Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

  


Goodreads Overview:

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun--but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

Jacque's Review:

This was one of the choices for my son's junior year summer reading, so I read it along with him. This wasn't my favorite John Green novel, but it did have some good messages.

Colin is a child prodigy, but is obsessed with achieving greatness. He spends countless hours working on his relationship theorem because he believes that is what it will take for his life to matter. People use their life experiences to set goals for themselves and to determine their successes, failures, and self worth. Colin learns that he needs to live in the moment and not to force greatness. He will be remembered for his life story regardless.

Another theme that was expressed throughout the book is to be yourself. Colin meets a girl named Lindsay when they stop in Gutshot to visit a tourist attraction on their road trip. Lindsay wasn’t popular as a child and changes who she is to  make people like her. Throughout the book Colin notices how she changes her personality and accent based upon who she is with. She eventually learns there is no point in changing for others because there is always someone who will love you as you are.

Overall, I felt like there were some great messages contained in this story that readers could learn and benefit from. I'm sure that is why it was selected for their summer reading, but it was quite tedious reading some of the dialog regarding the theorem and all of the Katherines. What Colin eventually discovers from his calculation is enlightening to readers, but it took a long time to get to the point. Unless you are also a child prodigy or a mathematician, you will probably want to skim over those sections. My son listened to the audio book and was completely glassed over with all of the square roots and power of Xs. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Book Review: Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

  


Goodreads Overview:

From the Academy Award®–winning actor, an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction

I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges - how to get relative with the inevitable - you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”

So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.

Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.

It’s a love letter. To life.

It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights - and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.

Good luck.

Jacque's Review:

I listened to the audio book and would HIGHLY recommend listening instead of reading this book. It is narrated by Matthew and he does an AMAZING job, which you would expect from an actor. I literally laughed out loud a number of times. I do not believe the story would have come across the same way without his tone and manner of telling these sometimes unbelievable stories.

Matthew did not come from a wealthy celebrity family. He shares what his family life was like growing up and what it took to make it in Hollywood. His rise to fame did not happen overnight. He tells the struggles of a poor actor living on people's couches and how he travelled the country in his van with his dog. He eventually buys an Airstream that he calls Canoe that he still has today. I can't even imagine the look on people's faces when Matthew McConaughey pulls into the campsite next to them. I can appreciate the anonymity camping provided him and why he would prefer that to the mobs of fans that likely flock to him everywhere else he goes. Campers understand the desire for peace and quiet and are also looking for some relaxation and solitude. The chances of someone at a campground venturing over for an autograph or a selfie is highly unlikely. He did mix with some of the people he met along the way and it seemed like he fit in just about everywhere he went. Whether it was with the locals in the Amazon as he floated down the river or on a disastrous exchange trip to Australia. Regardless of how bad the situation was, he always seems to find a greenlight.

This book is very inspiring and motivational. You definitely have to give McConaughey credit for his honesty and ability to turn his everyday life into a book that everyone can appreciate and learn from. We should all spend more time looking for the greenlight in what may appear to be a red or yellow light situation. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Book Review: The Nine by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg


SUMMARY:

Hannah Webber fears she will never be a mother, but her prayers are finally answered when she gives birth to a son. In an era of high-stakes parenting, nurturing Sam’s intellect becomes Hannah’s life purpose. She invests body and soul into his development, much to the detriment of her marriage. She convinces herself, however, that Sam’s acceptance at age fourteen to the most prestigious of New England boarding schools overseen by an illustrious headmaster, justifies her choices.

When he arrives at Dunning, Sam is glad to be out from under his mother’s close watch. And he enjoys his newfound freedom―until, late one night, he stumbles upon evidence of sexual misconduct at the school and is unable to shake the discovery.

Both a coming-of-age novel and a portrait of an evolving mother-son relationship, The Nine is the story of a young man who chooses to expose a corrupt world operating under its own set of rules―even if it means jeopardizing his mother’s hopes and dreams

TEE'S THOUGHTS :

The Nine could actually be considered two stories, and I think different people will take different things from it.

First there is the story of Hannah Weber, the helicopter mom to Sam, who will go to great length to get him into a elite private school and constantly try to control his life. She is a typical helicopter mother.

The second story is the story of Sam, her son. He goes off to a prestigious boarding school only to discover a secret and deems it important enough to ruin his standing in the school by exposing the truth.

