Monday, January 22, 2018

We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson

Rating: 3-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.

Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor...." [ + More]

I enjoyed this book because the POVs between Josh and Beth were distinct. I like how things developed but the story left me with kind of an empty feeling. First, I couldn't relate to the prose of 14 year old Josh. The way he expressed himself was more like a grown up. But maybe that is the way that kids talk here in the USA. Where I am from, no way a 14 year old will speak like that.

I didn't like that Beth didn't want to know, or didn't want to ask, about what happened to her brother. I get that her mother told her to let it go for now, but after a while, why won't you talk to your brother about what he went through? And she even said that she didn't want to know.

Also, the parents never talked about what happened or showed any... emotion. It was like them didn't want to know either. But I wanted to know. I mean, not the details (although I'm sick like that - and then spend a week depressed wondering how people can be that cruel) but at least I wanted to know more.

Will he ever tell his parents why he didn't escape? His attachment to the kidnapper was not explain, but I have read so many books about this subject that I know what is Stockholm syndrome by now.

As the end of the book was approaching I was getting desperate because too many things were left int he air. Maybe the author didn't want to explain every single thing so... I just wanted more.

But as I said, I enjoyed the beginning a lot (although Beth's life bored me after that).

Friday, November 17, 2017

Creep by Jennifer Hillier

Rating: DNF

Summary on Goodreads.

"Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behavior. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren’t, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she’s finally engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she’s taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won’t let her walk away..." [+ More].

So Ethan, 23, becomes obsessed with his professor, Dr. Sheila Tao (16 years older) and if he can have her nobody can. Well, yes, we older women usually have that effect on younger men (lol).

What I did not buy in this book is that this professor is a doctor, a psychologist, yet she allowed Ethan to record them having sex. Seriously? Even I know better. But hey! The book was published in 2011 so maybe that is why such thing would fly.

The second turn off was that there is a website, which publishes "outrageous gossip and nasty comments about all things involving the university" yet it hasn't been shout down? No, the existence of this site is no secret, even Dr. Sheila Tao herself clicks on the site to see what's going on. I need to return this book and read something more believable.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

Rating: 5-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident—which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster—a 60-year-old human rights scholar—hits the car of Evelyn Ortega—a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala—in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz—a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile—for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia..." [+ more]

Another superb novel from Allende. It follows the same scheme of her previous works as it follows a character (or characters) from their native country to the US. In the Midst of Winter is another immigration tale of courage, struggles and hope. As always, the writing is captivating.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hidden in Plain Sight: America's Slaves of the New Millennium by Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco

Rating: 5-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"What types of human trafficking crimes are being committed here in the United States? Who are the victims of traffickers? How do we all unknowingly consume the services and products of slavery? And why are human traffickers able to maintain their illicit operations with relative impunity--indeed, with less than .01 percent of human traffickers ever being held accountable for their crimes?..." [+ more]

Very well written and researched. I'd have never thought that kids that go door-to-door selling might be subjects of human trafficking.

This book opened my eyes to different forms of human trafficking (some I knew). The saddest part is that the perpetrators rarely get convicted or get convicted for a very short time.

The book is easy to read.I wonder if this was the author's dissertation turned into a book? Very well done.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

Rating: 4-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.

If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one..." [+ More]

This is one of those books where is better not to say much God forbid you offend someone. I found it interesting that some people out there consider themselves neither female not male but just a being. Well, I understand that but, when it comes to having sex, you will have to have sex as a gender. So if you are agender, what are you when having sex? Female for a bit and then change to male? Hmmm... confusing.

So here we have Sasha, a teenager who considers himself or herself to be agender Then Sasha has an accident on the 57 Bus and the kid who causes it goes to jail.

I won't say more not to spoil the plot. I found this book was more about how an agender person feels  and how the system treats some teenagers that get in trouble. Unfortunately, I never felt sorry for Richard. As explained in this book, it wasn't about who did what to Sasha but the state of mind of Richard when he did it. If it goes to that, then every teenager (and every person) who does something is in some type of state of mind when they do it. Is that an excuse for what they do?

So I think this book is more about trying to teach you a little bit about this new agender and pansexual thing that is going on today. I guess some people might really be born this way (not feeling sexual or romantic desire either way or toward any gender), others... I feel like promiscuity makes them claim these status (like Miley Cyrus). I don't really need a label to have sex with whoever I want to have sex.

