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oblue

Obsidian Blue

Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!

Currently reading

Unexpected Stories
Octavia E. Butler
The Woman in the Green Dress
Tea Cooper
Wolves of the Calla
Stephen King
Meet Cute
Helen Hunting
Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders
Billy Jensen
After I'm Gone
Laura Lippman
Unnatural Causes
P.D. James
The Black Angel
John Connolly
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What You Wish For

What You Wish For - Katherine Center

Please note that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. 

 

This is my least favorite Center book. I don't think she did a good job setting up our main character, Samantha Casey. Also, I didn't really like her (sorry, not sorry). I thought she was way too entwined with the founders of her school and her justification for trying to elbow their daughter out of things was a bit...yeah. And I thought her "romance" with the new principal was nothing but fizzle. It didn't work and the whole be joyful thing started to make me roll my eyes. I don't know what happened while reading this, I just started to get more and more annoyed and the centering around school shootings felt glib? I don't know, it just didn't work.

 

"What You Wish For" follows librarian Samantha Casey. Samantha is happy at her job working as an elementary school librarian in Galveston, Texas. When the school's founder dies, the board elects a new principal, Duncan Carpenter who Samantha used to know from another school and who she had a crush on. Duncan though is not like the man she used to know. He's unsmiling and focused on upgrading the school in event of active shooters. Samantha and others though are planning on making Duncan remember how to be joyful again.


That sounds like something from the Hallmark movie channel. And I say this as someone that loves the Hallmark movie channel. It was just too much. Samantha and her whole be happy and bright thing was aggravating. We get some insight into her past, but eh. I don't know, I just didn't like her. She was too focused on everyone else and on the former principal's widow and how she was grieving. 

 

Not too much to say about Duncan. He is bland as bland can be. I don't think he and Samantha made any sense as a couple. Center doesn't set them up to even get along for the majority of the book and I don't get why either one of them were attracted to each other.

 

The other characters are not developed at all. I can't even remember Samantha's best friend's name and the only thing I recall is that she is into math and wore math pun shirts.

 

The founder's daughter, Tina, doesn't like Samantha and honestly I got why. She was trying to push her out of her own life. I wish that someone had pointed that out to her. It was a bit creepy and I recall one of my friends telling a story of how a friend of her sister's was always going on about how their mom was her second mom. She just felt offended by the whole thing. 


The writing didn't work for me and the flow of the book was pretty bad. It just stops and starts. Probably because we follow Samantha's POV throughout the book and Center jumps back and forth a lot.

 

The ending was just...nope. I got nothing. It didn't work for me even a little. I think another reviewer said this was a book about nothing and honestly it read that way to me a little. Maybe if Center had actually focused on grieving and realizing that Tina is grieving her father's death. Samantha being judgey towards her through the whole book was not even a little bit cute. Or if Center had actually shown that school shootings in the US are serious and have a lot of repercussions to how we teach kids nowadays. Center seemed to stay away from that whole thing. Not that a school should be a prison and not a place for learning, but what are educators supposed to do when it comes to safety? Just saying be joyful and in the moment is up there with thoughts and prayers with me.

The Dilemma

 The Dilemma - B.A. Paris

Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.

 

So, this is weird to review. I have been reading Paris for about a year now and this book really doesn't fit in the thriller category in my opinion. This is more of a "drama" book which isn't really a bad thing, but there's no real thriller here. Mystery fits since you don't initially get what is going on between the married couple (Livia and Adam). The back and forth POV for them worked well, but have to say that the whole ending didn't work for me. I don't know if Paris was going for irony or what when you find out that once again several people know the truth about something, but not all parties do. The big dilemma in this book was really surrounding secrets Livia and Adam were keeping from each other.

 

"The Dilemma" follows married couple Livia and Adam. The two married young and had kids, Josh and Marnie. Livia is excited to be celebrating her 40th birthday and has been setting aside money for years in order to get the celebration she always dreamed of. We quickly find out that something is going on though between Livia and Marnie. Livia is ambivalent about her daughter returning from her study abroad in Hong Kong to come home for the summer. Adam though is very excited about Marnie returning and has a secret up his sleeve for his wife's birthday celebration. He and Marnie have secretly planned for her to return in time for the party. However, something terrible happens and we follow Adam and Livia as they both keep something from each other. That is ultimately the dilemma. What would you do in similar circumstances?

