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Monday, March 19, 2018

Review: Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Title: Let Me Lie
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Format: ARC
Publisher: Berkley,
Publish Date: March 13, 2018
Source: PR

What's the Story?:

From "Two years ago, Tom and Caroline Johnson committed suicide, one seemingly unable to live without the other. Their adult daughter, Anna, is struggling to come to terms with her parents’ deaths, unable to comprehend why they chose to end their lives. Now with a young baby herself, she feels her mother’s presence keenly and is determined to find out what really happened to her parents. But as Anna digs up the past, someone is trying to stop her. She soon learns that nothing is as it seemed."

My Two Cents:

In "Let Me Lie," Anna believes that she lost both of her parents to suicide with a few months between them. When mysterious things start happening, Anna believes that perhaps it wasn't suicide that took her parents but something completely different. This book is a thriller but has a very slow burn. It took me awhile to get into this one but if you hang in there, you'll be rewarded with an exciting second half of the book that keeps you on your toes.

I have enjoyed Mackintosh's other two books so I wanted to see what this one was like. It started much slower than the other two books and was dragging for me. It very slowly started to pick up and then was off like a flash once you figure out what happened to Anna's mother. I was so glad I hung in there. Once I hit that point, I couldn't stop reading. It was wonderful! 

Part of the problem that I had is that our main character, Anna, mostly seems to only be the vessel for the story. I wanted to know more about her and what kind of person she was. You don't really get that throughout the book as the book is more focused on the mystery. I wanted to know a little more about her and how she grew up in light of what we find out about her parents.

Overall, this was a good story; it just took a little while to heat up!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Review: Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World by Mackenzi Lee (Goodreads Author), Petra Eriksson (Illustrations)

Title: Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World
Authors: Mackenzi Lee (Goodreads Author), Petra Eriksson (Illustrations) 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Abrams Books
Publish Date: February 27, 2018
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "Based on Mackenzi Lee’s popular weekly Twitter series of the same name, Bygone Badass Broads features 52 remarkable and forgotten trailblazing women from all over the world. With tales of heroism and cunning, in-depth bios and witty storytelling, Bygone Badass Broads gives new life to these historic female pioneers. Starting in the fifth century BC and continuing to the present, the book takes a closer look at bold and inspiring women who dared to step outside the traditional gender roles of their time. Coupled with riveting illustrations and Lee’s humorous and conversational storytelling style, this book is an outright celebration of the badass women who paved the way for the rest of us."

My Two Cents:

Here's another great pick for Women's History Month: "Bygone Badass Broads." Not only does this book have a fabulous title but it has a great premise. Author Mackenzi Lee started a feature on Twitter to talk about all of these fantastic women from history that many don't know much (or anything!!!) about. History unfortunately has focused on white men. Lee is trying to get the stories of the amazing women that came before us out into the world and this book helps her do that!

I love history but am always very frustrated how one-sided it is. There are so many people out there that did wonderful things but because of what they were or who they were, we know very little about them and you won't find them in a standard history class. It's sad but luckily there are books like this one that want to change that. This book covers the gamut of politicians, inventors, rabble rousers, and many more who contributed something awesome to this world we live in.

Lee doesn't give us a boring account of facts and figures. No, she gives readers thoroughly entertaining and memorable stories. I found myself wondering over and over again about why the women in this book weren't more well known. I also found myself appreciating that there are people out there who want to spread the word about them!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Giveaway Winners!

I have two giveaway winners to announce today! 

Pitch Perfect 3:

The Child:

Congratulations again!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

Title: The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.
Authors: Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: June 13, 2017
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "When Melisande Stokes, an expert in linguistics and languages, accidently meets military intelligence operator Tristan Lyons in a hallway at Harvard University, it is the beginning of a chain of events that will alter their lives and human history itself. The young man from a shadowy government entity approaches Mel, a low-level faculty member, with an incredible offer. The only condition: she must sign a nondisclosure agreement in return for the rather large sum of money.

