2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 0 books toward her goal of 37 books.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2023

BOOK REVIEW for The Fraud Squad by Kyla Zhao

 






Thank you to Berkley for sending me an e-copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:                        The Fraud Squad

AUTHOR:                    Kyla Zhao

GENRE:                       Debut fiction

RATING:                      3.5 stars

This book is interesting.  I knew nothing of Singapore and we get to find out what Singapore high society looks like.  It kind of reminds me of the novels of the 1980's featuring lavish lifestyles with people with too much money.

This book shows what happens when you will do anything to get into the "in" crowd.  Samantha is ready to be part of this society but its not what she thought it would be and all the hoops she has to go through, dragging her own mother through it all, is ultimately not worth it.

This, to me, is the best part of this book.  Kicking and clawing towards your goal, regardless of what you have to do - made it all worth the read.

There are a lot of things going on here and not all of it works, but the story is propelled by exciting stories and good writing.

It did feel a little long towards the end, but overall, this is a compelling debut - reality -vs- fraud.  Your version of reality may just be my idea of cheating and pretending - basically of fraud.



Monday, December 26, 2022

Bye bye 2022 and hello 2023

 






I wasn't sure I would write a post to close off 2022.  I use to do it and I just stopped for a while, but I find myself adding a few book reviews here and thought "what the heck, I am already here".

My friend Cindy keeps better track of this than I do, but I believe both of us have had our blogs running and active for 15 years.  I can't believe that.  I remember when I wrote my first post.....who knew I would have the joy of working with such great publicists both with "paper" copies and now e-books.

I am grateful for every book I have ever gotten/read.  I don't know a life without books.  

Thank you for all the good things that happened to me in 2022 and all the life lessons that were delivered to me though painful experiences.

I look to 2023 with hope and serenity - believing that "I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this moment".  I may not always like where I am, but there is comfort in knowing that there is a plan and a reason I am there.

Every person and every experience I have had has made me who I am - yes, even the experiences I reallllly regret (and there are quite a few of those).

Happy 2023 to all - may you get amazing books to read this year.





Tuesday, November 8, 2022

BOOK REVIEW for Remainders of the Day by Shaun Bythell

 


TITLE:        Remainders of the Day

AUTHOR:  Shaun Bythell

GENRE:     Memoir

RATING:    4 stars

This book will be released in December 2022

This is the third book I have read by this author and honestly, I always have a love/hate relationship with his books.

I owned a used bookstore for 4 years and although it was not an antiquarian shop, I certainly got a lot of experience owning and working in a bookstore. Now, I am sorry I did not keep a diary of my time.

The best parts of this book, for me, are always the (too brief!) description of his buying trips. He does mention that one of the best things about owning a bookstore is the unboxing of books - never knowing what will be in the box. I totally agree with him - loved, loved that part so much.

I also had my share of particular customers and of funny stories. However, I wonder how his customers feel being basically put down by Bythell. I find him mean in his descriptions and yet, at the same time, he lets his employees and people around him call him horrid names. I don't understand his relationships, for the most part. Since he mentions these in his book, that kind of makes them open to comment.

I also question, as I did in the first book, where he gets all this $. He wants us to believe that bookselling is not about $ but he sure buys a lot of books, travels and stays in hotels which all cost a lot. It is never cleared up in his books.

The writing style is engaging, but there is definitely an undertone of....not sure what to call it, other than nastiness that makes me uncomfortable.

But then again, I suppose I could be accused of doing the same with this review.

I wanted to wish this author good luck - having two babies at the age of 50 is quite a feat. I bet its a lot more work than owning a bookstore.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

BOOK REVIEW for Don't Let In the Cold by Keely Parrack

 


Thank you to the wonderful people at SourceBooks for sending me an e-copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:        Don't Let in The Cold

AUTHOR:  Keely Parrack


GENRE:     YA Thriller

RATING:    3 stars

I absolutely adored the premise of this book. Isolated cabin (checked) a snowstorm (checked) a survival story (checked).


