Review: The family upstairs by Lisa Jewell

The family upstairs is a mix of mystery book and family saga. This isn’t my usual read but lately, I’ve been straying from romance and trying new things. This particular book was a last minute recommendation as I left the bookstore and I’m glad I picked it up.

For me, the best part about the book was how quickly it caught my attention and refused to let go. The heroine, Libby finds a letter in her mailbox that simply changes everything for her and this is what starts the plot of the book. I loved Libby from the start. She’s intelligent, cautious, eager to know things and pretty reasonable. She doesn’t do foolhardy things that some heroines do in some movies or books that drive me crazy. Libby was interesting from the start and I didn’t want to close the book and not know what was going to happen to her.

This is a family saga book and the story threads include more than just Libby’s story. Since I don’t like to give away parts of plots of the book, I won’t explain too much here but I will mention that it was delicious because it told the story of a family and what happened to each member. Parents and children made serious decisions with serious consequences and I got to watch it all.

Since it was a mystery, there were twists. Now, I have to be one of the worst people to predict twists in movies or books; I can’t even foresee them coming in a Disney movie, let alone a book. So, to me, the twists were shocking, amazing and a complete surprise. There was even a point where I simply put the book down and stared at the words in disbelief. True, I’m pretty gullible, but I thought the twists were absolutely genius.

Definitely not one of my usual reads, it is still a great read that I inhaled in under 3 hours. I would definitely recommend it for anyone interested in mysteries or family sagas, or even anyone who likes a book that is a page turner. I had never read anything by Lisa Jewell but this one was a definite hit.

Image result for the family upstairs book

 

Top reads of 2019

If you happen to have extra time and want a good read, here are the recommendations from the top book sellers both in Canada and the US.

Chapters’ top 50 books of 2019 are here. I can personally vouch for number 2 as I have read it and found it outstanding.

Barnes and Noble’s top 100 bestsellers of 2019 are here. Super exciting to have that reference list and links to know a bit more about those books.

Good Housekeeping has their own list here. And there are some that are included in all three. Those must be amazing!

Do you have a favourite book of 2019 to recommend? Mine would have to be the Testaments. I just absolutely loved it.

The Testaments: A Novel by Margaret AtwoodWhy am I rambling about this now? Well, I’m planning to sneak to the bookstore tomorrow. Hubby is at work, you see and I’m free to play…I’m thinking Chapters and a lovely cup of coffee. Doesn’t that sound heavenly?

Image result for coffee and book

Where someone doesn’t like a book and I loose my noodles

I think I might have rambled on and on about how much I loved the book The Testaments. I might have just said a word or two. Or three.

Well, I ran into someone at work who…well, who didn’t like the book.

Now, things would have been fine if they had stated their opinion. I can agree to disagree with the best of them. But they had to put it down. They kept saying things that the book needed and should have included and how it wasn’t this or that or the other thing.

Yeap. I almost lost my noodles.

 

Review: The Testaments

I wanted to read this book almost as soon as I heard it was going to be written. The trouble with that is that I built it up in my head so much that I feared the reality couldn’t possibly match my wishes. Not only did the book meet my expectations, it surpassed them incredibly. This one is a keeper for years and years to come.

The Testaments is Margaret Atwood’s latest novel and one that she refused to write for over thirty years. It completes her earlier work, The Handmaid’s Tale. In an interview, she explained that the reason she decided to write it was that: “Instead of going away from Gilead, we turned around and started coming back towards Gilead.” She’s dead on.

Image result for cover time magazine with margaret atwood

Timing is just right for this book. It might not have hit us the same way 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. But, right now, it’s an incredibly pertinent and important document to read. And, such an amazing piece of writing.

Image result for cover time magazine with margaret atwood

Timing wasn’t, of course, what I loved most about this book. I picked up the hardcover (and I never, ever buy hardcovers) and read two paragraphs…and I knew I had to buy it. I loved, loved the content, the tone and the way she wrote, almost immediately.

