Book Review: Life of Evil: A Reeves and Blake Thriller

Title: Life of Evil: A Reeves & Blake Thriller
Author: Robert Lalonde
Genre: Fiction, Detective Thriller
Year Published: June 25, 2021

Date finished: June 11, 2022

The is a detective thriller about a murderer who has a unique way of killing his victims. P.I. Frank Reeves is hard at work figuring out who the murderer is. His secretary, Sam who is working her way to become an investigator finds herself closer to the murderer than she imagined.

This was a pretty fast-paced read. The characters were thrown in almost all together, so it was hard to get into the story at first. I liked the idea of the story and how Sam worked her way to become an investigator. The murderer was hidden well. I couldn’t figure out who they were until the very end. That was done excellently.  Overall, this was a good read.

Who should read this book: If you’re into mystery thriller, detective, and psychological thrillers, this one is for you.

Book Review: The Peaceful Village

Title: The Peaceful Village
Author: Paulette Mahurin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Year Published: May 27, 2022

Date finished: June 5, 2022

This is a story that takes place in a small village in France called Oradour-sur-Glane. Marguerite is the main character. She’s an older woman and married. She lives a simple and quiet life with her family. As the story moves along, SS soldiers start showing up in the village. They’re a little rough and tough but the villagers don’t back down. They’re not afraid of these soldiers and fight back but fighting back created more anger from the soldiers. Marguerite just wants the soldiers to leave but she knows it wasn’t going to happen and she finds her way to help those who were injured, putting herself in danger.

Overall, this was a good story. I loved the writing and the opening description of this small village. I was surprised at what happened to the people in this village since they kept to themselves. It was unfortunate and sad. The story itself moved a little too fast pace with too much going on and with lots of characters thrown in that I felt a little confused as to who each character was. I would have liked to know more about Marguerite’s husband, their youngest daughter, and the priests. I think the tension buildup wasn’t very strong and thus it lost me a little, but it’s definitely a story to check out.

What I found unique about this story was that SS soldiers infiltrated a laid-back, peaceful, small village. When we think of WWII and what Hitler did, we tend to focus on the big cities. This was a great way to show that even small towns were attacked.

Who should read this book: If you’re into WWII historical fiction, this is a good read to add to your list.

Book Review: When She Woke

Title: When She Woke
Author: Hillary Jordan
Genre: Sci-fi; Dystopian
Year Published: September 18, 2012

Date finished: May 22, 2022

This story is about a future America where religion is a political power and having an abortion is a crime. Hannah Payne, the main character, falls in love with a pastor and gets pregnant. She is then chromed red for her sin. People stare at her and judge her because her red skin speaks for her crime. She refuses to tell anyone who the father is or the doctor who performed the abortion. She escapes the last institution she’s put in and stumbles upon people who were willing to free her from this strict world.

This story started out interesting. I couldn’t put the book down because I love myself a good dystopian story. It’s been a while since I’ve stumbled upon a book I couldn’t put down. The opening really grabbed me and kept me reading. However, midway through, the story slowed down and went a different direction. The ending was just meh. I may have had such high hopes that I was left disappointed. I wanted some sort of victory for Hannah. I also wanted to know what happened to the pastor, her family, and her friend. They all just seemed to disappear. There wasn’t anything said about what happened to them.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad read. It had a lot of potential, but just didn’t hit the right spot for me.

Who should read this book: If you enjoy “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood, you’ll probably like this one.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Year Published: October 6, 2020

Date finished: May 7, 2022

“Be careful what you ask for, be willing to pay the price. And no matter how desperate or dire, never pray to the gods that answer after dark.” ~Estelle

This was a marvelous book full of magic, anticipation, heartbreak, and love. Once you are pulled into the story, it’s hard to stop reading.

When the book first came out, I had wanted to read it and so checked it out from the library. I got a few pages in and couldn’t get into it. My mind just wasn’t there. The book expired and I waited a year to recheck it out (because I was busy). When I checked it out, again, I was busy, so the book expired and I missed my chance. I checked it out one more time and told myself that if I can’t get to it this time, then maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Luckily, I had just finished a book and had reading time on hand, so I gave it another chance.

