Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Book: Good Bad Girl

 Book: Good Bad Girl

Author: Alice Feeney

Pages: 310

This is my 86th read for the year

This is the story of 4 women - Patience, Frankie, Clio, and Edith.  Their lives are about to enterwine in a way they never expected.  20 years ago - Clio's baby was stolen from her pram from a grocery store and never found.  Edith - Clio's mother, now in a personal care home, tries to get Patience (whom she calls Ladybug) to spring her and take her home.  Patience ran away from home and her mom, Frankie, when Frankie refused to tell her who her father was.  Frankie, who has so many secrets from her daughter, never gives up looking for her.  When the manager of the care home ends up dead and Edith missing, Patience, Frankie, and Clio all become suspects.  As their lives intertwine all their secrets come to life leaving them all realing.

This wasn't a good book.  I listened to it and should have quit.  But I didn't.  It was bad from the start.  One of my pet peeves - too many secrets and too much keeping the reading in the dark.  It was overdone.  I hated all the characters.  None of them had redeeming qualities.  The writing wasn't great - AND the author stole a line from "The Starless Sea" and Erin Morgenstern - and doesn't give her credit.  (Quote: We are all stardust and stories). The ending was subpar.

Don't bother with this one

Stars: 1

Friday, September 29, 2023

Book: Homecoming

Book: Homecoming

Author: Kate Morton

PageS: 560

This is my 85th read for the year

This is the story of the Turner-Bridges family - Nora, Polly and Jessica.  Jessica has been called to come back to Australia from London after her beloved grandmother, Nora - who raised her - had a bad fall and has been hospitalized.  Jessica has been gone from Australia for 20 years - making a way for herself in London nd she is at frist not sure she wants to return.  However, she felt she owed it to her grandmother to be there and help get her home.  While there, she returns to Darling House where she grew up under the watchful, loving eye of her grandmother.  Jessica's mother, Polly, had moved away when Jessica was 10 saying it was better for her to be raised by Nora, and Jess and Polly had drifted apart because of this.  Once Jess is settled, she thinks this might be a good opportunity to write about her grandmother and growing up in Darling House, and as she delves into her grandmother's past, she starts to uncover deep family secrets.  The pieces of the puzzle of who her grandmother was, and who her mother is come to light as Jess interviews people from her family's past.  What she discovers will change everything.

This was a pretty good book.  I have read quite a few Kate Morton books, and I keep coming back to her.  I do love a dual timeline book and watching the two timelines eventually overlap to make a final outcome.  This book is LONG.  Way too long, in my opinion.  Morton is quite wordy and overly discriptive and just seems to be filling pages with language and scenes that just did not move the plot forward.  And of course - we are kept overly in the dark for too long on this one.  You do figure out pretty quickly where the story is going and what the big secret is going to be, but a few mysteries stayed until the end for me until they were resolved.  You have inklings, but it takes Morton a long, winding path to get there.

Stars: 3.5

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Book: The Quiet Tenant

 Book: The Quiet Tenant

Author: Clemence Mchallon

Pages: 320

This is my 84th read for the year

This is the story of Rachel, Cecilia, and Emily.  Rachel has been kidnapped and has been held captive by a man for 5 years.  Cecilia - the kidnappers daughter - has no idea that the woman living in her house is not just a friend of her father.  And Emily - who has started to fall for the kidnapper (who we learned is named Aidan) does not know she is in danger.  Aidan - a kidnapper and serial killer of 8 women so far - is the picture perfect father and member of his town.  His wife has recently died of cancer, and no one has any idea that he has such dark secrets.  And if Rachel cannot figure out how to escape and get to the police, Aidan will kill again.

This was not a good book.  I listened to it, and I should have quit.  I don't get the good reviews.  There are a few plot holes (like when Rachel finds take out menus in the kidnappers house but never uses those to give her a clue where she is).  It is a drawn out story with way too much discriptive language where you just want to push the fast forward button to get to the point.  Emily is a terrible character - hated her the entire book.  Rachel also - she is given quite a few chances to leave and never takes them.  In the end things really just.....ended.  There wasn't a good epilogue to wrap up the story.  It could have used a future chapter where we find out what happened to Rachel and Cecilia.  Instead - the author chose to really end it with Emily.  

Skip this one.

Stars: 2

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Book: Run

 Book: Run

Author: Ann Patchett

Pages: 304

This is my 83rd read for the year

This is the story of the Doyle family.  Bernard family has had to raise his three boys since his wife's death.  Teddy and Tip were adopted as little boys and along with their older brother Sebastian, they have had to try and find their way without their mother.  Bernard Doyle - who used to be the mayor of Boston, takes his children to see speakers even when the boys don't want to.  The night that Jessie Jackson is speaking, Tip is frustrated because he has a lot of work to do.  Not paying attention, he steps into the street and is quickly pushed out of the way by a woman.  While Tip is saved from being hit, the woman is not.  While the Doyle family helps the woman who was hit, they are thrown into her life because she has a little girl who needs looked after while her mother is in the hospital.  What unfolds over the 24 hour period of this book enterwines these two families forever.

