Book Review-Little Lovely Things

Title: Little Lovely Things

Author: Maureen Joyce Connolly

Format: Netgalley Advance Reader’s Copy PDF courtesy of Maureen Joyce Connolly

Published: 2019

Thank you to Maureen Joyce Connolly for the advance copy of Lovely Little Things…I know…this book was released April 2, 2019 and here are in May.  I am behind on posting and writing reviews, I told you, that class sucked up all my time!  Yikes!  Better late than never, right?

TRIGGER WARNING.  This book was difficult for me to read.  I usually don’t find books a challenge to read because of their content, but this one hit. me. hard.  If you cannot handle a child’s death or kidnapping, do not read any further.

This story is about a married couple with a woman who may be a little off her rocker.  We aren’t really sure what is going on with her.  One day she drives into the city and has a sudden attack.  She gets gravely ill and pulls her car (barely) over to a gas station and makes it into the bathroom.  She leaves her car running with her two small children in the back as it’s in the midst of summer.

She comes out of the bathroom and her car is gone.

A tale of a family on the brink of disaster, a Lakota Indian man with a strong intuition, and gypsies is what this story is based around.  The mother, Claire, ends up befriending Jay, the Lakota Indian, and he ends up being the one who is able to give the police the only clues/leads they are able to get.

The story is told between the perspective of Claire (the mother), Jay (the Lakota Indian), and Moira (one of the gypsies who took the car with the girls inside).  It offers a unique perspective on a mother’s worst nightmare and the reasoning behind stealing a child.

Once I got past my own reservations, it was a quick, fast paced read.  The kidnapping takes place in 1991 and goes through to present day.  Trust me when I say it is worth reading.  I had tears in my eyes throughout the book.  For a debut novel, Connolly did a wonderful job telling this tale.

I am going to give this book 4 stars.   It was gripping with a great plot.  The ending…you guys know how picky I am with my endings…it melted my heart, I loved it.  The last half of the book I couldn’t put it down, I just had to know what happened, because as the reader, you know what is going on more than the characters.  I found myself yelling at the book!  Eventually they listened to me, haha.  If you come across this book, grab it!  If you’re in a book club, this would be a great read for your group!

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Book Review: Transgressive

Title: Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism, and Politics

Author: Rachel Anne Williams

Format: Netgalley Advance Reader’s Copy PDF

Published: 2019

 

Thank you to Netgalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for my honest book review!  This book is scheduled to be released on May 21, 2019!

I would like to note that this book is out of my normal wheelhouse of books.  This is a book of essays written by Rachel Anne Williams, a transgender woman, taken from her blog she writes.  I am not normally a fan of essays, but this book intrigued me and I was excited to be approved for the advance copy.

The author prefaces this book with letting you know to read the book however you want.  Since this was an ebook for myself, it was easiest to read it straight through.  She also asks for feedback and requests it come in the form of a “shit sandwich.”  What this means is you say something that wasn’t so great, add in a part or something you loved, and end with something else that needs a little work.  I appreciate this author and her quest for honest, constructive feedback.

The essays are categorized in similar groups and so they begin.  I had to Google a lot of things in this book.  As someone who does not know any trans gendered people, this was my first real introduction in to this world.  Suddenly terms appeared in the essays and I was clueless at what they meant.  This became frustrating to have to read with my phone nearby so I could look up new terms.  I did find that as I read and finished the book, many of the terms were explained in detail that I had to originally look up.  It would have been great to have those essays at the beginning of the book or at least an extra preface to terminology that someone outside of the transgendered world would not be familiar with.

Williams is a well-educated woman with a clear background in philosophy.  The way she writes is stunning and remarkable.  You can tell she thought about how she wanted to articulate herself.  I also appreciated that she made sure to clarify that this book is about HER experience, and her experience only, and that everyone’s experience is different.  I will say it was eye opening to learn about the process and what transgendered people go through.  If you are looking for an insight and are overall just curious, I must steer you in the direction of Rachel and this book.

