My Kindle Oasis and Paperwhite

Tea Corner (Blog)

Note: I’m comparing my Oasis 2017 to the Kindle Paperwhite (Gen 6? 7?). I’m not comparing it to the latest Paperwhite.

Back in February, I purchased the Kindle Oasis 2017.

Part of me wanted it because my Paperwhite was maybe 7 years old (and yes, I know that that’s still pretty “young” for a Kindle considering others noting to have had theirs for a decade or more and that they were still alive, kicking, and functioning nearly as well as the first time I got it).

I had to rationalize my purchase. This thing would cost me nearly as much as the Nintendo Switch after all!

I thought:

  • It’s got buttons. I thought they were lame at first, but I was seeing the potential in BUTTONS.
  • It’s metal. I kinda want a metal device…like a phone…but in an E-READER 😉
  • The screen is bigger…more real estate for text! Meaning faster reading plus…warm lighting…dark mode…sharper text…
  • The design looked so stupid and uneven…I like!

But at the end of the day I think, deep down, I already knew why I wanted the Oasis.

I just want it.
That’s all.

Never have I ever allowed that to be an excuse. I always keep a close eye over my spending habits. I’m an accountant and I’m always weighting income to expenses or rather…unnecessary expenses.

I’d never allowed myself to buy something just because I wanted to buy something, but…I figured. It’s a once-in-a-long-time treat. Why not?

And then, I had it in my cart, forever…

I have this little trick where I would keep things in my cart forever. I’d look back at that product, read all the reviews, all the description and product notes, look up online IG pictures and youtuber reviews…basically make myself SICK of seeing that item everyday. And after a few weeks, if I still wanted it then at least it wasn’t some purchase on a whim deal.

Weeks went by.

I knew all about a device I didn’t even own yet.

And I hadn’t gotten sick of it yet.

So I got it.

(And got myself a cute little red vending machine case. I have…NO clue what those are. Little earless hamsters? Mochi? Dumplings?)

It’s from Ayotu (but you could probably just search “Kindle cover vending machine”

Product Review

When this little baby came home, it stayed in it’s box for a good few hours and then it finally came out. I stared at it for a long time because I couldn’t believe I’d just spent close to $300 on a device I already owned a different version of (but I was so happy). I treated it better than when my phone or Switch came home! (I will say that the cover was a wee bit of an awkward fit though).

I started to use it right away after that, only ever slightly stonewalled by a quick moment of “Grass was greener on other side” feeling because as soon as the tracking fun was over and it was safety at home, the excitement had died down for a solid minute before kicking back up again.

So how does it compare to my Kindle Paperwhite?

The oasis battery sucks!

Sure…it still trumps all other devices in the house (phones, tablets, gaming consoles, and even the Amazon Fire Tablet.) but I guess I’ve had my Paperwhite for too long. I knew that the battery wasn’t going to be as good as the Paperwhite, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so big of a difference.

While I do mix formats, I also have minor sprees between months of only physicals and months of only ebooks/audiobooks. Long story short, it means I have periods where I binge Kindle books and then periods where I neglect my devices for weeks. Between reading my Kindle for days/weeks or leaving it idle for days/weeks, either way, I could trust my Paperwhite to have a good handful of power before it goes out. If I saw my Paperwhite with 10% in the morning, I could still trust it to at least carry me through a day’s worth of to-from commute AND lunch break.

My Oasis? I’d be a little more worried. In fact, I might even be reading off my phone’s app by the time I’m on my commute home.

If I had to give out division awards, my Kindle Paperwhite would win. It carried me through my month in Hong Kong. I didn’t charge it once.

Whether I leave it alone for days or I do light reading with my Oasis, it comes nowhere near that length. Every few days, or if I was lucky every 2 or so weeks, it’d be charging.

Paperwhite? Been in my travel bag (idle) and it hasn’t had a charge in nearly 2 months (oops).

But the Graphics in Oasis is just a bit clearer.

Pristine and a tad bit more sharper, I quite enjoyed reading off of my Oasis because every now and then, I felt like my paperwhite felt a bit blurry. I suppose that’s due to the difference in PPIs; my Paperwhite’s displays were maybe 212 vs 300 in the oasis. So displays and resolutions wise, Oasis wins this round.

Bluetooth Headphones and Audiobooks!

Recently, I’ve started to read more audiobooks and it’s been a nice with the Oasis. Sure, I nearly NEVER use the Oasis for actual audiobook reading (I don’t use bluetooth headphones very often and there’s no headphone jack), but the thought that it’s there makes me a bit happy. It’s something that’s different and something I quite appreciate having around. Audiobooks do take up a lot of space, though, so the chances that I’ll start reading them off of the Oasis is slim, but it’s there and it’s a nice little feature.

Bath time!

Okay look. I have no plans to yeet my $250 device into the pool, shower or pull any romantic, candlelit reading sessions while bubble-bathing, but it’s nice that if I were to accidently spill a glass of water on it, there’s a good chance my Oasis is going to be okay. I believe the newer Paperwhite version is waterproof too, but I got mine back in 2014 and it’s the older Paperwhite device. I’m not too certain that one is waterproof in anyway.

Warm light and night reading

I will say, after I got my Paperwhite, eye strain was never a real issue (ever), but even in this minor area, I did notice that I enjoyed the warm yellow-ish tone that the Oasis gives out. It’s a little more soothing than the white, but again, after I really get into a book, lighting is the last thing on my mind. 10 minutes in, both lighting becomes a lost thought to me and they’re equal in class.

The buttons are a YES. The design is a…maybe.

When it first came out, both the first Oasis generation and the current 2 talked about the design of the Kindle Oasis; that weighed part where the device rests on your palms gliding down to a much thinner portion…I thought it was a neat idea. A lot of reviews remarked about how while it looks awkward, it did feel pretty nice because of the weight distribution. Personally, with or without a case, the uneven curvy designs didn’t really matter to me,

Once, I held my Oasis a little too lightly, tilted my hand and the whole thing flopped OUT of my hand (thankfully to my bed and blankets below). I had thought the weighted side was supposed to prevent this, but nah. All it did was help it catapult out of my hands while I made a literal 😳 face.

(It feels a lot less awkward when I’m reading on my side, laying down, though).

But the buttons! Oh…I…love it so so much. I toggled around the layout but eventually found that the default top[next] / bottom[back] worked best for me. With my right hand, it’s nice to be able to both tap on the right screen or the buttons to move on. With my left hand, it’s nice to be able to read (even if I can’t tap the screen as well with my left) it’s still nice to be able to switch back and forth.

And not to mention the auto rotate! Bedtime reading has never been so nice!

