• Book Review: Someone Else’s Life

    Author: Lyn Liao Butler

    Rating: 2 stars

    Book Blurb:

    A new life in paradise should have healed her wounds. But for a woman struggling to hold on to her family and her sanity, one stormy night could change everything.

    Blow by blow, Annie Lin’s life crumbles. Her dance studio goes bankrupt. Her mother and beloved dog are gone the same year. Then a terrible accident leaves her young son traumatized.

    It’s time for a change.

    Palm trees, mai tais, peace and quiet―Annie should be at ease, safe in her new Kauai home with her husband and son. She hopes proximity to her family can provide them all with a sense of belonging and calm. But soon items from her past start turning up―her dog’s collar, a bracelet that disappeared years ago―and she has the unnerving sensation she’s being watched. Reality begins to fracture, and Annie’s panic attacks return. When, during a brewing storm, a woman appears on her doorstep looking for shelter, Annie is relieved to have the company and feels an unexplainable bond with her visitor.

    As the night progresses, Annie realizes the woman is no stranger. Their lives are inextricably intertwined―and Annie might just lose everything.

    Wow.

    This was pretty bad.

    It started off solid, I was engrossed and wanted to find out what in the world was going on with these characters. Was Annie going crazy? Were there other forces at work? Then it lagged for a quite a bit and during that lag it lost my interest.

    These were some really unlikable characters. Annie, the main character, was so self absorbed it was painful. She also made some over the top stupid decisions, one of which is letting a stranger in her house and sharing sooooooooooooooooooooo much information with her. Boundaries, people.

    The story, once all the players were revealed, became predictable. I don’t think there was a twist you didn’t see coming.

    I wouldn’t recommend this, there are too many other good thrillers out there.

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  • Currently Reading 1/17/23

    Here are the three books I am currently working on.

    Two are Re-reads:

    Murder in Mayfair by D.M. Quincy. I loved the first two books in this series. I never read the last book and will definitely be remedying that this year. I have to say I am enjoying this re-read quite a bit.

    Between Two Fires by Mark Noce. Have you ever loved a book or series that barely anyone else has read or has a low rating on GoodReads or Amazon? This duology is that for me. I LOVE this duology. This is my third re-read and I am enjoying it so much. I will try to pinpoint why in my upcoming review. It’s a comfort read for me.

    Someone Else’s Life by Lyn Liao Butler. This is a Kindle First read for this month. I almost DNF’d it as I found the main character unlikable, but after about 20 minutes of reading I didn’t want to put it down. I can’t wait to get back to it to figure out all the weird happenings…

    Don’t you love that feeling you get when you are actually enjoying everything you are reading?

    Happy reading!

  • Short Story Review: Signal Moon

    Author: Kate Quinn

    Rating: 3 stars

    Book Blurb:

    Yorkshire, 1943. Lily Baines, a bright young debutante increasingly ground down by an endless war, has traded in her white gloves for a set of headphones. It’s her job to intercept enemy naval communications and send them to Bletchley Park for decryption.

    One night, she picks up a transmission that isn’t code at all—it’s a cry for help.

    An American ship is taking heavy fire in the North Atlantic—but no one else has reported an attack, and the information relayed by the young US officer, Matt Jackson, seems all wrong. The contact that Lily has made on the other end of the radio channel says it’s…2023.

    Across an eighty-year gap, Lily and Matt must find a way to help each other: Matt to convince her that the war she’s fighting can still be won, and Lily to help him stave off the war to come. As their connection grows stronger, they both know there’s no telling when time will run out on their inexplicable link.

    I enjoyed this. I really liked the connection between Lily and Matt. I wished the story was longer, I would have loved to have seen the relationship fleshed out more.

    The premise was intriguing and I liked the time travel/sf elements. But I am not convinced the resolution worked? Or maybe it was just anticlimactic. That aside, I did like how the story was a love letter to the women that worked as Wrens during WWII and it made me want to read a book about them and maybe one about Bletchley Park.

    Recommend for a quick read.

  • Book Review: Better Than Before

    Author: Gretchen Rubin

    Rating: 3 stars

    Book Blurb: Most of us have a habit we’d like to change, and there’s no shortage of expert advice. But as we all know from tough experience, no magic, one-size-fits-all solution exists. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.
     

