Renegade by Rob Sinclair [Book Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

Title: Renegade
Series: A Ryker Returns Thriller [Book 1]
Author: Rob Sinclair 
Length: 9hrs 14 minutes
Book Type: Audiobook
Narrator: Marston York
Publisher: W.F. Howes Ltd

Obtained: NetGalley
Disclaimer: An audio-copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
TW/CW: Violence, gore, murder, death, kidnapping, torture, using someone’s child as a bargaining tool/threat

Blurb

James Ryker, a veteran intelligence agent now freelancer, working for the secretive Joint Intelligence agency on an op-by op basis, finds himself embroiled in a complicated mission that will test him to his limit.
When a simple surveillance mission goes awry and the key target is kidnapped in broad daylight in a busy London square, Ryker knows he has his work cut out.
Ryker is tasked with figuring out what went wrong. But when his good friend Sam Moreno disappears without trace, the mission becomes more personal than he could have imagined.
Torn between toeing the government line, and finding the answers he needs, Ryker realises there’s only one way to find those responsible, and to punish them.
His way.

Review

This book had me holding my breath enough to put a YA book to shame!

That’s it. That’s my one whole mood through the entire book.

===== X =====

This was my first full audiobook story that I’ve completed. I have a half-read book (that I already finished the ebook version of) in my Kindle, a choose your own story, and an anthology, but Renegade would be my first full and actual story in terms of audiobooks.

And it’s been one massive adventure with a lot of action, espionage, torture, and holding your breath because you never know if someone else was going to get caught; be that character a minor, side, or even the main character himself. Here, the fear of a character getting caught is amplified with the knowledge that the prospect of falling into enemy hands would result in something far worse than death; neverending and brutal torture. 

Now, I’ve never read any books by Rob Sinclair, let alone any of his previous series (James Ryker series) which seems to link to this one (A “Ryker Returns” thriller series), but I was able to follow through well enough despite the occasional nod to past references; minor things I didn’t particularly connect with because I didn’t read the prior series. Still, I had no problem with this book and the book, by itself, was a spectacular read.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I was going in. I only picked this one up because I was fresh out of new audiobooks which I’ve started to play during my work hours as it helped me pace my work and made the time go by quicker (not that my busy day needs any more encouragement and nudging than it already does). I was prowling the audiobook sections of NetGalley, looking specifically for a mystery thriller and eventually landed myself on this one.

It didn’t let me down.

There was so much action to be found. The story already starts off with a “babysitting” job gone wrong when a surveillance mission goes badly and is botched when their target is whisked away and eventually discovered dead. The entire operation and story only goes downhill from there and not even stopping at the ground. Instead, the floor opens up with stairways down to hell as things seem to spiral out of control over and over (with bits of luck every now and then; luck and wits).

There’s two main storylines going on at once, eventually merging into one single event as things from both sides begin to intertwine or…rather…after the stories start to come together, everything else finally began to make sense and things fall into place. The first storyline and POV, of course, belongs to James Ryker, while the second comes from a very different angle. It follows the story from Daisy Haan’s perspective on a much different case. While I was initially mostly interested only by Ryker’s story, somewhere midpoint my attention shifted massively to Daisy’s story because at that point, shit hit the fan and the hopping between their POVs drove me nuts because I NEEDED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!

Of course, halfway through Ryker’s own story, most of his personal missions were beginning to hit the fan as well and honestly, ending each chapter was painful because then it becomes a rollercoaster from one cliffhanger to another cliffhanger. Between the two POVs, there was no rest in emotions because things felt like it was spinning out of control on both ends. 

Lots of action. Lots and lots of very gorey, unsettling, and stomach turning torture. This isn’t just a plain thriller book. The amount of suspense in this book was insane. Sure, the beginning wasn’t as fast paced, even with all the action already taking place, but by the end, with each cliffhanger chapter, you were practically biting your nails waiting on this new chapter to end so that you could find out what happened to Ryker or Haan only for this chapter to also suspend you in an agonizing wait. 

My favorite thing about this book was the massive plot twist near the end of the book that left me gasping. I was not expecting it to turn up that way and it was wonderfully done because, boy was I surprised!

It was a great read that I wasn’t able to put down; easily throwing the entire book down my throat. I’ll have to eventually go back and read Rob Sinclair’s previous books to put the remaining little pieces to this puzzle together, but a fantastic and heart thumping and heart stopping first Sinclair read. 