This was a pretty good book.  This is an older Patchett book that I found at a used bookstore, and I am glad I read it.  I liked the characters and how the story evolved and I liked the ending.  It is not an overly drawn out story so the point doesn't get lost in a lot of unnecessary language.  A good read.

Stars: 4

Book: None of This is True

 Book: None of This is True

Author: Lisa Jewell

Pages: 384

This is my 82nd read for the year

This is the story of Josie and Alix.  Both celebrating their 45th birthday in the same restaurant at the same time.  They found out that they were born on the same day in the same hospital.  Josie finds out that Alix does podcast about the lives of women, and decides their "Birthday Twin" situation would make a great podcast series.  Josie said she would like to tell Alix her story, and when she starts to reveal the details of her life, Alix is shocked.  Alix is unsettled about Josie's story, but knows that listeners would be intrigued, so they continue.  Soon Josie is incorporating herself more and more into Alix's life.  And when tragedy strikes, the women's lives take a dark turn.  Alix soon finds that Josie is not who she says she is.

This was a pretty good book.  I could not figure out where this was going.  It was clear pretty early on that something was wrong with the Josie character, but what we couldn't quite put our finger on.  It takes almost to the very end for the story to piece itself together.  Has a nice flow and kept me interested enough to see where it ended up.  The ending was satisfactory.  This is my first book from this author, so I might try out another in the future.

Stars: 4

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Book: Tom Lake

 Book: Tom Lake

Author: Ann Patchett

Pages: 320

This is my 81st read for the year

This is the story of Lara.  In the middle of the pandemic, her three grown daughters have returned to the family's cherry farm.  While they work, Lara is drilled by her daughters to tell them of her past when she was an actress.  It was just a short time in Lara's life, but during that time she dated the now famous Peter Duke.  As they work, Lara tells them of her summer at Tom Lake where she was in a stage play of Our Town, and how that began and ended her career as an actress.  Her children are captivated as the story unfolds changing their view of their mother and her past and how, eventually, she came to be the wife of someone who owns a cherry farm.

This was an okay book.  I did listen to it - Meryl Streep is the narrator so I thought that might be a good way to "read" this book.  And it was.  She is a great narrator.  I just didn't find the story itself especially interesting.  It was a slow read and I found a lot of Lara's past boring.  I just could not get invested in the story.

I did read The Dutch House by Patchett and really enjoyed that.  And right now am reading "Run" and enjoying that.  This one just missed the mark for me.

Stars: 3 

Book: The Only One Left

 Book: The Only One Left

Author: Riley Sager

Pages: 400

This is my 80th read for the year

This is the story of Kit McDeere and the Hope family.  Kit, a caregiver for 12 years, was tasked with caring for her own mother at the end of her life.  When an overdose happens, Kit is blamed, and is suspended until the invesitgation ends.  Once things settle, Kit is rehired, but only one job is given to her.  She is to care for Lenora Hope - a woman accused of murdering her whole family when she was 17 years old.  Lenora - also never proven to be guilty - is confined to a wheelchair after a stroke left only her left hand usable.  Kit moves into the enormous Hope mansion to care for Lenora but the unease of the remaining staff and the fear of Lenora herself makes it hard for Kit to settle in.  When Lenora shows Kit that she can type with the use of her remaining hand, the story unfolds of what really happened the night Lenora's parents and sister were killed.  As it unfolds, strange things start happening in the house that leave Kit ready to flee for her life.

This was an okay book.  I was curious to see where it was going, but I didn't find it overly well written.  The concept was great.  And I have to admit there were a few twists I wasn't expecting, although there were a few too many of those to make this plot enjoyable.  The book is overly long - I think there were sections that could have been eliminated or shortened.  I did enjoy the chapters of Lenora's typing out her story the best - learning what it was like for her growing up in this house.   The main character is just okay.

I have read of a few of this author's books, but I am not sure I will pick up another.

Stars: 3

Friday, September 15, 2023

Book: The Only Survivors

 Book: The Only Survivors

Author: Megan Miranda

Pages: 352

This is my 79th read for the year

This is the story of Cassidy Bent.  She and 8 other of her fellow students survived a tragic accident and for the last decade, those who are left get together at a place called The Shallows once a year.  Cassidy decided this is the year she is not going to go.  She blocks the numbers of the group in emails and texts and decides she is done.  But one night she gets a text that one of the group has died, and decides he needs to be with the others.  To find out what they know.  Something seems off from the moment she arrives at The Shallows, and soon suspicions arise that one among them has broken the promise to keep secrets that are 10 years deep.  As Cassidy works closer and closer to the truth she discovers that someone in their group isn't telling the whole truth.

This book wasn't great.  It wasn't a long book, but it still was overly wordy, and all over the place.  She hates them, she loves them.  She can't stand to be with them one more minute, but then she can't imagine being apart from them.  The story was pretty conveluded that if I had not bought this book (even though it was from a used book store) I would have not finished it.  The main character is really whiny and easy to dislike.  The idea of this story drew me in when I read what it was about, but the overall execution fell short.