I personally had a hard time relating to Hannah, I didnt dislike her, I just didnt really understand her actions. I tried to give my two children room to make their own descions and also their mistakes, so they could learn from them. However I was also there to reel them in if needed.

I really like Sam's character. He seemed like a good kid, and he felt like a real character having to struggle with right and wrong and doing the correct thing. I also understood his desire to get out from under his mothers controlling ways . I do however give her credit for raising a son who would expose what he did and risk everything that he had going for him. I feel like that is something that is ingrained in you from the way you are raised.

Having never read a book by Blasberg, I found The Nine extremely compelling, and enjoyed the twists that she provided throughout the story. They were not jaw dropping twists, but they fit well into the story and moved it along so it kept you turning pages. I also really loved the good ole boy networking , and the corruption she attached to it, ( of course I love a great Dark Academia book so it stands to reason ). The mystery behind it all kept me interested and intrigued. The contrasts she showed between the upper and lower classes and the academic and athletic departments felt real  and were treated accordingly.

The Nine was released in 2019 and I am sad it took me this long to find it, as it was a fantastic read, espeically if, like me you love Dark Academia and books like The Secret History and Dead Poets Society, or honestly if you just like a good mystery. I will defintelty pick up another book by Blasberg.



Thursday, November 11, 2021

Mini Review: The Dogfish Head Book: 26 Years of Off-Centered Adventures

The Dogfish Head Book: 26 Years of Off-Centered Adventures, is a celebratory chronology of the offbeat escapades that propelled Dogfish Head to become the beloved craft brewery, distillery, hotel and culinary hub it is today. Written by Dogfish Head Founder & Brewer, Sam Calagione; Dogfish Head Co-Founder & Communitarian, Mariah Calagione; and longtime co-worker and Dogfish INNkeeper, Andrew C. Greeley, this heavily-illustrated, lovingly-told page-turner provides a detailed account of the brand’s history told through heartfelt stories from the authors, a timetable of Dogfish Head’s off-centered beverage releases AND a plethora of co-worker-told tales. 

“It’s always been a dream of mine to be an author and having the chance to co-write this particular book was so much fun,” said Andrew. “Together, Sam, Mariah and I thoughtfully planned each chapter, designing the pages to be an informal interaction with the reader, almost like we were sharing our stories with them over a couple of beers while sitting around the fire pit at the Dogfish INN."

Flo's Mini Review

This book is a lot of fun! Sam and Mariah had an event down in Miami, which I was unfortunately unable to attend, but I'm glad I got the chance to see this book. The text and spreads make it read almost like a scrapbook. It looks like it could be easy to read cover to cover, but I enjoyed hopping around as I felt, and it still made sense when I did so. I took a few pictures to show what I mean:





The Dogfish Head Book: 26 Years of Off-Centered Adventures is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionPorchlight and WileyFor more about Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, please visit www.dogfish.comFor more information, visit www.dogfish.com, Facebook: @dogfishheadbeer, Twitter: @dogfishbeer, an Instagram: @dogfishhead. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Book Review: Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell

  


Goodreads Overview:

Dr Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner and consulting pathologist for the federal law enforcement agency ATF, is called out to a farmhouse in Virginia which has been destroyed by fire. In the ruins of the house she finds a body which tells a story of a violent and grisly murder.

The fire has come at the same time as another even more incendiary horror: Carrie Grethen, a killer who nearly destroyed the lives of Scarpetta and those closest to her, has escaped from a forensic psychiatric hospital. Her whereabouts is unknown, but her ultimate destination is not, for Carrie has begun to communicate with Scarpetta, conveying her deadly - if cryptic - plans for revenge.

Chillingly mesmeric in tone, labyrinthine in structure, Point of Origin is Patricia Cornwell at her most dazzling.

Jacque's Review:

I am still plugging away with the Kay Scarpetta series. This is the 9th book in the series, but there are currently 25 books, so I have a long way to go. At the rate Cornwell is going, I don't think I will ever catch up. I do enjoy the series and was shocked by what took place at the end of this novel.

This time around Kay is investigating an arson that took place on a horse farm. It appears to be an isolated case, but she soon connects it to some other cases. Besides the fact that a roaring fire consumes the houses with way more fuel than there should have been based upon the contents and structure, there doesn't appear to be a connection. The victims are not linked and they can't determine how the fires are getting so large. Gasoline or other traceable fuel sources aren't detected, but in each case the fire appears to be concealing evidence related to a murder.

