Beth's Books

Book worm | Mystery/crime/thriller | Used bookstore lover

It's Not Summer Without You

It's Not Summer Without You - Jenny Han I almost didn’t read this book because I wasn’t a huge fan of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” but I am so glad that I read this one. I think the big difference is that the plot was noticeable in this one unlike the first book. And the plot was strong and had the ability to make a good book– which it did. When Conrad goes missing, Jeremiah calls Belly to try to find him. Once they find him, they have to figure out why he ran away.

Being back at the beach house was different for them this time because not everyone was there. It felt empty, but they all loved the house and felt better being at the house. The first book revolved around the house as a setting or place but this book revolved around the house as a symbol. A symbol of what was there but now is gone and trying to keep it around. A symbol of people missing but trying to keep them around for as long as possible. This book made the house more important than just “the house we spent every summer in” because now it’s the house that “Susannah wants us to be in” and I can easily get behind that.

In my review of Summer I Turned Pretty, I said “In the end, I hope she grows up throughout the series and learns that the world doesn’t revolve around her. I’ll end up reading the rest of the series because I started it so why not, but I just hope that she is more mature in the next book.” She truly did grow up and in this book I actually liked her. She wasn’t always talking about Conrad because she finally found out there are more important things.

The one thing that just doesn’t seem believable to me is that both boys would have a crush on Belly. They both treat her like a little sister but then they both also like her? It just seems weird to me. Fortunately this book focuses more on her relationship with Jeremiah than her’s with Conrad. Conrad was not the focal point of this book, which is why I said the plot was more noticeable.

It’s Not Summer Without You focuses more on Belly trying to find herself after losing Susannah than her trying to find Conrad. That’s not to say she didn’t have her bratty or annoying moments, but they were fewer and far between. She didn’t spend a whole chapter complaining about Taylor. She didn’t spend two whole chapters complaining about girls that Conrad was dating that weren’t her.

Belly still has some growing up to do, but she’s a likable character and I’m excited to read the third book of the series.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

The Summer I Turned Pretty  - Jenny Han Actual rating: 3.5 stars
Originally on my book blog!

I have heard about this book on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Facebook. It seems that anyone that reads YA has read it. I didn't really hear anything bad about it, so I thought that I should pick it up. Unfortunately, I didn't connect with it the way other people did. The story was cute enough, some of the characters were fun and lovable, but there were just things that I could not look past.

For one, her name is Belly. Everyone calls her Belly. She is a 16 year old girl that is called Belly by everyone. It is so ingrained in minds that when someone calls her "Bells" she feels the need to say "oh yeah that's another nickname of mine" like really? I had no idea! I'm not even sure why this bothers me so much, but I just couldn't take her seriously. Maybe because I grew out of all of my embarrassing nicknames that I hated by the time I was 12. She's even mentioned it that she doesn't like it, so why not change it?

Did I mention she's 16? Well turned sixteen during the book, but I've never known a 15/16 year old to stick their tongue out at people so often. Sure, occasionally I'll stick my tongue out at the boyfriend if he is making jokes, but when someone makes me mad, the last thing on my mind is "I should stick my tongue out at them!"

The whole book, Jeremiah and Conrad and Steven are jerks to her and yet she complains every time that they don't want to hang out with her. Look, I've been there. I have a brother close to my age and sometimes I want to hang out with them as well, but when they spend the whole time being jerks to me, I don't ask a second time to hang out with them.

But ~Conrad~. I'm not even going into detail about this one. I could not stand him. I don't know what she saw in him. I'm moving on from this one because I could go on a long rant about this one.

One summer, her friend, Taylor, went to the beach house with her. When she wasn't secretly hating Taylor for being more confident than her, she was calling her a slut for hitting on Jeremiah. And then she called her a slut for kissing her brother. SHE IS YOUR BEST FRIEND AND YOU'RE GOING TO CALL HER A SLUT FOR KISSING SOMEONE? SOMEONE THAT YOU SHOULDN'T EVEN CARE ABOUT HER KISSING? IT'S NOT LIKE HE'S THE ONE YOU REFUSE TO SHUT UP ABOUT.

Then there's Cam. I liked Cam. He was a nice guy and seemed to genuinely like Belly, but the whole time, Belly was wondering if Conrad was thinking about her or if he was jealous. So it was obvious she was only with Cam to make Conrad jealous. Good job on screwing it up with the one guy that isn't sick of you. He wasn't a jerk to you and yet you would rather be with Conrad because??? I honestly don't know why. But I digress.

When she wasn't talking about Conrad, and when she wasn't dating Cam, she was trying to find out if she had feelings for the OTHER brother, Jeremiah. Yeah, that' where I just started rolling my eyes. But Taylor said it best:

"Belly, you've got to pick one. You can't have them both."

Thank you Taylor, she needed to hear that. And then Conrad also called her out on it (the one time I didn't dislike him):

"One minute you like me. Then Cam... And then Jeremiah. Isn't that right? You want to have your cake and eat it too, but you also want your cookies, and your ice cream...."

