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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

(7)The Dry by Jane Harper


It took a tragedy to get Federal Agent, Aaron Falk to go home.  His childhood best friend killed his wife, son, and then himself.  It was Luke's father who reached out to Aaron and summoned him.  Falk had left his small Austrailian hometown years ago under a swirl of scandal when a friend of theirs was found dead in the river.  But Falk goes home and finds that his hometown has practically dried up.  The drought has taken a hit on the economy and everyone is on edge. Old family feuds are going strong and tensions are running high. Rumor has it that Luke's family farm was taking a hit and he was on the verge of losing it all. After the funeral one of the local authorities approaches Falk.  He isn't entirely sure the case is as cut and dry as it looks.  Falk agrees to stay and help the investigation and it turns out that the Sergeant was right. But who would want to kill Luke and his family?

The Dry has been getting a lot of buzz as being the next hot mystery and I understand why that it is.  Aaron Falk appears to be a good guy.  He leads a pretty quiet, if not solitary life, in Melbourne and a lot of that stems from the trauma of small town living.  And having grown up in a small town, I totally get it.  There is something very appealing about the anonymity of a big city after living in a town where everybody is up in your business.   Falk has only agreed to stay for a week and the urgency is building and the past is catching up with him.  The book has flashbacks back to when Luke and Aaron were kids and Ellie drowned.  Ellie's family have made it very clear that they believe that Aaron is responsible, even though he wasn't.  A lot of people in town also believe it to be true, which has made his visit a little more uncomfortable.   I figured out who the killer was at a very specific moment about halfway through the book.  I even highlighted the passage & thought "this is where I figured it out."   I was right, but it could have gone any other way.  - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom line - even though I had it figured out pretty early, The Dry was still a page turner.  I wanted to see if I was right and even though that I might not be at one point.  I am glad that I stuck it out and look forward to more from Jane Harper in the future.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

(6)The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian


Warren Ahlberg is out of town at a conference when he gets the call that his wife, Annalee, has gone missing.  He knew it was a risk leaving Annalee home with his daughter, Lianna and Paige, but he did.  Annalee's sleepwalking has been under control, but it always gets worse when Warren is out of town.  The family accepts Annalee's disappearance with a broken heart, assuming she fell in the river.  Twenty-one year old Lianna strikes up a friendship with a detective n the case, it turns out that the detective had a sort of relationship with Annalee.  Through Gavin, Lianna learns more about her mother than she ever wanted to know.  Information about her sleepwalking that will change the Ahlberg family forever.    But will they ever find out what happened to Lianna?  Was her disappearance a tragic accident or was it something much more sinister?

Chris Bohjalian has outdone himself.  The Sleepwalker starts out as a bit of a mystery and then meanders into a fascinating story about a twist on a common ailment, sleepwalking.  Annalee and Gavin, the detective had one thing in common and met at a support group for people who have parasomnia.  They don't walk in their sleep, they do something so much more.   I enjoyed Lianna, who was desperately trying to hold her family together after her mother's disappearance.  Her younger sister was still in high school and Lianna felt a sense of responsibility for Paige. She took a semester off of college to be there.    I didn't have a good feeling about Gavin, the detective.  He was considerably older than Lianna and I thought he was a bit of a predator.     When the truth is revealed, I have to say that I was shocked.  It was not what I had expected.  -- CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom line - The Sleepwalker was such a terrific read.  The book has all of the components of a good mystery, but the characters were so much more developed than your average mystery novel.  There is so much in this novel that is up for discussion.  You won't regret it

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

(5)The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer


The Chemist is a woman who knows too much and has been on the run for several years from the government agency that wants her dead. Her job for the government was that of a "fixer."  Her skills in the arena of interrogation made her invaluable to her agency and she saved thousands, if not millions, of lives with the information she gathered from terrorists.  Her mentor prepped her for the fact that the agency may no longer need her skills someday and when that day comes she needs to be prepared to run for her life.   When that day arrives, her mentor is killed and she runs.  Long gone is her name, Juliet.  Instead, she goes by names like Chris or Alex.  Her days are spent researching and planning her next escape.  She sleeps in a bathtub wearing a gas mask, she is fighting for her life.  Her former handler has reached out to her with a way to get her life back.  The agency is in need of her skills again in order to save the country from a planned biological attack. That is how she meets the Beach brothers.  She is led to believe that Daniel Beach is tied to the drug lord with the evil plans and uses her skills to get as much information as she can about the plot.  But it doesn't go as planned and soon The Chemist is on the run with Daniel and his brother, Kevin.  Will they ever be able to be free from the agency and lead a normal life?