Tristan needs Mel to translate some very old documents, which, if authentic, are earth-shattering. They prove that magic actually existed and was practiced for centuries. But the arrival of the scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment weakened its power and endangered its practitioners. Magic stopped working altogether in 1851, at the time of the Great Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace—the world’s fair celebrating the rise of industrial technology and commerce. Something about the modern world "jams" the "frequencies" used by magic, and it’s up to Tristan to find out why.

And so the Department of Diachronic Operations—D.O.D.O. —gets cracking on its real mission: to develop a device that can bring magic back, and send Diachronic Operatives back in time to keep it alive . . . and meddle with a little history at the same time. But while Tristan and his expanding operation master the science and build the technology, they overlook the mercurial—and treacherous—nature of the human heart."

My Two Cents:

So if you have been following my blog, some of you may know about one of my 2018 challenges, which was to read the favorite books of some of my friends. I am so happy that I am doing this challenge for books like this one. This book was suggested by my friend and a good author, Tinney Heath. I might have never come across it otherwise!

Imagine that instead of magic not being real, that it used to be real but now it has gone extinct. Imagine the U.S. government had a whole agency devoted to time traveling in order to figure out what happened to the magic and how to bring it back in the world. That is what this book is about. It's a perfect blend of sci-fi with some great historical fiction detail that pulls together so many of my interests in one hefty novel that I still didn't want to end even after over 750 pages.

In this book, we meet a ancient language linguist, Melisandre, and a military intel ops guy, Tristan, are thrown together by this super secretive agency. Melisandre doesn't get the full picture at first but she very quickly sees how her linguistic skills will be used by this agency. Tristan is excited about his new ventures. The main characters are great but there is a whole cast of secondary characters (witches from history and lots of stodgy military guys who are the complete opposite of the freewheeling witches).

Not only is the story good but it's dramatic and funny and kept me reading. Particularly some of the sections about the bureaucratic nonsense that rules the day at this agency for a seemingly silly bit of work. There were a couple parts about the bureaucrazy (ahem, cracy) that had me laughing out loud. I also liked how the authors explained how things worked when the past changes. This was a very original story line and I really enjoyed this read!


Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: Babylon Berlin by Volker Kutscher

Title: Babylon Berlin
Author: Volker Kutscher
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Picador USA
Publish Date: 2007 (originally published)

Source: PR

What's the Story?:

From "It’s the year 1929 and Berlin is the vibrating metropolis of post-war Germany – full of bars and brothels and dissatisfied workers at the point of revolt. The strangest things happen here and the vice squad has its hands full. Gereon Rath is new in town and new to the department. Back in Cologne he was with the homicide department before he had to leave the city after firing a fatal shot.

When a dead man without an identity, bearing traces of atrocious torture, is discovered, Rath sees a chance to find his way back into the homicide division. He discovers a connection with a circle of oppositional exiled Russians who try to purchase arms with smuggled gold in order to prepare a coup d’état. But there are other people trying to get hold of the gold and the guns, too. Raths finds himself up against paramilitaries and organized criminals. He falls in love with Charlotte, a typist in the homicide squad, and misuses her insider’s knowledge for his personal investigations. He gets entangled in the case more and more, dirtying his hands and eventually ending up as a suspect himself.

Volker Kutscher tells the story of a lonely and fiercely determined inspector in a city which, in all its restlessness and hedonism, appears to be astonishingly modern – and whose fate is already traced out."

My Two Cents:

"Babylon Berlin" is the first book in a series about Gereon Rath, a man who finds himself in the big city of Berlin after coming from a smaller city where he had to leave the police department in disgrace. He's looking to turn around his life in a new place: Berlin. There is so much going on in Berlin at this time (late 1920s). It's the time of the Weimar Republic and the crimes that take place there threaten to wrap up even those fighting for justice like Gereon. Will Gereon end up disgraced again?

I have been thoroughly enjoying watching "Babylon Berlin" on Netflix. It's an exciting show with a lot of gorgeous detail that transports you to Berlin. I was excited to see how the book stacked up with the miniseries. While there are some differences, the feeling between the miniseries and the book are the same. The miniseries is a little more glitzy, while still capturing the grittiness that weaves its way throughout the book. There are other differences in the story lines but I don't want to give anything away!

