2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 4 books toward her goal of 30 books.
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Friday, November 9, 2018

BOOK REVIEW for Surviving Agent Orange by Gretchen Bonaduce






TITLE:               Surviving Agent Orange

AUTHOR:          Gretchen Bonaduce

GENRE:              Memoir

RATING:             4 stars


I am writing this review with some trepidation as I now know how Gretchen feels about reviewers - note to Gretchen; if you are reading this, please don't send me anything LOL.

I rated this book 4 stars because it is intriguing and dare I say it? entertaining.  I don't like using that word considering the fact that this is a memoir and most of the content is rather dark.

Having said that, i didn't really follow the Partridge Family, I am nowhere near Hollywood and even I knew that getting into a relationship with Bonaduce could not possibly end well.  So, one of my first instincts when reading this book was "well, didn't you see that one coming?" - at. all?  However, this book simply reinforces my view that we women, even the strong ones like Gretchen, turn dumb when it comes to men and love.

As I continued to read, I started to truly appreciate Gretchen's honesty at describing situations and her reaction to them.  I like that she questions herself, wondering why she stayed for so long and I certainly think she did all she could do to keep her family together.  I might have run for the hills way before she did, but nobody could fault her for trying to keep her life and what she knew.

Written in a very clear voice, Gretchen is honest and while some of the events she described could have used a little bit more detail, by the end, I found myself rooting for her to succeed at what she loves to do.

This is a short book and as I said, could have benefited with more fleshing out in some spots, but I find her courageous to a) have tried to hold her family together, b) written this book and c) did not, in the end, define herself only around a "celebrity".

One negative comment, there were several typos in this book. I am not sure if it was because it was Kindle, but it could have used more editing. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

BOOK REVIEW for The Buddha at My Table by Tammy Letherer








TITLE:                  The Buddha at my Table

AUTHOR:             Tammy Letherer

GENRE:                 Memoir


RATING:                4 stars

Okay, I both hated and loved this book.  The writing was wonderful.  Down to earth and not too flowery (which apparently this author has been accused of being at times).

I like memoirs to be honest and forthright, without all the minutia of every detail and Letherer succeeds very well.  She is VERY honest.

This is not an overly big book, so it can be read quickly, but I took time to read it because I absolutely did not like almost every person in this book, including Letherer herself.

First, I admire anyone who can write their life story for others to read.  It takes a lot of guts and for that, I give her kudos.

However, this book brought out so many emotions in me (yes, I know good books are supposed to do that) that I found myself having  to put the book down after reading for only a few minutes.  This is not normally something I do.  

Having said that, my head was spinning as I read.....Letherer's husband basically comes home one night and tells her a) he has been having affairs throughout most of the marriage b) most were escorts (ugh! that alone would have sent me to the closest doctor) and c) he is "in love" with someone he just met and wants a divorce.

Obviously, this opens up a ton of possibilities and none of them good.  From the get go, the husband (I won't even mention his name) basically has the upper hand, despite the fact that he is the one who cheated and this, basically,  remains the theme of the book.  As a matter of fact, as we got heavier into the story,  he becomes even bolder, at one point asking Letherer if "she wanted to get frisky"?  (who even says frisky????).

So, he is basically set up to be hated from the first page, but what I wasn't expecting was the fury I felt at Letherer herself.   I mean my emotions were all over the place.

The thing is, the author was, in my view, complicit in this whole thing.  As her husband got bolder and bolder, challenging her at every turn - be it with the children, the finances or moving out, Letherer teetered between self pity and searching for her backbone.  I think I lost it when, at one point, the author writes "who will take care of us?".

The tone of this book is definitely one of surprise(!!), self pity (at times) and confusion.  The author vacillates between seemingly understanding that things are changing and that her whole "I am relying on a man to get me through this life" is just not working anymore, while simultaneously searching for a man to take care of her.

The reference to the Buddha in the title is linked to the fact that, on many occasions, the author tries various self-healing ways to get through her pain and fear, with varying degrees of success.

