Monthly Archives: April 2022

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

While overall enjoyable, sometimes A Study in Charlotte seemed to try too hard to copy the original Holmes and Watson. It often dragged. Solving who did it was very interesting and I had actually eliminated that person as a suspect a while before it became clear that was likely who it was. I liked that the epilogue was written from Charlotte’s point of view. I recommend it to teens and up who like the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 46
Pages Read in 2022: 16,806
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: Literati, Reason: We Be Book'N, Young Adult

Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards

Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards

I spent pretty much all of Five Total Strangers totally stressed. It’s clear something is not right in that car and someone might be actively trying to prevent them from getting home. Everyone is suspicious in some way. And the letters scattered throughout the book are so incredibly creepy (as is the man in the yellow cap). They are such an example of someone getting in their head that a simple interaction meant something more and different than it actually did, leading to stalking and finally an “if I can’t have you nobody will” mentality. And as the reader you know that person has been in the car the whole time. I was pretty sure who wrote those letters relatively early on, but I second guessed my theory so many times. The way the author wrote the tension, increasing it as the group got more tired and suspicious of each other was incredibly well done. I very highly recommend this book to teens and up.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 45
Pages Read in 2022: 16,485
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: Literati, Reason: We Be Book'N, Thriller, Young Adult

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

The first about 50 pages of Let Me Hear a Rhyme were very slow, introducing characters and explaining background. Once it got past that point, it picked up quite a bit. The chapters are told from three alternating viewpoints plus some inserted chapters that explain some things that happened before. Two of the main characters are hiding things, including from the reader, that are necessary to understand completely what happened to their friend and brother. There is quite a bit of slang, some defined at the end, some not, and also some language some may find offensive. The book has a really nice rhythm. I recommend it to teens and up, especially those who enjoy hip hop and rap.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 44
Pages Read in 2022: 16,184
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: Literati, Reason: We Be Book'N, Young Adult

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Right from the first page One of Us is Lying sucked me in. I think I ended up suspecting every single character, including the police and the science teacher, at some point. I did guess correctly who the culprit was at one point and occasionally circled back to that theory, but then when you think it was everyone at some point of course you’ll be right at least once. I was so absorbed in the story that I had a doctor’s appointment and was reading it in the waiting room and was at a tense point near where everything was revealed when I was called back and for the first time in my life my blood pressure was high (the doctor took it again a few minutes later and it was back to normal). The narrator rotates between the four main characters and I never knew if they were being honest or not or whether I could trust them. The character development, particularly of Addy, was extremely well written. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adults books.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 43
Pages Read in 2022: 15,804
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: Literati, Reason: We Be Book'N, Thriller, Young Adult

Genesis by Robin Cook

Genesis by Robin Cook

Robin Cook writes some amazing medical thrillers. I love how he builds the case little by little and keeps the tension going throughout. I had a couple guesses who the killer was pretty early on, and one of those guesses was correct. With a bit left in the book the killer was revealed to the reader and so it was quite fun through the rest of the book waiting to see how Jack (because it’s always Jack) figured out who it was. Seeing that Genesis is the 12th of 12 Laurie Montgomery/Jack Stapleton book, I must admit I was pretty sure he was going to off Laurie to end the series. I highly recommend this book to adults who enjoy medical thrillers.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 42
Pages Read in 2022: 15,442
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: We Be Book'N, Thriller

Reached by Ally Condie

Reached by Ally Condie

Reached is the final book in the Matched trilogy and completes the story very nicely. There’s no specific end, nothing wrapped up in a perfect bow. Life continues and it might be a happy ending and it might not, and you are never quite sure if the Rising is good or not or if it’s just an alternative to the Society while being pretty much the Society repackaged, but it still is such a satisfying conclusion. This one is told from three alternating points of view, Cassia, Ky, and Xander, which is very effective. It spurred several very interesting conversations with my 13 and 15 year olds. I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoyed the first two in the series.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 41
Pages Read in 2022: 15,145
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Dystopian, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Young Adult

The Blackmail Club by David Bishop

The Blackmail Club by David Bishop

The Blackmail Club is one of the worst books I have ever read. The author has a weird obsession with butts denting in when someone leans on a table, seeing bra straps (always black, white, or flesh colored), and women’s breasts being pushed up every time they cross their arms exciting male characters because they saw some extra cleavage. The writing is so bad. Here are some examples:

  • Her lips twitched, as if she were receiving a coded message through her dark amalgam dental fillings. The message must have told her to keep talking because she did.
  • To the extent a woman’s appearance was currency, Nora’s scoop-necked dress flashed a healthy portion of her bankroll.
  • Jack watched the automated door close over the space where he had last seen Nora.
  • “Go on now. I’ll get started as soon as I watch your fanny get inside your front door. It may be the last thing I ever see, so swing it girl.”
  • She was an attractive woman with a body whose forward thrust had not yet been pulled off course by gravity.
  • The skimpy food-service outfit she wore put more in front of Jack than just the burger he had ordered.