Stephenie Meyer is best known for her hit YA series, Twilight.   She took a lot of flack for her heroine getting into trouble and needing to be rescued by a man (or werewolf or vampire).  She moves to the extreme opposite side of the spectrum.  Alex (as she is mostly referred to in the book) is quite the heroine.  She is incredibly intelligent and resourceful, not to mention pretty good with a gun, although she prefers other means of defense.  Not only is she quite capable of taking care of herself, but she rescues not one, but two men.  The Chemist is a pretty fast paced thriller.  It isn't really a mystery, more of a "will they survive" type of story.   While the cheese factor is considerably lower with The Chemist than her other books, there is still a smidge of cheesy romance included.   Oh and there are puppy dogs!   With one GSD as a major character!   Overall, I did enjoy the book and was satisfied with the conclusion.

Bottom line - many people may shy away from reading The Chemist because of the author's cheesy reputation, but they shouldn't.  The Chemist is a great espionage thriller with a strong female heroine, and that is very rare for the spy thriller genre.

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

(4)Troublemaker by Leah Remini


This time last year everybody was talking about a documentary on Netflix.  This year everybody is talking about Leah Remini and her A&E show about Scientology.   I have watched the first couple of episodes and have been left speechless by the actions of this "church,"  I have had Troublemaker on my "TBR" list for quite a while.  So, I dusted it off and got to know Leah Remini.

I have been a fan of Leah Remini ever since we discovered the King of Queens. She is just as feisty in real life as her on-screen persona, Carrie.   She talks about her childhood from her early years in New York, to her family's joining the Church of Scientology and moving to Florida.  It is absolutely crazy when you read everything she did and had to do while in the Sea Org. One of the most shocking things to me was how dismissive the "church" was in regards to education for the children.   As long as they were doing everything they were supposed to in the church, they really did not care about traditional education.    Leah then goes on to talk about her family moving to California and how hard she hustled to break into the business.

Leah talks about her famous friends, her hours spent at the church, and the success of her career.  The King of Queens, The Talk, and her removal from The Talk.  Then she talks about the famous TomKat wedding and how that was the beginning of the end for her involvement in the church. She really started to question things at the wedding when she saw so many "devout" people breaking policy and doing things the church strictly forbade.  Yet it was her that got in trouble for questioning the whereabouts of the wife of the church's leader.  It was fascinating to read and I couldn't stop reading.   Her hurt and anger were so evident with every word she wrote.  She truly felt betrayed by an organization she had been loyal to and had spent so much time and money on in her life.

Bottom line - In Troublemaker, Leah Remini has written a brutally honest memoir about her life.  The majority of the book is about Scientology, but that was the majority of her life.  But I learned one thing, what you see is what you get with Leah Remini.  I respect that in a person and I respect the fact that she has taken on Scientology with the hopes of exposing them for what they do.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

(3)Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia


Life in Pine Valley, Minnesota is quiet and peaceful, some would even say that it was boring.  That is until one spring day the body of eighteen-year-old Hattie is found in an old barn. Things like this just don't happen in Pine Valley and the whole town is buzzing with who could have killed Hattie.   She was brutally murdered and it is up to Sheriff Del Goodman to find out who killed her and why.  As more information is revealed you learn that Hattie was not the good girl that everybody thought she was.  She had dreams and aspirations and was not willing to let anybody get in her way.  Will the Sheriff be able to solve Hattie's murder before the whole town goes crazy with fear and rumors?

