Tag Archives: READ50

“What She Gave Away” by Catharine Riggs; Should you trust the person sitting next to you?

Coming September 4, 2018!

Are you looking for a mild thriller that will not leave you too psychologically disturbed? Or maybe a Fall book for your Book Club? After reading this upcoming novel, you’ll never look at the library computer patrons the same way again and will want to go shred all those notes with computer passwords on them.

Here are my impressions on Catharine Riggs debut novel:

What She Gave AwayWhat She Gave Away by Catharine Riggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In my opinion, What She Gave Away by Catharine Riggs is a mild psychological thriller. This story is packed full of murder, suicide, banking fraud and even more lies and manipulation. But who is at fault or is it just a series of unfortunate tragic events? The main characters, Crystal and Kathi, are both unreliable narrators which slightly complicates matters.

Crystal is an intelligent, conniving banker who seems to leave a trail of destruction behind her. Her actions are motivated by an underlying hate for everyone she comes in contact with. Crystal quietly plays a psychological game of “whats the worst that can happen” to anyone that might upset her. Often Crystal will manipulate circumstances resulting in harm to those around her.

Kathi is a naive trophy wife who drinks so much that she doesn’t even know how to formulate her own opinions much of the time. She struggles to survive and conform to society’s expectations of her. In the midst of complete financial disaster Kathi strives to keep some sense of normality in the life she has created. Her world is slowly collapsing around her and she has no idea how to help herself or who to trust.

The main conflict in the story is manipulated by Crystal’s actions. She is the catalyst behind everything that happens. Psychologically traumatized during her childhood, Crystal just wants to internally rage and secretly plot to destroy the lives around her. As the story progresses, Crystal gets more and more brave and her actions cause more and more harm. Add in a probation officer who has connected a few dots and is keen on investigating suspicious suicides and you have a story!

What are my overall impressions? I think the writing style is on point despite other reviewers complaints about the alternating point of view. That being said, I would have liked to know more about what Kathi was actually thinking. The novel has a first person point of view for Kathi but yet she doesn’t even seem to have an opinion much of the time so I found it hard to connect with her character. The length of the novel was appropriate and didn’t seem too lengthy. Crystal was sneaky and manipulative, but she could have come across as being more paranoid; she was too confident.

My two big criticisms of the novel are the suspense and the conclusion. There wasn’t enough drama and suspense for me to really say it was a huge thriller. It was more on point with say a John Grisham novel than of a nail bitting thriller.

Secondly, the conclusion was too lengthy and tidy for me. I would have omitted the Epilogue completely and just wrapped up the novel without it. And why jump to 2020? Without giving away the ending, why tie things up so neatly? Leave something for the imagination or unknown and don’t give us a happy, we are all friends ending to a story starring two characters who are morally corrupt and have a distorted sense of reality.

If thrillers are your thing, I say give it a chance! I enjoyed reading What She Gave Away by Catharine Riggs and if it were not for the ending and a bit more suspense, I would have given it 5 out of 5.

I also want to thank NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the chance to read and review the Kindle copy of this book.

Happy Reading!

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How to do YOU choose a book?

We have all been there, you start reading a book that you were excited about, only to find it difficult to get into and not what you were expecting. It’s even worse when you have paid full price for that book. I can honestly say this fear of book failure has kept me from purchasing many books. If I am not at least 90% sure I will like a book, I will put it back on the shelf, go to my computer when I get home and order it from the library.

So how do you pick out of all of the books on the shelves and tables when you walk into your local bookstore? Do you look for the guided headings first, such as “Recommended” or “New and Hot”? Or do you first look at the covers and titles to see what catches you eye? When reviewing books online, the most important impressions to a publisher are how much you liked the cover, the summary and the author. Did you choose a book because it had an interesting synopsis or because it had a catchy cover page?

Do you often stick with the same genres? I like to think I have a wide range of genres that I read from until I look at my reading logs. I occasionally have to intentionally choose a book outside of my favourite genres to mix things up. My husband recently asked me to read one of the books he was required to read for his Master studies, hardest read ever. There is nothing like HAVING to read something versus wanting to read it. If I had picked it up myself off the bookshelf, I probably would have read it in a few hours. Instead, its been MONTHS and I am still only a few chapters in. I almost dare you to try this out first hand….I would recommend starting with say, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. Let me know how quickly you get through one of the most read books in history.