I dove into this one with a lot of interest and the beginning of the story was engrossing and I was hooked.  Except that the middle and end parts really dragged down the story.  The creepy and scary "stuck in the snowstorm" part got bogged  down with scenario after scenario of improbable circumstances and "bad guys" that were, unfortunately, boring and did not make sense within the story.

Also, one of the characters has a dog and I kept worrying about him throughout the story (although I admit this is more my issue than a problem with the book).

I do like the writing style and the plot certainly captured me, but somewhere along the line, the author decided to add bits and pieces that both dragged the story and made it less creepy and interesting.  Too many characters that are not fleshed out and were simply dropped into the story to advance it.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

BOOK REVIEW for Ratex X by Maitland Ward




A big thank you to Atria Books for sending me an e-copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:               Rated X

AUTHOR:         Maitland Ward

GENRE:            Memoir

RATING:          3.5 stars

I normally don't like "when I was young" stories in a memoir. However, I made an exception with this one because Ward did a great job of giving us just enough information to understand what he youth was like.

Surprisingly, there are very few stories of her time on Boy Meets World.  I am always annoyed by artists who write memoirs but don't bother to tell us much about their experiences with that TV show, band, etc.  Let's get real, this book (and other memoirs) would not even be written if it was not for Boy Meets World as we would have no idea who Maitland was.  Sure, she has so many more layers to her life, but what INITIALLY attracts the reader, for the most part, is what they are most known for.

In Ward's case, she basically has two careers - actress and porn star, but ultimately, I am willing to bet that many of the people who will buy this book are doing so because of her connection to Boy Meets World - whether she likes it or not, so why not embrace it and tell us stories about being on the show = its almost like she is afraid to go there, which is too bad.

As for the second career, she does a very good job of describing for us, what its like to work in the industry and how it makes her feel as a person.  From the very beginning of this book, we are privy to the fact that Ward is constantly trying new things in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of what makes her tick.  It is a thread that runs through the book and is quite interesting.

The writing is down to earth and very honest.  If you have issues with overtly sexual content, then I would recommend you not read this book.

For those of us who are okay with it, I find this the most interesting and honest part of her story.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

BOOK REVIEW for Your Table i Ready by Michael Cecchi-Azzolina

 


Thank you to St-Martin's Press for sending me this ebook to read and review.


TITLE:        Your Table is Ready

AUTHOR:  Michael Cecchi-Azzolina

GENRE:     Non fiction

RATING:    4 stars

I love these juicy, behind the scene looks, especially if they are restaurant tales and involve food, although the food takes a definite back seat to all the characters who walked through the doors of that restaurant.

I have always thought working in the food industry must be really difficult.  The good, the bad and the ugly on a daily basis and Michael pretty much confirms all my preconceived ideas.

The author writes his memoir with an open heart and gives us a true insider's world that melds royalty, the rich, the bad and the average guest all of whom give the author a story to tell.

Pacing is excellent and I keep expecting the author to whisper to me "come here girl, I have so much juicy gossip for you".  

As far as I am concerned pacing is EVERYTHING, but if you don't have a flair for telling your story, the book will go nowhere.  NOT the case here.
Thank you to the author as well for writing such an interesting book.

#YourTableisReady

Michael Cecchi-Azzolina
Instagram: @cecchisnyc

St. Martin's Press


Saturday, July 2, 2022

BOOK REVIEW for A Shoe Story by Jane L. Rosen

 


Thank you to Berkley for sending me an ebook to read and review.

TITLE:                   A Shoe Story

AUTHOR:             Jane L. Rosen

GENRE:                Fiction

RATING:              4 STARS

I admit that the first chapter was slow moving, but I am so happy that I persisted as this is one of my favorite books of 2022.  Although there is zero similarity (not the same plotline at all) with Bridget Jones Diary, I kept thinking about that one while I was reading - both hit the nail on the head when it comes to be a woman looking for (or not) romance.


Esme our main character is an interesting mix of "I care" and "not very deep" - just like Bridget.  I am not sure if the author deliberately gave her character such opposition, but it worked very well and went a long way to explaining Esme - as a human who gets it right and sometimes doesn't.

