Thursday, September 17, 2015

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, this is now, officially, my favorite book (so far) of 2015. I listened to it on Audible and could hardly wait for my commute to/from work each day to listen to it! It's about a group of mothers in Australia (Madeline, Celeste, Jane, Renata, and Bonnie, their husbands and families, and some other minor characters), all mothers of kindergarten students in a small beach town on the Australian coast. An incident happens on the day of kindergarten orientation that affects them all in some way, and then, on "trivia night" a few months later, a death happens (we find out about it in the first chapter, but it takes the whole book to find out what happened and to whom - until then we don't know). The book goes from that night of the supposed murder/death, and then goes back in time to "5 months before trivia night," "4 months before trivia night," and so on. And then after the incident it goes from days after trivia night, 4 weeks after trivia night, and 1 year after trivia night. The deals with many issues: bullying, gossip, teenagers, domestic violence, divorce/remarriage, infidelity, women's body issues, and more. It is very character-driven and the reader is very much drawn into each of the lives of the characters. There are some twists at the end that I suspected at first, but then had discarded, so I was surprised when they were revealed. The characters were all intertwined in some way, which was part of the brilliance of this book. I love this author's writing, and have read one other of her books, but like this one the best so far. I plan to read her other books because I love her writing so much. By the way, this would be a great book for a book club discussion. And I highly recommend the Audible version as I thought the narrator was excellent.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

An adventure/survival novel that I really liked and read in one sitting!

Girl UnderwaterGirl Underwater by Claire Kells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book with the Woman's Adventure Magazine Book Club on Facebook. We normally read non-fiction travel adventure books, but reading a novel that read like it was real, was a nice change. I read the book in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. It is a debut novel and I look forward to more by Claire Kells!

In this book 19 year old Avery Delacorte, a competitive college swimmer, is on her way home to Boston for Thanksgiving, when the plane goes down in the Rockies of Colorado. She, a fellow teammate, Colin, and 3 little boys, are the only survivors. They survive in the mountains for 5 days, in sub-freezing temperature, and with dwindling food supplies (airplane snacks only), and injuries, before being rescued. In the aftermath of the rescue, Avery suffers from PTSD, as what really happened is not what she told the media. The book jumps back and forth in time, very effectively. My only question is why did Avery avoid Colin from the time she first met him as a freshman and he was so nice to her? I didn't understand what her reason was.

I also don't understand the negative reviews I've read, because I really liked the book and thought it was well-written. I guess different strokes for different folks!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Now I definitely want to walk the Camino someday (soon)!

Walking the Camino: A Modern Pilgrimage to SantiagoWalking the Camino: A Modern Pilgrimage to Santiago by Tony Kevin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm more than halfway through and still am enjoying the book. I really like the Spanish history and politics that author has included; I find it really interesting.

But what REALLY ANNOYS me is the terrible Spanish pronunciation of words!! I wish the narrator knew Spanish because as he butchers most of the names of places and words, I want to scream at him, lol!

Ok, I have now finished the book. Although Tony didn't have any mishaps on the road or any "exciting" events to recount, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The history he included, the Spanish politics, the brief telling of his own story, his reasons for the pilgrimage, and more, were very interesting to me. He was the same age I am now when he walked the Camino (63), so I really wanted to read it from the perspective of someone my age. As a Catholic myself, I could also relate to his story about his spiritual journey as a Catholic along the Camino. Also, I had not heard of the route he took, from Seville to Santiago; I only had heard of the Camino Frances, Ingles and Portuguese. He walked most of the way by himself, choosing to socialize at night with the pilgrims he met on the way during the day. I think I would prefer to walk with someone, but that's me.

As I listened to the book, I have no idea if the print version included any pictures. I would really like to see them, if there were any!

This book has rekindled my interest in reading even more travel adventure books about walking the Camino, or which I have a few. And, of course, I will watch the movie, The Way (with Martin Sheen, on Netflix), yet again - one of my favorite movies.

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

AbsolutionAbsolution by Amanda Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**I received this book for free from the author in exchange for a honest review***

It has been awhile since I've read a romance and I was overdue! I really enjoyed this book and thought it was well-written. I only wish the ending had more detail (the proposal and the actual event). If I have any criticism it's only that I thought the characters were drama queens in that it took them forever to open up and be truthful with each other; I wanted to shake them sometimes! The reason Jack stayed away 4 years didn't make sense to me; he was afraid of what? He did what anyone would have done to save Ally and had nothing to feel guilty about. Just everyone's refusal to share anything was frustrating to me.