The one I carry out with me

Is my Paperwhite…

The oasis, as nice as it is, I enjoy reading it at home, particularly in bed. But with the battery life, I much rather carry my Paperwhite around. I could forget it for weeks in my purse, and it’ll still be a fine ol’ device. While I enjoy the bigger screen, the rectangular shape of the Paperwhite always feels like just a tad easier and less awkward to carry around in a purse than a square.

I’d have to hand it to the Paperwhite on this one.

At the end of the day…

I love both my devices; my old dog of a Kindle Paperwhite (yes yes technically young or at least “in it’s prime”) is less awkward to carry around in my purse. If I don’t grip it well enough, the Oasis can catapult out of my hand because of the weird weight distribution AND even with a matte skin on, it’s still pretty slippery. I’m not fond of popsockets either, so no point there. Between the both of them, one falling out my hand in a crowded subway during rush hour is much more of a nightmare than the other. Not to mention the battery is far poorer in the Oasis than the Paperwhite.

Still, I do love all the shiny new features that the Oasis comes with that my Paperwhite doesn’t have. I quite like the new sleek glass screen and metal body compared to the old beveled plastic (though, it only adds to the nightmare were it to fly out my hand). I love that there’s a bluetooth feature were I ever to want to listen to audiobooks off my Oasis. I love that it’s waterproof and despite not considering a bath time read, it’s nice to have at least one device in the household that I have feel relieved leaving it next to a glass of water. The lighting is warm and the buttons are a great additional touch. There’s a lot to love about the Oasis…but I’m grateful that my Paperwhite still works well enough on its own. Even if one beats the other in certain categories, each e-reader has its own joys, especially now that the Paperwhite has a much better upgrade compared to my older Paperwhite version, bringing it to a closer par at a lower price.

So at the end of the day, I love them both!

Thanks for stopping by and reading 😉

Red Hail [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

To me, there’s two kinds of good: the “devoured in a single sitting good” and the “I want to savor every page” good and Red Hail was the latter.

Book Name: Red Hail
Series: Standalone Book: N/A
Author: Jamie Killen
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle 
Obtained: Review Request
Pages: 356
Genre: Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Sci-Fi
Rating: 5/5 

A copy of this book was provided to me by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are mine. 

Bookshop Link >HERE<
Goodreads Link >HERE<
Amazon Link >HERE<
Author’s Site Link >HERE<

Instead of the pale color of fresh ice, though, the hailstones had the raw crimson hue of uncooked meat. As Anza watched, they piled and began to melt while new stones fell onto the slush. It only took a minute for Dove’s front yard to transform into a red mass of gore. It sluiced down her driveway and into the road, forming a river of blood flowing down the slope

Page 6, Red Hail by Jamie Killen

Summary

Taking place in two timelines, 2020 and 1960, Red Hail weaves a story that connects both timelines together with a mysterious illness. Those that lived and survived through that horrid summer, back in 1960, wanted nothing more than to forget about the incident. 

The 1960 Red Hail was described as an incident where pieces of red hail fell from the skies in Galina, Arizona. Residents of Galina had no idea where it came from or what it was, only that it came suddenly and that the mysterious illness quickly followed. Paranoia and mass violence began to rip the town apart, in a witch hunt style, as fingers were pointed and races and religions were blamed to be the root cause of this madness. And then, just as instantly as the red hail and illness arrived to plague Galina, it had disappeared without a trace. In the end, the incident was written off as a summer of mass hysteria, there were no other new patients to follow nor did those already plagued with the symptoms continue to have them.

60 years afterwards, we follow the story of Professor Colin Ayres and his partner Alonzo. Colins had spent years researching the incident and had concluded it to be mass hysteria. However, soon Alonzo begins to exhibit the same symptoms as the Galina residents had several decades ago. As Alonzo’s condition worsens and others begin to show the same exact symptoms, Colin must get to the bottom of what’s happening and quick. 

Review

My take on this book? I loved it. To pieces. I shivered under blankets because of this book. Not particularly scary in any paranormal way, the symptoms that the people suffering from the illness displayed where horrifying to imagine. Coming in stages, the first stage wasn’t particularly terrifying but the second sure was. Hell, even when the illness progressed further, I think it was the second stage that still terrified me the most. Because it wasn’t human. The symptoms shown by those struck with the illness felt unreal, nightmare-like, and were very otherworldly. The chills crept in when you could feel Colin’s cold almost-lonely fear, through the pages, as he watches these symptoms develop in his beloved partner and he can’t do anything about it because nothing makes any medical sense! Even medicine can help alleviate symptoms when you can’t cure the disease, but what medicine do you give for symptoms that have no explanation? Alonzo (and the others suffering) doesn’t recall any of this. He just blacks out, one minute talking and the next wondering why people were staring at him.

I loved the split between the two set of characters and timelines. In the present day timeline, we have Colin, his partner Alonzo, and another person who makes contact with the professor after they also begin to exhibit symptoms. In 1960, we have a similar group of people who are going through the same thing. One tale shows the very beginning of when everything started and one tale uses the clues left behind by those same people to understand what’s happening in present day.

I loved both settings and characters, though the story in 1960 was much more riveting to read as people tried to piece together what the hells happening, but since they couldn’t, they turned to violence. The 1960 tale revolved around a much larger set of characters (besides the main three, there were also many different families, different churches, politicians and such). If I had to briefly sum them both up 2020: time to solve this mystery using clues from the first “plague” and 1960: chaos.

Absolutely a shining gem, the characters felt so real and all their fears tingled my own heart. People were frustrated, no answers were given, and by the end of the first “plague,” back in 1960, the residents didn’t even get any closure, the mysterious illness simply vanished. They just…had to move on with their lives like they aren’t all traumatized bringing us to 2020 where the mystery continues.

There were also several very strong female characters that I loved; a single mother who just wanted to get to the bottom of this thing plaguing both her and her son, and two in 1960 Galina who were there to experience the beginning of the end of the town when the hail first fell. 

The violence and riots that summer in 1960 felt so real. It gave the reader an huge sense of insecurity and it felt like nobody was safe, be it from the illness or the violence. You never know who was up next to fall ill. You don’t know whose is getting blamed next. Religion played a huge part because the first thing many folks think, when the sky rains blood, is that the end of the world is coming or it’s the devil’s work. And in times of uncertainty, many turn to prayers and look towards the church’s guidance and it’s up to the church leaders to act appropriately because desperate people are probably the scariest people out there. They will believe any theory and will do anything to get rid of the illness in a very violent “ends justify the means” way.

Eyes glued to the book, I went in slow, I went through slow, and when I realized the book was beginning to draw to an end, my paced dropped even further, I didn’t want it to end. 