Stars: 2.5

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Book: Only The Beautiful

 Book: Only The Beautiful

Author: Susan Meissner

Pages: 400

This is my 78th read for the year

This is the story of two women - Roseanne - a young girl who has lived her whole life on a vineyard where her dad was a vinedresser until he and the rest of her family were killed in an accident.  Rosie has a secret - she sees colors when she hears sounds - something that she only confided in a few people throughout her life.  She finds herself pregnant and soon banished from the home of the owners of the vineyard and taken to a place where "people like her" are dealt with.

The other woman - Helen Calvert - is the sister of the vineyard owners but has lived abroad for 40 years as a caretaker for other people's children.  When WWII starts, and a tragedy befalls the family she is minding, Helen finds herself back in the United States and unsure what to do now.  She inquires about Rosie and when she finds out what happened to the girl, she sets out to find her and her child horrified by what happened to her.  Hoping to find herself when she finds Rosie and her child, Helen will not stop until they are reunited.

This was a great book.  I am a big fan of Susan Meissner.  Her "Fall of Marigolds" remains one of my all time favorite books.  This book takes place between 1938 and the 1960s - the first half Rosie's story and the second half Helens.  Then, in true Meissner form, she pulls the parallel stories together for a very satisfying ending.  It is well written with likable characters (and characters that you definitely will hate for all the right reasons) and two women trying to make a horrible situation right.  Great Historical Fiction.

Check it out

Stars: 5

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Five Star Reads 2023 Update

 I have decided that I am going to keep the 5 star reads post going annually.  I think in the future I will move it to December of every year, but today a post I saw on facebook made me think that it has been 18 months since I last updated my 5 Star Reads List and I have a few more to add.

I started this blog in 2015.  I have now read 913 books since that time that I have blogged about.  Out of those, I have had 70 that I gave a 5 start review to.  As I have stated in the past - all authors are to be commended for writing a book, putting it out there in the public and dealing with people like me who give opinions on their hard work.  Bravo to them.

For the 70 books that I have given 5 star ratings to - I own them all.  I do not own every book I read (I would go broke), so I try to keep my buying to those that are the most special.

Reading in general is something that is such a gift.  Consuming a story and escaping into a different world for awhile is a joy.  And every one of the 1000s of books (reviewed and not reviewed) that I have consumed over my lifetime was worth every minute

In No Particular Order here are my 5 star reads (since 2015).  Click on the name if you want to read about the book and my review.

The Green Mile

The Art Of Raising Chickens

Lessons In Chemistry

Remarkably Ruby

White Bird

Our Missing Hearts

The Shawshank Redemption

Headhunters On My Doorstep


In The Lives Of Puppets

The Covenant Of Water

Dread Nation

The Master And Margarita

All The Light We Cannot See

Kite Runner

The Night Circus

The Martian

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Burial Rites

And The Mountains Echoed

The Elephant Whisperer

The Stand

Game of Thrones (all of them)


The Immortal Life of Hennrietta Lacks

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

A Man Called Ove

Baby Catcher

Hillbilly Elegy

Life of Pi

Orphan Train

One Plus One

A Fighting Chance

The Book Thief


Diary of a Young Girl

Everyday The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

Dad Is Fat

The Misremembered Man

The Art Forger

A Fall Of Marigolds

Salt To The Sea

The Bone Garden

The Shadow Of The Wind

A Gentleman In Moscow


Daring To Drive

The Little Prince

What Is The What

The Astonishing Color Of After

Fire And Blood

Bad Blood

The Only Plane In The Sky

When Life Gives You Pears

Each Vagabond By Name


Mornings In Jenin


Anxious People

Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Keepers Of Lost Things

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Great Expectations

From Here To Eternity

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs

Van Gogh


Cloud Cuckoo Land

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Book: Beyond The Wand - The Magic And Mayhem Growing Up A Wizard

 Book: Beyond The Wand - The Magic and Mayhem Growing Up A Wizard

Author: Tom Felton

Pages: 304

This is my 77th read for the year

This is the autobiography of the author.  Tom Felton was the actor who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies.  In his book, he talks about how he got into acting, his life growing up in a normal, happy family, and how becoming Draco changed his life.  He talks about his life mostly on the sets of Harry Potter, but also his life before and after - including his stint in rehab when he realized he was barreling out of control.

This was a pretty good book.  I have read a lot of memoirs this year, and this has been one of the better ones.  From what I have always read about Tom is that he is one of the nicest guys in real life, which is hard to fathom considering who he played in the Harry Potter movies.  I would not say he is an exceptional actor by any stretch, but I did like learning about his life on the set and how he admits that the level of stardom for Daniel, Emma, and Rupert (who played Ron, Hermonie and Harry) is on a whole other level than his is.  Glad I read this one.

