Book Review: Loose Ends by Caroline Taylor

Price: $13.99

In the midst of Bicentennial celebrations, Carson Mahoney narrowly escapes a home invasion that reduces her house to rubble. In a West Virginia commune, her sister Cam kills the commune leader. Now both sisters must flee. Already a suspect in her secretive husband’s murder, Carson fears the police will suspect her of arson and put her in jail. It happened before, back when the two sisters were teenagers, imprisoned in a foreign country. It cannot happen again. But running away is also not an option. Cam needs to find the innocent whose life she has saved. Carson must find the thugs who destroyed her home and her livelihood. All too soon, the sisters learn how impossible it is to hide and how difficult it is to trust those who offer help. Will they survive long enough to clear their names?

This story is a fun ride through the life of a woman with a history she’s afraid will catch up with her and a present that’s after her too. Carson and Cameron are likable characters. We get a good feel for who they are, why they behave the way we do. More importantly we see how they grew differently after a shared tragedy. Once reunited, Carson develops personally, which I like. I can’t stand when a character has no development.

Carson is a little quirky and the author conveys it well without just throwing a description at us. There is nothing worse than slogging through an author’s description of a character.

The flashbacks to El Salvador are a little jarring at first, but you quickly see that the tense switch signifies their capture and torture in their teens.

It’s a fairly fast-paced story. I wouldn’t call it white knuckle, it’s not serious enough for that. But, Carson has no time to rest as she tries to clear her name and figure out whether her past is catching up to her.

The supporting character Rusty was a trip. I really dug him and wish the author would write a book just about him. He had depth, an interesting character, and the most heart of all the characters.

I very much loved that there was no romantic subplot to the main character’s story. It would have been out of place and just thrown in to appease some people. The story wasn’t about that

The plot was a little thin in places, but I don’t generally expect much for a book in this genre. What did bother me were some loose ends in the story. A big deal is made about where Carson’s husband was getting his “trust fund” from. They figure out the name of the alleged law firm is really someone’s name backwards, but nothing comes of it.I don’t know if it was just forgotten or if it was never intended to be anything. We also don’t hear much about what happened to the religious commune. The wrap-up after the climax is quick, but I don’t see any reason for it to be drawn out.

I don’t see this hitting bestseller lists, but I don’t believe that’s what it was written to do. I think this is meant as a fun book with some serious detours. If given the opportunity to read another of Caroline Taylor’s books, I would probably do so.

I received an ARC from Netgalley for my unbiased review.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Book Review: United by Cory Booker – Must Read

I didn’t want to read this book. I’ve a general lack of interest in books by politicians. I feel most of them are disingenuous and I assume their books follow suit. However, I’ve been following Cory Booker on social media for probably two years now and done some research of my own on him because he’s a rising star. I thought I’d give his book a chance.

To say that I was impressed would be an huge understatement. First and foremost, the book is believable. I’ve never met Senator Booker in person, but he comes across as trustworthy. Human. Caring. In the Introduction he emphasizes that the book is less about what he’s achieved, and more about the people who helped him do it. Throughout the book he demonstrates just how true that is.

The book is divided into chapters that seem to focus on a particular person and part of his life/political process. His parents and their values feature prominently throughout the book. Lessons like not taking credit for a triple when you were born on 3rd base and reminding him that he was standing on the shoulders of a great many giants who made his life possible. He seems to never have forgotten that.

Each of the steps he’s taken politically, he did at the urging and with the support of Newark community members. He learned a lot of hard lessons on the way, readily admitting that he fell short of where he wanted to be. He asked for the forgiveness of those he harmed as it happened. They gave him that forgiveness and continued to stand by him.

His commitment to public service and the public was probably best exemplified by his 10-day fast to bring about changes at the low-income housing buildings where he lived. The residents in that community had been forgotten and left behind, but Senator Booker wouldn’t stand for it. He got the whole community involved during his fast, holding prayer meetings and strategy sessions. Finally, the mayor of Newark deigned to appear and tae with him. The promises made by the mayor at the time were forgotten, but not by Senator Booker.

Living in Newark, particularly as mayor, Senator Booker witnessed the destruction crime wreaks on the people who live around it. He literally watched people die. He went on ride alongs with the police to better understand the issues they face and the issues the community had with the police. He even tried to stop a fleeing criminal on his own once. Those events touched him deeply and through his words it’s easy to see that continue to affect him today.

