Wrap-Up | June 2018

I wrapped up the month with the second book in the Fear Street Relaunch Buddy Read happening over on Litsy, Don’t Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine. I know I am in good company with fellow Fear Fans when I say that I grew up reading Stine, so this has been a super fun buddy read! Look me up if you’re on the app, Litsy; it’s such an awesome book community and we have fun buddy reads and swaps going on all the time.

Without further ado, here’s a look at what I read in June:

  • Macbeth by Jo Nesbo – ARC, eBook
  • Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer – eBook
  • Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin – ARC, eBook
  • American War by Omar El Akkad – Library Haul
  • Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes – Audiobook
  • The Body Reader by Anne Frasier – eBook
  • Don’t Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine – Hardcover

You can find most of my reviews on Goodreads and my review of Paper Ghosts, here.

Macbeth – This was my first Jo Nesbo novel and it was written as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project where current writers take a Shakespearean play and make it modern. In Nesbo’s version we have Macbeth, an inspector with a troubled past. Duncan, the police commissioner and Lady who owns the casino in town and whose ambitions go far beyond controlling the gambling scene. This novel is dark and gritty but it’s a slow burn which struggled to keep my attention at times. Macbeth was an ARC from NetGalley and Crown Publishing and while I was glad to have the opportunity to read it, I probably wouldn’t put it on my list of recommendations. I gave this 3/5 stars on Goodreads.

Rubbernecker – I really enjoyed this book! Rubbernecker follows the story of Patrick Fort, a medical student who has Asperger’s Syndrome. He is obsessed with death. This story was fast paced and so well written that I couldn’t put it down. Bauer has this ability in her writing to take something so grim and dark and still make it ‘fun’ by spinning just the right amount of dark humor throughout. I just can’t say enough good things and if you don’t believe me, read all the praise it received on Goodreads! She just released a new book, Snap, in May that I can’t wait to get my hands on. I gave this a 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

American War – Out of everything I read this month, this was a big flop. It would’ve been a DNF had I not been reading it with two of my girlfriends as a buddy read. I thought it only fair to them that I finish it. I realize that books about war are generally not happy but this book was terribly depressing. Classified as a Science Fiction novel, American War takes place in Louisiana when the Second American Civil War breaks out and a “devastating” plague decimates the south in 2074. I use quotations because there’s not a lot written about the so-called plague and that was disappointing. There was a whole lot of build up for the ‘big event’ and then…nothing. This book was overly long with poorly developed characters. It seemed to be more a story of revenge than anything else and it wasn’t even a good revenge story. And for a story that takes place between 2074 and 2095, there was nothing futuristic about it at all except for the occasional rogue drone that you hear the locals talk about. They call them the ‘Birds’. Overall this was a 1/5 stars on Goodreads and I don’t see myself picking up anything else by this author.

Hidden Bodies – I listened to this as an audiobook and loved it just as much as I loved You! Both books will be re-reads for me. I plan on picking up physical copies of each because I love them so much. Hidden Bodies picks up where You left off, with our dear Joe Goldberg packing up and heading out to LA, the city of second chances. Except that the thing with hidden bodies, is that they never really stay hidden and his past seems determined to ruin his chance at love forever. Santino Fontana narrated this novel as well and he is just phenomenal. He really brings Joe to life in such a brilliant way. I don’t even know what else to say about You and Hidden Bodies that hasn’t already been said but so much yes. Just brilliant. 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

The Body Reader – This is the first book in the Detective Jude Fontaine series by Anne Frasier. I received an ARC of book two so I wanted to read this one first (naturally). I’ve read a lot of Frasier’s novels in the past and always enjoyed them and this was no different. The Body Reader is a fast-paced thriller which makes it hard to put down once you start. Jude Fontaine is a detective in the homicide department when she was kidnapped and held captive for three years. She was held in a dark underground cell, her only contact was with her sadistic captor, and reading his face was her entire existence. Learning every movement, every line is what kept her alive. She manages to escape and, though badly broken, she’s eager to get justice. With her heightened ability to read the body language of both the living and the dead, she returns to the force with a new partner and now a killer is on the loose. I loved Jude’s character, I’m always a sucker for troubled detectives but she takes ‘troubled’ to a whole new level. She’s badass and can obviously survive anything. This was everything that a good thriller should be and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. I gave this a 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

Don’t Stay Up Late – Okay so if you’re reading this book as an adult who is used to dark and twisted novels of gripping suspense and terror, then Don’t Stay Up Late is honestly child’s play. You see a lot of bad reviews of this on Goodreads because you have adults reading Stine for the first time and expecting Stephen King material. R.L. Stine writes for kids. He is the gateway drug for young would-be-horror fans. So, take it for what it is, I did and I enjoyed it. It’s nostalgic through and through, back to the first Fear Street series and Goosebumps books that I eagerly gobbled up when I was 8 and 9. I gave this a 3/5 stars on Goodreads.