Stars: 4

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Book: The Escape Artist

 Book: The Escape Artist

Author: Johnathan Freeland

Pages: 400

This is my 76th read of the year

This is a non-fiction story about Rudolf Vrba (whose original name was Walter Rosenberg).  He was the first person to escape Auschwitz - and he was only 19 years old when he did it.  He wanted to reveal what was happening in the camp and stop the further movement of Jews into these camps.  It was hard to convince people on the outside that what he was saying was true.  It seemed so unbelievable as he unfolded what was happening in the camps and few headed his warning.  In the end he did save 200,000 Jewish lives but he believed to the end of his life that if people would have believed him it could have been so many more.  Once outside of the camp, he had a hard time adjusting to the outside world.  He remained vigilant from his time in captivity, and had a hard time with his temper and outside relationships based on what happened to him.  But he never stopped talking about what happened in the camp and to the Jewish people.

This was a great read.  I did not know the story of Rudolf Vrba, and what he did to save the lives he could was beyond brave.  This was a troubled man, though.  When he got out of the camp, he was forever changed and had a terrible time with personal relationships.  He was brilliant and testified in many trials - able to recount innumerable details. My guess is a lot of it had to do with the camp, yes, but also the guilt that he was not able to convince the higher ups outside the camps of what was really happening.  While he was recounting his time in the camp and his idea to bomb the railway to stop the trains from carrying more Jews - 600,000 more Jewish people went to their deaths.

I was blown away by the fact that all through his life as he explained what happened in Auschwitz and the Jewish camps was not believed.  People could not understand how Jews willingly got on trains to go to these camps.  They were supposed to be resettlement camps after all - not death camps.  His entire life he came across people who just could not believe that millions lost their lives this way.  It is hard for us  - who have instant access to any information - to understand what it would be like to truly be "out of sight out of mind" for so many and how frustrating that must have been for Rudolf and those like him,

Great book - check it out.

Stars: 4.5

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Book: The Last Lifeboat

 Book: The Last Life Boat

Author: Hazel Gaynor

Pages: 384

This is my 75th read for the year

This is the story of two women-  Alice King and Lily Nicols.  During World War II these two women had to make a choice.  Alice -a young woman who finds comfort among books and a quiet life decides to become an escort for Children leaving the country during the war.  Lily - a widow who has two young children decides that the safest thing for them would be to put them on a boat to Canada until the war is over.  When tragedy strikes on the children's passage to America, Lily and Alice work tirelessly to save as many children as they can - one from a life boat stranded in the Ocean and one at home trying to convince the people in power that there are indeed survivors of the ship.  As time runs out to save those that remain, their harrowing efforts make all the difference.

This was a pretty good book.  It is based on a true story and while the people in the book are all fictional, the situation was not.  It is a heartbreaking tale because many children and adults lost their lives trying to get these children out of England to Canada.  Even the people on the life boat - not all survived once they set out for help.  The book is well written - chapters that go back and forth between Lily and Alice's story - filling in their lives before this situation.   Has a good epilogue to wrap up the story as well.

Stars: 4

Monday, August 28, 2023

Book: Klara and the Sun

 Book: Klara and the Sun

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro

Pages: 320

This is my 74th read for the year

This is the story of an AI named Klara.  She is an artificial friend that is hoping that the right child will come into her store one day and chose her to take home.  When a young girl named Josie choses her, Klara feels like she is the perfect person for her.  Josie has been ill all of her life, and Klara feels that she can figure out how to make Josie well.  As Klara gets to know Josie and her family and friends, she learns what it means to be a part of a family even when that family is dealing with a serious illness.

This was a pretty good book.  I have never read Ishiguro's other book - Never Let Me Go - but I have seen the move.  I thought I would try this one, and I did enjoy it.  Klara is a sweet character and you are rooting the whole time for Josie to get well.  I would say that some of the side characters are a bit odd, and the author seems to get a little lost in the weeds with some of the dialogue, but overall, a good story.

Stars: 4

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Book: Someone Else's Shoes

 Book: Someone Else's Shoes

Author: Jojo Moyes

Pages: 448

This is my 73rd read for the year

This is the story of two women.  Nisha Cantor who has lived a life or wealth and privledge the last two decades, and Sam Kemp whose life is falling apart.  When Sam accidentally takes Nisha's bag from the gym, she sees that there is a very expensive pair of shoes that she somehow has to get back to their owner.  Her friends encourage her to try them on and go out on the town for the evening to life Sam's spirits.  Feeling more confident than she has in a long time, she puts off returning the clothes and shoes that were in that bag because she has other things that she needs to deal with.

Meanwhile Nisha has been completely cut off from her husband and served divorce papers.  She is blindsided by the sudden turn of events in her life - and as she is left with nothing for the first time in a long time, she has to try and figure out how to support herself, how to get what she feels like she is owed, and also get her bag back.  When the two women finally meet, and their lives interwine, they both realize what they had been missing all along.

This was an okay book.  I am a Moyes fan and read most of her books, but this one wasn't among my favorites.  First - I hated all the main characters.  The women were awful/wishy washy, and the men were equally as terrible.  The only good characters were the best friends of each of the women.  The story dragged some - it could have been a lot shorter.  I found myself wanting to skip ahead with a lot of wordy chapters that I felt could have been eliminated.  I will say that the ending was satisfactory.  You knew pretty soon what was going on with the shoes and where the plot was going, but I like a good epilogue all the same.