Senator Booker never lost sign of the privileges he had and how they affected him as he interacted with the citizens of Newark. Sometimes it blindsided him, how different his world was growing up from those he served. He worked hard to keep that at the forefront of his mind and it prompted him to work to end the injustices faced by black and Hispanic men at the hands of the criminal justice system.

As senator, he’s reached across party lines to get things done. He remembers who elected him and who he serves, pushing him to overlook party politics to make sure the people he represents are taken care of. It may not make him popular among the party, but for him, that’s not what matters. He seems to reflect deeply on his actions and in order to sleep at night, he’s got to do what’s right.

The real reason to read this book is that Cory Booker IS a rising politician. It seems almost guaranteed that he will run for President of the United States one day. As interested as I have always been in politics, I never saw a candidate I was willing to attach myself to. That always bothered me greatly. I was always willing to serve on someone’s staff, but it had to be someone I could believe in. Someone I could trust. Someone I knew would do the right thing, even if it made him or her unpopular.

All that being said, Senator Booker IS someone I would work for. I believe he has the best interests of the American people at heart. I believe that he would stop at nothing to see the right thing done. He has compassion, empathy, and a deep understanding that not all of us have it so good. Those things are critical in a leader.

To Senator Booker, if you read this, I wish you the best of luck in a messy political world. I hope your heart and soul propel you to great things.

Book Review: Terms of Use by Scott Allan Morrison

This book will definitely make you re-think your social media use. I’m not saying it’ll push you off of using it altogether, but it shows the dark underbelly of the companies behind it and how we may be getting used/manipulated without knowing it.

The book is about a man called Sergio who’s been into computers his whole life. His latest job is a social media site called Circles (oddly enough, this book is not related to The Cirle by Dave Eggers). It’s like Facebook, but more connected. They want people to use Circles for everything – bank information, everything social, and eventually voting.

However, an executive is murdered after he learns something the company needs to have kept secret in order to move forward into China. Sergio figures out what the executive knew and is determined to pursue the case on his own. His new friend, Malina, insists on helping.

The action is fast-paced and keeps the pages turning. Sergio and Malina escape death over and over, leaving bodies behind them. The characters are interesting and the reader gets to learn a lot about them throughout the book. Everyone’s history plays a role in the final outcome of the book.

If you’re a fan of The Circle, thrillers featuring computer stuff, or smart action, check this book out.

You can also check out my Goodreads review.

Book Review: Cries in the Night: A Low Country Ghost Story by Lori Roberts

Overall I found this book quite enjoyable. I don’t usually read ghost stories, but it was also a mystery which I do usually read. The combination intrigued me.

Two people move into a house, hoping it will be their dream home, only to find they’re not the only ones living there. The author does a great job introducing us to the characters and spreading their story throughout the book. You want them to be happy and figure out what’s going wrong in their home so they can live in peace. It gets surprisingly suspenseful given that they’re dealing with ghosts and not live people.

While the concept of the book was good, it had some difficulties as well. There were inconsistencies in descriptions (for example, the author wrote that the main character and her friend drove to pick up lunch, but in the next few pages they’re walking back from the sandwich shop) and typos which I found a bit distracting. When you have to go back a few pages to see if you’ve missed something, the books loses the rhythm it developed.

Even with the inconsistencies and typos I found it a fun read and would definitely read other works by the author.

Reading Recommendation: Chick Lit – Jojo Moyes

As part of the 2015 Reading Challenge, I picked up a copy of Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes. The cover was pink and black and that’s often all I need to pick up a chick lit book. What I didn’t expect was how moved I was by the book. It was long and emotionally challenging. I cried. Not a little. The story is just that moving. The sequel, After You, has been published and I cannot wait to read it (after the millions of people who are ahead of me on the hold list finish with it).

Since I loved Me Before You, I checked out reviews on other books written by Moyes. All had absolutely rave reviews. I went to check another out at the library and discovered that about a thousand other people had figured out the same thing I had. I finally got One Plus One and read it.