Image result for the testaments book

The book is written by different narrators-that I won’t explain so as to not ruin it for others. Each perspective has a very different perspective into the life in Gilead and each is rich with information, history and flavour. Eventually, without giving away too much, things merge and out of it comes, finally, the conclusion to the Handmaid’s Tale.

I loved each of the different perspectives. I was fascinated with the theocracy that Margaret Atwood had created. I thought it was authentic, brutally realistic without becoming overdone, and showed astute insight into human nature. As I read, I couldn’t help but to agree with the narrator’s logic and choices. As horrific as Gilead was, I could understand what transpired in the book, I could see why they had done the terrible things that they had done. It made logical sense.

It was also fascinating that the narrators didn’t destroy the mystery or the twists that happened in the book. I was left hanging, desperately hanging, at the end of each chapter, not knowing what was going to happen next.

I have many beefs with some books where characters step out of character, where rules that were once inviolable are suddenly broken, where the remnants of the plot are artificially twisted into a semblance of order at the end. I was so relieved that this book did none of those things. The ending was realistic and fit a grim and very plausible storyline. The characters stayed true to their beliefs, personalities and history. And nothing impossible according to Gileadian rules happened.

Better still, I was hooked. This is a book I read in bits of time stolen while my husband and I tried to get our house listed on the market. I snuck that book into work, tried to read while people talked around me and even moved important things aside so I could read it. It was addictive in the most delicious sense. If I could design heaven, it would be filled with books just like this one.

I absolutely recommend it. If you’re a fan of dystopian novels, female fiction or suspense, this book will fit you like a glove. You do not need to have read The Handmaid’s Tale to get hooked either. Try a couple of paragraphs, I bet you’re like me and can’t put the thing down. It was magical.

Image result for the testaments book

 

New exciting book

Margaret Atwood is a very famous name around here. Not only is she a well known author, she’s Canadian.

Image result for margaret atwood

She’s also the author of The Handmaid’s Tale – a very successful book and a great TV series.

Image result for the handmaid's tale

Now, the reason for this post is that she’s just come out with the sequel to the book. People have been waiting for the sequel literally for decades and Margaret Atwood always said she wasn’t going to write it. Now, however, she has changed her mind.

Image result for the testaments

I, for one, can’t wait to get my grubby little paws on this one. Yum!

Here’s the thing

I’ve been watching this show called ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. Its based on the novel by Margaret Atwood of the same name. It’s a dystopian novel set in some future date and, unlike those dystopian movies for kids, things aren’t better. They’re really, really worse.

Now, I’m going to talk about this show and disclose something that happens in it. So, those of you who haven’t watched it and are thinking of doing so, please skip this post. There’s a spoiler coming up. So scoot away. Don’t read on.

Are you still here? Scoot! I’m telling you, there’s spoilers coming! Run! Run away!

Okay, now that it’s just us, let me tell you what’s going on. This series is pretty shocking and there are some terrible things that happen, horrible, violent things. Still, the story is sooo compelling that I couldn’t stop watching.

Until a week ago.

The episode (here’s the spoiler) showed the heroine being raped. I just can’t explain how horrible that was. I couldn’t, couldn’t bear it. It made me rethink watching the entire show.

Don’t get me wrong, I know horrible things like that happen and I know it doesn’t do them justice to gloss over them when they’re in a show. I do get that. I just can’t handle violence, be it against animals or humans.

So…I’m admitting I’m a complete and utter chicken and I don’t know if I can watch this show.

Two reviews for the price of one!

My hubby was away, so I got busy reading. I found a couple of books at the used bookstore…completely different yet great in their own ways.

The first I read was “God is not great” by Christopher Hitchens.

(credit: goodreads)

I read it completely interested in his unique point of view and I found the book incredibly well written. Though I didn’t agree with everything he said (and that wasn’t the point of reading the book), I still found ‘God is not great’ a fascinating read.

Certainly, I don’t think religion poisons everything, as he claims but hearing about his point of view was very interesting. I have read a lot of books from devout believers and find those who oppose religion fascinating because they are so unique. Christopher Hitchens certainly fits that criteria.

