For readers around the globe. :)

Monday, December 30, 2019

Anthony Bourdain: The Last Interview

 "Anthony Bourdain (n) (adj); Anthony Bourdain is an author, chef, and television host. This is ironic because he is also Satan. He is one of the baddest motherfuckers to grace television. His books are well written, conscious, and can be quite humorous. His restaurant Les Halles serves amazing French Cuisine and is located in New York."

That Urban Dictionary quote for Anthony Bourdain had me cracking up.

I actually grabbed this book in the hopes that my husband would read it (he hasn't yet), so instead I went ahead and gave it a quick read. I mean, like a 2ish hour read. The Last Interview is exactly what it sounds like, Anthony Bourdain's last interviews. Reading this made me love him even more, I loved hearing how he describes different cultures and viewpoints, all while adding his trademark sense of humor.

A few things my husband and I love to watch (and inevitably fall asleep to) include ANY of Anthony Bourdain's shows or literally anything featuring Neil Degrasse Tyson. So, when I came across the interview "Anthony Bourdain: Dishes on Food" on Startalk, yeah you can imagine this was my favorite interview of the entire book.

This farewell to Bourdain didn't feel like a farewell. I could still hear his voice and picture his mannerisms throughout the entire book. It felt like I was sitting there during the interviews just watching. He had such a way with words, and a love for not just food but the culture behind it. It was honestly an all around great read.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Darling Rose Gold

So I found this book awhile ago Goodreads. The second it became available on NetGalley, I requested an arc.

These are some of the worst characters ever.....
and that's why I LOVED it.

I could not put this book down. 

I initially wanted to read Darling Rose Gold because it sounded eerily similar to the Gypsy Rose Blanchard case. Turns out, I was right. While it doesn't follow Gypsy Rose's story to a t, it definitely had a lot in common. It's mostly based on Münchhausen Syndrome, which if you followed the Gypsy Rose case, you know what it is. For those who don't, Münchhausen Syndrome is when a caregiver creates or exaggerates symptoms of various illness for a while in their care. Keep that in mind while I talk about this book.
Darling Rose Gold is told in alternating perspectives through flashbacks following the daughter, Rose Gold and a present day story line for mother, Patty. In the flashback, Rose Gold leads us through her life after her abusive mother is put in prison. We get to see her grow into the young woman, fending for herself, getting a job, and moving on from her mother. We get to see her take the stand and testify. We see her building new relationships and becoming who she truly wants to be.
Then there's Patty.
Fresh out of prison and ready to start controlling her daughter again. She hasn't had control in 5 years,  but she's ready. She was born to be a mother. We see her hometown turning against her, and standing up for her daughter. We see her struggling to survive. We get to see her take on her newest task, being a grandmother to little Adam. But little does she know the woman her daughter has become. She believes she needs to get Adam out of her daughter's grasp and raise him on her own. Her fantasies closely resemble the life she built for Rose Gold.
What intrigued me about this book was how unreliable both characters were and how they were playing each other. They each had a grand scheme, scheme's that wouldn't include the other. They were both portrayed as victim and villain, that alone is an incredible feat for any author. It's definitely going in my list of most anticipated reads of 2020!

Huge thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Random House, and of course, author Stephanie Wrobel!
Darling Rose Gold hits shelves March 17, 2020!

Looking for other books featuring Münchhausen Syndrome?

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

 Sarcasm sold in the form of a self help book? Uh, yes please.

My coworker and I traded books over Christmas break.
I loaned her my all time fav, I'll Be There for You: The One About Friends and she loaned me The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.

This book definitely had some chapters that felt like they dragged but I did learn a few things about life, relationships, and learning how to just let things go. For me, the last one is the hardest part. I get so wound up in emotions over something ridiculous. But as it turns out the ridiculous thing is part of a bigger issue and I just need to start asking myself WHY I'm so worked up over it. There's a deeper meaning to everything we do in our lives. It's just a matter of choosing what we should and should not give a fuck about. 

It's a quick read that easily held my attention with chapters like, "You Are Not Special," "You're Wrong about Everything (But So Am I)," "......and Then You Die." It's bound to keep you laughing as you learn.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Escaping from Houdini

 Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell are back.
Their love affair with murder continues onto the Moonlight Carnival Cruise.
Their minds are forever at work when bodies begin showing up on the very first day of the cruise. But really, how far can a murderer go when they're confined to a ship? The answer is obvious, the murderer is using the carnival as a cover. They're using the sleight of hand they were taught by the ever so charming ringmaster, Mephistopheles. He's mysterious, handsome, and quite the charmer. When Audrey Rose realizing her missing cousin Liza is a part of the carnival she uses it to her advantage. She can use Liza as an excuse to go undercover and seek out clues that the carnival may be hiding. But, when she the opportunity arises for Audrey Rose to make a midnight bargain with the ringmaster, she barely hesitates! We all can guess the danger that comes from making deals with a potential murderer...

I honestly didn't like this book as much as the others, based on the mere fact that Houdini is a side character (hello, is called Escaping from Houdini, yet he's barely involved). I also wasn't found of the romance portion of the story which was A L O T of the story. I love Wadsworth and Cresswell but I also love Wadsworth and Mephistopheles. I feel like including that love triangle was necessary for the story but the way the relationships turned out was a tad cliche.

Looking for the rest of the series?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Abandoned

Maxine Revere is back with a new cold case, and this time it's personal.

