Tag Archives: books

Virtual Drinks – August Edition

Happy Friday, friends!

If we were having virtual drinks this evening, we’d be having them at Mikette, this new French bistro on the north side of Ann Arbor and I’d gush about how excited I was to try it finally! It’s owned and operated by the same people who own the fabulous wood fire pizza place on the same block as my office as well as the Mexican street food place next door. The husband-and-wife team are really bringing unique cuisine into Ann Arbor and I appreciate it immensely. Stay tuned for a review next week!

If we were having drinks this evening, I’d tell you how excited I am to go to Denver in two weeks to see Amber, her hubby and their two pups! By the time I visit her, it’ll only be a month since she’s moved from Ann Arbor, but it seriously feels like it’s been so much longer. It’s still odd to drive by her street and not want to pop over and say hi. I imagine I’ll be creepy and do that with the new owner of her house… ;)

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I’m excited about Denver, though! It’s been a long time since I’ve been there so I know it’s changed. I have a friend from high school who lives there too so I’m hoping to maybe see her or have her meet up with us if it works out. Things on the agenda are trying to find all the fun, free things we can do! Did you know: The 13th stair on the capitol building is exactly 1 mile above sea level. PHOTO OPPORTUNITY. Other items on the agenda include going to Casa Bonita! I mean, how could you go to Denver and not go there?! Regardless, I’m so excited to see them and snuggle their dogs, hike the mountains and check out some cool breweries and restaurants!

If we were having drinks this evening, I’d tell my current music obsession is the new Carly Rae Jepsen album – Emotion Side B. It’s pretty fantastic and true CRJ electropop. There are some songs she sounds just like Madonna or Debbie Gibson. The synth is strong with this one. If you need something peppy, fun and upbeat for the weekend, play this one!

If we were having drinks this evening, I’d tell you I’m a lean, mean, reading machine this week. I’ve gone through two books and onto another that I’ll have finished tonight or tomorrow. I’ve really honed in on the whole “unplug” ritual at night and instead of being on my phone on social media in bed at night, I’m throwing that device aside and picking up a book for 1-2 hours before bed. Here are the two books I finished this week:

Behind-Closed-Doors

This book was a pretty intense psychological thriller. Not as great as every review made it out to be (in my opinion anyway), but it was gripping, at times incredibly disturbing and perverse and gave me some angry feels. It’s a quick read though – under 300 pages – so at least it didn’t drag on like some thrillers do!

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I mean, people shouldn’t be so surprised that I read this book and finished it in a day. You throw the name “David Duchovny” on anything and my inner 15-year-old squeals in delight. This book was pretty good with some great dialogue and you can’t help but read it in the famous monotone voice at times! And don’t worry, it’s not super heavy on the baseball like the cover may have you think.

I also recently finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which honestly didn’t live up to the hype I was hoping for. You can read my review on Goodreads if you follow me on there, but I am glad I read it at the very least! Just lacked a little something for me. Maybe because you’re reading a screenplay and not a full-on descriptive novel? I don’t know… It was a little more mature than magical and maybe my expectations were expecting what I read when I read them 10 years ago!

And finally, if we were having drinks tonight, I’d tell you that you’d need to go home and start watching The Get Down on Netflix. It’s the new show created and directed by Baz Luhrman (genius behind Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge and Great Gatsby) and it’s a-ma-zing. It takes place in the late 70s when hip-hop was starting to come out from the Bronx and Grandmaster Flash was becoming huge. It’s got the colorful-ness Baz offers in all his productions, it’s got great music, great beats and incredible cast and character development. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already!

Come back next week for more book reviews (hopefully) and a review of the French bistro. And always, shout out and thanks to Dixya for always hosting these fun, virtual drink posts!

What book are you currently reading or would recommend?

Book Reviews Part 4

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I have to apologize a million times for my lack of blogging in the past few weeks. I had made a goal to try to blog at least once a month and I’m not exactly living up to that very well. I’ve made so many recipes and had so much to say and yet, simply did not have time to just share it with everyone. But, for those of you who follow me on social media, you’re in the know of what’s been up in my world!