Then there was her relationship with Susannah and her mother. Okay Belly, look, I don't have a mom at all. You spend the whole book complaining about your mom, who loves you and is there for you, and you have Susannah on such a high pedestal. When someone buys you something, you automatically assume it's Susannah because *gasp* your mom would NEVER do something like that. She's an evil, wicked woman and Susannah is the only one that cares about you! She didn't really start thinking her mom was a good person until Susannah had to tell her!:

"You're the luckiest girl in the world to have her for a mother. Know that."

Thank you, Susannah. Someone needed to tell her.

But then I tried to remember that she is only 15/16 (even though she has difficulty acting like it) and I remember how difficult crushes were back then (of course I didn't have a mom that would help me through "heartbreak" but she did). She wasn't a lovable character for me. I couldn't connect with her. I saw her as a spoiled, whiny girl that needed to get over a stupid, unworthy guy.

In the end, I hope she grows up throughout the series and learns that the world doesn't revolve around her. I'll end up reading the rest of the series because I started it so why not, but I just hope that she is more mature in the next book.

To the Nines

To the Nines  - Janet Evanovich Originally on my book blog!

I really did not think that these books could get any funnier, but this would almost killed me. I'm not sure if I read this when I was sleep deprived (I did) or if it's really just that funny (it is) but I could not contain my laughter for very long. Every part of this book, the humor, the mystery, and the romance, came together perfectly to make a seriously fabulous book.

This book had some of the funniest material I've seen in a book. When Lula wasn't talking about her "diet" (a no carb diet, so she decided she would eat meat 24/7), she was losing her luggage on the way to Vegas. When she wasn't doing either of these, Stephanie was going through Ranger's employees like she usually does with his cars. I didn't go a full five pages without finding something hilarious. It was the best workout I've had in months, so thank you Janet! After going from a very serious and heavy Alex Cross novel, going to a hilarious and clueless Stephanie Plum novel was just what I needed.
The mystery was a great plot and kept the book going smoothly. Most of her books don't have a seriously intense part but this one had a scene where I was on the edge of my seat and trying to breathe (and failing). It was interesting and fun and unique. There was a lot more mystery in this one than others because she actually had to search for the guy instead of just try to pick him up at home.

Ranger Ranger Ranger Ranger Ranger. Oh you didn't ask me who I like more? Well it's Ranger, in case you ever want to. I ship Ranger and Stephanie forever. If only he was "marriage type" but I digress. Stephanie is somewhat dating Joe in this book while also spending some quality time with Ranger. Nine books in and she still hasn't picked one of them. Neither of them are really marriage material at this moment, much to Stephanie's mother's dismay. Most people would get bored or plain annoyed that she's dragging both guys along for 9+ books, but I read these books in part to see what happens with Ranger or Joe.

If you want a light read with a good plot, great characters, and fabulous humor: pick up this series. Seriously, do it. I dare you.

Have you read any of these books? Are you a Babe or a Cupcake? (I stole this from Sharon @ The Book Barbies so thank her for it)

Pop Goes the Weasel

Pop Goes the Weasel - James Patterson Originally on my book blog!

Can I just flail instead of write a review? This was a masterpiece and you should believe me because I don’t use that word often. Everything was fabulous in this book. The characters (that’s nothing new), the plot (also nothing new), the plot twists (go figure), and the ending (SHOCKER, THAT).

No really, this book was like fictional quicksand (as opposed to real quicksand that actually takes a really long time to swallow you up.) This book took a full two minutes, if that, to make me want to read the rest of it in one sitting. I read the back of the book before I started reading it and I saw that they put Shafer’s name on the back and I was like “um??? I know who the killer is so???” but it’s so much more than that. I wanted to keep reading to find out WHY he killed them, WHY he was such a creepo, and WHY he picked him victims.

Alex and Christine are ~in love~ and they are perfect together. They have a very grown up relationship and they took their relationship slow. I love them together. I love Christine’s relationship with Jannie and Damon because that’s a healthy relationship. Parents: if you are going to have step kids due to a marriage with previous kids from it, read about this relationship. They are doing it right. There are some books that if they aren’t filled with suspense, they may get boring or tedious, but this series is not like that. When the suspense is not happening, I still greatly enjoy the books because of how well the relationships are written.

This series has shed a lot on how marginalized groups feel about cops and the justice system as a whole. Patterson doesn’t go out and say “the cops don’t care about marginalized groups” because he doesn’t have to.

“The police won’t do nothin’. You never come back here again after today. Never happen. You don’t care about us. We’re nothin’ to nobody.”

I know not everyone spends their days reading articles of things like this, but I try to keep up on important things and I see things like this frequently. It may be uncomfortable for other people to read, but I think it’s important for Patterson to put these things in the books, especially when Alex Cross lives in a place where it happens daily.

BUT THE PLOT TWISTS. Okay, if you’re not really into the personal lives of Alex Cross and his family, or the ties to Real Life Issues, you can skim those and still enjoy the book because the plot twists are incredible. I don’t remember the last time I read a book where the plot twists surprised me this much. If you’re a fan of plot twists, you’d be a fan of this book.