So there you have it. Overall a fairly good reading month for me! I enjoyed everything except for American War which slowed down my groove. Nothing like a drag of a book to put damper on your reading mood.

Now I’m working on my TBR for July but there’s definitely going to be a couple of buddy reads, some ARC’s, as well as some graphic novels that have been eyeballing me from my shelves for quite some time!

Happy reading my friends!

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You by Caroline Kepnes

You (You, #1)

Released: September 30th, 2014

Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio

Format: Audiobook

Narrated by: Santino Fontana

Genre: Thiller, Fiction

Rating: 9/10

“When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight – the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joes transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way – even if it means murder.”

I realize I am late to the party when it comes to the story of Joe and Beck but let me tell you, it was worth the wait! An online friend recomended Caroline Kepnes books to me and insisted that the audio version of You was an incredible place to start, so I dived in. I re-started my Audible account souly so I could downlook this book and listen. Best decision ever made.

Here’s the thing, I love a good crazy serial-killer. I especially love it when the story is written from their warped perspective. With that being said, this book is not for everyone: it’s extremely sexual, violent and most likely, very offensive to some. I, however, am not ‘everyone’.

There aren’t a lot of Guinevere Becks in the world – just the one. The first thing I had to find was your home and the Internet was designed with love in mind. It gave me so much of you, Beck.

One of the things that makes this book especially chilling is the realization that in today’s digital and social media crazed society, you can really find anything out about anyone. Honestly, you’ll want to re-evaluate your digital footprint in a hot minute after reading this.

Our sinister-yet-sexy Joe Goldberg is looking for love. He loves to read and is disengaged from modern technology. He’s pretentious and, even though he’s a highschool drop-out, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room. So when a woman walks into his bookstore and they begin to flirt, he does what any man looking for love would do – he googles her name from her credit card.

He begins to stalk her Twitter, Facebook, and Google Maps. He knows her address, her friends and her plans and where she’ll be and with whom. He knows where she went to college and her job. He knows she’s a writer and can read everything she’s written. He can access hundreds of pictures and knows her favorite movies and the books that she loves. And he knows all about her favorite green pillow.

::shudder::

This was real. I press my thumb into the wet ink of your receipt and the ink of Guinevere Beck stains my skin.

Somehow Caroline Kepnes makes you LOVE Joe. I was pulled in by him, completely captivated by him. The audiobook is narrated by Santino Fontana and he really makes Joe come alive. I don’t think that I can ever hear is voice and not think of Joe, in fact, I would happily listen to Fontana read to me all night long if I could. Kepnes pulls you so deep into the mind of Joe that, as disturbing as his behaviour is, there are moments where he becomes sympathetic. He is sensitive and charasmatic and something about him makes you want to love him like he loves Beck.

I just can’t recomend this book enough. Kepnes has earned a spot among my favorite authors and You has earned a place among the few books that I would read again and again. If you can handle the darkness of Joe’s mind, then run and get yourself a copy. Or rather, download the audio and listen the to soothing voice of Fontana (but make sure you have your headphones) and let your imagination go.

The problem with books is that they end. They seduce you. They spread their legs to you and pull you inside. And you go deep and leave your possessions and your ties to the world at the door and you like it inside and you don’t want for your possessions or your ties and then, the book evaporates.”

 

Only The Brave by Mel Sherratt

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Expected Release:  May 26, 2015

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Series: A DS Allie Shenton Novel Book 3
Length: 353 pages
Format: Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Crime Fiction
Rating: 6.5/10

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When one of the notorious Johnson brothers is murdered and a bag of money goes missing, a deadly game of cat and mouse is set in motion.

DS Allie Shenton and her team are called in to catch the killer, but the suspects are double-crossing each other and Allie has little time to untangle the web of lies.

As she delves deeper into the case, things take a personal turn when Allie realizes she is being stalked by the very same person who attacked her sister seventeen years ago and left her for dead.

Set over forty-eight tension-filled hours, Only the Brave is the latest gut-churning police procedural from acclaimed author Mel Sherratt.


Only the Brave is the third book in the DS Allie Shenton series by Mel Sherratt. I highly recommend reading the first two books, Taunting the Dead and Follow the Leader before you touch this one. I did not and there were a lot of references to past events that I felt left out of the loop on and left me feeling like I was missing out; sort of like in gym class when you didn’t get picked to be on the dodge ball team or that time you didn’t get invited to the years most note-worthy party.