There are way too many characters and side storylines that weren’t truly totally pulled into or explained in the wrap up. The wrap up itself was so boring. When the PIs were interviewing the minion blackmailer they caught, it was just this happened and then this and that. Nothing exciting. At the big reveal of who the real blackmailer was it was even less exciting. The PI pretty much pulled out of left field who that mastermind was probably because the author thought it would be fun to make it almost impossible to guess which character it was. It’s completely unsatisfying where there are no clues at all leading to the bad guy. There are also quite a few typos and other mistakes, but the author doesn’t care. In fact, he thinks readers imagine those things and he doesn’t want to hear about them. In the author’s note he wrote:

“As for any errors you might imagine in spelling or punctuation or capitalization, please let me rest in peace. There are many conventions and styles with regard to these matters, and I often have characters speak incorrectly intentionally, for that is how I envision that character would speak.”

While he is correct that characters speaking incorrectly (such as his absolutely terrible approximation of an Irish guy) is fine, he probably should care that he misspelled his own characters’ names a time or two. I most definitely do not recommend The Blackmail Club at all. It’s just so incredibly awful. Don’t waste your time.

1 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 40
Pages Read in 2022: 14,616
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Mystery, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novak

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver was my book club’s choice for March. I finally finished it the day of my April book group get together. Sometimes I wish I had the ability to abandon books but I just can’t do it. Plus my friends said the last half was better than the first half, and the last chapter was incredible. They were wrong, and it wasn’t. I didn’t hate it on a Red Badge of Courage level, but I definitely didn’t like or enjoy it much. I absolutely judge books by their cover and Spinning Silver has one of the ugliest covers I’ve ever seen. It’s very long, over 450 pages. Now, a long, good book can be extremely enjoyable. This was just a slog to get through. The book is written in first person, but the narrator changes regularly right in the middle of chapters. There is no indication this is happening other than a little scene change sort of symbol. It does not indicate who the new narrator is. You just have to keep reading, confused for the first several sentences, until you figure it out. Some narrators appear quite often, some very rarely, and there is no pattern to when they appear. When I started reading it a couple weeks before our March book group gathering, I found myself finding every excuse not to read it. For like a week I barely read anything. On the plus side, my house was exceptionally clean even with twin toddlers and a preschooler constantly wreaking havoc. I just didn’t care about most of the characters. I found the majority to be annoying. I really didn’t care if they stopped the Staryk creating eternal winter or not. It moves so incredibly slowly. Maybe if it was half as long and things actually happened at a reasonable pace it wouldn’t have been so bad. I did like how all the many storylines converged and the house that was in both the real world and the Staryk world at the same time was very creative. Thank goodness for small things that made it slightly less dreadful. I do not recommend anyone read Spinning Silver.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 39
Pages Read in 2022: 14,106
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: Book Club

A Quiet Life in Bedlam by Patricia Bjornstad

A Quiet Life in Bedlam by Patricia Bjornstad

Reading A Quiet Life in Bedlam feels like listening to your grandma reminiscing about their life. Some of the stories are outlandish, some are sad, some are funny, some are shocking. I found myself wanting to give the narrator, Kate, a hug. She has a lovely self-deprecating sense of humor. Sprinkled throughout are bits of songs and a little commentary on the times (60s through early 70s). I was totally sucked in to the story and couldn’t wait to find out more about Kate’s life. It’s really well-written. I recommend this book to adult women.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 38
Pages Read in 2022: 13,641
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Reason: Random Choice

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Donald Miller learned a lot about making your story the story you want it to be while working on adapting his memoir into a movie and decided to share those lessons in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. In the process of intentionally choosing his own story, he lived a full life. In addition to his own experiences, there are lots of anecdotes from others who intentionally created their own story with their lives. It’s a quick read and a good reminder to really live your life rather than letting life pass you by. I recommend it to all adults.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 37
Pages Read in 2022: 13,181
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: Book Club, Self-Help/Motivation