Whether doing book reviews or just reading my latest pick from the library bookshelf, I find myself in the same predicament. I feel obligated to give a book reading my best shot, even if it means reading just one or two chapters at a time just to get through it. I must have some irrational fear of a dnf (did not finish). My most recent experience with this dilemma was reading a new novel The Hot Year by Anne Piper. I have included my review below. I just found this novel so difficult to keep plowing through and wanted to quit after just a few pages. I would recommend not wasting your hard-earned money (or time) on this book….I did that on your behalf, you’re welcome.

There are also some books that just seem too good to be true. I was definitely excited when I was approved to read a pre-publication copy of The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll. The synopsis was intriguing and the cover has that wow factor. The author has published other novels with excellent reviews so I had high hopes for this one. Alas, the most I could give this novel was a generous 3 out of 5 rating. I have included my review below….you might want to give this one a chance, you will either love it or hate it.

And finally, I want to end with a book that you may just really appreciate, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. The cover is nostalgic, the story is intriguing and overall, I think many people will enjoy this book. If there was a heading at the book store, this novel would be under something like “Best Overlooked Books”. The Washington Post was one of many to praise Robin Sloan’s novel, saying Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is “smart, hip and witty, like the shiny surface of a new iPhone.” In addition, the book won many awards including one for its cover (which does indeed glow in the dark).

If you are going to spend $ on books this year, you should make this one of them. The story itself is not life-changing, but it is upbeat, fun and uniquely modern.

The Hot YearThe Hot Year by Anne Piper

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

From my opinion, there are too many gaps in the narrative of this story and I almost quit reading well before the half way mark. The storyline is very difficult to follow and often there are jumps in narrative that are never explained. Why does Lucy love Miles? That was never explained. Who is Lucy, what is her background and where does she come from?

Lucy writes a newspaper article which seems a pivotal moment and yet the article itself is never properly introduced; Chapter 14 just begins with her newspaper article being published. Who knew Lucy could write or even wanted to write an article? Things like this were too confusing and made it difficult to continue reading until the end.

Lucy is flighty and an unreliable character. At times Lucy is ambitious and adventurous and other times she wants to be rescued and acts like a child. The dialogue between Lucy and Steve is difficult to follow and Miles is just horrible altogether. The reader is given no reason why Lucy fell in love with Miles in the first place.

I appreciated getting the chance to read this novel and want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for an ebook copy to read and review.

View all my reviews

The Favourite SisterThe Favourite Sister by Jessica Knoll

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What you can expect: mystery, backstabbing, glamour and drama.

I could best categorize The Favourite Sister by Jessica Knoll as a women’s fiction novel. The theme is a reality show similar to “The Housewives of” except that all but one of the women are not mothers and are portrayed as successful YOUNG women. Once a woman reaches the dreaded age of 34 she will be let go from the show.

The point of view switches from present, to past and from character to character. I think this is what makes the novel so difficult to get through. It is hard to know which point of view you are in when you put down the novel and come back to it.

The characters themselves are complex and each have a very distinctive personality. As readers we find out at the very beginning that one of the “Housewives” has been killed and then the plot goes through the events of the past to reconstruct what happened. I do sort of wish we were given just slightly more information about the death at the beginning, just something more to hold onto as the novel goes on. In the middle of the story the plot drags on a bit to the point where as a reader you might even second guess that someone is really going to die at the end. As a reader I wanted to be more engaged in the mystery than in the drama and glamour of each woman.

As many other reviewers have mentioned, the conclusion is very abrupt. After a lengthy novel that takes a while to plough through, I felt somewhat letdown by the ending.

Overall I have given The Favorite Sister a 3 out of 5. I think some people will just enjoy the drama and glamour of the women’s lives and not be too concerned about the mystery in the plot. For myself I wouldn’t pick it up to re-read it again.

I also want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher MacMillan for the opportunity to read an ebook copy of The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll.

View all my reviews

Some other books I have read for my READ50 2018:

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman

A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/10332816

 

Thank-you for joining me on my reading adventures.