Stars: 3

Monday, August 21, 2023

Book: The Close

 Book: The Close

Author: Jane Casey

Pages: 416

This is my 72nd read for the year

This is the story of DS Maeve Kerrigan.  She and DI Josh Derwent have been assigned to pretend to be a couple in a neighborhood where a murder has occured.  They need to fool their neighbors into thinking that they are house and dog sitters while trying to figure out who the murderer is.  When a second person is murdered, the clock speeds up for these two detectives to figure out what is going on before anyone else gets hurt.

This is a pretty good book.  The two main characters were likable and the scenes with the dog they were watching were hysterical and my favorite part of the book.  The mystery wasn't easy to figure out.  What I didn't like was how much time they spent on the "possible romance" that might be developing between Maeve and Josh. And the ending was a huge let down.  It just....ended.  Very disatisfying.

I am glad I read it, but it was far from my favorite "who done it" novel.

Stars: 3

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Book: Joyride

 Book: Joyride

Author: Guy Adams

Pages: 256

This is my 71st read for the year

This is a story where teenagers are behaving strangely.  One runs her car through a shop window.  One sets fire to his house while his family is inside.  One jumps off the roof of their school but seems to be happy about it.  A teacher at their school - Mrs. Quill - needs to get to the bottom of what is happening before another students hurts themself or others.

I want to start by saying that I picked up this book at a used bookstore by accident.  I was checking out, and must have scooped it into my pile without realizing it.  It cost me $3 and so I figured what the heck - I would give it a try.  It wasn't great.  But again - that isn't completely the books fault.  After I read it, I went online to look it up and realized it is book 2 or 3 in a series AND based on a TV show (a spin off of Dr. Who). I was completely lost in the story.  It was random, and disjointed, and the story just moved very quickly without a lot of depth.  Maybe I will try the show to see if that helps.  I liked the idea of it - seemed like an interesting mystery.  But the book just didn't live up to the back cover.

Stars: 2

Friday, August 18, 2023

Book: Murder Your Employer: A McMasters Guide To Homicide

 Book: Murder Your Employer: A McMasters Guide To Homicide

Author: Rupert Holmes

Pages: 400

This is my 70th read of the year

This is the story of students who attend the McMasters School of Homicidal Arts.  It follows three people (who are all adults at the time they become students) who want to muder someone in their life.  They have all made failed attempts by the time the school finds them and encourages them to attend their school to be successful.  The mandatory graduation thesis is getting away with the perfect murder.

This book was dull.  I listened to it when it wasn't available at the library, and it barely held my attention.  It started out strong.  I like the concept and Neil Patrick Harris is one of the readers.  So I had high hopes.  But it is boring and overly wordy.  It is overly detailed and action scenes so drawn out with uncessary explanation that I struggled to keep engaged.  I should have quit, but did want to see if it improved or what the end result was.  In the end, it wasn't worth it.

I would skip this one.

Stars: 2.5

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Book: Lark Ascending

 Book: Lark Ascending

Author: Silas House

Pages: 288

This is my 69th read for the year

This is the story about Lark.  He and his family art tryin to escape the religious nationalism that has befell the United States.  They travel from Maryland to Maine to live remotely and decide what to do next.  For awhile - they are safe in Maine but the family knows it won't be forever.  They secure passage to Ireland on a boat understanding that Ireland is one of the last places that is still accepting refugees.  As they travel, disaster strikes, and when Lark lands in Ireland he needs to figure out what he is going to do in order to survive.  He is the sole survivor of the voyage, and decides he is going to try and get to where his family was heading - Glendalough.  He meets some unlikely companions on his journey and in the end discovers who he is and what is truly important to him.

This was a fair book.  It is a short book and an easy read.  There is a lot of nice detail and the flow is good.  Lark is a likeable character but his traveling companions (which I will not spoil) actually made the book for me.  There is some backstory that leads the reader to understand what lead to where the world was once we met Lark, but I could have used more.  It has a nice ending, but with the shortness of the book, it did leave me a little wanting for more details along the way.  Also - this book could have used a better editor.  Could have just been the addition I received but there was a few repeated sentences that were not caught and some spelling errors.

Stars: 3 

Monday, August 14, 2023

Book: The Many Lives of Mama Love: A Memoir of Lying, Stealing,Writing and Healing

 Book: The Many Lives of Mama Love

Author: Laura Love Hardin

Pages: 320

This is my 68th read for the year

This is the memoir of the author Lara Love Hardin.  She had what many could only dream of - a master degree and a big house in a good neighborhood.  But she was hiding a terrible secret.  She was addicted to heroin and stealing her neighbor's credit cards to fund her addiction.  She is caught and convicted on 32 felonies.  In prison she tries to kick her drug habt, and turn herself around.  She knows if she doesn't get herself clean, she will lose custody of her youngest son who is only 4.  Since her husband is also convicted and has a serious heroine addiction as well, she is her son's only hope.  She has some ups and downs on her path to beating her addiction, but in the end, she is released from prison into a program that helps her get back on her feet.  Soon she is offered a job by a man that will change her life, and becomes a ghost writer.  Very few people know her true path and Lara is crippled by her shame.  With some encouragement she faces her path and realizes that she can use what she has learned to help other women beat their own demons.