Martha Revere dumped Maxine at her childhood home to be raised by her grandparents when Max was only nine years old. Martha wanted to have fun, and Max was really dragging her and her boyfriend Jimmy down. They were constantly on the move and Max never seemed to enjoy that lifestyle (ironic considering in her adult life she travels all over to solve cold cases).

When Max turned 16, her mother's postcards stopped coming. She knew at that point, her mother's partying had probably gotten the best of her. Now at 32 years old she's ready to uncover the truth about her mothers disappearance. Max hires P.I. Sean Rogan to find some aliases Martha used, which in turn leads them to her car that was abandoned in Northampton County, a small town with ties to Jimmy Truman, Martha's one time boyfriend. Max begins her investigation with hopes to figure out what happened to her mother in that small town 16 years ago.

I will say, this was far more predictable than the rest of the series.
But the twists, which I won't mention here, are going to make this series grow!
I cannot wait to see the relationships Max is destined to build with some of the new characters. Her character development is going to be downright amazing and I'm beyond excited for another book featuring Maxine.

Looking for the rest of the series?

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Therapist

 
Everything about this book sounded like it was right up my alley.
A therapist, a potential murder, and a twist.

So this book is told through 3 different POV's; Larisa, Mila, and Leo.
Now their lives are all connected, they just don't know it.

Lets start with Larisa. She's a real estate broker with a dark secret. At 18 years old, she accidentally killed her baby. She didn't know what to do and had no one to turn to, so she buried her child in the woods and has been having panic attacks ever since.

So Mila, oh my god. She's the dumbest therapist I've ever met. She loses her mother early on in the book. But for some reason she's only in town for like a day and a half and then hurrying back to her new home, new life, and new practice. It was painful reading her chapters because she ignores everything her gut is telling her and continues making stupid decisions.

And finally, Leo. He dated Mila's mother, Krystal for almost 30 years. When she dies, he's distraught beyond belief. But soon he finds out a sinister secret about her death and dives head first into an investigation of his own.

So, I have some problems with this book (it is an ARC though so I'm hoping some of this changed before it was published). For starters, it doesn't make any sense in the world for a girl fresh out of college to be able to open her own practice and have a steady stream of patients that soon. It's just not logical. Then, something causes the author to change the name of her cat more than halfway through the book? I hope this was merely accidental because Milo and Smokey aren't names that make sense to be used interchangeably....AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD if you're writing a character investigating something how in the world do you think, "Oh let me take this thing from the scene of a crime in hopes that it will help convict said person in the future" LIKE HELLO IF IT'S NOT THERE HOW IS IT GOING TO HELP CONVICT THEM.

That ending was.....atrocious.
So many loose ends, vital information isn't mentioned until the last 10% of the book, and an illogical trip to Thailand that apparently makes Mila finally realize everything she's a part of is dangerous, illegal, and heinous, only to turn around and do it again.

I love the concept for the book although it was incredibly predictable. It had good potential and some of the chapters are fantastic, but overall I was disappointed with the way it was written.

Huge thanks to BookSirens for sending me an advanced copy!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Imaginary Friend

How?! How in the world did Stephen Chbosky write this and Perks of Being a Wallflower?! I've asked myself that questions repeatedly over the last 3 days of terror while reading Imaginary Friend.

The whole premise revolves around a 7 year old boy who gets lost in the woods for 6 six days. When he's found, everything has changed. He feels smarter, people are noticing him, but all he can think about is going back into those woods to see the nice man who saved him.

When the nice man starts telling him about the hissing lady and the imaginary world, Christopher stops sleeping and starts building a tree house, which becomes a portal to the imaginary world. He can visit the nice man whenever he wants, but the nice man starts asking too much of him. He begins training him to kill the hissing lady. He terrorizes Christopher day and night.

It doesn't sound scary from my description but I was legitimately sleeping with the light on because the whole premise of the book is to not fall asleep. The imaginary world wakes up when you fall asleep. The terror of seeing their bleeding eyes, hearing the desperate cries for help, watching the blood flow through the street of each person's personal hell would be enough to keep you awake.

I'm amazed that after 20 years, Stephen Chbosky came back with such a kick-ass book. Perks is one of my all time favorite reads. So even though Imaginary Friend is a completely different genre, Chbosky's fingerprints are all over it. It's obvious that he worked so hard to craft this imaginary world into something horrendous and I definitely enjoyed every minute of the terror.

Looking for other books by Stephen Chbosky?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The End and Other Beginnings

When I heard Veronica Roth was writing a book of short stories based in the future, I knew I had to have it. But I didn't realize how much I was going to love it.

Each story was so well written! I was enthralled by the first four stories and then felt kind of indifferent about the last two, which take place in Shotet territory (aka the same universe as Carve the Mark). Each story had darker undertones than I was expecting but they were fantastic nonetheless.  The very first story in the book "Inertia" was my favorite. It felt like the future, but was also heavily rooted in reality. It deals with pain, depression, love, and loss.

Even though I was not a huge fan of the Shotet stories, "The Transformationists" was great. It leads a boy through what is essentially a detention center for a crime he didn't intend to commit (but ya know, currentgifts are tricky). Each story tackled a real topic with a futuristic twist and it worked incredibly well. The End and Other Beginnings is now not only one of my favorite Veronica Roth books, but also one of my favorite short stories collections as well.

Looking for other books by Veronica Roth?