The more important thing to task right now, though, is the next installment of book reviews! As of today I have read 16/30 books and it’s not even the summer yet! At this rate, I could wait until June to read the next book and still make my reading goal. I had thought about increasing my goal to 50, but I feel like I’d just be kicking myself in the ass if I do that, so we’ll leave it at 30 for now. On to the reviews!

  • Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Three words: OH. MY. GOD. I have been wanting to share my thoughts and review on this book for about a month now. This book was recommended to me by my bookworm friend Amber and I’m so glad she did. I could not put this book down. It’s in the thriller/mystery/suspense genre and you know me: I like trying to solve the case! This book follows journalist Scott McGrath as he tries to uncover the mystery behind the death of Ashley Cordova. She’s the daughter of the legendary, reclusive horror movie director Stanislas Cordova. No one knows what Cordova looks like, where he lives or anything about his overly private life. What we do know is that he has a huge fan base and people anxiously await the next film he makes. So when his daughter is found dead, we’re on the case! We encounter some very interesting characters the protagonist McGrath finds along the way who help him on his case, and we follow their journey as they try to find out what happened to her.

This story is absolutely fantastic and so creatively written and put together. It’s also very descriptive and haunting. There are actual newspaper clippings, interviews, photos, etc. to make it seem like you’re looking through case files like this incident actually happened and you’re right there with McGrath as he’s trying to figure out what happened to this girl. I have nothing bad to say about this book except that I wish we could have maybe read it from Ashley’s perspective too. Like, what was going through her head before her death. But maybe that would give away too much. Either way definitely pick this one up. You won’t regret it.

  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Soooo…yeah. Red Rising. Remember how I was, like, obsessed with reading this book because it was the first book in my and Amber’s book club? It was reviewed as being similar to Game of Thrones or The Hunger Games Series. Uh yeah, please scrap everything great you heard me say about it. Such a bummer. This book is the first in the Red Rising trilogy and follows the story of Darrow, a guy who works the mines (helldrivers, they’re called) on Mars. Except it’s Mars in the future! He’s a Red, which is a type of caste or class in the entire society they’ve built there. He and his wife Eo are so in love, but when they leave the boundaries of their village, they are caught and convicted of going against their class and being “curious”. So naturally they’re sentenced to death. Then the revolution begins.

This book had so much promise. It really did. It was deemed in our library’s (and other book websites) hot list for best books of February. It’s already a New York Times Bestseller (but I never pay attention to that because some truly awful books make that list). Within a week of his book releasing, the author, Pierce Brown, announced a movie was already in the works. This book isn’t similar to The Hunger Games ….IT IS THE HUNGER GAMES. I totally get that people will take inspiration from other SciFi/Fantasy books, but you have to wait more than the three years a really successful series has been out to do this. The writing is barely tolerable. Because. He writes really. Really. Short sentences. To be dramatic maybe. I don’t know. Annoying. It’s not all that descriptive because he repeats the same things over and over again and we’re introduced to characters out of the blue and with no background or context. Some parts make absolute no sense because he will talk about a certain event that seems interesting, and then it’s never mentioned again. It’s just sort of all over the place. He takes way too much “inspiration” from Game of Thrones plot lines and settings, that it’s surprising he’s not being sued for plagiarism. This book got two stars from me on Goodreads. I also don’t think I will be reading the rest of the trilogy. I just don’t see how it can get any more exciting because this first one fell short.

  • The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

This book was another “meh” book for me. I had added it to my “to read” list because it was another book based on an Indian family and I like to show my people major love. It follows the story of Hassan Haji as he recounts his life growing up in Mumbai when a tragedy forces he and his family to move to France. They start a small restaurant in the mountainside there and quickly it becomes successful as many French people there had never eaten Indian food before. However, across the street is a very fancy French restaurant and the woman who owns that restaurant is not happy when Indians inhabit the small village where she lives. She’s also not overly thrilled to have them as competition in the restaurant world because they are becoming so successful. But to her horror, she finds out that Hassan, a then-skinny-awkward teenager, can cook like a pro. It’s a cute story, a very easy read, but it didn’t keep me interested and excited. It was kind of linear. No real “oh my god” moments or gotcha’s or anything like that. It’s a sweet read about a guy looking back on his life and how he got to where he is. It makes me want to go back to France, but other than that, meh. It’s not a bad read, but only three stars from me.