This was a good book.  At first I struggled with it because the story was off and running with Laura in her 40s - her drug habit not a new things, but not well explained in the book.  The past she blames is only vaguely mentioned and I didn't feel we got enough in this book of her backstory to make me be able to piece together a symtpahizing ear.  She had a drug habit of pills in the past and had been in recovery when she met her second husband who was a herion addicted mortgage broker.  But I wanted more - more of this past that she claims led to where she landed.  BUT - as the book progressed, and I saw what Lara did to turn herself around not only for her son but for herself, and the person she became -I was blown away by her power.  The people who had faith in her and the man who ultimately gave her the job that changed her life are to be commended.  I know most of us would judge before we helped, so I am always grateful for people who take chances on those who are at their lowest.  Because for Lara - it made all the difference.

This one is worth a read.

Stars: 4.5

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Book: All The Dangerous Things

 Book: All The Dangerous Things

Author: Stacy Willingham

Pages: 336

This is my 67th read for the year

This is the story of Isabelle Drake.  A year ago, her 18 month old son was taken from his crib while she and her husband slept down the hall.  The police have no leads and Isabelle has not been able to sleep for a year.  Literally.  Besides small micro sleeps during the day, the trauma of losing her son has caused sleep to elude her.  No matter what she tries, she cannot rest.  Her lack of sleep is interferring with her everyday life but she pushes on.  She gives talks in hopes that maybe the person who took her son shows up in her audience.  When she is approached by a podcaster to take her story to the airwaves, she thinks this might be her last hope.  As she pieces together what happened to her as a young girl and what is happening to her now in the podcast, new clues to Mason's possible location come to light.  She hopes she can find him before it is too late.

This one was better than the last book of hers I read.  I didn't realize I had picked up two of hers, but I will give this one more credit.  The mystery was a bit more of a surprise.  I thought by chapter two I had figured out where it was going, but I was pleasantly wrong.  This is a dual timeline book- it goes back and forth between Isabelle as a young girl and a tragedy that her family went through, and her present day.  I will say the author's attempt to throw off the reader lead down several paths that muddled the story a bit, but not enought o make me happy that I was wrong about the final twist.  

Stars: 3

Monday, August 7, 2023

Flicker In The Dark

 Book: Flicker In The Dark

Author: Stacy Willingham

Pages: 384

Thisis my 66th read for the year

This is the story of Chloe Davis.  20 years ago her father was arrested for the murder of 6 teenage girls.  He is put away for life and Chloe never say or spoke to him again.  She and her older brother and mother tried to move on, but her mother never really recovered from the shock of the whole ordeal.  Now Chloe is grown up and getting married.  As she is busy planning a wedding and being a successful psychologist, murders of young girls start again.  This seems to be the work of a copy cat, but the killings are happening a little too close to home for Chloe.  A reporter approaches Chloe, and gets her looking at the different angles and trying to figure out who is killing these girls and is it possible her dad is involved.

This was an okay book.  I was a little tense reading it. It was pretty easy to figure out who the killer was almost from the beginning.  The author does send you down what she believes to be some possible paths to different people, but it really was clear.  There are a few plot holes that bothered me - things that were kind of minor, but left me saying "did I miss something?"  Also - Chloe?  Awful character.  Almost too dumb.  Lots of words in this book just to fill pages - too much description that isn't necessary.  I know a lot of people liked it, and I didn't hate it.  It was just okay.

Stars: 3

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Book: Home Before Dark

Book: Home Before Dark

Author: Riley Sager

Pages: 416

This is my 65th read for the year

This is the story of Maggie Holt.  When she was a little girl, she lived in a big old house less than a month before her parents packed her up, moved, and never looked back.  Maggie has spent her whole life wondering why.  Her dad became famous writing a ghost story about their time there which followed Maggie her whole life.  Maggie was always sure it was made up, but now that she is an adult and the house has been left to her after her dad died - she isn't so sure.  Things are happening in the house, and as she interviews and talks to people who were there while her family lived in that house all those years ago, she isn't sure what to believe.  As things progress, the truth of what happened to her family as a child and who was responsible comes to light.  

This was a pretty good book.  It is a decent thriller that was fun to listen to.  The chapters go back and forth from the Present with Maggie as an adult and her dad when Maggie was a little girl.  You do eventually figure out who is causing the issues, and the truth comes out but for awhile you really do wonder where it is going.  The ending wasn't surprising, but it wasn't bad either.  I would say my only drawbacks were that Maggie is a bit of a brat as a young adult.  Her character is slightly immature - forgiving and hating people in quite the pendulum swing.  The other was one line that made me roll my eyes when she was reading a letter from her dad who said that he and her mother had gone for a night away and "connected several times".  I am thinking the author doesn't have kids because I cannot imagine any scenario where a parent would share that - especially in a letter.  It was just dumb and stuck with me.

Anyway- a good little thriller.  I am going to check out a few of his other books in the future.

