Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Book Review - Pieces of Her (Andrea Oliver, #1) by Karin Slaughter


Andrea thought she knew everything about her mother, Laura. They have spent their entire life in a small beach side town and Laura prefers a quiet life. All that changes when they get caught in between a mall shooting. Andrea sees a different side to her mother. As Andrea digs deeper into her mother's past, she realizes that her mother had a different identity and Laura is hiding from someone. With the mall shooting becoming national news, Laura has no choice but to try and escape her past again. Will Laura be able to keep her secret without endangering Andrea's life?

The novel was an interesting read. However, I thought the main character was so annoying. She acts like a child but, she was in her 30s. I felt like she had no common sense and continuously made the same mistakes over and over. I enjoyed reading about Laura's past and how it all tied together. But, I was a bit confused on how Laura went from someone who was like Andrea to someone who was willing to risk it all for someone she loves while her daughter still remains spineless. They did mention that Laura had training and did drills but, in the flashbacks they didn't make her out to be a badass that she currently is. The book didn't really have much twists and I felt that it was longer than it needed to be.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

January 2023 Empties!


Wow, it's been some time since I posted an empties post...almost a whole year later ;)  I had a bit of free time on my hand I been trying to finish up some stuff. Some weeks, I do manage to finish stuff but, other weeks I get lazy and don't do anything but scroll on Instagram.

I stopped buying facial sheets unless I see a really good sale because as great as they make my skin feel, I just never feel like doing them. When I was on break during the holidays I tried using a few from my stash and while they left my skin hydrated and soft, none was really noteworthy enough to re-purchase. Plus, I find that I get the same results from layering and moisturizing more throughout the day. Perhaps, when I get out of my lazy phase I might start using them again but, it's to be seen.

I love the idea of shower steamers but, they can be a hassle because I have to really plan ahead. I used to unwrap and use the steamers while I was taking a hot shower. Now, I let the hot water run for a few minutes until my bathroom gets all hot and steamy and then I drop a steamer under the water. I find the scent to be more noticeable. I bought Dew.Well and Popchose from Amazon and I had the best results from these brands than other ones I have tried from Amazon. The scents were really fragrant and could be smelled from outside of the box. I actually been using two of the shower steamers from Popchose as air freshner as it smells so good.

I have shopped at Bath and Body Works for many years and I was so excited when I noticed they make bar soaps in some of their favorite or maybe best selling scents. I bought the Eucalyptus Spearmint and Butterfly scents. The bars smelled great and were true to their scents. The bars were a bit smaller than I was expecting or maybe it's I seem to go through them quicker than my other bars of soap. The soap is very creamy and it's not drying. However, I still had to follow up with lotion. They are a bit steep at $8.50 a bar but, that's on par with how much I pay with other triple milled or goat milk soap bars. The great thing about BBW is that they always have tons of sales though!

Is there anything you got this new year that you are excited to try?

Friday, January 27, 2023

Book Review - We Ride Titans: The Complete Series by Dee Cunniffe


Kit Hobbs' family has been piloting mechs that protect the city from monsters for generations. She has walked away from the family business until, an accident occurs. Kit returns home to help her brother who has a spiraling addiction problem and is threatening to explode while, her father is controlling her every move. Will Kit be able to control her family while, saving the city from monsters?

The graphic novel was a quick and easy read. The story line was easy to follow along. There wasn't any humor unfortunately. I do wish that there was more world building and backstory regarding the monsters and Kit's family. If you like graphic novels with mechs, you would enjoy this easy to read graphic novel.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Book Review - Nineteen Ways of Looking at Consciousness by Patrick House


The book focuses on exploring consciousness from the scientific, medical, and philosophical lens. I normally don't read non fiction books but, I thought this would be an interesting read. The book started off okay but, then it got a bit confusing and I felt my eyes glaze over. I felt that the book was a bit dense and not concise as mentioned. The book tries too hard to come off as eloquent and poetic. Instead, some of the titles of the chapters seem like a bunch of nonsensical words put together. Ultimately, I gave up half way through the book and decided to read something else.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Book Review - The Backup Plan (Sunrise Cove, #3) by Jill Shalvis


Alice is excited when she comes across an unexpected windfall. She is set to inherit a dilapidated bed and breakfast that she once called home. The downside, is that she has to split her inheritance with two people from her past that she would rather forget about. Alice used to be best friends with Lauren while Knox, is the guy Alice has secretly pined for.

The terms of the will state that the three will have to work together and renovate the house and work together for one year otherwise, they will lose their share. However, each of the trio has their own heartache and history which causes tension between them. They decide to keep a set of rules to help keep the peace. As they work together, will they find what they have been looking for?

