“Only Child” by Rhiannon Navin

This is the first book written by Rhiannon Navin.  And its one that grips you by the heart right away, and doesn’t let go even after you finish reading and close the book.  In fact, I sat on my couch and cried into my lunch napkin!  And now I think you should read it immediately!

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Someone is obviously spying on me if they have these photos, but they are accurate!  “Only Child” centers around Zach, a 6-year-old boy whose life is interrupted by a school shooting.  He is stuck in a closet with his teacher and classmates while he listens to gunshots in the hallway.  19 people die that day.  Zach’s life is turned upside down.  He has nightmares, begins to experience anger and expresses it in ways he never has before, yet seeks to become a better person and help the adults in his life find the secrets of happiness and return to a happy and loving life.

There is so much more to this story that I wish I could tell you, but almost anything else I say would be a spoiler, and I just really want you to read this book.  I fell in love with this little boy, he was such a gentle soul, thrown into such strenuous circumstances, is without a strong voice, and is trying to regain himself in all this madness.  His strength of character is amazing, and his capacity for love and forgiveness is such a beautiful example. This book brought me to tears more than once, and I’m thankful I wasn’t reading it at the coffee shop because I probably would have made a scene.  I really hope you get a chance to read this book, feel all the feels, and are encouraged by this character to seek out happiness, forgiveness, to fight for love and to show sympathy.

You can follow the author, Rhiannon Navin, on Facebook here and on Goodreads here.

Only Child

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My March Reading

I read 15 books this month, not impressive to my daughter if you’ve read my “February Reads” post, however, I felt ok about it! 🙂  My first book for the month of March was “Fifty Fifty” by James Patterson, the second in his series about “Blue” a homicide detective whose brother has been accused of serial murder.  She’s determined to prove his innocence, but her temper keeps her away from his case and the courtroom and gets her sent to handle other cases far away from home.

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My second book was “I Survived the Children’s Blizzard, 1888” by Lauren Tarshis.  When my daughter was in elementary school we started reading the “I Survived” series together, and even though she’s moved on to Jr. High and bigger books, when I see a new “I Survived” book comes out, I still have to read it, I guess for old time’s sake.

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The third book I read in March was “Bonfire” by Krysten Ritter, a story of a small town Indiana girl turned Chicago environmentalist attorney.  The main manufacturer in her hometown, the company that has brought her town back from the edge of poverty and extinction, is now under investigation for environmental pollution.  When Abby Williams gets home to Barrens, Indiana, she isn’t exactly welcome home with open arms.  Her investigation threatens the economical heart of the town.  Things are not going well for Abby in Barrens, she and her team are squabbling, there is an arson fire in the workspace that contains their files and research against Optimal plastics, destroying everything, and Abby’s father, a devout Christian, dies of an apparent suicide.  She has to wonder if her being her, investigating a company that no one in the town wants her to investigate, is worth all that she is losing while she’s there.  I gave it a 3/5 stars.

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My fourth book was “The Last Black Unicorn” by Tiffany Haddish, which I reviewed in full here.

The Last Black Unicorn

My fifth book read was “The Passengers” by Lisa Lutz.  I don’t remember reading a book by this author before.  This was one of my audio-around-the-house books – I download it from my laundry and play it on my phone while I’m busy around the house.  I can play it while I clean, wash/dry/fold/hang laundry, do dishes, prep dinner, bake, dust, carry out trash and recyclables, all but take a shower while listening.  I tried really hard to get into it.  By the time I realized it was still moving slow, it was still predictable, and it still wasn’t going to get better,  I was over halfway done with the book, and just decided to finish it.  I can’t give you a great recommendation for this book, and I probably won’t pursue more books by Ms. Lutz.

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The sixth book in March was called “The Tumor” by John Grisham, and he said that its the most important book he’s ever written.  After reading it, I have to agree.  His book reveals an outpatient ultrasound treatment, while not covered by insurance at this time, could save patients with many illnesses, even those we consider terminal.  Terminal patients could have many added years of high-quality life with this treatment.  In this book, John Grisham details two differing paths of one patient – his life without this treatment after a brain cancer diagnosis, where his family goes deeply in debt, and the flip side of the coin, where the patient receives this non-invasive ultrasound, covered by insurance, where the costs are manageable, and his life with stage 4 terminal cancer is extended.