Stars: 3.5


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Book: Pineapple Street

 Book: Pineapple Street

Author: Jenny Jackson

Pages: 320

This is my 64th read for the year

This is the story of the Stockton family - an extremely rich family that lives in New York.  The three children - Darley, the eldest (who gave up her inheritance because she refused to have her new husband sign a prenup when they got married), Cord (who married a middle class girl that is sure she will never fit in or be accepted by this family), and Georgiana (who is the youngest by far and who falls in love with someone she cannot have) and their parents have never wanted for anything.  They are old money and their world is one that most people wish they could have.  Yet like most families, that money does not solve all their problems.

I don't have much to say about this one.  I had seen it reviewed on a facebook book page I follow and thought it would make a good summer read.  It was just okay.  I hated just about all the characters.  Except Malcom who is Darley's husband.  The worst was Gerogiana - just a complete rich brat that never really redeemed herself in my opinion, even though the author tried to do so in the end.  I just could not care for anyone in these stories - their life so absurd.  I finished it, but I would not recommend it.

Stars: 2.5

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Book: Deamon Copperhead

Book: Deamon Copperhead

Author: Barbara Kingsolver

Pages: 560

This is my 63rd read for the year

This is the story of a boy named Damon.  Nicknamed Demon Copperhead as a boy for his red hair and a twist on Damon from his childhood classmates, he is a boy who was born to a teenage mother, a father that was already dead.  His mother and her choices will shape Demon's entire life.  He is tossed through the system until he finally locates a grandmother who gets him a permanent foster placement.  And even when that happens, Demon's luck finally runs out.  His struggles become so big for a teenage boy that he wonders how he will ever pull himself out.

This was a pretty good book.  I am a Kingsolver fan, and she is an excellent writer.  She develops the characters well and makes us want to reach through the book and grab ahold of them sometimes and shake them until they make better choices.  You can feel the deperation of the characters as she weaves the story from Demon as a small boy until he is a young adult.  

I struggled a bit with the hopelessness of this book, even though I know that was the point.  Just about every character in the book becomes addicted at some point, and I really didn't like the character Dorie, which is Demon's love interest through a large part of the book.  But Kingsolver's ability to tell a story - even one that you wish didn't need to be told about the rampant opioid problem this country has - kept this book at a higher star rating for me.  It is a spin on David Copperfield so you can spend sometimes doing character comparison as you read.



Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Book: Ledge

 Book: Ledge

Author: Stacey McEwan

Pages: 288

This is my 62nd read for the year

This is the story of Dawsyn.  She lives in a place called The Ledge - a place trapped by a chasm and steep mountain.  There is no escape and even if they could leave the mountain, the area is controlled by Glacians winged creatures who hunt humans for sacrifice.  Each year, the Glacians decend on The Ledge and chose humans to carry away.  Dawsyn has always been overlooked, but not this year.  Her luck has finally run out.

When she arrives at the Glacian hold, a half Glacian named Ryon offers to help her escape.  Something that is unheard of and humans never get far even if they try to run.  Dawsyn isn't sure he can trust him, but it might be her only option to get away alive.  Ryon has his own reasons for helping Dawsyn and decides if they can work together they might just be able to overtake the Glacians and save the people on The Ledge.

This was an okay book.  As I said in a recent review, I think I am beyond YA.  However - I do like a good fantasy/dystopian novel, so I keep getting suckered into trying them.  I like the premise of this book - a group of people that have been stranded and live in fear of a supernatural being, and a character - a woman - who can hold her own and doesn't need saving, but is actually quite capable of saving herself.  There is a good twist in the book that makes me want to see where the story goes in the second book.  The writing is fair, and of course there is the romance story that evolves that you knew would be there. 

This was a fine read.  It is a short book, so I will see where the author takes this story.

Stars: 3

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Book: Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421

 Book: Drowning: The Rescure of Flight1421

Author: TJ Newman

Pages: 304

This is my 61st read for the year

Six minutes after flight 1421 takes off, the pilots know they are in trouble.  Their only hope is to land in the Pacific Ocean and hope that some of the passengers survive.  After the plane lands there is a quick decision to try and get as many people off the plane as possible.  However, when an engine explodes, one passenger makes the quick decision that the plane needs to close the doors and trap several passengers inside in order to save their lives from the flames.  Thus begins the harrowing rescue of those passengers who are now 200 feet under the ocean surface quickly running out of oxygen.

This is a work of fiction (which could be a little confusing based on the title) and the second book of Newman's I have read.  I liked the first one (Falling) pretty well, and this was was equally as good.  I listened to it on a long car ride, and its suspense and pace kept me wide awake during my drive.  It is intense and nerve wracking.  My husband said "this is a beach read", but I do not agree.  It is not a relaxing story.  While the entire book takes place over just a short number of hours, they are quite intense that, if you are like me, will find youself holding your breath wondering how it was going to turn out.

A pretty good book - I recommend both of her novels.