But other than that, I enjoyed the book and I'd like to learn more about the characters and what happens to them. Good job, Amanda Dick! Oh, and I loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. If I was reading a paper book, I would've highlighted each one because I want to remember them all.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Before I GoBefore I Go by Colleen Oakley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This has now become my favorite book, so far, of 2015. Although it is not a “feel good – happy ending” book, I could relate a lot. It is about a young, married woman, Daisy, married to Jack, who is finishing up his dual degrees to become a veterinary doctor and a PhD doctor (a 7-year journey). Daisy is a breast cancer survivor of three years (after going through chemo and radiation), working on her graduate degree, and waiting to travel and have children with Jack once his degree is finished in a few months. Their whole life has been working towards this goal, and then what they will do “after.” She is about to celebrate her 3-year “cancerversary” when she has her annual tests and gets the news that her cancer is back, and this time it’s stage IV, incurable, and everywhere - brain, bones, breast, liver, lungs. She has a six-month prognosis to live. The book is all about her emotions, her fear that her beloved husband, Jack, can’t function without her, and that she needs to find him a second wife for after she’s gone. But then she has second thoughts about it and gets jealous thinking of him with someone else. She shuts her husband out, not wanting him to go to doctor appointments or surgeries with her, and not talking to him about her feelings or his. She literally shuts down. I think unconsciously she was pushing him away, thinking he might as well get used to not being with her, when all he wanted was to be with her. I wanted to shake her and tell her that she’s still alive, not dead yet, and she needs to LIVE her last months with him! The writing is beautiful and the story is so poignant, raw, and moving. I can’t believe it is Colleen Oakley’s first novel! The novel deals with many issues: death, life, love, the mother/daughter relationship, best friend relationship, introspection, letting go, and a host of other themes. I literally felt like I was inside Daisy’s head and could feel what she was feeling and think what she was thinking. Some of the sentences were written so perfectly and beautifully that I just stopped reading and pondered them.
I especially related to this book because I am a 10 year breast cancer survivor myself, and recently I had a scare, fearing that it had returned. Luckily, all my tests (first tests done in 10 years) were clear. But for a brief time I felt like Daisy, scared of a recurrence, but I was so lucky and fortunate that it was nothing. In her case, she was only 27, so very young, so her diagnosis was doubly scary. Also, I have a friend whose husband was recently diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, and what she is going through I can only imagine. So this book had special meaning for me at this time. It made my throat tighten at certain scenes and I cried throughout; it was very cathartic! Like I said, it is a heartbreaking book, but my favorite of this year. I highly recommend it.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

A book club pick I would never have picked up on my own, but I loved it!

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Soulless by Gail Carriger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would never have picked this book up on my own to read, as I'm not into vampires and werewolves (except the Twilight series). But, as it was a book club pick, I went out of my comfort zone and read it. Actually, I listened to the Audible version and it was wonderful! I actually really enjoyed this book and found it humorous, a delight, and a breath of fresh air, a change from my usual reading. I liked the characters, the setting, and the story. My one complaint is that I don't think Alexia was soulless at all; I felt she had a lot of "soul." I loved her character, her wittiness, her intelligence, her love and caring for her friends and lover. The "sex" scenes, although not "too" explicit, were explicit enough to be pretty steamy, ha ha. I could see this book being made into a movie! The pronunciation of some of the names on the audio version were NOT how I would have thought how they were pronounced, so I enjoyed listening to the book for that reason.

I don't know if I will read the others in the series (too many books, so little time), but I might try them. If you want a light, fun read, I highly recommend this book, and can't wait for our book discussion at book club this weekend.

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I was excited to read this book from my favorite Little Couple!

