Posted in Reading, reviews

What I’ve been Reading

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today as winter storm Xanto rains down on us here in the Midwest. I plan on getting a lot of writing done this weekend as I huddle beneath my blankey and wait out the storm. It’s supposed to be historic, and I’m praying for at least one snow day out of it.

But enough about the weather, I’m back to talk about one of my favorite things in the world. Books. I’ve just finished a couple of great ones, and I thought I’d share them with all of you.

The first one is a new to me author. I haven’t read any of her previous stories, but she has a great reputation so I thought I’d give her latest release a try. It’s a young adult story so if you have any teens looking for something to read, check her out.

The title is “Still Life with Tornado” and the cover and blurb are below.

 

Still Life with Tornado by [King, A.S.]

 

Sixteen-year-old Sarah can’t draw. This is a problem, because as long as she can remember, she has “done the art.” She thinks she’s having an existential crisis. And she might be right; she does keep running into past and future versions of herself as she wanders the urban ruins of Philadelphia. Or maybe she’s finally waking up to the tornado that is her family, the tornado that six years ago sent her once-beloved older brother flying across the country for a reason she can’t quite recall. After decades of staying together “for the kids” and building a family on a foundation of lies and domestic violence, Sarah’s parents have reached the end. Now Sarah must come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriage. As Sarah herself often observes, nothing about her pain is remotely original—and yet it still hurts.
 
Insightful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, this is a vivid portrait of abuse, survival, resurgence that will linger with readers long after the last page.

 

My thoughts: (spoiler alert)

I didn’t get the title until I’d finished reading the story.  Needless to say, it makes perfect sense. I loved the story. It’s about a family and how domestic violence affects everyone in the family. It’s told from two viewpoints and one of them is Sarah. The only person who hasn’t experienced her father’s fists. In the beginning of the story, she has lost the ability to create art. Her passion. She’s also no longer attending school and that has everyone worried. No one knows why and the story is intricately woven together as the author takes us through Sarah’s journey. We learn about her love for her brother who moved out and the incident that sent her into a spin and brought her world crashing down.

The second viewpoint is Helen, Sarah’s mother. She’s a nurse and she’s the person stitching the family back together when her husband’s rages tear it apart. She doesn’t know what caused Sarah to slump into a depression, but she’s got her own issues to deal with. She’s the one who tries to keep her husband on an even keel and avoid his punches at the same time. She’s walking a tightrope so she isn’t able to give Sarah the attention she needs, but she’s trying.

The one negative I have about this story is that I didn’t feel that the mother’s voice and Sarah’s voice were distinct enough. There were a few chapters where I was half way down the first page before I realized the narrator had switched. This pulled me from the story and created a. bit of confusion. We all know it’s a bad thing to frustrate our reader, but that’s the only negative I have. Otherwise, it’s a great read especially for teens.

 

The other book I read was an adult suspense written by the author of “Luckiest Girl Alive.” This second story did not disappoint Its title is “Into the Water” and the cover and blurb are below.

Into the Water: A Novel by [Hawkins, Paula]

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD WINNER FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER

An addictive new novel of psychological suspense from the author of #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train

“Hawkins is at the forefront of a group of female authors—think Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott—who have reinvigorated the literary suspense novel by tapping a rich vein of psychological menace and social unease… there’s a certain solace to a dark escape, in the promise of submerged truths coming to light.” —Vogue

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

My Thoughts:

This one is written with a non-linear time line so you have to pay attention otherwise it gets confusing. It’s the heartbreaking story about a single mom who’s investigating some strange deaths in her town. She’s a photographer and she has become intrigued by the mysterious deaths surrounding the river winding it’s way through the tiny burg.