5 Stars

I Am Not A Wolf [Book Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

Title: I Am Not a Wolf
Authors: Daniel James Sheehan (Author), Sage Coffey (Illustrations)
Length: 208 pages (Print); 4 Hours and 28 Minutes
Book Type: Audiobook
Narrated by: Jay Aaseng
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Obtained: NetGalley
Disclaimer: A copy of this audiobook was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Goodreads Blurb

Life is good! You have a job, an apartment in a nice part of town, and an online dating profile that’s recently yielded as many as three matches. From the outside, it would appear you’re a human man that has all the trappings of a stable and functional life. But you also have a secret. You’re not a human man at all. You’re a wolf.

Assume the role of one of nature’s greatest predators, just barely maintaining a fake identity as a part of the human workforce. Each choice you make in this interactive story is crucial to your survival and, more importantly, your burgeoning career in the corporate world. Will you navigate water-cooler gossip without arousing suspicion? Can you go on a date without bringing up how much you love ham? Or is it perhaps time to throw this human life to the wind and return to the woods from whence you came? These choices and many more await you in this story about trying to find your place in a world that barely makes sense to you.

Review

I really enjoyed my last audiobook because I was able to complete a book while folding clothes, taking a walk, and even gaming. I could indulge in a separate hobby while not neglecting my reading hobby and I could work while reading without actually reading. It was like a podcast but with a book! I enjoyed it so much that I went back to NetGalley and found myself another audiobook under the listen now tab.

I was able to finish this one in a a few hours, but that was just one ending. I went back multiple times to see all the different outcomes because there’s more than one.

I Am Not A Wolf is a hilarious choose your own adventure satire piece of the corporate world and human society from the point of a wolf not wolf. Hilarity ensues only a few moments in when the narrator speaks as the wolf for the first time and I bursted out in laughter because it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. It was this awkward mixture of a wolf pretending to be a man, but failing so obviously miserable but it’s okay! We live in a society where being different is practically the norm now and generally speaking, you might find that if you’re too different, you actually have a better time mingling in with the general crowd and attract less attention. Think about it, if I saw a man looking like a wolf, I’d just assume that he was just…super duper into animal cosplay. I see plenty of strange people, here in the big city, so another strange person wearing a wolf costume underneath a business suit is just another drop in the bucket.

There are also themes of the corporate world and its absurdity of being just a few minutes late to work or requesting someone to come work on the weekends, but praising it in a way so that were you to reject it, you’d feel guilty (“You’d be such a rockstar if you could come in.”) Then there’s the norm of making sure you don’t call out your boss on their mistakes, even if they are in the wrong, those civil small talk conversations that always revolve around the same few topics. fighting to come into work despite being previously out sick and feeling guilty about taking those PTO or sick days and wanting to prove yourself useful again.

The dialogue and story here is pure gold as you have a wolf contemplating about the human world, things like how you have to work a 9-5 weekday job just to afford a weekend off to go do what he used to do for free (sleeping outside, “AKA camping”). There’s so many little notes in this book that pokes fun about how corporations and humans (mostly humans) work, specifically from the viewpoint of a wolf.

As a choose your own adventure, at the end of each chapter, the audiobook will tell you to turn to a specific chapter such as “If you wish to take the bus, go to chapter 2,” or “If you would like to use a rideshare app, go to chapter 5.” The choices you make will affect the next part of the story and can influence your ending, so it’s fun to really think your actions through and through.

The only small nuance about the audiobook version would be that, unlike the paper and Kindle versions where you’re already constantly engaging with your book anyways, the audiobook will have you constantly picking up your phone, unlocking it, and then choosing your chapter. It differs from other audiobooks in that way because usually I could be cleaning or walking around without having to interact with my phone (especially useful if your phone is zipped up in a purse while you’re commuting). Still, it’s a small little thing and it doesn’t really phase me because I generally have my phone on my desk, next to me, anyways.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s brilliant and it’s genius. It’s quirky and so unique. I’ve read a handful of choose your own adventure styled books as a kid so this book really brings me back to my childhood. Of course, though, it’s still my first ever choose your own adventure audiobook!

The narrator did a terrific job with this book. His voice for the wolf threw me off and I played it over and over the first time the wolf spoke. Each time he opens his mouth to speak, it somehow only gets more and more funny. I absolutely adored Jay Aaseng’s narration because it fit the characters so well.