ADVICE: READ BOOK ONE AND TWO FIRST

With that being said, there were a lot of things I really loved about this book. The story takes place over 48 hours with the chapter headings ticking away at the clock. I loved this and gave a sense of urgency not only with what the police were up against, but the circle of suspects as well. And let me just tell you that the circle of suspects are quite a cast of morally conflicted individuals.

One of these suspects is Kirstie Ryder and she is nasty little piece of work. You meet her and her father (who is in prison) in the previous books, so this is where I’m talking about missing out on some of the  juicy details. Allie and Kirstie hate each other because of events that occurred before and Kirstie isn’t to happy about having Allie nosing around again. I kept waiting for the spitting and hair pulling. Awesome.

Behind the scenes, Allie is dealing with a lot of personal drama. Her sister is dying, the man behind her sisters attack is watching her, and her husband is tired of playing second fiddle to the job. She’s constantly teetering on the edge of breaking it down.

I highly enjoyed Mel Sherratt’s writing style and I can’t wait to check out more. I only wished I had read the first two before I read this one which is why I rated it the way I did so next time I’ll listen to my own advice. If  you’re a fan of gritty, fast-paced crime fiction then you must read this book!

Journal Day #6

Well technically number one for me, but the sixth prompt in the series created by Sometimes Sweet. Every Sunday or Monday, Danielle gives a prompt to help inspire herself and those who want to join, to write! You can read more about the project here. I’ve had good intentions to write on some of the previous prompts, but something would come up and I’d forget all about it until it was time for the next one.

I don’t profess to be much a of a writer, I’m just someone who enjoys using her words sometimes.

So without further ado, here is this weeks prompt:

Everyone has different things that keep them going. Sometimes it’s the people around us, other times it might be what’s waiting for us on the other side of hard work. Whatever it may be, there’s usually some sort of motivation to get up every day, get things done, or maybe even go the extra mile. With that said, what would you say is your biggest motivation in life? Has is always been this way? 

The biggest motivation for me now is my daughter. It has not always been that way; before, my motivation varied and at times I really, truly struggled to find it. Usually though, I found motivation on the other side of hard work…the results.

And even though I’m still driven by hard work, my life is very different now. I have this beautiful baby girl who looks at me like the sun and moon rises because of me. I’m incredibly aware that the things I say and do will someday influence her on things like: how she feels about herself, how she perceives others, the actions she does or does not take. It’s sort of a big deal. And hugely overwhelming. I’m petrified of getting it wrong.

She is my motivation in all the big things and all the little things too. When I want nothing more to sit on the couch all night after working all day, I just think of her and I keep going. Whether it’s working out, finishing the dishes that piled up in the sink, or working on the homework assignment that’s due at the end of the week…I just keep going.

I will lose the weight again (and keep it off for good) because I want to show my daughter that a healthy life is a good life.

I will run half marathons again (and a marathon) because I want to show my daughter that she can do anything if she wants it bad enough and is willing to put in the hard work.

I will finally get my degree because I want her to see that no matter what decisions she makes or where she is in her life, she doesn’t have to give up.

I’m a work in progress. I don’t have everything perfectly in order, I have laundry piles covering the floors of our bedroom and my bathroom hasn’t been deep cleaned in almost two months. I’ve only successfully worked out twice in one week once since my daughter was born (almost a year ago). But I’m working on it. I wake up every day knowing that her sweet chubby face will be smiling to greet me. In that moment, all of the things I haven’t gotten around to or didn’t do right the day before, fade away and staring back at me is my little motivation to keep on, keepin’ on.

 

Right Now | Thursday 2.6.14

Reading: I recently picked up “In The Woods” by Tana French from the library. The book takes place in a small Dublin suburb where, in 1989, three children go into the woods to play. Two of them never come home and the third child is found in blood soaked shoes unable to recall anything that happened in the hours leading up to his discovery. Twenty years later, that same boy is now a detective with a different name to try and escape his past. But when a young girl is found murdered in the same grisly location his friends went missing all that time ago, he launches himself on a mission to find answers. I’m about a quarter way into the book now and I’m really enjoying the character development so far. Though the story did start a tad slow for me, it’s starting to pick up and I’m looking for every open second I can find in order to read more. The relationship between the two detectives are very Benson and Stabler-esqe and I could see this as an episode of Law and Order: SVU but I’m hoping it’s a little less predictable and little more dark as I continue to read.