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Breaking Bailey

I have a newfound appreciation for this series.
 
I started reading the Anonymous Collection books when I was a teenager and it was a gateway for me to start learning about addiction, abuse, prostitution, and other terrible things that some teens go through. It blew my mind as a teen that other kids my age were actually going through things like this. I was skeptical about this one because the last one I read just left me feeling like I had my run with the collection. But this one renewed my love of them because I can see the downfall as it's happening and understand that raw feeling that leaves teens feeling helpless and alone.

Breaking Bailey deals with addiction, specifically Meth, Adderall, and Percocets.We meet Bailey who is grieving the loss of her mother and living away from home for the first time ever, at a prestigious boarding school. She has a love of chemistry and is hoping to get into Harvard. So when a group of teens ask her to join their Science Club she jumps at the chance. Just a little thing she didn't know though....the Science Club is actually a rundown building with a lab in the basement, a lab where they cook meth. Each teen has their own job in the Club and Bailey quickly becomes a "chemist." Obviously those raw teen emotions come out and she starts dating Warren, her meth cooking partner. Soon she becomes hooked on Adderall and eventually Percocets.

This book focuses on a few things. Bailey quickly got hooked because she didn't like the crash after taking the pills. She physically needed them to get through the day because her body craved the chemicals that her brain could no longer produce on its own. Her downfall happens pretty quickly. Everything starts becoming clearer for her when she realizes the horrors of meth addiction and how it can tear families apart. She wants out.

In true Go Ask Alice fashion, I'm sure you can guess how it ends.

Looking for the rest of the series?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Intrusive Thoughts

 
So a few weeks ago one of my friends started telling me about how his friend Tristan wrote a book. A "psychedelic noir" is how he described it to me. Which had me saying, "Uh, yes please." So Tristan sent over a copy of his book, Intrusive Thoughts (which I'm very thankful for).
This book focuses on a detective named Jacqueline who is having lapses in time. While she's in this altered state of mind, she is seeing someone who looks nearly identical to her committing murders all around the city. She's finding hysterical psychiatrists, dirty cops, and murder; everywhere. When her friend, and co-worker, Clara steps in to say she's worried about her....shit hits the fan.
There's no way Jacqueline is the one committing these murders, but the only way to find out is to stay in that altered mindset for longer periods of time. Which led me to believe that Jacqueline has Multiple Personality Disorder and just hasn't accepted it yet. I don't know if that's how the author was trying to portray her, but that's definitely the vibe I was getting. 

The only thing that I wish was different about this book is that it had chapters instead of just small page breaks It made it slightly harder to read because the narration switches very suddenly and it takes a minute to get the right voice back in your head for that POV.

Overall, it was a good book with a unique topic that I haven't found in other books!

Huge thanks to Rey for suggesting I read it and even bigger thanks to Tristan for sending me a copy!

Friday, October 4, 2019

The Dog Went Over the Mountain

 
Bittersweet.
That's the word I would use to describe this book.
In this ever-changing world, Peter Zheutlin realized there were thing he still wanted to do. On the cusp of his 65th birthday, Peter loaded up his BMW and helped his rescued dog Albie into the backseat. For the next 6 weeks they would eat, sleep, and breathe the open road. Inspired by the classic Steinbeck book Travels with Charley, Peter set off to re-live Steinbeck's legacy in this own way.

I was drawn to this book because I've loved all of his other rescue dog books, which all feature Albie. When Peter talks about the unconditional love he has for his dog, it was emotional for me. Just a few weeks ago I found myself crying on a road trip with my rescue dog, Sophie. With her sound asleep in my arms, I thought back to how small and scared she was 4 years ago when I took her in. I can't believe how far we've come together, how much she trusts me to protect her. now. And I think that's how Peter feels with Albie. It's hard to decipher was our pups are thinking and feeling, but it's nice to ponder the thought that they enjoy our company as much as we enjoy theirs.

Huge thank you to Peter Zheutlin and Pegasus Books for sending me an ARC!

Looking for other books by Peter Zheutlin?

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Dogs of Cuba

 
I don't know what I enjoyed seeing more, the love these dogs have for each other or the unconditional love written all of over the faces of their owners. This book was a wonderful collection of photographs taken by Emmy Park while she was traveling through Cuba. Even though she was actually there to cover a skateboard tournament, she quickly noticed the amount of dogs wandering the streets. It's no surprise that dogs are cherished in America more than almost any other country. Now, I just got back from living in Korea for 2.5 years and can attest to the previous statement. It pained me to see dogs chained up to porches and businesses, or just running along the street looking for their next meal. But this is the only life they've known. Of course, each place has exceptions. Some people truly love their dog more than anything in the world. Which is true for me; my dog is my baby, so I could never imagine putting her through something like that, even though she was on the streets before she had me.

Regardless, the photos in this coffee table book are absolutely stunning and are well worth flipping through!! Huge thank you to NetGalley, Schiffer Publishing, and Emmy Park for an advance copy of this book!

The Dogs of Cuba hits shelves September 28, 2019!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Two To Die For


So this book is actually two books in one.
We have Spiral, a novella from the Lucy Kincaid Series and Retired, a novella from the Maxine Revere Series. I've never read the Lucy Kincaid series but I did read the crossover book starring both Lucy and Maxine and it was phenomenal. So when I saw there was a dual novella book on my kindle, I snatched it right up.