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Book seven was “Sworn to Silence” by Linda Castillo, the first book in the Kate Burkholder series.  Kate is a former Amish girl turned police chief in the small town of Painter’s Mill.  In Sworn to Silence Chief Burkholder deals with a serial killer who carves Roman Numerals into the abdomens of his victims.

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I followed that up with my eighth book, the second book in the Kate Burkholder series, “Pray for Silence”, in which Chief Burkholder must solve the mystery of the death of an entire Amish family, seven people, in one household.

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My ninth book was “Breaking Silence”, you guessed it, the third book in the Kate Burkholder series.  I was on a roll…..  Parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, apparent victims of methane gas asphyxiation, no, not from dinner (hahaha), but rather from a poorly vented cesspit.  Which is totally plausible, until a head wound is discovered on one of the bodies.

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I took a Burkholder break for number ten with “The Quest” by Nelson DeMille.  This is a book he originally wrote in 1975, then rewrote in 2013, doubling its length.  Two journalists and their photographer are taking refuge from the Ethiopian Civil War in the jungle when an elderly, wounded priest comes upon them, and during the night tells his story of 40 years captivity for knowing the location of Christ’s cup from the Last Supper.  He dies from his wounds, and by the time the sun rises the three have decided that they must find this relic for themselves.  This trek takes them to and from the Ethiopian Civil War, through captivity, negotiations, escape, Rome and the Vatican, and back to the jungle.  But did the priest tell them a fanciful daydream, the fantastic imagination of a man kept in solitary confinement for forty years, or an incredibly detailed memory held on to for decades?

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Book eleven was “Home Sweet Murder” by James Patterson, which details two of the real-life true crime stories seen on the Investigation Discovery: Murder Is Forever show on the ID channel.

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Now into the James Patterson/TV books, I read “Murder Games” by James Patterson for my twelfth book of the month.  The new TV show Instinct is based on this book.  For the most part, I like the people they’ve chosen to represent the characters in the book, however, there are quite a few cheesy lines in the show, which make it not quite as enjoyable to me as the book.

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For number thirteen I was back to Kate Burkholder.  I had previously read book number four as it was the only one available, then this month I read one, two and three.  “Long Lost” by Linda Castillo is considered number 4.5 in the series.  Its a shorter story, published in e-book form, detailing Chief Burkholder on vacation.  She is told the story of a local girl who went missing under strange circumstances, and as one does on vacation, she spends her time interviewing people unofficially outside of her jurisdiction to gain more knowledge about the missing girl.

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Book fourteen was neither the interesting Chief Burkholder, nor James Patterson’s TV/Books, it was “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen (very serious intro by Newt Gingrich). The story is about a college town in a small mountain town in North Carolina, and how they fare after the United States is attacked with an EMP bomb.  (Electro Magnetic Pulse).  The EMP fries most all circuits in everything electrical.  Cars, computers, phone systems, generators, down to the smallest things we take for granted – like a glucose meter.  With no running water, electricity, or vehicles from the last 30 years that work, the town is plunged back to the ways of a century ago.  Currency is no longer paper money, but bullets and food.  How do you run a city when you have no infrastructure.  How do you maintain law and order?  How do you protect your city and its meager supplies from groups of people who want to take it by force?  How do you keep your hospital patients and nursing home residents alive when you have no medicine, no running oxygen/ventilator systems, no electricity, no running water, no alarmed doors to keep the Alzheimer’s patients confined to one wing, and prevent them from leaving the building and wandering out alone?  These are things that 95% of the population is not prepared for.  How do you gather and ration food for a city?  Provide protection?  Put out fires when people start cooking in a fireplace indoors with no running fire trucks or water?  This book is obviously fiction but written with so much forethought that it sounds like a premonition of something to come.

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The last book of the month, number fifteen, was the continuation of the last story, called “One Year After” by the same author.  The small town in North Carolina has survived one year, albiet with a lot less population than they had 366 days prior.  They’ve built an infrastucture, and have a few running vintage vehicles.  Some of the college students have found old magazines detailing how to build and grow things the “old fashioned way” that have turned out to be very useful.  They have gardens, ration cards, most of the sick have died from lack of medicine, oxygen or food.  Their borders seem secure, and they now have a small trained military force.  They have very basic communication with the towns on either side of them and seem to be gaining their footing in this new world.  Of course, something has to come in and ruin that, so the newly formed US government sends in troops to help regain control, establish a draft, and secure national borders which other countries have encroached upon during this collapse.