A wonderful and short little read that you can (and are definitely encouraged to) re-read over and over because not only do you want to experience a different ending, you want to see how the story unfolds if you were to take that other choice. Some of the choices are small, but they ultimately affect how the rest of the day goes and it all adds up eventually. An unforgettable read and experience in which I loved every single part of it; the humor, the dialogue, the inner and more complex analysis of human nature and corporate society. Everything in this book was amusing and perfect and I am truly amused.

Quotes

“You are a wolf, but this is something the world can’t know. Some people aren’t ready to know. Some aren’t willing to understand, but most are just terrified of wolves for some reason. You’ve spent much of your life integrating into human society. You have a job, an apartment, several online dating profiles, and a terrible roommate.”

“In fact, you’ve found that the more someone stands out, the more people tend to leave them alone.”

“You are an entry level graphic designer at this rapidly growing start-up company and you’ve earned it. Most humans would have been discouraged by the almost never ending unpaid internships you endured to get here.”

5 Stars

Bibliomysteries Volume 1 [Book Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

Title: Bibliomysteries Volume 1
Authors: Jeffery Deaver, C.J. Box, Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Peter Blauner, Thomas H. Cook, Loren D. Estlemen, William Link, Laura Lippman, Anne Perry, Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins, Andrew Taylor, and David Bell
Length: 12 hours 48 minutes
Book Type: Audiobook
Narrated by: Daniel Thomas May
Publisher: HighBridge Audio
Obtained: NetGalley
Average Rating: (Breakdown below): 3.8/5 [4 Stars]

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinons are my own.

Mini Note: HEY! I found a way to do both of my two favorite hobbies at the same time: reading and gaming! Via Audiobooks! Ahh technology *.*

My first audiobook from Netgalley and the first without written words. I rarely read/listen to audiobooks that aren’t backed up by written words so that I could visually and audibly follow along (because I’m so easily distracted), but after I got into the groove of it, it wasn’t so bad and I even turned up the speed a notch or two.

Blurb

A must-listen collection of fourteen bibliomysteries by bestselling and award-winning authors. Bibliomysteries Volume 1 includes: - "An Acceptable Sacrifice" by Jeffery Deaver - "The Final Testament" by Peter Blauner - "What's in a Name?" by Thomas H. Cook - "Book Club" by Loren D. Estleman - and many others

Review

This audiobook is a lovely little collection of short stories with a single theme; all of the shorts are related to books. Whether it’s a story about a book collection being the major weakness of a man, someone being kidnapped to help steal books, three shady fellows fighting over a creepy scroll that has the potential to cause catastrophic damage to the history that we know of, decades worth of lies revolving around a book, or being murdered over a book, it’s going to have something to do with books. Not all of the shorts are specifically “mysteries” as one story borders closer to historical fiction conversations, but there are a great deal of ones that do have a hint of mystery in them.

The narrator for this audiobook is Daniel Thomas May and he does a fantastic job at reading. I sped things up towards the end, but even then I slowed it back down at least once per book to hear his many different voices. His many different voices and accents are exceptional and at least one of his lines have moved me to tears because you could hear the emotions behind that character.

Most of the stories were pretty decent and some were very good. I didn’t care for a couple, but in overall, I did enjoy this reading quite a lot. I actually downloaded this off of NG a WHILE back (December 22nd) but only recently got into listening to it. Bibliomysteries has accompanies many of my daily [walking] commutes back home. Being not too far, I only get a few “pages” or minutes in until one day, I just sped it up at work (listen…I somehow missed that function…) and got a bunch of the stories in at once.

Breakdown by books

The ratings are broken down by books/titles below, some with micro 1-sentence reviews

  1. “An Acceptable Sacrifice” by Jeffrey Deaver 🌟 4 || Interesting with continual twists resulting in an ending I expected, but also didn’t.
  2. “Pronghorns of the Third Reich” by C.J. Box 🌟 3.5
  3. “The Book of Virtue” by Ken Bruen 🌟 2
  4. “The Book of Ghosts” by Reed Farrell Coleman 🌟 4 || An interesting story about a lie spun so intricately, it falls out of the control of the protagonist resulting in more lies to cover up the old.
  5. “The Final Testament” by Peter Blaumer 🌟 4 || More of an imaginary conversation between Freud and a very unwelcome visitor; not so much of a mystery but a historical fiction.
  6. “What’s in a Name” by Thomas H. Cook 🌟 3.5
  7. “Book Club” by Lauren D. Estleman 🌟 3.5
  8. “Death Leaves a Bookmark” by William Link 🌟 4.5
  9. “The Book Thing” by Laura Lippman 🌟 5 || I quite enjoyed this one!
  10. “The Scroll” by Anne Perry 🌟 5 || Eerily confusing in an almost supernatural way. My favorite story here.
  11. “It’s In the Book” by Mickey Spillane and Max Allen Collins 🌟 3
  12. “The Long Sonata of the Dead” by Andrew Taylor 🌟 3
  13. “Rides a Stranger” by David Bell 🌟 4.5 || A really nice story that wraps the whole audiobook up nicely.