Let's start with Spiral.
Lucy and her new husband Sean are honeymooning in one of his gifts to her, a cabin in Vail. That's right, he bought her a cabin. They've been relaxing, making love, and getting to know the area. It's so cute watching two very tough, independent people come together and do all the cute couple-y things that are expected on a honeymoon. But obviously, trouble follows them and they can never turn away someone in need. When their neighbor's dog shows up late one night, they know something is wrong. The question becomes, "Where is Hank?" The next day they start a search and rescue to find Hank and uncover a whole slew of mystery that must be solved. Romance aside, they jump into action.

Moving on to Retired, I love Maxine (you guys should definitely all know that by now). I love how I just spent all day intrigued by a potential murder in a retirement community. Max has taken on the role of Maxine Adler, art restorer and "granddaughter" to Lois Kershaw. Lois called her after the death of her dear friend, Dotty. Her hope was that Max wouldn't think of her as a senile old woman, but instead as a concerned citizen who suspects her friend has been murdered. With the help of Lois, Flo, and Beau; Max starts her undercover investigation to find out why so many senior citizens in the Del Sol community are dying after showing improvement from the supposed flu they all had. Max knows who to look at right away. It's just a matter of getting the proof she needs to take her investigation to the police.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Parkland Speaks

First day in my new city and I saw this sitting on the feature shelf at the library!
You best believe I walked over to the front desk, applied for a library card, and checked this book out.
I then read this entire book the same day.

So we all know what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
February 14, 2018 is going to be a day that these students and faculty will never forget.
Nikolas Cruz brutally murdered 17 people that day.
He turned their school into a crime scene.

Parkland Speaks was organized by Sarah Lerner, a journalism teacher at MSD.
She gathered these short stories, poems, and journal entries from students and teachers who were there that fateful day. While the whole thing was incredibly painful to read, there were two that had me in tears. Journal Entry #1 by Jack Macleod details what it was like to be outside of a classroom during the shooting. What it was like not knowing if they were going to survive or not. Understanding that if any of those doors opened for them, other student's lives would be in danger. He describes their fear with such intensity that it felt like I was watching it unfold without any way to help. The other that really got to me was kind of similar, but on the opposite side of the door. Nothing Bad Ever Happens in Parkland, Stacey Lippel's testimony before congress detailed her nerve racking experience as a teacher trying to protect her students. She talks about how painful it was to hear her students screaming in the hall as they were shot down. She talks about seeing her fellow teachers in pools of their own blood. She talks about hurling her body over her students to protect them after she had already been grazed by a bullet. It was harrowing.

Reading the stories told by survivors themselves is incredible.
It's heartbreaking that at 14-18 years old, these kids that to experience such fear and trauma.
It breaks my heart that this keeps happening.
But it warms my heart to see these same kids trying to make a difference in the world.

Looking for other books on Parkland?

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Heiresses

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading The Heiresses.

I've read a few of Sara Shepard's YA series (PLL and The Perfectionists) and felt like those two stories were one in the same. But this new adult series...wow. It does have the same feel as her YA work, but it's juicier than normal.

We meet the Saybrooks in The Heiresses and that's essentially what they are, heiresses. They all grew up into an amazing jewelry industry that basically set them up for life. But not all of the Saybrooks want their inheritance. Not all the Saybrooks want their dirty laundry plastered all over the internet. One of them may not even want to be alive anymore. But the question is.....who is doing this to them?

Throughly enjoyed book one and am patiently awaiting for the rest of the series to be announced!
Looking for other books by Sara Shepard?

Maximum Exposure

So, my husband and I just moved back to America from Korea this week!
I started our 3 day trek home with Maximum Exposure, the prequel to the Maxine Revere Series by Allison Brennan!

Obviously, if you guys have been keeping up with my reviews since college, you know how much I love this series. When I saw there was a prequel available, I knew I had to grab a copy.

In this prequel, we get to meet Maxine Revere and learn a little bit more about who she is and why she's dedicated to solving cold cases. I will say, it was a bit weird without David. But seeing her friendship with Ben grow into what we eventually see in the other books was a fantastic addition!

This was an incredibly quick read.
I mean, I read this entire book on my 2 hour flight to Japan!
But if you love Max, you'll love this.
Looking for the rest of the series?

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Hold Me Closer

There's only one word to describe this book: G A Y.

I mean that in the best way possible. I mean one of the first songs in this musical novel is called "A Big Gay Baby". Which basically begins the start of Tiny Cooper's life.

So Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story is the musical companion novel to Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which I absolutely loved. The idea behind this book is that Tiny wrote a musical about all of the boys he's ever loved and all the boys he's lost. It deals with him trying to find his place in the world and trying to find someone to share it with.

Written in musical format, it goes through everything he's been through. From the beginning of his life to the end of his last relationship with his 18th boyfriend, Will Grayson. What I loved most about this was that the music numbers were so cheesy and fantastic. He even suggested a "homoerotic baseball scene" and compares it to "I Don't Dance" from High School Musical 2 and I was DYING as I pictured it.

So if you loved Will Grayson, Will Grayson, you're bound to love Hold Me Closer too!!

Looking for the rest of the series?

Looking for other books by David Levithan?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Lust Killer

So, this is actually the first true crime book I've read that had a serial killer with an actual fetish.
Jerry Brudos - ladies shoes extraordinaire.
Oh yeah, and that's partly how he chooses who to rob, murder, and rape.