Happy Reading 📚

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2017 Reading Log and Looking Ahead to 2018

Happy New Year! It is officially January 1, 2018. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Season and I am sure many of you are diligently trying to make a New Years Resolution for the year ahead. For those of you who have followed along with me, I have challenged myself to READ50 books each year. Every year I set the goal at 50 with hopes to well surpass that goal. In addition, I also set a general goal for myself to improve the literature I chose as well as what I do with the information gained once I have read each book. See below for my READ list from 2017, 60 books in total. Feel free to also follow me on Goodreads if you want to see what I am currently reading or find a review on many of the books I read in 2017. https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/38629860-adrienne-b

2017 was the first year I joined NetGalley and delved into the world of online reading and reviewing ARC books (Advanced Reader Copies). The draw of free pre-publication books was compelling but with the free ebooks also comes a sense of obligation to give an “honest” but well written review. For me this has been a challenge for sure. Some books are just not well written or full of unnecessary plot complications. With NetGalley your review (good or bad) goes right to the Publisher and if they want they can also contact you back. The thought of a publisher reading my review can be intimidating to me. However, the feedback I have received in the process has been complimentary and usually just an attempt from the Publisher or Author to have to spread the word as much as you can about their upcoming novel. If you are interested in the book reviewing side of the great world of books, you can join NetGalley here: https://www.netgalley.com Amongst hundreds of Auto-Approved books, there are also books that have to be requested. Join prepared to be declined as well. Some publishers will only approve those who have a large blog following and/or can prove they have more than several thousand followers. 

If you are more of a quick, casual book reviewer, I would recommend starting with GoodReads, Amazon and/or Chapters/Indigo’s websites first. Chapters/Indigo even gives you plum points for every review you provide which is a great incentive to post on their website. 

One of my lofty goals for 2018 is to convince my 10 year old son to start recording some of the books he is reading. I might even get him to include a quick review or jot down some thoughts on how he liked or disliked the books he is reading. He loves the The 39 Clues Series and is on to the 2nd Series The 39 Clues: Cahills Vs. Vespers. He is also into the Bone Series books by Jeff Smith right now too. Fingers crossed that on my next post you will hear a bit about what my son has been reading in 2018 too!!

My READ50 + List 2017

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Happy Reading in 2018!

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Progress! January Reads

My READ50 for 2017 is off to a good start. Some months I find I have more time and interest in reading than others and January has been a busy reading month for me. So far I have read 7 books for my reading challenge this year. My list of to-read books is getting shorter though so if anyone has any recommendations for me please feel free to comment and suggest some!

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Some of my thoughts on a few of my January reads:

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams & Lauren Willig 

3 stars out of 5

This book is worth giving a consideration. With romance, a historical home and three women from one family lineage, The Forgotten Room is an engaging historical fiction. The story moves between three different women but if you pay attention it is not difficult to follow the diverging plots. It is even more interesting when you realize that it was written by three different authors all working together and taking turns at different parts of the plot. The story itself is a bit unbelievable but sometimes that is what we hope for in a novel, that it will take us somewhere other than real life. I didn’t think it was outstanding but definitely worth a 3 star rating in my opinion.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary (Maggie Hope Mystery, #1) by Susan Elia MacNeal

4 stars out of 5

Despite receiving some bad reviews on GoodReads, I actually really enjoyed this book and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another novel in the series. It is really not as bad as some reviewers make it out to be. Yes Maggie, the heroine, was a little naive but women in general were not given a lot of responsibility during that period in history. I appreciated the author’s notes at the end of the book where she describes her conversations and correspondences with real war time secretaries. One lady interviewed mentioned that in real life their secretarial responsibilities were definitely not exciting or glamorous and they certainly did not have time for romance. Obviously a fictional novel wouldn’t be as exciting or fun to read if the author only wrote about the lonely and dark lives of the secretaries during war times. All in all I liked it and give it 4 out of 5.