Anyway, it was an interesting book.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Black Bird Season by Kate Moretti

Rating: 2-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by ..." [+ more]

Just like Little Fires Everywhere, The Black Bird Season is very well written but not engaging for me. I couldn't stand Nate (the teacher) and his stupidity.

So a student, Lucia, called Nate to meet up at a motel because she was in trouble and he went there. I know this book is a work of fiction but... come one. What struggling (very short on money) teacher pays for a hotel room for a student, twice? Just so the student could have a place to crash or whatever.

Then we have Alicia, Nate's wife who is going through a lot because their son is autistic.

Bridget, Nate's friend who solves Lucia's mysterious disappearance (yes, once again the police is useless).

We have some back and forth in time, I guess to make the story longer.

And Lucia, your typical poor (literally) white girl that wants to fit in but nobody pays attention to. Well, she is gonna make sure she gets attention now! No, no, no. I have read this plot many times before that I lost interest.

As I said before, very well written, it just wasn't interesting for me.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Rating: DNF

Summary on Goodreads.

"In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned -- from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren -- an enigmatic artist and single mother..." [+ more]

This book is definitively a 5-stars book. It is so well written that I feel highly ashamed for not even finishing it.

I give it 1-star because I personally could not put up with its slow progression and quite development. The book, however, reminded me of Big Little Lies which I loved. I think that sometimes your mood affects your reading and that is what happened with Little Fires Everywhere and I.

The story revolves around this rich family fascinated with Mia and her daughter who are poor and moved around the neighborhood. It also takes on an adoption battle: a couple adopts a Chinese baby but now the biological mother wants her back. Interesting, indeed.

Seriously, the writing is spot on. It is just that at the moment I prefer something more engaging and fast paced.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Misfortune of Marion Palm by Emily Culliton

Rating: DNF

Summary on Goodreads.

"Marion Palm prefers not to think of herself as a thief but rather "a woman who embezzles." Over the years she has managed to steal $180,000 from her daughters' private school, money that has paid for European vacations, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, and perpetually unused state-of-the-art exercise equipment. But, now, when the school faces an audit, Marion pulls piles of rubber-banded cash from their basement hiding places and flees, leaving her family to grapple with the baffled detectives, the irate school board, and the mother-shaped hole in their house. Told from the points of view of ..." [+ more]

I must be losing me sense of humor because I didn't find this amusing one bit. On the contrary, I was annoyed with Marion and her dynamics to buy a ticket in order to escape. Why would you have to pull out $500 dollars to pay for a $20+ ticket?

And, you are embezzling money but don't have a plan for when you are found out? And when you do run away you do so leaving your 8 year old daughter behind? Why? You never loved the child?

I thought the book was self published but no, it is not; which makes me ask, what's up with the cheap cover?

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Liar's Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

Rating: 1-Star

Summary on Goodreads.

Available Febryart 27, 2018 on Amazon

"Will Hurley was an attractive, charming, and impressive student at Dublin's elite St. John's College-and Ireland's most prolific serial killer. Having stalked his four young victims, he drowned them in the muddy waters of the Grand Canal. Sentenced to life imprisonment when he was just nineteen, Will is locked away in the city's Central Psychiatric Hospital..." [+ more]

So Will has been in prison for 10 years for being a serial killer. Now, women have started to turn up dead in the same manner. A copycat, an accomplice? Will says he has information to give but he will only give it to Alison, his girlfriend 10 years ago. Alison. after the necessary I-dont-want-to-go speech goes to see him. So now Alison gets involved in the investigation and obviously (being smarter than the police) solves the murders.

I didn't like anything about these characters. The story is divided between "Alison Then" and "Alison Now". I didn't care at all for past Alison and how the last thing she told her friend Liz was "fuck off" and next thing you know Liz got killed by the serial killer who might or might not be Will (Alison's boyfriend at the time).

And what was that important information Will had to share and would only tell Alison? "I'm innocent. Help me prove it." Ohhh it took you 10 years man! After that Will is out of the story.

So Will goes to jail for confessing to a crime he didn't commit. He was not the serial killer but said he was because 1) the prosecutor adviced him to plea guilty, 2) he thought nobody was going to believe him (because all the evidence pointed to him, and 3) his parents just wanted to get it over with. Ouch! Yes, let me say I did it so life can go on.