Her daughter’s best friend commits suicide and her daughter, Lena, is the only one who knows why. Katie, Lena’s best friend, does this by jumping off the cliff and into the river. Months later it appears as if Lena’s mother, Lorna, has done the same thing.  Lorna’s found dead in the river as well, and so the mystery begins. Did she commit suicide? Was she murdered? The story pulls you in and it goes deeper and deeper into the tragedies of this small town, revealing secrets and uncovering the ugly truth. It’s a great read and Paula Hawkins has just become one of my favorite authors.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my reviews. How about you? Do you have any great books you’d recommend? Leave a comment. I love to hear from you!

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Posted in kindness

Kindness Matters

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy working on my latest WIP and polishing the manuscript I just finished. I ran across an article on Facebook when I was in the middle of revising. Yes. I’m trying to stay away from social media so I get more done, but some days I’m better at it than others. But I digress. Today I’d like to talk about Mob Mentality.

 

Photo via Visualhunt.com

The event that inspired this post is an article about a new release coming out. Here’s the link to the article here:  Article about the Book Review

 

This all started over a review about the story, “The Black Witch.” One reviewer didn’t like the book and she wrote about it on her blog. It offended her. She’s entitled to write about her reaction to the story, but what happened afterward is sad.

Many other bloggers and many of her followers jumped on the band wagon and criticized the book even though they hadn’t read it. This is what I mean by a mob mentality. People joining in on the criticism even though they had no idea if what this blogger said was true. So, a book that had a popular buzz going ended up tanking because of this blogger and the people who jumped on the band wagon.

Photo credit: Dave_B_ via Visual hunt / CC BY

I think this is unfortunate, but I’m not here to complain about that. I wonder if mob mentality is something we can use to spread kindness. Let’s think about it. We know it exists so let’s use it for good instead of evil. What do you think? Is it possible?

I don’t know. But I’m willing to find out. Why can’t some form of kindness go viral? Why is it always something negative? I know negativity sells, but we could turn that around, too. Don’t you think?

 

Photo credit: duncan via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

What if a bunch of us bloggers got together and wrote posts about kindness?  How it matters. The positive impact it has on our lives. Anything like that, and we used a hashtag like #kindnessmatters. I wonder if we could get it to go viral.

 

Photo credit: Steve.r via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

Wouldn’t that be something? Just think if we could start a positive vibe. I wonder what the ripple effect would be?  Well, there’s only one way to find out. Is there anyone who’d be interested in getting together and doing this? I’m thinking maybe we could write a post once a week about an act of kindness we preformed or one we received. The more bloggers who get involved the bigger the ripple. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know. I’m up for it, are you?

Posted in reviews, Uncategorized

A Review of “The Orphan’s Tale”

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’ve been working on my latest WIP and I’m excited about this new one, too. I’ve sent my first one off to my Beta reader and she gave me some quick feedback. She told me the opening was AWESOME! So, you can guess I’m beyond excited. I’ll keep you posted as she continues reading the rest. 🙂

I’m back today to share with you my thoughts on “The Orphan’s Tale.” The cover and blurb are below:

The Orphan's Tale: A Novel by [Jenoff, Pam]

“Readers who enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants will embrace this novel. ” —Library Journal

“Secrets, lies, treachery, and passion…. I read this novel in a headlong rush.” —Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival 

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night. 

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

As you know, I love reading WWII stories. Especially ones where the main character, usually a Jew, overcomes the adversity of Nazi Germany and that is exactly what this story is about.

I absolutely loved it.

It’s the story of Noa and Astrid. How they meet and their relationship. I loved Noa who is young, strong, and naïve. She’s kicked out of her home when she becomes pregnant by a German soldier. She goes to a home for unwed mothers and because her baby has German blood, he is taken away from her. Mourning her loss, she finds work at the train station and happens upon a car full of babies. I won’t tell you what happens next, but it’s an incredible story.

Then there’s Astrid, a Jew married to a German who’s also a member of the Nazi party. He comes home one day and tells her the marriage is over. The Reich is demanding that all members married to Jews get a divorce. She has to pack up and leave that very day. She travels back to her home town searching for her family, but they’re all gone. She used to be a circus performer so she travels to a competitor’s home inquiring about her family. She learns the awful truth and the owner asks her to join his circus.