Yet another hidden sci-fi gem, I had an amazing read.
Thank you Jamie for reaching out and for the amazing book!

Favorite Things About Book Formats

Tea Corner (Blog)

Currently Listening to: Welcome Back 20’s – Electro Swing Mix

Every now and then, I come across a question or poll about readers’ favorite reading format (Physicals [HC v. PB] , Digital, or Audio) and while my eyes tell me that hardcovers are the prettiest and are my “favorite”, I often change my mind as soon as I get in bed with one of those awkward cement blocks.

So I figured it’d be fun to make a post about my favorite things about each of the formats, because I love them all.

I hope you enjoy the read with my latest music [genre] obsession: electro-swing music.

HardcoversThe durable, weapon of choice, tomes of joy

They are heavy. Some are so big you could probably kill someone with it.
They make your bookshelf look cool.
They feel nice to hold and they look nice.
Carrying them around makes me feel like a badass mage holding a magic tome.

Hardcovers are one of my favorite book formats. To me, a hardcover just completes the reading mood (especially when sitting down with a nice warm cup of tea or coffee).

They tend to fair a lot better after a reading (or several re-reads). They’re more durable from the cover to their pages and the durability of my books are pretty important to me when I’m considering a format for physical. I’m pretty rough with my things and (until recently) I’ve never heard of protective booksleeves.

During my latest move, upsettingly, some of the paperbacks were damaged, with covers and pages being creased. One book’s spine was so bent it looked like someone had taken the book, slammed the corner against a wall, and the wall won (tragic). It’s nice to know that, despite not being completely accident proof, at least I have less to worry about when it comes to damages.

Paperback When the brick of a hardcover just won’t fit in your purse

I love hardbacks for all of the above reasons, but it’s hard to go about town with a brick in your purse. Occasionally, my current reads is a thinner hardcover, but most of the time, none of my hardcovers would fit in my purse. I don’t head out to errands with a backpack (I’ve been pickpocketed before so I’m wary about wearing bags behind me where I can’t see or feel the zipper opening).

This is where paperbacks come in. Cheaper than hardcovers and far lighter, I love paperbacks for their price and portability. Sometimes, I can’t even find the books I want in hardcover; they are print only as paperbacks! There’s often a range of PBs too from your normal sized PB to its mass market edition. If one doesn’t fit, maybe the other would.

Digital When your 10 physicals won’t fit in your suitcase, but thousands can fit in your pocket.

I can read it in bed while laying on my side; only one hand is needed to turn the page.
I can easily shuffle through dozens of books until I find the one I feel like reading for the day (when mood reading).
The soft glow won’t disturb your roommates or partner.
You can read anywhere; grocery line, laundry mat with no seats left, and even when on vacation overseas while visiting family and not having the wifi to toy with your game apps.
The ability to build vocabulary on the go…without a massive physical dictionary!

When I went on a family vacation to visit my hometown (and family living there) in Hong Kong two-ish summers ago, my family didn’t buy any crazy phone plans and I ended up with one of those phone chips with a very low internet and service cap. Naturally, trying to conserve my phone’s data and reserving it for emergencies only, I had nothing left but my Kindle (I didn’t even bring any gaming consoles) and that’s what I did for the entire month. My Kindle (lovingly named Teddy) saved me when I had absolutely nothing to do while waiting for the rest of the family to finish their looooonnngg shopping trips at the shopping centers.

I ate through several books for the weight of one of them.

AudiobooksBooks on the go!

I don’t read a lot of audiobooks. Sound is something I always put as background noise when I’m working and so I quickly zone out when listening to audiobooks. However, of the few that I have read, I can safely say that audiobooks take the throne when multitasking or when I’m in a situation where I can’t read (packed trains, on a walk/run, etc.)

Sometimes I’m just too busy to fit reading into my schedule, whether it’s before or after work, but I often have time to catch up on books during my hour long lunch breaks. I no longer carry books to work, opting to go on a walk instead, so that I’m not stuck in a working environment for 9 hours straight. It’s pretty hard to read words on the go so audiobooks are quite handy during those afternoon strolls!

Audio books are also perfect when I’m not doing word related tasks like drawing and sketching or outlining my bullet journal for the week.

The Existence of Amy [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: The Existence of Amy
Series: Standalone Book: N/A
Author: Lana Grace Riva
Book Type: Physical > Paperback
Obtained: Review Request
Pages: 281
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Mental Illness
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me, by the author, in exchange for a fair and honest review. The fact that the book was given to me did not alter my ratings/judgement of the book in any way. All opinions in this review are of my own.


TW/CW: Mental Illness > This book covers and portrays these topics: depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder.

Goodreads Link: The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva
Amazon Link: Available on Kindle and Paperback

Goodreads Blurb

Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no immediate obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead.

Review

This book is exhausting…

This book is exhausting to get through, to read, and to “experience.”

“The Existence of Amy” revolves around our main character, Amy, as she battles her hidden struggle with OCD, anxiety and depression. On the outside, with the exception of being known as a canceler, she’s perfectly fine and functional. She greets her coworkers at work, she makes small chatter, she gets through the workday, meets with clients, has work meetings, and has laughs with friends. Yet, behind each of those activities, she struggles terribly and everything gives her anxiety. Most of her day’s energy is being spent on making the right enough decision to “look normal to others.” The thoughts that run through her head are enough to make you need to sit down and breath.

Anxiety in every corner…

Amy’s OCD comes with a gang of their own lovely friends: anxiety and depression. She avoids her colleagues/friends by making up whatever excuses humanly possible to get out of a social gathering, even when every bone in her body craves to be there. Consequently, one of her friends is getting more and more upset with her for her lack of attendance in many of the events that Amy is invited but fails to show up to.

But she can’t help it. There is danger in every corner of the world and in every spec of existence. Everything gives her anxiety. The need to converse with others in a “normal way” is draining. Her mind races with thoughts when she’s boarding the bus. Flying in a plane was a terrible experience as she has to chose between being cold or using her jumper as a makeshift pillow because she didn’t want her head to touch the chair as she slept. She couldn’t even accept a gift from someone because the voices in her head told her that the object would contaminate the things in her purse and she follows up by discarding the gift and then washing her hands several times afterwards.

The first chapter was hard to get through (pacing), but when I finally settled down to read it, I found myself eating through the book and devouring it in days. I have countless sticky notes tabbing different sections and pages of the book; quotes are marked, scenes are picked out, conversations are noted. I absolutely loved this book.

I think, the worst part about this entire book was how exhausting it was to be in Amy’s head. It’s real and it’s relatable. For me, I teared up every now and then because, Hey! Sounds a bit like me… I, too, never show up to social gatherings. I crave to be hanging out with friends, but the thought of being there invites stones in my stomach. Though Amy’s reasons for avoiding gatherings and hanging out with her friends are different than mine, I found myself relating to her in a good few scenes.