How I wish I hadn’t given up the first time because this is a wonderfully written book. It opens with Addie in the early 1700’s. She’s young and curious and wants to know about the old gods from an old woman neighbor. As Addie becomes an adult, her parents want her to get married, but she’s not ready—especially not ready to marry a man who recently lost his wife and has two young children. On the day of her wedding, she runs into the woods and asks the gods to help her.

“I want a chance to live. I want to be free. I want more time.” ~Addie

The darkness speaks to her and tells her he can’t grant her what she wants, but she is determined and tells him he can have her soul when she is done. He agrees and her wishes are granted.

Addie lives a very long life. She finds things to do and places to see, but it’s lonely because no one remembers her. One day, she goes to a bookstore and meets a man named Henry. When she returns a book to exchange for another, Henry remembers her, and that changed everything.

“Everyone wants to be remembered.” ~the darkness

I truly enjoyed this book. The characters were well thought out, the dialogues were beautifully done, and the storyline was executed excellently. I might say that it did start out a bit slow, but it picked up pretty fast. It was a strangely thought-provoking story. It made me think about what I’d wish for if I were granted a wish in exchange for my soul. I’m not sure I’d wish for anything, but it’s very tempting. One thing I really liked about the book is that there are references to artwork that Addie is in, a few are done without her knowing it like the painting of her on the shore by a famous painter. I loved the way they were presented. It really piqued my interest because I almost thought they were real, that they were actually of her!

Who should read this book: The book reminded me of Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and the movie, The Age of Adaline. I found some similarities between those books and this one. So, if you’re into any of those stories, you’ll probably enjoy this one. The character “darkness” reminds me so much of the main character, Lucifer, in the T.V. series, Lucifer. For some reason that’s how he appears in the book to me, however, I don’t think darkness is meant to be portrayed as the devil. He feels more like the reaper. Also, the book is being made into a movie, so if you’re anything like me and prefer to read the book before seeing the movie, you might want to get on it.

Btw, I ended up buying a hardcover. Just couldn’t help it.

Book Review: You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Title: You Have the Right to Remain Silent
Author: Mark M. Bello
Genre: Legal Thriller; Detective Thriller
Year Published: April 12, 2022

Date finished: May 2, 2022

This is a murder mystery legal thriller about a case where a man was pretty gruesomely killed, and the key suspect is the wife. Zachary Blake is the lawyer on the case, and he doesn’t think the wife is actually the one who murdered her husband. Zach and his team tackle the detective work with Zach hiring Shari Belitz to work on a trial focus group to get answers that otherwise may have been missed. Everyone worked round the clock to get to the bottom of this case.

I’m trying not to give too much away because I think this book is worth reading and finding out who the killer is. The author doesn’t hide who the killer is. He subtly tells us who it is, but we still have to figure it out on our own. I loved that! Zach is one amazing lawyer. He knows who he needs to have work on the case, he doesn’t make quick conclusions or assume what-you-see-is-what-you-get. It was too perfect to have the wife be the primary suspect. Also, the doctor who watched over the wife knew a few things, proving that the wife didn’t do it, and I’m glad Zach listened to the doc.

The book was very enjoyable. The angle of the story from the lawyer’s perspective was unique and kept me intrigued. I liked how the author showed how well everyone worked together. They didn’t always agree but it all came down to proof, so even if someone thought they knew who the killer was, if they couldn’t prove it in any way, that theory was thrown out.

This was a fast paced read with lots of important information and knowledge about how the law works.

Who should read this book: This was an excellent read and I’d recommend it to everyone, especially those who love murder mystery or detective type stories. This angle (from the lawyer) is well done, and again, very unique in a murder mystery type of story.

Book Review: Bartholomew

Decided to try something different and make a video of books I unbox and review. Let me know what you think.