Quotes

Book 5: “The Final Testament”

” I will die very soon. You, will die sometime after that, probably not in as much pain, which is as good a proof as any that there is not a fair and just God. And long after we are both gone, there will still be good and bad men and good and bad books.”

Book 9: “The Book Thing”

“It’s just as much fun as it looks to live in a house made of books. It’s what’s in the book that matters.”

Book 9: “The Book Thing”

“How many of these books would be out of print in five, ten year. What did it mean to be out of print in a world where books could live inside devices, glowing like captured denies, desperate to get back out in the world and grant people’s wishes.”

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.

Sorry I Missed You [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: Sorry I Missed You
Series: Standalone Book # N/A
Author: Suzy Krause
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Doc) > ARC
Obtained: Netgalley > Read Now
Pages: 330
Genre: Fiction > Womens Fiction > Chick Lit, Contemporary
Start Date: 06.04.2020
End Date: 06.25.2020

Disclaimer: I received a free e-book copy of “Sorry I Missed You” from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are of my own.

Netgalley Summary:

Link to Goodreads Page >HERE<

A poignant and heartwarming novel about friendship, ghosting, and searching for answers to life’s mysteries.

When Mackenzie, Sunna, and Maude move into a converted rental house, they are strangers with only one thing in common—important people in their lives have “ghosted” them. Mackenzie’s sister, Sunna’s best friend, and Maude’s fiancé—all gone with no explanation.

So when a mangled, near-indecipherable letter arrives in their shared mailbox—hinting at long-awaited answers—each tenant assumes it’s for her. The mismatched trio decides to stake out the coffee shop named in the letter—the only clue they have—and in the process, a bizarre kinship forms. But the more they learn about each other, the more questions (and suspicions) they begin to have. All the while, creepy sounds and strange happenings around the property suggest that the ghosts from their pasts might not be all that’s haunting them…

Will any of the housemates find the closure they are looking for? Or are some doors meant to remain closed?
Quirky, humorous, and utterly original, Sorry I Missed You is the perfect read for anyone who has ever felt haunted by their past (or by anything else).

It’s a bittersweet concoction about life lessons and friendships. Three women looking for their closure…and only one letter…

Thoughts and Review

The story starts off with three woman and their “ghosting” stories; Maude is an older woman who was ghosted after her wedding day where she was left at the altar; her fiancé and husband-to-be had apparently decided to drown his fears of the marriage in a sea of alcohol and never contacted her back afterwards! The last time Mackenzie ever saw her sister, Tanya, was when she was sneaking out of a window, the night after their birthday party, to see her secret boyfriend and was never heard from again. Sunna was ghosted by her ex-best friend, a huge internet and social media influencer, Brett Zaleschuck. The two had been in an argument ending with Brett calling Sunna jealous and Sunna calling the other fake. Sunna had expected the relationship to continue, because even best friends can fight and make up, but this time…it would be their last fight as, after a few awkward hangouts and meetups (after the fight), Brett finally stopped showing up to their coffee dates and just like that…years of friendship…gone.

Larry is the homeowner of a “house he can’t live in,” after inheriting it from his late aunt with a long list of things he could not do in the house such as playing certain music or planting flowers in the front yard or go into the attic. There were simply too many rules for him to live by and, with one of the rules being he can’t sell the house either, Larry had no choice but to rent the entire house out. Being one of the POVs, he too plays a major part of the story, though the main focus of the story are on Maude, Mackenzie, and Sunna. Three women, from three different walks of life, with vastly different backgrounds, personalities, and view of the life around them (Maude is fascinated that Sunna’s phone has “A Google,” flashlight, and can make calls), all total strangers, now living under the same roof.  