Normal on the Outside…

The sad part is reading her day at work. On the outside, Amy is someone I’ve always admired and maybe been envious of. She participates in meetings, something that would nauseate me. She still makes it to some gatherings, at least. She converses and chats with her coworkers. She goes on business trips to another country! All of these I find nearly impossible to do, but she does it. On the outside, she’s that professional office worker I’ve strived to be since always! On the inside, poor Ames is on fire trying to decide which sentence to use to look normal by her standards.

“This makes me incredibly sad because people don’t understand. Why would anyone reject a kind act? It makes no sense to them. So, they can only assume I must be rude. I must be ungracious and unappreciative. I am none of those. I am. simply. scared. So. Very. Scared. All. The. Time.”

Characters…

Characters wise, I liked two of the three friends. I can tell that they all show love and worry for Amy’s odd behaviors. The last friend, I can’t tell if the author specifically wrote for them to act like so, but she felt like a very real representation of someone who is not particularly considerate of what others might be going through. Everybody in this world fights secret battles and people seem to understand that. I, for one, have never been angry for anyone’s constant cancelling on me. Well, this character was beginning to get on my nerves because they just simply never thought about “Maybe something’s up with Amy.” I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but I just didn’t like them. Personal opinion.

Hyperaware of every action…

This isn’t the OCD that has taken over on the internet in a meme form. This isn’t the OCD that people joke about when a tile is misaligned or you wash your hand once too many times on a single occasion. This is the OCD that begins by disturbing your life slightly, slowly creeping up and turning into destructive waves until Amy needs to call in sick to work because she can’t leave her bed.

You are taken into Amy’s mind and you experience her view on life with her. Through her eyes, you become almost hyperaware of the little actions that the average person doesn’t think about. For example, when you ride the bus, you have a very autopilot way of thinking… ticket out, scanned ticket, ticket into pocket, quick grab the pole, lemme play on my phone, my stop!, pull the bell, get off. For her, every second is filled with anxiety from having to worry about being 1 second too late to board, to bothering a fellow passenger, the looks others give to her, the choice of seats, the germs, the feeling that others are more productive than she is, silently begging someone else pulls the bell instead of her, and so on.

Beautiful, realistic, and heartbreaking, this book really draws you into Amy’s head, essentially trapping you in with her. You begin to see the warped way she views the world. Throughout the book, I had moments where I had to rationalize with her like, “Aw come on Ames! They probably aren’t thinking that about you!”

A lovely book. It was tiring to get through, not in a bad way, but in an eye opening and experiencing way.

Teaser Tuesday

Tea Corner (Blog)

It’s Teaser Tuesday! A weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker where all you have to do is to grab your current read, pick a random page, and select a non-spoiler sentence or two (from somewhere on that page) to share! If you enjoy the teaser, you might even want to add it to your own TBR!

Remember to share the title and author so others can find the book too!

THIS WEEK’S BOOK IS: THE LIGHT IN THE HALLWAY BY AMANDA PROWSE

Nick thought about last year: the house bursting at the seams with relatives, the loud laughter only one decibel away from hysteria, and that same laughter turning to tears at the slightest provocation, all present more than aware of the fact that this was to be the last Christmas they shared with their daughter/sister/niece/cousin/aunt. The whole charade had left both Nick and Kerry quite exhausted, and he had been glad when the last of the revellers had left, paper hats askew, as they trotted down the front path.

Walks with Sam – Book Review

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: Walks with Sam: A Man, a Dog, and a Season of Awakening
Series: [Standalone] Book : N/A
Author: David W. Berner
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Netgalley)
Obtained: Netgalley > Read Now
Pages: 169 (Kindle)
Genre: Animals > Dogs, Non-fiction > Autobiography > Memoir
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Disclaimer: An e-copy of this book was provided to me via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are of my own.

Goodreads Summary:

A man, his dog, and a long walk can lead to unexpected discoveries. In the tradition of many literary walkers, David W. Berner sets out on foot hoping to reexamine his life, look back and forward, and most importantly, through the help of his young dog, Sam, try to find harmony in new beginnings and the uncertainties of the present.

In a series of chapters, each dedicated to one walk during a summer of hiking, the author finds that it is his beloved pet that allows him to awaken to a new spirit of mindfulness, finding beauty, wonder, and comfort in the ordinary, and to see a life, a neighborhood, and even a country with brand new eyes.

Review:

Slow paced and an easy read, I found myself feeling “bored” but not really. Maybe the word I’m looking for is tranquil or meditative. A page turner in its own way, I quite enjoyed reading this book because of how different it is to my usual reads. I think with so much rushing around in life, we tend to forget about the smaller things. This is a nonfiction book about a man, his dog and their walks. A beautiful concoction that mixes the daily mundane task of walking the dog and rediscovering yourself, Walks with Sam sparked a warmth in me that left me craving adopting a dog of my own an attempt to slow down and just muse about the wonders of life. I don’t have a dog of my own, but I do commute to and from work via walking and both journeys I tend to power walk to the destination, on auto mode, with nothing in mind except for my day ahead and the day gone past.

For some of us, walking the dog (or commuting from point A to B), even with an abundance of time, may be a bullet point, a check box, a line off your daily to-do list. When your brain goes into auto mode, it’s no harder or different of a task than getting your coffee, climbing into your car, and heading to work. Walking the dog is part of [a dog owner’s] life. It’s not something we think about. The task just gets done.

Walks with Sam is written from the viewpoint of the author, David. Having turned 60 and taking a break from teaching, David begins to document his walks with Sam looking for new meanings in life along with the little older ones hidden by the fog of the hustle and bustle of youth and work. We rush to the coffee shop to find the long line there so you end up rushing to the train that [now] you’ve just missed, and then rushing 5 minutes late into work with half the coffee already consumed. Of course you’re not going to take a moment to smell the flowers. But when you’re 60, and taking a sabbatical from work, you had a lot of time to think about a lot of things.

The chapters in this book are broken down into walks around the block such as Walk 4 revolving around David’s interaction with a neighbor that he, at first, deemed as a little off or Walk 22 revolving around training Sam via the goodness of bacon (😩 🥓) or Walk 26 as David contemplates about the concept of Aloneness.

Filled with the muses of one man, inspired by his dog and the world around him (and books!), each chapter is full of thoughts or little philosophical moments. He started documenting these walks with the purpose of rediscovering himself, what he loved and held close to him, who he was before and who he is now. The entire tone and mood of the book is calm, quiet, and soothing and it’s definitely a book to reread every now and then when you’re looking for things to think about.

