The Dirty Ones by JA Huss

The Dirty Ones

They told me to write what I know so that’s what I did. I wrote dirty. I wrote erotic. I wrote the truth. And then they called me a liar. But it’s not me who’s lying. It’s them.”

The reviews on this book were SO good…lots of 4 and 5 stars. Therefore, I really wanted to like this book too, but I am sad to say, that I just didn’t. I don’t want to say this book was terrible, because at least the writing itself was decent. The plot however was awful and I found myself getting extremely bored and I definitely rolled my eyes every five minutes. Maybe it’s me (I don’t read so many romance or erotica novels), or maybe this book is like Sharknado — so bad it’s good? I just don’t know.

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Connor Arlington and Kiera Bonnaire (Connor is on track to be a Senator (his father’s dream not his) and Kiera is an erotica writer – but more on that later).

The book opens with Connor finding a book called “The Dirty Ones” at the airport. And I guess since this name was uber original / unique or something, he immediately knew that the book was about his time at college, when he and five other people (who called themselves “The Dirty Ones”) were blackmailed into performing sexual acts on each other…or were they?? Was it all in their heads?? End of book nonsensical plot twist alert! Connor becomes very angry because he thinks that Kiera wrote the book (which could ruin his chances at being Senator (which he didn’t want to be anyway, so what’s the real issue??)), and so he goes to confront her at her cottage in Vermont.

The plot unfolds from there. Essentially, “The Dirty Ones” were a group of rich kids from prominent uber rich families, all except for Kiera who came from a “long line of erotica writers” (what???). She was only included in the blackmail to write down all the “dirty” acts the group performed on each other…because the blackmailers knew she would be an erotica writer too(?). What qualifies as “dirty” is pretty “normal” stuff like hetero sex, sometimes in a three-some or a four-some (honestly, I thought the 50 Shades kind of sex was dirtier). The group of blackmailers was not known until the last 10% of the book, and I was super disappointed in the big reveal. I thought it was going to be some mason or other fraternity cult stuff, but alas it was not.

The sex scenes were steamy, but didn’t seem to fit with the plot…actually they confused the plot even more. The characters were one-dimensional and not very engaging. There were a lot of things that didn’t seem to make sense in the book, but I can’t really go into them without spoiling the ending, which I will not do.

If you decide to read this book, I would recommend going in with very low expectations for plot or storyline, and just enjoy the steamy scenes for what they are!

Check out this book on Goodreads: The Dirty Ones http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42361309-the-dirty-ones

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a StoreThis book is a self-help memoir written (and with respect to the Audiobook, read) by the author, Cait Flanders. In The Year of Less Flanders tells the story of her road to a healthier, clutter free, fiscally smarter life. At the time when Flanders decided to have a “year of less”, she was an alcoholic, shopaholic, and $30,000 in debt as a result of her addictions.

Flanders had her own blog during her “year of less” called “Blonde on a Budget“, where she posted about the trial and tribulations of her experiment. At the beginning of the book, Flanders says that the book is not just a compilation of her blog posts, but rather is about personal stories she had never shared before.

These stories are about not only her struggles with the “shopping ban”, but also about the recovery process from her addictions, and general stories from her life.

Even if you cannot relate to the author’s addictive tendencies (I could not as an example), this book is an inspiring story about the struggles of adopting a minimalist lifestyle in a consumer driven society.

This book is only about a 5-6 hour read (on Audiobook) and is definetely worth reading this year.

Check out this book on Goodreads: The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35488858-the-year-of-less

Elevation by Stephen King

Elevation is a novella with two separate stories which take place in Castle Rock. The first story is called “Elevation”, and is basically about a man who keeps losing weight, although he doesn’t change in appearance. Additionally, anything that he holds or touches has no weight while he is in contact with them. This story reminded me a little bit of “Thinner” by Stephen King.

Elevation

The second story is called “Laurie” and is about a widower who gets a new puppy from his sister. At first he doesn’t want the dog, but as most dogs do, she worms her way into his heart. “Laure” is a bonus story which is only available on the Audiobook and is not included with the written book.

Although I liked this novella, I think that it lacked in the scary or eerie elements that usually are Stephen King’s trademarks. Since the stories were so short, you also do not really get so invested in the characters.

However, since Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, I would always recommend to read his books. If you are looking for a quick holiday read (the Audiobook took about 4-5 hours), this would be a good one.

Check out this book on Goodreads: Elevation http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38355410-elevation

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Laurel Mack’s fifteen year old daughter walks out of the house one day and just disappears without a trace. Ten years later, the police find Ellie’s body, and Laurel’s world goes into a tail spin. Throughout the long years, Laurel lost her marriage, and her relationship with her oldest daughter deteriorated. She in essence has nothing left.

Then She Was Gone

Then she meets Floyd, a deceptively charming man with a huge secret. After only a short time, Laurel is meeting Floyd’s daughters.  Poppy, the youngest daughter, reminds Laurel so much of Ellie — in fact everyone says so.

As the review on Amazon.com for this book says it best: “And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?”

This book keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next, all the way up to the shockingly unexpected and twisted ending.

Check out this book on Goodreads: Then She Was Gone http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35297426-then-she-was-gone

The Story of Us by Lana Kortchik

The Story of Us is a book about Nazi Germany’s occupation of the Ukraine city of Kiev.  “The only thing Natasha Smirnova knew for a fact on the 19th of September 1941 when Hitler invaded Kiev was that life as she knew it was over.”

