Monday, August 13, 2018

Review: Americanah

Americanah Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My librarian chose this book for me to read. It is one of PBS’ Great American Reads. I probably would not have chosen it. I’m happy I read it. It is a wonderful book if you want to see America through someone else’s eyes. It touched me. I had only really thought of Nigerians as scammers. This book helped me leap beyond that falsehood. Read this book.

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Review: Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America's Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever

Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America's Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America's Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever by Geoff Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had never heard about this event until I stumbled upon this book. The stories in it are amazing and heartbreaking. I have told so many people about it. Read this book. It is one of the most fascinating books I read this year. I did have to break up the reading, inserting a couple lighter books. It became overwhelming just as the flood was. It is compelling reading, especially if you can imagine the people.

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Review: Waiting for Eden

Waiting for Eden Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I cried through this book. I am so grateful to Goodreads, the author and Knopf Publishing for offering this book in a giveaway. I might not have discovered it otherwise. Yes, I did win a paperback copy. This review is my honest opinion.
My son was just 18 when he went to Iraq. What happened to Eden and our narrator were my nightmares the entire time he was deployed. I waited to hear from him. I waited for someone to come to my door. I waited and I prayed...for a call or letter, for no ring of the doorbell. I thought a lot of my time waiting as I read about Mary’s waiting and, also, the narrator’s wait. Though the story is about Eden and Mary, he is also a part of it and he is waiting too. I don’t know how I feel about Mary. I understand the choice she made, or perhaps I just think I do. I don’t know what would have been choice. I like to say, I would have made the right choice. The truth is, though, I don’t know. My heart breaks for the three of them. It breaks harder for Andy. In a sense she lost every parent.
If you are checking out this review, then you had an interest in the book. I recommend you read it. It is my pick for the most profound book I have read this year. It is going to haunt me. Buy Kleenex, a lot of Kleenex, and read this book. I read it twice to do this review. I will read it again. I will think of Mary, the narrator and, mostly, Eden.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Review: Hark the Herald Angels Slay

Hark the Herald Angels Slay Hark the Herald Angels Slay by Vicki Delany
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book I have read in Vicki Delaney’s A Year-Round Christmas Series. I read during Christmas in July. It was also a book club pick.

I really love this series. I’m huge on Christmas happening anytime. To quote from the book, “That Christmas magic. July or December—there’s nothing like it.” That happens to be my favorite quote from the book. I must say the author lives up to her quote. She brought Christmas magic to the pages of the book. Considering there was criminal activity including murder going on, that was no easy feat. I love the characters in this series. Merry and Vicky are the type of girlfriends you want to have, (or be). I love Merry’s Dad who I believe may really be Santa Claus. And Mattie...love at first slobber. The mystery was twisty and not obvious to me. I’m not saying more on that. Read it yourself. The town was fun with a great cast of characters; some easy to like, others take a bit of sugar to get down. I love the small town feel of the series.

Get the book and bring some Christmas magic. I read this with Christmas lights on, carols on the playlist and hot chocolate with cookies to snack on. All the dead and the danger were in the book. It was a lovely Christmas in July.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Review: Death on the Menu

Death on the Menu Death on the Menu by Lucy Burdette
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first venture into The Key West Food Critic Mysteries. It was my first time reading Lucy Burdette’s writing. I received a hardback review copy through a review club on Facebook. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts.

In the opening of the book we get a bit of information on Cuba and the US relations and history. I’m not into politics and I debated jumping it or at least speed reading it. Don’t make that mistake. It’s there for a reason. Honestly I found it to be more interesting than I was expecting. I did spend a bit of time remembering a friend I had years ago, especially when I read about Carmen’s husband crossing. My friend’s husband came over from Cuba during the sixties. I was reminded of his stories of what his childhood Cuba was, his adventure coming here and how he said his life was changed living here. He was always grateful and proud that he was a citizen here. Thinking about him made the story very relatable. Take the time to really read that even if you are like me and not into politics so much. It is relevant to the story.