I absolutely adorned the book, author and his dog. Sam has the playful energy of any puppy turning into an adolescent. Exploration and discovery comes in all forms from the grass to that rustle up there in the tree. Trains are scary. People are exciting. Bacon is delicious. Catch me if you can. The conversations between David and Sam are endearing and adorable. He’s having whole conversations with Sam, with the assumption that hopefully Sam actually understands a good portion of it. There’s even a chapter/walk in there where David, himself, muses about how there are some owners, like his wife Leslie, that speak to their dogs with words that most dog owners say: phrases, discipline, and announcements and then there are those that speak of whole stories with their dogs.

There was a lovely moment in the book where David is pretty much talking and musing out loud to Sam who is just being a dog, taking in the environment and not really paying attention. I loved that scene the most because it reminds me of the times I have lived with dogs myself and sometimes it’s better to just have someone listening to you, even if they aren’t particularly paying attention or even understanding what you are saying. It’s nice to have someone just lay there (or walking) and listening to you ramble on and on and not judge you.

A lovely read with plenty of things to learn off of, this is a book that I could honestly reread again or at least flag certain walks to glimpse through on during bad days.

The Adventures of an Air Force Medic [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: The Adventures of an Air Force Medic
Series: [Standalone] Book # N/A
Author: Dave Ives
Book Type: Ebook > PDF (Netgalley)
Obtained: Netgalley > Read Now
Pages: 486 (PDF)
Genre: Fiction > Historical Fiction, Romance
Start Date: 07.22.2020
End Date: 07.31.2020
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Disclaimer: An e-book copy of this book was provided to me for free in exchange for a fair and honest review. A big thank you to Netgalley, the author and publishing company; all opinions are of my own.

Cheers to my third NetGalley read! I picked this one because I knew there was no way I was going to finish the first book of WoT by the end of July and I wanted to squeeze in at least one extra book in there (somewhere). This book had an amusing cover and summary so it was a quick pick with no regrets.

Link to the Goodreads Page: >HERE<

Netgalley Summary:

Imagine ‘The Shaw Shank Redemption’ meets ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ in a crazy, fast paced, action, drama, comedy, romance.
Sean Mitchell finds out, ‘The needs of the air force come first, and the air force needs you to become a medic.’ 
Sean’s visions of high flying aircraft, exciting missions and flight line glamour are shot down. Instead, after six short weeks training in north Texas, he’s assigned to Mather Air Force Base Hospital, near Sacramento California, as a medical service specialist; commonly known as medic; derisively known as ‘bedpan commando.’ 
Sean’s situation turns hopeful when he discovers the air force ‘needs’ engineers more than medics. He locks on to the dream of building an ‘escape route’ from medic to engineer. The dream supercharges him into action causing fellow medics to wonder, ‘What’s wrong with him? Does he work for the CIA? Is he a spy?’ 
In his bid to ‘escape’ the air force medic world, Sean discovers something amazing – his life as a medic is more adventurous than he ever imagined. 
The Adventures of an Air Force Medic is based on Dave Ives’ personal experience as an air force medic in the early 1980s. He brings to life the crazy military hospital world; a world full of exotic characters; a world of mixed up romance; a world of tragedy and pain; a world of offside humor; a world unknown to the outside world.

Review:

I didn’t know what to expect going into this book. I needed a book and, with a brief glance at a few covers and summaries, this was the one that peeked my interest the most and I just grabbed and went with it. No regrets there.

The Adventures of an Air Force Medic is a story based on Dave Ives’ (author) time as an air force medic. Thus, while this book has an overall plot and goal that the main character is working towards, most of the chapters and stories are told in a chronological and anecdotal manner with a focus on “a day in the life of” an air force medic. The book is told in the first person point of view of Sean Mitchell. Having dropped out of college and working at an electronics firm as a “no skill” laborer, he was having trouble making ends meet financially. He ended up at the armed forces recruiters office where he was talked into joining the air force on two choices; guaranteed job (your pick of jobs but could take anywhere from six months to a year) or open general (three months with the down side of not getting a guaranteed job; you do what they assign you). Desperate for a job and a way out of his troubles, Sean sees open general as his quickest way in landing a gig and ends up as a medic.

I had a great time with this book. I got some laughs in, some tears, some cringe, and lots of other in between emotions. A very humorous book, we join Sean through his adventures of joining the air force medics and quickly doing everything in his power to get right back out; in his case studying like a madman to get into the AECP (Airman Education and Commissioning Program). A highly competitive program, you would have to study rigorously to be selected, sent off to a major civilian university (tuition and books included) and have three years to graduate. After graduation, you’d be sent to Officer Training School and eventually you’ll be a commissioned second lieutenant. It’s an awesome deal and all he’s got to do is study hard and make it in!

The majority of the book’s main plot would revolve around Sean studying to get his pre-req classes out of the way, take the AFOQT (Air Force Officer Qualifying Test), his SATs, and send in an application. The rest of the book revolves around his time as an Air Force medic. As someone who initially went into the military, sold on the fame and glory of it all, he’s disappointed to be placed as an air force medic. However, he knows it’s his own doing. Multiple times through the story he reminds himself that he’s there because that was the deal. Sean had chosen to get a job as soon as possible with the trade off being that he wasn’t going to get to choose what job he was going to get (open general) and that means he was going to take whatever was thrown his way; no complaints…seriously…Sean never seems to complain.

The book doesn’t go too in depth with characters and sometimes my memory of individuals meld together. It’s a story to recount his days in the air force as a medic and thus is written like so. Occasionally you might see sentences like “To this day, I won’t go to San Francisco unless I’m packing…packing heat…in the form of warm clothes” (Page 291). His friends are more like acquittances during his stay. It’s an interesting read, however, because despite that, everyone is still so vibrant. Sean’s interactions with his co-workers, friends, lovers, and patients is the main theme in a lot of the chapters. Each story is a retelling of something in the past or stories of his daily life as a medic. He listens as his friends and patients recount their own stories to him; how they are doing, what they’d experienced in life and the diversity here is vast! Every chapter reads like it’s own short story, with some minor details popping up again throughout the later chapters like recurring characters or when you read a sentence like, “And, I heard one of the guys killed, one of the trainees, has a wife here in the hospital, wonder who that is?” (Page 326) and immediately it clicks and you go “Ohh…shit…😢…oh no…I know who he’s gossiping about…”

My favorite thing about Sean is that he’s down to do anything. You give him orders and he will do his best to get it done. In fact, he didn’t even know that refusing to do a task was a possibility. You scold him for a wrong doing that he couldn’t have possibly known about (missing a meeting because he wasn’t told there was one) and he’ll apologize with an “I’ll accept any punishment.” Too nice and too honest, chill on the outside even when getting yelled at (I suppose they train you to toughen up?) I sometimes read and admire Sean. Trouble now, deal with it now. Trouble over, no point pondering on it.