paleo banana bread gluten-free recipe

Eating: THIS Paleo Banana Bread from Elana’s Pantry. It’s amazing and I’ve made it quite a few times before. Yesterday I had the day off with my little because of the snow storm (which was heaven and I wish I could do that a million times over). While she was napping I decided to bake two loaves, one plain and one with dark chocolate chips as a treat. The plain one I give a small slice with some fruit to N for breakfast in the morning and she loves it. I love that there isn’t a cup of sugar in it (just a tbsp. of honey will do ya) and full of protein, fats and fiber from the nuts. It’s great. I used raw almond meal, not blanched like she calls for in all her recipes because that’s what I had. It still came out wonderful but I did end up ordering a 5lb bag of blanched almond meal last night so I could make some plain Paleo bread and other goodies from her site. If you have not tried any of her recipes, get on that right now. Like stop reading, go look her up, and get in the kitchen. She’s that good. I’ve never had one fail and that’s saying a lot because grain-free baking is NOT easy; at least from my experience, I’m definitely no master baker.
Thinking: I wish there was more time in a day. I know I’m still new at this, she’s not even a year yet, so I’m sure I have a while to go before I even come close to mastering some kind of calm in all of this chaos (or maybe I never will). What I need is a good lesson in time management as a working mom. So many nights I come home to rush some kind of meal I call dinner on the table so we can eat together, just to clean her up, let her play for a bit, then it’s bath, story, bed. And don’t even get me started on mornings. It’s such a mess. I need to get back on track with working out, focus on my health and weight, but every time I set the alarm an hour early with plans to workout, she has a rough night of sleep, ends up in our bed and we’re all groaning when the alarm goes off an hour later. Then we spend the next hour rushing to get everyone ready and out there door and I still end up late to work (thank god for a lenient work environment).

Enjoying: N is pulling herself up, standing almost unassisted and it just blows me away. We think she’s going to skip crawling and go right to walking. I’m enjoying every second that goes by with her, she’s changing all the time and I’m constantly in awe of her, of our life. Last night, after her bedtime story she wanted to snuggle in her rocking chair, so I slowly rocked her, whispered to her and sang to her as she drifted to sleep. When her eyes closed I just stared at her in awe and wonder at this little person, soaking in every snuggly moment because I know it won’t last.

Watching: Nothing. Not only is there nothing good on TV right now (I’m patiently waiting for the return of Hannibal), but with the Spring semester under way, I just don’t have time at night to watch anything. I’d rather read a book in bed and I’m finding that far more relaxing right now. In general, we watch far more movies than we do night-time television so we’ve actually been looking into alternatives to cable.

Loving: This blog. So real, so raw, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking. Even if I don’t share the same experiences as the women writing, even if my story is different, or the same. There’s always something I take away from it as a mother. A good laugh, or a deep lesson, I just can’t get enough of the writing and I read every single new post.

Note to self: work on taking more photos for the blog!

On Oversharing

I was thinking about this blog and it reminded me of an article I had read a few months ago, this one actually, about children’s privacy online (which by the way, if you haven’t seen ‘BatDad’, it is pretty funny). Before Natalie was even born I started thinking about how I would handle sharing her life and of course, my new life with her in it.  At one point I had accounts on all the social media platforms and I shared quite often, about quite a lot. Early on in my pregnancy, my dads health took a turn for the worse (he passed away in 2012 from Pancreatic Cancer) I started revaluating things and social media and my privacy was one of them.

I deleted accounts, stopped posting so much and really thought about what I would share and what I wouldn’t. I felt this intense need to make my life my own again. Anyone and everyone didn’t need to know about every mundane detail of my life (and I’m sure my Facebook friends were collectively sighing with relief). Now that my daughter is here, the need to keep her privacy safe is even stronger.

Sometimes it’s hard because I see all these adorable photos from Instagram and read these beautiful blog posts littered with smiling children and I think maybe I’m being to uptight about it…maybe sharing our new life so fully isn’t such a bad thing? But the reality is that there is a dark, gloomy side to the internet and not everyone is “good”. The other reality is that she is going to be old enough some day to begin her own presence online and that’s her story to tell. I don’t ever want her to look back on what I said or photos I shared and feel embarrassed or ashamed (i.e. mothers who post potty training photos…I will never understand that). When the time comes, her father and I will guide her and provide her with the knowledge to share safely the best we can but while she’s still so young, that lesson starts with me.

My Facebook account is private, under a made up last name, and my “friends” list paired down so we do share a photo here and there. I said out loud once that I was thinking about taking it down and I almost had a mutiny on my hands by my family who looks forward to those pictures. So I still use it. I don’t have an Instagram account anymore and it’s still up in the air whether I’ll start one again to go with this blog. And Twitter is just too fast paced for me to keep up with.

All of this brings me back to this blog and what I will share here. I am a mom who works full-time trying to juggle everything that makes life beautiful and sometimes frustrating and ugly so naturally I will talk about mommy things. But I will never post anything that I would not want her to read or that she may look back on and find offensive. I have to remember this is her story too.

And on that note, something humorous:

Funny Reminders Ecard: Your constant oversharing on Facebook makes me want to punch you in the face.