Sunday, December 30, 2018

One Day in December, 409 Pages

Recommended to me by my best friend, who always has a knack for knowing just what I need to read in that instant, One Day in December was everything she promised it would be and more.  And I'm not just saying that because it was the first thing I've read for fun since spending a semester studying European History. 

On a bus ride home, one day in December, Laurie locks eyes with a man waiting on the street.  There's an instant connection, but before either of them can take action, the bus pulls away.  Laurie and her best friend, Sarah spend the next year searching for Laurie's bus boy with no luck. Until the day she meets him, as Sarah's new boyfriend...  I'll stop there, so you can enjoy the how the rest of the story unfolds for yourself.

This book had just the right amount of romance for me without being overly sweet or raunchy.  It was also the December pick for the Reese Witherspoon, Hello Sunshine Book Club.  It's a classic romcom, best enjoyed on a winter weekend with a mug of something warm. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, 444 pages.

I've seen all the buzz around this book and also the film adaptation, but I never gave it the time of day. I honestly didn't even know what it was actually about until around a week ago, and decided to check it out. I am SO glad that I did. This was by far the best book that I read in 2018. I think that with how society is today, this is something that everyone should read and could learn from. I found myself hysterically laughing, hysterically crying and everything in between. I had chills when I read the line, "When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and bees. The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me." I had to stop and collect my thoughts for a few minutes after reading that line because, to be honest, it never occurred to me that that was a "thing". When I'm stopped by a cop, I'm thinking of every way I can possibly get out of the speeding ticket I'm inevitably going to get. This book really opened my eyes to the privilege that some people have just by being a different race, sexual orientation, etc.

Starr Carter basically lives a double life. She is a typical sixteen-year-old female while attending the prep school her parents pay for her attend, an hour away from their home. When she's at home, Starr is a not so typical sixteen-year-old who has witnessed her best friend, Natasha, being murdered in a drive-by shooting at the age of ten. Starr has learned to balance the two lives she lives, but everything comes crashing around her when another life-long best friend, Khalil, is murdered by a white cop during a supposedly routine traffic stop. To make matters worse, Khalil was completely unarmed. Now, Starr's life is turned upside down, and her neighborhood has turned into a war zone. His death has become a national headline, and said headlines are slandering Khalil, calling him a drug dealer and a thug. Starr knows that is far from the truth, and is also the only one who knows in entirety what happened that night. The only problem with that is that Starr has been scared into silence thanks to the violence that is surrounding her home, and also the threats coming from a local drug lord.

The Elizas by Sara Shepard, 352 pages

Sara Shepard is best known for her series Pretty Little Liars, which I LOVE! I also loved this book! I was hooked from the very beginning, and was so anxious to find out how this all played out in the end. There was a little bit of mystery to the end, which completely left me hanging and questioning what I thought I knew. This is one I will definitely recommend!

Eliza Fontaine seemed to be on the right track. She is days away from her first book, The Dots, being published, and seemingly put her painful, tragic past behind her. But, when she is found near-death at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family begins to question everything. Eliza doesn't know how to swim, and she also has attempted suicide multiple times in this same way. Upon waking up, Eliza is adamant that this time, she didn't jump and was not suicidal. She is convinced that she was pushed, and that her life is in grave danger. She unfortunately begins questioning everything when she realizes that the book she just wrote, that is supposedly fiction, is starting to resemble her own life. Eliza has no idea what happened to her, and what happened to her fictional character, Dot.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, 464 pages

I'm a massive Moriarty fan, so I really had my hopes up for this new release. It was being marketed as a thriller, which also excited me! Unfortunately, I was extremely let down with this book. I read the Kindle edition of this, so I'm able to see how far I am in the book, percentage-wise. 80% into the book is when something "thrilling" started, and I could see it from a mile away. The one thing that I liked about this book was the character development. Other than that, it was a miss for me.

A group of nine strangers arrive at a 10-day health cleanse at Tranquillum House. They are all coming for different reasons- some in hopes of losing weight, some to find peace in their lives, and some to hopefully salvage a crumbling marriage. But, they will all soon have an unfortunate bond due to some bizarre circumstances that were definitely not included in the welcome packet. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Asylum by Madeleine Roux, 317 Pages

I listened to the audio version of this, and it took me literally a month to finish it. (In my defense- I don't have a long commute or anything that gives me the chance to listen to audiobooks, so I mostly have 15 minute increments while I'm in the carpool line at my kid's school!) Asylum is a Young Adult thriller/horror novel, and while there were some creepy parts of the story, I was overall unimpressed. I felt like it was also more juvenile than Young Adult.

Dan Crawford is spending his summer at New Hampshire College Prep. He sees it at a chance for new friends, independence and his last hurrah before he goes off to college. He's a little hesitant when he finds out that instead of a dormitory, he's being housed in a former asylum. Dan decides to take advantage of the creepy living situation, and decides to explore the old asylum with his new friends Jordan and Abby. The three friends realize that they've arrived here under no coincidence, but because of a past that somehow involves them.

