Sunday, April 22, 2018

Review: Life Inside My Mind

I feel like lately I have been on here raving about well-written books that honestly depict mental illness, books that have had me nodding my head and writing down quotes and feeling so much less alone with what I go through. This is a great trend in book publishing and one that has come at a time for me when I especially need it, something I think holds true for a lot of people.

Life Inside My Mind is a collection of essays by thirty-one authors who have personal experience with mental illness. They share their deeply personal stories, to let people know they are not alone, and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

The dedication reads:

This is an important. meaningful, and well-written read that I have been recommending to everyone. I whole-heartedly recommend it to all of you.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Vacation Mini Review Roundup!

I was just on Spring Break (and am leaving for New York tomorrow for my cousin's wedding) and got a lot of reading done! I didn't quite get to all the books I brought, but here's reviews for the ones I did :)

The Blind by A.F. Brady

A story about a troubled psychologist and her mysterious patient, this book was an okay read. I had trouble connecting with the characters, and while the plot was suspenseful enough to keep me turning pages, I was able to call a lot of the major twists.

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

The lines become blurred between fact and fiction when a writer finds herself and her husband as prime suspects in a case that strongly resembles the novel she is currently writing. I really enjoyed how the lines were so blurred that I would sometimes become confused whose story I was reading-it was a really effective technique given the main plot. There were also some good twists and turns that had me really surprised.

Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison

This book started out strong, with a note left by a wife to her husband, suggesting she just needs to get away for a few days. But there are secrets under the surface of what seemed like a perfect marriage, that slowly leak out. I really enjoyed the twists and turns that left me really surprised. But I felt the book felt a little too long, and the ending felt too pat and not in keeping with everything we had learned about the characters.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

I'm so glad I finally read this book I had heard everyone raving about. It definitely lived up to the hype for me. It's the story about a seemingly perfect marriage, with a slow build that is so creepy it made my skin crawl. The use of flashbacks is so effective in building suspense. There are so many authors trying to make this exact plot work, and Paris is definitely at the top of the list for authors who know how to work this story line the right way.

Soulmates by Jessica Grose

This book was centered around a clever idea, a woman who sees in the newspaper one day that her husband, who left her to join a mysterious spiritual retreat, has died in a possible murder suicide. She has always struggled to let his memory go, and now she feels the compulsion to find out just what happened to him, and to understand just who he was and what their relationship truly meant. But the ending kind of drove me crazy. I see where Grose was going with it, but it just didn't seem to fit, at least to me.

What have you been reading recently?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Review: The Perfect Nanny

This book is the definition of chilling. Slimani tells readers in the very first sentence exactly what the end of this story is going to be, but somehow manages to keep the suspense at both a slow burn and a fever pitch.

On the surface, this is the tale of a family who hires a nanny, Louise, when the mother goes back to work. They hire a nanny who their children love, who keeps their house clean and cooks meals their friends are envious of.

But all is not what it seems.

Slimani is masterful at ripping off the facade, of showing what it is that truly boils under the surface of a human being, especially one in a determined role of subservience. Louise is family, but she's not. She is loved, but she's not. Louise seems perfect, but she's not. Besides the chill of what you know is coming from sentence one, there is also the chill of the way the characters treat each other, the way humans can treat each other. And then there is a scene with a chicken carcass, and that's all I'm going to say about that so as not to spoil anything, but it just might be one of the eeriest, creepiest, most haunting things I've read in a long time.

This is a quick read, not just in length, but because this is a book that will not let you put it down.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mini Review: The Man From the Train

In The Man From the Train, James (with research assistance from McCarthy James), tackles the unsolved ax murders that shook America in the early to mid 1900s. Using his statistician background, James analyzes the crimes to prove they were part of a series, committed by one man, and then tells you who that one man was.

This is an amazing, fascinating, gripping read (I read the last 300 pages in one sitting). James' previous true crime book, Popular Crime, is one of my all-time favorites. He has a really unique take on true crime because of his mathematics background-but don't worry if you aren't a math person (I am not in any way a math person), because James' doesn't throw formulas at you. He uses his skills to analyze data and present a solution that no one has come up with before. James' also has this fantastically wry writer's style, that will have you giggling at times, even in the middle of a true crime book.

I would definitely, 100% recommend this book. And I would also 100% recommend that while you're picking this book up, get James' Popular Crime.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Mini Review: Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds

Nora Blackbird comes from old money, but that money is essentially gone thanks to her parents' indiscretions. Now she works as a society columnist, attending parties and fundraisers with the still-rich. And she's also possibly dating a man who may be a mobster--at least, his family are. Add in the wife of an ex-boyfriend being found dead at the bottom of a pool, and Nora's life has gotten plenty complicated.

This is such a fun cozy mystery. Martin's storytelling reminds me some of Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum series, outlandish characters that work so well, a tough-as-nails heroine juggling love and stopping criminals, and a great sense of humor pervading the mystery. I'm definitely going to be reading the rest of this series.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

One Goal: A Coach, A Team, And The Game That Brought A Divided Town Together

Full disclaimer first: The author of this book is my cousin. That said, I would have wanted to read this book regardless, and I would have loved it regardless. It's thought-provoking, uplifting, and inspiring, and a fascinating read.

One Goal tells the true story of a high school soccer team, where Somali refugees not only play alongside boys whose families can trace their Maine lineage back generations, but play as a band of brothers. They weather cruel words thrown at them by opposing teams' fans and by people who live in their own town, even by a mayor who asks that Somalis stop coming to "his town". Through all this, they are a team, who stick together, play together, and win together. They are led by Coach McGraw, who never gives up on them and loves them as his own, who inspires them to greater heights than they ever thought they could reach.

This is a book that is desperately needed today. In a time when there are so many divides between people, when there is once again a politician calling for refugees to stay away, we all need to be reminded that we are stronger together.

You will not be able to stop rooting for this high school team, and for the inspiring lesson they, and Bass, impart.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review: Into the Thinnest of Air

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

Title: Into the Thinnest of Air
Author: Simon R. Green
Publication Date: March 1, 2018
Genre: Paranormal/Supernatural/Mystery
Recommended If You Like: a healthy dose of the paranormal and supernatural with your mystery, locked room mysteries, creepy country inns, local legends

The Book:

When Ishmael Jones' partner Penny is invited to the private reopening of a infamous inn, they learn of the legend behind it, that the previous owner poisoned all his dinner guests while his wife and child disappeared. But when people in the present start disappearing, what began as a dinner among old friends turns into a frightening and possibly supernatural locked room mystery.

What I Liked:

This is a creepy book with a lot of suspense. I'm always a sucker for a locked room mystery, especially one tinged with a horror aspect, and this story definitely delivers on that end. The ending also packs quite a punch, and is not one I saw coming.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I have to admit, I almost put this book down within the first two pages, because the strangeness factor behind the main character, Ishmael, just seemed so, to put it bluntly, weird. I hadn't known what the premise behind him was (and won't say it here to avoid spoilers), which is a good thing, because I wouldn't have picked up the book otherwise. It's not a bad or nasty thing, it's just not at all what I expected when I picked up a mystery.


I'm definitely glad I kept going with this book, because it ended up being so full of suspense, and horror aspects, and mystery. And that ending was really well-done. Get past the premise of the main character and you're in for a clever mystery.