As always the police are idiots and Alison figured out who the real slim shady killer was.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this title.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Draw and Color the Baylee Jae Way

Rating: 1-Star

Available on Amazon on December 7, 2017

Summary on Goodreads.

Oh No! I think this book tried to cover too many things at once. The drawing instructions are very scarce; it shows you how to draw a mouth and next it shows you a mouth in profile for you to practice but it doesn't tell you how to do that (or the face that goes with the mouth).

Beware that you must have the whole Copics collection to follow the instructions. Obviously, you could use other markers but, what other brand comes with five different shades of green? (for example).

The book is definitely for children but if you are an adult with absolutely no clue of how to color, this book will also do.

I have read many coloring and drawing books and this one definitely is one of the... least... how can I say it, useful. The tutorials to (for example) color leaves and gems and such are all over the internet so I don't know why she wasted her time including that here. And the tutorial to color gems is not even good - very basic.

In short, I can recommend three GOOD books on drawing and coloring that are way better than this one: How to Draw Fun Fab Faces (books 1 and 2) by Karen Campbell, Color Workshop by Rachel Reinert, and Colorist's Special Effects - color interior: Step by step guides to making your adult coloring pages POP! by Helen Elliston.

I supposed that if you are a fan and follow her Youtube channel you might buy the book to support her and that is fine; but don't expect to find anything new or useful here. Even the instructions to draw a face are available for free online. And the tip of adding salt to watercolor? So old news!

Thanks Netgalley for providing with a free copy of this title.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

When I'm Through with You by Stephanie Kuehn

Rating: 1-Star

Summary on Goodreads.

"Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly how what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains ended the way it did. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. And he’ll tell you about Rose. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of..." [+ more]

I thought I was a Kuehn's fan, but after reading The Smaller Evil and now this book I don't know anymore.

As always, Kuehn's writing is good but I didn't like the characters.

Ben is dating Rose just because. If I'm not mistaken he doesn't love her, as he said when he was going over to see Rose after she came back from a trip that he wasn't excited to see her again. But then they go on a camping trip and there Rose gets wounded and suddenly Ben is all "my Rose." I mean... where did this love come from?

So Rose and Ben are total opposites: rich and poor, outgoing vs introvert, free spirit vs undecided... and so on; but this match is not made out of love because is pretty clear that Rose doesn't love Ben either.

I was bored with Ben indecisiveness and Rose free-spirited personality.

Rose, Ben and other students go on a camping trip to put into practice the surviving skills they were learning at school. During this trip, (naturally) some students behave stupidly and bad things happen.

That terrible thing that Ben did? He killed Rose because she got shot (because other students cleverly decided to rob other campers) and he couldn't heart to see her suffer. Yeap, pretty stupid in my opinion.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The breakdown by B. A. Paris

Rating: 1-Star

Summary on Goodreads.

"Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped..." [ + more].

Similar to Behind closed doors in this book we have a female character that is an idiot but turns out to be a gone-girl (as in Flynn's book Gone Girl).

The plot starts with the murder of a woman Cass saw parked in the rain. Cass thought the woman's car had broken down in the rain yet Cass didn't stop to help her. Consumed by guilt, Cass faces also the problem of potential early dementia and anonymous calls. Cass starts to forget appointments, conversations, invitations and so on. And someone keeps calling from a blocked number and hanging up or not talking.

I was completly bored with the constant scenario of the stupid phone calls. Call the police, change the number, don't answer... I don't know!

But I was even more bored with Cass constantly forgetting things. She forgot her doctor's appointment, that she invited people over.... So if you know that you have a case of the crazies, why are you disputing things? "No, I did not sign that paper" but I already knew that it was going to turned out that she did (for the sake of the plot).

At this point I didn't know if the story was about the murder or the slow fall of a woman into dementia.

Alas! By the end of the book everything became clear in the stupidest way. And now we have endless, insipid text messages that explain what was really going on.

As stupid as Cass seemed to be, she grows ovaries and takes care of things, thus turning into a cunning character at the end. The road there was painful. I cannot get back the time I spent reading this book...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Rating: 5-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope..." [+ more]

This book is child abduction written differently. I was just immersed in this story (skipping irrelevant details here and there).

I don't know why every book (mystery and thriller) has to tie the main character (the person investigating) to something about the story. For me (obviously a personal preference) this is not necessary. I do not want to read about the love life of the MC! I just want to follow the story of what is being investigated and how is going to be solved.