They move into the house together on different floors, Maude to the top floor, Sunna to the ground floor, and Mackenzie to the basement floor, and are immediately off to a rocky start with their personalities clashing and arguments immediately breaking out (literally…on their first meeting). When a mangled and barely legible letter arrives stating that the sender was sorry they’d missed them and asking to meet up again soon, each woman is hopeful it is for them, their missing relationship returning to explain themselves for their abrupt deserting of the other. Answering the call, the three set up camp at the designated location from the letter, Paper Cup, a café next to a Crematorium. And they go, every single day, religiously, hoping that the sender is that someone they each have in mind and hoping to get their closures at last.

All the while, creepy sounds and strange things are happening in their new home. Things disappear only to appear elsewhere, things go missing, food is stolen right out the fridge, and sounds can be heard; the sound of people stomping and furniture moving around. Ghosts perhaps?

This book is a quirky book for sure; a strange mixture of emotions, mysteries, friendship/romance, and…ghosts? While there were a few moments that made me smile, I didn’t find the book particularly humorous. It was almost angering, actually. The start of each of their mini stories in the background chapter made me feel terribly bad for them. Sunna had lost a best friend, someone like family, Maude was left at the altar, and Mackenzie’s sister was never seen again! However, they just kept arguing with each other, almost at any opportunity, and even as a reader I was starting to get that out-of-body-tired-of-your shit feeling. On the three’s first meeting together, at the mailbox, they already start arguing and Sunna and Maude are just snapping at each other. Maude just can’t seem to say something not mean (intentional or not) and Sunna just seems to enjoy provoking Maude into anger or into another fight. It gets frustrating and tiring at times and makes you feel for poor Mackenzie, who is the acting mediator, while having to stew in her own troubles and secrets. It gets annoying when you just want everyone to calm down and act like mature adults and move on with their day (and the story). It’s almost like they need to fight each other (and most of the bickering is between Sunna and Maude). It just gets tiring and you keep wondering, “What are you fighting about this time.” However, despite their flaws, I still didn’t particularly hate any of them. You get a sad feeling from each of the women as they seem to struggle with their past coming back to haunt them without any answers other than “to wait for someone in a coffee shop.” You even begin to see where all of their emotions and hurt comes from.

The best part of the book are the individual growths. As they very slowly come to tolerate each other, bonded together by this letter, they start to understand the others; tongues are bitten as they try not to fight, ears open to understanding, and personalities are shifted as they try to learn from each other, learn how to live in the same house together without the fighting. By the end, everyone is helping one another with their well needed closures, even if they don’t necessarily end well and happy.

I love the generational gap between the three. Mackenzie is a college student, Sunna is an adult, and Maude is an older woman. Things get lost between the three’s conversation constantly such as Sunna wondering who even reads the newspaper anymore, the existence and use of payphones, and Maude arguing that she is perfectly fine without the need of technology all the while getting frustrated constantly at not understanding what’s going on or what the conversation is about. It truly shows how fast things can change in a single human lifespan and the lightning need to adapt to the evolving world as Maude is left behind in the dust of new technology and terminologies, “‘Influencers?'”

This book has an enjoyable skim across different genres (and, look, Mysteries too!) You have a bit of romance, the base of Maude’s story, and you have a bit of mystery with the house ghosts, disappearing belongings, art gallery bomb threats, and the disappearance of Mackenzie’s sister. I actually had to go back and double check the genre on NG when I read Mackenzie’s initial backstory because it did not, at all, sounded like a “ghosting” and very much felt like a missing persons case.

You learn a lot through the three (four with Larry) characters and their problems. After all, the cast touches upon a great deal of issues during different stages in life. You have Mackenzie’s current struggles as a young adult; it’s the first time she’s free away from her parents and her being a college student with a job that she hates blended with pieces of her past struggles and trauma as a teenager. You have Sunna being an adult who watches Maude with a mixture of anger and worry as she wonders if, with her being friendless and partnerless, she too might grow up to be like Maude…bitter and mean…angry at life and people. You have the heartbroken Maude who, if you look past her constant fits and random bursts of crying, is an older woman who finally found a partner only to be left stood up on her wedding day. Afterwards, she sees the world in a different way. Richard’s abandonment changed her and she begins to see every big and small flaw in herself, adding them to her list of “maybe this is why Richard left me…”  

The book touches on a few other issues as well such as anxiety, social media, and differences in [music] genres through the times. You have people, who used to belong to a certain group of music fans, watching the days go by as you no longer feel like you belong anywhere anymore. Your old crowd and friends have disbanded and you’re “too old” for the new younger audience; the music is just not the same music that you once knew. The world is evolving in many ways including the expanded use of social media as more and more people become obsessed with perfecting their online images of themselves. People like Brett, who put up an online personality for a blog, a fun project for the two of them [Sunna] to “change the world” only to eventually be swallowed up by her persona, acting like there is always a camera following her. It reflects in the way she begins to talk to her friends, the way she acts, even off of social media, and even down to the type of friends Brett picks (or leaves in Sunna’s case). The author [through Sunna] also goes to explain to Mackenzie and Maude (and thus the reader) what social disease is: where privileged influencers dispense wisdom as a way to pick up their own egos while making their audience feel like they are doing it for them.

