2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 0 books toward her goal of 39 books.

Monday, May 27, 2024

BOOK REVIEW for There is No Ethan by Anna Akbari

 Loved, loved this book.

The first chapter is a tad slow, but when you get familiar with the writing style and  with all the "characters",  the story really picks up and then, good luck putting it back down.

I would close the book at 11 PM for bed and then if I woke up in the middle of the night, I would pick this up again - I could not get enough.

Thank you to Hachette Books for sending me an e-copy of this book.

TITLE:              There is No Ethan

AUTHOR:        Anna Akbari

GENRE:            Memoir

RATING:          10/10 stars

Loved, loved this book.

The first chapter is a tad slow, but when you get familiar with the writing style and  with all the "characters",  the story really picks up and then, good luck putting it back down.

I would close the book at 11 PM for bed and then if I woke up in the middle of the night, I would pick this up again - I could not get enough.

This is non fiction, so there is a need for special focus on all the people involved.  First up, is the author's experience, followed by two other women and their own experiences.  This is a tad convoluted because there is some back and forth when it comes to timelines and when it comes to which woman is experiencing what.  Just to add to the confusion, there are two "Annas" involved, so this is the story of 3 women.

I kept wondering if this story was actually possible as a non fiction, because it was just so incredible, and as these 3 women start turning the tables on Ethan, you can feel them growing stronger, yet I kept thinking "no, this did not really happen?! except it did.

The writing is fast paced and on point - no lost or wasted moments here.

There are many twists and turns and one really big one, but I won't give it away....

Make sure you read this one - I am actually annoyed its over and by the way, "its scary out there".

Sunday, May 12, 2024

BOOK review for God, I like My Plan Better by Ewaen Mariam Osagie

Thank you to Troubador Publishing Ltd for sending me an e-copy of this book

TITLE:                        God, I Like My Plan Better

AUTHOR;                  Ewaen Mariam Osagie

GENRE:                    Non fiction

RATING:                    4 stars

I often say...."we plan, God laughs" which easily could have been the title of this book.

I am always amazed at how 12 step programs mirror so many religious views. No, this book is not 12 step, but the God lessons of letting go, accepting life on life's terms and believing you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment are all covered in this book.

It could certainly have used some editing, but overall a helpful read

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

BOOK REVIEW for Monstruous Obsession by James L. Baker


Thank you to Prometheus Publishing for sending me an advanced reading copy - ebook to read and review.

TITLE:          Monstruous Obsession

AUTHOR:      James L. Baker

GENRE:         Memoir

RATING        5 stars

I read A LOT of memoirs on addiction and this one brought so much emotion to me.  Firstly, this book focused on the family and what happened to each member as they slowly realized that they had a full blown addict in their family unit. Everyone dealt with it in their own ways and it was interesting to read how Mackie instinctively knew how to manipulate each member of his family, particularly his dad.  

In fact the author (Mackie's dad) freely admits that he made many mistakes and had many shortcomings.

His HUGE dislike of his former wife played a significant role here, even after years of divorce they still hated each other and even the fact that their beloved son was an addict, did nothing to bring them together for a higher cause.  

The author does discuss  the concept of addiction being  a gene which, in turn, can be transmitted from one family member to another.  This is important because Baker is a doctor and admitted, on more than one occasion, how he knew nothing about addiction himself which, sadly, is common with many medical professionals.  It will turn out to be a huge problem for Baker as he tries to play catch up by learning anything and everything he could about addiction, simultaneously trying to get his son some medical help (rehab).  The learning curve was steep.

Yet, despite what Baker learned about the cycle of drug addiction,  he often failed to see it in his son and often was defiant while sticking with his old  ideas, by believing that there was a miracle medical cure out there that would fix it all for the better.  If only....

The writing is very raw and honest- which I appreciated - no sugar coating here.  It was/is very brave to write this book, it must have brought up so much.  This was an important read for those who want to know how addiction touches everything in its path.

The ups and downs of addiction are palpable here and how family members and friends reacted to Mackie is quite interesting, although we can never forget that Mackie was  beloved despite all of it, as it should be.

We do get an overview of 12 step programs, rebabs and various drugs that are prescribed to the addict in order to make weaning much easier.

This is a hard book to read and must have been a much, much harder book to write, but Baker wrote it.

This is a great read, if you can say that about a book dealing with a tough subject.

RIP Mackie, I hope you found serenity.

Friday, February 9, 2024

BOOK REVIEW for Private Equity, A Memoir by Carrie Sun

Thank you to the publisher Penguin Random House for sending me an electronic copy of this book.

TITLE:        Private Equity, A Memoir

AUTHOR:  Carrie Sun

GENRE:     Memoir

RATING:    4 stars

This is my kind of book.  I love memoirs that take a hard look at certain types of companies - fashion,  stock market, just to name a few.