This story is engaging and will certainly evoke a ton of emotions, as you can see by my review.

Friday, October 12, 2018

REVIEW for Easy Prey by Catherine Lo


Thank you to the publisher Amulet Books for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:                  Easy Prey

AUTHOR:            Catherine Lo

GENRE:               YA (social theme)

RATING:              3.5 stars


Where to start?

I had a hard time rating this book because at times it felt like a 4 star and others a 3 star.  I decided on 3.5 stars because this book lacked depth.

While there are 3 main characters throughout the book, you don't get a chance to discover who they really are.  Considering the topic of the book, I would have loved more backstory on Jenna and while we do get a bit of an idea what Mouse's life is like at home, we don't know who he is.  Drew is probably the least fleshed out character, which makes all 3 of these characters kind of formulaic.

The writing is good in that it doesn't deviate from where it is going.  I like that Lo writes straightforward prose, not too many boring details about things that don't matter.

There is a surprise ending to this book, which, to be honest, I figured out about halfway to the end and its kind of clever, if not a tad unrealistic.

This is not a bad read, but I have no idea the who, where, why, how of these characters, so it was very difficult for me to like or even be invested in their story.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Book review for The Damage Done by PJ Parrish

How much do I love Louis Kincaid??? This book was excellent.  



TITLE:       The Damage Done

AUTHOR:  PJ Parrish

GENRE:     Thriller

RATING:     20000000000000000 Stars!!!!!!!


I don't normally attach myself to a character, in fact, there are only 4 characters that I adore - James Patterson's Alex Cross, William Tapply's Brady Coyne, Faye Kellerman's Peter Decker and P.J. Parrish's Louis Kincaid.  As with Patterson, Kellerman and Tapply, I hate reading any book that is out of the series and P.J. Parrish had been focusing on doing exactly this for the last while, much to my chagrin and dismay.

Having said that, I was absolutely thrilled when I accidentally found The Damage Done.  In fact, between Parrish writing out of series books and apparently not writing all that much anymore, I had almost given up on the Kincaid character!

The main storyline crosses an open murder case with an old cold case.  As always, the Parish sisters have a masterful way of building the thrill.  Louis is not the "get in a car chase to get my man" type of detective, but rather, he puts the pieces together than relies on his gut.  The way the authors build the clues one on top of the other, sprinkling them here and there is wonderful.  You get to put the pieces together as a reader and follow along as Louis slowly unwinds the winding road.

In this book, Louis is actually back as a police officer, which is a nice touch.  He once again meetsup with Steele, his nemesis and now they have to work together.

What works best in this novel is the clever flashbacks that Louis has about his own childhood.  Some memories forgotten come back and the reader gets to discover a lot more about Louis and why he is the way he is.  

Thankfully Jo only has a very brief appearance in this one.  The only book I did not like in the Kincaid series was the one where Jo is featured prominently.  I hate when authors do this. I want to read about Kincaid, not about his lover.

I am so sorry this book is finished.  I hope we don't have to wait another 5? 7? years for the Parrish sisters to give us another Louis Kincaid.

Friday, August 24, 2018

REVIEW for Doll Hearts by Colleen Clayton






TITLE:                   Doll Hearts

AUTHOR:             Colleen Clayton

GENRE:                 YA


RATING:                3.5 stars


I am on the fence about this book.  I ultimately rated it a 4 star, but honestly, this should be a 3.5 star book.  

The good:  I love this author's writing style.  So down to earth, great dialogue and just enough detail to make the reader feel as though they are right there in the story.

I also like how the author, for the most part, knows the YA world - she created characters that were completely believable and knows how to develop them - mostly.

The actual plot was also interesting and on point.  Hoarding has become a huge issue and the addiction side of it has not been written enough about, so kudos to the author for tackling this difficult subject.