The ending was as perfect as a book with several murders and sadness could be. I wasn’t sure how they would end a book like this, but the ending was better than I thought it would be. Probably the best ending of the series so far. As soon as I set the book down, all I wanted to do was go grab the next one and start reading it but I can’t because it’s a 3 hour drive from here.

I totally recommend this book to anyone that doesn’t mind murder and some gruesome scenes.

Have you read any books in this series? If so, did you like them?

The Silent Wife

The Silent Wife - A.S.A. Harrison Originally on my book blog!

This book is often regarded as similar to Gone Girl. I can see the parallel, but this is beyond Gone Girl in a few different ways. I don’t want to spend this whole review doing a compare and contrast of both books so I’m not going to, but it is important to know that when someone tells you “it’s just like Gone Girl!” that they are wrong and you should not go into this book hoping for Gone Girl because you’re getting so much better.

I think Gone Girl’s biggest problem was that I couldn’t pick a character, the wife or husband, that I really liked. I couldn’t get on one side of either character. The Silent Wife made me dislike both characters for different reasons, but I ended up liking Jodi a lot more than I liked Todd. Todd was repulsive and made me want to punch him, and every guy like him, in the face. Jodi annoyed me and pissed me off, but I never hated her. That’s what makes this book stand out. I think we’re supposed to dislike both characters because they both have problems, but we’re supposed to like one character a bit more than the other.

One reason I think I liked Jodi is because the writing in this book was fabulous. The book goes in alternating voices, her (Jodi) and him (Todd) so we see the events from both of them. That is what made it so easy to hate Todd because I saw everything from his point of view. Todd tried to rationalize why he cheated on Jodi, why he had a mistress when he had a beautiful wife, why he wanted to throw it all away for this younger woman. With Jodi, we had to see her rationalize what Todd was doing because she loved him. Sometimes when she was trying to rationalize everything he did, I wanted to knock some sense into her and other times I wanted to just give her a hug. If the writing hadn’t been as sharp as it was, I don’t think I would have felt strong feelings for either of them.

From the very beginning of the book, we know that something horrible happens. We are prepared for this Horrible Thing That is Going To Happen At Some Point. Once it happened, I did not expect it. It was out of the blue but also fit perfectly. Once I figured out what was going on, I don’t think I put down the book once until I was finished. I had to figure out how it was going to happen, if it would work, and when it would happen. It was a big turning point in the book. Anyone that liked the twists and turns in Gone Girl will appreciate this one as well.

Something that I liked about this book was the occasional flashbacks to before Todd and Jodi were married, when everything was peaches and cream with them. Both characters had flashbacks and talked about their first date or their first few months of dating. Flashbacks made Todd more likable because he was likable before. Then I had to remind myself that I hate him and go back to hating him. Then there are parts in the book where Jodi talks about her life before Todd. With her brothers and her parents. It wasn’t an “important” part of the plot per se, but it was important to know about Jodi.

Both Jodi and Todd had dysfunctional home lives growing up and I think that’s what made them such an unnatural couple. After learning about their families, it makes sense that Jodi and Todd were dysfunctional together.

I would read this book over and over again. It was an easy read but also had me on the edge of my seat at times. I went into this thinking it was like Gone Girl and got so much more out of it. I’d recommend this to anyone that liked Gone Girl and anyone that didn’t. It’s too good not to read at some point.

Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport

Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport - Simon Kuper, Stefan Szymanski Originally found on my book blog!

This was the best possible book to read before the World Cup because it focuses more on countries as national teams as a whole more than individual teams. There was a lot of information that helped me better understand the World Cup and soccer in general, which is why I took it slowly and tried to focus on everything it talked about.

The book separates itself into different parts with a few chapters in each part. Each chapter has a different reason why some countries do well at the World Cup and why some do not. Since I’m relatively new to soccer, it was fun reading about soccer from long before I paid attention. Since this book was written before 2010, so much has changed but it’s always good to know how it was before. For example, the book states that Spain does not win the World Cup often, which is true, but they ended up winning in 2010.

I think my favourite part of this book was talking about the future of soccer and what countries have the best chance at being the best country in the world. They find this information out based on population, income per capita, and experience. These three variables show up in the book frequently for a few different reasons. It’s interesting to see which countries are overperforming or underperforming based on these variables. And yes we do get to see this, including charts!

I think the most informative chapter for me, was “football versus football” which is football versus soccer. It talks about why football is a huge sport in America but soccer is not and why soccer is huge everywhere else but football hasn’t picked up. Since I live in America, this was the most interesting chapter to me. Kuper and Szymanski make many analogies with football and baseball which made it easier for me to understand things.

I’ll probably be returning to this book for information during the World Cup to see if what they said about countries holds up in 2014. I recommend this book to any soccer fans because it’s a worthwhile book. I would just say to take your time reading it because there is a lot of information and it can get confused if you’re speed reading. This book did make me even more excited for the World Cup and future World Cups. I am excited to see if what their research found is true.