Carrie Grethen is a returning character who wreaked havoc previously in this series. She was finally locked up in a psychiatric facility awaiting trial, but manages to escape. Now that she is on the loose, Kay and her niece Lucy are not going to be safe until she is recaptured. Carrie is toying with them throughout the novel and has a huge part in the ending. 

Benton and Kay are now essentially living together, but their relationship is a bit strained. She can't seem to get away from the job and is constantly putting her personal life on the back burner. They were supposed to get away for a vacation, but this case hits too close to home and she once again can't pull herself away. 

I will not give anything away, but the ending was CRAZY. Kay, Marino, Lucy and the rest of the team get to the bottom of this case, but I don't think they will ever be the same after this. On the plus side, we should be finished with Carrie once and for all. I do not really care for how Cornwell continues to rely on previous cases to propel this series forward. I prefer more of the structure of the Women's Murder Club or Stephanie Plum novels that are independent stories with evolving characters and personal relationships. I do not want to relive the previous cases over and over again. Hopefully after this installment we can finally move on to something fresh. 

Friday, November 5, 2021

Book Review: The Paris Mysteries by James Patterson

  


Goodreads Overview:

The City of Lights sets the stage for romance, drama and intrigue in the latest Confessions novel from the world's bestselling mystery writer!

After investigating multiple homicides and her family's decades-old skeletons in the closet, Tandy Angel is finally reunited with her lost love in Paris. But as he grows increasingly distant, Tandy is confronted with disturbing questions about him, as well as what really happened to her long-dead sister. With no way to tell anymore who in her life she can trust, how will Tandy ever get to the bottom of the countless secrets her parents kept from her? James Patterson leads this brilliant teenage detective through Paris on a trail of lies years in the making, with shocking revelations around every corner.

Jacque's Review:

This is the third book in the Confessions series. While it is set in Paris and there are a number of interesting facts and secrets that emerge, this wasn't my favorite book in the series. I gave it a generous three stars and will continue with the series, but I did not like one of the angles the plot took at the end. Perhaps there is an explanation and things will go in another direction in the next installment, but it just seemed so random and incomprehensible. 

This time around Tandy is trying to find out more about her family's past, specifically her Grandmother who's house they are now living in. In addition, she is investigating what happened to her sister Katherine and the mystery man she was with at the time of the accident. This part of the story I did enjoy along with the twisted connections back to her uncle and her family's pharmaceutical company. 

The other major part of the book was trying to find Tandy's boyfriend James Rampling, who is pretty much in hiding because of his father's controlling ways. Once they are reconnected, he splits again without any sort of explanation because of "the danger their relationship will put Tandy in if his father finds out". This is a complete load of crap in my opinion as evidenced by events that took place later in the book. I really do not see why Patterson did a complete 180 with this character and how it will benefit the series in the end. The same is true for Tandy's "best friend" C.P. who turns out to be the worst friend in history. She was such a sweet character and was dating Tandy's twin brother Harry before they left New York. How things shifted so dramatically in such a short period of time is beyond me. 

There is only one book remaining in the series, so I hope Patterson and Paetro will get things back on track. After reading the description for Confessions The Murder of an Angel and some of the reviews on Goodreads, I do not plan on rushing into reading this final book. As one reviewer put it, "It ends with a fizzle" and another says "the first book in the series was the best of all and it was downhill from there - especially the fourth book". This does not sound promising. 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

  


Goodreads Overview:

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says good-bye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gaëtan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France—a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

Jacque's Review:

I purchased this book at BEA shortly after it was released due to all of the hype. It was a Goodreads choice award winner back in 2015 and I had just started reading more historical fiction. I am not sure why it sat on my TBR shelf for 5+ years before I finally got around to it, but I am glad I finally did. This was an exceptional story that easily earned the 5 stars I rated it on Goodreads.

This book tells a very realistic and heart wrenching tale of what it was like for the women, children, and elders that were left behind in France while their husbands, fathers, and other loved ones went off to fight in the war. The Nazi's were increasingly more aggressive and violent as the war went on and resources such as food, fuel, and clothing became more and more scarce. The locals were left to starve while the soldiers lived relatively comfortably on the provisions they stole from the area residents.

