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Posts made in January, 2018

Book Review: Surprise Me – Kinsella

Posted by on Jan 20, 2018 | 0 comments

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

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Women’s Fiction > Chick Lit

This is a well-done novel that starts off with a light, chick-lit tone. Sometimes you just need a book that has a humorous take on life and love. After Dan and Sylvie, who have been together for ten years since they were twenty-two, are told by their doctor they can each live to be one hundred, they have mutual breakdowns thinking about how they will possibly fill that much time together. Already, they can finish each other’s sentences and they seem to be able to read each other’s minds. So, to keep things fresh, they decide to make an effort to surprise each other. No easy feat when they are parents to rambunctious five-year-old twin girls and busy with careers of their own.

For a time, this does seem like a frothy novel about keeping the spark alive in marriage before it becomes a deeper look at relationships between family, husbands and wives, work, and yourself. It’s when this novel goes deeper that I really enjoyed it.

They start off by surprising each other with exotic lingerie and sex in unlikely locales, but ultimately they surprise each other discovering that there is infinitely more to learn about each other—and themselves.

This book is touching and funny and fun. Thanks so much to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to review this novel.

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Book Review: Everything Here is Beautiful

Posted by on Jan 16, 2018 | 0 comments

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

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Fiction

“Love is just (a) romantic way of explaining selflessness.”

It took me a little while to get into this novel about two sisters over many years. The older Miranda always looked out for her younger sister Lucia. Initially, they are close, but after Lucia’s first breakdown, tensions begin. If Lucia goes off her medication, she might have another break, and she resents Miranda’s, to her mind, patronizing way of trying to force her to take medication that makes her drowsy and clouded.

Once I got into the unique, dazzling style of storytelling, I was gripped. It becomes a tense story in a very different way than the suspense novels I read. This was because of the tension of waiting for Lucia to have another breakdown. I was rooting for all of the complex characters in this novel, so I wasn’t only worried for Lucia, but on the strain this caused for Miranda and her relationships, and the relationships Lucia had with her two great loves, both immigrants like Miranda and herself.

If you’re looking for a light, funny read, this is not the book for you. If you’re looking for well-drawn characters that will stay with you long after you reach The End, I highly recommend this beautiful novel.

Thanks so much to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.

 

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Book Review: Mystery Thriller

Posted by on Jan 14, 2018 | 0 comments

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

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Mystery Thriller 

This novel starts off starts off at a breathless pace and rarely lets up. It ends with a taut, exciting finale as well.

Cassie Bowden is a flight attendant who doesn’t believe in moderation when it comes to alcohol and sex. When she wakes up in a hotel room in Dubai with a pounding headache and only some memories of the night before, she discovers the man she’d been flirting with on the flight over is dead beside her in bed. Blood is everywhere. She’s pretty sure she didn’t kill him. Why would she slit his throat? He seemed like a nice guy. Because she has gaps in her memory, she decides to catch the flight to Paris rather than find out how they deal with drunken women and possible murderers in Dubai.

The mystery and twists and turns make this a fun, exciting read. Cassie’s behavior makes for an unlikely heroine, yet is understandable. After all, alcoholism is an inherited disease, and she’s only like her father in that she drinks too much. Oh yeah, and doesn’t make great decisions. Some of her choices made me cringe, but people making bad choices is what makes for compelling thrillers. I would definitely read more of this author’s work.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and Doubleday for the opportunity to review this book.

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Book Review: Chick Lit

Posted by on Jan 2, 2018 |

Sociable by Rebecca Harrington

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Chick Lit

This novel had some good writing, but it was difficult for me to identify with twenty-somethings who spend their lives on their phones tweeting and Facebooking and snapchatting, living for “likes” and comments. Also, the characters ad been communications majors, and yet all of them in dialogue abuse the words “like” and “literally” and end sentences that should be statements with question marks. Example: “But like, then I was like, Why do you want to know! And he was like, Well what if I moved in? Kind of like a joke? But then we actually talked about it more and he was like . . .”

Elinor and her boyfriend Mike are trying to get their careers in journalism going in New York City in an era when most magazines and newspapers are dying. Elinor consistently says she’s a feminist, but has almost no self-esteem when it comes to Mike or her new career trying to write things that go viral for a website that doesn’t actually make money.

I’m also a feminist and many of my friends are, but never in my life have I had a conversation that goes something like, “That was not very faminist of you. What I did was feminist.” “That was not feminist of you!” Is that how twenty-something feminists actually talk?

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this novel.

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Book Review: Nonfiction Memoir

Posted by on Jan 2, 2018 |

Maximum Insecurity: A Doctor in Supermax

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Nonfiction > Autobiography > Memoir

I’ve read several books about the prison system in America from the perspective of inmates or former inmates. Reading from the perspective of a civilian who works in the prison system was an interesting point of view.

In real-world private practice, patients generally try to be as truthful as possible about their medical history and whatever pain they’re experiencing so they can be treated properly for whatever problem brought them to a doctor. Dr. Wright was an ear doctor performing surgeries and helping people who experience dizziness. He’d gotten tired of the endless paperwork hoops of private practice, but retirement didn’t suit him either. When he saw the opening at the Colorado State Penitentiary, he took the job, though his wife was dubious.

CSP isn’t like other prisons in that it houses the worst of the worst—men who couldn’t follow the rules of other prisons. For example, “don’t murder the correctional officers.” The inmates are locked up twenty-three hours a day and they don’t get contact visits with friends and relatives, which means it’s harder for them to attain drugs, although C.O.’s who want to boost their salaries can be counted on to bring in drugs. The inmates also do their best to trick Dr. Wright to give them drugs. Percocet is a favorite.

Many of the men complain of “excruciating” shoulder pain. Dr. Wright then asks how many push-ups they do a day. A typical answer might be, “Nine hundred, twice a day.” His prescription is not the Percocet they beg for, but maybe to do a few hundred less push-ups a day.

The book starts to get repetitive and there doesn’t seem to be a discernable arc. There are lots of funny asides and anecdotes, but it mostly read like I was reading Dr. Wright’s diary. Though he was dealing with pedophiles and rapists and murderers, he seems remarkably calm about it, so there wasn’t tension that he’d get seriously hurt by any of the bad guys, who he examined while they were shackled with two C.O.s hovering nearby, ready to pounce if the inmate got any sketchy ideas.

In Colorado where I live, Wright writes that many of the major Colorado highways were built by prison labor, as well as the route to the scenic Royal Gorge. He writes that homosexual inmates were forced to wear dresses, even on work detail.

Getting the proper medication for prisoners isn’t always easy. If drug A doesn’t work, a doctor on the outside can prescribe drug B. On the inside, s/he needs permission from administrators, which s/he almost never gets, meaning inmates’ care can become exorbitant when emergency room visits come about. This is especially true for mentally ill inmates, a huge percentage of our prison population.

This was an interesting, enjoyable read.

 

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