The 9th Judgment

The 9th Judgment - James Patterson, Maxine Paetro Originally on my book blog!

Once I read the first few pages, I knew that it would be impossible to put this book down until I know how they solved the crimes. The 9th Judgement starts out the same way that many other Women's Murder Club books do-- focused on the killer. We knew who the suspects were from the very beginning; we just didn't know how Lindsay was going to find out. This book didn't take me long to read because it was somewhat short but it was filled with drama. I found myself taking it in the car with me everywhere (even at 2 am and using my phone as a book light), taking it to other rooms with me, and reading in the middle of the night. It was an addictive book and ending in a way that made me want to rush to the library to pick up 10th Anniversary.

One thing that I liked about this book was that we were in the know from the beginning. A few other books have the suspects using code names so we don't really know who it is until the end, but this time we knew from the beginning. The writing has to be really good once we know who the suspects are, otherwise it would be a drag finding out how Lindsay found them.

The writing was spectacular in this book. The suspects seemed like real people which was scary depending on which suspect we're talking. The dialogue between characters never seemed fake or pushed. After 9 books you either give up on what you want the character to talk like and act like or you perfect it; this series has perfected it. The suspenseful scenes were impossible to pause because they never slowed down until everything was done. I never felt bored when reading this book but especially these parts. The romance was written well.

Lindsay has finally decided that she loves Joe! After 8th Confession, I was a little annoyed with her because she was jealous of the growing relationship between Conklin and Cindy, but in this book she is happy for them and I'm not annoyed anymore. Cindy and Yuki weren't in this book as much. Cindy didn't have much to write and Yuki only had one court case. The only time they were all together was at Susie's after work a few times. When the four of them are together, I feel like I am sitting at the table with them. The dialogue is fun and easy and friendly.

The suspects in this book were vastly different. One was a very scary killer and the other was a jewel thief. Both scary, both dangerous, both mysterious. I was surprised to find how these two fit together. Without one, the other one would have failed in this book. Moving between crimes was easy and not awkward at all. This book was the best at that.

This goes to anyone that gave up on this series in the rough patch at book 5 and 6: pick it back up. It does get so much better. I would have regretted if I let this one go because it seems that the books are getting better and better now. I don't think I can get any higher than 5 stars, but I will find a way.

I recommend this to anyone that likes mystery and thriller books and James Patterson fans.. This is a must read.

J is for Judgment

J is for Judgment - Sue Grafton Originally seen on my book blog!

I knew from the beginning that this had a great story line and was hopeful that it would be a promising book. It was. From the beginning we are thinking a lot of things, for one, why did he fake his suicide? For two, what is now going to happen to his widows insurance money? And for three, is he going to get caught?

The only thing that doesn’t thrill me about these books is that there are always new characters and it can sometimes be hard to keep track of who is who and how they are related to the story. This one had a few characters, but it never got confusing. I wold suggest to other readers to write down character names and any information that they get about the characters while reading. It’s a lot less confusing. But like I said, J is for Judgement had a good amount of characters to make the story good, but not enough to where I was confused.

I’ll get back to the characters. First I want to talk about the story line. There were a few different ways that this book could have gone. Jaffe could have come back to California and apologized and made up with his family. Jaffe could have never gone back to California and his family never would have found out he was alive. Jaffe’s family could have been behind his “”death”” five years ago and this was all a big scheme to get money from the insurance company (okay, I admit, I was sorta hoping for this one.) We didn’t find out what was going on for most of the book which made it a quick read because I just had to know what was going on. I had tons of questions during the book and once they were answered, I felt like I had even more. The story went the best way that it could have; I wouldn’t have changed any of it.

When Kinsey wasn’t working on the case, her life was far from boring during this book. When she thinks she may have found someone that she is related, she has no idea what to do about it. Does she call them and say “Hi! I’m your long lost family member!” or does she ignore it and continue living her life in solitude. I couldn’t help but think this was purposely put into the same book where a long lost family member “rises from the dead.” When she wasn’t at work, we got to see a new Kinsey that we are not used to- a somewhat vulnerable Kinsey. I’m not sure if this story line will make it into future books, but I would like to see it extended in the later books.

As for the other characters, Henry was not much of a big character in this book. With Kinsey in Mexico trying to find Jaffe and all over different cities, she wasn’t at home all that often. Other than the regular characters, we met Jaffe, his new wife, his “widow”, and his sons. There were some minor characters thrown in as well, but they weren’t there often. I never got confused with the characters because each character was different. His widow was a bitter lady that refused to believe her husband was still alive. The new wife was quiet and compliant. She never wanted to upset Jaffe. The sons were world apart- one a troublemaker and another could only be described as sensitive and forgiving. Every character was important to this story and made the book better.