    In Better Than Before, acclaimed writer Gretchen Rubin identifies every approach that actually works. She presents a practical, concrete framework to allow readers to understand their habits—and to change them for good. 
     
    Infused with Rubin’s compelling voice, rigorous research, and easy humor, and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed, Better Than Before explains the (sometimes counterintuitive) core principles of habit formation and answers the most perplexing questions about habits: 
     
    Why do we find it tough to create a habit for something we love to do? 
    • How can we keep our healthy habits when we’re surrounded by temptations? 
    • How can we help someone else change a habit? 
     

    Rubin reveals the true secret to habit change: first, we must know ourselves. When we shape our habits to suit ourselves, we can find success—even if we’ve failed before. 
     
    Whether you want to eat more healthfully, stop checking devices, or finish a project, the invaluable ideas in Better Than Before will start you working on your own habits—even before you’ve finished the book.

    What I Liked: I liked some of the suggestions in this book. For example, the book reminded me that I tend to follow through on things when I have involved another person so I can be held accountable. So this was a good reminder to make plans or engage a partner to achieve some of my goals. There were other good reminders. I say reminders because a lot of what is stated in the book, I had read elsewhere.

    What I Didn’t Like: It felt like at times you were hearing what was best for her personally as opposed to what would work for the masses or different types. No problem with that per se – but that’s not what was advertised in the blurb. Don’t get me wrong – you would get a little bit about how you could apply this in different ways for people that think or feel differently than her… but then the book would zero in on how she felt or how she dealt with making habits.

    Also the tone was a little I know what’s best, I read all these studies so sit down and learn. And more than once she seemed to adopt people around her as projects and try to encourage them to change. These people did not seem to ask for her assistance. I had a friend like that. We don’t hang out much anymore.

    I also kept thinking I don’t know what your credentials are besides you read a lot and came up with all this? That is the first time I have thought that while reading a self help book. Her condescension got to me. She would state things as fact that were just… well let’s just say I didn’t agree.

    I recommend this one because again, it had some good reminders about making habits. But I don’t think I will be reading more by this author.

  • Book Review: A Guide to Being Just Friends

    Author: Sophie Sullivan

    Rating: 3 stars

    Publication Date: January 17th, 2023

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

    Book Blurb:

    Hailey Sharp has a one-track mind. Get By the Cup salad shop off the ground. Do literally everything possible to make it a success. Repeat. With a head full of entrepreneurial ideas and a bad ex in her rearview, her one and only focus is living life the way she wants to. No distractions.

    Wes Jansen never did understand the fuss about relationships. With a string of lackluster first dates and the pain from his parents’ angry divorce following him around, he’d much rather find someone who he likes, but won’t love. Companionship, not passion, is the name of the game.

    When Hailey and Wes find each other in a disastrous meet cute that wasn’t even intended for them, they embarrassingly go their separate ways. But when Wes finds Hailey to apologize for his behavior, they strike up a friendship. Because that’s all this can be. Hailey doesn’t want any distractions. Wes doesn’t want to fall in love.

    This was a cute read. Predictable, yes, but cute.

    I did not know this book was the third in the series when I requested it but you don’t have to read the previous books to enjoy this one. However, you will be spoiled as to the outcomes of the couples in the previous books. But really, is there any doubt as to whether the couples work out when you read romance?

    The two main characters become friends and have sworn off dating being disenchanted from bad previous relationships and family trauma. The banter was pretty good! The romance was saccharine at points, and I admit I rolled my eyes a bit BUT I know a lot of romance readers like that so I wanted to put that out there. Also, I had a gripe that the author mentioned the male character didn’t want to be in a relationship due to his parents broken marriage like every other page. Just in case you forgot. That grated on my nerves a bit. But, that doesn’t put me off from recommending the book.

    If you are in the mood for a light, quick romance read – this will do.

  • Book Review: The Woman in White

    Author: Wilkie Collins

    Rating: 5/5 Stars

    Book Blurb: “There, in the middle of the broad, bright high-road—there, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth or dropped from the heaven—stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white garments.”