Title: Bartholomew
Author: Mark Lages
Genre: Fiction; Literary; Memoir
Year Published: March 17, 2022

Date finished: April 23, 2022

This story is written like a memoir and opens with the main character, Rick Harper, celebrating his 65th birthday. He reflects on his earlier life, remembering his invisible friend as a child, and how that friend visited him again in adulthood.

Rick comes across very nonchalant. He tells us all the mistakes he’s made through his life. He doesn’t really give reasons or excuses as to why he did the things he did. He does, however, show us that he doesn’t understand how he ended up in his life with all the mistakes he’s made. He shows us that he doesn’t understand what happiness is because his life had been both good and bad but not too extreme in either direction. He seems to just exist and thus his confusion with what happiness means.

Bartholomew is Rick’s invisible friend, and he (Bartholomew) is sort of a guiding energy for Rick. He makes Rick think about his purpose and his definition of happiness. Along the way, Rick begins to understand what it really means to live.

I got so much out of this story. My favorite scene was when Rick cheated a co-worker out of a job, and then a few years later, he helped a co-worker earn a spot in the company even when he was on a tight deadline of his own. I totally understood that. It wasn’t because he liked one co-worker over another, but because it was timing. The first situation, he was a young person just out of college and needed to do what he needed to do to gain status. Later, when he was experienced and had gone through a lot in his career and in his personal life, he then sacrificed his time to help another. This speaks so much about humanity. No one is perfect, yet we tend to judge others as though they have to be perfect, forgetting to look at ourselves and see that we too have faults.

This was a wonderful read. I think everyone can learn something from this book, but even if that’s not something you care for, you’d still enjoy the humor.

Who should read this book: I’d totally recommend it to everyone.

Book Review: Planet Q

Title: Planet Q
Author: Peter Quinones
Genre: Literary; Quotes
Year Published: 2022

Date finished: April 15, 2022

This book was an interesting read. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of it because it’s not your typical book. It’s a bunch of short and long phrases/clips of thoughts that provoke…thoughts. It’s sort of like a comedy show but book-style. Some of the phrases are short and to-the-point while others are longer and requires more dissecting and thinking them out. The variety makes for a very intriguing read.

I found this book to be quite fun to read. You have to take each sentence and phrase lightly. Some of them are truly hilarious and had me laughing, some had me thinking and agreeing, some had me surprised, and some I wasn’t too fond of because they didn’t make sense to me, but I’m pretty sure they’d make sense to others, and that’s what I found likeable about this book. I felt like I could relate to a lot of the situations stated (that I’ve had situation in my life similar to what the author experienced). Also, not all phrases were the author’s personal experiences. Some of them seemed like observations or situations the author heard or was told of. It’s really a collection of human encounters and situations. It’s a bit unusual to describe because it’s very different from what I’ve read.

Who should read this book: If you’re not in the mood to read a full-on story or a genre book and want something a little fun with dark satire and phrases to ponder about, give this book a read. I truly recommend reading with an open mind because some of the stuff mentioned was a bit gross, but not in a bad way. I found myself laughing a lot but agreeing a lot too.

Book Review: Project Hail Mary

Title: Project Hail Mary
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Sci-fi; Outer space
Year Published: May 4, 2021

Date finished: April 6, 2022

 I’ve heard a lot of hype about this book and because it’s sci-fi and looks to be outer space I thought I’d read it. This book is unique in that there are two stories going on. One is a back story that’s sprinkled within the main story. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like this idea but once the story picked up, it all made sense.

The story is about a scientist and schoolteacher named Ryland Grace. All he wants to do is live a simple life doing what he loves, teach. However, he is recruited to join a small team on a mission using his science skills. Upon waking up from their long sleep as they journeyed to outer space, Grace learns that his team members didn’t survive the trip, so now he is left to finish the mission. He ends up meeting an alien and the two of them work together to get each other back to their planets. It wasn’t that simple though. Another problem arose which led Grace to make a difficult decision.