When there is a series that is going for 26 books, it is hard to not get repetitive with stories while also staying true to character. Kinsey isn’t one day going to pick up knitting or move into a mansion. There has to be a balance between repetition and consistency. Grafton does this with ease (or that’s how it looks to the readers.) Every book has a different plot but Kinsey is still the same Kinsey. She’s still breaking into places with her lock-picking tool, she’s still eating peanut butter-and-pickle sandwiches, and she’s still waking up at 6 am (HOW!?) to run three miles (almost) every morning. For the most part, Kinsey is the same Kinsey that I met in A is for Alibi and I’m sure she’ll be the same Kinsey in the last book of the series.

Kinsey Millhone was introduced in the 1980s and has been an important part in the mystery and crime genre for women authors and for women protagonists since then. I would recommend this book, and this series as a whole, to everyone.

The Wicked Woods

The Wicked Woods - Kelly Apple I'm reading these books for fun so I won't be posting full reviews (sorry Kelly!)

But this was my first ever monster erotica and it was... different but very well written! It's not something I ever though about reading (or really even knew it existed) but Kelly's an awesome writer and I enjoyed it. It's funny and light read and dirty but it's erotica so what are you expecting?

Rachel's Holiday

Rachel's Holiday - Marian Keyes Originally on my book blog!

“Of course I knew I was a shallow and horrible person and all that, but I couldn’t help it.”

For most of this book, I completely agreed with that statement because it was the truth. I could not stand Rachel and I almost got to a point where I wanted to drop the book because I don’t like reading a book that I hate. I kept with it because I knew that was the point. We were supposed to hate Rachel so we could love her even more when she inevitably grew up and recovered. I am glad I stayed with the book, though.

I will give Marian Keyes one thing: she can write a funny book. It’s hard to make books funny when they are about drug addiction and alcoholism, but Keyes did this perfectly. One thing I loved about this book was that it was funny. It was a light read, even though it had heavy material; I could picture myself sitting on a beach and reading this in an afternoon.

Keyes also writes her characters very well and that’s probably why I didn’t like Rachel for most of this book. Rachel was selfish and self-centered. Many addicts are in a way, but Rachel just made me want to rip my hair out.

She didn’t want to date Luke because she was ashamed of him and didn’t know what her “cool” friends would say. She only finally starting liking Luke after Brigit told her that Luke was cute. She didn’t want Luke to come to her house after going on a date, but that didn’t stop her from getting mad at him for not asking to go to her house. Then when he got home and called her to ask if he could come over, she slammed the phone down in anger. She only wanted to date someone from rehab to make Luke jealous. She honestly thought that she could get out of rehab and go get drunk and be totally fine
She would not admit that she had a problem and usually chalked it up to “just having fun”.

Basically, she was very annoying. I didn’t like her. She wasn’t a good person. But then…

“For the first time I realized how selfish and self-centered I was.”

After spending over 80% of the book filled with her lies and scapegoats, I was elated when she finally admitted that she was finally owning up to her horrendous behavior. I found myself rooting for her for the last part of the book after that. She was more bearable and at times it almost felt like a completely different person.

When I wasn’t wanting to rip my hair out because of Rachel, I was enjoying the rest of the book. Marian Keyes sets up scenery well. Cloisters was a made-up clinic, but Keyes made it come alive. She made the other characters come alive. She is from Ireland and that’s where most of the book took place. It was fun reading a book set in a place where I’ve never been. Keyes brought in Irish accents and dialects that I didn’t know existed throughout the country.

Part of the book was also based in New York because it went back and forth between Pre-Rehab and During-Rehab. The New York part of the book was about the same as most other books I’ve read about New York, minus all the drugs obviously. Pre-Rehab Rachel was obnoxious and very stuck up, so that part of the story was never that fun because it just annoyed me. Then there is Post-Rehab that is set in both places as well. I liked this part most because she was a likable person at this time.

The other characters were fun and a good break from only hearing about Rachel. I loved the other people in Cloisters and was sad when they all left. I enjoyed that this was different from other books that I’ve read with institutions involved.

In the end, I would probably read another Marian Keyes book if I saw one around. I see why she is popular. This one just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball

Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball - George F. Will Originally seen on my book blog

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.

Before I dive into the review of the book, I should mention that this is not a book for someone that isn’t already an active fan of baseball. This is not a book to read if you are trying to learn about baseball. You will get utterly confused by the baseball language in the book and will probably drop it. I had to read it slower than I would normally so I could take time to picture certain things in my head while I was reading. This book is more for the fans that already love the game and want to see it from the perspective of four important Baseball People.

I gave this five stars from the beginning. It never went down from five stars and it never disappointed me. Will wrote this book in a way that made sense. There are four “chapters” in the book. The first is “manager” the second is “pitcher” the third is “hitter” and the fourth is “defense.” He had one man that is important to each of those categories and the chapter focused on them.

I said that this book wouldn’t be as enjoyable for someone that isn’t an active fan because it’s a tag bit outdated. This book was published in 1991. To put that into perspective, there are five current major league players that were born after this book was published. If someone is not an active fan, they may not know a lot, or have even heard, of the men mentioned in the book. That’s no fun for readers.