I wanted to like this book more than I did, but, I found myself skipping over a few essays as they just went above my head.  It also frustrated me to have unfamiliar terms explained at the end of the book.  I know this also probably goes with the nature of an advance copy, but, there were footnotes that were all at the end of the book.  That made it difficult to read the footnotes, so I just gave up on trying, it would have been helpful to have them at the end of each essay instead.

I am giving Transgressive a 3.5 star rating.  It held my interest and I feel much better informed and understanding of issues and the process that surrounds transgendered people.  I also see the potential in the book to be very controversial.  You won’t be sorry if you pick this book up to read and you really can skip around and read essays in whatever order (my recommendation is start with the last category of essays first).  I hope to read more work from Williams in the future.

 

Book Review – The Camelot Gambit

TITLE:  The Camelot Gambit – Night Shade/Forensic Files Book 7
AUTHOR: AJ Scudiere
PUBLISHED: 2019
FORMAT: Kindle e-Book

 

I have read AJ Scudiere before, but never this series, so I knew what I was getting into in term of writing style, but not a thing about these characters. I was assured it wouldn’t matter, so I decided to jump in anyway.
Donovan and Eleri are undercover FBI agents in the fictitious town of Curie, NE, populated almost entirely by a hand-picked group of geniuses and their families. One of their neighbors has been murdered, and they’ve been assigned the case, determined to figure out who the killer is before the think-tank type town discovers they’re there.
The murder itself is slim on clues… They know the victim was bound and that he didn’t really struggle, but they don’t know why he stopped breathing or what the motive is. As the bodies pile up, they’re more confused as ever and have to finally break their cover for the safety of several people in the town. But is it too late? And are Donovan and Eleri even smart enough to understand what’s going on?
Okay. So, on one hand, this book is definitely what you’d expect from AJ. It’s well written in neat, proper sentences, and she’s definitely done her research (hell, I’m beginning to think she may be smart enough to live in Curie herself…)
On the other hand, a couple things. First, this is part of her NightShade series, which means cases that the FBI have deemed a little abnormal. It also means that the agents are a little abnormal themselves, although that’s glossed over and hinted at early on with no good explanation and then explained later. So, yes, you can read this book on its own, but you will be missing quite a bit of back story about the agents.
Second, some of the things in the book seem a little too forced. Curie is supposed to be a uber-smart town, with neighborhoods playing up to its geeky residents. So you can go to the coffee shop and order an E=MC2 or pick by scientist at the diner. One neighborhood is named after C’thulu, and some houses are Frank Lloyd Wright or The Shire inspired, but then it gets weird. Kangaroo Court is where the geeks have whatever odd pet they want, for instance. And it just stuck out as weird.
Also, be prepared for some really bad puns and inside jokes along the way – a few I think even went over my head. Fun side note. I keep telling people “I’m reading a book where they named the pig Atinlay…” and waiting to see who gets it or not. I may need smarter friends (bye, Mom!)

The book itself seems to have two parts. The first half has a whole lot of frustration from its undercover agents and most of it is spent with them saying “… So we don’t know how or why he died or who would want to kill him…” And I felt as frustrated as they must have felt because I thought I read about fifty unnecessary pages in all of that where not a lot happened and not a lot was established beyond ordering a coffee. There was a definite upswing after the second murder, though, and I was much happier with the second part of this book. Stuff was happening. They were slowly working their way through the how and why and who, but they were finding things and making progress. It was finally more about the case than about Curie. And we were finally getting information about the agents, so I was finally able to piece together who Donovan and Eleri were in some sort of meaningful way about 2/3 through the thing.

There wasn’t a lot outright annoying about the story – although LeDonRic’s name seemed like the author couldn’t decide which name to pick so she used them all at once. Fortunately, he was less involved as the story progressed. Mostly, I think the things I had issue with were just from not knowing the back story of the recurring characters.

So even though the book *CAN* stand alone, it definitely would have helped to know a little more about the characters at the beginning. In all, I think the book was pretty solid, and I don’t regret that I took the time to read it.