At 16 years old, he assaulted the neighbor girl and instructed her to pose for nude pictures. But that was just the beginning of his fantasies. They soon went from naked women, to having a sex slave, to dressing in women's bras, garters, and slips, but mostly...it was just the sight of high heeled shoes that drove him absolutely crazy.

But here's the craziest part about Jerry..... he was married and had two kids!
His wife, Darcie, had no idea who this man she married was. I mean, she was 17 when they met and got married after finding out she was pregnant, three months into knowing each other. She was essentially his slave. He kept Darcie in the dark about everything he was doing. He quite literally locked her out of their "shop" which he claimed was a darkroom for developing his photography (which is was but it was much, much darker than your average darkroom).

He had turned this shop into his own torture chamber.
He kept several victims in there, just feet away from his wife and kids.
He would abduct these women, lock them away, strangle them to death, and then proceed to have sex with their dead bodies. It was gruesome.

The way he confessed his killings to law enforcement was chilling. He showed little to know emotion as he bragged about is crimes, even confessing to crimes they didn't even know he was tied to. They knew they had the right guy when he was giving exact details of car engine (used as weights to submerge the women's bodies in water), that one victim was on her period at the time of her abduction, and several other things that he didn't realize they would be able to use against him.

In the end, he was given three consecutive life sentences in the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Looking for other books by Ann Rule?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Dear Martin

The world needs a book like this.
Teens need a book like this.
Black kids need a book like this.

Dear Martin started as a project for Justyce after he was unjustly arrested.
The reality of his "crime" was trying to convince his girlfriend not to drive drunk.  When an officer pulled up....he assumed Jus was carjacking a white girl (even though Melo is half-black). The idea behind this project was to write letters to someone he looked up to, Martin Luther King, Jr.

That's where this story of injustice begins.
It deals with gun violence, prejudice, wrongful convictions, and sometimes no convictions at all.
It was a short read, which I think hindered my appreciation of it. I think developing the characters a little more would have helped with that But the overall story dealt with something that happens every single day. We tend to turn a blind eye when something isn't directly effecting us, but it doesn't mean it's not still happening.

I have read other reviews that recommend reading Dear Martin and The Hate U Give (THUG) to have a deeper grasp on the reality of what happens on a day to day basis in black communities. I have not read THUG yet but I plan on grabbing a copy soon.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

I just... I just don't even have the words to describe the emotional whirlwind this book just sent me on. I don't know that I've ever cried like that over another character (well, besides Damon from Vampire Diaries, but that's different).

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is one of those books where I don't want to give away too much of the story because it's all tied so closely together that just saying one thing might ruin the entire book for someone. But I will give you guys a quick, basic rundown of the story.

After an exhausting day at work, 23 year old, April May stumbles upon an amazing piece of art. This huge metal Transformer looking creation. Now, why has she never seen this guy before?! She calls up her friend, Andy, to come shoot a video of the art she has affectionately dubbed, "Carl". They never expected this video to become a viral sensation overnight and they really never expected to hear the phrase "alien life form" about Carl, or hear that Carls have been popping up all over the world since their video first streamed. The fascination with the Carls soon takes hold of April and Andy's life with no intention of letting go any time soon. April becomes the face of this new group and soon loses herself in it all. 
 
But the overall story is like nothing I have ever read before and I loved every second of it.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Axeman

When I saw this book it made me say "Wait, The Axeman of New Orleans is a real serial killer?!" I first learned of the notorious killer when watching American Horror Story: Coven (which is amazing, highly recommend this season). So obviously when I saw there was an entire historical fiction crime series starting with the Axeman, I knew I had to have it.
 
The Axeman follows a few key characters: Riley, Luca, Michael, Ida, and Lewis (as in Louis Armstrong but very loosely based). Some of these characters work in the police force hunting down The Axeman, while others are investigative reporters and private investigators. Regardless, all of them are searching for answers pertaining to The Axeman case.

Honestly, I wasn't too drawn to any of the characters but I'm hoping that's just because it was the first book. I would have liked to see more of The Axeman and less of some of the other story lines. Yes, everyone was working a different angle but it felt like there were still so many loose ends to tie up when the book finished.

It also was V E R Y loosely based on the actual Axeman case.
Many details were changed, suspects were found, motives weren't the same.
Whereas the actual man behind the axe was never found and likely never will be.

If you look past the historical fiction aspect of this book, it's a great read!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Murder, Interrupted

I've never been a huge James Patterson fan before, but his new true-crime thriller collection might be changing my mind! Murder, Interrupted has 2 true crime stories. These cases came directly from the show Murder is Forever, on the ID Channel. So let me break each story down for you.

Murder, Interrupted
Frank Howard is living not one, not two, but THREE different lives.
Yeah, you read that right.

#1 Takes place in Texas and includes his wife Nancy and their 3 adult children.

#2 Moves us to California with mistress Suzanne, who he claims he's going to be leaving his wife for.

#3 Introduces us to Mr. John, a character who is embezzling millions of dollars from a client, who is hell bent on killing his wife, and is a straight up sociopath.

So when Frank devises a plan on how to kill his wife, it involves a hit man. For years he fantasizes about how it should be done, but ultimately leaves it up to the guys he's hired to do it. The only problem is, he hired a group of well known meth heads who can't even get the job done. They worked up the courage to kill Nancy...but somehow a gunshot to the head DIDN'T KILL HER.