The manager that the book focused on was Tony La Russa. La Russa is the third winningest manager in MLB history. Obviously, Will did not know it at the time but he picked the best man for the book. La Russa mentions different styles of play for every different pitch and every different batter. As fans, we don’t see all the work that managers have to do before, and during, games. After reading this book, I appreciate managers even more now.

But this book is not only La Russa talking about how he’s going to have his outfielders lined up against a power hitter with a runner on second (they go into detail about these types of things), it’s also a book about the awesome history of baseball. Things that I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t have read this book. Every chapter has a lot of quotes and stories from the man that the chapter is centered on, but it also has a lot of stories about history. And awesome quotes.

“Baseball is not, like basketball or hockey or soccer, a game of steady flows. Rather, it is an episodic game of explosive exertions.”

When it’s put like this, it makes perfect sense and makes me love baseball a little more.

And then, there is Orel Hershiser. Hershiser was one of the best pitchers in the early 90s and was also a great choice. I liked being able to read about pitching when it was coming from him. I also didn’t realize how many thoughts they have on the mound. They need to have great memory to remember how they got hitters out the last times and what pitches the hitters don’t like.

“Control without stuff is far better than stuff without control.”

An important thing to live by if you’re a pitcher.

For hitters, Tony Gywnn was the main guy. This was probably my favourite chapter to read. Hitting mechanics are difficult and frustrating at times, but when they are explained by a great hitter, it’s a fun read. Gywnn and Will did a great job of making it understandable while also explaining the important parts of hitting. This chapter also talked a lot about the history of bats, home runs, and hitters slumps.

I found it hilarious and ironic that I read stories about corking the bat and doctoring the baseball while the whole Michael Pineda pine tar fiasco was happening.

The last chapter is about the most underrated part of baseball: defense. It should be obvious that Cal Ripken was the focal point of this chapter. At this point of the book, they had no idea that he would break “The Unbreakable Record” of most consecutive games played. If anyone is going to teach me more about defense, I would pick Cal every day of the week. After reading this chapter, it really hit me that defense is still not seen as important- not important enough in my opinion. Sure, we have guys that are great at defense, but not many of them are known for their defense only. The only person that comes to mind is Andrelton Simmons.

This book is a must read for all baseball fans. Even though it’s old, there are still so many good stories in this book.

When I finished the book, I thought of who the four men would be if this book was re-written this year.

Manager: Terry Francona

Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw

Hitter: Miguel Cabrera

Defense: Mike Trout

The 8th Confession (Women's Murder Club #8)

The 8th Confession (Women's Murder Club #8) - James Patterson, Maxine Paetro Originally on my book blog

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

If I thought the last few books were lacking something, this one brought it all back. I couldn’t stop reading it because the two story lines were intense and interesting. The writing was spectacular in this one as well. I never once thought about giving up on this series, but I am sure glad that I didn’t take a break from it. For anyone that felt like the last few weren’t as good, keep going. It gets better. Now onto the book!

Rich people were dropping dead, but from what? Why were there so many that had paths that crossed but no one knew who the killer was or what killed them? The thing that kept me interested in this story was the mystery in the death. A mystery novel can easily get boring if we know how someone was killed, who killed them, and why they killed them. With this story, we didn’t have any of those answers for a lot of the book. It kept me guessing and kept me reading. I was extremely surprised by the ending of this story line. It was unexpected and perfectly orchestrated. Like I said, the writing was great. This book left us guessing until the very end.

Rich people are dying, but so did a homeless man around the same time. The San Francisco Police Department only had enough man power to handle one case, so they went with the rich people. That’s normal. Cindy wasn’t having it though. After Cindy “investigated” the case of the murdered Bagman Jesus on her own, she found too much information and she finally had to show Lindsay what she was working on.

Bagman Jesus is a homeless man that, to many, seemed to be the perfect, loving man that just wanted to help people. The more Cindy, Conklin, and Lindsay looked into his life, the more they found some holes in their perfect and loving theory. Had he actually been a bad person? Did he actually deserve to die? This story kept me interested the whole time because it was just as mysterious. We didn’t know his real name, we didn’t know anything about him except for that he was dead and that other homeless people looked up to him.

I’ve said it twice and I’ll say it again: the writing was incredible. Most mystery books aren’t the best at also including romance, but this series can intertwine them very well. Lindsay and Joe are in love, so why isn’t she running away with him to get married? She feels something for her partner, Conklin, but she won’t admit it. But now, Cindy and Conklin hit it off and are spending some quality time together. Can Lindsay handle seeing her best friend with the guy that she feels something for? Does she have the right to be jealous even though she already has an incredible boyfriend? 8th Confession left that up to the readers.

Here is my take on it: Lindsay, you cannot be mad about their relationship. Sure you can be jealous- it’s not like you can stop that feeling. But YOU are the one that turned Conklin down. YOU are the one that has a boyfriend. YOU are the one that’s still trying to decide if you want to marry him or not. You have no room to be mad about their relationship. Conklin is not yours. He is also not Cindy’s but he could be if you didn’t get mad every time they looked at each other. I understand you feel something for him, but either be honest with him and yourself or move on. It’s not fair to anyone in the situation, including Joe, to sit around and get mad at your friend and partner for something that is only your business because you are their friend and partner.

