For readers around the globe. :)

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.

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Good Girls

THIS MUCH EXAGGERATED DRAMA MAKES ME SO GLAD I'M NOT IN HIGH SCHOOL ANYMORE.

Okay, so obviously I gave The Perfectionists a terrible review.
The Good Girls is slightly better, but still nothing to rave about.

The Good Girls picks up where The Perfectionists stops, people are still dying all around this group of girls. They continue to be brought in for questioning and begin questioning if they can trust each other. Each girl has to go through an individual pysch eval with Dr. Rose. That's where the drama flares to life. This felt less Pretty Little Liar-y than the first book. The characters had more background and depth than when they were first introduced. So that was a nice touch. 

However, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people use the words prison and jail interchangeably, which Sara Shepard did repeatedly throughout this book. (Sorry, I have a degree in Criminal Justice and it just drives me freaking crazy) I assumed Sara Shepard would do research on something she was including in one of her books, but noooooooo. She threw a (presumably) 17 year old kid in PRISON and then said the kids parents couldn't BOND HIM OUT. 

UPDATE: YOU CAN'T BE BONDED OUT OF PRISON.

Then to make it even more annoying, another (presumably) 17 year old kid GOES TO THE PRISON TO VISIT THIS KID WHO THEY HAVE NO RELATION TO AND WITHOUT PARENTS.

OH. and this kid was thrown in prison within a week of the supposed crime.

Like stop, no. That is not how any of that works.
As for the mental health side of the story, I was unimpressed. Again, very little research was put into this aspect of the story and I was incredibly disappointed.

Anyway, I'm starting the show this week.
Wish me luck!

Looking for the rest of the series?

Looking for other books by Sara Shepard?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Perfectionists

Oh. My. God.

These books remind me just how happy I am to be out of high school and no longer a teenager..

So what in the hell possesses me to continue reading from the YA section?!

Alright, I'm giving The Perfectionists two stars for two reasons:

1) It's basically PLL 2.0
2) It's terrible

 We get a group of 5 girls who are casually planning the hypothetical murder of their classmate, Nolan (don't even get me started on the name; I swear to God I even typed out Noel trying to remember it because they're literally the EXACT SAME CHARACTER.)
Nolan ends up dead, just moments after all the girls were last seen with him, in the exact way they discussed. So obviously they're instantly guilty and start traipsing all over crime scenes and breaking into house and ruining their lives, because what else would a group of high-class prodigies have to do? 

Annnnnnnd that's the whole premise of the book.
Sound familiar?

I  read Pretty Little Liars as Sara Shepard was writing them. 
I only picked up this duology because I wanted to read it before watching the show (obviously I have a problem, let's move past it). But the similarities are so striking....

Let me just break it down for you:

-There's a weirdo teacher sexing up all this female students.
-This teacher is also into old movies and photography.
I'm sorry, are we all picturing Ezra Fitz?

-There's a girl with scars all over her face.
-How she got those scars takes FOREVER to be mentioned.
Does this maybe sound like Jenna Marshall? 

-There's a foreign kid who shows up out of the blue.
-There's a doctor who for some reason gets weirdly personal with patients.
-There's a dude in love with his brothers girlfriend.
Now, these are all separate characters but um they all sound like Wren to me.

This just wasn't original in any way, shape, or form.
It was basically the exact same book with some of the characters switched.
But since I want to watch the show with my bestie, I'll be reading book two very soon.

Looking for the rest of the series?
The Good Girls (book two)

Looking for other books by Sara Shepard?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Love Letters to the Dead

This book was suggested to me a few years ago via Stephen Chbosky's Goodreads account. It caught my eye in the library a few days ago and figured I might as well give it a shot....

Eh.

It was good, but not exactly memorable.

Starting a new school is hard; it's even harder after your sister has died.
Laurel is starting high school, trying to find herself, and forget about everything that's happened in the past. 
The death of her best friend, role model, and older sister May, really messed Laurel up. She feels guilty about her death (which is super annoying because we don't find out what happened until the last 100 pages).

Mrs. Buster gives an assignment to write a letter to a dead person.
Obviously Laurel should have written to her sister, but instead decides to write to Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Judy Garland, and many others. She's almost using these letters as a diary of sorts, a way to get everything off her chest. She chose these people because she feels like they might understand what she's going through. She can relate to the things they're singing about, the movies they're in, and her love for them.

But what she doesn't realize is how tragic their lives really were...
She doesn't grasp the reasons they aren't here anymore.
She tries, she really, really does. But she just seemed so shallow about the whole thing.
The most annoying thing to me was that in each letter she re-describes some aspect of their life, THAT SHE'S ALREADY MENTIONED IN A PREVIOUS LETTER.