This is the eighth book in the series. I was expecting that I missed a lot, especially in regards to the characters and relationships. I was surprised to find that I was able to jump right in. The author is excellent at weaving in the important characters and their relationships. As I was getting acquainted with everyone, I thought that it was so well done that I could have read all eight books and not really noticed she was catching up new readers. That was one of the best jobs I have seen in combining the information in a way that was relevant to both types of readers. I enjoyed many of the characters in this book. They have invested me in the series, making me want to read the previous books as well as new ones.

The mystery itself was well written. There were many possibilities thrown out at the reader. I was deceived more than once thinking it was this one or that one. The author did well in leading me on a chase. Like I said above the politics play a part but the author did well humanizing it. I was enthralled and, as the pace picked up, I found myself racing through, truly interested in it all.

Another thing the author is exceptional at is bringing the sights, the smells and sounds alive. She is excellent at descriptions. You will get to know Key West very well. Warning: you will get hungry. But don’t worry. There are recipes at the end of the book. I cut down the recipe for the flan. I don’t have the equipment to make that much flan at once. I would say I also did not have enough people to eat it but the flan is addictive. Ropa Vieja has a lot of ingredients making it look intimidating. Try it. It is easy to follow and taste amazing! The Cuban sandwiches are easy to make and delicious. The Baked Bananas was incredible! I love plantains so this recipe was actually the first one I tried. I haven’t tried the other recipes but I plan to.

I recommend the book. It was a lot more fun to read than I was initially expecting. I plan to read the rest of the series.


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Review: Best Day Ever

Best Day Ever Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Omgosh! What a chiller. This book captured me from the beginning. The narrators were excellent. Recommend this book in any version. Read it.

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Review: The Exes' Revenge

The Exes' Revenge The Exes' Revenge by Jo Jakeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won an advanced copy of this book from Berkley Pub.

The book deals with domestic violence. I am a survivor. Did reading this bring up memories? Yes but I choose to deal with them. I have come across so many things in life that bring up something I wish I could forget that, for me, riding it out and dealing with them is my personal best option. It may not be another’s so know that the story has the potential to take you back and make your reading decision with what is best for you. You may not want to read this review because I’m going to talk. It has taken ten years to be able to talk about it and, honestly, I still don’t talk about the really bad stuff.

If you go into reading this book thinking it is a mystery, you will be disappointed. The beginning of the book gives that away. Afterward you find out the how of everything. If you want the book to be solidly realistic, this may not be for you. There are parts that are more fantasy that reality but, in fairness, the book is fiction. Fiction. Not fact. I personally thought the unrealistic parts were interesting. Okay they had me daydreaming about my ex and making a few wishes. What I liked about this book is the three women who find out who they are. Survivors. Damaged yet survivors. They come a long way in a short time. Unrealistic maybe but it still made my heart full. Domestic violence steals so much from you. If you haven’t had the experience you may not realize just how much is taken.

Another thing I appreciated is that the author didn’t just leave it as physical. Actually more of it was mental/emotional. The stuff that crushes you. The things that play over and over in your head. I’m only speaking of my experience here. For me this was incredibly difficult. I can remember the times when I couldn’t take it anymore, the verbal assault, and I would be there asking God to just let him hit me. If you find that shocking, you have no idea how painful a verbal assault can be. My ex used his fists and feet. He also used what he could throw, he used knives, a guard dog, guns and the electrical cord with wires exposed, a wet washcloth thrown on them after the cord was plugged in. There were other, worse, things. I tell you this so you understand how deeply words can wound. The thing about verbal abuse is it can be done in a way that you don’t even understand that you are being abused. You might know to walk away if he, (or she - abusers come in both genders), punches you. But if they are just saying things, some that may have bits of truth being twisted, you might not realize that is domestic violence. You are abused and those words will stay with you long after the relationship ends. So when I read a book like this one and the author understands the pain from psychological abuse, I want to cheer. I want to write the author a thank you letter. I want to tell others to read it with a mind open to feeling the characters pain and their shame. Reading this book and seeing Imogen, Naomi and Ruby realize who they are and what they are worth, meant a lot to me. It was encouraging.

The book had me riveted. I picked it up to read every chance I had, reading far into the night. If you are looking for a psychological thriller, and don’t mind a fictional story being a mix of reality and fantasy, I would say read this book.


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Review: Americanah

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie My rating: 5 of 5 stars My librarian chose this book for me to re...