Life Is Short (No Pun Intended): Love, Laughter, and Learning to Enjoy Every MomentLife Is Short (No Pun Intended): Love, Laughter, and Learning to Enjoy Every Moment by Jennifer Arnold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have watched every single episode of the t.v. reality show, The Little Couple, about the lives of the authors of this book. In fact, it is one of my most favorite shows. Therefore, I really enjoyed their book, although I knew most of the things in it already. The only thing new was finding out that Jen's parents had divorced, her dad had remarried and divorced, and then her parents had remarried each other! (By the way, I love her mom, Judy.) Jen and Bill appear to be one of the nicest couples on t.v., so respectful and loving of each other, so intelligent, hard-working, and loving and dedicated to their two children. I never hear anyone on social media bad-mouthing this couple or their show; they are truly well-liked. It is a testament to their character and how they are doing their show that people truly admire them. As an adoptive parent myself (from Guatemala) and a cancer (breast) survivor, I also could relate a LOT to their story, so this book was especially meaningful to me. I am so excited over their adoptions of Will and Zoey, both such cute kids. Will is so much like Bill that it's eerie and he was obviously meant to be his son! Zoey is so so cute. Both children appear very intelligent and I can't wait for the new season to begin to see how they are doing and how Bill's latest surgery went. The book was well written and I liked the alternating chapters from each of JEn's and Bill's points of view. For a change, even though it was an advanced uncorrected proof, I did not find any editing errors. Kudos to them for that! When I got this book, I dropped the other books I was reading to immediately read this one!

**I received this book free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.**

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

My favorite book of 2015 (so far)!

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All the Light We Cannot See is in my top 5 books read in 2015, so far. I listened to the Audible version and thought the narrator was perfect; I could always tell who was speaking. Although some reviewers complain about how the book skips around in time and character, I actually liked it. It went from Marie-Laure to Werner from the present to the past, alternating. I like how it all came together. Marie-Laure lives in Paris with her father and Werner lives in Germany with his sister and in an orphanage type of home. Marie-Laure became blind at age 6 and her father builds her a model of her neighborhood so she can become independent and find her way around. He works in the National Natural History Museum in Paris and Marie-Laure learns her academics from her father, from reading, and from the museum. Despite her blindness, she is very, very intelligent and loves to learn. Werner is also an extremely intelligent boy and is fascinated with radios. He learns to repair them and build them, to the point where the townspeople bring their radios to him to fix. When World War II breaks out, Werner is selected to go to an exclusive state school and when he finishes he goes into the Army where he is to find resistance people through their radio transmissions. Marie-Laure and her father leave Paris and go (with a valuable gem from the museum) to St. Malo, where her great-uncle, Etienne, lives, and where she lives out the rest of the WWII. Her uncle was a fascinating character. He was a WWI veteran who has not left his home in 24 years and is agoraphobic. He is wonderful to Marie-Laure and his back story, with his brother (her grandfather), is very interesting. As the story develops, you will discover how Marie-Laure and Werner’s lives will intertwine and how the war affects each of them. The French resistance movement plays a large part in the book, as does some fantasy surrounding the gem/diamond they are guarding. I didn’t really expect what happened towards the end (no spoilers!), but I also was not surprised. I found the book fascinating and from a different perspective of the war than that which I have previously read about. It will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend it.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A book people will be talking about this year!

HausfrauHausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hausfrau – “housewife” in German. I can’t get this new book out of my mind and wanted to start reading it all over again when I finished it! If I had my own eBook or a paper copy I would have been highlighting like crazy throughout the entire book as there were that many things I wanted to remember – profound quotes, insights, meaningful words. The book is beautifully written (the author is a poet) and so thought-provoking! I predict that this will be a book people will be talking about a lot in 2015 and it is now, officially, my top book of the year, so far.

Anna is an ex-pat American married to a Swiss banker, Bruno, living outside Zurich, Switzerland. They have three children, two young sons and a baby daughter. Anna has never adapted to life in Switzerland, has no real friends, does not know the language/dialect, her husband is not very loving/supportive/present, her mother-in-law does not really accept her, and Anna really doesn’t know what to do with herself. She is not a typical housewife and is extremely lonely. She is not happy at all and has no real support system. She is finally seeing a psychotherapist (Jungian) and has, finally, after 9 years, started taking German lessons, as her children are bi-lingual and she knows almost no German after all this time living in Switzerland. She is severely depressed, but it is not really acknowledged or dealt with. She can’t sleep well at night and often goes outside in the middle of night to the top of a hill behind her home and sits on a bench. Her psychiatrist prescribes some medication, but Anna does not take it, and the doctor doesn’t follow up. The way Anna deals with her unhappy life is by having affairs, multiple affairs, which are meaningless and not fulfilling, except for the sex. She does not open up to anyone, including her therapist or her husband or her new Canadian friend she meets in German class, about her real feelings or what she is doing. She does not work outside the home and barely parents her children, although she loves them (her mother-in-law helps out every day); as she is too busy meeting her lovers and escaping from her life as a hausfrau.