The book reads like a classic Hallmark movie with some closed door steamy parts. My favorite parts of the story is when they would add new rules and ultimately break them. The book did have some slow parts with a happy ending sprinkled with some sassy humor. I do like that there wasn't any back and forth on whether or not a couple liked each other. This book is a part of a series but, it can be read as a standalone.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Book Review - The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate


Natalie Hargrove is a high school student who has spent years planning and plotting to become the next prom queen. She got everything she needs to win including, a vicious streak and a ruthlessness to stop at nothing to accomplish her goal.

Things take a turn for the worst, when someone threatens her plans. She convinces her boyfriend, Mike, to play a prank on Justin. Natalie is happy that everything is going to according to plan except when the prank goes horribly wrong. Natalie decides that she won't let anything stop her dreams, even if it means hiding a few dark secrets.

I thought the book was an okay read. It reminds me of those spicy books, I would read as a young adult that had adult content references but, still being appropriate for kids. The book started off strong but, the lack of character development and boring characters with a predictable plot made the book a bit boring in the second half. I can see  some young adults liking this book but, as an adult I have read way better quality books.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Book Review - Promises of Gold by José Olivarez


The book is a collection of poems from Mexican poet, Jose Olivarez. It contains a mixture of poems dedicated to people and experiences from his life. The book had two versions of each poem, one in Spanish and one in English. There was a translator note explaining the different nuances for translating a poem from English to Spanish as it can take away some of the author's meaning. I thought the poems were an interesting but, some I felt that I didn't quite understand the references. If you are a fan of poetry and a familiar with Mexican culture, I believe you will thoroughly enjoy these poems.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Book Review - The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times by Jane Goodall


In the book, Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams, talk about hope. It's one of the most sought after but, least understood element of human nature. The book is highly relevant given our current climate and political landscape.

Typically, I don't read nonfiction books but, I was interested in reading more about Jane's life. The book is an inspirational read as Jane talks about times in her life where she almost lost hope and how things turn around. She shares personal anecdotes and memories, that are interesting and spellbinding. It's the perfect book to bring someone's hopes up if they are ever feeling down or overwhelmed.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Book Review - As The Sun Rises It Dawns On Him by Ross Patterson


The third book illustrates the prominent Saint James Street James fighting the prohibition in the 1920s, while working with the mob and then him flying planes in WWII. I received this book from a friend who was clearly out her parents' bookcases and I am on the fence with the novel. I wasn't sure what to expect when I read the blurb. The book had some humor and an outlandish story but, I am not sure it would be the type of book I would read on my own or read again. The book had a lot of adult humor and content which at times was a bit much for my taste. However, I can see these types of books being popular with certain readers who enjoy this type of humor and books.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Book Review - The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth


Gabe and Pippa has bought their dream home in a small coastal town. Their house is right near a cliff. The cliff is infamous for people who go there to kill themselves. Gabe is famous for talking people off the ledge until one day, he fails and someone falls to their death. When it is discovered that Gabe knew the victim, Pippa questions how much she really knows Gabe.

The book started off interesting and it kept me hook until the half way point. The constant point of view switching became boring and dull because there was barely any movement to the story. I felt like the story dragged and dragged with nothing keeping the readers hooked. I can't say that I really liked any of the characters and I found Pippa annoying. She kept sticking up for Gabe when it was hard to see what he bought to the table other than him being good looking and charismatic. While this book was a bit disappointing, I will still continue reading other books by the author.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Book Review - Shadow Service Vol. 1 by Cavan Scott


Gina Meyers is a private investigator who helps her clients in London. She is also a witch who isn't afraid to unleash a few spells to get what she wants. While working a case, she catches the attention of a shadow supernatural government organization. Will Gina be able to outwit the organization and keep her freedom?

The graphic novel was a fun and entertaining read. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading the graphic as I typically like light-hearted or funny graphics. The story was engaging and I couldn't wait to read the next book in the series.  I also liked how detailed the illustrations were.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion**

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Book Review - The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sara Brunsvold


Aidyn Kelley is a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. She wants meaty assignments instead of the current fluff pieces she's been getting. In an effort to provide herself, she goes over her boss's head and sends a message requesting a bigger story to the managing editor. Aidyn finds herself in deep hot water and is punished by getting a boring assignment. She is tasked with writing an obituary for an elderly woman who just entered hospice care.

Clara Kip is an extraordinary woman contrary to her claiming otherwise. She might be dying but, she isn't ready to give up just yet. She has never shied away from doing God's work and she feels that God brought Aidyn into her life for a reason. However, if Aidyn wants the full scoop of Mrs. Kip's life, it won't come easy.