Everything You Want Me To Be is pretty much every parent's worst nightmare, especially if they are the parent of a teen.   The title of the book one of the most accurate titles ever - almost heartbreakingly so.  The book is told from three different viewpoints - Hattie's, Del's, and Peter Lund.  Peter is Hattie's high school English teacher and was forced to move to Pine Valley to care for his wife's sick mother.  The timeline jumps around a bit, leading up to the crime (Hattie and Peter) and after the crime (the Sheriff).   Hattie has grand illusions of leaving Pine Valley for New York City but is hindered by her age and naivete.  Hattie was like most teenage girls, she was extremely confident and possessed a self-assurance that many adults would envy.   Peter Lund was a jerk.  I thought he was a jerk from the very beginning, but he played such a big role in Hattie's life, he was important to the story.  There were also friends of Hattie's that had huge parts in the story, like her friend Porsha and boyfriend.  Ultimately, the killer is revealed and I wasn't that shocked.  I hadn't figured out the killer, but it wasn't that shocking.  - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom line - I really enjoyed Everything You Wanted Me To Be.  It wasn't the type of mystery that has you on the edge of your seat, but the complexity of the story and the characters really made it a gripping novel.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

(2)Results May Vary by Bethany Chase


Caroline Hammond is an art curator at the show of an up and coming photographer.  She gets a sneak peek of his work that was too provocative for the show and is shocked to reveal that the intimate photos are of her husband, Adam, was having an affair with a man.  Caroline is beyond devastated.  Caro and Adam have been together since high school, they have been together for so long that Caroline can't imagine her life without him.  As they work through the revelation of the affair, more secrets are revealed and Caro questions whether or not she ever really knew her husband.  While he begs her forgiveness and asks to come home every time they talk, Caroline is exploring her options.  Including her colleague, the handsome widower.   Caroline has a lot of decisions to make, including the fate of her marriage.

Results May Vary was a gripping novel about a woman whose world was destroyed with just one photograph.  It is heart-wrenching how much she hurts from her husband's betrayal.  She was completely devoted to him and the author did such a great job at conveying those emotions.  I felt horrible for her.  Caro had a best friend (male) and a sister to help her get through the worst of it. But there were secrets there, too.   Ultimately Caroline had to do what was best for her and I am confident that I would have made the same decision.  I was happy with the ending in so many different ways.

Bottom line - Results May Vary was a great novel about a  woman faced with making a heartbreaking decision.  Lots of great discussion to be had with this novel - a great selection for your next book club selection.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

(1)The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena


Anne and Marco Conti had a perfectly normal evening.  They went to their neighbor's house for a dinner party, but because of a last minute cancellation by their babysitter they left their six-month-old, Cora, home in her crib.  They had the baby monitor with them and checked on her every thirty minutes, so what was the harm?  When Anne and Marco go home well after midnight and full of wine they are shocked to discover the front door is open and Cora is gone.  They are absolutely destroyed by her disappearance and cannot imagine who would take their baby.  As the investigation goes on, it becomes apparent that things are not what they seem.  Not with Anne, not with Marco, and not with The Couple Next Door.  Will the Conti's find out what happened to their daughter and will their marriage survive it?

The Couple Next Door had some great elements of surprise, but it also had some serious plot flaws that left me shaking my head.  Why would police investigating the abduction case seek out former classmates of Anne - from fifteen years ago? It just isn't plausible.  The author did it to introduce possible mental illness issues, but it left me scratching my head.  There were a lot of twists and turns to the story and it was almost hard to keep up.  Like the creepy neighbors, with their camera. They hint that their camera caught something important, but you don't know what it is until almost half-way through the book. Then there are Anne's wealthy parents that can't stand Marco.  Then there are Marco's business failings. It is a lot.  Some of the plot twists were pure brilliance, but it was still a lot to keep up with.   The end was just another plot twist and kind of sad, but not in the way you are thinking. CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS. 

Bottom line - while you may need a flow chart to keep all of the twists and turns straight, The Couple Next Door is one of those mystery novels that will keep you guessing until the very end.

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

(104)Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham


I remember the first episode I ever saw of The Gilmore Girls. I caught an episode in syndication on the channel now known as Freeform. It was summer and there wasn't really anything else on tv to watch. I don't remember the exact episode, but I remember being enamored with the whole Luke and Lorelai dynamic.  I watched all the seasons that summer and was eagerly waiting for season seven to start in the fall.  This past summer I got the joy of introducing my step-daughter to Lorelai and Rory.  After just two episodes she said, "I'm not going to lie, it is pretty awesome."