I enjoyed this story. Unlike other more serious sci-fi stories, this one was a fun and lighthearted read. There were poignant moments, but overall, it was humorous and refreshing. As I mentioned earlier, I was a little confused as to why the back story was inserted within the main story, but it all made sense. It was meant to create a sense of chaos and thus provided the reason why Grace chose the path he did. Without that, his reasoning might not make a lot of sense.

Who should read this book: If you love fast-paced sci-fi with humor, a bit of sadness, and lots of technical terms—mathematical terms, this is an excellent one. Even if you’re not into the technical stuff, you can breeze/skip through that stuff and still not miss the plot of the story.

Book Review: Anthem

Title: Anthem
Author: Ayn Rand
Genre: Sci-fi; Dystopian
Year Published: 1938

Date finished: April 2, 2022

This book was recommended to me by my 15-year-old daughter. She knows I enjoy dystopian stories and knew I would like this one, and she was right.

This book was published in 1938 and takes place in a far future after a war that destroyed everything. In this world, everyone is part of the collective doing their part to maintain a steady life, not growth, just life. The story is about a character named Equality 7-2521 who’s brighter than the average person and very curious about the world he was brough up in. His curiosity leads him to find electricity, which he thinks will give him praise when he introduces it to the Leaders and Scholars. That isn’t what happens though. Instead, he’s tortured, and eventually leaves the collective society and finds truth.

This is one amazing book. It’s a very short read but I got so much more out of it than a lot of the extremely long books out there. No time was wasted on info dumps and unnecessary back stories. It’s very straightforward and to-the-point. I loved Equality 7-2521’s determination and excitement. I was heartbroken when he was tortured for simply introducing electricity. Had the leaders told him from the get-go that electricity once existed and that they didn’t want to use it, and explained why, he wouldn’t have been so excited about it. How would he have known that they already knew if they never told him they knew? That’s really not the main point of the book though. That’s one situation that stood out to me. It’s about being a part of the collective and not having the ability to be an individual. This book is written in first person plural (we) and eventually becomes first person singular (I). It was so incredibly well done that you could feel the power of “I” in the last few pages. Who knew a single word, a single letter, could be so powerful?

My favorite line from the book was when the girl said:

“We are one…alone…and only…and we love you who are one…alone…and only.”

Since individualism didn’t exist in that society, there was no way to say “I” or “me,” and that was the only way she was able to say she loved him.

Who should read this book: Anyone into post-apocalyptic, dystopian, and totalitarian sci-fi such as 1984, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.

Book Review: A Dog’s Collar

Title: A Dog’s Collar
Author: Sam Knupp 
Genre: Spiritual, Memoir
Year Published: February 16, 2022

Date finished: March 29, 2022

This book is a collection of stories throughout the author’s life as a chaplain. It’s written as a memoir of sorts where we get to experience the stories with the author, and at times, about the author.

Sam takes us through a handful of moments/instances during his time working in a hospital, a jail, and a few other places. These stories are very heartfelt and have a purpose. They allow us to see the reality of the human soul. We see the raw pain and sorrows these people go through, reminding us of how fragile we all really are, not only physically, but mentally, and emotionally as well. We get to see what Sam has to do and be to these people. Even if he wanted to walk away and hide, he couldn’t. He chose this career, or maybe it chose him, but either way, having to find the right words to say, the right prayers to pray, and doing the right thing to comfort these souls takes so much willpower, and Sam did it as though it was second nature. And because he is telling us these stories, we get to experience his true thoughts and how much he too is human.

I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. There were moments when I had to pause to wipe away tears. Sam is a true hero. He put up with so much yet received little in return. It was a wonderful read and I’d recommend it to everyone. It’s not a religious book and Sam doesn’t force any type of religion or God upon anyone. It’s lighthearted, humorous, and poignant. At times, Sam even questions his own beliefs. This was a wonderfully written book and I’m glad I was able to read it.

Who should read this book: Anyone looking for hope and spirituality.