Honestly, I did not like any of the characters in this story and it kind of freaks me out that this really happened.

Reading this was like getting an inside look at high finance and let's say it.....privileged white men run the markets.  Boone was so typical of some of my bosses, it gave me chills and brought back memories that were not positive...actually made me feel so good about the fact that I am off the crazy rides driven by money.

Having said this, however, Carrie was a pain to read and I don't know why, other than to say that she was frustrating, not being remotely in tune with herself at all.  She was so matter of fact about everything, the huge work load, her relationships, her friendships....all she kept saying was "i am tired". He relationship with Josh and her parents are good examples.  She just went along, either by tuning out or by letting things go with the flow, which is usually a pretty good way to be, except that she did this with EVERYTHING.  Even her ridiculous amounts of gifts and $ left you with a feeling that it was all just MEH!.

I struggled a bit with the actual writing.  The author did not do a great job of linear writing.  Josh, for example, has harassed her, for most of the book, and yet she casually drops, into the storyline, that they have started seeing each other again -almost like "oh, I have readers so I should probably tell them that Josh is in my life again" and does the very same thing when they break up again.

I think real, raw emotion is what is missing in this book.  She never cries, she never yells, she never does anything bad.

Still, I loved this story. I know most of this review is pointing out issues with the book, but honestly I just loved to read about all of it, I felt like I got a front rom to such overindulgences.

Monday, February 5, 2024

BOOK REVIEW for Only Say Good Things by Crystal Hefner

TITLE:                Only Say Good Things

AUTHOR           Crystal Hefner

GENRE:             Memoir

RATING:           4 stars

It is very hard to give this book a rating.

I do admire the author's honesty, even when she does not come out looking all that great.  Her writing is friendly and very engaging - loved her writing style, which is why this is a 4 star rate for me.

I know that this is mentioned all the time, but I can't help thinking that she stupidly put herself in a position that would demean her.  When she describes her first meeting with Hefner, I am completely flabbergasted at how she doesn't even blink at wanting to be chosen, among a sea of half naked, blond women, but also at the fact that she never even questions anything  of her surroundings, as she is directed to Hefner's room.  I mean, not one second of "wait, one minute, this is not a scene I want to find myself in".  She acted like a pro at having sex with random men.

Morally, I don't care about, but she set herself up for years of guilt and anger and while she could have left at any time, she kept coming back.  Yes, she had hardship in her young life, but hiding behind them does not serve her.

I was intrigued by the section where she asks for forgiveness to all the young girls who want to be her -I can fully see how her influence is not a good thing.

As it turns out, she spent all of her twenties with a man who build an empire on orgies, power and disrespect for women.  I was surprised when she mentioned this because it felt like she was with Hefner so much longer and should be in her mid thirties by now.

I hope she finds what she is looking for. 

Just a side note - Hefner??? I realllllly don't get the allure.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

BOOK REVIEW for Here with You by Kathy Wagner


Thank you to Douglas & Mcintyre for the e-copy of this book

TITLE:      Here with you

AUTHOR:  Kathy Wagner

GENRE:    Memoir

RATING: 5 Stars

I read a LOT of addiction/recovery books, except that this book is a about addiction - period.

I have never read a memoir focusing so much on what an addiction does to the people around the addict. Sure, this is always given a chapter or two in most memoir on this subject, but with this one, while the addict's issues are detailed, the equivalent timeline focused on the addict's family and friends.

I also loved how this book talks about the importance of 12 steps - it was very interesting to see how two of Wagner's children had addiction issues and both look towards rehab and 12 steps - and how it worked as a miracle for one of her children's while her other child could not see all the gifts of 12 step.

I admire how brave Wagner is in writing this heart wrenching book. I hope it helped her soul to heal.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

BOOK REVIEW for After the Wedding by Eileen Gibb


TITLE:            After the Wedding

AUTHOR:      Eileen Gibb

GENRE:          Memoir

RATING:        4 stars

This book brought out so many feelings for me.

First off, I want to say that this man was a despicable barely human. Unfortunately, during that time period, "man" was still considered so much  higher than women and this comes through clearly in the book.  I kept having to remind myself that the generations were different then,  not to say that family violence does not exist today though.

Eileen, as a young working woman,  applied Christianity to EVERYTHING  - to the point where it felt almost "holier than thou".  I think the price she put on Christianity was a big reason she met John and ended up where she landed. 

In fact,  when she first met John, her comments made it obvious she did not particularly like him as he was not Christian enough (if only she had kept to that), instead she kept forcing religion on him and this would be a theme that would repeat often between the two.   

Yet, why on earth would you date him and marry him and then basically proceed, for the entire book, to NEVER open your mouth - not for voicing an opinion, not for saying "no I don't want to marry you", not even for telling someone else about the violence in your home? It was so frustrating to read.

