BOOK REVIEW: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

17378508Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Book Length (Audiobook): 10 hours 3 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Read Start Date: May 27, 2019

Read Finish Date: June 4, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads:
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost. Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. Visions can mislead. Certainties can unravel.

My Review: This is the third book in The Raven Cycle series. My review of the first book, The Raven Boys is here, and my review of the second book, The Dream Thieves, is here. I am giving it a rating of 3 out of 5 stars. Although this book was certainly better than the second book, I still overall find this series lacking as a whole. I like that the story gets back on track, and the pace is a bit faster — but at times the plot really drags on. Sometimes I wonder whether 4 books were really necessary.

It is really hard to write a review of this story because there are so many twists and turns to the plot, that sometimes I get a little lost. I wonder whether all of this detail is really necessary? What is this series actually about? Sometimes it all just seems so pointless.

Sure a few themes run through out, the search for Glendower, and that Blue will kill her true love with a kiss — but that is where it ends. Each book seems to be its own creature, and with only thin strings attaching each to the other. And some of the characters are just plain annoying, don’t add anything to the story, and the dialogue in places surrounding these characters are just plain stupid. I can’t really say much more without giving away the plot, so I won’t.

I am curious how this series will wrap up.

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: I’ll Be OK, It’s Just a Hole in My Head by Mimi Hayes

41032261Title: I’ll Be OK, It’s Just a Hole in My Head

Author: Mimi Hayes

Book Length: 280 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Autobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction

Read Start Date: May 8, 2019

Read Finish Date: May 31, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: I’ll be OK, it’s Just a Hole in My Head: A Memoir on Heartache and Head Injury is a humorous and thoughtful cross between Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight and Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy. Shocking and funny, Hayes’ memoir shares the true story of a sudden brain hemorrhage at the age of twenty-two – and the heartache and strength that it took to overcome it. At first Hayes uses a blanket of comedy to cloak herself from her new reality—after all, sending out funny tweets is far easier than admitting to the world that she’s lost basic motor functions like walking and talking. Humbled by the pain, she must admit to herself that that she is no longer the carefree, 20-something planning to marry her high school sweetheart. With this realization, a brave young woman forces herself to confront her new normal—and to quit cracking jokes about catheters.

My Review: I got this book as an ARC from Netgalley. Honestly, I chose to read it as much for the description as the fact that the cover had pretty colors. I wasn’t expecting too much (I’ve read some pretty terrible memoirs on Netgalley recently), and was therefore pleasantly surprised to find that this book rocked! The author, even though she went through a horrendous experience, was funny, and talked about her experience with aplomb.

For example, after her bad breakup with her long term boyfriend, James, she goes out on another date. Hayes writes “our first kiss happened on the second date. We continued to walk around parks and drink coffee, which gave me plenty of opportunity to make a fool of myself. I wore heels on one date and had to take them off because my feet hurt so badly. But what did I say to explain this behavior? ‘Sorry, I need to air out my fee.'” — Ouch (and I am not only talking about feet).

Other times Hayes let us know exactly what she was thinking, and she didn’t let a little thing like being on the toilet stop her! “About eight o’clock that night, I went to the bathroom to sit on the toilet and think about my life choices. And also to take a poop, as one does.” She writes that in these moments, when she had time to contemplate and to think about her life, she was scared. She “had a google-able disease”, and she writes, “this time I could be dying. On a toilet. My last moments could be spent going poop. I was embarrassed. And I was really, really scared. I’d just found out I’d be having brain surgery on Friday. What if my brain and I didn’t have a second date? Was I going to die then? Or what if I die now, three days from the finish line and shitting on this toilet?”

Putting being on the toilet aside, I cannot imagine how scary having a brain tumor must be.

Hayes was brave. Super brave. And I think she was even more brave for having written this story about her experience afterward, and deciding to publish it for people like me to read.

If you decide to give this book a try, you will not regret it.

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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.