He has also done impeccable research to support his point of view. His book covers most religions and practices and most holy books. Incredibly informative, the book was also so well written that reading was a pleasure simply for the vocabulary and sentence structure. I love reading a well-written book.

My second find at the used book store was Divergent by Veronica Roth.

(credit: amazon.com)

Divergent was delicious. It is YA and not my usual read but it was fascinating. It’s set in a dystopic future where society is divided into five factions to keep the peace. Each faction practices a way of life that matches their motto. For example, Dauntless are brave and that is their focus and goal in everything they do.

In that setting, young adolescents have to choose which faction they belong to and that was really interesting to me. I wondered what made someone choose one characteristic over another and what a world made up of one personality trait would look like. Tris, the heroine, agonizes over her choice and finally has to decide in very difficult circumstances.

The rest of the book, we follow Tris through the challenges she faces in her new faction. It might be make-believe but it was absolutely addictive and I certainly couldn’t put the book down. It was also the best companion for a weekend without my hubby while the dogs slept at my feet.

 

Though I would recommend both books, they’re certainly very different reads. If you do pick one up, let me know what you think and, as always, if you find a great read, share it with me. I love finding new books to read.

Two reviews for the price of one!

Okay, so they’re free. I just thought I’d do a ‘doubly’. I thought making it shorter and more compact might make it easier to read.

My first book is ‘First Star I see Tonight’ and it’s by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. It’s a new one in the Chicago Stars series but it’s a perfectly good standalone if you want to pick it up.

Recap:

First Star I see Tonight tells the story of Piper Dove who is trying to be a detective. During her assignment, she spies on Cooper Graham, the Quarterback for the Chicago Stars. He catches her in the act and all mayhem ensues.

Reasons to buy it:

The dialogue is incredible. The comebacks, the lines, the quick jokes, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is known for her dialogue and this book doesn’t disappoint.

The characters are really likeable. From the tough Coop, to the determined Piper, they’re friendly, funny and yet quirky. Not a creepy, ew-inducing issue in sight.

Finally, the humour. I love a book that makes me laugh and this one did.

My second book is ‘Now that you mention it’ by Kristan Higgins. It’s just been released and, since I’m a big fan, I was waiting biting my nails for this one.

Recap:

Nora Stuart, successful doctor and specialist, gets hit by a car and ends up going back home to the teeny, tiny Maine community she left years and years ago. Back she goes to find her once quirky neighbours haven’t changed and she tries as hard as she can to mend relationships and her family. Along the way, she mends more than just that, which was fine by me.

Reasons to buy it:

I loved, loved the heroine. Nora wasn’t a hit in high school, she was a nerd. She wasn’t pretty or thin but she was smart and she used those brains to give herself a future. Being a doctor wasn’t easy but she did it. I loved that about her. She also had a wonderful doggie Boomer, who was immediately loved by yours truly.

The premise caught me right off. I love the concept of heroines who return to their tiny birth towns. I know it’s been done but I still find it awesome. I love the quirky characters and funny back stories. I would have loved to visit the island myself.

This wasn’t just a simple romance story. The main arc of the tale is more about the heroine mending relationships (including the one with herself) and owning her power, than about the romance. And, while she did it, she made me laugh. Awesome.

Note: If you’re interested in the books, click on the covers and you’ll go to the author’s sites.

Hidden Figures – Almost a Review

Really liked this review. A huge thanks to Trent for that wonderful post!

Trent's World (the Blog)

hidden-figures

A few weeks ago, I read the book “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly.  I really liked the book and can’t imagine the movie covering one tenth the ground it did.  There is so much context and background in the book, and yet I know the author was still only scratching the surface.

This is not a review of the book (review = excellent.  Read it).  I just want to say something about the book, something that I thought about as I read it but that is even more relevant after the recent events in Charlottesville.

A lot of this book is about racism at its ugliest, but also how some people were able to rise above it, or perhaps “rise in spite of it” would be a better phrase.  A little background about how hard it was for people of color, and blacks in particular, to get ahead in…

View original post 809 more words