Wednesday, May 26, 2021

At Any Cost by Rebecca Rosenberg; Selim Algar

*Disclosure of material collection- I received the book in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book- 

Wealthy, beautiful, and brilliant, Shele Danishefsky had fulfillment at her fingertips. Having conquered Wall Street, she was eager to build a family with her much younger husband, promising Ivy League graduate Rod Covlin. But when his hidden vices surfaced, marital harmony gave way to a merciless divorce. Rod had long depended on Shele's income to fund his tastes for high stakes backgammon and infidelity--and she finally vowed to sever him from her will. In late December 2009, Shele made an appointment with her lawyer to block him from her millions. She would never make it to that meeting.

Two days later, on New Year’s Eve, Shele was found dead in the bathtub of her Upper West Side apartment. Police ruled it an accident, and Shele’s deeply Orthodox Jewish family quickly buried her without an autopsy on religious grounds. Rod had a clear path to his ex-wife's fortune, but suspicions about her death lingered. As the two families warred over custody of Shele’s children—and their inheritance— Rod concocted a series of increasingly demented schemes, even plotting to kill his own parents, to secure the treasure. And as investigators closed in, Rod committed a final, desperate act to frame his own daughter for her mother’s death.

Journalists Rebecca Rosenberg and Selim Algar reconstruct the ten years that passed between the day Shele was found dead and the day her killer faced justice in this riveting account of how one man’s irrepressible greed devolved into obsession, manipulation, and murder.

My thoughts-

This was a tough read. It was intriguing in the worst way because just when you think you have heard it all, it escalates. I found myself growing more and more furious as I read along and saw what Shele's family had to endure, especially her parents. The things that this vile man did and got away with before he was finally charged with the murder of his wife are outrageous. The way in which he has manipulated his daughter her entire life, and the things have made her (or tried to make her do unsuccessfully in some cases) are beyond belief. I read through the entire book in two days because I just couldn't put it down. If you are easily triggered, I wouldn't suggest this book for you, but if you are the type of person that likes to read stories about real people, and learn their stories, At Any Cost is a well written book that tells Shele's tragic story in full.









The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

*Disclosure of material collection- I received the book in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book- 

Single mom Jessica Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard...and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: one of GeneticAlly’s founders, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond Match” that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

My thoughts-

One of my favorite current author's is Christina Lauren (who are really a duo of best friends tag teaming their authoring duties, which makes them even more compelling to me). I think I have read pretty much all of Christina Lauren's books at this point and was super excited for The Soulmate Equation! I thought the book started out kind of slow but once it got going I couldn't put it down. I love the concept of the book, DNA telling you who your soulmate is, and I love the dynamic between Jess and River from the very beginning. I also like the strong bonds Jess has with her family and her daughter. This book was equal parts funny and sweet, with a health dose of drama to keep it interesting. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance novels. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Ever Winter by Peter Hackshaw

*Disclosure of material collection- I received the book in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book- 

In the aftermath of a devastating apocalypse, Earth has become a desolate ice-world, in the grip of perpetual winter.

Henry and his family have managed to survive on the tundra of what was once a vast ocean, far from the savage remnants of humanity. When the family are discovered, their peaceful existence is shattered and their lives are changed forever. Henry’s siblings are kidnapped, leaving him alone in the ruins of their home.

Broken, altered, and tormented by all that has befallen, Henry must bring vengeance to those that assume him dead - by any means necessary.

Ever Winter is a post-apocalyptic tale of loss, rehabilitation, and revenge narrated by award-winning actor Dan Stevens.

My thoughts-

I was drawn to this novel for the cover, then the plot sounded interesting and then I found out the audio version is read by Dan Stevens. Absolutely listen to this book on audio because Dan Stevens is an amazing narrator and he definitely brings the story to life with his various voices for the different characters. If he read the dictionary I would still be intrigued and hanging on every word, but the story was interesting so he just elevated it with his talents. Henry goes through so much on this journey throughout the novel. If you are into epic adventures with a little bit of suspense you will love Ever Winter.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney


*Disclosure of material collection- I received the book in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book- 

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by debut author Joya Goffney is an own voices story of an overly enthusiastic list maker who is blackmailed into completing a to-do list of all her worst fears. It’s a heartfelt, tortured, contemporary YA high school romance. Fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Kristina Forest’s I Wanna Be Where You Are will love the juicy secrets and leap-off-the-page sexual tension.

Quinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud” and all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing . . .

Then an anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.

Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love.


My thoughts-


I think I will be forever drawn to young adult novels. I think people that count them out because they have "young" in the description are missing out tremendously. Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is a prime example of why I love this genre. It is full of raw emotion, and learning about the world and I think we can all use a little bit more of the latter. My favorite thing about this book was all of the lists. They really help bind the novel together and really help us understand Quinn. Another thing that added some drama to the story was her journal being stolen. I always enjoy a good mystery and trying to figure out what happened as the story goes along with the main character. This is definitely a coming of age story that I think anyone can enjoy. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction or contemporary fiction. 

Raised in the kitchen by Carrian Cheney

 

*Disclosure of material collection- I received the book in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book- 

From the time her children were toddlers, family cooking blogger Carrian Cheney found creative ways to get her children interested in cooking, partly to teach them basic kitchen skills so they could be part of the solution when they were hungry and partly to instill in them a joy of creating and presenting delicious meals, as her own mother had taught her.