I have been anxiously looking for the third book, “The Final Day”, which neither my library nor my libraries online e-book or audio Overdrive have, so I will apparently have to purchase it to find out what happens!

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That’s my wrapup for books read in the month of March.  I need to have an entirely separate post for the books I acquired during March.  Many more than 15, and of course, so many added to my TBR pile from my online book groups and other reader friends!

Have you read any of these books?  What was your favorite March read?

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April 6, 2018 · 12:28 PM

Plum Island by Nelson DeMille

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Plum Island is the first book in the John Corey series.  John is an NYPD homicide detective who was recently injured in the line of duty and is convalescing at his uncle’s Long Island Victorian home.  He is approached by the local police chief to help with a double murder investigation and he agrees to be a consultant on the case.  Of course, he got more than he bargained for.

At first, the double murder of Tom and Judy Gordon looks like a burglary gone wrong, however, the Gordons were biologists at the off-shore animal disease research site, Plum Island, and rumors spread that they stole a bioweapon to sell, or an immunization they could market for millions.  But it could also be drugs or an actual burglary, and now Det. Corey is intrigued.  The Gordons had their own boat that they drove to and from Plum Island instead of taking the work-provided ferry and had recently purchased one acre of shorefront land that could be developed, which are both curious.

During the murder investigation, Det. Corey meets two single, attractive women, a local Detective, Beth Penrose, and a local historian and florist, Emma Whitestone, both of which have a major impact on his life.  The story has parties, lust, love, legends, sex, midnight skinny dipping in the ocean, caves, bunkers, vineyards, and it culminates with a tropical storm and Detectives Corey and Penrose in the storm on a boat headed toward Plum Island, chasing a murder suspect.

This book kept me interested for the entire 500 + pages and had a few twists that I did not see coming.  This is the third Nelson DeMille book I’ve read, the others were stand-alone novels, both very interesting, and this John Corey book did not disappoint.  I’m waiting on the second book from my local library, and I happened upon the third and fourth books of the series in my library bookstore for $1 each in hardback!

The other Nelson DeMille books I’ve read were “The Cuban Affair” and “The Quest”.

You can follow me on Goodreads here, or on my Book Instagram here.

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“The Last Black Unicorn” by Tiffany Haddish

The Last Black Unicorn

 

Tiffany Haddish is one funny lady, and it’s hard earned humor. I’ve found that a lot of funny people have hard pasts. Humor is their armor and their survival gear. Its how they get through the hard things – if they can find something funny about their situation, their life, if they can find a way to make other people laugh through their story, then it isn’t so bad.

Tiffany has a lot of reasons to try to find humor in her life. Her father left when she was 3, her step-father tried to kill her mother, instead, leaving her a shell of her former self, and a mean, angry shell at that! Her mother vacillated from comatose to bullying and violent, always directed at Tiffany, who had to grow up fast and raise her younger half-siblings. She became a ward of the state and felt as though she was unworthy of love. Many of us have been there.

She’s honest about her poor decision making and bad choices, brutally honest, and it’s not a book for the young or faint of heart. I wouldn’t hand this book to my 14 yr old, or my mother. But I would recommend it to my bad*ss women friends who enjoy humor, and the ones’ who saw “Girl’s Trip”, or have seen Tiffany Haddish on Jimmy Kimmel or watched her comedy shows. She’s real, and her book is like listening to a TV or radio interview – she doesn’t sugar coat her story or try to make the bad parts seem better. She talks about her bad marriage, her crazy relationships, sex, love, abuse, assault, and her brief time as a pimp. Yes, a for real pimp. Her language is as colorful as a sailor’s and she makes no apologies. If this makes you uncomfortable, you probably won’t enjoy her book.

Overall, her story is one of survival, the power of overcoming, and perseverance. She followed her dream and went through really tough things to get there. She didn’t give up, she went through some bumps in the road, some detours, made decisions that might have put her off course, but who hasn’t done that? She may speak a language more blunt and coarse than you, but her story is inspiring.