BOOK REVIEW: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

17347389Title: The Dream Thieves

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Book Length (Audiobook): 12 hours 45 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Read Start Date: May 19, 2019

Read Finish Date: May 27, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

My Review: This book has been on my TBR list since 2012. It is the 2nd book in the Raven Cycle Series. You can find the review of the 1st book here. I am not sure whether I really liked this book or not; what is for sure, is that I liked it less than the first book. I read a lot of review of people who L.O.V.E.D. this book, and I am personally scratching my head and wondering why. Did I miss something here? Why am I not getting that this book is like the best thing since sliced bread? I even read one review who basically said she liked how the author dumbed down the conversations between the characters so that it would resemble what a teenager would say. The review didn’t say it in those precise words, but that was the jist.

Here’s why this book, for me, was only “meh”:

A lot happens in the book, but nothing happens at the same time. It’s like being busy all day at work, but feeling at the end of the day that you have accomplished actually nothing. The Goodreads summary of the plot is a bit vague, but essentially this book is all about Ronan, and his ability to pull things from his dreams.

Apparently, there is another boy in town who can do the same thing, and there are long and boring sequences of the book where Ronan and this boy have what can only be described as pissing contests to see who can pull things out of the dream better. There is also some weird platonic love triangle going on between Blue, Gansey, and Adam. A character is introduced, the Gray man, who goes around town telling people he is a “hit man”. And everyone goes, oh, okay, like that’s normal or something. I mean, huh? No one recoils in fear, no one calls the cops, and Blue’s Mom even starts dating him…

After nearly 13 hours of listening, only the last few minutes actually progresses the story, which I can’t tell you about because it will ruin the story. Sigh.

Lastly, I really hated the audiobook narration. Most of the book it was okay, but the narrator’s impression of a character who was supposed to be Eastern European sounded like he was some Italian thug straight outta the Sopranos. It’s like, if you take the time to change your accent for ONLY ONE character in the WHOLE book, make sure you do it correctly!

What I did like:

Okay, so maybe there was some character development happening (but did we need 13 hours of it?). I will wait and see how this development brings the plot forward in the 3rd book, which I am reading now.

Stay tuned for my next review of this series!

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

30288282Title: The Immortalists

Author: Chloe Benjamin

Book Length (Audiobook): 11 hours 30 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Read Start Date: May 10, 2019

Read Finish Date: May 19, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

My Review: Each of the Gold children is given their date of death from the psychic woman. This knowledge changes each of them in turn, and each struggles to live their life in the wake of such an enormous burden. Although everyone has the fundamental knowledge that someday death will come calling, having the foreknowledge of the exact date could potentially catastrophically alter the course of one’s life. This is the reality facing the Gold children.

Each part of the book tells the story of one of the children, going in order from the first to last to die. Through each chapter, we learn not only how each of the children lives with the knowledge of their death date, but how their life has been affected by it. If you knew when you would die, how would this affect your life? Would you still make the same choices if you knew you would die at 30? at 21? at 88?

I liked this book, although the plot was a bit dull at times. Some of the stories moved along very slowly, while others were very interesting. The book was well written, and the characters very well developed. The lives of the first children to die were a bit more interesting, and in the last part, I just felt overwhelmingly sad. I wondered whether people actually chose to live this way? It is hard to really write much of a review without giving away too many of the details that should remain unknown before reading the book.

So, I will conclude by saying, that if you do not mind a heavy subject, this would make a good read.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

8664353.jpgTitle: Unbroken

Author: Laura Hillenbrand

Book Length (Audiobook): 13 hours 57 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography, War, World War II

Read Start Date: May 2, 2019

Read Finish Date: May 10, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

My Review: The book starts out pretty slow, and I was afraid that I wasn’t going to like it. The story quickly picks up the pace when the airmen’s plane crashes, leaving them adrift in the ocean on an inflatable raft for more than one month. Facing starvation on a daily basis, the men are momentarily glad when they finally find land; however, to their dismay, they have drifted more than 2,000 miles into enemy territory. They are quickly captured and interned at a POW camp.

During World War II, the Japanese had several labor camps, as well as “punishment camps”. The men were starved, beaten, and often worked to death in forced labor.