Nancy couldn't believe her husband had anything to do with her attempted murder. Their children couldn't imagine a world where there father was capable of something like this. After Frank was bonded out, he moved back into the house with Nancy (she is literally so much stronger than I would have been in this situation). After two years, he finally went to trial. With tons of testimony from Nancy, Suzanne, his children, ex-client, and the original hit man, the jury found Frank guilty after a mere two hours of deliberation.

Mother of All Murders
I'm sure you guys have all heard of Gypsy Rose and her mother Dee Dee.
  The news of Dee Dee's death and the disappearance of Gypsy Rose shocked their small Missouri town. They had joined together to create a life for this single mother and sick little girl. They welcomed them into their homes with open arms only to shockingly discover it was all a hoax.

Gypsy was never really sick, not in the least. But Dee Dee was suffering from Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy, which made the way she raised Gypsy incredibly diabolical. More or less, the idea was to commit fraud, tricking everyone, including Gypsy, into believing her daughter was suffering from a wide variety of illnesses. Illnesses as severe as leukemia, asthma, sleep apnea, muscular dystrophy, and even went as far to have Gypsy tube fed. The only problem was doctors were only finding symptoms, but nothing that showed the actual illnesses described.

But this was the only world Gypsy had ever known.
A life so paralyzing that she actually believed she was paralyzed!
When she began wanting to do normal things with kids her age, such as dating, Dee Dee shut it down almost immediately. Feeling trapped, Gypsy signed up on a Christian dating app and met Nicholas Godejohn. Through the subtle communication between Gypsy and her doctors, pastor, and friend Aleah, she began realizing her mother was feeding her lie after lie while barely feeding her real food at all.

Gypsy devised a plan, one that including Nicholas saving her from her mother.
A plan that would rid the world of Dee Dee and all of the pain she caused her.
She masterminded how a boy she had never met would kill her mother.

Looking for other books featuring Münchhausen Syndrome?
Darling Rose Gold

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Table Between Us

I don't usually read a lot of poetry.
But I joined a few book related groups where people can share reviews, articles, and authors can share their work. Which is how I came across Kendricks Fields, an American author who currently lives in the same city as me, IN SOUTH KOREA. This fact alone made me want to read his work.

So The Table Between Us is a poetry book (can be found on Amazon). It's a quick read about love and heartbreak. But to me, personally it felt like young love. One of my favorite poems was X's and O's, which actually takes place on a school bus. Another one I liked was Intoxicated. It told such a vivid story, a story that most people can relate to. 

I think that's what I got out of this book; that young love can feel like the best thing in the world but it can also feel like the worst. It's the beginnings, the electricity, the excitement of starting a new relationship that makes the chase feel worth it. But once the realities of life start setting in, things begin to fade, to crumble, to inevitably end.

A Dog Named Beautiful

"I loved a dog with all my heart once."

That quote sums up this entire book.
I was 15 pages in and sobbing into my pup's fur about unconditional love.
I have never loved anything as much as I love my girl, Sophie.
We've been together almost 4 years now and I would give anything to keep her in my life forever.

Rob Kugler and his furbaby Bella set off on a 3-6 month road trip to soak up the time they had left together. It all happened right after Bella was diagnosed with cancer....in her lungs that spread to her leg. The best option to give her a little more time was to amputate her leg. That's right, Rob had a 3-legged pup with more gusto than any other dog he'd ever seen. I mean, sure he was out almost 2 grand, but it was worth it to spend some more time with his girl.

It's such a touching story about a man and his dog.
But for Rob, it was more than that. He was lost for a very long time but he found himself learning life lessons from Bella. He found himself through her. He spent countless days wondering if he was giving her the best life imaginable, especially with everyone asking him if her quality of life diminished after losing her leg. But honestly, it made her stronger. Which in turn made him stronger.

Everything in this book made me cry.
Everything in this book made me hug my dog.
Everything in this book was so relatable.

In January, we had a run in with our pup.
Sophie woke up and could barely stand. 
I carried her outside for her morning potty break and she got sick and just collapsed. 
I ran inside stressed, telling my husband to grab the keys. We needed a vet.
Mind you, we live in South Korea, with vets who barely spoke our language.
The first vet we could find said "Heart failure, emergency. Go to this vet for surgery, immediately." 
The next vet said, "Emergency surgery. Her uterus exploded."
They set to work on my baby while we sat in the waiting room, covered in poop and vomit, and just cried. Within the hour, we were told there was a 30% chance she would survive the surgery given her age (she's 10ish).

A week later, we got to take her home.
She made it.
Sure, we were out 2 grand, just like Rob...
But we knew our pup needed us and we jumped on the chance to help her. 


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Speak

It is insane to me that a book written 20 years ago is telling a story that happens in today's world.

We meet Melinda as she's starting high school and follow her to the end of her freshman year.
High school is hard, but it's even harder when everyone is against you. Yes, I know, this sounds like every other kid thinking the world hates them, but for Melinda is was kind of true. Everyone knew she called the cops and broke up their house party...they just didn't know why.
 
Melinda struggles, a lot. She skipped classes, she stayed quiet, she found herself wandering through the halls of life. But she finds her voice at the end, which is incredibly badass because not everyone gets that chance or has the courage to do what she did. She stands up to her attacker, her rapist, and makes sure everyone knows what happened.

It kind of breaks my heart that things like this are still happening 20 years later.
But it blows my mind how strong the Melinda's of this world are.
 