It is interesting that I read this book right after reading another, similar book, A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison, which was also really good. They would be interesting to compare/contrast in a book discussion group, along with Anna Karenina, which Hausfrau has many parallels to.
Some of the events that happened towards the end and at the end I did not see coming, although they are totally fitting and very ,very sad. I’m still not even totally sure about the ending (what really happened), but it is very tragic. Anna was totally lost and felt she had no one to turn to, although she has an epiphany, of sorts, about how her life really was, but it’s really too late for late. Sad sad sad.

To get a flavor for the book, here are some telling quotes from the book:

“Narcissism isn't vanity, Anna. We're all narcissists to a degree. A measure of narcissism is healthy. But out of balance, what was once appropriate self-confidence becomes grandiose, pathological, and destructive. You have little regard for those around you. You do what you will with a libertine's abandon. Boredom sets in. A bored woman is a dangerous woman.”

“...analysis isn't pliers, and truth is not teeth: you can't pull it out by force. A mouth stays closes as long as it wants to. Truth is told when it tells itself.”

“An obsession is a defense against feeling out of control. A compulsion is the failure of that defense.”
“Pain is the proof of life”

And there are so many more. The book is told from the present and the past and the psychotherapy appointments, all interwoven, and back and forth. Even the German lessons at her language classes are instructive and different from any language classes I ever had! I think there is not a page that doesn’t have some thought-provoking phrase in it.

There is SO much to say about this book, almost more than any other book I’ve read this year. I could go on and on. (I might edit/add to this review later, as I think about it more). I know it will stay with me a long time, and I know I will read it again. It just resonated with me and the author is a brilliant writer. I highly recommend this book!

*I received this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.*

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Monday, March 30, 2015

One of my favorite books I've read this year

A Small IndiscretionA Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I received this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.*

As of now, this is my favorite book of 2015. I couldn't put it down. The writing was beautiful, and I liked the back and forth narrative, between the past and the present. I figured out part of the ending, but not the entire story, and I was surprised! I won't reiterate the plot, as you can read about it yourself, above.

This is a novel about youth and exploration, and finding yourself, and about marriage and family and truth and trust. It was just so well-written and I was totally into the story. This author is wonderful and can't wait for more from her. I think this book will stay with me for awhile.Highly recommend!

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A wonderful woman's adventure story!

Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian TrailGrandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a good book! Emma Gatewood was quite a woman. She was the mother of 11 and a victim of horrible physical abuse by her husband, until she finally got the strength to leave him and her remaining children behind. When she decided to hike the trail, in 1955, she didn't tell anyone where she was going or for how long. Her family was used to her going for long walks and were not worried. She went with tennis shoes and a bag she made herself to carry her few items she carried. Unbelievable, after comparing with what hikers take today. Despite her age and bad feet and inappropriate footwear, she made the arduous trek from Georgia to Maine. When reporters discovered her and articles starting appearing nationally about her undertaking (the first woman to hike it the whole way through), is when her family found out where she was! At the end, I think she went through five pairs of shoes and met quite a few people (not other hikers) along the way. Grandma Gatewood ended up doing the entire trail a second time and then a third time, but in sections. Then she walked the Oregon Trail! It was nothing for her to walk 5-10 miles just to visit somene. She just loved to walk! She is truly an inspiration, not only for "senior citizens" but for everyone.

I read this book with the Women's Adventure Book Club on Facebook. I highly recommend this book!!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A good sequel, but a sad story

Learning to Love Myself (No Tears for my Father #2)Learning to Love Myself by Viga Boland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**I received this book for free from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.”

I did not read the first book in this memoir (although I have now just bought it for my e-reader because I HAVE to read it!). I could not put this book down. Viga’s story is very compelling and a testament to the human spirit. I cannot imagine how she kept what happened to her a secret until she was 65 years old! Her father was a piece of work and how she managed to maintain any semblance of a relationship with him is almost unbelievable, much less function in her life and marriage. I know it was for her mother’s sake alone, but still…… I wish she had told her mother when it was happening, as Viga was only a child, but I understand how the fear of her father was too great. And this happened so long ago, when things like this were not spoken about. If it happened today, I think/hope she would have spoken up at the beginning.

The writing of the story was seamless and flowed so well; I just wanted to read it straight through and almost did! At the end I even checked out many of the links, including to Victoria’s pages – very interesting.