  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

This is another one of those typical YA books where two kids in high school who have nothing in common somehow become friends and something more. Eleanor is the heavier-set, uncontrollable-curly-haired more-impoverished girl who gets teased a lot in school for her lack of high-end clothing and minimal social circle. Park is the skinny, stereotypical smart half-Korean kid who likes to read comic books, has a lot of friends, listens to 80s British rock bands and comes from a pretty typical middle class family. He and Eleanor ride the same bus to school and one day, she has to sit down next to him and their friendship forms…in a strange, but cute way. The story takes a weird, unexpected turn in the middle-to-end, but it was a quick, easy read about two “star-crossed lovers” who are in the midst of young love, but experience challenges. It’s not the most revolutionary book I’ve read, but if you want a quick read to finish in 1 or 2 days, or if you like books like Spectacular Now, then pick this up!

  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

I love, love love Jhumpa Lahiri. One of my favorite books of all time is The Namesake, which was written by her. It was a book I could relate to about coming to America and not feeling like you’re part of your Indian heritage anymore, but you don’t quite fit into American life either. So given my response to that book and given I loved her book of short stories/essays, I was super excited to read her newest book The Lowland. However, I was a little disappointed, I have to say! I hate saying that, but in comparison to her other writings, this didn’t surpass them. This story is about two brothers who are 15 months apart, Udayan and Subhash. They are caught in the Naxalite, a communist guerilla event that took place in India in the 1950s/60s. Subhash ends up leaving India and heads to America, while Udayan stays to be part of the revolution. When Subhash hears some tragic news, he returns to India and that’s where the story truly unfolds. It’s a very haunting book with some dark turns and moments. It’s emotional, but again, it didn’t wow me. Compared to something like The Namesake, this sort of fell short for me. However, I love Jhumpa so much; she’s one of my favorite authors. She is a beautiful writer that’s for sure. Fans of hers should definitely read this book!

So there we have it! I have to be honest: there were two books I got from the library that I ended up returning and nixed off my list (for now). There were other books I received that I felt would be better to read now over the others. The ones that were nixed, will make it back to my list eventually this year, I’m sure! So what I’m currently reading now is This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper. I believe this book is being made into a movie, which will star the ever wonderful Jason Bateman. Anyway, following that I will be reading Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining from Stephen King. Then after that, I hope to start Cujo, also by Stephen Knig, which will be the next book in my and Amber’s reading club.

Happy reading!

What books are you currently reading?

Book Reviews Part 2

Photo by Amber

Photo by Amber

So in my last post about what I was reading, I listed three books I had read and at the time, I was reading The Shining. I must be a reading machine right now, because since then, I’ve read quite a few more books. Seriously! I figured now is as good a time as any to recap what I’ve read since the last post, and hopefully give some of you fellow readers some ideas/recommendations of what you should read next!

  • The Shining by Stephen King

Oh. My. God. I loved this book. I couldn’t stop talking about it. You can ask REB, my coworkers and friends…they were probably sick of me talking about it so much. I managed to read this book in about 3 days because I couldn’t stop. My nightly ritual of reading before bed was extended by 30-45 minutes just so I could get in a few more pages before shut eye. My lunch break at work, I would force myself to take because that meant I was able to read. Many people have seen the movie already (myself included), but the book is so much better than the movie. For one thing, parts of the books that were downright scary to read, weren’t even included in the movie and I felt pretty strongly about it and thought they should have been. Reading about Jack, Wendy and Danny was incredible. Even though I knew how this story ended, it was great to read and see the parts that foreshadowed what was to come. It was very fluid, easy to read and kept me reeled in. All in all: I applaud you Mr. King. And to Mr. Kubrick? I say “shame on you.”