I feel better now that I got that out.

The further into this series, the less the Women’s Murder Club becomes a way to solve crimes than it is just four best friends talking about their lives. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the change but now that I’ve gotten used to it, I like that the readers get to know more about the characters as people instead of as a group. Unfortunately, that means we may also dislike characters. I do not like Yuki. I’m not sure if it’s because Jill quickly became a favourite of mine or if there is just something about her, but I am not as impressed with her as I am with the others. I do hope this changes further into the series.

8th Confession is a great, easy read that brought me right back into the series. Good story lines, great endings, awesome writing. If there is anyone that gave up this series before this book, you missed out. I hope that one day Maxine Paetro writes her own books so I can read all of them. She has proven to me that she is a gifted writer and will do well in the mystery genre if she decided to pursue it.

A Million Little Pieces

A Million Little Pieces - James Frey Originally found on my book blog!

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

My review:

“I am an Alcoholic and I am a drug Addict and I am a Criminal.”

When I first started reading this book, I had no idea about the controversy with this book. I feel like to write an honest review, I can’t not mention the controversy and my take on it. I read the Wikipedia page and some other things on it and I can tell you that I still consider this a memoir and a great one at that. I know some people don’t like that Frey lied about spending some time in jail when he didn’t, but who has told the whole truth when talking or writing a book about themselves? The controversy is why I took off half a point, otherwise it would have been an easy five stars. Now onto the actual book!

James Frey wrote this book in an interesting way an interesting way.

There were times that he repeated himself (like I did in the previous sentence). And there were few full paragraphs. What I mean by that is that a lot of the sentences started on a new line. I’m not sure why he did that, but the free prose made the book different. A good different.

He also did not put any quote marks in this book. At all. It looked a lot like this

Leonard stands.

Let’s go for a walk.

I stay on the bench.

No thanks.

Come on.



I look up.

I don’t know if I can be seen with you in that sweatsuit.

This time of writing was confusing at times unless he specified who was talking or if was what being said was aloud or inner monologue. Once I could decipher between the two, I liked this time of writing. It’s unique and weird, a lot like this book.

James Frey may be an Alcoholic and a drug Addict and a Criminal, but he’s also a good writer. There were parts of this book that just amazed me.

The screams of the Addicted without their addictions. The screams of the dead who are somehow still alive.

I mean I pictured vampires when he said this, but that’s not too far off from some addicts that I’ve come across. His writing comes alive. His writing is real. His writing is scary. I love his writing.

I am alone. Alone here and alone in the world. Alone in my heart and alone in my mind. Along everywhere, all the time, for as long as I can remember. Alone with my family, alone with my friends, along in a Room full of people. Alone when I wake, alone through each awful day, alone when I finally meet the blackness. I am alone in my horror. Alone in my horror.

I just want to go give him a hug. It’s hard to read such sad things, especially when I know it’s so real. But it made me so happy when he finally was happy again.

I could tell when he started shifting from the Alcoholic and the drug Addict and the Criminal to a person with Feelings and Heart.

I am a Criminal and he is a Judge and I am white and he is black, but at this moment none of that matters. He is a man who needs a friend and I can be his friend.

When James really started becoming human, it was one of the happiest moments I’ve had in weeks. I knew he recovered to write this book because, well he wrote this book, but it was awesome getting to read about his recovery. The book itself was really good. It had it’s funny moments, it had it’s sad moments, and it had it’s happy moments. There were times that I wanted to just shake him and say “JAMES QUICK BEING AN IDIOT. YOU NEED TO RECOVER.” and there were other times where I wanted to shake everyone else and say “JAMES IS GOING TO RECOVER IN EVERY WAY THAT HE THINKS WILL WORK. LET HIM DO THAT.”

This book broke my heart at times. At the beginning I was sad for him because I knew that his life was far from good and he was so young and he was so ruined. When his good friends would leave the clinic, I’d pray that they would recover and stay in touch with James. When James finally found love for the first time in his life, I was so happy for him but I was also worried for him.

I’ve known people that have gone through these types of problems and I’ve heard a few different recovery stories. This one is one of my favourites. I am so happy that James recovered and has a life now. I am excited to read his second book, My Friend Leonard.

I’d talk about the other “characters” in this book, but that makes it feel like it’s not a non-fiction. The other stories of the people in this book were important, but I feel like this was all about James and his road through the clinic. I will say that I had some other people in the book that I had a liking to and it was hard letting them go without hearing their full story.

Since he wrote this book, I knew it would end happily. I didn’t expect it to end the way that it did, but it was a great ending. I am so happy for James Frey and will keep him in my thoughts that he can keep strong.

James has never relapsed.

7th Heaven (Women's Murder Club)

7th Heaven (Women's Murder Club) - James Patterson Originally posted on my book blog!