    Thus young Walter Hartright first meets the mysterious woman in white in what soon became one of the most popular novels of the nineteenth century. Secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelations, amnesia, locked rooms and locked asylums, and an unorthodox villain made this mystery thriller an instant success when it first appeared in 1860, and it has continued to enthrall readers ever since. From the hero’s foreboding before his arrival at Limmeridge House to the nefarious plot concerning the beautiful Laura, the breathtaking tension of Collins’s narrative created a new literary genre of suspense fiction, which profoundly shaped the course of English popular writing.

    Collins’s other great mystery, The Moonstone, has been called the finest detective story ever written, but it was this work that so gripped the imagination of the world that Wilkie Collins had his own tombstone inscribed: “Author of The Woman in White.”

    The Woman in White is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

    I don’t think I’ve felt this way about a book since I stumbled on to Sharon Kay Penman’s work. That feeling of reading something and saying: THIS is why I read books.

    I feel that you should go into this book knowing as little as possible. Because of that, all the twists were novel to me and they were just so. well. executed. I was shocked when you realized who the true villain was. I was shocked at the cliffhanger endings, wondering what was going to happen next.

    The book is long at 635 pages. It is written in multiple POVs. But the time Collins takes with each character and giving them a distinct voice has such a great payoff in the end. You care about your heroes. One of the POVs was a quirky, likable character whom later you find out has fallen ill – and I found myself going oh no, I hope they are ok – feeling this genuine concern after being in their head for part of the book. I had to remind myself this person is not real.

    I did not think you could pull off a thriller element this effectively in a book from the 1860s. I was wrong. My favorite part of the book was when a diary entry of one of our POV is hijacked and finished by the villain and I was saying “Nononononononoooooo!” out loud resulting in the side eye from my husband. The shock of it, the WHAT HAPPENED?!!!!!, the need to keep reading to find out – just so well done.

    And the book, for all its entertainment value – also comments on how the laws of inheritance worked for women back then. It’s an integral part of the story and and after fact checking, I learned quite a bit, I had quite a few misconceptions when it came to the subject.

    If you hesitate to read this book because it is too long, it is divided into parts so there are natural stopping points to break up the reading. I warn you some of those points are cliffhangers, but you can use them to make your way through this book. It’s worth the time and the read.

    I am excited to read The Moonstone, which I also have on my shelf.

    Definitely recommend!

  • *** Currently Reading! 1/3/2023 ***

    These are the books I am starting off with this year.

    I picked Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin because in this book she examines habits and what makes them stick from the standpoint of compiled science. I thought this was appropriate being I just made all these reading and personal goals and want to give myself the best opportunity to succeed.

    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins is my tome read, and I am slowing making my way through this one. I am really enjoying this one so far and will break down why in my review.

    A Guide to Being Just Friends by Sophie Sullivan is a light read I got from Netgalley.

    Slow Horses by Mick Herron was on sale last week. After seeing all the great reviews for it, I decided to pick it up. There also happens to be a UK based TV adaptation on one of the streaming services, if one is interested.

    So far I am enjoying each of these.

    Hope you are enjoying your current reads!

  • ******READING GOALS FOR 2023**********

    Well here’s to a clean page, a fresh start and sitting mindfully and thinking about my reading goals for 2023!

    Let’s get down to business:

    READ 100 BOOKS IN 2023

    That’s about two books a week, so it’s not a terribly hard goal to reach. I waste entirely too much time doom scrolling before bed so I am replacing that with reading. Any downtime I have at work I usually will spend with Google. Unless I have something pressing to look up, I put the Kindle app on my phone so I can utilize it more. I’ve already started doing all this and have seen the benefits. And yes, I have to set this as a goal. If I don’t set goals, it doesn’t happen. It’s just that simple for me.

    READ BEFORE BED

    As I just stated, no more doom scrolling. I’ve committed that once I get in bed, just start reading my Kindle.

    READ WHAT I OWN AND WHAT IS UNDER MY SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE

    I am addicted to buying books. I admit it. I also have Kindle Unlimited which I have borrowed against and read some pretty good books. So for at least January thru March I want utilize a book buying ban. This lends to other goals that I have, not book related. At the end of March, I will assess whether or not I want to keep Kindle Unlimited.