Many who have gone through the things she has survived have not achieved half of the things Tiffany has, and many of them have not forgiven near as much. I have not been through nearly as much as she has, although I have some things I hold hard in my past, and she has easily forgiven much more than I have managed to forgive. I’m working on it, but she makes it seem so much easier, and she seems much happier for it. While I may not express myself as she does, she has far outgrown me in many areas of her personal life, forgiveness is one thing she’s attained, that many of us have not.

Kudos to her, and her happier, fulfilled life. This book leaves me invested in her future, and wishing her all the best!

You can find a radio interview of Tiffany where she talks about her book and some of the stories in it here.

You can find Tiffany’s Jimmy Kimmel interview here.

Jada Pinket Smith talks about Tiffany Haddish on Jimmy Fallon here.

 

 

 

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My February Reads

For some reason, February was a slow reading month for me.  In January I was flying through books, this month I felt like I was slogging through molasses.  I enjoyed my reading, but didn’t do it swiftly!  I want to add more NF to my reading this year, but apparently, February was not the month for it.

I started the month with “Blue on Black” by Michael Connelly, and I got it as an audiobook so I could listen while I baked and cleaned.

Blue on Black

2. “Gone Missing” by Linda Castillo.  I hadn’t previously read any books by Linda, nor had I really read any Amish fiction books, although I know they are quite popular.  I was looking for a readily available audiobook for my house cleaning time, and only book #4 was available.  I took a chance that I could jump into the middle of the series and not miss too much. There were references that I might understand better if I were reading the books in order, but nothing that impacted the plot line so much that I couldn’t enjoy the story.  I reviewed it here.Gone Missing

3. “Sweep in Peace” by Ilona Andrews – this is the second book in the Innkeeper series, definitely a paranormal/fantasy series, a type which is definitely a fun read for me.  I will definitely be reading the third book in this series, “One Fell Sweep”.Sweet in Peace

4. “Ricochet Joe” by Dean Koontz – Dean is one of my favorite authors, and while some of his books are definitely in the horror genre, and make me rethink sleeping entirely, I still seek out every new book he writes.  “Ricochet Joe” reminds me a bit of the Odd Thomas series, also by DK, and I would love to see more books or a longer story about “Ricochet Joe”.  Ricochet Joe

5. “Artemis” by Andy Weir – to be honest, I was almost reluctant to read “Artemis”, as I so enjoyed “The Martian”, and didn’t want to be disappointed if this didn’t live up to the gripping drama, humor, and suspense of “The Martian”.  I reviewed the book here.

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6. “Renegades” by Marissa Meyer – this is the first book in a new series, detailing a dystopian style novel of individuals who are born with powers and abilities that are superhuman.  Superhuman strength, crazy abilities like flying, strange abilities like being able to put someone to sleep instantly, anything that makes them more than human.  Some of them use these abilities for good, while others make different choices. Of course, this leads to conflicts, detailed in this new series.Renegades

7. “Menagerie” by Rachel Vincent – Also the first in a new series, I wrote a review about this book, which you can find here.  I love this series!

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8. “Her Last Breath” by Linda Castillo – this is the book following “Gone Missing”, so #5 in the Kate Burkholder series.  I WILL get to the first book in the series, I am actually on the wait list for it.  This may be the first time I have ever knowingly started a series, mid-series.  Her Last Breath

9. “Stillhouse Lake” by Rachel Caine – Y’all – this book!!!  One of my wonderful friends, also a reader, read this and recommended it.  I have also seen this all over the place in the bookish world and finally decided to read it.  I could not stop!!!  I stayed up until 11pm finishing this book, the same day I started it, even though I had the normal daily interruptions – school car line, feeding of animals, feeding the family, cleaning up, etc., etc., I HAD to finish this book.  Definitely worth your time!

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10. “Killman Creek” by Rachel Caine – and yes, this is the second book in the “Stillhouse Lake” series – I downloaded this on Kindle about 10 minutes after I finished “Stillhouse Lake”.  At 11:15pm.  Knowing full well I had to get up before 6am, and lying to myself about not staying up too late.  With everyone in bed and the animals asleep, I had no interruptions (except for getting snacks), and read straight through until the end, and made it to bed by 3:30am.  Yes, I think it’s that good!  Suspenseful, dramatic, family stuff, kid stuff, emotions, it’s all there.  I’m stalking for an ARC of the third book, “Wolfhunter River” because I know that just when it seems like everything is fine, and all the loose ends are tied up – they aren’t!!!  The third book is expected out in December of this year, so stay tuned!