The shoes are perfect for representing Esme's core - where she is at on any given day and how her mind is.  

The dog walking gig is the thing that did not really work for me.  I hate having any animals in movies, tv or books because I obsess whether they will be killed off.

I have never had a "thing" about shoes, but I know a bunch of people who do and to them, each and every shoe represents something to them - me, I just grab the closest shoes and hope they match.

The writing is breezy and the pace is really good. While this book is airy, there are a lot of moments where the writing and the character meet, in order to understand life - while wearing glamorous shoes, of course.


Monday, June 27, 2022

BOOK REVIEW for Cabin Fever by Michael Smith and Jonathan Franklin

 

TITLE:              Cabin Fever

AUTHORS:      Michael Smith and Jonathan Franklin

GENRE:            Non fiction

RATING:           4 stars

The author writes so well and manages to keep me engaged, without a bunch of details I don't need and it kept the story flowing well.

This is obviously a well researched book and if you can get pass the first chapter, I promise you it will keep you engaged until the end.

The first chapter is, to be honest, boring and I worried that this tone would be set for the book, but it wasn't at all.

I admit that I never gave a second though to people on cruise ships or other countries who were basically stranded when the various governments closed down the world.

While it was annoying for most in lockdown, we at least had our own stuff and families, but it is not the same for other people and what these people lived through is amazing.

Love the honesty.

Great read.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

BOOK REVIEW for When The Moon Turns to Blood by Leah Sottile

 


Than you to Twelve Books for sending me an e-book to read and review.

TITLE:        When the Moon Turns to Blood

AUTHOR:   Leah Sottile

GENRE:       Non fiction

RATING:     2 stars

I am very interested in this case and was hoping this book would detail timelines and focus on the situation while supplying pertinent information.

Well, I got lots of details, unfortunately, these details actually managed to ruin the story. This author was all over the place with this book and supplied a bunch of useless info.


Unlike other people who have reviewed this book, I thought there was wayyyyy too much info on the Mormons and the LDS. After which, the author felt the need to spend several pages detailing other women who have killed. Ugh!

I lost it when the opening line in one of the chapters was "In the 16th century". I just wanted to say "who cares about the 16th century?"

After that, I gave up and did not finish the mess that is this book.

It's pretty hard to turn this true crime story into a boring one, but this author managed to do just that.

Friday, May 20, 2022

BOOK REVIEW for Two Truths and a Lie by April Henry

 


A huge thank you to Christy Ottaviano Books for sending me this e-book to read and review.

Release date::  May 24, 2022

TITLE:              Two Truths and a Lie

AUTHOR:        April Henry

GENRE:          Thriller YA

RATING:         4 stars

I literally finished this book in two settings.  Admittedly, it is not very big and I could have used a lot more story.

This book has everything I ADORE in a thriller.  Snowstorm, rundown motel, plenty of teens and a whodunit that had me guessing.

All of these pieces fit perfectly into an engrossing plot.  Loved how creepy the whole thing felt, although I will admit, the author could have described the snowstorm and the wind a bit more, especially at the beginning of the book.

Still, we find young adults that find themselves in the same motel - all stranded with nowhere to go and only a few adults to supervise.  Things quickly fall a part when someone suggests pulling out that Ouija Board.  That part freaked me out because I sort of believe in the power of the Ouija Board (I know, I am silly)and refuse to even have it in my house.  Certainly never played it with my friends, who were equally suspicious of its power.

As it turns out, nothing supernatural what happening at the motel and through many, many clues, Nell and Adam, the two leads end up having to deal with very real things such as gas leaks, people getting attacked by cougars and a huge surprise in the back of Brian's truck, parked in the parking lot of the hotel.

I did go through several "oh, I know who did it" only to realize that I did not.  Plot is well paced and crafted and all of the loose ends get tied off by the end.

Writing is on point and doesn't drag the story down with too many useless details.

Two points.  As mentioned above, I could have used more description about the weather, making it even more creepy.  Also, there are A LOT of characters in this story and had to keep going back to figure out who was who - especially in the beginning of the book.


 
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