I thought the book was a delightful and heart warming read. It was inspiring and moving to read about Mrs. Kip's life and her dedication to others. I did think that Aidyn warming up to Mrs. Kip and her willingness to listen did happen a bit quicker than I expected it would. However, I did enjoy reading their interactions and watching their bond grow. I liked how the author dealt with death and overcoming obstacles. Even though the ending was predictable, it didn't stop me from crying. The book is a Christian novel and has a lot references to God and Jesus for those who might shy away from these types of books.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion**

Monday, January 9, 2023

Book Review - Exiles (Aaron Falk, #3) by Jane Harper

Aaron Falk is a federal investigator, on his way to a small town deep in Southern Australia for a christening of a friend's baby. Aaron is hoping for a relaxing vacation but, his hopes are dashed when he realizes it's the one year anniversary of Kim Gillespie's disappearance.

A year ago, at a busy town festival, Kim tucked her sleeping baby into her stroller and left the stroller in the parking lot and then disappeared. No one has heard or seen her since. Kim's older daughter is desperate to find out what happened to her mother and makes a plea for anyone who has information to come forward. Falk decide to help with the case since, his old friend, Raco, can't seem to leave the case alone. As Falk enjoys his vacation, he notices that things has changed since Kim had disappeared. Will Falk be able to discover the truth behind Kim's disappearance?

The novel had an interesting premise but, it moved very slowly for my liking. The book was filled with boring filler after filler that I almost lost interest in the novel. I didn't connect with or liked any of the characters to be invested in the story. When the truth was revealed, it was a surprise but, it felt like it came out of nowhere especially, since there were two mysterious deaths and almost no details were revealed. I felt that there were a lot of characters at times and not all of them needed to be included as they added nothing to the story. I am not sure if I  would be interested in reading any of her other books after reading this book. This book is the final book in the series but, I was able to read it as a standalone. 

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Book Review - Maame by Jessica George


Maddie's life in London isn't the life she wants to have. Her mother who spends most of her time in Ghana is overbearing and she barely sees her brother. Maddie is the primary caretaker for her aging father who has Parkinson's. At work, her boss is demanding and Maddie is tired of being the only Black person in every meeting.

When Maddie's mother returns from Ghana to help care for her father, Maddie is excited. She plans to move out and start living and enjoying her independence. Maddie feels that she is a late bloomer and hasn't experienced everything life has to offer. So, she creates a list of important "firsts", she wants to conquer. She decides to get an apartment with roommates instead of living at home with her father. She starts saying "yes" to things she would normally not have time for and fights for more recognition at work. As Maddie's life starts to pick up, a tragedy occurs and it forces Maddie to consider her life, friends, and family.

I thought the book was a highly entertaining and a funny read. It was fun reading some of Maddie's first time experiences and seeing how relatable it was. I enjoyed reading how Maddie navigates the different relationships and how she did it with grace and humor. The text messages were a fun addition to the book and hilarious funny at times. I look forward to reading more books  by the author.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Book Review - The 12th Commandment by Daniel Torday


A group of Jewish Islamic people, known as the Donme, live in an isolation community in Mt. Izmir, Ohio.The people are religious and self-sustaining, who followed their prophet, Natan of Flatbush, from Brooklyn to Ohio. When Natan's teenage son is brutally murdered, the entire community is in turmoil and begins to arm themselves.

Zeke Leger, is a thirty year old writer, who arrives to Ohio for a friend's funeral. He becomes interested in the case and decides to report on the murder. His ex-girlfriend, Johanna Franklin, prosecuted the case and believes Natan is guilty. As Zeke investigates the murder, he finds himself drawn to the Donme and becomes interested in their ways. Will Zeke be able to solve the murder before he endangers himself?

I thought the cover and the premise was interesting. Unfortunately, the book fell flat to me. The writing style didn't flow smoothly for me and there was tons of vernacular that I was unsure of. I wish the author included a section explaining the culture and norms. I feel like it would have made the novel easier to follow along if you are not familiar with the culture. I also felt that the story moved very slowly and nothing really happened for extended amount of time. I feel like readers who are familiar with the culture might enjoy this novel more than I did.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Book Review - Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly


Before astronauts went into space or before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, there were a group of dedicated women mathematicians who made it possible. The women were known as "computers" who manually calculated the numbers that would launch planes, rockets and astronauts.

I saw the movie before reading the book. I thought the book was going to read like a fiction novel but, it read more like a textbook. I had a hard time keeping track of the different women. However, I thought it was an interesting read and well researched book.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Book Review - The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Ann Older


In Jupiter, a man goes missing on a remote station leaving behind a bunch of unanswered questions. Investigator Mossa is assigned to the case to help find clues to his disappearance. As Mossa investigates his disappearance, she decides to enlist her ex-girlfriend, Pleiti, to help.

I thought the book was an okay read. I normally don't really sci-fi novels as either they spend too much time world building or not enough time world building. I feel like this book had a good amount of world building at times but, I found concepts confusing like the station coordinates and hard to follow. I felt like the story dragged on for a bit and it wasn't very interesting. The characters and their impending romance felt stilted and robotic. Unfortunately, while the book had an interesting premise, it wasn't for me.