Just like millions of other women I squealed with delight when hearing about the Netflix deal. And I was the first in line to purchase Lauren Graham's book.  I had to wait for a time that my husband and I would be traveling together to listen to it, though.  And the wait was well worth it.  In Talking As Fast As I Can Lauren Graham takes us behind the scenes of her career.  From her early days in Summerstock to getting the job on Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, and the reboot.  The book was everything I had hoped for and more.  She doesn't spend a lot of time on her early days, but enough to let the reader know exactly how much fun she was then.  She talks about when she first meets Alexis Bledel and the first days on the show.  She then goes through each season and talks about her favorite episodes, the fashion and hair of the season, and certain things that really show the age of the show.  Pop culture references or technology-related items.  Like vhs tapes or now antiquated answering machines.  Frankly, it was awesome.  It was all so fresh, just because we had watched it all with my step-daughter and husband.

Lauren then talks about her time on Parenthood and her relationship with her on-screen brother, Peter Krause. And her relationship with her on-screen children. It sounds like she has been blessed with a great work family for both shows.  And finally, she talks about the Gilmore Girls A Year in the Life.  From the early talks to the final four words.  Even she is convinced those final four words were quite the cliffhanger.  Lauren was quite open about how emotional she was through the filming of those four episodes, she was a bundle of tears.  From missing Edward Hermann (Richard) to Carol King providing an impromptu concert.  It was wonderful. Absolutely perfect. -- OH and she is working on an adaptation of one of my favorite books this year, The Royal We!

Bottom line - There was not one second of this audiobook that I did not enjoy.  Lauren Graham was funny, insightful, and honest with every story she had to tell.  The behind the scenes stories she shares were everything a reader and devoted fan hopes for in a celebrity memoir.  You will not be disappointed.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

(103)A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston


Like everybody else in the world I was obsessed with Breaking Bad. I resisted for several seasons, but resistance was futile. Because Walter White was such a riveting character, I was excited to read Bryan Cranston's memoir.

Bryan Cranston was a California boy with a father who was in the business.  His childhood was unusual because his father wasn’t consistently successful, so after his parents split up Bryan and his brother had to scavenge for things his mom could sell at a flea market. But the most interesting thing about his youth was the fact that he and his brother travelled across country on their motorcycles in the late 70s.  It made for some interesting stories and set the foundation for an interesting life.

Bryan goes on to tell about his early acting days. From his days on the soap opera Loving, to audition after audition. He talks fondly about his Malcom in the Middle family and then he gets to Breaking Bad.  He speaks briefly about his bond with Aaron Paul and the Breaking Bad family, but he talks a lot about the craft of acting.  Specifically what it was like fighting for what he felt would be true to the character. It was interesting and really showed that Bryang Cranston is a true  actor.

Bottom line- A lot of celebrity memoirs are full of Hollywood gossip and anecdotes of colleagues that make it a fun read.  A Life in Parts  is more about an actor's craft with a few tidbits thrown in for fun.  However,  celebrity aside, Bryan Cranston has led an interesting life and his memoir is a fascinating read.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

(102)Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel


Kate Pearson was not handling her breakup very well.   She left a very successful career path in anthropology to move to France to be with her boyfriend, so it is no wonder that the break-up did not go well.  Kate has been living a solitary life ever since.  Her family is worried about her, her friends are worried about her, and all she wants is to be left alone.   One of her friends got her a job interview at a prestigious New York City private school. The interview was a disaster, but Kate still got the job.  She now has a job in the admissions department at the Hudson Day School.  Kate's job means interviewing prospective students and their parents.  A job that opens Kate's eyes to the sense of entitlement that runs rampant in the world of private schools.  The pressure that comes with "Admissions Season" is high - will Kate be able to stand up to the pressure or will she go back to the hermit lifestyle that she was leading?

Small Admissions was a quick, light-hearted read.  Kate was the kind of character that was obviously well loved by anybody who knew her.  All of her family and friends were so concerned with her well-being after the break-up. And rightfully so, she was kind of a mess.  But after she got the job at Hudson she was putting her life back together quite nicely, but none of her friends or family seemed to recognize that.  They all kept planning for next break-down - like it was inevitable, yet none of them were willing to acknowledge that she was getting her shit together.  Well, until that one conversation between Kate's sister and father.  One of her friends was obviously a "mean girl" in disguise and I was ready to slap her silly very early in the book. It was the prospective parents and kids that really made the book fun to read.  Talk about serious wack-a-doos.  Small Admissions was a bit predictable, but I liked Kate and was really rooting for her to win.