I recommend this book, but I think it would be better to read No Tears for my Father first, in order to get the entire story (although Viga gives a quick summary of the first book at the beginning of this book).

A fun audio book

Beauty QueensBeauty Queens by Libba Bray
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, what can I say? This wasn't a great book, but it certainly was one of the most fun audio books I've ever listened to. In fact, I don't recommend reading it because AUDIO is the ONLY way anyone should experience this book. It's funny and quite the parody on beauty queens, yet also makes a strong statement on how people are judged heavily on their appearance. I did enjoy the book and it was a nice break from what I usually read.

I give it 5 stars

Into the ForestInto the Forest by Jean Hegland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book in two sittings, and I couldn't put it down. First, I could relate to the homeschooling/ unschooling in the story, as my family homeschooled for 12 years. Everything the girls (mainly Nell) learned, she learned on her own, through her own interests, from books, from trial and error, from invention. I found it all fascinating and believable, and often enviable. It is the first fiction book I've read about unschooling and it delivered! Also, I felt that the way the world was crumbling could actually happen during our lifetime, as the signs of "Armageddon" are here today.

As to the characters, I liked Nell more than Eva, as I thought she was more I interesting and resourceful and nicer. I thought Eva was more selfish and self- centered and distant. But I did enjoy the whole ballet theme with Eva, as I have family members in ballet, as professional dancers. On the other hand, Nell was more needy. I admit that I did like her mother's pushing her to entertain herself, to pursue her own dreams, and to "be her own person," when she whined about Eva's desertion of her in pursuit of ballet.

At the end of the book Eva "stepped up" and took charge and I think the book ended in the best way it could. Her decision was the best course of action and well thought out. At the same time, it was a leap of faith and scary, to me, as I don't thnk I could live that way, forever. But, like Eva said, people lived like that for millenniums and the human race survived and thrived.

I wonder if a sequel will be written? I want to know how Burl was raised (clothes? diapers?), what happened to the boyfriend who hiked across the U.S. to Boston, what happened to the rest of the U.S. and all other countries and societies, whether the girls ever leave the forest again, etc. etc. I cannot figure out the symbolism with the bear dreams. What did they all mean? Hopefully our book club discussion of the book will be interesting, stimulating, and dynamic! By the way, I cried at the end as I was very moved.

A strange book......

Dept. of SpeculationDept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don't know what the heck this book was about! The synopsis says it's letters by a wife to her husband, but it doesn't sound (I listened to the Audible version) like it to me! I got that it was about a marriage over the years, an affair, a child, etc. but that's about it. The writing was beautiful and I loved the author's narration, but I couldn't figure the story out. Good thing it's only 3 hours long, because I'll have to listen to it again before book club, lol. Some of the passages were profound, I thought, and wished I had the ebook so I could highlight them. I don't even know what genre to put this book in, besides fiction.

Update: I DID listen to it again, in one sitting, during a long car ride, and this time it was better. Also, after discussing it in book club, it became more clear. Still not a book I'd recommend, but I'm glad I read it.

A wonderful audio book!

The Boston GirlThe Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A friend recommended this book to me. I have not read (yet) any of Anita Diamant’s other books, so this was my first one. I listened to it on Audible, narratated by the actor Linda Lavin. I loved the book and it reminded me a lot of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, because of the time period it is set in, the city (New York), and the kind of life Addie lived. I like the author’s writing style and can’t wait to read The Red Tent by her and look forward to other books by her. I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to discuss it with my friends who are also reading it.

One of my favorite movies - finally read the book!

Washington SquareWashington Square by Henry James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After learning that one of my favorite movies, "The Heiress" was based on this book by Henry James, I knew I had to read it someday. I ended up listening to it on Audible and loved it! I just love the formal language, the setting (time and place), and the story. I didn't like the characters, though, as they were either cruel, manipulative, annoying, or stupid. I don't understand why Catherine never married anyone else and why she couldn't see Morris for who he really was. And why did her father insist on being so cruel to his daughter and change his will, years after Morris left? In retrospect, the storyline was pretty well drawn out and kind of weird - dwelling on the Catherine/Morris ill-fated romance for over 20 years. But I still loved the book and the narration was spot on. Now I want to see the movie again, as well as a later version of the movie that I have not seen before.