Stars: 4

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Book: The Fourth Wing

 Book: The Fourth Wing

Author: Rebecca Yarros

Pages: 528

This is my 60th  read for the year

This story is about Violet Sorrengail.  She has spent most of her life training to be a Scribe.  Her mother, though, has other plans.  Her mother is a commanding general and everyone in their family is dragon riders, so Violet will be the same.  She is small and brittle compared to her brother and sister and feels like becoming a dragon rider will be certain death.  As she joins others who all have bene selected to be dragon riders, one by one, people are eliminated in challenges that you either pass or die trying.  And in the end, the students meet the dragons and the dragons pick their new riders.  

Meanwhile, the war outside their warded area grows more deadly.  As Violet and her crew in Fourth Wing practice what is called "War Games" to prepare them fro what is outside the kingdom's walls, they start to feel that the leadership is hiding a terrible secret.  Only time will tell who they are really fighting and why.  

Okay - let's start with the obvious here.  This is a YA book.  I am starting to think that I am growing too old to enjoy these books.  I do love a good fantasy/world building book, but this one was a bit too young for my taste.  So please keep that in mind as you read my review.  There are 44,000 reviews for this book on Amazon, so it is attracting someone.

The good in my opinion: I liked the idea of dragon riders.  Game of Thrones is my all time favorite fantasy book, so I love a good dragon story.  The relationship Violet develops with her dragon and the commentary they have is a highlight in the book.  I would have liked more.   There is a ton of action.  There is a lot going on in this world - and a lot of it ends in tragedy - had a real war element to that part of the story.  I liked Violet's moral compass and how smart she is.  She was set to be a Scribe which means she has a lot of knowledge to share with her dragon rider wing, and she is able to puzzle out what is truly going on in the kingdom,

The parts I didn't love:  This is a romance heavy book.  That is one genre I really dont read.  Rom Com/beach reads - all fine.  But this?  This was steamy.  And just too much, in my opinion.  The sex scenes are long and just too much.  And weirdly - heavy in the middle of the book.  Violet's love interest goes from enemy to friend to lover very very quickly.  I really needed to skim because it was just over the top.

Also - they make Violet almost too weak.  This book was touted as the next Hunger games, but she is no Katniss.  She is always getting injured and talks about how brittle she is, and everyone around her is sworn to protect her (especially her love interest).  I would say she is more like a character out of Twilight or Divergent instead of Hunger Games.  

Will I read the next one?  At first (well in the middle when it was getting a bit too Fifty Shades of Gray for a YA novel) I would have said no.  I almost put this aside, but I bought this book so I was determined to read it.  However the end?  I have to see now where it is going.  The last page of the book pushed me to want to at least try the next one and see if there is any improvement.  

If you are a firm YA reader, like a lot of steamy scenes, and characters that need saving, this book is for you.  If you are looking for Hunger Games, (or even Game of Thrones) you will not find it here.

Stars: 3

Friday, July 14, 2023

Book: Before The Coffee Gets Cold

 Book: Before The Coffee Gets Cold

Author: Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Pages: 293

This is my 59th read for the year

A small cafe in Tokyo has a magic power - it can send people back or forward in time.  But there are rules that need to be followed otherwise the person cannot return to their present life.  A cup of coffee is poured, and the person it told that they must finish drinking that coffee once they get to the past/future- before it gets cold.  They cannot move from their seat.  And they can go back into the past/future to any point they wish.  However - they cannot change the present by visiting the past/future.  However it can change how they live in the present themselves.

This was an okay book.  IT is VERY short, and really is a book of short stories.  I had a hard time staying engaged with this one - I ended up putting it down and starting another book  and then coming back to this one to finish it.  I don't know how I feel about this one.  I am glad I finished it, and the stories do come together, but I never felt truly engaged with it as a whole.

Stars: 3  

Friday, July 7, 2023

Book: The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise

 Book: The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise

Author: Collen Oakley

Pages: 352

This is my 58th book for the year

This is the story of Tanner and Louise (hence the title).  Tanner is a 21 year old girl who had it all - a scholarship to college to play soccer and a hope to someday go pro.  Until one fateful night when she went to a party with a friend and fell and injured her leg so badly she will never play soccer again.  Louise is an octogenarian who fell and broke her hip and now her children insist that she have a live in nanny to help care for her.  Louise just wants to be left alone, so when a broody, quiet Tanner is hired for the job - she feels like it might just work out.

The arrangement is working well - Tanner driving Louise to and from appointments and activities and then spending the rest of the time on her beloved video game - until Tanner starts to notice weird things around the house.  Locked doors and drawers, a locked shed, and finally a news broadcast where the person they are reporting bares a striking resemblance to a younger Louise.  One night - Louise appears in Tanner's room telling her to pack a bag and that they were leaving town.  This begins an adventure that neither of them expected to be one and one that reveals all the secrets Louise has never told anyone else - including her husband.

This was a great book.  While Tanner is infuriating and her brooding an attitude at the beginning of the book made me crazy, the overall story was wonderful.  As these two characters start an adventure together to get to someone from Louise's past, and the secrets that Louise has come to light, the story unfolds nicely and I was anxious to see where it went.  It was beautifully written, and has good humor, and life lessons, and found family elements that made it a treasured story.  Ending even had some surprises, even after Louise's secrets were reveals - things I didn't see coming.  

Highly recommend this one.

Stars: 4.5