Bottom line - Small Admissions is one of those books in the same vein as The Devil Wears Prada or The Nanny Diaries.  A light-hearted look at how the other half lives, this time the wealthy who send their kids to private school.  A fun read if you are looking for an escape!

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Monday, December 26, 2016

(101)All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll


Tess Taylor and Kate King live in two very different worlds.  Tess is a personal trainer that was just promoted to Assistant Manager at her gym.  She is engaged to be married to a very safe, but very boring college professor.  The last thing she needs is jury duty.  Tess did everything she could to get out of it, but here she is, on a jury mostly comprised of the elderly.  But there is a guy, Will, who seems to be cool.  His companionship while on jury duty proves to be invaluable, but will it turn into more?

Kate King is a wealthy socialite/model.  She has been married to one of Ireland's most wealthy men for fifteen years.  It was one of those celebrity marriages that was always mentioned in the tabloids.  But now Kate and her husband are divorcing and things are getting messy.  Kate's pre-nup states that she is to keep all gifts bestowed upon her during their marriage.  For her last birthday as a married couple, her husband gave her a priceless piece of art.  Now he wants it back and their spat has been played out in the papers for weeks.  Now it is going to court and it is up to Tess Taylor and her fellow jurors to determine if the painting really is Kate's or if she deserves to go to jail.

All She Ever Wanted was a fun, relaxing read.  The story was an easy read and it was easy to like both Tess and Kate even though they were so different.   The author tells the story in a "back and forth" format.  Tess's story is always told in the present, while Kate's story starts at the beginning of her relationship with Damien fifteen years ago.  Tess and Kate are really quite opposite.  Tess is more light-hearted and easy going, but is engaged to a guy who is her complete opposite in every way.  It was easy to predict which way that plot was going.    Years of being married to a philandering husband and always in the press has hardened Kate to a point that some have accused her of being cold, but as Kate's story progresses, you realize that she is a product of her marriage. I really liked how the story turned out for both Kate and Tess.  There was some emotional growth for both of them.

Bottom line - All She Ever Wished For is everything I love about Chick Lit novels.  Great characters, an engaging story, a little bit of romance, and a happy ending.  A fun read for sure!

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  • All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll
  • On Twitter
  • Pages: 496
  • Publisher:  HarperCollins UK
  • US Publication Date: 12/28/2016
  • Buy it Here!


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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

(100)What Light by Jay Asher


Every year Sierra and her family leaves their Oregon home to set up their Christmas Tree lot in sunny California.  The older Sierra gets the harder it is for her to leaver her friends in Oregon, Even though she has a good friend in California, it is tough.  In California Sierra and her folks live in an Air-stream on their Christmas Tree lot.  They work from sun up to sun down and Sierra goes to virtual school to stay caught up with her peers.  This year is different.  Sierra's parents are trying to decide if they want to continue running the lot in California.

Sierra isn't in California long when she meets Caleb.  A young man who has bought more than one Christmas tree from the lot.   Sierra is intrigued about this young man.  Even more so when one of the guys working at the lot warns her off of him.  Caleb is a wild card and has a violent past. Will Sierra heed the warning or will following her heart get her in trouble?

What Light was a quick and easy read. Sierra was a smart and likable character.  She was torn between two worlds - her life in Oregon and her life in California.  I liked all of her friends, even Caleb.   For the most part they were good kids.  Having been a huge fan of Jay Asher's novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, I was expecting a little something deeper or more gripping than what we find in What Light. Something with a little more substance.  He scratches the surface with Caleb's story-line, but I don't feel it lived up to it's potential. Not that having a lighter story is a bad thing, I was just hoping for more.  I was also hoping for an Epilogue, to see what the next year brings for Sierra, but no luck.  In the end, the story was your typical cheesy Christmas novel and I did enjoy every word.

Bottom line - What Light was your typical holiday novel.  Full of Christmas traditions, no matter how non-traditional they were.  A quick and easy read and likely coming to a Hallmark Channel in the next few years.