 

I have to say that I didn't really get a fix on Livia or Adam. They both needed therapy. They are both happy, but have strained relationships with their children. Paris sets things up a bit better though so you can see why Livia and Marnie's relationship became strained. Paris shows us an incident between Adam and Josh that just shows Adam to be a jerk though. I also think that they should have showed us more interaction as a family. We kind of get plopped in the middle of this story and have characters thrown at us. For example, we get the set-up of the core friend group via a couple of paragraphs. Maybe it would have made more sense to show flashbacks to them all. I am not one to push for flashbacks here, but it just felt like the book was veering off into separate storylines which did not all come together until the end of the book when things were revealed.

 

The flow was up and down. Switching between Livia and Adam just changed up the tone of things. Also since we know what secret Adam is keeping it just made things worse for me as I was reading since I did not get his reasoning at all. 


The book's ending really did not resonate with me at all because of what I said earlier. After characters realize the fallout from keeping things from each other, they went and kept things that another character should have been told. I hated the reasoning behind it and thought it was kind of BS honestly.  

The First Mistake

The First Mistake - Sandie Jones

I previously read Jones other book "The Other Woman" so thought I give this one a whirl. This was just plotted badly in my opinion. Some parts of it were really interesting and I think she gave the two women in this book very distinctive voices. But when we get to what is going on and why and who people really were I just went, I need a flowchart. This is a mess. The ending saved things in my view. 

 

"The First Mistake" follows Alice. Alice is the successful owner of a design firm. She and her late husband Tom built the business up. Alice still misses her husband, but is getting more settled with her second husband, Nathan who now works for her at the firm. Alice we see struggles with anxiety over Nathan and her two daughters because of how she lost Tom. When she starts to suspect that Nathan may possibly be cheating on her, she is confronted about how well she knew her first husband and if everything she believed is a lie. Alice's best friend, Beth, is trying to decide what to do about telling the father of her daughter about her existence. Alice feels for Beth and wants to help her, but starts to realize that maybe there are things about Beth she really doesn't want to know. 

 

Jones shows Alice's POV for the majority of the book though we do get Beth's POV as well. You feel for both women since there definitely seems to be questions concerning their personal relationships. I think I liked Alice more though. She seems at times a bit much with her hysterics and her inability to really move on from Tom. When she starts to realize things don't feel right though I am glad she doesn't ignore it. 

 

I honestly think thought that most of this book had way too many coincidences to be believed after a while which does not a good thriller make to my eyes. The flow does get pretty bad after we leave from Beth's POV. As a reader you start to put things together and you start to get impatient for all of the characters to catch a clue. 

I did like the ending, it was very vague about what happens and if you don't read closely you may not understand what happens. I liked it and thought it was very much set up to end like an old black and white movie. 

I See You

I See You - Clare Mackintosh

Honestly this book was dancing towards 5 stars before we got to the two reveals/twists and I went seriously? They are not explained very well so I just didn't think they fit the book at that point. 

 

"I See You" follows two women (Zoey Walker and Kelly Swift) and an unknown narrator. When Zoey sees a picture of herself in the local paper along with an add to a dating site she wonders what is going on. When Zoey realizes that a few days earlier she recognizes the woman in the ad she calls Kelly (a PC working in London). The two women start to wonder what is going on with women having their pictures put in ads and what it may have to do with some recent attacks of women. The unknown narrator gives us insight into what is going on and why. 

 

Zoey is a single mother two two children and lives with them and her partner, Simon. Zoey we quickly find out divorced her husband almost a decade earlier after finding out he cheated on her. She meets Simon around a year or two later and then he moves in with them. It seems her daughter Katie gets along with Simon, but her son Justin does not. Zoey at times I found hysterical and fairly exhausting. She is rightfully stressed but her character flips over minor things and also seems to be a helicopter parent excusing her son's issues while trying to force her daughter to get a 'real career." When Zoey starts her own investigation into things, she starts to wonder if someone close to her is behind the ad.

 

Kelly is a PC who we find out was demoted after an incident with a suspect. I actually liked Kelly's development here. We find out that an incident involving her twin sister has haunted her and Kelly definitely steps over the line throughout this case as well. I liked that she had a mentor and supervisor telling her she doesn't get to tell victims how they need to be/act. Kelly was being judgmental about a lot of things and it was interesting to read how she slowly starts to realize that she can't push people to do things just because that is what she would do. 

 

The unknown narrator sounds like a psychopath. When we get to who this really is though I went really and moved on.


The other characters in this book are developed as well and I think Mackintosh did a good job with setting them up into the main story-line. 


The writing was interesting and I liked the details on how something like this could be possible. The flow worked too I thought.


As I said earlier, the book pretty much slid down once we get to the reveal. It didn't make any real sense at all. Then we get a twist ending and I went, seriously? It left me with more questions than answers and I was left feeling dissatisfied. 