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11. “All We Can Do Is Wait” by Richard Lawson – this is a Young Adult book that tells the story of a bridge collapse in Boston that brings a group of teens together in a hospital ER.  I reviewed the book here.

All We Can Do Is Wait

12. “Spectacle” by Rachel Vincent – this is the second book in the Menagerie series, and I wrote a book review here.

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13. “The Cuban Affair” by Nelson DeMille – this is the first book I’ve ever read by Mr. DeMille, and I really enjoyed it.  While looking up his other works I found that he also wrote (among many others) “The General’s Daughter”, which was made into a movie starring John Travolta.  I will definitely be reading more of Nelson DeMille’s work!

The Cuban Affair

I had hoped to get through more books this month, but March is tomorrow, and I have great hopes for this coming month.  There are so many wonderful books out there just waiting to be read!  What were your favorite reads of February?  What are you most looking forward to reading in March?

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Spectacle by Rachel Vincent

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“Spectacle” is the second book in the Menagerie series, (Find the review of “Menagerie” here) and follows the story of Delilah Marlow, the small town Oklahoma girl who finds herself gone from paying visitor at the infamous Menagerie, to a caged prisoner, expected to perform IN the Menagerie, although she doesn’t remember what happened to put her in this position. She fights the imprisonment, with disastrous results, and when hurting her does not bring about the desired results, the Menagerie handlers begin hurting other cryptid prisoners to force Delilah to revert to the monster that put her in her cage.
“Spectacle” details the journey of the ending of the Menagerie as it had been, and a new dawn for the cryptids held prisoner there. While this does not last, they are given a small taste of what freedom might look like for them and have gained enough self-respect that even those raised in captivity yearn for the feeling, and are dangerous in their pursuit of this right. While the Menagerie seemed like hell on earth, things can almost always get worse, and The Savage Spectacle becomes the cryptids new home, and lower level in the hell they are becoming reaccustomed too. While bars, cages and malnutrition seemed unbearable before, permanent electronic collars that can be used in varying degrees to take away cryptids powers, limit their locational movement, take away their voice, and even paralyze them with the touch of a remote now seem much worse. No sunshine, no wind, no freedom and no bargaining with the handlers. While Delilah was able to give hope to the cryptids while in the Menagerie, and coordinate their efforts, is there any hope when even she is confined by her collar and cannot even speak?
I loved this continuing story, and am so looking forward to the continuation in the third book, “Fury”, out in October, 2018. I’m a big fan of Rachel Caine, if she needs an early reader and/or reviewer, I’m willing to volunteer! 🙂

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For a quick teaser of “Fury”, click here.

 

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“All We Can Do Is Wait” by Richard Lawson

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“All We Can Do Is Wait” follows a group of teenagers through a harrowing day in a hospital waiting room after a bridge collapse in Boston. Each is waiting to hear news of loved ones, one a sister, one a girlfriend, two their parents, and one a father. Not all of them receive good news. But it is more than that too. It tells their background – being a teenager is complicated, full of drama and shadows. Life is big and emotions are bigger. Some secrets seem insurmountable, and we believe they have the power to destroy us. We pull away from those we love, those who know us best, and try to close ourselves off from those who may see through our walls, our facades built of pain, to protect ourselves, to curl up around our secrets, protect them like the Golum in “Lord of the Rings”, hoping no one ever finds out, while we wait for someone strong enough, who cares enough, to break down the wall and come find us. To come find us and tell us we are loveable anyway – despite the secrets that we find so big, despite our pain, our mistakes, and our insecurities. This isn’t limited to our teenage years, even though it can be really hard then. This book talks about secrets, love, life, family, how you feel when you realize that you may never have a chance to see that family again – with all its flaws, and thorns, and who that makes you in this great big world without them.
While this book is a written with young adults in mind, the lessons and emotions felt here are everyone’s age. Definitely worth your time!

 

 

 

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