This story is not for the faint of heart. Several times I felt physically nauseous while listening to the scenes of torture and degradation. The things that the Japanese did to the POWs was cruel and, I would even go so far to say, evil. When I visited Hiroshima at the end of February, 2019, I remember feeling so ashamed that the US had dropped the atomic bomb and obliterated the city and the lives of the people there in a matter of seconds. In reading this book, I thought, Japan has something to feel ashamed about also.

This book will make you laugh at time, cry at times, and cringe at times. It is well written and engaging, if you can get past the first dry part of the book which describes the characters lives before they ended up stranded.

If you enjoy learning about history, I would definitely recommend this book.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do… But You Could’ve Done Better by Hilary Campbell

31944977Title: Breaking Up is Hard to Do…But You Could’ve Done Better

Author: Hilary Campbell

Book Length: 150 pages

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Humor, Comic, Graphic Novel

Read Start Date: May 6, 2019

Read Finish Date: May 6, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Anonymous break up stories from men and women, old and young, serious and silly and the cartoons that inspired them. Author and artist Hilary Campbell turns the painful into the hilarious, validating emotions from forgotten middle school tragedies to relationships that ended only hours ago.

My Review: I have mixed feelings about this graphic novel — but maybe that is the point! Some stories were funny. Other stories were just okay…but I found myself thinking in both cases, OMG did that really happen to you / did you really do that!?

If you are looking for a short, fast, cute, and funny read, I would suggest this book.

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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.

BOOK REVIEW: Croquette & Empanada: The Book Romeo Would Have Given Juliet by Ana Oncina

42202751Title: Croquette & Empanada

Author: Ana Oncina

Book Length: 132 pages

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Comic, Graphic Novel, Humor

Read Start Date: May 4, 2019

Read Finish Date: May 5, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: A classic love story: doughy appetizer boy meets doughy appetizer girl. Together they exist in a world cohabited by humans.

Croquette is looking for love—his sweet, silly other half.  Empanada hopes she can find someone who accepts her for who she is. It’s a match made in tasty, tasty heaven. Internationally bestselling author Ana Oncina’s Croquette & Empanada explores modern love and domesticity with charming comics. Enjoy the antics of this adorable, culinary couple as they navigate romance and cohabitation, from deciding to move in together to purchasing their first pet.

My Review: This comic was funny, sweet, and relatable. I really liked the cute artwork and the stories are ones that every compatible couple can relate to. He may be a Croquette, and she an Empanada, he likes dogs, and she likes cats, but together they make a sweet and loving couple who find themselves in endearing and humorous situations. I mean, who hasn’t insisted to watch a movie that the other doesn’t want to, only to fall asleep immediately after it starts? Who hasn’t signed up for the gym, been motivated for about ten seconds, and then promptly lose interest?

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fast, fun, and adorable read.

Thanks to Netgalley and the author for providing me with a free ARC!

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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.

BOOK REVIEW: Business Cat: Hostile Takeovers

42202745Title: Business Cat: Hostile Takeovers

Author: Tom Fonder

Book Length: 144 pages

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Humor, Comic, Graphic Novel

Read Start Date: May 3, 2019

Read Finish Date: May 4, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: After clawing his way to the top of the corporate world, Business Cat’s professional standing is secure — or is it? Following a surprise audit from the IRS and some nefarious scheming by his executive rival, a business dog named Howard, things go downhill fast. Business Cat’s exile from the C-suite isn’t always pretty — he winds up in temp jobs, alleys, foster homes, and the kennel — but it is always entertaining. Author Tom Fonder’s story of Business Cat’s remarkable journey provides a thrilling conclusion to the series, and one office workers, cat lovers, and comics fans will cheer on to the finish.

My Review: This comic is freakin hilarious! I was literally laughing at every comic strip. If my cat was a “business cat” she would undoubtedly do the same things. Every cat lover should read this comic, and the rest of humanity should too. I love the artwork, I love the story line. The only thing that I didn’t like is that I had to stop reading (because the comic came to an end).

Thank you to Netgalley for the free ARC!!

10 Book Reviews

Professional Reader

 

 

 

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.

BOOK REVIEW: The Whistler by John Grisham

29354916Title: The Whistler

Author: John Grisham

Book Length (Audiobook): 13 hours 10 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Read Start Date: April 25, 2019

Read Finish Date: May 2, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: “We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.