Four out of Five for sure.

Book Review: A Woman Is No Man

Title: A Woman Is No Man

Author: Etaf Rum

Format: Advance Reader Copy

Published: 2019

Thank you to Goodreads for this giveaway win of the advance reader copy of A Woman Is No Man!  See, I am proof that real people win those giveaways, keep entering them!

When I won this book I wasn’t excited.  I thought, well, it’s a free book, what’s the harm in it?  This was one of those, why did I enter this giveaway books.  First, let me give you some background on the story.

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This book starts off with women not having a voice.  We are told the story of Palestinian women living in America through the mother-in-law/grandmother, our main character the daughter-in-law/mother, and daughter/granddaughter.  Caught all that?  Basically the mother-in-law came to America to try and make a better life for her family.  Her son married a woman from Palestine and she moved to America.  The daughter was born and raised in America.  Isra, the mother, is the one who really carries the story.  All three characters get developed nicely through this story with the daughter, Deya, growing the most.

When I say the son married a woman from Palestine what I mean is the family picked this one woman, they spoke for a few times, and then decided sure, we can get married.  It’s like an upgraded version of an arranged marriage because you can say no.  So she lives the life a woman; takes care of the men, cooks, cleans, tends to the children, and rarely leaves the house.  Oh, and also takes beatings from her husband.

This book really opened my eyes to what oppression by one’s culture looks like.   I was mortified at the marriage arrangements.  I was mortified at the life they live inside their homes.  I was angry at the abuse they think is ok to take from their husbands.  Then I realized, how can I be mortified at something that is part of their culture?  Just because I don’t follow it, does not mean it’s not ok.  When the woman talked about being “Americanized” that is when I realized, wow, they are mortified at the fact that I have a job and live outside of the house.  It puts things into perspective.

I still do not agree with the domestic violence and never will.  Trigger warning, this book talks a lot about it.  No one should be subject to physical or mental abuse.  No one.

Isra once had high hopes for herself and ended up being stuck in a no way out situation.  I feel her spirit was passed to her first born daughter, Deya, and she would be so happy with how her daughter grows and stands up for herself.  When she discovers that her parents may not have really died in a car accident, we go on a whirlwind adventure.  Isra and the mother-in-law give us pieces from the past that put everything together.  As depressing at this book can be at times, you will enjoy the ending with what happens to Deya.

I am going to give this book 5 stars.  This was a powerful, heart breaking, and heart warming story.  It is fantastically written and helps to open our eyes to different cultures.  This isn’t a light read, but, I didn’t find it to be a real heavy read either.  I will also say that my dense brain thought the book just ended rudely.  I googled the ending to the book and IT ALL MADE SENSE.  What happens at the end of the book is what happens right before the daughter’s last memory of the mother.  Keep that in mind WHEN you pick this one up, because there’s no excuse not to.  You will be happy to see that a woman finally gained her own voice.

Book Review: The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

Title: The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

Author: Anissa Gray

Format: Advance Reader Copy Paperback

Published: 2019

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This is the debut novel from Anissa Gray which was recently released on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.  Thank you to Berkley Publishing for the advance reader copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

This is an emotional, raw read.  We meet the Butler family, all of whom have to been to hell and back, and get a glimpse into the life of an American family.  The eldest sister, Althea, and her husband, Proctor, get arrested for running a charity scheme where they were taking the money and using it on themselves.  Their own daughter turns them in.  Yikes.

Althea goes on a personal journey while she is in jail and I can’t help but feel heartbroken for this broken woman.  While she is on the inside, her sisters Lillian and Viola are left to pick up the pieces with their twin daughters.  Lillian is doing all she can but can’t reach them and desperately needs Viola.  Each sister is facing ghosts from their past and through the book they work through them.  Just when you thought no one was there for you, your family ends up being what you need.

I felt so much emotion while reading this book, yet, I felt something different for each character.  Sometimes I was angry and sometimes I was sad.  After finishing this book I had to just breathe for the day before I picked up another.  I don’t feel it is a heavy read, however, it does pull at the heartstrings.  I really liked how Gray ended the book.  