There can't be a novel based upon WW2 without focusing on the Nazi's treatment of the Jews. One of Vianne's closest friends is Jewish, so we get to see first hand how the persecution escalated and what could happen to sympathizers. Vianne even takes it upon her self to start hiding Jewish children who were orphaned, which was an extremely dangerous thing to do, but it was her way of contributing to the war effort. 

In addition, we get to see how Isabelle helps allied soldiers escape German occupied France.  This was an EXTREMLY dangerous job physically in addition to what would happen if she was caught. 

It seems like there are so many historical fiction novels out now that are set during the WW2 time period. So far I have read this book and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Both of these books were fabulous and I would highly recommend them. I am planning on reading All The Light We Cannot See, since it is also an award winner, but I am probably going to wait until next year. I do not think I am ready for such heavy material again so soon. 

Monday, November 1, 2021

5 Miami Book Fair Events I'm Looking Forward To

I was pretty excited to learn that Miami Book Fair would be both an in-person and online event this month. For those of you who don't know, it will be held November 14th through 21st, with a ton of events happening in both downtown Miami and on your computer the weekend of November 19th through 21st. You can see the full schedule at MiamiBookFair.com. As I count down the days until the fair, I thought I'd share a few of the online events I'm excited about. Click the links to learn more.

10. Soman Chainani Presents Beasts & Beauty: Dangerous TalesNew York Times bestselling author Soman Chainani respins old stories into fresh fairy tales for a new era and creates a world like no other. These stories know you. They understand you. They reflect you. They are tales for our times. So read on, if you dare. Moderated by M-DCPS educator Jessica Rebhan.

9. Murder She Wrote: Four YA ThrillersGossip Girl meets Get Out in Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, where two students struggle against an anonymous bully whose sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game. In Holly Jackson’s As Good As Dead: The Finale to A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, the conclusion of the series, Pip wonders whether her anonymous online stalker is something more sinister. In You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus, three old friends relive an epic ditch day, and it goes horribly – and fatally – wrong. And in Katie Zhao’s How We Fall Apart, students at an elite prep school are forced to confront old secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead. Moderated by Ismery Pavon, YA book reviewer and Miami Book Fair program coordinator.

8. Bunkmates, Besties, Boyfriends: Three Irresistible RomancesIn Sarah Dass’ Where the Rhythm Takes You, Reyna’s childhood best friend and first love comes roaring back into her life as a VIP guest at her family’s seaside resort in Tobago. A Brazilian teen pop star’s public image takes a dive after a messy public breakup – until she’s set up with a swoon-worthy fake boyfriend in Like a Love Song by Gabriela Martins. In Raquel Vasquez Gilliland’s How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe, a “merch girl” on an influencer’s tour bus gets a new bunkmate, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy she’s ever seen. Moderated by Alli Hoff Kosik, the SSR Podcast.

7. Brendan Kiely Presents The Other Talk: Reckoning With Our White PrivilegeTalking about racism can be hard, but … Most kids of color grow up talking about racism. They have “The Talk” with their families – the honest talk about survival in a racist world. But white kids don’t. They’re barely spoken to about race at all – and that needs to change. Because not talking about racism doesn’t make it go away. Not talking about white privilege doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Brendan Kiely’s The Other Talk: Reckoning with Our White Privilege begins this much-needed conversation for white kids. In an instantly relatable and deeply honest account of his own life, Brendan Kiely offers young readers a way to understand one’s own white privilege and why allyship is so vital, so that we can all start doing our part – today. Joining are Brian Knowles and Lisa Seymour, School District of Palm Beach County.

6. Singing Even in the Dark Times: Four YA Authors on Historical FictionIn Tahereh Mafi’s An Emotion of Great Delight, Shadi tries to navigate her crumbling world in the wake of 9/11 by soldiering through, until one day, everything changes, and she explodes. In One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, two sisters embark on a journey to honor the memory of their social activist sister, killed under mysterious circumstances, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. Cane Warriors: A Novel by Alex Wheatle follows Moa, a 14-year-old slave who gets caught up in Tacky’s War, the most significant slave rebellion in Jamaican history, paying homage to freedom fighters all over the world. Moderated by Safon Floyd, executive editor at Callisto Media.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: AT THE END OF EVERYTHING BY MARIEKE NIJKAMP

 


SUMMARY:

The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is ironically named. No one has hope for the delinquent teenagers who have been exiled there; the world barely acknowledges that they exist.