The circus is how Noa and Astrid meet and the rest of the story takes off from there. They both have their secrets and the girls band together and protect each other. It’s an amazing story of friendship and survival. If you’re a WWII buff like me, you’ll want to read this story. I can see it becoming a movie very soon.

Like I said, I loved this story and I’m going to be looking for more books from this author. How about you, do you have any books you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

 

 

Posted in reviews, Teen

“Black Like Me:” A Book Review

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’ve been working on my book and it’s coming together. Finally! This one has taken me a while because I’m a perfectionist.  I’m excited about it and I love the characters and the story line. I feel it has a lot of potential and that’s all I’m going to say about that. 🙂

I’ve also been reading, and I’ve just finished a book recommended to me by our high school librarian. The title is “Black like Me” and the cover and blurb are below.

 

Black Like Me: The Definitive Griffin Estate Edition by [Griffin, John Howard, Bonazzi, Robert, Terkel, Studs]

In the Deep South of the 1950s, journalist John Howard Griffin decided to cross the color line.  Using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown, he exchanged his privileged life as a Southern white man for the disenfranchised world of an unemployed black man.  His audacious, still chillingly relevant eyewitness history is a work about race and humanity-that in this new millennium still has something important to say to every American.

 

My Thoughts:

I was amazed by this story. This man, John Griffin, turned himself into a black man so he could experience what the Afro-Americans were going through. He wanted to understand.

It opened my eyes to how debilitating discrimination is. Not only for the black man, but for anyone who has been discriminated against. If I would’ve read this when I was younger, I don’t think it would’ve resonated so deeply with me.

I understood because I’ve experienced some of what John Griffin did, like I’m sure everyone has. Probably not to the intensity he did, but nonetheless it did strike a chord within me. The thing it made me realize is how damaging to the human spirit this kind of meanness is. It’s not something that can be brushed off. It eats away at you because you don’t understand this kind of hate.

I would recommend this book to teens and adults alike. It’s a sobering read. It’s even relevant in today’s world. The hate he experiences in the story is still alive today. It can be found on Social Media and at political rallies.

When I finished the story, I realized even though we have come a long way in dealing with discrimination, we still have a long way to go.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and checking out my post today. Do you have any great stories that you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Entertainment, reviews

My Thoughts on “Money Monster”

 

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I just returned from a movie with my mom. It was one of those Mother-Daughter days, we did a little shopping and decided to see a flick. Below is my reaction to the movie, it contains spoilers so continue reading at your own risk. 🙂

We went to see “Money Monster.” It was directed by Jodi Foster and starred George Clooney and Julia Roberts. It was an action packed show and it reminded me of “The Big Short.”

 

 

It’s the story of Kyle Budwell. A young man who’s trying to make ends meet with a fourteen dollar an hour job in New York City. His girlfriend’s pregnant and his mother dies, leaving him some money. He starts watching “Money Monster,” a stock tip television show hosted by Lee Gates.

Kyle listens to Lee’s advice and invests in a company called IBIS. Their stock has been on the uphill climb and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. But there’s a “glitch,” and the stock plummets. Kyle loses all of his money.

He’s angry, frustrated, and wants some answers. So do many Americans who’ve lost money in the market. Kyle takes matters into his own hands and crashes Lee’s show, with a gun and a bomb. The saga begins and we learn Kyle’s story. We also learn how Wall Street is operating. This is not only a great movie, but it also educates people on what’s really happening on Wall Street.

That’s what I loved about it. I learned how these people manipulate the market to make more money for themselves while ruining other people’s financial lives. There are always victims in these manipulations and that’s the upsetting part of all of it.

