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.”

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.

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

In this edge-of-your-seat thriler by Lisa Scottoline, Dr. Noah Alderman, a pediatric allergist, is on trial for strangling his teenage stepdaughter, Anna, to death.  Maggie Alderman, his second wife, lost custody of Anna when she was an infant because Maggie suffered from post pardum psychosis and was a danger to Anna’s life.  Maggie’s ex-husband, Florian, was a spiteful jerk, who never let Maggie see her daughter, even though he was not very interested in a relationship with Anna.  He basically dropped her off at boarding school, where she was parked for most of her childhood.

After Anna

When multi-millionare Florian, his new wife and two sons die in a horrible plane crash, heiress Anna reaches out to her mother.  Maggie is thrilled, and invites Anna to move in with her, Noah, and Noah’s son Caleb.

That is when everything starts to go horribly wrong.  Anna is not the sweet girl that Maggie imagines.  She is manipulative, a spendthrift, a liar, and pits Noah against Maggie in an attempt to get Maggies all to herself.  After Anna makes some shocking allegations, Maggie and Noah’s marriage falls apart.

The story flips between the past and the present, and the facts behind the murder are revealed a little at a time, keeping the reader in suspense.  Full of twists and turns, not everything in this book is what it seems.

Will Noah be exonerated of Anna’s murder?  Read this great book to find out!

Check out this book on Goodreads: After Anna http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34964864-after-anna

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Alaska “is like no other, it is beauty, and horror, savior and destroyer.  Here, where survival is a choice that must be made over and over.  In the wildest place in America on the edge of civilization where water in all its forms can kill you, you learn who you are.  Not who you dream of being, not who you imagined you are, not who you were raised to be.  All of that will be torn away in the months of icy darkness when frost on the windows blurs your view and the world gets very small and you stumble into the truth of your existence. You learn what you will do to survive.”

the great alone

When Lenny’s father, Ernt, returns from being a POW in Vietnam, he is a changed man.  Prone to violent nightmares and easily agitated, he clearly suffers from PTSD, which he often treats by self medicating with alcohol, as there was no real understanding of PTSD at this time.  After losing yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision to move the family to Alaska, to live off the grid in the homestead that Ernt inherited from a fellow solider he befriended while in Vietnam.  He promises that everything will be different (for the better) in Alaska.  Cora, Ernt’s wife, and Lenny agree because they are desperate to get the pre-war Ernt back.

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner is a young adult post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction novel. I thought that I would like it, since I had read and loved the Hunger Games series, but honestly, it fell short and I was really disappointed.

The Maze Runner by James DashnerThe main character Thomas wakes up in a strange place called the Glade with no memories of who he is or how he got there. The Glade is surrounded by walls and outside the walls is a Maze. The boys living in the Glade (who by the way also have no memory of who they are) have to run this Maze every day in order to “solve” it. They also must avoid “Grievers” who are monster-things that live in the Maze.

The characters have little to no depth and the storyline is somewhat boring and predictable–there is little to no action until the end of the book, and the ending was, well, just stupid and ruined the whole book.

Maybe the movie is better.

Check out this book on Goodreads: The Maze Runner http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6186357-the-maze-runner

Paper Wife: A Novel by Laila Ibrahim

In 1923, Mei Ling’s older sister falls gravely ill a few days before her arranged marriage to a man she has never met.  Mei Ling is forced to take her’s sister place.  Leaving her family in China, Mei Ling travels to America.  In order to enter the country, Mei Ling must assume the identity of the man’s deceased wife, essentially using her immigration documents as her own (a “Paper Wife”).

the paper wife

When Mei Ling befriends a young orphan girl on the ship to America, little did she know that she was creating a bond for life.  When it is Mei Ling’s turn to leave Angel Island (the unfriendly place where immigrants were housed until their entry application was approved) she is forced to leave Siew behind.  Making good on her promise to see Siew again, Mei Ling searches for the child to ensure that she is safe, only to find that Siew’s Uncle wasn’t who he appeared to be, and that Siew herself was a paper child.  This dark revelation has a damaging impact on Mei Ling and her family, who must fight to overcome the reality of Siew’s situation.

Continue reading “Paper Wife: A Novel by Laila Ibrahim”

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Cassie is a lot of things, an alcoholic, party girl, and least of all, a flight attendant–but is she a murderer too?  That’s the opening question in this entertaining book about international intrigue and espionage.

Fllight attendant

Cassie wakes up in a swanky Dubai hotel, after getting black out drunk, to find that her handsome, rich, hook-up has been murdered in the bed next to her. His throat is slashed, and there is blood Ev.ery.where.  Due to the fact that she blacked out, she has absolutely no idea whether she was the one who killed him, which leads her to do many stupid and incriminating things (i.e., wipe down her finger prints, leave the hotel without notifying anyone, etc.)

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I really liked Little Fires Everywhere.  Opening with a fire in the Richardsons’ home, this book delves into the past to tell the story of the complicated reasons why one of the main characters and the black sheep of the family, Izzy Richardson, set her family home ablaze. “Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.”

The main theme of this book is what makes a mother a mother? Blood alone or love? The author carries this theme through 3 main storylines (which I will not divulge as it would spoil the overall story).

At the center of the book are two families, the Warrens and the Richardsons, and more precisely the juxtaposition between the matriarch of each family, Mia Warren and Elena Richardson.  “One had followed the rules, and one had not. But the problem with rules… was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time they were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure what side of the line you stood on.”

Little Fires Everywhere

Mia Warren, an artist, and her daughter Pearl, decided to end their nomadic existence in Shaker Height Ohio, a planned suburban community.  They rent an apartment from the Richardsons, who have 4 children of their own.  Thinking that she will not have to move around anymore, Pearl allows herself to finally make friends, and befriends each of the Richardson children — their relationships blossom in different ways, and are fraught with all the complications of teenage relationships.

This book is centered around the relationship between the Warrens and Richardsons and is told through many interwoven and sometimes complicated threads.  The story also touches on themes of race, white privilege, motherhood, and family secrets.

I was particularly moved by the back story of the Chinese immigrant who abandoned her child in a misguided attempt to give the baby away for adoption, only to regret the choice and fight for the baby’s return. The Court case centered on whether it was in the best interests of the child to be adopted by a privileged family (mother + father with good jobs), or the biological, single, mother, who struggled to make ends meat.

As Eleanor Henderson writes for the New York Times: “The magic of this novel lies in its power to implicate all of its characters — and likely many of its readers — in that innocent delusion. Who set the little fires everywhere? We keep reading to find out, even as we suspect that it could be us with ash on our hands.”

Check out this book on Goodreads: Little Fires Everywhere http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34273236-little-fires-everywhere