Saturday, March 17, 2018

One Goal: A Coach, A Team, And The Game That Brought A Divided Town Together

Full disclaimer first: The author of this book is my cousin. That said, I would have wanted to read this book regardless, and I would have loved it regardless. It's thought-provoking, uplifting, and inspiring, and a fascinating read.

One Goal tells the true story of a high school soccer team, where Somali refugees not only play alongside boys whose families can trace their Maine lineage back generations, but play as a band of brothers. They weather cruel words thrown at them by opposing teams' fans and by people who live in their own town, even by a mayor who asks that Somalis stop coming to "his town". Through all this, they are a team, who stick together, play together, and win together. They are led by Coach McGraw, who never gives up on them and loves them as his own, who inspires them to greater heights than they ever thought they could reach.

This is a book that is desperately needed today. In a time when there are so many divides between people, when there is once again a politician calling for refugees to stay away, we all need to be reminded that we are stronger together.

You will not be able to stop rooting for this high school team, and for the inspiring lesson they, and Bass, impart.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review: Into the Thinnest of Air

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

Title: Into the Thinnest of Air
Author: Simon R. Green
Publication Date: March 1, 2018
Genre: Paranormal/Supernatural/Mystery
Recommended If You Like: a healthy dose of the paranormal and supernatural with your mystery, locked room mysteries, creepy country inns, local legends

The Book:

When Ishmael Jones' partner Penny is invited to the private reopening of a infamous inn, they learn of the legend behind it, that the previous owner poisoned all his dinner guests while his wife and child disappeared. But when people in the present start disappearing, what began as a dinner among old friends turns into a frightening and possibly supernatural locked room mystery.

What I Liked:

This is a creepy book with a lot of suspense. I'm always a sucker for a locked room mystery, especially one tinged with a horror aspect, and this story definitely delivers on that end. The ending also packs quite a punch, and is not one I saw coming.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I have to admit, I almost put this book down within the first two pages, because the strangeness factor behind the main character, Ishmael, just seemed so, to put it bluntly, weird. I hadn't known what the premise behind him was (and won't say it here to avoid spoilers), which is a good thing, because I wouldn't have picked up the book otherwise. It's not a bad or nasty thing, it's just not at all what I expected when I picked up a mystery.


I'm definitely glad I kept going with this book, because it ended up being so full of suspense, and horror aspects, and mystery. And that ending was really well-done. Get past the premise of the main character and you're in for a clever mystery.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Why Turtles All the Way Down Means So Much to Me

There are times when you pick up a book at the exact time you need it. This was one of those times, and this was one of those books.

In John Green's Turtles All the Way Down, we meet Aza, a sixteen year old consumed by anxiety and obsessive compulsive thoughts, feeling forced by her own brain to focus on the bacteria that surround her and the bacteria she knows are inside her, an absolute all-consuming compulsion that compels her to reopen a cut on her fingerpad over and over to make sure it is clean and not infected.

When a billionaire goes missing, on the run because of shady things he's done with his money, Aza finds herself and her best friend drawn into the mystery, because of the reward, but also because of Aza's past connection with the fugitive's son, Davis. As Aza is drawn into the seemingly infinite and and completely overwhelming spirals of her own mind, she struggles to hold onto herself and the relationships she has formed.

Aza is so so painfully and amazingly real. Green has done a masterful and important thing by making her the first person narrator of her own story. I needed and need Aza, as I am sure so many readers did and do. I picked this book up not only because of glowing recommendations from people I care about, but also because I needed it. I am in the midst of my own work on my own anxiety disorder and depression, especially following the loss of my beloved dog, and while it is nowhere near where Aza finds herself, there is still so much in the book I could relate to, so much I needed to hear put into words. Green understands it so well because he's been there, and is still there, and this allows him to write with such honesty. He tells a story that needs to be told, because it makes all of us out there who can relate feel and know we are not alone. And that there is nothing to be ashamed of, no need to hide--a best-selling author has put out a best-selling book that tells our truth--and who we are is important, and valid, and makes us no less than anyone around us.

It is so rare to find a book that you keep nodding your head along to, that you feel every word in your heart, that resonates so strongly, and that makes you feel uplifted in your soul. This was one of those books for me. I recommend it with my whole heart, and with my spiraling, but beautiful, mind.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Review: Grit

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

This book is a bit of an enigma to me. Not much really happens, but yet it's interesting enough to keep me reading.

