Review: Uncle John’s Lists that Make You Go Hmmm by Bathroom Readers’ Institute

This was a nice stressless, and fun read. There were countless lists that were interesting and entertaining. The topics discussed ranged from animals to video games to grammar rules. There is a huge variety of topics. No one should have trouble finding a list that interests them in this book.

The lists were easy to read with an appealing and uniformed format. The format also made it easy to skip list if they were not of interest to the reader. And I will admit there were some list that I did skim or skip, however, me skipping and skimming did not ruin my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

It is worth mentioning that all the list aren’t filled with well-known facts. Some facts are obscure and really get your brain going. Under each item within the list, there is a brief summary. So although you may not be too familiar with a topic or a certain subtopic, the summary acts as an aid to give you an idea of what it is.  

I feel like this is definitely a book that you can read over and over. There are tons of facts, and there might be some that had been missed in the initial reading that would stand out in a repeat reading.  

Lists That I Particularly Enjoyed:

  1. 9 Weird Celebrity Baby Names Explained

  2. 21 Funny-but-real Court Case Names

  3. 8 Scandals that Got the “Gate” Treatment

  4. 14 Parts of a Hardcover Book

  5. 78 Gaaaaaaping Plot Holes

 

Review: Girl Unknown by Karen Perry

This must be the start of a great year with psychological thrillers for me. You know a book is good when you want to reach in and strangle someone. Well, not literally but you know. Girl Unknown will lead you on an intense roller coaster ride of different emotions to an unpredictable road of plot twists and what an unsuspecting ending. It’s one of those books that you will not want to stop reading because the build will push your curiosity to keep flipping the page.

The Connolly’s are your typical family next door. Caroline, who gave up her career to stay home with her children, is back out working in the world. David, teaches at a university, is working towards his goal of being promoted shuffles the daily ups and downs of family life. They have been taking care of David’s mom and like mainly couples, unfortunately had dealt with a brief incident of infidelity but despite all hardships, they still love and care about each other. 

One day, the past came crashing down. David got unexpected news that changed the dynamics of his life as well has his family. One of his students, dropped a bomb on him that he was her father. This brings on much complication both a lost love and a secret from the past that harbors resentment and insecurity. A painful past resurfaces but with that brings an ominous domino effect of events that are laced with deception, doubt, and blind trust.

Overall, Girl Unknown was an addicting psychological thriller that was engaging and gets you guessing. The characters were great and they have a lot going on that never takes your interest away. There is an intense feeling that evolves as the book progresses that I can’t quite put my finger on because it will depend on the reader what emotion it draws for you but it is a satisfying ride that is worth taking. I’m recommending it to your TBR list.

Review: The Beau & the Belle by R.S. Grey

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Although the blurb made it seem exciting and promising, The Beau & the Belle was definitely a miss for me. The plot was poorly executed and the romance felt weak. It’s marketed as a “romantic comedy” but seriously lacked any humor.

The book is told in two parts, the past and the present, and has alternating POV’s. The premise of the story is that Lauren meets Beau when she’s 17 years old and he’s renting a place from her parents. He’s a 24-year-old law student. Julia develops some sort of a crush on Beau. The blurb mentions that Beau did something to break her heart, which causes them separate.

That is false and misleading. It’s not as dramatic as the blurb made it out to be. A natural disaster separates the two and ten years later they meet again. This time both of legal age.

The main issue that I had with The Beau & the Belle is that I didn’t understand why these two characters wanted to be together. When Lauren was a teen, I understood that she thought he was attractive and developed this massive crush on Beau.

However, what made her hold that interest as the years go by? She really didn’t know anything about him. And because of this, I felt like she just had a silly little crush on him. They had one dance and suddenly they couldn’t stop thinking about each other.

Also, what did Beau find so interesting about Lauren when she was a teen and an adult? I did appreciate that he did not act on his feelings when she was underage.

The fact that these two characters meet ten years later and still are obsessed with each other, felt confusing and annoying. It went from forbidden territory to “Let’s date. Now.”

It’s hard to root for a couple when you’re not entirely sure why they should be together in the first place. Lauren and Beau felt like a two dimensional couple and they only reason they needed to get together was only because the plot needed them to be together.

Review: First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Anderson Brower

The First Family is an elite club that only few get to be a part of. And you’re not in, into your in. Whether it is rewarding or a terrible experience can only be decided by those who are apart of in. The most well-known member of the First Family is obviously the President. And arguably, the second well known individual is the spouse of the President.  