I don’t think I like it as much as I liked Me Before You. However, Me Before You was *really* intense. Almost overwhelmingly so at times. I’m not sure I could have handled that kind of book right now. One Plus One is still serious, but a lot more light-hearted. The writing is still really high quality so I got through the book pretty quickly. For me that’s not usually a sign that the book is bad. I know that it is for some people. They feel like they can’t get any substance from a book that only takes a few hours, but for me it’s a sign that the story is compelling. It usually means I’m too intrigued to put it down.

I am really looking forward to more of her books, especially After You. If you’re in the market for Chick Lit and want something that’s well written and interesting, find your way to a Jojo Moyes book!

30-Day Project: October Wrap-up & November

30-day Project

Hello November! My goal for October was to read for one hour every day. It didn’t always come in a one-hour block, and there were two days I didn’t read at all. However, I read 18… EIGHTEEN books this October! Even though I didn’t read an hour every day, these 18 book went a long way toward finishing my reading challenge of 100 books for the year. I was behind schedule at the beginning of October and now I am 7 books ahead of schedule! Which is good since November is all about writing.

That’s right! It’s National Novel Writing Month again! I didn’t finish last year which disappointed me. I had over 20,000 words in the first 10 days and then basically stopped. I had some personal things going on and it was a novel that should have been plotted out a bit more (murder mysteries need SOME planning). Even still, I wanted to finish. I liked what I had.

This year, after reading “2K to 10K” by Rachel Aron, I have decided to plot out my story (I did it the old fashioned way with notecards on a cork board) and then, each day before I start writing, to plot out what I want to accomplish in each chapter. After having done this for only today, I can tell that it’s going to make a big difference.

My goal for November is to write for the novel every day. To finish 50,000 words in November and “win” NaNoWriMo, I have to write at least 1,667 words per day. Today I wrote for an hour and a half and got almost 2,600 words done!

This is a novel I want to publish so I’m taking it pretty seriously. Knowing that is stressing me out more than it’s helping, but I’m tired of making excuses for myself for why things aren’t getting done. So I’m just doing it.

I am still going to try to read this month as well. To me, being a good writer comes in part from being a good reader. Every time I read a book, I’m adding more notes – don’t do this, do this, that’s a good item to add/good plot twist/etc.

If you’re interested in what I’m writing, let me know and I’ll fill you in!

Oh, I’m also going to be doing the 30 Days of Thanks! I should really focus on thanks every day of the year and perhaps once I get on a roll this month I will.

Book Review: Mind’s Eye by Douglas E. Richards

Mind's Eye

This is the second time in three months that I’ve read a book that paints a disturbing picture of where our dependence on technology could (maybe will) take us.

Nick Hall wakes up in a dumpster with no memory of how he got there. What he quickly discovers is that people are trying to kill him. As he runs, he slowly discovers that he has abilities that help him stay alive – he can search the web inside his mind and he has ESP. With assistance he works to uncover who’s behind the plot to kill him, who he really is, and how got to be the way he is.

The story is exciting, the book is well-written, and the characters are relatable and likable (well, the ones you’re supposed to like anyway). It really is a fascinating exploration of whether technology can go too far, and how far humanity is wiling to go. It also shows how far some people are willing to go to bring about massive changes in how humans relate to the world.

I really enjoyed the author’s writing as well. You want to keep moving through the book, not because you just want it to be done, but because you really want to know what happens next. Do Nick and his crew of helpers make it? Who dies along the way? Will he ever learn who he is?

If you don’t mind feeling a little disturbed about the future, this is definitely an interesting book. I also think it would make a good book for a book club as well. Loads to think about and discuss.

In a similar vein, if you’re into this kind of book, check out a book by Dave Eggers called “The Circle.”

Dose of Lyndsy: Approved


(book image source)

30-Day Project: September Review and October

30-day Project

I’m going to call September a success. I did indulge in a couple Pepsis for my birthday dinner and while we were in Amsterdam I had soda a few times and fast food twice (I *always* try McDonald’s in new countries), but while I was home, I did really well. The point is really to get things back under control and September was a good reset for me.

I’ve been struggling to come up with something for October. I would have liked to have done something where I take a mile-long walk every day or go to the gym but my body is just not up for it right now. I have pretty much been sick since September 7th with a ridiculously sore throat and fatigue. It sort of feels like I’m trying to swallow glass. I went to the doctor the other day and got antibiotics, but I don’t seem to be feeling any less like I’ve got tiny knives in my throat.