This was a nice read showing the progress from stranger to friendship between three woman of three different backgrounds. It’s cute at times, cringey at times (I’m talking about second-hand embarrassment, not the book itself), and there are parts that make my heart cry. It’s a nice bit of refreshment in a world full of books where characters become “instant friends”, though I have nothing against those. It’s different. You see people who start off almost completely intolerable of the other person and the sole reason they stick together is because of a torn letter that says to meet at a coffee shop. It’s a story full of ups and downs, hopes and disappointments, plenty of arguments and witty banter, and plenty of love, friendship, and hard learned lessons. It’s a bittersweet concoction about the issues and troubles of life mixed with the sweet nectar of newfound friendships and trust.

Thank you for the read 💐

Currently Reading [06.10.2020]

Tea Corner (Blog)

Mad River: Virgil Flowers Series

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
End Date: 06.28.2020

Continuing on with the Virgil Flowers Series, my next VF book is book 6: Mad River! I believe there are now 12 books in the Virgil Flowers series and sitting on the 6th book, I’m getting nervous. I am slowly running out of books in my favorite series. Sure, it’s still ongoing (to my knowledge), but once I’m current and on book 12, it’ll be a waiting game to get my hands on the next book. It’ll be like waiting on the next manga chapter update but even longer (Demon Slayer is oooveerr *sob*)!

I didn’t pick this book up for any special reason other than continuing on in the series. There never needs to be any sort of excuse for me to pick up a VF book. Sometimes, picking up a Virgil book is even a treat for finishing up books I don’t want to finish! In fact, if I run out of books and can’t figure out my next read it’s my default series to go to. Virgil has yet to fail me in the 6 books I’ve read so far (I’ve read 1-5 & 11) so I’m expecting another great read up ahead!

Sorry I Missed You

Book Name: Sorry I Missed You
Series: Standalone Book # N/A
Author: Suzy Krause
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Doc) > ARC
Obtained: Netgalley > Read Now
Pages: 330
Genre: Fiction > Womens Fiction > Chick Lit, Contemporary
Start Date: 06.04.2020
End Date: 06.25.2020

My next book is a read I picked up from Netgalley. This time, I was simply scrolling and hoping to come across a good random read. My last womens fiction left a fantastic impression after I finally broke out of my usual tiny list of favorite genres. I wanted to give this genre another go and eventually landed myself with this book, “Sorry I Missed You.”

Three women move into a rental home and they all have something in common, they have all been ghosted by someone important to them: Sunna’s best friend, Mauve’s fiancé, and Mackenzie’s sister. All up and disappeared without an explanation.

I honestly thought this was a mystery at first but the cover was orange, colorful, and cute and it was listed as a quirky and humorous book. I don’t know…when descriptions read “gone with no explanation” I immediately get a “missing person” vibes. But since it’s supposed to be humorous (with a side of ghost too!), I guess I can breath a sigh of relief that its not as scary as I make it out to be. Who knows. I just can’t wait to dig in.

The Day She Came Back [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: The Day She Came Back
Series: Standalone Book #: N/A
Author: Amanda Prowse
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Expected Publication Date: July 7th, 2020
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Doc) > ARC
Obtained: “Read Now” on Netgalley
Pages: 306
Genre: Fiction > Women’s Fiction
Start Date: 05.20.2020
End Date: 05.31.2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Disclaimer: I received a free ebook copy of this book [NetGalley] in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are of my own.
Content Warning: This book has mentions of death, drug use and addiction, and implied/mentions of sex.

Summary [Source: Goodreads]

Link to Goodreads Page: >HERE<

When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient—she has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim’s funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.

As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.

To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible? 

Summary Review:

Thoughts

Oh phew. It’s over. So where do I even begin with this book?

First thing first. I cried 18 times. I counted. I’m very serious. I cried multiple times in the first chapter and then I cried again finishing this book off. And of course, I cried throughout the entire book.