We see the internal problems each character have become resolved in a manner that is absolutely appropriate for the book.  Loose, flowing ends are tied up into an appropriate bow. **I would like to note that there is no clear cut problem with a resolve, it is a story that just flows.  If you are looking for a clear cut beginning, middle, and an end with conflict resolution of an issue, this is not the book for you.  If you enjoy a book that flows and tells a tale and is a book you can reflect upon, read it!**

4 star read for me.  The vernacular used on the characters in this book was also so spot on I felt like I was transformed from my living room into theirs.  There is the use of some foul language so if you are easily offended this may not be the book for you, however, it is absolutely appropriate in each setting it is used in.  If you enjoy stories about families and the struggles they face, this book is for you!

Book Review: The Innocent

Title: The Innocent

Author: David Baldacci

Format: Paperback

Published: 2012

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I would like to note that I read his book The Hit first, not realizing it was part of a series.  I am glad I read this book next so I could get a little background on some of the characters that were present in that book.  But on to this amazing read!

This is the book where we first meet agency employee Will Robie.  He gets called out to make a kill and when he walks in to an apartment where it’s a young mother, he freezes and can’t do it.  Something seems off.  Bullets fly through the window, killing the mother and her child, and threatening Robie’s life.  It turns out Robie’s gut feeling was right and the young mother should have never been killed.  Now Robie is being hunted by someone in his own agency to be taken out.

Who went rogue within his agency?  This book takes us on a twisty, turny tale to find out.  Along the way Robie ends up helping a 14 year old, Julie, who has just lost both of her parents.  He notices a man about to kill her on a bus and when he intervenes, saves her life.  They both get off the bus and as soon they do it explodes, killing everyone on board except them.  What is going on?

I was highly intrigued the whole story.  It was interesting to see how various events intertwined together and how Robie and Julie end up needing each other.  It was thrilling, intoxicating, and a joy ride that I did not want to see end.  It was action packed

Overall I am giving this book 5 stars.  When I read a book and go, “just one more chapter,” for 5 or so extra chapters, it’s a great read.  I enjoyed how Robie and Julie worked together and the ending was one I did not see coming.  Not even from a mile away.  It just came out of left field for me.  Wow.  It also left any loose ends tied up and made me smile.  I cannot wait to read the 3rd book in this series!  Any fellow David Baldacci fans out there?

Book Review: Before We Were Yours

Title: Before We Were Yours

Author: Lisa Wingate

Format: Hardcover

Published: 2017

 

A co-worker lent me this book and I am so glad she did!  This is not a book I would pick up on my own if a trusted colleague told me this was a good read, I am taking their word for it…and this book drew out a few tears from me!

The basic synopsis of the story is based off a true life scandal which is absolutely heart wrenching.  Five siblings are living on the river with their parents.  Their mother is pregnant and goes to the hospital with their father and while they are gone, people come and take the kids, saying their parents sent for them.  They take the children into a home and place them for adoption with wealthy families.

Yes, these people stole children, ended up finding the parents and having them sign over their rights, and then sold the children to make a profit.  Disgusting.  We follow their lives through the adoption agency (where they aren’t treated nicely) and when they get adopted out (and what eventually happens to the agency).

The book is told from 2 perspectives; 12 year old Rill going through the process of being stolen and adopted in the late 1930s/early 1940s and present day Avery Stafford, a born into wealth and privilege woman with a budding career in politics.  Avery starts to suspect something may be off with her grandmother and starts to do some investigative work.  I don’t want to say much more because that will ruin the surprise of the story.

I will add there is the perfect touch of romance in this story.

This is a 4 star read for me.   It is a gut punching, sad, true life read that you can’t help but end up smiling at the end.  Despite the horrible events that happen surrounding children, it still makes you feel good with the present day ending.  Some family secrets are scandalous, and this certainly is one, but, in the end it is one of pure happiness.  You won’t regret picking this book up for yourself!

 

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