The not so great:  I HATED almost every character in this book, with the exception of Lolo!  I know I was supposed to feel empathy for Julianne, but wow!  she loves to make her life difficult for NOTHING.  I don't know how many times I wanted to scream at her "get out of denial".  She gets a job, tries to get overtime and basically works like a maniac because, somehow, she is going to save the day by making enough $ to save her house from bankruptcy.  Ditto how she kept "missing" her mother - the same mother who didn't return her calls, the same mother who chose her dolls over her own daughter. 

It amazed me that nobody actually tried to deal with this situation head on, they just let the mother rot in her addiction.  Julienne thinks paying off the back mortgage will fix her mother and her father runs away from the situation (again) .  In short, her  mother was written almost as an afterthought of sheer patheticness (I know, its not a word but it works here) who basically abandons her kid.

The Brandon angle was also annoying.  What was he doing?  Playing both ends against the middle?  I know the author wanted me to like him, but he came across as a player.

I did like the friendship angle in this story.  Both Dana and Lindsay were great friends and I liked that.

Finally - the diabetes thing.  I have several friends who have it and manage to live just fine with it.  Why was Julianne always passing out? it got to be a bit ridiculous.  One of my friends also has a pump and honestly, didn't make a big deal out of it - again, what was Julianne's problem?

Having said ALL of this,  in the end, I enjoyed the whole, rather than the parts, if this makes any sense.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

REVIEW for Walking Shadows by Faye Kellerman








Thank you to Hachette Canada for sending me an e copy of this to read and review.



TITLE:            Walking Shadows

AUTHOR:       Faye Kellerman

GENRE:          Thriller

RATING:         




I have read all of Kellerman's books with varying degrees of success. This one i would rate as a 3.5 stars.

I love Decker and Harvard when they work together so I was disappointed to see that Harvard wasn't as prominent as in the past. i know that Kellerman is grooming Harvard to take over the series at one point and i am good with that but i really needed him front and center in this one.

Decker is his usual smart, calm and steadfast self and I love how the author uses his brain to solve cases instead of ridiculous car chases. I love, love Decker such a smart character.

The plot is what dragged this a bit. i did not care about this "whodunnit". Looking back on a past murder....kind of didn't pop for me.

Thankfully Kellerman kept the Decker/Lazarus scenes to a minimum without drawn out family scenes and finally Rina is not the most beautful, smart, amazing person in every room. This character should only get a background role as I find her to be unnecessary in most cases.

Surprisingly, Kellerman does a shut out to her husband's books and his starring character Alex Delaware. Free publicity.

The pacing is good except with a plot like this it did feel slow at times.

Overall okay but nothing amazing.
 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

REVIEW for Gang Girl by Nancy Miller


Thank you to the publisher, Lorimer Kids & Teens, for sending me an ecopy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:                    Gang Girl

AUTHOR:              Nancy Miller


GENRE:                  YA - social theme

RATING:                 3 stars

This book was a little odd.  Not a horrible odd, just a bit out there.

Sasha is Russian and she got in trouble in Russia so her well to do parents send her to Canada.  Almost from the first second she is here, she ends up with the "mean girls" and has to devise a clever plan to get out of some serious stuff she did with them.

I find the story interesting but the reality is a little out there.  These girls are all thought to be doing good works, but really they are cheating, stealing and doing other horrible things. The lead who is nicknamed "master" is something else.  She is all kinds of horrible and does not have one redeeming feature and, of course, Sasha ends up with the boy that master covets.

Its all so unlikely and destructive, I am not sure what the point of this book was.  None of the characters are fleshed out - at all.  The parental guidance in this book is ZERO and we don't even get to really discover who Jake is, other than he clamps onto Sasha and becomes her boyfriend.

Who does not love reading about mean girls and from this point of view, the author wrote an entertaining book, but you have to be willing to suspend your disbelief - a lot.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

REVIEW FOR Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount








TITLE:         Someone I used to Know

AUTHOR:    Patty Blount

GENRE:        Social Theme YA

RATING:       


Reading this book is harrowing.  The subject is rape and sexual assault and our main character Ashley has experienced both.