    BE CAREFUL WITH BOOKTUBE

    I find Booktube gives me a lot of FOMO. It’s the social media effect. This sends my reading tastes off in directions that really aren’t authentic for me. I also am spending a lot of time watching other people talk about reading and learning what they’re reading as opposed to actually reading the books I want to read. I’ve decided I’m going to spend less time on Booktube, limiting it to maybe 30-60 minutes on the weekend. I don’t find that reading blogs has the same affect on me, so I’m going to keep that up. I believe it’s because I only read blogs for a few minutes a day as opposed to the numerous half hour reading vlogs I watch on Booktube. That’s a half hour I could be reading a book on my TBR!

    READ MORE BACKLIST AND CLASSICS

    At the end of 2022, I started reading more classics and backlist titles and found it fulfilling. I also started such tomes as Anna Karenina and The Count of Monte Cristo. I began to read vintage women’s fiction and have really been enjoying that. So I’m going to incorporate these into my TBRs for 2023.

    I think that’s it for now. Now the hard part- following through on the routines. It’ll be exciting to look back at the end of 2023 and see how I did with all this.

    Happy reading!!!

  • Book Review: The Year Of Less

    Author: Cait Flanders

    Rating: 4 Stars

    Book Blurb:

    In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realized that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy—only keeping her from meeting her goals—she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.

    The Year of Less documents Cait’s life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, gas for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She decluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.

    The challenge became a lifeline when, in the course of the year, Cait found herself in situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realized why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol, and food—and what it had cost her. Unable to reach for any of her usual vices, she changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.

    Blending Cait’s compelling story with inspiring insight and practical guidance, The Year of Less will leave you questioning what you’re holding on to in your own life—and, quite possibly, lead you to find your own path of less.

    This was a re-read for me. What’s funny is I didn’t know it was a re-read till I was predicting what was going to happen next with such accuracy that I scared myself. I believe I borrowed this from the library a few years ago. I’m glad I read this again, and that I read it as one of the last books of 2022. I read an opinion by a reviewer that said they found memoirs to be narcissistic, asking why does someone think their mundane life is so important that they have to share it? I don’t agree with that assessment at all. When someone genuinely makes themselves vulnerable and shares their trials and how they overcame them, it can make others feel less alone, and engender empathy. I find empathy so lacking today- we need more of it, not less.

    Cait went through similar obstacles as myself – I also paid off debt in my 20s and 30s and worked hard to do so. The struggles she described felt real, the lessons she learned were so similar.

    2023 is going to be a year of change for reasons beyond my control. My husband and I said let’s view this as an adventure of sorts, a new chapter instead of trying to fight it. So I am leaning into it, using this as an impetus for positive change. This book specifically is about spending less money and using it for the things you want to do. She examines how she uses shopping to make herself feel better rather than sitting with her feelings and working through them in a healthy, positive way. She is not perfect, but no person’s journey is linear. This book offered practical advice and was encouraging.

    I will probably read it again, hopefully this time I will remember.

    Recommend!

  • Book Review: The Bookstore Sisters

    Author: Alice Hoffman

    Rating: 3 stars

    Book Blurb:

    Isabel Gibson has all but perfected the art of forgetting. She’s a New Yorker now, with nothing left to tie her to Brinkley’s Island, Maine. Her parents are gone, the family bookstore is all but bankrupt, and her sister, Sophie, will probably never speak to her again.

    But when a mysterious letter arrives in her mailbox, Isabel feels herself drawn to the past. After years of fighting for her independence, she dreads the thought of going back to the island. What she finds there may forever alter her path—and change everything she thought she knew about her family, her home, and herself.

    I started off giving this 4 stars but reduced it to 3 after thinking about it. This was good. It was about a woman coming to terms with her past. A present crisis in her life triggers the grief she never dealt with from years ago. Now I know this was a short story, and Alice Hoffman’s writing draws you in, but I still found this lacking… something.

    It did make me want to read an actual book of hers though. Again, I am a fan of her writing style.

    Recommend if you have a little time to kill and want to not think too hard about anything.