This is my first NetGalley book. I was seeing a bunch of NetGalley posts floating around book Twitter that I just needed to try it. Seeing as I started out with a feedback ratio of 0%, I figured to look for a “read now” book first (I’m pretty sure my requests wouldn’t have been approved anyways 😂 )

What Attracted Me / Expanded Plot

I was going through NetGalley and honestly (having no Currently Reading books for days) I was getting antsy and ready to pick anything up. However, I didn’t want to force my way into a book that I would potentially hate just for a free read…and eventually came across this book (as someone whose favorite colors are yellow and orange I’m pretty sure the lure was the bright yellow covers.

I mostly picked this one up because of the other feedbacks left behind on the site. Literally just that. Sure, the cover was pretty cute (lovely sunflower colors shaded by the lonely feeling of an empty chair: presumably Prim’s favorite chair), the title intriguing, and the summary drawing me in, but the cherry on top were the other feedbacks. “Beautifully written story” was listed in almost every review. And when your favorite books are murder crime thrillers, you don’t get much of a chance for “beautiful story.”

This story is about a young woman in England (The town of Epsom in Surrey, England to be exact). 18 year old Victoria goes out with her friend for a day out and returns in the afternoon to see that her grandmother has passed away, sitting in her favorite place, the Garden Room and her whole world is turned upside down. Primrose, Prim, is Victoria’s only remaining family, having lost her father, before she was even born, and her mother, shortly afterwards, both to drugs. Victoria has never met either of them.

Her next few days, she spends broken and numb, with no clue what to do next. She was young adult, new to the world, and not yet ready to go through the process of losing Prim; the lawyers, the funeral, things like what to do with the house now that she was a “young woman of means.” She knew that this day would eventually come, but not so soon…It’s an overwhelming feeling, and Amanda makes you feel that through the page.

Daksha, Victoria’s best friend, is there to comfort and be with her through this immensely tough time and eventually, the long dreaded day of Prim’s funeral arrives. It is after the funeral that Victoria meets a woman who claims to be Victoria’s mother. Having her world shattered with the loss of Prim, she’s not ready to deal with this revelation. Here, before her, was the woman that she thought, that she had been told her whole life, to be dead, very much alive. Every holiday and every birthday that she has ever spent, missing and mourning the woman she never met, Victoria feels nothing but betrayed to, lied to, and deceived; her whole life an utter lie by those she was closest too.

Naturally, she is skeptical at first, but Victoria gives this strange woman a chance. Knowing that if she were to refuse to accept what the woman says, she may forever regret it. She wanted the truth, to get to the bottom of this, and to do that, she would have to give the woman a try.

Expanded Review

This book is, as the others say, an amazing and beautifully written story. This is the story of three women. It is the story of Victoria and the two generations of women who created, cared, and loved her deeply. It is the story of tremendous sacrifice and heartbreak; A desperate mother who watched her daughter succumb to the disease of drug addiction, unable to tear her free from its grasp, and another mother who had to forfeit her daughter, even as her soul cried in agony of the separation, because she knew it would have given her the best chance at a healthy and happy life, not like of her own.

This is the first time I’ve read an Amanda Prowse book. It’s the first time in a long time that I picked up a non-thriller or fantasy book. It’s a book that talks about things that are just too hard to voice and things that nobody wants to talk about. I’ve read death. Trust me, mystery thrillers mean there are plenty of death (and in the most gruesome ways). Those authors, in their own way, portray those deaths in as horrifying of a visual as it can get, and yet this is new to me.

Prim’s death was the reason I couldn’t move on in this book for a good two days. Her death, Victoria’s nightmare, is everyone’s nightmare. Having returned from a great afternoon out and having bumped into the boy of her dreams, she comes home in great spirits. In vivid details, we watch as her life is shattered into pieces. How Victoria finds her grandmother’s body shook me hard. Because it’s just so real. It is utterly and terrifyingly real. To come home from an ordinary day, to find your loved one gone. Blue tinged lips…lifeless eyes and cold body…ears that no longer listen as you plead for them to return. To walk out promising your grandmother you’d bring back snacks only to return knowing she never was able to take that one last bite, wondering if you’d had completed that quick task for them before rushing out the door. None of their cooking ever again. None of the small things like their smell, the noise of them walking around the house. It’s shocking. It’s overwhelming. For Victoria and for the reader.