In our history, there have been fifty-three first ladies. The first being Martha Washington, and the latest being Melania Trump. We learn their names in history class; however, we don’t spend nearly the amount of time on their stories as we do their husbands.

First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies brings the women in the frontline of their stories and really provides an in depth look at ten first ladies ranging from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama.

Instead of providing separate chapters for each woman, the author intertwines their stories and connects them to each other. Not many can relate to being First Lady, so it does make sense that these women would form bonds and be influenced by each other. Kate Anderson Brower highlights those influences and relationships; she also provides a comparative summary of each other their differences as First Lady.

These women are very different, and each had a different journey. I find it fascinating to see how each woman reacted to different situations. For example, Michelle Obama’s feelings toward leaving the White House opposed to Pat Nixon’s feelings.

Kate Anderson Brower mentions the joyous and triumph achievements of these women. However, she doesn’t shy away from the dark and somber parts of their stories. Including Betty Ford’s addiction, JFK’s death, and Nixon’s impeachment.  

I’m not afraid to state that the only first lady I was extremely aware of was Jackie Kennedy. However, this is only because I’ve read several books about the Kennedys. I could list the names of the other first ladies, but other than that I drew a blank.

After reading, I want to read more about the other ladies because now I’m intrigued and have a better appreciation for them. I’m especially intrigued with Betty Ford.

First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies is a good read. It is worth mentioning that it did feel repetitive at times, and that the final chapter was not as impactful that I had hoped it would be.

Final Analysis

First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies is a fair and intriguing look into the lives of ten First Ladies. It does tend to drag at some parts, but nevertheless, it’s an interesting read that will make you want to conduct your own research to learn more about these women.

Review: Modern Loss by Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner

Inspired by the website that the New York Times hailed as “redefining mourning,” this book is a fresh and irreverent examination into navigating grief and resilience in the age of social media, offering comfort and community for coping with the mess of loss through candid original essays from a variety of voices, accompanied by gorgeous two-color illustrations and wry infographics.

At a time when we mourn public figures and national tragedies with hashtags, where intimate posts about loss go viral and we receive automated birthday reminders for dead friends, it’s clear we are navigating new terrain without a road map.

Let’s face it: most of us have always had a difficult time talking about death and sharing our grief. We’re awkward and uncertain; we avoid, ignore, or even deny feelings of sadness; we offer platitudes; we send sympathy bouquets whittled out of fruit.

Enter Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner, who can help us do better. Each having lost parents as young adults, they co-founded Modern Loss, responding to a need to change the dialogue around the messy experience of grief. Now, in this wise and often funny book, they offer the insights of the Modern Loss community to help us cry, laugh, grieve, identify, and—above all—empathize.

Soffer and Birkner, along with forty guest contributors including Lucy Kalanithi, singer Amanda Palmer, and CNN’s Brian Stelter, reveal their own stories on a wide range of topics including triggers, sex, secrets, and inheritance. Accompanied by beautiful hand-drawn illustrations and witty “how to” cartoons, each contribution provides a unique perspective on loss as well as a remarkable life-affirming message.

Brutally honest and inspiring, Modern Loss invites us to talk intimately and humorously about grief, helping us confront the humanity (and mortality) we all share. Beginners welcome.

Review

Everyone grieves differently on their own time. Have you ever found yourself in a conversation after a tragic loss and someone refers to your grief as "getting over it" or "finding closure" as a way of dealing with things? It can be frustrating leaving you feeling alone or in situations where those around you can't relate because they don't understand to comfort you. Modern Loss, shares a group of people who give their insight on what it means to live with loss.

Modern Loss, stems from the online community started by Rebecca and Gabi. Through their own loss at a young age, they found it difficult to relate to others based based on their demographic. When their community started, it opened the door for so many in their demographic that were living with loss that enabled them to have a place to open honestly about their grief. Not just for them but for so many that have a hard time dealing or talking about their grief, this community setting allows them to openly share their living grief without boundaries. The book driven by stories of personal experiences loss that transcend the everyday folks, celebrities, ages, gender, and religion. You will be inspired, laugh, cry and hopefully feel that you are not alone. 

I thought this was one of those books that make you hopefully appreciate life and look forward to each day. You'll look at grief differently and hopefully have more compassion toward people who are having a hard time dealing with loss or find the strength for yourself if you have been struggling with living with loss. I love what these ladies did with their loss to help others and hope that you check out their book.