A friend pointed out that I have been pretty much going, going, going for a while and this is clearly my body’s way of saying, SLOW THE FUCK DOWN. But how do I turn that into a 30-Day Project. I thought and thought and then realized that there is *something* I can do that would help me rest and also help with one of my 2015 goals!

I am behind on my reading for the year by about 3 books. I haven’t touched my 2015 Reading List in a while either. So, to promote restful behavior on my part and make sure I get through the 100 books I want to read this year, October’s 30-Day Project is to read for an hour a day.

I’m sure you’re wondering how it is that I planned to read 100 books this year without reading every day, but I usually do it in binges. I’ll go for a couple weeks without reading and then will spend 2-3 days binge reading. That usually nets me two to three books per binge.

I think making myself stop for a rest each day will be good for me. Less going, more relaxing. Since the antibiotics don’t seem to be working, I must have some sort of virus. The only thing I can do now is rest it out. Blergh.

2015 Reading Challenge: Update

2015 Reading Challenge

I meant to update this before now, but I’ve been a slacker about reading. I went through a phase where I didn’t read a book for WEEKS. I have no idea how that happened. However, I’m back reading again. I got pretty behind on my goal of reading 100 books this year, so I’ve been playing catch-up and diving into some series. Of course, those don’t exactly seem to be helping my 2015 Reading Challenge question.

Here’s where that stands:

2015 Reading Challenge

  1. A book with more than 500 pages The Time Traveler’s Wife
  2. A classic romance Jane Eyre 1/13/15
  3. A book that became a movie Gone Girl 1/22/15
  4. A book published this year Bring Me Back 5/4/15
  5. A book with a number in the title Fahrenheit 451
  6. A book written by someone under 30 The Hitchhikers’s Guide to the Galaxy 1/20/15
  7. A book with nonhuman characters
  8. A funny book Twisted Sisters
  9. A book by a female author The New Mrs D 1/26/15
  10. A mystery or thriller A Crime of Passion 5/22/15
  11. A book with a one-word title Dubliners
  12. A book of short stories Olive Kitteridge
  13. A book set in a different country The Kite Runner
  14. A nonfiction book Me Talk Pretty One Day, The God Delusion
  15. A popular author’s first book Carrie
  16. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet The Woman Who Stole My Life
  17. A book a friend recommended The Talented Mr. Ripley
  18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book Beloved
  19. A book based on a true story Eat, Pray, Love 1/14/15
  20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list
  21. A book your mom loves Little Women
  22. A book that scares you My Sister’s Grave 5/2015
  23. A book more than 100 years old Frankenstein
  24. A book based entirely on its cover
  25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t Catch-22
  26. A memoir Infidel
  27. A book you can finish in a day The Quaker Café 1/6/15
  28. A book with antonyms in the title North and South
  29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
  30. A book that came out the year you were born Cathedral
  31. A book with bad reviews
  32. A trilogy Divergent 1/24/15, Insurgent 3/2012, Allegiant 3/2015
  33. A book from your childhood
  34. A book with a love triangle Taking Chances
  35. A book set in the future Ender’s Game 1/27/15
  36. A book set in high school Anna and the French Kiss
  37. A book with a color in the title The Color Purple
  38. A book that made you cry Anne of Green Gables 1/6/15
  39. A book with magic Vale of the Vole
  40. A graphic novel V for Vendetta
  41. A book by an author you’ve never read before A Temporary Ghost
  42. A book you own but have never read Attorney at Large
  43. A book that takes place in your stateMcNally’s Alibi
  44. A book that was originally written in a different language Chronicle of a Death Foretold
  45. A book set during Christmas The Polar Express
  46. A book written by an author with your same initials Final Jeopardy
  47. A play Hamlet
  48. A banned book To Kill a Mockingbird
  49. A book based on or turned into a TV show A Game of Thrones
  50. A book you started but never finished The Inconvenient Corpse

All in all, I could be in a better place, but I have months to get all these read. They are books I would like to read… well, maybe not Game of Thrones so much, but I guess we’ll see.

What are you reading right now?

I review a lot of the books I read. You can check them out on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/doseoflyndsy