I especially enjoyed the formatting of this book. (Mostly) short and written in an easy to digest language (as opposed to some flowery and lyrical/poetic writing styles [which I love too]) I was able to fly through the book without going, “Wait, wait, wait…read that again? And again? One more time…I still can’t understand that sentence” and it’s pretty refreshing.

The chapters start off with a main chapter title in bold. I read a lot of books, nowadays, where most of the chapters are either not titled (blank) or just numbers and reading titled chapters gave me a special kind of joy I can’t explain… With each chapter title, you get a chapter excerpt; literally a sentence ripped off from somewhere in the chapter and plastered underneath the bolded title and then italicized. It became a game for me to read the sentence and go hunting for it in the chapter. Sometimes I would come across a particularly interesting excerpt and try and guess what the chapter would be about just based off the one measly sentence I get for a clue. Already a fun and humorous book (there are tearful scenes too), the excerpt hunts made it an even more entertaining read. I’d love to see more of that in other books!

If there was anything negative I found about the book it would be the handful of typos and minor proofreading errors. I didn’t know if it was alright to mention them because I don’t know if it’s an ARC thing (as it’s already released on Amazon with the Kindle preview edition retaining the same errors, so I don’t know). I figured to at least mention it. A lot of times, they are hardly noticeable, but it’s enough to go, “Oh, another one.”

The errors aren’t glaringly distracting and most of the time they’re easy to brush aside. After all, they didn’t take away anything from the story. The biggest distraction came in the first chapter and I couldn’t figure out if it was a play on words and meant to be written as “Wecome to California” or it was actually “welcome” spelled wrong…I think that one simply stuck out the MOST because it was smack on the title page of chapter one and it just bugged me the entire way through the book.

Overall? Yes, I loved this book! I loved the humor, I loved the interaction between Sean and the other characters (and the other characters interacting with others as well), minor annoyances with dorm life, the ups and downs of medic life, coping mechanisms, seeing repeated patients, Sean’s inability to find a partner, and him studying like hell to get into uni. Sean is a competent worker who is honest and quite a humble person whom people love to work with. I held my breath, with him, when he finally gets his results and his letter back from a college.

An engaging read with each chapter, a story of its own, this book is captivating and filled with laughs, tears, struggles, successes, and camaraderie; medics watch each others backs. The quote that stuck out to me the most was “We can fix broken, but we can’t fix death.” Sometimes, you have to push past the fear of giving someone broken bones if it means that you can ultimately save them. A longer read than I had expected (almost 500), I still flew through the book because it was written in an easy-to-read and easy-to-digest way, no fancy flowery language, just what’s happening as it is. It flowed well and if there was ANY medical or military tech/terminology that I didn’t get, no worries Sean/Dave would never leave the reader to guess what the word or acronym means; it’s almost always quickly followed up with an explanation. Some of the times, I hop on Google to look up a term only to feel mighty silly with the definition right there…a few sentences later. Never once did I feel lost because I didn’t understand hospital talk.

A great way to past the last few days of my July wrap up, thank you for a wonderful time, Dave Ives. I had an amazing read and would recommend this to anyone that enjoys a book that has a larger theme and plot but with chapters that are written in an individual short story-like manner.

June 2020 Wrap Up

Tea Corner (Blog)

Mini Half-Year Wrap Up

My first wrap up post! I would love to say that 2020 has been a slow reading year, but in fact, I’ve been going through books faster than I ever have, even if my monthly goals seem miniscule compared to many’s. I finished 2 books in January (“Heat Lightning” and “Rough Country”), had a massive slump all of February through March, came back around and picked up 2 books in April (“The Burning Room” and “Bad Blood”), 3 in May (“Field of Prey”, “Reaper Drone Strike”, and “The Day She Came Back”), and another 3 in June. For someone like me, with a full time job, way too many hobbies, and not enough time, 3 books a month is a huge achievement! 🥳

Now, as July begins and we have half a year left to go, I can proudly say that I am finally at the half-point of my Goodreads goal of 20 books this year (which is a big mighty goal considering last year I struggled to meet my 9 book goal.) I am even happier to find out that, after staring at my Goodreads meter bar, for a better part of a few months, telling me I was 3 books behind my schedule, I’ve finally caught up to “You’re on track!”

Books I Read

I read a total of three books last month. Two of the books (“Bernice Takes a Plunge” and “Mad River”) took up the least of my time with both books being roughly 2-3 days each while “Sorry I Missed You” took a little longer. I think I honestly could have easily fit in a fourth book somewhere, but then I discovered Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen on the Nintendo Switch (OMG, it’s such an amazingly underrated game) that gaming consumed the rest of what should have been my reading time 😓

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Book Cover from Goodreads.

Bernice Takes A Plunge ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
By: Ann Harth

The first book I read for the month actually was provided to me for free, in exchange for a fair and honest review. A publisher messaged (DM? PM?) me on Twitter asking if I was interested in reviewing a book. As I typically review adult books, I didn’t want to review a book that was geared towards a younger audience only for someone to click on the next suggested post and find a review for a cop/agent chasing down a mass murderer 😓 Instead, I still read and reviewed this but wrote the review out on Goodreads and then tweeted the review out.

This book is a middle grade book and man does the writing bring me back to my childhood. It was an enjoyable and lovely read and it was so cute?? I grew up on Geronimo Stilton, Magic Tree House, and all sorts of fun books. I think, just for the moment of reading this, I had a nostalgic twinge in my tummy. The story is about a young girl who is wildly curious, intelligent, and tries to find mysteries and cases where others may not notice. Constantly getting herself into a bit of trouble by being a good citizen, Bernice is a little detective in the making and an aspiring writer herself, taking inspiration out of anything! I think that was the most enjoyable thing about this book; a little girl who was saw amazement and ideas in everything and turned them into stories. It’s what I did as a kid and it was lovely to get to read it in the form of a book and character.

I loved this book and had a lot of fun reading it. It was a bit of a breather to read a children’s mystery book after reading adult mysteries for so long. You know that in a children’s mystery, most of the time things will always work out. No deaths, no murder, nothing graphic.

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Book Cover from Goodreads.

Sorry I Missed You ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
By: Suzy Krause

This was the second book I picked up from Netgalley after I thoroughly enjoyed my first NG pick. As I was floating between having just finished “The Day She Came Back” and no new book lined up yet, I figured it couldn’t hurt to wander back over to NG and pick up an another book (and my ratio).