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Steven L Hopp, Camille Kingsolver, Barbara Kingsolver

Honestly this is more of a 3.5 star read, but since Goodreads does not allow for half-stars, I rounded this up to 4. I think too much of the book had Kingsolver talking down to readers and acting as if those of us not working the land are less than those who do. I rounded up though mostly because when Kingsolver focuses on the history of the vegetables or animal husbandry in this book it makes it something special. If she left off her limited world view of politics this wouldn't have irked me so much. 

 

"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" is a memoir written by Barbara Kingsolver. I guess she was one of the leading voices in the whole eat local movement. I kind of laugh about that since I grew up in the 90s, my whole family ate locally. Most people I know did in PA. We had farms nearby and we would get our meat and milk from them but my whole family had "kitchen gardens." My grandmother, aunt, and mother would can vegetables during the summer and put things away in our cold basement so we could have vegetables during the winter. This is a pretty long-winded way of saying black people been eating from the land since slavery. Kingsolver without meaning to though makes the whole book about a small predominantly white town she lives in, in VA and focuses on farmers. I don't know why the US has this weird view of farmers as salt of the Earth, real Americans, but we tend to fetishisize them along with soldiers. 

 

Kingsolver also at one point she brings up red states and blue states and defends conservatives and my eyes would not stop rolling. Yeah, conservatives to me in the US means, okay with racism as long as it does not affect their day to day life. I know this was written in 2007, but this was the 10 year anniversary of the book which means this got republished after the rise of Trump which shows that she saw what was going on with farmers getting screwed and still kept some of the tone-deaf text without editing. I can't even talk about her comments about Katrina and her whole what about the farmers that made me drop my jaw. 

 

You are now probably going, well Blue why did you keep reading this? Well because of the writings from her daughter and husband. Those two at least realize that eating from the land/locally is not an easy thing to see. Kingsolver's own daughter goes into telling poor people to eat healthier without providing a way for them to do so is just ridiculous. Her husband points out the many ways the US has ignored ongoing issues with regards to farming, and how we process meat and vegetables in our country. When Kingsolver focuses on the history of a vegetable like asparagus and the best time to plant it and harvest it is when the book sang to me. 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.

 The Dilemma - B.A. Paris

Huh. Not really a typical thriller from Paris. Interesting look at secrets a married couple keep from each other. Just not finding Adam or Livia that compelling.

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

The First Mistake - Sandie Jones

Not bad. Interesting thriller but a little too many coincidences.

Reading progress update: I've read 99%.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Steven L Hopp, Camille Kingsolver, Barbara Kingsolver

The book got less preachy after a while. I did enjoy the history of the food and biology of animals. RTC.

Reading progress update: I've read 32%.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Steven L Hopp, Camille Kingsolver, Barbara Kingsolver

Weird. Thought I added this book eons ago and couldn’t find it. 

 

If the book was mostly the history of food and the best times to eat it I would love this. Instead I feel like I’m being lectured and am starting to get annoyed. Got to love Kingsolver excusing tobacco farmers but acting like most of us don’t eat from the land cause we’re just uneducated or lazy.

 

I grew up eating what my family grew in our gardens year round and we got meat from

local farmers. We only had fast food rarely as a treat. When I moved away to VA to work in DC I was poor as hell and ate ramen for like two years. Heck I ate ramen during grad school but at least I could return home to still be fed b my mom. Living in cities makes it harder to get locally grown food. Even if you have farmers market you still need to be able to travel there and purchase the food and then get home. I just don’t like the idea if you’re not shopping at farmers markets you’re just off killing your body with the food you put in it. I don’t like scare mongering around eating.  

 

Reading progress update: I've read 390 out of 400 pages.

I See You - Clare Mackintosh

Disappointed with the reveal and twist ending. Everything til then was going great. Solid four stars.

TBR Friday Library Reads: May 22, 2020

Had to make a change to a Hold because I already read the book in question. I always forget that if I make a hold from whenever that my library doesn't realize that and it just gets put on my list.

 

-Blue  

 

Borrow (7):

 

 Cover image for Animal, Vegetable, MiracleCover image for The First MistakeCover image for Unnatural CausesCover image for After I'm Gone

Cover image for Chase Darkness with MeCover image for Meet CuteTitle details for Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King - Wait list

 

Hold (8):

 Cover image for Aru Shah and the Tree of WishesCover image for CastlesCover image for Unexpected StoriesCover image for The World That We Knew

Cover image for Get a Life, Chloe BrownCover image for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanCover image for The Titan's CurseCover image for The Last Boyfriend

 


Read (3):

 

Cover image for The Water DancerCover image for Ninth HouseCover image for The Next Always

#FridayReads--May 22, 2020

I See You - Clare Mackintosh Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life - Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp, Camille Kingsolver, Richard A. Houser

Hope that everyone is going into Memorial Day weekend (US BL) with a pile of books at the ready. 