Review: Say You'll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

I don't even know where to start but I do know that I read an awesome book. This was the first book that I read by Katie McGarry and by the way, I need to back read now. Another author added to the favorite list but let's chat about her latest, Say You'll Remember Me.

This was definitely one that had me hooked. I loved the characters and the parallel contrast of the lives of Drix and Elle as the story progress really makes you want to root for them. There's nothing better seeing the underdog get that rainbow in the end and nothing sweeter than when love has no barriers and defies society's expected of who should be together.

Hendrix, aka “Drix” is no angel but a second chance at life after he finished a program due to a plea he accepted for a crime that he didn't commit. A situation happened where he at the wrong place at the wrong time. Mistaken identity and a broken system for people like him did him no favors. Thinking that his friend committed the crime, rather than see him suffer, he took the fall knowing that he didn't do. With a lot of time to think about things, getting the answer to that question was on the forefront of his mind but getting those answers may lead him down a road that has potential dire consequences.

As part of the stipulation of the program, Drix was to become the spokesperson of the new program. That meant that he would be attending many events showcasing the benefits of getting a second chance and new start at life. One of the events, Drix happens to meet a girl named Elle. Their chemistry is instantaneous. Now, in any other circumstance, this would be a good thing but Elle wasn't just any ordinary girl, she was the daughter of the governor.

Elle is beautiful and has everything at her fingertips. The media has defined he as the perfect daughter and that expectation of image is expected of her parents. They have rules and expectations to follow and an image to uphold. Drix doesn't exactly fit the mold. As her father's campaign and push for recongition of this new program increases, her parents expectaions get a bit too much. She loses herself and the only person that makes her feel any sort of normalcy is Drix. Each on a search for answers leads them down a path of everything they could've wanted.

Overall, I really liked this book. I really appreciate the perspective of the characters. I liked how Drix being beyond the stereotype that society has on someone like him from that socio-economic background. Sometimes things happen and people change or want a second chance in life. Then when we look at people like Elle who has everything and people adore her on the outside and wish they had her life but it's not the fascade it's made out to be. It was really nice seeing barries broken and two people fight for each other to be better than they were independent and collectively was so bittersweet. Loved the supporting characters. They brought so much value to Drix and Elle. Here's another to add to the TBR list!

Review: All the Lives I Want by Alana Massey

If I were to write a book, this is the type of book I would write. I’m so fascinated by celebrity culture, and I’ve spent a great majority of my life obsessed with it. It would interesting to see how my life has been impacted by particular moments pertaining to Hollywood and particular cultures.

All the Lives I Want was a good read. At times I did feel that some essays were a little too long and others a little too short, but nevertheless, it was an overall good book. It was entertaining with a wide variety themes.

It was interesting to see how Alana Massey discussed and incorporated different celebrities into her writings. It did not feel force or out of place. She made an effort to connect her experiences with those “famous strangers.” She is well spoken and takes time to do some analyzing. Readers would be able to tell that she had done her research.

She had a wide variety of celebrities who she mentioned. And it was great to see why she had a strong connection to those she had chosen. She mentions everyone from Lil’ Kim to Courtney Love to Sylvia Plath.

Alana Massey was also brutally honest about her experiences and about the public’s perceptions of the celebrities. However, it is worth mentioning that she doesn’t demonize these celebrities or pin them against them against each other. She’s treats them like regular people.

Final Analysis

All the Lives I Want is a well written book that manages to not feel uncomfortable or demonizing. It’s an honest account of a person’s connection to a group of people who happen to be famous.
 

Review: The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White

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Metal artist Katie Mack is living a lie. Nine years ago she ran away from her family in Raleigh, North Carolina, consumed by the irrational fear that she would harm Maisie, her newborn daughter. Over time she’s come to grips with the mental illness that nearly destroyed her, and now funnels her pain into her art. Despite longing for Maisie, Katie honors an agreement with the husband she left behind—to change her name and never return.

But when she and Maisie accidentally reunite, Katie can’t ignore the familiarity of her child’s compulsive behavior. Worse, Maisie worries obsessively about bad things happening to her pregnant stepmom. Katie has the power to help, but can she reconnect with the family she abandoned?

To protect Maisie, Katie must face the fears that drove her from home, accept the possibility of love, and risk exposing her heart-wrenching secret.

Review

This was a tough book. More than likely, when you think of someone with OCD, you probably have an image of a neat freak or someone who has to have things a certain way. Usually, we see the visual aspect of it rather than understand the behavior. The Promise Between Us, really captured and gave the reader an inside look behind someone functioning with this debilitating, no discriminating disease that can have dire affects on someone's life.