Then the guards at Hope start acting strange. And one day...they don't show up. But when the teens band together to make a break from the facility, they encounter soldiers outside the gates. There's a rapidly spreading infectious disease outside, and no one can leave their houses or travel without a permit. Which means that they're stuck at Hope. And this time, no one is watching out for them at all.

As supplies quickly dwindle and a deadly plague tears through their ranks, the group has to decide whom among them they can trust and figure out how they can survive in a world that has never wanted them in the first place.

TEE'S THOUGHTS

This book hits really close to home by centering around a government shut down due to a respiratory disease that reads as being so much worse than Covid. Taking place in Hope Juvenile Center which is situated in the middle of the Ozark mountains cut off from civilization. Once the virus hits, the teens find themselves abandoned after the guards up and leave.

It did not bother me to read a book such as this so close to the happening around us here. I was lucky, Covid never hit my family, of the four or five different houses in my family, we buckled down and stayed home and none of us caught the virus. I imagine however that this book could be a major triggering point to some people because of the realism of the story. It is funny, if I had read this book before 2020, I might not have thought it so realistic, never have we experienced something like this in our lifetime, so I figured it would almost feel a bit dystopian to me.

The story is a very character-driven slow burn. The events that happen are slowly fed to the reader, paced throughout, but as you read, the dread and tension will be felt on the pages.

 The characters in the book do a great job of taking hold of the situation and have strong wills and resilience. The writer has chosen very diverse characters for the story, for instance, a deaf girl, and another trying to find a God that will be accepting of their queerness. They are all written fantastically with different personalities and abilities but it is great watching them grow and learn to work together. I would have liked a bit more backstory on the characters however, I felt this would have given them each a bit more depth, and a chance for me to know them better.

The one thing I really enjoyed about At The End Everything was the author’s inclusion of things that drove the story forward but were not actually written as the story. Included were phone transcripts and a few other things that seemed to give the story a realness to it.

I do not read a lot of YA books, but this one surprised me and drew me in. It was heartbreaking, and despite that these teens were left to survive alone with sickness and other harsh obstacles surrounding them, this book is also full of hope, love, and survival.


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Book Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult


 SUMMARY:
Diana O'Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She's an associate specialist at Sotheby's now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. She's not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galapagos--days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It's all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana's dream vacation goes awry. Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they'd booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, the whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father's suspicion of outsiders.

In the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself--and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.

TERI'S THOUGHTS

Set during Covid, Diana, an art specialist for Sotheby's lives with her finance Finn, who is a surgical resident in a New York hospital. Due to the hospital gaining more Covid cases, Finn has to back out of his and Diana's dream vacation to the Galapagos, but urges her to go and enjoy as they can not get a refund, she will only be gone for two weeks and then they will be back together.

When Diana arrives on the Island, there is a boat there taking vacationers off to the airport and she decides not to turn around and get on it, she will be able to leave in two weeks, but instead, she gets stuck on the island when it shuts down due to Covid.

I think Jodi Picoult wrote an excellent book with Wish You Were Here. It may be because we are barely out of the shutdowns and hardships of the virus but this book felt real, and at times was a hard read. It put you right back into the nightmare that is Covid. All the shutdowns, not being able to see the ones you love, the deaths, and the grueling work that the frontline medical workers had to go through.

Yet while the book is filled with the horrors of Covid, you also get a breather with the beauty that Diana is witnessing in the Galapagos. You get a beautiful look at the people of the island and their traditions.

Picoult has given us characters that are human, they have flaws and feelings, but they are also strong and resilient. Her writing is skillful and emotional and keeps you invested in the story. 

It is easy to see why Picoult is one of the best writers there is, and I think she has outdone herself with Wish You Were Here.

Oh yes, be sure to keep a box of tissue handy, you will need it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Book Review: Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han

  


Goodreads Overview:

And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Jacque's Review:

Overall I enjoyed the book and this series, but there was a lot of unnecessary drama that I think could and should have been avoided. Maybe it is because I am quite a bit older than the average YA reader, but I found some of Lara Jean and Peter's actions and decisions to be extremely immature in this book. I get the fact that the author needed some tension in the story and that an over the top happily ever after probably wasn't what she was going for, but it was emotionally draining at times.

Peter and Lara Jean have everything all planned out. Peter already has a lacrosse scholarship and will attend the same college Lara Jean's parents attended that has always been her number one choice. She is anxiously awaiting her acceptance letters, but things do not pan out as she had hoped. This puts a lot of strain on their relationship as they try to navigate what a long distance relationship might be like. 