  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

This book was one of the ones I added to my list while I was searching through the “What’s Hot” list on my library’s web site. I later found out that it’s being made into a HBO movie, so I figured I should read it first before I watched it – if I do watch it, that is. This book reminded me of Gillian Flynn’s Gone GirlIt’s a “thriller” or “mystery” but it was kind of lacking in some areas. The overall plot is a mother, Kate, piecing together the mystery of her daughter, Amelia, by looking through social media, talking to friends and reading her phone. Doesn’t sound like much, but there’s more of course! I enjoyed that the book was written from both Amelia’s perspective – as the mystery is unveiled – and also from Kate’s perspective, as she’s piecing together the mystery. It wasn’t the best book I’d ever read, but I would recommend it if someone is looking for a quick, easy mystery.

  • The Ruins by Scott Smith

This book came recommended to me by my friend Amber. She actually owns the book and lent it to me to read. It’s another mystery/suspense/thriller and while it was slow in the beginning, it picked up pretty heavily. It’s about four college grads who are vacationing in Mexico, meet up with some new friends, go exploring the jungles nearby and then become trapped there. Now they have to learn how to survive in their new surroundings for who knows how long, but also endure the strange things that start happening while they’re there. This book is hella descriptive, graphic and at times, had me feeling queasy. REB would come upstairs and ask me what was wrong because apparently I would have a horrified look on my face or my eyes were really wide. I haven’t read other books by this author, but I really liked the way he wrote and again, I liked the way the book was told from all four kids’ perspective. Warning though: because it’s so descriptive there isn’t a lot of dialogue. This was also made into a movie so I’ll need to give that a watch soon!

  • Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

This book is best read in the summer. Perhaps that was my mistake for having read it during the cold Michigan winter. I probably would have enjoyed it way more. It’s a pretty story that spans over 50 years. It’s about a Hollywood star who comes to Italy and the innkeeper who sees her and falls in love with her. The story starts in the 1960s, but it’s also told “in the now” as you read about how he comes searching for her on the set of a movie (similar to Life After Life where you read the same story, but from different time periods or whatever). It’s a cute and an easy read, but I don’t know that I’d recommend it to anyone. It didn’t keep me interested that long and the author name drops a lot of famous actors throughout the novel too.

  • Wild: Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

I was surprised by the number of people who gave this book 2 or less stars on Goodreads. This story is another one of those woman-does-something-so-she-writes-a-memoir, but it was good. I had my doubts because I read that horrible, atrocious pile of garbage Elizabeth Gilbert wrote (Eat Pray Love) and hated…and I mean…HATED that book. So having read a book like that, I was really nervous to read this book. However, I was pleasantly surprised. This book is about a woman named Cheryl who, when she was 26 years old, decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on her own, which runs from California up to Washington. The reason she does it? Her mother passed away a few years before and she never really found herself centered.She meets people along the way, is smart about what she packs, but learns a lot. I loved this book, plain and simple. I thought about my life at 26 and what I was doing and “hiking 2,600+ miles” sure as hell wasn’t on my list. Sure, she was stupid in some decisions she made both on trail and off, but she was 26. She’s a grown up but hasn’t gotten it all figured out yet. I read this book in one day. It’s also being made into a movie. Give this book a chance. Especially if you want something better than that other pile of crap.

  • The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

This is another book-turned-movie that I wanted to read. I think it’s actually already out and on DVD/Blu-Ray. It’s a young adult/teen book that follows the story of Sutter Keely, this senior in high school who has a live-in-the-moment view on life. Along the way he meets a girl from his class, Aimee, and feels the need to help her open up from her quiet, sheltered life. It doesn’t sound like much, but I found I could relate to the story in that we all knew that kid in high school. I knew of at least three or four boys in my class who acted like Sutter and I desperately wished I could have been their friend, but I was the awkward, quiet girl who had band friends, but we were definitely deemed as the class nerds. It made me feel like a teen again going through those experiences and imagining what my life would have been like if I had been invited to one of Paul Doerr’s hose parties (only peeps from my school who read this will know who he is). I don’t even know if Paul threw amazing parties, but I heard they were a good time. Anyway, this is a good read. It’s told from a guy’s perspective, which not too many teen/young adult books do and it’s highly entertaining!

I have really enjoyed finding all these different kinds of books to read so far. If you have more you can suggest to me, please do! And please give these books a read if you get a chance. Stay tuned for another installment of book reviews in a few weeks! Happy reading :)