Gereon Rath is a great character. He is the kind of fallen hero that we all like to root for but he also has a lot of demons. He is flawed but you still want things to turn out okay for him. He goes through so much throughout the book and really grows and changes. It will be interesting to see where the future books take him.

I loved the setting! I don't know very much about the Weimar Republic years as they seem to largely set up for some of the later chaos wrought on Germany by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. I thought that the author did a great job of capturing everything that was going on.

The writing was good. It did get bogged down in a few places and I can't tell if it was the story or the way things were translated. The plot moves fairly well for the most part though. Overall, this was a pretty good story!


Friday, March 9, 2018

Review: Dress Like a Woman: Working Women and What They Wore by Abrams Books

Title: Dress Like a Woman: Working Women and What They Wore
Author: Abrams Books
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Abrams Books
Publish Date: February 27, 2018
Source: PR 

What's the Story?:

From "Dress Like a Woman turns that question on its head by sharing a myriad of interpretations across history. The book includes more than 240 incredible photographs that illustrate how women’s roles have changed over the last century. The women pictured in this book inhabit a fascinating intersection of gender, fashion, politics, culture, class, nationality, and race. You’ll see some familiar faces, including trailblazers Shirley Chisholm, Amelia Earhart, Angela Davis, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Michelle Obama, but the majority of photographs are of ordinary working women from many backgrounds and professions. Pioneering scientists and mathematicians, leading civil rights and feminist activists, factory workers and lumberjacks, stay-at-home moms and domestic workers, and artists and musicians; all express their individual style and dress to get the job done."

My Two Cents:

"Dress Like a Woman" is a perfect book to read for Women's History Month. It is a gorgeous book filled with pictures of women at work. Historically (and sometimes still in the present day), women have had to fight in order to be included in the workforce. Women have a huge role in making the world go around and this book celebrates that! Being a working woman, I loved seeing pictures of those who have come before me in order to allow me to do what I want to do with my career.

Although most of the pictures that it includes focuses on American women, there are still a bunch of photos dedicated to other parts of the world. I loved seeing the differences between women around the world and between women of different times. This is truly a beautiful book!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Review: Death in Glenville Falls by Carol L. Wright

Title: Death in Glenville Falls
Author: Carol L. Wright 
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Cozy Den Press
Publish Date: August 17, 2017
Source: Owned

What's the Story?:

From "Early September is a time for new beginnings in a college town, and Gracie McIntyre braces for hers.

Gracie left the practice of law eighteen years ago, after losing a client to an apparent murder/suicide. Since then, she’s been a stay-at-home mom and part-time professor at the local college. Now that her son has gone off to university and her daughter has started high school, she is ready for a new adventure. But opening a new-and-used book shop gives her more than she bargains for.

Days after her grand opening, she finds a threatening message outside her door. When she refuses to heed the warning, violence escalates. What’s worse, she suspects a police officer might be the culprit. She soon realizes she’s on her own to find a way to save her store—and possibly her life."

My Two Cents:

"Death in Glenville Falls" is the story of Gracie McIntyre, a woman who has my dream job: owning a bookstore. She is content with her life of creating a place for community in her small bookstore with the company of her orange kitty. Unfortunately, quiet is not the idea that fate has for her life. Gracie will get pulled into a mystery where her livelihood and her own life may be at stake.

This book was a first for me: a cozy mystery! I don't read a lot of mystery in general but I had never read a cozy mystery before. Cozy mysteries are like kinder, gentler mysteries: they aren't bloody because any violence happens offstage. I picked up this book for book club and the author is the mother of one of my book club friends. I love when my reading is stretched like this!

Gracie is such a great character. Not only does she make it her business to try to solve the mysterious circumstances that befall her bookstore but she balances it all with still being a good parent and a good friend. She is intelligent and kind. Because she is just an amateur sleuth, she thinks about things in a very different way that helps her solve the mystery at the core of the book (I don't want to go too much into this so I don't give anything away).

I also really liked the setting. Glenville Falls is a small college town. Everyone knows everyone and everyone is in everyone else's business. The town is full of quirky characters that come in and out of the book and made for a more entertaining experience!

This was a great foray into the world of cozy mysteries and I am looking forward to getting back to Glenville Falls soon!

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