No Tears For My FatherNo Tears For My Father by Viga Boland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read the sequel to this book before reading this one. I think I liked the sequel better. Viga's family life, her's father's abuse (mental, physical and sexual) was horrific and her mother's indifference to her daughter (trying to survive her own abuse) was heartbreaking and horrific. Every time I wondered why Viga didn't speak up, didn't move out, didn't stand up to her father, she explained it, as if she heard me asking the questions! I cannot judge her as she had to live her life as only she knew how. I know how paralyzing fear can make a person. I think/hope that in today's world, a victim would speak up sooner and confront her abuser. However, children, despite all, still want to love their parent(s) and don't want to make them disappear (jail), so maybe if it happened today Viga would not change anything; I don't know. Again, the writing was good and the memoir compelling; I could hardly put it down. I have never experienced abuse in my life or known anyone who has admitted that they have, so I don't know how I would have dealt with the same situation. This was Viga's story and her reality, and it's amazing how her life has turned out (good husband, loving daughters, good jobs). She is obviously very strong and resilient. Her father was obviously very sick and it's so sad he never was caught and forced to get help. I wanted to punch him and confront him myself while reading the book. I actually yelled at him out loud while reading! It's a very moving memoir of a survivor of a childhood NO child should ever have to experience.

A travel adventure book in the U.S.

A Journey With StrangersA Journey With Strangers by Mark Reynolds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

I graduated college in 1974, the same year the author graduated high school. Those were the times when kids hit hiked across the U.S. or back packed through Europe. I never did either, but I enjoyed reading about Mark's journey. I think he was pretty immature at the time, but that's normal for a boy his age. As he wrote this book years later, I wonder how accurate his memories actually were about the people he met? Some of the incidents and people seemed a bit far-fetched. I'm glad nothing "bad" happened to him on his journey from any of his rides; he was lucky. Although he was aware of the dangers, and he tried to be selective in who he accepted rides from, I still was a bit scared for him.

I read the book in basically two sessions and was curious and interested to see what happened. The writing was okay and the story flowed nicely. However, the Kindle version had a number of glitches (not the author's fault, I don't think). There were horrible spacing errors, lines were out of order, and it was annoying. I hope Amazon fixes these!

Since I like travel adventure books, I thought this one was okay, but not great. I would like to know what the author did after this adventure, when he returned home, and in his future. He was a child of the times, and this book was a good reflection of the times.

My rating is actually 2 1/2'stars.

A so-so book

The SpeechwriterThe Speechwriter by Sid Crowe
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received this book for free from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

As a former homeschooling parent, all the views on education expressed in this book are views that I also hold. I found this to be fascinating and well thought out. I also support the views on gun control expressed. But other things were so far fetched and not well- developed: for example, meeting the governor of your state in a restaurant (the main character is a waitress there) when you interrupt his conversation with his companion to rant about gun control to these two strangers, and then immediately get fired by your boss in public, and simultaneously hired by the governor to be his speechwriter! The sex scene towards the end was gratuitous and unnecessary because it just didn't fit with the book. Running for president as an unknown, inexperienced woman was pretty much unbelievable. Sometimes the conversation was very stilted and juvenile. Finally, the numerous editing, grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and spacing errors was almost more than I could take. But, overall, the story captured my attention and I read the book in one sitting. I don't know if this is a first book for the author or how old he is, but I hope he keeps writing and improving, and uses an editor next time!!

An excellent psychological thriller!

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So far, this is one of my favorite books of 2015. While being compared to Gone Girl, the only similarity that I can see is that both are psychological thrillers. I did not figure out the ending and I was surprised! I liked the way the book was written, from the points of view of the three main characters, Rachel, Megan and Anna. None of the characters in the book was particularly likeable, except maybe Rachel's roommate. As Rachel was an unreliable narrator (she had black outs and could not remember what she did or saw), I really had no idea which way the book was going to go; there were lots of twists and turns. The author, Paula Hawkins, is a wonderful writer and I thought the characters were all well written. Like Rachel, I too would be daydreaming and imagining lives about the people I would see if I were passing by on a commuter train, so I found this book very believable. bad things happened to her every time she drank. I would've thought she would try to curb it more, but she was pretty hopeless. I have one question that I must have missed in the reading - what happened to Megan's child that she lost years ago? How did she die - an illness, an accident, or what? Although the book was dark and somewhat depressing, it kept me enthralled until the end and I highly recommend it. I hope our book discussion next week is a good one!