While this book is fiction, it reads as a true story.  Ashley is a YA who feels insecure about herself and falls right into the games being played by Victor and his football team in the form of a "horrific version of a scavenger hunt".  What makes it worse? her own brother, who she adores endorses this "game".

The writing is deep and raw.  This book doesn't spend a lot of time on describing the rape, but rather focuses on the before and after and how it affects each and every person in Ashley's world.  

This story is so well written, it feels like a dissertation on rape, digging deep into Ashley's feelings about herself, the rape and her family.  Extremely family oriented which is where the focus lies.

I cannot describe how deep the author delves. I have read many, many books on the subject and I have never read a fiction book on rape with such detail.  At times, you feel as though you can actually see it through Ashley's eyes.

Told in Ashley and her brother Derek's points of view, it it fascinating  to see how this event affects each in a very different way, yet, at the same time, they are so alike.

Sad, scary and empowering, this is an amazing read.

Also makes you think about how you view woman (although I am one) and how sexual innuendos and assaults are so much more prevalent than we think.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

REVIEW for The Weight of Being by Kara Richardson Whitely


Thank you to the publisher Seal Press for sending me an ecopy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:           The Weight of Being

AUTHOR:      Kara Richardson Whitely

GENRE:          Memoir

RATING:          3.5 stars

I read this author's first book and found it inspirational, so I was a little disappointed with this one.

While her first book was all about empowerment and discovering yourself, this one is all about EVERYONE else in her life. I do recognize that eating disorders affect just about everyone in the person's life and it is important to reflect that and understand how they are impacted. For this, I give the author full credit. She wasn't afraid to confront what her food issues are doing to her family.

Having said that though, I worried that she basically put everyone's feelings above her own ALL THE TIME. Frankly, nobody came across as particularly nice or even encouraging in this story. Her husband basically doesn't want to deal with any of it, so he ends up coming off a bit selfish and Kara's mother needs to be told that she is needed by her daughter, which is sad.

This book feels as though everything that is wrong in Kara's life and family is because she is overweight. I understand that Kara would think this, but I would have killed for ONE member of her family to tell her "we will support you and your decisions" and "not everything that is going wrong in our lives is because you are overweight".

The most interesting aspects for me are the running commentaries in Kara's mind, as she tries to fit these emotions and reflection into her reality of day to day life - something that I believe every binge eater does. The emotions and thoughts that came through Kara were scary, deep and honest. This is the Kara that I liked in the first book.

Overall, I am left somewhat let down. I wanted more Kara and her thoughts, her ambitions and her hopefulness.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

REVIEW for Lush By Kerry Cohen






Thank you to the wonderful people at SourceBooks for giving me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:               LUSH

AUTHOR:          Kerry Cohen


GENRE:             Memoir/non fiction

RATING:            5 Stars

How much do I love Kerry Cohen.  Since Loose Girl, I have read every book she has written and while they have not all been excellent, I have enjoyed them.

Lush....Lush stands out for me, as much as Loose Girl.  Cohen's strength is to write her story - her truth.  This book is both a memoir and an inspiration.  Cohen delves back into her addiction to love (and men) while showing us (and herself) the similarities between addictions - cross addicting to booze.

Interestingly, Cohen did not start drinking until middle age and she analyses this aspect, which confuses her in the beginning, only to realize that, in some way or another, she and many other people cross addict all the time.  

If you insult easily don't read this book. Cohen doesn't mince words and doesn't put herself up on a pedestal.

My personal interest, in this book, peeked when she looks at addiction and gives us her view of what an addict is and what addiction is.  Many of what she said touched a nerve and I found myself nodding.  While she and I don't share the same addiction, Cohen touches on how all addictions (be it to booze, men, drugs, gambling, food) can cause misery.

I don't agree with Cohen's view on AA, but I do admire her for doing so much research and trying to think outside the box.  

What a great, great, sad story this is.  I hope Cohen writes a lot more about her life.  I would be right in line to buy the books.

The only negative I will give this book is that at one point, Cohen says she wishes she had an eating disorder (or words to that effect).  Kerry.......believe me, you don't wish that. 
 
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