The Story of Us: The sweeping historical debut of 2018 that you will never forget

Within a short period since the arrival of Hitler’s troops, Natasha was assaulted by a German officer, and her grandmother was shot in an attempt to save Natasha.  The would-be rapist soldier was killed by another solider, Mark, who was conscripted into the army in his native country of Hungary.  He helped Natasha bring her wounded grandmother home, and although he was the enemy, Natasha could not help but to find him attractive.So, when she runs into him again on the street, she strikes up a conversation with him, only to find that he may not be the enemy after all.  His philosophy was that “the issue is that [the Hungarians] are unwilling participants in a capitalist war none of [them] can identify with.  That [they] are dying for a principle [they] do not believe in.”  Hitler’s war is not Mark’s war.

Natasha and Mark start seeing each other on a regular basis, and she finds herself falling in love with him. Seeing each other in secret, they know the dangers of discovery, but are like moths to the flame.

Continue reading “The Story of Us by Lana Kortchik”

Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest

Back in August, 2017, I visited the biggest synagogue in Budapest, the Dohány Street Synagogue, and was told the following story by the tour guide:

During WWII there were approximately 70,000 Jewish people put into a Ghetto. The Hungarian government made a deal with Hitler that in exchange for free transportation of the Nazi army through Hungary, these Jewish people would not need to be sent to the concentration camp. However, were these people safe? No. The Hungarian army rounded up dozens of people at a time, brought them to the Danube on boats, and shot them. They then pushed the dead bodies into the river.

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The tree pictured above is in the courtyard of the Synagogue, is called the Tree of Life, and the leaves (as shown below) are engraved with the names of Jewish people who passed away.

Unfortunately, my computer crashed and I lost all of my other photos of inside the Synagogue.  However, I would definetely recommend to visit.

Things to do in Budapest: Your ultimate city guide

As always, these guys give a great rundown of things to do in Budapest! The only thing that they do not cover is the inside of the Dohány Street Synagogue. My boyfriend and I did get the chance to go inside, and I will post photos of the same, in another post.  This post was just too good not to share!

we did it our way

Welcome to the beautiful capital of Hungary, Budapest!  Split in two by the Danube, you have the hilly Buda, home to the awesome castle, and the fairly flat Pest (pronounced Pesht, so you don’t sound like a total tourist!)  Unofficially, it’s one of our favourite cities in Europe… but we say that about every place we go!  The city with a rich history, funky culture and beautiful architecture has something for everyone.  Here are just a few of the amazing things to see and do.

When to go

As always, it really depends on what you want to do while you’re here.  If you want to avoid crowds and extreme weather (either too hot or too cold), make sure you go between March and May, or September through November.

The summer months in Budapest are the hottest and wettest.  January is probably the coldest month, and the winter sees a…

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Pictures of Linz on a Snowy Day

I found a little trail by the Schlossmuseum which led me to the below view of the Donau river.

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On this little trail, there was also a statue of Johannes Kepler.  He was a 17th century German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer. There is a university in Linz named after him.

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What I really like about Linz, is finding unique art on the side of buildings.

 

Linz may be an industrial city, but sometimes it can be rather beautiful.

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

I first heard about a person named James Comey when President Trump fired him from his job as FBI Director for his failure to agree to be “loyal” to Trump. Famously, he agreed to be “loyally honest” in some sort of weird compromise. From Austria, I watched Comey’s hearing testimony before Congress with great interest. Many blamed him for Hilary Clinton’s defeat.

When I learned that he had written a book, I was intrigued to see his perspective on the controversial Presidency and Hilary email scandal. Although most of the book was about Comey’s career before Trump became president, Comey did have this to say about Trump:

“Donald Trump’s Presidency threatens much of what is good in this nation. We all bear responsibility for the deeply flawed choices put before voters during the 2016 election and our country is paying a high price. This President is unethical and untethered to truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego driven, and about personal loyalty. We are fortunate some ethical leaders have chosen to serve and to stay at senior levels of government, but they cannot prevent all the damage from the forest fire that is the Trump presidency. Their task is to try to contain it.”

Continue reading “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey”

Things to do in Vienna: Your ultimate city guide

These guys are one of my favorite travel bloggers.  I was thinking about posting my own blog post about Vienna, but once I saw theirs I knew that I would never be able to write one that was as good.  My only suggestion which would differ from the blog post would be to take the OBB train instead of the CAT train.  The OBB train ticket would be for under €5, while the CAT is €15.

we did it our way

Vienna.  The beautiful capital of Austria is said to be the “city of dreams”, for being the birthplace of Sigmund Freud.  To us, Vienna was the start of our epic train trip through Europe, and it couldn’t have been a better place to kick things off.

Without surprise, Vienna has often been voted the most livable city in the world, due to its high quality of life ratings, as well as culture, infrastructure, and many markets.  The city is often cited as a leading example of urban planning and we can totally see why.  It was such a lovely city to walk around!

Wediditourway St Stephen's Cathedral Vienna Asutria We are in awe of the St Stephen’s Cathedral

Although we managed to see everything in 2 days, we would suggest a full 4-day trip to Vienna.  Here are our recommendations for what to see, where to go, how to get around, and where to stay.

When…

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