aspiring actress is about to have her life drastically altered by some goons and possibly the weird man who has been hanging around her pool. A bloody nightmare and a damned good read!

The Country Guesthouse

I was looking for some fluff to listen to and boy was this some fluff. When Hannah Russell comes back early from a work trip to find her fiance in bed with one of her employees - her world comes crashing down. It gets even worse when she discovers that her best friend has unexpectedly died and she now has custody of her 5 year old child with special needs. Talk about a curve-ball. She's trying to bond with Noah so she decides to rent a nice guesthouse in the mountains for a couple weekend so they can learn to love and trust each other. She ends up meeting the owner of the house and his big dog and suddenly the world seems even brighter. They start to fall hard and Hannah will have some tough choices to make on what she wants her future to look like. Do she and Noah have room for Own, his dog, and their beautiful house (who wouldn't?!?). Sappy, predictable, repetitive, and slow. The "twist" at the end was obvious. Perfect for fans of happy fluff with a little bit of spice (a few sex scenes - mildly graphic).

An Amish Buggy Ride

This was a quick, satisfying read. Kate Zook's life is turned upside down when her brother is involved in a tragic accident and she feels responsible for her "role" in it. She was already a pious and religious girl but in the months afterward she really doubles down on her faith and her guilt. She lets her now crippled brother boss her around and berate her thinking she deserves it. Her home life is somber and strained. When Samuel Esch starts to take an interest in her she is flabbergasted, why would anyone take an interest in her? Samuel gets Kate to start open up and living life - determined to ease some of the burden she carries. Thoughtful, poignant, and romantic - Amish romance at its finest!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Diabolical Summer

The artwork alone is 5 stars - bright, whimsical drawings grace every page and really help set the tone for what a groovy summer 1967 was. 15 year old Antoine is about to have an unforgettable summer under the sun. A devious new friend, a stunning blond, and mystery after mystery. One thing led to another and the way it all wraps up at the end is truly impressive. This graphic novel is thrilling, colorful, and makes you want to re-watch all the classic James Bond movies. A total knock out!

The Nickel Boys

This book really packed a punch in a short amount of pages. When bodies are found at an old reform school - it takes Elwood back to his youth. Back to the Jim Crow era reform school (The Nickel Academy) in Florida that still gives him nightmares. From the racist staff, the hard manual labor, the merciless beatings, and the utter lack of hope it's something he's actively not thought about in decades. But when his old school makes national news for an unmarked graveyard filled with dead kids - Elwood knows he has to speak. Maybe after all these years he's finally found his voice. Alternating between his youth at the Nickel Academy and decades later when he's a successful businessman in New York; this story of race, redemption, hate, and hope will stick with readers long after the final page has turned.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Doomsday Clock: Part 2

Supremely ambitious. There is a lot to unpack in this graphic novel and I think I need yo re-read it a time or two before I fully understand all the implications and meanings. Doomsday Clock Part 2 weds Watchmen and DC as Dr. Manhattan takes an interest in the DC multiverse and rewrites histories, changes fates and timelines for no apparent reason. What is he really up to and why does the meddling Ozymandias care so much? Unique, but like I said - I need to give this another read through.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Rural Voices

I devoured this collection of stories about small towns, back roads, first love, show pigs, college, and teens. First off I really appreciated the diversity in this collection: Black, LatinX, LGBTQ, indigenous teens, a wheelchair user, and teens from other walks of life really helped round out this collection and help make it fresh. Second off the authors all had compelling and heartfelt stories that grab readers attention with only a handful of pages. The stories, poems, and comics take place all over the United States in small rural communities and help challenge the way that many Americans view them. These teens aren't uneducated hicks - they've got full and unique lives ahead of them. Personally, I loved every story and I couldn't even narrow it down to which one was my favorite. An excellent collection I will definitely pick up again!

Monday, August 3, 2020

My 1992 Diary

Funny and nostalgic this hilarious romp through a woman's old diary will take readers back to their own childhoods. From bangs, perms, 90210, Bart Simpson, and ecto coolers - this diary is a walk down memory lane. Dawn Luebbe includes not just diary entries but plenty of photos, background information, and rip roaringly funny commentary. The 90's were a simpler time man. This quick and colorful read won't win any book awards but it is a great glimpse into the life of a young white suburban girl in 1992. Very fun - it definitely makes me wish that I had a diary or two I could go back and reference!

The Jane Austen Society

Extremely enjoyable and not just for fans of Jane Austen! A fictional account of the Jane Austen's hometown in the 1940s and the fight to make a memorial and preserve the village's world famous authoress' home before all of her belongings and buildings associated with her were sold. An outspoken young teacher, the village doctor, a poor farmer, a wealthy Hollywood star, and a maid come together to make a society aimed at preserving the legacy of an author they all know in love. In the process friendships are formed and romance may be on the verge of blooming for the romantics at heart. All the characters are flawed, yet take solace in Jane Austen's words, never realizing that in instances - their actions mirror those of their favorite characters. They all delight in living in the very place that she too wrote the books which they so love. Wonderful, fun, and chock full of history and romance.

The Montague Twins: The Witch's Hand

If Buffy the Vampire Slayer met Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys - you would get this young adult graphic novel series. When three amateur detectives find a mysterious box - they know that this case is going to be like nothing else they've ever dealt with. Witches, missing teens, and an eccentric (and creepy) rich man lead the Montague twins (and Charlie - their bad-ass"sister") on their most unbelievable adventure yet. Great illustrations, a unique story-line, and some fun supernatural elements make this the first installment a very promising start. I can't wait to check out more in this series!