This was such a sad book to read, but not in the bawling my eyes out way, but in the tragedy of it.
Shit got tough for Laurel and she didn't handle it very well.
None of the teens in the book handled their problems very well, if we're being honest.

I mean, this book was written in 2014....
I just felt like this had a very '70s type vibe to the way the characters were portrayed.
Now that may just be where my mind took it but regardless I wasn't thrilled with this book at all.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Parkland

I just want to give all these kids a hug.
The media was so involved with their lives that sometimes people forgot that they were just kids!

We all remember what happened at Parkland.
February 14, 2018, a gunman walked onto the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus and took the lives of 14 students and 3 staff members. 
(To stay in tone with the book, I will not be mentioning the gunman's name.)
Because of that moment, an entire generation began talking about gun reform. The Parkland kids wanted nothing more than to put this topic in the media. They wanted their peers to not be killed while trying to get an education. They wanted their congressman to understand that this is not going to stop happening until people start listening to those affected by mass shootings.

But these are KIDS.
They're teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18.
Young kids lost siblings.
Parents lost children.
Students lost teachers.
Teachers lost students.
Friends lost friends.

Instead of the traditional grieving process, these kids set off to make a movement.
March For Our Lives (MFOL) was born because of that fateful day.
These kids were in the news, on national tours, receiving international awards.

Every waking moment of their lives were now focused on one thing:
NEVER AGAIN.

Dave Cullen spent almost a year with the kids from Parkland. He saw how hard they were working to make a change. He saw how dedicated they were to getting their message to the world. He believed these kids were going to be huge, and he was right.

MFOL started a movement that kept gun reform in the media far longer than anyone had ever seen before. They wanted people to listen to them and would give it their best shot. They organized marches, rallys, walkouts, die-ins, and national tours. They spoke to congressmen, talk show hosts, politicians, activists, but most importantly, they talked to other teens. They partnered with urban city kids who were less concerned about getting shot AT school and more concerned about getting shot GOING to school. These kids wanted to focus all their energy on gun reform, in the hopes of this never happening again.

I was so nervous going into this book.
Dave Cullen is such an amazing nonfiction story teller.
The story he told here was how March For Our Lives came about.
He wasn't here to talk about "it."
He wanted to show how a group of teens could start a movement.

Want to learn more about March For Our Lives?
Looking for other books by Dave Cullen?

Monday, February 25, 2019

Other Voices, Other Rooms

I've never felt so captivated by a book as I did with this one.

Joel Knox is going to live with his absentee father after his mother falls ill and passes. Moving all the way from New Orleans to rural Alabama takes some getting used to, but everyone acts so different. For many days, Joel doesn't even get to meet his father because he "isn't well" but no one will tell him much else. Living alongside Joel and his father is his wife, Miss Amy, Cousin Randolph, and out in the cabin are Jesus Fever and Missouri (Zoo for short). Zoo and Joel strike up an unlikely friendship that Miss Amy and Randolph don't quite understand. They see Jesus Fever and Missouri as "the help." Keep in mind it is 1948 in Alabama...
 Along the way, Joel meets red-headed twins Idabel and Florabel Thompkins. Idabel was hot-headed and had no issues speaking her mind and standing up for what she believed in. She didn't need a dress to catch Joel's eye, just her sharp tongue and a will for adventure. 

Truman Capote tackles a wide variety of societal norms in Other Voice, Other Rooms. Death, alienation, slavery, sexuality, and friendship. This could definitely be considered a coming of age story given that Joel is a mere 13 years.

Since it's initial release, Truman Capote has come out and said this is a semi-autobiographical story, though he didn't realize it at the time of writing. Many characters are based on friends and family. Most famously, Idabel Thompkins is based on his good friend, Harper Lee.

Truman Capote is an icon to me.

I grew up in Alabama just a few hours from Monroeville. So Truman Capote and Harper Lee are a huge part of our literary scene and I absolutely love it.

Looking for other books by Truman Capote?
In Cold Blood

Looking for other books about Truman Capote and Harper Lee?
Tru & Nelle
Tru & Nelle: A Christmas Tale
No Saints in Kansas

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Hero Dogs

Wow.
 Just wow.

Hero Dogs: How a Pack of Rescues, Rejects, and Strays Became America's Greatest Disaster-Search Partners.

I mean the title tells you exactly what the book is going to be about but I am amazed by the work these dogs and their handlers put in. I feel it necessary to put in a disclaimer here; this book covers a wide variety of traumatic events including: the Oklahoma City Bombing, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. 