 

It's pouring cats and dogs here and it looks like it will do so through the weekend. I plan on socially distancing throughout the rest of this month and June no matter that states are re-opening.

 

Stay safe you guys.

 

Friday Reads are these two books:

 

I See You

 

 

Cover image for Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 167 out of 400 pages.

I See You - Clare Mackintosh

Really intriguing thriller. Enjoying this one a lot.

The Water Dancer

The Water Dancer - Ta-Nehisi Coates

So, this started off so good and then around the 30 percent mark started to flounder. Coates is a great writer, the story just drags. I started to get impatient while reading and then the story felt like it was stuck at a certain point. The ending is abrupt as well. 

 

"The Water Dancer" follows Hiram Walker. A son of a slave and the master of the house, Hiram dreams of being "Quality." Hiram also dreams of his father looking at him the way he looks at his half-brother Maynard. As Hiram gets older and is being groomed to take care of Maynard, a tragedy unfolds leaving Hiram realizing that he needs to get away and get freedom in the Underground. The book follows Hiram as he goes through trials and tribulations along with some magical realism thrown in. 

 

Hiram was an interesting character, but I started to grow bored with him towards the end of the book. The book flip flops around regarding freedom and the Underground and then weirdly sticks on a romance for the the last 40 percent of the book. I really wish we had gotten more of a glimpse into the character Sophia's mind.  

 

Not too much to say about other characters, they don't seem very developed. Hawkins and Corrine just talked like riddles and I got tired of reading their dialogue.


The writing at first evoked a lot of feelings in me, but once we get to Hiram's escape and then capture again the book just dragged from then on. Also the whole Underground that is described in this book made zero sense to me and I started to get irritated while reading.


Not too much to say here besides feeling disappointed. Maybe tighter editing could have helped smooth things out. 

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

The Water Dancer - Ta-Nehisi Coates

How does Coates always gut punch you while reading? This book follows a young boy who is a slave in VA.

 

We find out about how his father is the master of the house and how his mother is sold. Now he (Hiram) is being tasked to be the manservant of his half brother while being told he is lucky he is not being sold since any coloreds with brains are worth more. Shudder. Thanking God again I was born when I was not that things are great, but considering the alternative, I am grateful. 

Ninth House

Ninth House - Leigh Bardugo

Sorry, not sorry, DNFed this thing at 12 percent. I cannot with this book right now. I felt like my brain was trying to slide away. The author dumps us in the book as if we should know things that she just blithely gets into. I don't know if she world-builds later or what, but I can't keep reading this book as if I know who everyone is and what they are doing. 

 

"Ninth House" is the first book in the Alex Stern series. Yeah, I say first book though the author makes it seems like this is just a continuation of another book. Alex through machinations (that I managed to gather) is a student at Yale. She is there because she can see ghosts (called Grays) in this book and seems to be some record keeper of a secret society at Yale. I can't say much more than that cause this book is all over the place.

 

My problems are the following:

 

Alex Stern. Can't really say much about her besides there is not much there to keep me reading about her. We start at the end of something big happening to her and then jump back to her observing some messed up ritual. I don't even know anything besides she eats a lot of ginger candy which I do not enjoy. Also I think she has another name? I don't know. I think between that and her having a secret society name I was just done. 


Yale. I got nothing here folks. Bardugo acts like everyone who reads this book knows exactly how Yale is set up. Bardugo go into the architecture and the meaning behind said architecture a couple of places and I wondered if she has a background in history cause that's the kind of meaningless stuff historians like to just randomly tell you when you ask them a question about anything. 

 

World-building. It's often hard to thread the needle with world-building in the first book in a series. This is a fantasy series and they are often harder in my opinion cause readers will be the first ones to bring up how the rules the author set up in book #1, and #2 are incorrect due to whatever happens in book #3. I say readers like I don't do this too.

 

Bardugo went a different direction and just threw us into this world and acted like it's no big deal. I still don't get what is happening. Secret rituals to keep people rich? Alex sees Grays? Alex is called upon when a dead body shows? Sorry, this made zero sense and I just did not want to continue. The whole mystery surrounding Lethe House could have potential, I just don't want to waste my time pushing myself to the finish on this one. Too many books out there.