In Grit, we meet Darcy, who everyone in town loves to spread rumors about and call the "town slut". But she's fine hiding behind the gossip so she doesn't have to think about the truth-what happened to her cousin Nell, her missing best friend, and herself, on the Fourth of July. Then someone nominates Darcy for Bay Festival Princess, and she can't hide anymore.

This book moves around through Darcy's everyday life, raking berries during the summer to try to earn extra cash, spending time with her family, interacting with boys and friends. But while on the surface it seems like a story that is meandering around, knowing that there is so much simmering under the surface kept me turning pages. French drops lots of small, almost hidden, hints that add up to subtle foreshadowing about what is to come, and there's this overarching sense of depressing dread that makes this book so atmospheric.

I don't see myself rushing out to read more of French's work, simply because there are so many other books in this genre that are already demanding my attention. But if you are looking for a quick, highly atmospheric almost haunting read, with a slow build and some real emotional punches, this would be a good one to pick up.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Review: Muffin to Fear

Muffin to Fear by Victoria Hamilton first grabbed my attention on the shelf because a) it's a cozy mystery and b) it involved a ghost hunting TV team coming to the protagonist's inherited castle (Also because it was an entry in the series from 2017 and in such great shape for only costing me $1 at the thrift store!). Merry Wynter, newly married baker, returns to her home, Wynter Castle, to discover her best friend Pish hosting the cast and crew of Haunt Hunt, a paranormal investigation television show. They are at the castle to film because they feel the many murders that have occurred there have a strong possibility of having left some residual spirits lurking. But this is a group with a lot of residual drama lurking among themselves, which will out itself in homicide.

The first few pages I wasn't really sure I was going to enjoy this book, namely because Hamilton got so caught up in dropping unsubtle innuendos about the narrator's honeymoon. But once the characters got back to the castle, and the drama with the ghost hunters began, I was hooked. I'm always in it for the mystery (and I'm also fascinated by the paranormal and paranormal investigation teams), and this was a good, gripping mystery. I didn't even notice how long it took to get to the first murder, because the dramatics were building up so fascinatingly.

The reoccurring cast of characters and the strength of the plot means I will definitely be coming back for more of this series!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: The Wolf

In Wolf, readers meet Jessica James, a graduate student with a nightmare of an adviser, who stumbles on his dead body after he refuses to give her back her thesis. This draws her into a web of conspiracy on campus and a case of missing paintings, leading her into contact with frat boys and the Russian Mafia alike.

My favorite thing about this book was the cast of strong female characters. This is a group of women who do things on their own terms, who refuse to be held back or to bow down to anyone. They look out for each other and for other women, all while kicking butt and taking names.

This is also a funny mystery, which I always enjoy. Oliver throws in everything and the kitchen sink, and it works because she uses an irreverent tone when writing about the society she has placed her characters in.

This is a unique mystery, with unique characters that are a lot of fun to spend some time with.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: A Whisper of Bones

Title: A Whisper of Bones
Author: Ellen Hart
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Genre: Mystery
Recommended If You Like: family drama, LGBTQ+ main characters, secrets from the past

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

What do you do when you remember someone from your childhood, but your family denies that he ever existed? In Britt Ickles' case, you hire Jane Lawless, private investigator. Jane starts on the case, but a set of bones found in a garage after a mysterious fire complicates matters even further.

What I Liked:

Jane is a compelling main character. She is smart and resourceful, but still human, as she tries to figure out what she should do about an ex-love who now is back in her world due to a life-threatening illness.

I also love the premise. The idea of someone denying the existence of a person that you absolutely remember is really eerie, and makes me want to know more.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Hart just tries to fit too much in. There is so much going on, so many subplots, that the mystery suffers. I felt like the solution to the mystery was telegraphed too early, so there wasn't really a lot of suspense. And while I appreciated one of the twists, there was just so many stories flying at me simultaneously that it got sort of lost in the crowd.


This is by no means a bad book, it's an okay book with a lot of potential that never got realized. I think if Hart had decided what the focus was, and built from there, the book would have been a lot stronger.