 

Photo credit: Perpetualtourist2000 via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

 

These CEO’s are millionaires already, and they maneuver their holdings to make more. It wouldn’t be such a big deal, but they ruin lives in the process. When is it going to be enough? Why don’t they do some good with the money they make? Give some to charity, or help starving children. I mean really, how much money does one person or one corporation really need?

Which brings me to the regulatory part of the market. In the movie, the CEO of Ibis took eight hundred million dollars from his fund and called it a “glitch.” No one but him knows where the money is. He goes to South Africa where there’s a coal mine and the miners are on strike. The mine’s stock has plummeted, and he buys a lot of shares. He tries to pay off the organizer of the strike. If he succeeds the strike will stop, the miners will return to work, and the stock will rise. The CEO will make a tidy sum of money on his investment when he sells his shares. He could choose to return the eight hundred million dollars to the fund that he took it from and everyone would be happy.

In the above scenario, no one says anything because no one lost anything. It’s only when the scheme doesn’t work, like in the movie, when the strike organizer couldn’t be bought. The mine’s stock remained low and the CEO himself lost some money because he couldn’t sell his shares for a profit. He didn’t put the eight hundred million dollars back into his company either.

There are regulatory laws, but the thing is, no one says anything until lives are ruined, and when someone takes money overseas, things get complicated very fast.

Photo credit: Images_of_Money via VisualHunt / CC BY

Why aren’t the politicians screaming about this? Because they’re the ones who receive campaign contributions from these CEO’s. So you see, it’s a vicious cycle. What can we do to stop this? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Posted in Reading, reviews, Uncategorized

My Thoughts on “Untwine”

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about a book that I finished reading a couple of weeks ago. It’s titled, “Untwine” by Edwidge Danticat. The cover and blurb are below.

“A haunting and mesmerizing story about sisterhood, family, love and loss by literary luminary Edwidge Danticat.

Giselle Boyer and her identical twin, Isabelle, are as close as sisters can be, even as their family seems to be unraveling. Then the Boyers have a tragic encounter that will shatter everyone’s world forever.

Giselle wakes up in the hospital, injured and unable to speak or move. Trapped in the prison of her own body, Giselle must revisit her past in order to understand how the people closest to her — her friends, her parents, and above all, Isabelle, her twin — have shaped and defined her. Will she allow her love for her family and friends to lead her to recovery? Or will she remain lost in a spiral of longing and regret?

Untwine is a spellbinding tale, lyrical and filled with love, mystery, humor, and heartbreak. Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat brings her extraordinary talent to this graceful and unflinching examination of the bonds of friendship, romance, family, the horrors of loss, and the strength we must discover in ourselves when all seems hopeless.”

 

My Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this story. “Untwine” is the story of a tragedy that pulls a family, that originally was falling apart, back together.  It was so well written and you could just feel the sadness of Giselle whenever she thought about her sister.

It’s the story about loss and love. How life goes on even when you don’t want it too. It explains the pain of surviving a tragic accident along with the pain of losing someone you love. No one can prepare another for this experience, but this story has an authenticity to it that many who’ve lost a family member will be able to identify with.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. What have you read recently that has made an impression on you? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in reviews

My thoughts on “Gone Girl!”

 

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with a book review. The book I’m talking about is “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. The cover and blurb are below.

 

 

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

MY THOUGHTS

I was expecting a story about a woman who disappears and her husband’s desperate attempts to find her. This does happen, but there’s a twist that I did not see coming that made this story darker and much more intriguing.

This is a story of a husband and wife who slowly fall out of love with each other. Gillian Flynn flawlessly develops the characters and shows how sacrifices in a marriage create resentment and build walls between the husband and wife.

The characters in this story are human with strengths and flaws. Nick convinces Amy his wife to move back to his hometown after they both lose their jobs. She agrees and they end up buying a bar. Nick runs it with his sister while Amy stays at home.

Nick becomes involved with another woman and Amy finds out. I won’t say any more than that because I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but I will say this was a much darker story than I expected and I certainly got lost in it.

If you enjoy dark, intriguing tales this is a must read!