Throughout the entire book, she never defends herself and everyone around her dominates her, in fact, at one point towards the end of the book she actually says something like "i never seem to speak up for myself" REALLY!!??

The role of Christianity played a huge part in this story and it was painfully obvious that church and praying was something to pull out only when needed.  For example Eileen trots out religion but when her husband John does something like stealing, she conveniently puts her beliefs on a shelf.  When her daughter's friend says that John molested her, Eileen does nothing about it - does not confront him and does not even ask the child to tell her what happened (if anything, but why would this child say something like that if it were not true).  

One of my pet peeves are couples that have horrible marriages, yet, continue to make babies.  Why, oh why did they have 3 kids? - these poor kids were suffering from PTSD and by the way, if John molested this little girl, don't you think he could have done the same to his own daughter?  In fact, their daughter speaks up as an adult and STILL nobody listened, certainly Eileen did not want to hear it, better to pretend its not there.  The same way she accepted the cycle of being hit by John, who in turn , would then apologize and do it all over again and again.

I won't even bother talking about that horrid John - he got the ending he deserved.  

The writing was very encompassing and Eileen did not shy away from writing about all of it - that is a brave thing to do.  Her story brought out so many feelings for me and that is the sign of a good story, in my opinion.

I hope Eileen and her children have gotten the peace they were looking for.

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Reading Goal and year 2024

2023 Reading ChallengeTina has completed her goal of reading 37 books in 2023!
37 of 37 (100%)


I realized that I actually had more reading time when I worked - between the bus and the metro rides and reading during my lunch, I use to get through a lot more books than I do now that I am not working.

Also, I find myself so picky and I, at some time, started gravitating towards non fiction a lot more.

I am going to set 39 books for 2024 and hopefully I will get there.

After doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge for several years, I realize that reading 37 books in a year is not that big of a deal when I see people setting their goals at 200 or 300 books to read in a year - and they actually meet their goals.


Wednesday, November 1, 2023

BOOK REVIEW for Swarm by Jennifer D. Lyle

TITLE:                Swarm

AUTHOR:          Jennifer D. Lyle

GENRE:             YA horror/thriller

RATING:           I usually give a max of 5 stars - but this one is 10 stars

First, I want to thank Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an e-galley of this book.

I wish I could rate this as a 10 stars. It is SO GOOD. I could not put it down - seriously, people say that all the time, but I dragged my tablet all around the house, taking even a few minutes of downtime to read. I was sorry to see it end - I mean I LOOOOOOVED this book.

I am a huge fan of YA survival stories, mostly with snowstorms, but while this book only touches on snow at some minor point, it uses a very clever idea - taking butterflies, which are traditionally loved and considered beautiful and turning them into, basically very efficient contaminating/killing machines.

My skin basically crawled the entire book and I will never look at a butterfly in the same way again. The description of what these beautiful butterflies turned into is a bit shocking and extremely well detailed, making it easy for the reader to imagine.

The fact that these YA were basically sheltered into place, trying to keep one step ahead of the butterflies and their prey was nerve wracking. The fact that anyone bitten turned into something akin to zombies (but not exactly) was a nice touch that made the book even more creepy.

Now that I think about it, this book could easily have taken part of its plot straight from the COVID pandemic - except we, obviously, did not have to deal with zombie issues. However, the shelter into place, the not knowing, the horrible infections and the overall contagion of the virus can easily have inspired the author.

The characters are well fleshed out (no pun intended) and while I did not like the fact that there was a young child AND a cat stuck in the house with these YA, I ended up thinking it was a great addition to the story as it moved it along well.

The strengths of this book are the exceptional pacing - such a good job of moving this at just the appropriate speed and the author's vivid descriptions of the butterflies, the (sort of) zombies and the fear each character felt and lived throughout the story.

You have to read this book. I am so jealous that you get to read it for the first time!

Read my other reviews, very few are 5 stars and very rarely do I praise a book so much - but this story is worth it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

BOOK REVIEW for Behind the Door by Amy Price

TITLE:           Behind the Door

AUTHOR:      Amy Price

GENRE:         Non fiction

RATING:        5 stars

Thank you William Morrow for sending me an e copy of this book.

I loved it. I thought Price did a great job of focusing on her day to day view of the hotel and it's colorful tenants. Basically, this book pretty much screams "the Cecil is more than just creepy happenings". I really enjoyed the history of the hotel and reading about other tenants.

I discovered the Cecil when I heard about the Elisa Lam case.  Price does speak about this horrible event, but honestly, its a very short comment AND she does not go into the "how", which I was a bit disappointed, although the general consensus seems to be that nothing eerie happened.

Her love for the hotel comes through as well. It was a terrific read.
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