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay, 368 Pages

This. Book. Was. So. GOOD!! I couldn't put this down, and was not expecting the ending. Barclay is a master at getting into your head and making you question everything, and A Noise Downstairs was no exception.

Paul Davis is recovering from a brutal attack that almost killed him, after he stumbled upon a colleague about to dispose of two bodies. With his colleague now in prison serving a life sentence, Paul is trying to get his life back. He is battling PTSD along with other physical injuries, and begins seeing a therapist. While meeting with her, Paul decides that in order to fully heal, mentally and physically, he needs to dig deeper in the life of his attacker and find out what makes him tick. In an effort to cheer him up, Paul's wife brings home a vintage typewriter. When Paul begins hearing someone typing on the typewriter in the middle of the night, he blames it on everyone- even himself. Unable to find the source of the typing, Paul comes to the conclusion that the typewriter is somehow possessed, which leads to him wife coming to the conclusion that he is losing his mind. Paul is determined to prove that he's not crazy, and takes matters into his own hands.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

We Say #NeverAgain by Melissa Falkowski, Eric Garner, and the Parkland Student Journalists

This was an interesting look at the tragedy that hit Florida in February 2018. This book was written by the journalists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and really talks about the Never Again movement that started after what happened. I appreciated that it didn't focus solely on the shooting itself, and is more about what the students have done to ensure that this never happens again.

That's Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger, 329 Pages

That's Not What Happened centers around a school shooting, and what that leaves in it's aftermath. What sets this book aside from others with the a similar plot is that this mostly takes place a few years after the shooting, and really hits on the subject of how quickly stories spread, even if there's hardly any truth to them, in society today. This book also is very similar to the Columbine shooting and the story of Cassie Bernall. Throughout the entire book, the fictional-shooter's name is never printed, which I thought was a really fantastic detail to the story. Personally, I often see headlines of heroic actions, or even the opposite, after a tragedy or a huge event happens, and I've never stopped to think that maybe that situation isn't entirely how the media portrayed it to be. Keplinger does a fantastic job at pointing out the flaws in the media, and how we often, as a society, believe what we want to believe.

Leanne Bauer has spent the last three years attempting to move on, and reclaim some normalcy to her life. After losing her best friend, Sarah, in a school shooting, she's not really sure how to move on. Making it even more difficult to move on is the fact that Sarah's "story" has been played out repeatedly in the media. The biggest issue with this, is that the story the media is telling isn't true. Everyone thinks that Sarah died immediately after proclaiming her faith to the shooter, but Leanne knows that isn't true because she was in the bathroom stall with Sarah when she died. Three years later, Leanne has kept this secret to herself because she doesn't want to face what she's sure will come if she speaks up, and also doesn't want to tarnish Sarah's name. But, Leanne is about to graduate, and Sarah's parents are about to publish a book about Sarah's story, so she knows this may be her last chance to really get the truth out there.

We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott, 352 Pages

We Told Six Lies is a Young Adult thriller that is set to be released in February 2019. I'm still a little unsure of how exactly I felt about this book. Was is the best YA thriller I've ever read? No. But it was intriguing enough to keep my attention, and made it difficult for me to put down. I didn't see the ending coming, and was surprised with the twist that came with it. The one thing that I didn't like about this book was how sexual it was, especially for a young adult book. I wouldn't consider myself a prude, but as someone who was reading YA at what I would consider a young age, it makes me uneasy that it would be on the YA shelves.

Hindsight: And All the Things I Can't See in Front of Me by Justin Timberlake, 288 Pages

I'm a huge Justin Timberlake fan, and an even bigger NSYNC fan, so I was super excited to read this book. I thought it was an interesting look at his life beyond what you normally see. The book also includes a ton of pictures from when he was a child, all the way up to his most recent tour. It was a quick and easy read, too, which I really appreciated. (I finished this in one sitting!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans, 283 Pages

Jacob Churcher returns to his childhood home after the death of his mother.  Upon arrival he discovers that the mother he hadn't seen in over 20 years had become a hoarder.  While cleaning through layer after layer of junk he uncovers family secrets that need to be brought to life.  During this process he meets Rachel, a woman looking for answers and trying to fill holes in her own past.  Little do they know that their past lives are intertwined.  During this journey they mend family ties and discover that love is possible and deserving for two people who had given up on ever finding happiness.

I enjoyed this book, and it was a really quick read, taking me only a few hours.  However, it was a bit too wholesome for my taste.  I could have used a bit more grit, with Jacob's abusive past/mother, and a little more steam/hotness with the romance storyline between Jacob and Rachel.  I've never read Richard Paul Evans before, so I'm guessing he writes clean/wholesome stuff.  There's nothing wrong with that, and I did enjoy the story.  I was in the mood for a little, quick wintry and Christmassy themed book and this did the trick.