Wilma Melville was freshly retired, in her 60's, and walking the aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing with her search dog, Murphy. The events that took place shocked her to her very core. That was when she had the idea to start the Search Dog Foundation (SDF). Her goal was to find shelter dogs and give them another chance at life, a life as a working dog. The idea was to find, train, certify, and eventually deploy at least 168 search dog teams; one team for each of the people killed in the bombing.

But Wilma didn't want this story to be about her.
She wanted it to be about Murphy, Ana, Dusty, Harley (her original dogs), along with the many other success stories who soon followed. These dogs worked their asses off. They were finally living up to their full potential and living the life they were meant to have. They would never spend another day in a shelter, abusive home, or wondering the streets. They instead would be recognized as heroes throughout the world. These dogs were trained to find living victims who were trapped in the rubbish of disasters. They spent countless hours learning hand signals and whistle blows from their handlers. They learned to bark alert when they found someone. They learned how to save people the way SDF saved them.

I love reading dog books, especially working dog books.
It's amazing what these animals are capable of and the amount of trust we put into them. In these tragic events, the dogs provided a service that would not have been possible for a human to do. But beyond that, they were a bright spot in these firefighters lives. They gave their all right there with men and women doing everything in their power to save a life.

Highly recommend this book to all dog lovers!!

Huge thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a review copy!

Even bigger thanks to Wilma Melville for founding SDF and to Paul Lobo for writing her story!!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

I Don't Know What You Know Me From

Judy Greer is Hollywood's best friend.
She has such a recognizable face but no one can ever quite place her.
She's been cast in countless movies and tv shows but where do you know her from?
I first met Judy in 13 Going on 30 (my fav rom-com besides Devil Wears Prada), went on to catch her in Californication (you and Hank are too cute together, ugh), found her in Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and heard her voice in Archer.
All of these shows and movies had one thing in common....
Judy Greer was always the best friend.
There's nothing wrong with that either! She makes a great point in I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star; sometimes the friendships she's a part of are more important than the rest of the plot! Friendship is what everyone is looking for and Judy is more than happy to be that friend.
I picked this up because I knew exactly where I knew her from and wanted to learn more about how she ended up in Hollywood being cast in countless co-star roles. I learned all of that and then some. Once you have heard Judy Greer's recognizable voice, it's so easy to hear her in your ear reading her book to you. It was such a quick and easy read and exactly what I needed!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

No Saints in Kansas

This was like Riverdale meets In Cold Blood.

Soooooo many reviews criticized No Saints in Kansas for a number of reasons.
Obviously it's not In Cold Blood, it's just LOOSELY BASED on the same story, the Clutter Family Murders.

Fifteen year old main character, Carly Fleming wanted nothing more than to be Nancy Clutter's best friend. She wanted to stop being the outsider from the "wrong Manhattan" and just be an average teen in Holcomb, Kansas. But that's not what she got.... instead she got tangled up in the KBI investigation trying to clear Nancy's boyfriend of the murders. It was a little more than that too, because whoever murdered the Clutter family also ruined her chances of fitting in with the other small town kids. This investigation presented a chance to prove her worth.

Yes, Carly was petty.
Yes, she trampled all through the crime scene.
Yes, she "borrowed" official documents from the courthouse.

BUT.

It was 1959 in Holcomb, Kansas.  
There was no forensic evidence for her to destroy.
There was no security cameras to catch her.
There was no reason for the police to be worried about a 15 years old girl.

While other reviews were criticizing these details, I was embracing them.
It made for a compelling story that I'm damn sure glad I read.
I mean Amy Brashear even wrote Truman Capote AND Harper Lee into the plot!!

I loved it.

Looking for other books on the Clutter Family Murders?

Looking for other books on Truman Capote and Harper Lee?

Monday, February 4, 2019

A Serial Killer's Daughter

Kerri Rawson's life was forever changed on February 25, 2005.

FBI.... Your dad.....B.T.K....

That's how Kerri found out her father was the notorious Wichita serial killer known as B.T.K. Dennis Rader chose that name for himself when he began writing letters to the police to claim his murders. He called himself B.T.K. because it stands for how he killed his victims. 
"Bind. Torture. Kill"  

He hid this side of his life from his family for 31 years.

He was married.
He had two kids.
He was the President of their Church.
He worked down the hall from law enforcement for Y E A R S and no one knew.
No one knew he had created a shed with a false back so he could hide his "kill kit." No one knew the hallway and closets in their house had false bottoms. No one could have ever expected this to happen in their tiny neighborhood and Kerri definitely didn't think her dad could be behind it.