From food prep to clean-up, this unique cookbook guides the way through every step, including meal lists and easy-to-follow recipes, and features dollops of heartwarming family stories, insights, and kid-friendly food activities to keep young chefs focused on fun in the kitchen.

The book includes 75 recipes that begin with basics such as fried eggs, pizza dough, and baked potatoes. As new cooking skills are learned, the recipes progress to guaranteed kid favorites like chocolate chip pancakes, steak fajitas, and apple dumplings. Recipes are joined with tips to help home chefs master the art of cooking, from stocking a pantry to proper kitchen etiquette and safety to how to add flair to a table setting—even how to coax a picky eater by tempting their tastebuds.

Raised in the Kitchen is a cookbook for parents and kids about much more than learning to love to cook. It’s about bringing families together with cooking memories that will last a lifetime.

My thoughts-

My kids are getting older. They are all in the pre-teen to teen stage but something we have always done is hang out in the kitchen to gether making recipes, so I adored the concept of this book. I thought maybe we could find new recipes for my 11 year old boys who still love to cook both with me and without me now. I love the way the book is set up, starting with simple, basic recipes and progressing into family friendly favorites that might be a little more challenging (yet still doable) for little ones. I will definitely be recommending this book to my friends with younger children, and we will also be utilizing some of these recipes in ourkitchen as well! 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Bad Muslim Discount by Sayeed M. Masood

 

*Disclosure of material collection- I received the book in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book- 

Following two families from Pakistan and Iraq in the 1990s to San Francisco in 2016, The Bad Muslim Discount is an inclusive, comic novel about Muslims immigrants finding their way in modern America.

It is 1995, and Anvar Faris is a restless, rebellious, and sharp-tongued boy doing his best to grow up in Karachi, Pakistan. As fundamentalism takes root within the social order and the zealots next door attempt to make Islam great again, his family decides, not quite unanimously, to start life over in California. Ironically, Anvar's deeply devout mother and his model-Muslim brother adjust easily to life in America, while his fun-loving father can't find anyone he relates to. For his part, Anvar fully commits to being a bad Muslim.

At the same time, thousands of miles away, Safwa, a young girl living in war-torn Baghdad with her grief-stricken, conservative father will find a very different and far more dangerous path to America. When Anvar and Safwa's worlds collide as two remarkable, strong-willed adults, their contradictory, intertwined fates will rock their community, and families, to their core.

The Bad Muslim Discount is an irreverent, poignant, and often hysterically funny debut novel by an amazing new voice. With deep insight, warmth, and an irreverent sense of humor, Syed M. Masood examines universal questions of identity, faith (or lack thereof), and belonging through the lens of Muslim Americans.

My thoughts-

When I am looking for a debut novel, I always look for stories that will help me gain perspective on different types of people. I grew up in a household from the time I was a toddler with a Pakistani Muslim step dad, so sometimes I can relate maybe on a higher level to these types of stories than most white people can, but I also don't pretend that I know exactly how they feel, especially actual first generation immigrants so there is always something new I can learn, even in a culture I am familiar with. I absolutely loved this book. Parts of it were incredibly difficult to get through, not because it wasn't well written, because it was, but because of the content, but it was necessary to the story. We can't just brush over the challenges in life for the sake of a pretty novel wrapped up with a neat bow (I say this because I saw a review about this same novel being too difficult to read for sensitive readers. It is a story that needs to be told none the less). The main characters were all relatable, they were all fallible humans, struggling with living their lives, and that is something I think most adult people can relate to, even if not on the same drastic level as these characters. Anvar keep's the story moving as the character that ties everyone together and lightens things up with his humor which was much appreciated. I like that the story begins with Anvar in Pakistan and Safwa in Iraq during their earlier years. It really helps depict why the characters are the way they are. I thought this an excellent debut, and I look forward to more stories from the author in the future. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Where it All Lands by Jennie Wexler


*Disclosure of material collection- I received the book in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

Sliding Doors-esque novel that reveals how our choices define us and how no matter the road, love can find its way.

Stevie Rosenstein has never made a true friend. Never fallen in love. Moved from city to city by her father’s unrelenting job, it’s too hard to care for someone. Trust in anything. The pain of leaving always hurts too much. But she’ll soon learn to trust, to love.

Twice.

Drew and Shane have been best friends through everything. The painful death of Shane's dad. The bitter separation of Drew's parents. Through sleepaway camps and family heartache, basketball games and immeasurable loss, they've always been there for each other.

When Stevie meets Drew and Shane, life should go on as normal.

But a simple coin toss alters the course of their year in profound and unexpected ways.

Told in dual timelines, debut author Jennie Wexler's Where It All Lands delivers a heartbreaking and hopeful novel about missed opportunities, second chances, and all the paths that lead us to where we are.


My thoughts-


I love when I come across a book like this one. I always find it interesting to have a book with dual time lines to see how things could have turned out based on how time unfolded. I like the way it began with a tease of the ending and we had no idea how we were going to get there. I also liked that it kind of showed that things were going to go how they were going to go in either time line and it didn't necessarily matter the choice that was made, sometimes things change but sometimes they don't. Sometimes there is a different route to get to the ending, but maybe it is always your destiny. I know this review is cryptic but I don't want to ruin the plot line of either time line.  I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA. It was a quick and interesting read.