Sorry I Missed You is a book revolving around three strangers, all of whom had been ghosted by someone close to them, coming to live under the same roof together (by coincidence; they didn’t set this up). When a letter arrives in their shared mailbox, half mangled and claiming they were sorry to have missed [them], each lady was skeptical to believe the letter was for them…but holding high hopes for a possible closure to their pain and sudden abandonment. It was a nice story about three very incompatible strangers as they try to get to the bottom of who sent the letter by setting up camp at the destination: the cafe Paper Cup…on a daily basis. It was a solid read and interesting enough (there was an actual ghost 👻 subplot!). Quirky as promised, the only thing that mildly irked me (and might just have peeved only me) was the coonnstannnt fighting between the three (mostly between Sunna and Maude). It grated on me. However…that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the actual book. All the characters were nicely written and each had their own little backgrounds. The way each woman grew because of each other was the biggest gem of the book.

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Book Cover from Goodreads.

Mad River ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
By: John Sandford

So here’s a funny story. I saw tons of readers reading multiple books at once and I though “Imma try that!” I initially started this book around June 2nd (around the same time as “Sorry I Missed You”) read the first chapter (about 13 pages) and then dropped it for the longest time because as it turns out…I can’t focus on two books :’) I picked it back up immediately after finishing everything I had on hand and promptly inhaled this book in 3 days (though, having started the book on June 26th, I did have a moment of worry if I was going to make it by the end of the month).

Mad River is another installation in the Virgil Flowers series, the spin-off series of Sandford’s main series, the Lucas Davenport [Prey] Series. Most people seem to enjoy the Prey books more than the Flowers, but for me it’s the opposite, though I think it might just boil down to which book was your first introduction to the Minnesota BCA books. Virgil’s story was the first Sandford book I picked up and so I guess I just have a bias to Virg.

I literally picked this book up for no reason other than “I’m reading the next book in the series.” I already read 1-5 (and out of order, I also read 11) so this was logically the next book up. The summary didn’t even appeal to me; a Bonnie and Clyde story revolving around kids gone wild? Sounded predictable. This time, Virgil already knows who the criminals at hand are; they are just a slippy bunch with the advantage of the vast Minnesota countryside to run and hide in. There was still a mystery to solve in Mad River as there’s a subplot (that connects to the main plot) where Virgil does have to do some digging and investigating, but the main focus were on the runaway trio. A good solid read.

Review Links

Bernice Takes A Plunge by Ann Harth

Sorry I Missed You by Suzy Krause

Mad River by John Sandford

Currently Reading [07.05.2020]

Tea Corner (Blog)

I was ordering something from Amazon a few days ago and finally decided to try out this Amazon Prime thing that the site kept nagging me about. Lo and behold it comes with reading benefits, though different than the Kindle Unlimited that I also see all over the site.

I ended up with two new books on my Kindle (one of which included audio which I didn’t realize until I fired up my phone Kindle app). With the book mail that I received a few days ago, this month I have three TBR/Currently Reading books and I hope that I could complete at least one of them during today’s long car ride. Seeing as I easily get “see-sick” the audio book should come quite in handy!

The Family Journal

The Family Journal
Book Cover from Goodreads.

Book Name: The Family Journal
Series: [Standalone] Book N/A
Author: Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Obtained: Purchased
Pages: 296
Genre: Romance, Fiction, Contemporary
Start Date: 07.02.2020
End Date: 07.08.2020

I didn’t realize that this was a romance when I first picked it up. All I got from the summary was how fed up a newly divorced single mother is with her teenage kids and that she needed to move back to her childhood home where she can spend more quality time with her children, hoping to improve their behavior. Somewhere between “aww family bonding” and Lily (the mother) finding an old family journal, I managed to miss the line, “The house comes with Mack Cooper, high school teacher and handsome longtime renter.” It has been a long time since I’ve read a romance as it’s my least favorite genre [of all time]. However, so far, it’s not so bad so far. I’m hoping to enjoy the book as the blurb sounded interesting enough and it’s pretty short read.

An Invisible Client

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Book Cover from Goodreads.

Book Name: An Invisible Client
Series: [Standalone] Book # N/A
Author: Victor Methos
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Comes with audio)
Obtained: Purchased
Pages: 240
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Legal Thriller
Start Date: 07.02.2020
End Date: 07.12.2020

I was scrolling through the Amazon “Read Now for Free” list that came with Amazon Prime (called Prime Reading) and came across this one before I even saw “The Family Journal.” It sounded interesting enough and I can’t recall ever having read any legal thrillers before (though I have watched legal dramas before namely “Suits”). Being even shorter than “The Family Journal,” I’m hoping this will be a fun and quick read. The biggest surprise, though, was that when I went to open the Kindle book, there was an audio option. I’ll be listening to this on the road during today’s car trip.

The Eye of the World

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Book Cover from Goodreads
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Most of the Mass Market Books I’ve seen had the [left] cover, but mine came having the Kindle edition [light blue above] cover art instead

Book Name: The Eye of the World
Series: The Wheel of Time Book # 1
Author: Robert Jordan
Publisher: TOR Books
Book Type: Physical > Paperback > Mass Market
Obtained: Purchased
Pages: 814
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Fantasy > Epic Fantasy, Fantasy > High Fantasy
Start Date: 07.04.2020
End Date: Currently Reading

I spent the better part of the last week deciding on what book I should get more as my first book mail [in a long time]. I was on a book mail self-ban because I couldn’t stand having to move all those books when we move houses…but…I really really missed having book mail…

The decision was between “The Thousand Names,” “The Way of Kings,” or “The Eye of The World.” I spent 90% of the time flipping between the two series latter series and ended up with “The Eye of the World.” I heard so much about this book, have passed it in bookstores several times, and have yet to actually pick it up. The deciding factor to try it out came after I finished writing my Tacticians Inspired TBR post a little while back and now…it’s arrived. It’s here. In my hands. It’s so cute…like a little blue brick :’) Out of the three, I’m most excited to dig into this one.

Mad River [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Content warning: Rape, implied sexual content, death, violence and graphic content

Book Name: Mad River
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 6
Author: John Sandford
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Obtained: Amazon
Pages: 418
Genre: Fiction > Mystery > Crime, Thriller
Start Date: 06.03.2020, Restarted reading on 06.26.2020
End Date: 06.28.2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

Link to Book’s Goodreads Page: >HERE<

Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what’s-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, chips on their shoulders, and guns. The first person they killed was a woman during a robbery. The second was incidental. Simply in the way. Then, hell, why not keep on going?

It’s not until Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers steps onto the Shinder murder scene that the clues begin to come together. As their crime spree cuts a swath through rural Minnesota, it’s a growing army of cops who join Virgil in trying to run them down. But even Virgil doesn’t realize what’s about to happen next.

