Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review - "Dark Places" by Gillian Flynn (#3 - 2015)

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

One thing I have to say about Ms. Flynn, she creates the most effed up, evil female characters I have ever "met".  Not a bad thing, but boy it's creepy.  The story follows Libby Day the (now adult) sole survivor of a horrific murder of her mother and two sisters that occurred when she was seven.  Her testimony helped put her brother (15 at the time) in prison for life for the murders.  Almost 25 years later she's contacted by a group of true crime enthusiasts called the "Kill Club" in hopes of finding out more information because they are convinced her brother is innocent.  Libby hopes to make some money from them for her time, so she somewhat reluctantly dives in, coming in contact with the people who may or may not have played a role in the happenings of that night.  The dangerous truth emerging along the way.  I did not enjoy this one as much as Gone Girl*, I'm not a huge fan of stories revolving around murder, but it was a really good story.  Needless to say I'm reading something a bit lighter next :)

*FYI - my review of Gone Girl from the "Books I've Read" tab (read way back in 2012):

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - Dude, prepare yourself for a story that is quite unexpected.  I don't want to give too much away, but it's about a married couple and the wife disappears on the day of their 5th wedding anniversary.  Was she kidnapped or something even more sinister?  I won't say, but I will say that I always believe that the true monsters aren't the ones you usually suspect.  A must read!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Review - "The Other Woman" by Jane Green (#2 - 2015)

The Other Woman by Jane Green

A quick, easy read.  Ellie is thrilled to be marrying into the seemingly perfect Cooper family, so like the family she has wished for her whole life.  But Dan's mom Linda may be a little too involved in their life, taking over the wedding planning.  Linda is rather intense and you really just want Ellie to tell her to shove it and tell Dan to stand up to his mom.  After getting married and having their first child, things get even more intense and complicated.  Can Ellie hold her family together and negotiate Linda and her need to be needed?  It's an okay story, nothing groundbreaking, check your brain at the door.  But it was a good book to read before starting the darker book that I'll cover tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review - "2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas" by Marie-Helene Bertino (#1 - 2015)

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

My first book of 2015!! 

This book is about what happens to several characters over the course of one night and day (Christmas Eve eve) in Philadelphia.  Weaving in and out and how the characters intertwine and eventually end up at a jazz clue called The Cat's Pajamas.  There's Madeline a nine-year old jazz singer, her teacher Miss Greene, Miss Greene's high school crush, Ben, Mrs. Santana (who is sort of a grandmother figure to Madeline) and her dog Pedro, and then there's Lorca who owns The Cat's Pajamas, his crew as well as his son Alex who wants to be a jazz guitarist.  Among others that come in and out.  This book is whimsical and fun, but the ending was a little weird.  The last chapter lost me.  But it's still a good read, very unique story with great characters!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Favorite Books Read in 2014

Tomorrow I'll post the review of the first book of 2015, but first let's do a wrap-up of what I read in 2014. Above are my favorites of 2014, these are the ones that have stayed with me the most.
1. The Martian by Andy Weir
2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
3. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

The next three were reviewed before I did posts, so I'll paste my review from the "Books I've Read" page here:

4. Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller - LOVED this book so much.  It's her memoir about growing up with parents that are hoarders (mostly her father, but her mother enabled).  She did such a wonderful job of describing her horrifying childhood living conditions not in a judgmental way, but in a matter-of-fact, this is what I knew way.  It's heartbreaking/moving/thought provoking story.  But it's not gloom and doom, it's a story about the literal and figurative "stuff" we all have and how we deal with it.  I highly recommend this book, it's a great companion to Daring Greatly.
5. Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin - Warning, the first 30 pages or so are a tough read with a very upsetting event setting the table for the rest of the book.  That being said, this book is one of the best, most original stories that I've read in quite a while.  It's the story of Max who is an intersex teen. The story is told through the eyes of Max, his Mom, brother, doctor, girlfriend and his Dad pops in a time or two as well.  The changing perspective is interesting and benefits in a lot of ways.  Though I will say I wish she had featured the Dad more and not featured the brother at all.  Be prepared to feel a lot when reading this book, it's an important story about coming of age and what gender means.
6.  Daring Greatly by Brene Brown - I don’t say this often, but this is a book that every single person should read.  It’s about vulnerability, shame and how they can (even if you aren't aware) affect your life.  It is such an eye opening read, it’s really made me aware of how I approach my thinking and interactions.  Mixing personal stories and data from her years of research, it's a good read!

I ended up reading 57 books in 2014 (sure that includes some design books that weren't a lengthy read by any means, but still not too shabby).  I'd like to stay around 50 in 2015, I'll start to number them in the title this year.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review - "Planet Hulk" by Greg Pak

Planet Hulk by Greg Pak

Let's put this out there, I'm not a regular comic book reader.  Do I love my superheros and comic book characters?  Heck yeah!  However, I've read only a handful of comic books in my life.  But I have been hearing endless buzz about this series, so many people have raved about it, so I picked it up just to see what the deal was, not expecting much.  One thing I do need to say is that I have a super soft spot for the Hulk, I really love him so I have extra feels for him.  Okay, so the book starts out with Hulk being exiled to another planet, he was tricked into going into space by his trusted friends (Tony Stark, etc).  They thought they were sending Hulk to an uninhabited planet, but that wasn't the case.  Hulk is quickly captured and becomes a gladiator who has to fight for his life for the amusement of a very evil king.  He makes friends with the other gladiators and eventually they stage an uprising with Hulk as the leader (remember the more you beat up Hulk the stronger he becomes, also the angrier he gets the bigger and stronger he becomes as well).  Hulk eventually becomes the king/ruler, finds love and marries.  Has our Hulk finally found happiness?  Well, not really, something really horrible happens that triggers the next series World War Hulk.  And as that title indicates, some serious sh*t is going to go down back on Earth because Hulk is angrier than ever!  I'm going to have to give it to everyone who said this was a great series, it is!  I was surprised I enjoyed it so much and how much it stayed with me after I put the book down.  It's a solid story, and since it just focuses on Hulk you don't have to have tons of back story with a bunch of characters you don't know already.  It's not confusing and it won't nerd you out.  So I will recommend this to anyone who has any curiosity at all about comics or just wants to give them a try.  I will be reading the next series for sure!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Book Review - "Stumptown" by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth

Stumptown by Greg Rucka (author) and Matthew Southworth (illustrator)

I received this as a Christmas present from one of my best friends and I wasn't sure what to expect.  I've seen it categorized as a comic, but that didn't feel right to me, it's like a really good episode of your favorite PI show in illustrated book form.  In the introduction the author gives a shout out to "The Rockford Files" and that made me know it would be a-okay (as a kid I loved "Magnum, PI" and "Simon and Simon" and of course "The Rockford Files")!  It's all illustrated so it's really easy to follow and fun to study, it enhances the story.  The main character, Dex, is a PI with a bit of a gambling problem, in order to settle a debt she's hired to find a casino owner's granddaughter who has gone missing.  But it seems she's not the only person trying to find the granddaughter and the mystery unfolds from there.  I devoured this on our almost 3 hour plane ride over Christmas.  It was that quick, fun, and hard to put down.  Bonus, I found out it's a series, so I will be picking up the next book for sure!  I would recommend this as a change of pace from a regular book reading experience for sure.  You don't have to be into comics or anything like that.  You just have to enjoy a solid story!

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