In addition to the college planning, Lara Jean's Dad and Ms. Rothchild are in the midst of planning their wedding. Lara Jean has visions of a grand event with all the bells and whistles, but this is a second marriage for both of them. They would be happy with a simple ceremony with close friends and family, which Lara Jean just can't comprehend. In addition, there is a major transition as Ms. Rothchild moves into their family home and starts to add her own personal touches.

There is a lot of change taking place and Lara Jean just doesn't know how to deal with it. She makes some rash decisions that she ultimately ends up regretting. Thankfully, she is able to get things back on track and I was pleased with how the series ended. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Book Review: Well Offed in Vermont by Patricia Meade


 GOODREADS SUMMARY:

In bucolic small-town Vermont, Stella Thornton Buckley feels out of her element—and not just because she's fresh from Manhattan. Mere hours after moving to maple syrup country, she and her husband, Nick, find a dead man, Allen Weston, in their well. The police investigation forces the couple out of their lovely farmhouse and—since the motels are packed with leaf-peepers—into a less than luxurious deer camp. Instead of mourning the loss of electricity and running water, Stella and Nick drive their Smart Car all over the Vermont hamlet to question the quirky locals about Weston, a shrewd businessman who rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way. Stella and Nick may never shed their flatlander reputation, but they just might be able to make a few friends and help Sheriff Mills solve a murder.

TEE'S THOUGHTS:

i live in the South, so when I think of anything fall-like, my mind instantly goes to the Northeast and the wonderful fall foliage that dominates that area in the autumn. On that alone, I was instantly drawn to the cover of the cozy mystery Well Offed in Vermont with its colorful colors of oranges and yellows. It just screams cozy to me.
he story didnt disappoint either. I loved the aspect of Nick and Stella, a married couple trying to investigate the murder and mystery that surrounded their new home. The banter bewteen the two was fantastic, how they played good cop- bad cop, I felt it was something only a married couple could pull off. It was also great to see them adjusting to living in the country in Vermont coming from New York City.
T The story was light hearted, fun, and it wasn't one that I instantly figured out, infact it took the actual revealing for me to know who had done it, and that I really liked.
Well -offed in Vermont is the first of a series, and I can easily see myself picking up the second one.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Book Review: Blacklist by Alyson Noel

  


Goodreads Overview:

Layla Harrison has finally found herself in the middle of a celebrity story worth reporting. Aster Amirpour’s name is in every tabloid—even if it isn’t the good kind of publicity she hoped for. Tommy Phillips is inches away from getting the girl of his dreams, which may be harder than scoring a VIP ticket to an Unrivaled nightclub.

But Layla, Aster and Tommy never imagined it would be because they’re entangled in the disappearance of Madison Brooks—a story that’s blinded the world like a starlet blinded by the flash of a paparazzi camera.

Now, Layla is receiving mysterious messages from an anonymous source, Aster’s looming murder trial is so huge even her parents’ lawyer can’t save her, Tommy is retracing his steps as the last person Madison saw alive, and Layla’s ex Mateo finds himself lured into the fold.

You can dig up dirt about celebrities that the tabloids miss if you search long enough. But when Layla, Aster, and Tommy team up with an unsuspecting insider to unearth the truth, they’ll find that some secrets are best kept in the grave.

Jacque's Review:

This is the second book in the Beautiful Idols series and I am just as confused about what happened to Madison as I was at the end of the first book. While all of the main characters have some element of suspicion for one another, I don't believe any of them had anything to do with Madison's disappearance. At first, I thought it was all staged so Madison could ride out some bad publicity. By the end of the book, we clearly know that is not the case. 

As Layla, Aster, Tommy and Mateo dig deeper into Madison's past, they discover a number of skeletons that could have contributed to her disappearance. How they can share this information with the authorities without somehow implicating themselves is the bigger problem. In addition, I do not trust Ira Redman, Tommy's father and the nightclub owner that hosted the contest that kicked off this series. Something also feels off with the reporter Trena Moretti, the reporter that has sky rocketed her career because of the Madison Brooks story.  

I do not feel like the story advanced much over the course of this book, but I am still interested in seeing how everything will unfold. I am vested enough in the characters and hope the final book will be more like the first, which I really enjoyed.