But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens.

Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption.

But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.

What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money.

But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous.

Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.

My Review: I am a big fan of John Grisham. I have read a few other books of his recently; you can find a review of one of them, The Rooster Bar, here. I have read a few other reviews where the feedback of this book was a bit negative, but I disagree. While I agree that the story does progress rather slowly, I think that it gives the reader a chance to get to know the characters and to develop the plot in a way where the reader can see the evolution of the case against the Judge. There are a lot of moving pieces in this book, and it takes time to spell it out effectively, and in a way that doesn’t create confusion in the reader. Had this book been shorter or less complicated, I think that it would have taken away from the overall story.

I am only giving it a 3 instead of a 4 because the book didn’t compare to some other books that I have recently and given 4 stars i.e., When Life Gives You Lulu Lemons (review is here).  I liked it well enough, but I won’t give a second thought to it tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, I also didn’t really give a second thought to When Life Gives You Lulu Lemons either, but that book was more fun to read. Now that I mention it, I guess I would consider this book to be a little dry — but that sometimes happens when the subject matter is predominantly about the law.

In any event, this book is for when you are looking to be entertained for 13 hours (audiobook) and don’t want to read anything thought provoking, and don’t mind that the book is about a legal topic. I mostly listened to it on the way to work in the car, while out walking, around the house while doing chores, etc.

BOOK REVIEW: I’ve Never Met a Dead Person I Didn’t Like by Sherri Dillard

42789300Title: I’ve Never Met a Dead Person I Didn’t Like

Author: Sherri Dillard

Book Length: 200 pages

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Religion, Spirituality

Read Start Date: April 9, 2019

Read Finish Date: April 28, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: The extraordinary travels of a young, alone and broke psychic. The heart-warming and adventurous true story of a young woman on her own at age seventeen, broke and surrounded by talkative spirits that don’t want to go away. Living in-between the physical world and the spirit realm, yet feeling a stranger in both, Sherrie Dillard criss-crossed the country by bus, train and hitchhiking in a search for answers. Along the way she was led to help the poor and homeless on skid row, install water systems in Mayan Indian villages, live alone in a tent in the mountains and make art with juvenile offenders. It was in these diverse environments that she came face to face with saints, angels and dark spirits and learned to trust her psychic ability. From her early secret encounters with spirits who guided and ultimately saved her life, Sherrie Dillard finally accepted that what made her different and odd, was also her greatest gift. I’ve Never Met A Dead Person I Didn’t Like, is a powerful story for anyone who listens to – or doubts their own intuition and the presence of their loved ones on the other side. Even in our darkest hour, in the depths of loneliness and overwhelming challenges, divine guidance and miracles are always present.

My Review: The Goodreads plot description actually makes the book sound much better than it is. I had high expectations and was disappointed. I received this book from a publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I think that I received the book because I had written a good review of Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest. My review of that book is here.

I did not know that this book was a religious book, otherwise I never would have read it. I was totally open to believe that the author saw ghosts, until that is, she said that she sees the spirit of “Mary”, angels and saints. I was immediately turned off and became a disbeliever in her “psychic” ability. I also found her Mayan spirit “Tetchuwatchu” to also be unbelievable. I googled the name and literally nothing came up. Is it even possible that google doesn’t know something? The author claims that the name means “teach you watch you”, but I mean come on. Are we really supposed to believe that the ancient Mayans had names that sound like the English meaning of their Mayan name? “Techtu” in Mayan means “teach you” in English? Highly doubtful.

Do I believe that the author has stronger intuition and instincts than most people? Sure, it’s possible. Who doesn’t get bad feelings sometimes when danger is present. I could even believe that the author believes she sees these spirits, but it just didn’t seem realistic to me.

I am going to have to give this book 2.5 stars. I am really on the fence as to whether to give it 2 or 3 stars. In the end I really just struggled to finish this book. I definitely would have given her book 3 stars had it not been for the religious aspect. Overall the book was, for my taste, too spiritual and not paranormal enough. However, if I were open to religion or spiritual topics, then maybe I would have liked this book better. That is to say, please don’t totally discount this book based solely upon this review.

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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.