In Kerri's book, "A Serial Killer's Daughter" she doesn't really focus on the crimes B.T.K. committed. She decides instead to focus on her father, the man she knew and loved; not the monster she was just introduced to. In a way, she humanizes him. She remembers the man who hiked the Grand Canyon with her. The man she worshiped as a child. The man who held her tightly when she was sick and looked over her family. The man that taught her how to live. 

Looking back it seem as though she was slowly realizing everything that he taught her was to protect her from people like him. He taught her to always ask for a badge when officers introduced himself/herself. He taught her to place a broom handle in the track of her sliding glass doors to prevent it from opening. Little did she know that was because he killed a woman by coming into her house through a sliding glass door.

Dennis Rader was just an average guy, raising his family, and hiding a dark secret.
But after years of therapy, separation, forgiveness , and quite literally the Grace of God, Kerri found a way to forgive her father for everything. She believes that God will forgive him when the time comes, so it only seems fair that she forgive him too.

Huge thanks to NetGalley, Nelson Books, and Kerri Rawson for finding the courage to tell her story!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Hunting Prince Dracula

One word.

Spiders.
  
Now spiders are not the main basis of the book, at all. But Chapter 39 is so incredibly disgusting that I know I will never forget that scene. That scene is where I realized Kerri Maniscalco is an amazing author..... I literally had to stop reading, close the book, and shake out my hair, clothes, and blanket before opening it back up and seeing how Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell were going to get out of that room.

I guess that's enough about Chapter 39. I mean you guys are here to learn about the rest of the book, right?

Hunting Prince Dracula picks up shortly after Stalking Jack the Ripper ends. Audrey Rose and Thomas are sent to a exclusive forensics academy in Vlad the Impaler's castle. There are nine students vying for an official spot in this academy. But what they learn along the way will make all the difference when it comes down to the only two available spots.

It seems like Audrey Rose and Thomas's romance is kicked up a notch in this book, but given the circumstances surrounding them, it works. Audrey Rose gets to meet Thomas's family (who happen to be of Romanian descent). They begin falling head over heels for each other and it shows. I also LOVE the inclusion of all the letters between Audrey Rose and her cousin, Liza. Not to mention the extras at the end that included letters between Thomas and his sister, Daciana.

Now what can two kids who are falling in love do in a castle full of secret passages, tunnels, and mystery? That's right, they're gonna follow the string of murders that start with one of their classmates. The adventure leads them down alleys, underground tunnels, torture rooms, and near death experiences.

I thoroughly enjoyed the rooms they explore and the rich history surrounding the castle. I didn't know much about Dracula or Vlad before reading this book, which isn't 100% accurate so I highly encourage everyone to read the author note where she discusses the creative liberties she took with this book.

I loved it.

Can't wait to read Escaping from Houdini!

Looking for the rest of the series? 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Trial of Lizzie Borden

GUILTY!

That's what I've always said about Lizzie Borden.

That being said, reading the actual transcripts from her trial is incredibly aggravating.
Fall River Police BOTCHED this investigation.

Now that may just be my Criminal Justice/Forensics background coming out. 
But honestly, there was no way in hell the jury could have found her guilty with the information that was presented to them. I honestly understand why so many people believe she's not guilty.

I, however, still think she is.

 She had motive, anger, frustration, and the cool demeanor to fake innocence.
But if this was tried in court today (as long as we ignore all the inconsistencies and fabrications the police department made), the jury would not be 100% male, the prosecution would not be able to say Lizzie was coming to the end of her menstrual cycle and was temporarily insane, and there would definitely be psych evals.

Now, about the book itself.
It was so incredibly dry.
There are so many minute details Cara Robertson goes into before the trial even starts. She walks us through every last moment leading up to the crime, the crime itself, and then the trial begins about 100 pages in. But the trial will hook you! It picks up and gets to the information most people don't know about the Lizzie Borden case. I was enthralled reading the transcripts and just seeing how far we've come as a society. The way the investigation was handled was completely absurd, the amount of bystanders that were supposedly trying to find the killer on their own, the differing stories told by officers in the same department, and how we treated women in a male driven society.

I highly recommend this to true followers of the Lizzie Borden case!

Huge thank you to Cara Robertson, NetGalley, and Simon and Schuster for providing me with an advanced copy of this book!

Mark your calendars, The Trial of Lizzie Borden hits shelves March 12, 2019!

Looking for other books on Lizzie Borden?