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

(99)Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris


How is it possible that I have lived this long without reading the holiday classic, Holidays On Ice?  First published in 1997 the small collection of essays is a mixture of autobiographical stories and satire so well written you will question if it is true or not.

I think my favorite was the Christmas Letter read by his sister,, Amy Sedaris.  It was the letter from a woman was obviously quite put-out by the fact that her husband's long-lost daughter from Vietnam made an appearance in their lives, and Christmas card.  Add insult to injury her own daughter got pregnant by a druggie who ran off and left them, and they were forced to take care of the baby while their daughter was off in rehab. When tragedy strikes the martyr mother is disgusted to realize that the police think that she is at fault.  I found myself laughing several times.

Another favorite was the tale of the neighbors and their insane game of one-upmanship.  It was a cautionary tale of what can happen if you get caught up in the race to "Keep up with the Jones'".

Bottom line - Holidays on Ice is a quick read for those more cynical Christmas lovers out there.  The kind of story that is more likely to make you laugh, rather than have warm fuzzies, but oh definitely worth the read.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

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Monday, December 5, 2016

(98)The Last One by Alexandra Oliva


Twelve contestants have signed on for a reality show.  The winner takes home the million dollar prize. The contestants have been labeled by the producers and cameramen.  There are contestants like "Waitress" and "Tracker", "Engineer", and "Zoo".  The contestants are in the wilderness and compete in a series of challenges, sometimes in a team and sometimes on their own.  The contestants are set loose on a solo challenge, just them and their cameraman.  The contestants are completely isolated and unaware that at a pandemic is sweeping the country.  "Zoo" is alone for several days, she was sick, but got through it and is now determined to win the million dollars.  She is completely unaware that the bodies she encounters are not "props", the desolate towns are not staged by production.  When she encounters a young man, Brennan, she assumes that he is her new cameraman.  Will "Zoo" ever realize that this world is not just a set, but truly an apocalyptic wasteland?   Will "Zoo" be able to survive this new apocalyptic world?

I really, really liked The Last One. As a fan of Survivor the similarities were unmistakable. The author alternates the timeline with every chapter.  There is the present that Zoo and then Brennan are dealing with and the other chapters are the story leading up to the present.  Zoo getting involved in the show and her relationship with her husband.  And then the early days of the game.  It was fun and fascinating.  And a little bit terrifying.  Zoo experienced my worst fear by breaking her glasses.  I am completely blind without my glasses and when she broke hers I freaked out just a bit. She adapted the best way she could, in fact, that is what Zoo does throughout the whole story.  She adapts because she knows if she doesn't she will lose.  The author does a great job at illustrating how much Zoo was in denial. Almost to the point of frustration for the reader, but one event forces Zoo to acknowledge their reality and her realization was heartbreaking.  I was pleased with the ending. It ended the best way that it could. - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS -

Bottom line - It has been a while since I have read a good post-apocalyptic novel and The Last One did not disappoint.   It ties current pop-culture (reality shows) with "the world is ending" events and the results is one book that you won't want to put down.

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

(97)The Trespasser by Tana French


Detective Antoinette Conway worked hard to join Dublin's Murder Squad.  Being the only female detective on the force is more difficult than Conway ever imagined.  She is constantly on the defensive mode against some of her fellow D's.  Conway and her partner, Stephan Moran, are coming off of a long night shift when they catch a case.  A young, beautiful woman was found dead in her flat. It appears to be an open and shut case as the young lady had a date scheduled the night before, but Conway can't shake the feeling that she has met the victim before.   A visit to the deceased's best friend reveals that she had a secret boyfriend.  That revelation sends Conway and Moran down a path that could jeopardize their lives and threaten their careers.   Will they be able to solve the murder before their reputations and lives are completely destroyed?

Tana French has to be one of the most talented writers to ever grace our planet.  Each one of her mysteries is more - everything - than the last.  The Trespasser is one of those double-meaning titles.  Does it refer to the person who killed Aislinn Murray or does it refer to Antoinette Conway, the only woman in a boys club?  Conway is tough as nails, but there were many times when I felt that she was borderline paranoid.  Her partner, Moran, was a good guy who was trying to please Conway in every way he could, sometimes going down paths that were a waste of time.   When they finally got to the truth of the matter they had two choices.   Ignore it and save their careers or reveal the truth and end their careers on the Murder Squad. -- CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS - .

Bottom line - The Trespasser is Tana French at her finest.  You have murder, intrigue, and a female detective with a chip on her shoulder in a man's world.  If you love a good mystery you won't be disappointed.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

(96)Today Will be Different by Maria Semple


Eleanor Flood wakes up in the morning and vows that today will be different.  She vows to do things like initiate sex with her husband, Joe. She will go to yoga, she will have her poetry lesson.  Today will be different.  Until third-grade son, Timby (so named because of a Siri mishap)  is "sick" and the plans for her day are left by the wayside.  Eleanor decides that Joe can handle Timby and his fake illnesses for once, but when she goes by his office she is told that he is on vacation.  Eleanor goes into panic mode.  Joe is her rock.  He puts up with all of her quirks and issues and she knows she doesn't show her appreciation as much as she should.  But why would Joe take a vacation day and not tell her?  With Timby tagging along, Eleanor sets off to find her husband and why he didn't tell her that he was taking some time off.   What will happen when Eleanor finds out the truth?

When I think of Eleanor Flood I alternate between thinking that she is the funniest thing around or she is one hot mess.   Often times she is both.  Eleanor was an older mother who left a very successful career as an animator and is currently working on a book.  But she struggles with holding it all together. She loves her son and husband, but most days she struggles to even function.  It is like she has been in a haze ever since Timby was born.  I couldn't help but to love her.  Her observations were honest and at times quite hysterical.  And I am sure that many would find fault with these sentiments. 

"She's like Parkinson's, you can't cure her, you can just manage the symptoms."

"As everybody knows, being raised Catholic with half a brain means becoming an atheist." 
But this one was so astute that it almost took my breath away.  In a world where social media only fuels that fire to keep up with the Jones' I thought that this quote was so on target.

"This was happiness.  Not the framed greatest hits, but the moments between."

Bottom line - I really liked Today Will Be Different.  I know a lot of people thought that it was too similar to Semple's first book, Where Did You Go Bernadette? but I really love the quirky characters that live in Maria Semple's head.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

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Monday, November 28, 2016

(95)Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick



Thanksgiving weekend means traveling for my family.  For the first time in four years, we were able to go back to the Midwest for the holiday.  We ended up logging nearly 3,000 miles on Clifford the Big Red Van and we pass the time listening to audiobooks.

Anna Kendrick is quickly being added to our list of favorite actresses.   Really, anybody who has seen the Pitch Perfect movies would understand why we say that.  Her new book, Scrappy Little Nobody isn't so much a memoir as a collection of essays.   In that quick-witted way.  those of us who follow her on social media are familiar with Anna Kendrick tells us tales of her life.  Her childhood on Broadway. her first movie the indy hit, Camp.  And then of course she talks about her role in the Twilight franchise.

Anna talks about everything from her early days in Hollywood to performing on the Oscars with NPH. It was all fun and engaging and Anna Kendrick is every bit as charming as you would imagine.  Even when dealing with the paparazzi and her first run in with one at Ikea.   She made some comment about them underestimating her ability to not leave the house for weeks and binge watch Netflix.   That is somebody that I could definitely be friends with.

Bottom line - Scrappy Little Nobody is a quick and fun read. proving that Anna Kendrick is exactly as you would imagine her to be.  Funny, charming, loyal, and hard-working.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

(94)Before the Fall by Noah Hawley


It is a typical summer evening when a group of people gather at a small airport, waiting to leave Martha's Vineyard on a private plane, eager to get back to the city.  The passengers are wealthy and privileged.  Except for Scott - Scott is a painter just trying to get by and was lucky enough to be offered a ride back to the city.  The thought of avoiding weekend traffic was very appealing to Scott, so he accepts the offer.  They aren't in the air long when something goes horribly wrong and the plane falls from the sky.   Scott and a four-year-old little boy are the only survivors.  All of a sudden Scott is thrown into the spotlight in a way he never thought possible.  People are questioning his survival, they are questioning his presence on the plane, they are questioning his heroic efforts to save the young son, and only living heir, of some very wealthy people.   In the days after the crash things start to intensify, but will they ever find out what happened to cause the plane to just fall out of the sky?