 I rarely use the word "groundbreaking" when describing books, but I'm definitely marking Speak as groundbreaking. Not only did it capture the teenage image of 1999 but of 2019, as well. This book is absolutely going to stand the test of time and I'm beyond glad that I had the opportunity to read it and pass it along to all the other kids who might be trying to cope with their own struggles.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian

When you find yourself at a wedding, telling people you write obituaries for the paper.....you start wondering what you're actually doing with your life. For Avi Steinberg, that's exactly how he ended up applying for the prison librarian + creative writing teacher position.

I honestly think Avi wrote this book more for himself than for anyone else.
It felt like he kind of lost himself for awhile and needed a very drastic change of pace, which apparently meant walking up to the menacing door of "The Bay" in Boston for an interview he wasn't even sure he qualified for.

Throughout the book, we meet all sorts of people from all walks of life. Avi regularly spent his days with murderers, rapists, drug dealers, prostitutes and pimps. But to him, these were just his library patrons and students in class. He eventually realized that not all criminals are bad people and some of them he even looked at as friends. Sometimes it was hard to find the line between the two. Regardless, this book is filled with "kites" found around the library, life lessons he's learned from inmates, but most importantly what he found for himself. Honestly, I'm not sure what he discovered from working in prison. 

One of my dreams is to work with inmates, whether it be in a prison or a juvenile detention center...I want to be there. I want to help these people get their life back on track like Avi tried with Jessica, a mother who found her 18 year old son on the prison basketball court. How he helped Chudney find recipes for his fictional cooking show, Thug Sizzle. How he proofread and wrote a prologue to C.C. Too Sweet's book "Memoirs of a Pimp." I hope to make a change in inmate culture and life and give them someone from the system they can view without contempt, someone they can trust.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Out of Orange

You might know Cleary Wolters as Alex Vause in the hit Netflix series, Orange is the New Black or as Nora Jansen in Piper Kerman's book with the same name.

Personally, I enjoyed reading this book more than Orange is the New Black. Cleary's story is more personal than Piper's. She gets us into the deep into the African drug smuggling ring. She gives us details of how they were under the impression they were smuggling diamonds, which soon turned to heroin, which then turned to $50k sewn into suitcases. They never expected to be in so deep with a drug lord, yet here they were carrying loaded luggage through airports and living to tell the tale. 

Piper got involved when Cleary started crushing on her. She thought maybe, just maybe, Piper could be a stand in on one of their runs. They could start an international love affair with suitcases full of money. Which is exactly what they tried to do, before Piper realized she didn't want to be a part of that life. Cleary was already in way too deep to call it quits and head back to San Fran with her.

It details how they got into this business, how they got out, how they got caught, and how they made their prison time worthwhile. It deals with love, loss, and growth. Cleary never expected for this to be her life and she really never expected to turn on the tv one day and a blonde girl hop out of a van and say, "Hello. My name is Piper Chapman, and this is my story."  

Looking for Piper Kerman's book?

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Imagine this scenario:
It's 1936, you live with your Pa in the Kentucky mountains; Troublesome Creek to be exact. But you're colored. Not white, not black, but...blue.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek follows the story of Cussy Mary, better known as Bluet. She one of the last surviving members of her bloodline. Many years ago, living deep in the mountainside, desperate family members made their own family... if you get what I'm saying.
Bluet and her Pa both have what appears to be blue skin. Which means they don't get the same treatment as the white folks in town, but instead have to follow the same rules as the other colored folks. They get looked at as sickly, disgusting, not quite human. It's a hard life, but that doesn't stop Cussy Mary and her pa from living and working with everyone else. 

Bluet becomes a Pack Librarian for Troublesome Creek.
Pack librarians became essential when people in poor areas and off the beaten track, wanted some reading materials. Newspapers, magazines, scrapbooks, you name it, Bluet had it in her satchel. She would ride miles upon miles a week to deliver books to her patrons. They all called her Book Woman. But some of them still had to open their minds to a colored bringing them reading material. But over the course of a year, they come to love her. School children, young mothers, uptight fathers, they all wait patiently to see what the Book Woman has brought for them this week.

I absolutely loved this book.
I made a promise to myself to start reading more historical fiction this year, and I'm beyond glad I picked this up. It's a unique story, that I'm fairly certain hasn't been told before!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Life Inside My Mind

I personally think all books on mental health should be written in this format.
Life Inside My Mind is a collection of essays written by various authors who either have mental illnesses of their own or are close to people who do. Each author delves into what their struggles are and how they began helping themselves to a life they actually wanted and not one defined by their mental illness. Each author tackles a different mental health aspect, though some are repeated, their coping mechanisms and other things that specifically helped them differ from some of the other authors.

What I loved most about this was how raw, real, and groundbreaking this book is. There is such a stigma when it comes to mental illnesses. To quote Melissa Marr's essay, "How to Deal with Me... And My PTSD," "The fact that you read as far as that last sentence, that you read this essay, that you picked up this anthology tells me that we can go out in public without apology on my part or worry on yours. It says that you won't think me impossible if I say not this restaurant or ask you to walk a few blocks or maybe switch seats with me so I can stay here and talk to you. It says we can find a way to deal with my PTSD."

I think that is how we break the stigma. We begin understanding, we ask questions, we don't judge. If we can share our stories with the world, the world just might turn a little easier, especially knowing we aren't the only ones dealing with an illness.