Thoughts and Review:

Virgil isn’t even a few hours out of vacation and Davenport is already calling in about a bad one; two deaths, a man and his wife, along with two more on Friday night over in Bigham for a total of 4 deaths and he needs to get over there and investigate them immediately. A few hours later, mostly sober from his night out at the bar, discussing musicians, he finally heads out.

Another thrilling book, though not much of a mystery this time around. Sandford has a signature of sorts to reveal the bad guys to us readers early on via their own POV chapters. Sometimes we, the readers, already know who the criminal is (though the cops do not) but this time, Virgil is able to quickly confirm the murderer’s identities and instead of a “who’s the bad guy” it’s a mad chase. In this book, Virgil and the local sheriff spend their time trying to track down the trio rather than spend a good chunk guessing who might be behind all of this.

In Mad River, we have ourselves a fictional Bonnie and Clyde (and another character) going on a killing spree through the Minnesota countryside. It starts off with a single murder, a bank robbery gone wrong. The killing of Agatha was a little strange as Agatha had been hit and was already down on the ground and the trio couldn’t be identified as they had their flashlights pointed at the two women’s faces. Thus, Agatha’s death seemed pretty unnecessary, but as the story expands, we get to see a larger role involved in her murder. On their way to their getaway car, they gun down another victim, Emmett Williams and steals his car (seeing as their own junk car didn’t ignite). It had started off as a burglary but ended up in two deaths resulting in the trio going on the run.

Virgil arrives to investigate the 4 deaths, starting with the husband and wife, Mr. Welsh and Mrs. Welsh, and eventually moving to Agatha and Emmett. In a small town where everyone knows everyone the fingers quickly point to the Jimmy and Becky; infamous troublemakers back in high school. Everybody in town knew Becky for her good looks, Jimmy for being the biggest bully in school, and both for not being the brightest kids around, while who Tom was was a mystery to most folks.

With no solid reason or evidence to convict the three, Virgil turns to try and find them as leads…but nobody can find them. Not much blind guessing is needed, however as everywhere they stop to steal money or supplies leaves behind a new body. With every body comes one or two missing vehicles, each of which is broadcasted to the world, hoping someone would spot them and report them in. When one of the trio calls Virgil and confessing themselves to be the one of the three responsible for all the shootings, they finally have solid confirmation that the three kids are behind the killings and it turns into a chase and duck hunt to get to the Jimmy Sharp, Becky Welsh, and Tom McCall before they get to someone else. As the search drags on, more and more people are killed as the three search for food, money, weapons, and whatever tools they can get on hand to aid their escape. It’s after a bank robbery gone wrong, where an officer is shot and killed, that the three realize how deeply in trouble they are and how bleak their future now looks. Now wanted fugitives, their chances at escaping alive becomes slimmer and slimmer.

All the while, Virgil digs deeper into Agatha’s death and starts to suspect more to behind her death than just a robbery gone wrong. Towards the middle, the book splits off between chasing Beck and Jimmy and Virgil investigating the circumstances behind Agatha’s murder with both cases being a thrill to follow.

The deaths in this book are pretty gritty, especially the ending scene (what horrifying imagery). Shaking away their first murder, they start to get used to all the killing. Raising a gun at another person becomes almost easy. They were already wanted by everyone everywhere, what was one more body for a pack of pills right? They aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, as noted multiple times throughout the book. They make dumb decisions and leave trails of easy evidence behind them. These were aimless kids with unfortunate backgrounds growing up to be young adults who dreamed big but didn’t have the necessary tools to push them in the right direction. Instead, they make one bad decision after another only to fall deeper and deeper into the crime. Of course, it’s no excuse for what they did.

He remembered a bumper sticker he’d seen in St. Paul that said: “Remember: Half the People Are Below Average.” That, he thought, was probably the key to Jimmy Sharp and Becky Welsh. They were below average, and God had made them that way. There was no way that they were ever going to be anything but that; they could watch all the above-average people they wanted, on television, driving around in big cars and making enormous amounts of money out of nothing . . . or just working at the post office, or going to trade school to be plumbers or carpenters. They’d never be able to do that. They were condemned from birth to a life of hard times and trouble. If people were to tell the truth about Becky, her only route to a condition even resembling prosperity would be to sell herself for sex. That was all she had. The problem with that, morality aside, was that she probably wasn’t bright enough to make the most of selling herself. As for Jimmy—Jimmy had no chance at all. Abused as a child, neglected in school, he probably couldn’t drive a nail. Or generate the ambition to do it.


– Sandford, John. Mad River (A Virgil Flowers Novel, Book 6) (pp. 352-353). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
[[On Virgil Flowers pondering about God, life, and unfair circumstances that might have been one of the causes on why Becky and Jimmy turned out to be the way they are.]]

Virgil, being the son of a Presbyterian minister, has a moral code far stronger than Sheriff Duke (who I started to hate more and more, and who I honestly loathed by the end) and, though he had a few other reasons for doing so, he did his very best to try and bring Becky, Jimmy, and Tom in alive. He’s constantly pondering about God, often thinking about him before he drifts off to sleep at night. Throughout this book, he thinks a lot about God and why people like Jimmy and Becky exist/turn out the way they are now, why they kill people at random, and why people are killed at random. He ponders about if God is a universal computer who is subject to bugs and glitches. He wonders about how, no matter how hard they try, Becky and Jimmy simply weren’t meant to be anything more than below average.

“What part could they have in God’s plan? Were they simply put here to kill people at random, because, for some people, people needed to be killed at random?”

– Sandford, John. Mad River (A Virgil Flowers Novel, Book 6) (p. 352). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

It took me about 3 days to gobble up this book…like I do with all of John’s books. A fantastic thriller where you get to see Virgil chasing the slippery trio only to find their victims instead (as it turns out there are plenty of places to hide in the vast Minnesota countryside). The cops are getting frustrated, Virgil is getting frustrated and very desperate to reach them before the others, civilians are worried and locking up, guarding doors with their guns, the media is in a piranha frenzy (when are they not), and the Governor and BCA staff are getting frustrated and are starting to take heat for not putting an end to this in a timely matter.

It was a great read and I can’t wait to grab book 7. So far, Virgil and Sandford has yet to disappoint me. I loved reading this and easily finished the book. This time though, the ending left a bit of bitterness in my mouth that I can’t fully describe. I felt both unsatisfied and very satisfied at the same time. Happy but also very upset (for how both cases ended). ​It’s the wallowing sad and empty feeling that stems from knowing that, because of the circumstances (and a certain a**hat) this was the best ending you could have possibly gotten.