Before the Fall is one of those books that I have been hearing about for months.  Now I see why.  Noah Hawley takes his readers on a doozy of a ride.  As a reader, you know the plane crashed, you know that Scott and JJ survived.  But in a series of flashbacks you get to know the other passengers on the plane. Like one of the men is on the verge of being indicted by the SEC.   And JJ's older sister was once kidnapped and held for three days until a very large ransom was paid.   And one of the pilots once had a fling with one of the Flight Attentendents.   Scott seems like a decent guy who got caught in the drama that comes with a little adorable orphaned boy and his billions.  With each passing day, it is easy for the reader to also get caught up in the drama, but you are desperate to find who was behind the plane crash.   I was a little disappointed with the big reveal, I was expecting something...more.

Bottom line - While the end fell a little flat for me, the build-up leading to the reveal was the stuff that legends are made of.  All in all, Before the Fall was a great book.


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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

(93)The Choices We Make by Karma Brown


Kate and Hannah have been best friends since the fifth grade. They have been together through thick and thin, through family issues and boyfriend troubles.  Now they are in their mid-thirties and are married to great guys.  Kate is married to David and they have two beautiful little girls. Hannah and Ben are desperate to start their own family.  They have tried everything and are getting ready to explore the adoption option when Kate steps up and offers to be their surrogate.  It is an offer that changes the dynamic of their relationship in ways they never thought possible.  When tragedy strikes it forces Hannah to evaluate what is most important to her and the choices she makes will have long lasting repercussions.

I had a hard time getting into The Choices We Make, but once I did get into it, the book started to go by rather quickly.  The story is told from alternate perspectives so you really get a feel for both Hannah and Kate.  They are both good people.  Infertility is such a personal struggle that I had to keep reminding myself of that when I thought Hannah was getting to be a bit over the top.  There is an "event" that happens that is pivotal to the story and even then I struggled to like Hannah as she was dealing with it.  I think her own husband had a hard time understanding where she was coming from and I was afraid that it was going permanently damage their marriage.   I want to say that there was a happy ending - but it was really the best possible outcome for the story.  But you still might be in danger of needing a hanky or three.  - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom line - The Choices We Make is a heart-wrenching novel about two women, a decades-long friendship, and sacrifices they make in the name of love.   This book would be a good one to share with your best friend over a bottle of wine.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

(92)The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan



Zoe Maisey is a teenager with a past.  A musical genius who is a convicted killer.  She made one tragic mistake a few years ago and it nearly destroyed her life.  Three of her friends died because of her mistake.   Her parents divorced because of her mistake.   She did time in the "Unit" because of her mistake.   A few years have passed and Zoe is out of the "Unit" and living with her mother and their "Second-Chance Family" in their new home far away from where the accident took place.   Zoe has a new Step-Dad, a new Step-Brother, and a new baby sister. performing a recital in her new community with her new step-brother when the father of one of her deceased friends interrupts the concert.  The secret that  Zoe and Maria have kept from their "Second Chance" are coming to light and jeopardizing all that they have built.   And then Zoe wakes up to find that her mother is dead.  She is terrified to live a life without the one person who has always been by her side. But worse, what is going to happen to her when the police realize that she is a convicted killer.  They wouldn't think that she killed her mother, would they?

The Perfect Girl was one of those books that quickly sucked me in.  The author tells the story from various viewpoints. Zoe, both in the past and the present.  We get an insight into the accident that destroyed her life. We also get to hear her from Zoe's lawyer, and her aunt Tessa.  It makes for an interesting timeline, but one that easily puts you in Zoe's corner.  Almost from the beginning, I got bad vibes about the new Step-Dad and Step-Brother.  It is revealed that they were keeping their own shocking secrets.   Zoe was the most sympathetic character, even with her past, you couldn't help but want to protect her.   When the truth is revealed about the night her mom died I was surprised at how Zoe constructed the plan she did.  It was a little bit devious but completely brilliant.  - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS  -

Bottom line - The Perfect Girl is one of those books that you will read in one sitting.  The characters are compelling, the story is gripping, and you can't wait to see what happens in the end.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

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I am an avid reader who loves to read and will read anything put in front of me. I started this blog long before Goodreads

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I have been tangled in a web of books for many, many years. I created this blog before Goodreads was around to keep track of the books I have read. Since it's inception I have reviewed almost 1,000 books.

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