We all have that loved one, be it family or friend, that we know we will eventually lose. We don’t know when…we don’t know how and it’s something that we try to push off to the back of our minds. I think I spent a good day staring at my own parents. Death is inevitable. It will always be there, the promised end. You realize there is a very real possibility that one day you might be the one to discover your deceased loved one’s body. It just never hit me on how it would happen.

The rest of the book was stellar and amazing, but it was that first chapter that was just…extra hard for me to get over. It really shook me and reminded me of things I simply never wanted to think about, and Amanda does a brilliant job in portraying the same exact thoughts in our main character here. Being that it was her grandmother who raised her, she realized this day was bound to come, but for her and for Prim, it came just too soon.

The book was phenomenal and tackled many different topics. It discusses loss of a love one, self-confidence and insecurities and being deceived, living what feels like a lie and having what you’ve only known, ever, come unraveling around you…You read about drugs, the effects of heroin and addiction… there are tears, there is love…so so much love. We watch Victoria learn to forgive, learn to discover themselves, to heal, forge friendships and relationships, in rediscovering betrayal, and learning to move on. We watch the love between best friends, who are there for you through thick and thin, and the sacrifices of a beautiful family to make sure an innocent little girl grows up to be loved, happy, and healthy.

And as Victoria gets to know the mum she never got a chance to meet, she grows so much as a person. From what feels like the inability to trust ever again to someone who is able to forgive and give second chances. With the help of many wonderful people, she pushes through past the grief of loss and being lied to to get to know her mother. Even if it’s at an arms distance, they share tears and slowly begin to connect through the nostalgic bridge that each experience on their own to meet at the middle and eventually move on to walk together.

This was an amazing and beautifully written book. I can’t argue with that. I cried so many times throughout this book. Amanda’s writing is just…beautiful. Enchanting? She picks words that crafts and embeds magic woven into each sentence, bringing the story to life. You feel the loss that Victoria experiences. Her tears, her fears, her being overwhelmed at being suddenly thrust into unfamiliar surroundings. Amanda makes it so that you experience loneliness. The first days alone in the house without Prim…the cold emptiness of the hallways, being in a large house all alone. The first time Victoria tries to turn around to her beloved granny for help or a shoulder to lean on and finding nothing but spirits and memories.

An absolutely beautiful story 5 / 5.

Currently Reading: The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse [ARC]

Tea Corner (Blog)

Book Name: The Day She Came Back
Series: Standalone Book #: N/A
Author: Amanda Prowse
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Expected Publication Date: July 7th, 2020
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Doc) > ARC
Obtained: “Read Now” on Netgalley
Pages: 306
Genre: Fiction, Women’s Fiction [?? Maybe?]
Start Date: 05.20.2020
End Date: 05.31.2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Second ARC since starting this blog! My first Netgalley read! I kept hearing about Netgalley on IG and Book Twitter and while I had a general glimpse of what the site was about, I didn’t really know know (ya know?). So after pondering for a while, I finally made myself a Netgalley account. After almost an hour of technical difficulties (where I didn’t read how Netgalley books were apparently DOC files and not Kindle files & I couldn’t figure out why it successfully downloaded to my Kindle phone app but not on my Kindle Fire…oops?) here we are. With a current Feedback Ratio of 0% I figured a “Read Now” would be more suitable (and slowly build my way up).

The most attractive thing about this book were the reviews, genre, and the cover. The summary was about a women named Victoria, whose lived with her gram her whole life, after losing her mother to overdose. She never got to even know her mother. When her gram passes, while attending her funeral, she meets a woman who claims to be Victoria’s mother. The reviews on Netgalley said that it was a beautifully written story (multiple in fact) and I just couldn’t resist.

I paged through the first few scenes yesterday (I didn’t even make it out of the first chapter yet as I’ve been busy) I could see, already, why everyone was saying that it’s beautifully written. Just from the first chapter alone, the words and sentences are masterfully crafted together to bring this rich and vibrant language that I can’t really describe. I almost cried…already!

As for the genre…I’m pretty poor at sorting things into genres and generally rely on the oh so wonderful Goodreads to guide me, but it’s fiction (that I know). It might be considered women’s fiction maybe? But I wanted to venture out a little bit from my norm. I am obsessed with the mystery/crime/murder thrillers and suspenses and fantasy. I’ve only recently started to look up other genres to read, including sci-fi. This book sounded like an amazing first step out of the house of safety and so, like all books, I can’t wait to dig in. I’ll let you know how it goes soon!