Below I'll be sharing a few resources for those who may need them along with personal recommendations of mental health books and books with mentally ill characters.

Resources:

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come

When I was a junior, my high school offered a poetry writing contest.I entered and didn't tell a soul. No one knew until it was announced over the loud speaker that I had won first place. Teachers, friends, classmates, my parents.... were SHOCKED.

The even bigger catch....
I had to read my poem (which also had a visual aspect) in front of the school board, along with all the other winners.
I wanted to throw up. I cried on the drive there. I was so thankful I included my visual aspect (I wrote my poem in the shape of a question mark and only included questions in the poem). Which they displayed on the big screen at the front of the room. I thought, "Good, people will be looking at that and not me."

I got up there, I read my poem, got off stage and asked my mom how I did and if you could tell my face was covered in bright red fire up there.... and her response?

"I didn't look at you because I thought it'd make you more nervous."

 LOL THANKS MOM.

But honestly, I'm glad I did it. I've given countless presentations since then and I think that was the first one that kicked me in the ass. That being said, Jessica Pan struggled with a lot of the same issues and she set out on a year of extroversion. She was determined to make her friends, better herself, and even got a few fun stories out of it.
Now I could never imagine doing some of the stuff she did, ex. see chapters "Everest or Stand Up Comedy" and "La-La-Land or Traveling Solo."

But I see a lot of myself in her and finally understand why I hate small talk...it's because I want the meat of what makes people tick. I want to know intimate details about their lives and understand who they were when they were living through it. I don't care how the weather is, I don't care that traffic was bad. I want to know WHY you love/hate this weather or what was really bothering you when that guy cut you off in traffic.

Her year of extroverting gave her a new sense of what it means to be an introvert.
She found a happy medium between the two and I think we could all use a little help finding that line.

Huge thank you to NetGalley, Andrew McNeels Publishing, and to Jessica Pan for providing me with a copy of Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come. 
I am so glad I found this book!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hidden Bodies

I love how much Joe grows as a character in Hidden Bodies!

SPOILER ALERT:
He falls in love, again.
At the end of You, we briefly meet Amy Adam.
Using stolen credit cards in Joe's bookstore, she somehow manages to grab hold of his heart and yank it straight out of his chest. But he'll get his revenge and just add Amy to his CandaceBenjiPeachBeck list.

But first.....

He has to leave New York and move to LA.

Amy isn't even his first kill there, and trust me he kills a few people before he even finds her.
Regardless, Joe is far less creepy and sex crazed in this book. He actually falls in love with Love. He honestly falls in love with his LA lifestyle that he never expected to be a part of. He never wanted to make it in Hollywood, but it looks like that might be exactly what's happening.

Amy is literally an after-thought in his new life. He doesn't mind that she ripped him off, used him, stomped all over his heart.... because he's started a new life, a better life, and he's ready to put the past behind him.

Joe really matures in Hidden Bodies, I mean, as much as a sociopath can mature. But his character is just written SO MUCH BETTER. I gave You an awful review, but stuck it out for this one and I'm so glad I did.

Looking for the rest of the series?

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Subliminal

I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. I'm also very surprised at how much it makes me miss being in college and sitting through psych class after psych class.
 
Personally, I was intrigued with the chapter, The Importance of Being Social.
It discusses things like how the brain reacts in certain situations, regardless of person. Most people have the same animalistic impulses that we see in most animals. This reminded me of the justice system.
 
We need social interaction to survive, we need human touch, we need conversation, we need to feel like we have some form of control over our lives. So when people are arrested, placed in a cell and stripped of their basic human rights, it makes sense for them to interact with other inmates like animals would. They form cliques, the offer/need protection, they find a sense of camaraderie just to survive on a day to day basis.
 
This was interesting for me to read because my field of study was psych and justice sciences. It was exciting to find information on a topic that I hadn't yet explored. I thoroughly enjoyed reading everything in this book. Leonard Mlodinow wrote this as an attempt to explain the unconscious mind and I believe that he kept everyone in mind while he wrote it. Even without any knowledge of neuroscience, anyone who is interested in the human mind, or behavior in general, will find this book easy to read and comprehend.

Friday, April 19, 2019

You

 
Well, I don't want to be that girl that says the show was better than be book, but honestly?

I'm kind of hoping the show is better.

So I decided I wasn't going to watch You on Netflix until after I read You and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes. But I'm kind of unimpressed with this book and I don't exactly know why. So stay with me while I try to work this out.

I don't feel like I had any connection to these characters.
In the beginning, when Beck first walks into the bookstore and notices Joe, I kind of felt like I could be her. But then she just did a complete 180. But still, I tried to put myself in her shoes and she was just OBLIVIOUS to everything. Joe preyed on that, which is the basis of the book. He became infatuated with Beck. He had to know her every move, every word, every story. He needed to be near her. But even as he's stalking her, Beck is still doing weird shit and he's still loving it.

It was just odd the way everyone interacted and the way literally EVERYONE was so oblivious to their surroundings. They had zero regard for anyone other than themselves, which kind of makes sense given that they're all being stalked by Joe who preys on vulnerable people.

I just don't really know how I feel about this book.
I'm hoping Hidden Bodies brings me around to loving it.
I'm hoping the show holds my attention.

I just feel, eh about it.

Looking for the rest of the series?
Hidden Bodies (You #2)