I really enjoyed getting in Katie's head. This was a character that you really could dive into and understand. What I thought made the book so compelling was that we constantly see what she is thinking. It gives you a chance to experience along with her thoughts and understand how and why she behaves the way she does as a result of a situational trigger. You really get an inside view of what it is like living with someone who has this. In Katie's experience, post partum depression kicked in which ignited her symptoms. Much of her behavior stemmed from genetics but life scenarios triggered different behaviors that affected her quality of life. At the time, she didn't know what she was dealing with and found herself agreeing to leave her child. That was such a hard decision but through some circumstances and fate, their paths cross which give her a second chance at life which allowed her to not only help herself but her daughter.

I'm sure there so many people out there who have experienced this and thought they were going crazy but you're not. I applaud the author for developing a story around a subject that people have assumptions about that usually are negative. This really enlightened and showed the positive outcome that can happened given the strength of the person to persevere and find ways that work for you life to manage and function better. We see her face her past and present and find love despite all the inner battles fighting her to let her know she can have a happy life and nothing will happen bad. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the journey and thought the story was one that was inspiring and really gives you a up, close and personal experience of someone who is experiencing this cognitive disease. A story of loss, reconnect and finding one's own true path really captivates and will soften your heart with compassion. I would add this one to your TBR!

Review: Uncharted by Julie Johnson

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Buy on Amazon

This book gave me all the feels. I was happy. I was sad, and I even shed tears. Uncharted was an emotional rollercoaster that I didn’t expect. This is not a book full of fluff. It’s dark and raw. You can’t help but cry. Julie Johnson pulls no punches, she goes there without even flinching.

The details were incredible and it really feels like your experiencing the pain that the characters are going through. The story isn’t rushed. It takes its time and allows for you to experience the moments and the struggles. For example, there was one scene in particular that I had to stop and take a breather because I felt the physical pain that one character was going through.

Uncharted is a story about strangers who survive a plane crash and end up stranded on an uninhabited island. It’s a story about survival. It’s a story about love. It’s a story about finding yourself and having strength. It’s full of unexpected plot twist.

Although I spend the majority of reading the book holding my breath and close to tears, I really enjoyed this story. It was something that I’ve never read before, and also something that I will never forget. I feel like I could read it again sometime down the line.

I was a little upset when it ended, because there was so much more story to tell. And I do hope that Julie writes more because I wanted to know what happens to Violet and Beck next.

Characters

Violet was great character. I appreciated her drive and reasoning for wanting to escape her town. I do wish that there was a little more mentions of her father in the latter half of the book. He was mentioned a lot in the beginning, and I had hoped that he would have a stronger influence throughout the whole book.

It was interesting to see Beck and Violet grow from sort of enemies to eventually friends who literally have to count on each other to survive. Both Violet and Beck brought so much to the relationship and were a great team.

I do want to take a brief moment to mention the supporting characters. I won’t get into much details because of spoilers. But it is worth mentioning, that although they had a small presence and few scenes they left a lasting impact. I felt a connection to them.

Final Analysis

Unchartered is full of angst. Tissues are a must while reading. It’s a strong story with strong characters. 

Review: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

First mistake, I started reading this book before I was heading to bed. I'm one of those people who gets scared very easily. After the prologue, rather than sleep with one eye open, I thought it was the best idea to continue reading during the day. This was definitely a welcomed departure from my usual reading and yes it made me look over my shoulders a couple of times but so glad that I took a chance because it was definitely a page-turner.

This isn't one of those books that I really can dive into and give you details because I don't want to take away from the experience by revealing anything that could take away from your experience. You will see from the intricate plot that author paid attention to detail as well as has a gift for storytelling bringing the readers characters that you will be intrigued be absorbed by. Leaving me a little scared with the covers pulled up to my eyes (I jumped to the ceiling at the faintest sound of boo) challenged and haunted my thoughts of her gorgeous story, pushing me to grip the pages, eagerly anticipating the answers to this haunting thriller. 

Told through dual perspectives of the past and present, the author gives the reader a well balanced story that feeds you all that you need to know that fuels your hunger for more to get the answers you crave to find out. That ending was so unexpected and just wrapped up this book brilliantly. There isn't one character in this book that didn't have some relevance to the plot intricately and that's pretty fantastic. Even though this doesn't follow into the usual genre that I read, there was something that piqued my curiosity to just go for and I'm so glad that I did. Overall, I thought it was a great story to dive into and are recommending to add it to your tbr.