The Whistler by John Grisham

3 out of 5 stars

I think time for big expectations and hype with John Grisham novels has come and gone. I enjoyed reading The Whistler but it fell short in some ways. There were moments when it captivates you and others when you just want to skip a few pages of lengthy detail. Lucy, the heroine, works for the Florida Bureau of Judicial Conduct and she and her partner Hugo are asked to investigate the fraud of a long serving and influential judge. The fraud involves large sums of offshore money, unexplained murders and a Casino run on Native American lands. There are some unexpected twists in the plot but for the most part the narrative is smooth and somewhat predictable. Furthermore, the end of the book feels rushed and anti-climactic. Grisham neatly wraps up all loose ends in the conclusion by foregoing narrative and just recaps the events so you can end the book. The ending feels rushed and unfulfilling. I would still recommend this book but I will definitely have lower expectations for any new John Grisham books that might be published.

Death of An Avid Reader by Frances Brody

3 stars out of 5

I took a chance on trying to find a new mystery novel series with a female heroine. Death of An Avid Reader was harder to get into than I was hoping. In the first few chapters I couldn’t figure out what story thread I was trying to follow as Kate Shackelton, the main character, was jumping all over the U.K. After the third chapter I couldn’t figure out what was going on and almost gave up. I kept plodding through and eventually the story started to make sense and I began to recognize the characters. I think there were just too many unintroduced characters in this novel to make it successful. It was difficult to follow and more than a few times I was completely lost to who a character was when a name was mentioned. By the end of the book I enjoyed the main thread of the story and I would pickup a second book in the series just to see if some of those characterization and plot problems have been worked out in subsequent books.

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READ50 2017 to be continued..

READ50 2017 Here I Come!

My list of to-read books for this year is quite short so if anyone has any recommendations let me know! I love book series, Historical Fiction, Cookbooks, Mystery and many other genres so feel free to comment with some recommendations!

Here is my to-read list so far:

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

 

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

 

The Whistler (Whistler, #1) by John Grisham

 

The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

 

All In (Only One Night, #1) by Simona Ahrnstedt

 

Death of an Avid Reader (Kate Shackelton, #6) by Frances Brody

 

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

 

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig

 

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

 

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2) by Deanna Raybourn

The Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, #1) by Elizabeth Peters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Final Countdown

Happy Holidays! It’s the last month for my 2015 READ50 challenge and I only have 3 more books to go!

I have finished up the last published books in the C.S. Harris series Sebastian St. Cyr. I really enjoyed all of these books. At the core of each of the stories is a little piece of true British and/or French history as well as some conspiracy theories which the author uses as inspiration for her fictional tales. The historical aspects of the novels are what draw me in and the author does a good job at making the events in the story seem historically believable.

I would classify this series as solidly in the Historical Fiction genre but leaning slightly towards Mystery. Romance is not prevalent in the themes of these novels but rather they are mysteries full of revenge, conspiracy and murder. Some threads in the storyline progress very slowly and leave me wishing there was more development to Sebastian and Hero’s characters from novel to novel. I find as a reader I only get tiny bits of what Sebastian and Hero are thinking. Furthermore, Hero plays a very small role in the last few novels. It would be nice if she came more to the forefront in the next book(s) in the series because I think she has the makings of a strong heroine.

C. S. Harris’ next book in the Sebastian St. Cyr series, When Falcons Fall, is scheduled to be published March 01, 2016. If you are looking for a good mystery series I highly recommend these books. For those in the Leduc Public Library system you usually have to request the books as they all seem to be scattered around Alberta rather than one library holding the entire series.

P.S. Random fact: The author C.S. Harris is just a pen name and the author’s real name is Candice Proctor. She also pens under the name C.S. Graham for a Thriller Series. http://www.csharris.net/author.php

47 ~ Who Buries the Dead by C. S. Harris

  • Beheadings, Slave Traders and Murder

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18590094-who-buries-the-dead?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

46 ~ Why King’s Confess by C. S. Harris

  • Lost Dauphin, Peace talks between France and England, French Revolution

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18114102-why-kings-confess?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

45 ~ When Maiden’s Mourn by C. S. Harris

  •  Camelot, Lady of Shallot, Murder of Upper Class Maiden

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11879594-when-maidens-mourn?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

44 ~ Where Shadows Dance by C. S. Harris

  •  International Politics, Natural vs. Unnatural Death, Lies and Diplomacy

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8450509-where-shadows-dance?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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