I loved this book because it showed a different take on child abduction. A child, Madison, disappeared one day. Three years later she's not found and her parents hire a private investigator to find Madison.

Told in the voices of the child finder and a child, this story is so well written that my heart is broken into pieces. I could really feel what the characters were living. I loved the child's voice, and the work of the child finder had me glued to the pages.

As always, the child finder has her own bagage as she is a lost child herself without memory of who she was. So finding Madison gets mixed with the story of the child finder and how she was afraid to love. I skipped most of it because I didn't care for it, although I admit that it might be important to understand Naomi's dedication to finding missing children.

This book has potential for a next one about Naomi finding her own past.

The details of the snow and the cold were superb. The ending was sad and satisfying at the same time. I'm in awe and now must read Denfeld's previous book, The Enchanted.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

As Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

Rating: 1-Star

Summary on Goodreads.

"Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic—but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts. She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter...." [+ more]

I knew this book was going to be bad and generic because I have read other books with a similar plot: child gets abducted, years later child comes back (now a teen) but, is it really said child or someone else? A good book about this subject was Dead to You by Lisa McMann.

Now, Good as Gone was NOT a good mystery. Julie was abducted at 13 and comes back 8 years later. Where had she been? A private investigator thinks Julie is someone else and to make you follow that line of though we get a bunch of povs of runway girls and the like that lived together. So, which one of these girls is now pretending to be Julia? Or is Julia really Julia?

Some things didn't add up to make the story believable. For instance, on pg. 46, just a month after Julia came back, she asked her father for the car to go out on a ride. When exactly did she learn to drive? The second thing that bothered me was that (on page 106) Jane - the sister - asked Julie if she had an email and Julie said "yes, sure." Mom! Doesn't look wrong to you that a daughter that had been kept prisoner for 8 years has email? What, her captors allowed her to go online? These two things had me roll my eyes and wonder if the author and editor missed them or they written on purpose.

I am telling you what's up with Julie and her disappearance below in case you didn't finish the book and just want to know the end. So be warned the following are spoilers.


It turned out that Julia met some boy online (who turned out to be a grown man) who convinced her to runway. So they (Julia and this man) staged the abduction so she could disappear with him. Life was not what she thought it would be like with him so she escaped/left him. But she didn't go back home because she was ashamed. However, such shame washed away 8 years later when she decided it was time to go back.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Rating: 2-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing...." [+ more]

The summary says that when you read this book:

1) "You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement." Well, yeah! The ex had made it her mission to save the new bride from Richard (the husband). Why exactly? If that isn't obsession I don't know what it is. If a man leaves you, move on. It is not your job to make the other woman realize what type of man she is going to marry.

2) "You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves." Oh yes, this I thought but turned out I was wrong.

3)"You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her." Never for a minute did I think that.

4)"You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships." After reading Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris I could recognize the symptoms lol!


The book is divided in three parts: Part 1 is about a woman who is going to marry Richard (which I thought was the new bride). Part 2 is about who this woman in part 1 really is. Here we also know who Richard's new bride is. And part 3 was a little Gone Girl because out of the blue, obsessive Nillie (or Vanessa) shows a different side of her: how she planned for her husband to divorce her.

So my questions is, if you planned everything Richard could leave you, what the hell was all the crying over Richard for? Why did you have to talk to Richard's new bride to warn her of the manipulative and control freak that Richard is and save her from that marriage? Seriously, you should be over the moon that your plan worked! So I don't really understand this nonsense of having to talk to his new woman to warn her about Richard.... "Satisfaction," she said. AND, because otherwise there wouldn't be a book (I say).

In this book, I liked her cunning and that she turned out to be not as stupid and the victim that she seemed at first. I have read a couple of books with the same line: extremely beautiful woman marries successful man who turns out to be a manipulative, obsessive jerk. The woman quits her job, stop talking to her friends, and her life revolves around the husband that plans everything for them (where to eat, what to wear...). But then she gets bored of living in a beautiful house with nothing to do but wait for the husband to get home to have someone to talk to.

Also, this book is very deceiving. To the risk of repeating myself, I didn't get why she was crying her eyes out and her life was falling apart because Richard left her when she was the one who orchestrated it. So I guess the first part of the book was purposely deceiving like that so when you reached the third part you would be all like "holly crap!" Hmmmm....It is well written, though.