Actual rating: 3.75

This book wasn’t as intense or gripping as the other ones. I could easily put this down for a few hours to do something else and hardly think about the book. That’s not to say that the book was bad, it just wasn’t as exciting and thrilling as others in the series. The book starts out with a bang but it fizzled out at times. It’s unfortunate because there were two very interesting plots that were in this book, it just didn’t work.

There is an arsonist on the loose that is burning up homes along with the people living in the home. After three houses and six victims, there are no leads. There is no evidence of how the fires even started. The only thing that they find at all the crime scenes in a book with a sentence in Latin in the book. This plot was sad but it just didn’t hit me the way others had. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just wasn’t gripping the book and speed reading to find out who the arsonists were and their reasoning for it. I also was a little disappointed with how this plot ended. Maybe I’ll read it again and appreciate it more, but I just found it odd.

The other plot was a little more exciting. The governor’s son is widely know around the country- for having a heart defect. Everyone knows who Michael Campion is. “The boy with the Broken Heart” has been missing for three months. No ransom note, no call home, no letters, absolutely no contact. Also no leads. Until there is a tip on the tip line and it’s not pretty. This story also went from “This is going to be awesome!” to yeah but where is the rest? I just didn’t feel connected to this plot. I was surprised by the ending of this one and I rather liked it, which bumped up my rating a little bit.

The one part of this book that I felt connected to was the romance/relationship with Joe. He’s finally in San Francisco full time and their relationship is growing into something that I could definitely handle reading about for a long time. But then there’s also her super attractive partner at work. She hasn’t gone and said that she has feelings for him, but it’s apparent that there is something there. I am exciting to see how these two relationships grow or fizzle in the coming books.

I love this series, so I won’t give up on it after a book that I didn’t love, but I do hope that the next one is better. Maybe I’m in a book funk which is possible.

Cat & Mouse (Alex Cross #4)

Cat & Mouse (Alex Cross #4) - James Patterson Originally seen on my book blog!

Alex Cross’s (and mine) worst nightmare is back. Gary Soneji is back with a vengeance and will stop at nothing to get back at Alex Cross for “ruining his life.” Can he be stopped this time? While Alex is trying to stop Gary a second time, there is another killer on the loose, Mr. Smith.

I lied about Soneji being my worst nightmare. Mr. Smith is my worst nightmare. And it’s not particularly close.

I could talk for hours about how much I like Alex Cross. He’s has been one of my favourite characters since I started this series in January. In every book it seems that I find a new thing that I like about him. This book is his humour. I don’t think I realized it before, but he’s funny. And not just in a way where I am cracking up and tears are streaming down my face, but in a way where I’m rolling my eyes and thinking “seriously? A dad joke?” or “you’re such a dweeb, Alex”

“Can I see [Rosie, the cat]?”

“Sure can. She’s been asking for you all morning. I don’t know why, but she seems to like you.”

“She knows I’m a cool cat, too.”

Seriously, that’s the best dad joke I’ve heard all month.

Not only is he funny, but he’s a great dad, partner, friend, and basically every relationship he has. Patterson makes Alex’s relationships with his kids so healthy and refreshing. I can tell that Alex loves his kids more than anything and I can tell that they love him. Jannie and Damon are so smart and I love parts of the book that they are in because their dialogue with Alex is witty and fun. Every book I feel like I’m getting closer to Alex’s family because Patterson portrays them so well.

I loved this book because it was fast paced. When I say fast-paced, I mean that I literally could not put this book down because I needed to know what was happening. One thing that was big in this book was the “cat and mouse” effect (now the title makes sense). During the book, Alex is trying to find Soneji and at times he’s not sure if he’s the cat or if he’s the mouse. I think at times he was the cat and at times he was the mouse. It seemed that Soneji knew exactly what Alex was going to do, making Alex the mouse but at times Alex was sure he had a line on Soneji making Alex the cat.

There was another aspect of this book that was… creepy and scary. Mr. Smith was the scariest killer anyone had ever seen. He’s been over America and into Europe and they don’t know how to stop him. Alex, Sampson, and Thomas Pierce were trying to catch him and were definitely the Mouse. They had no idea what Mr. Smith’s next move was going to be until it was too late. They were always the mouse until they simply weren’t and then it was just the fact of finding him which was no easy task. Mr. Smith will probably be showing up in my nightmares during the next few weeks.

Thomas Pierce is an FBI agent who has a special tie with Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith killed Pierce’s girlfriend. He took the case personally and wanted nothing more than to find her killer. I don’t know how I felt about Pierce but that’s because I’m so used to everyone else that I felt weird about a new character. Patterson made him likable and unlikable at different times, and I still haven’t decided how I feel about him.

I do know that I hated Mr. Smith. When I found out who he was, I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting it at all. Maybe my detective skills are not up to par, but I couldn’t believe it. I never would have thought that the killer was who it was and I think Patterson made it known perfectly. There was no better way to do it and I think that’s why it was so shocking.

This book has more romance than the others and surprisingly I liked that portion. Him and Christine are finally going on a date! I love them together and I haven’t quite put my finger on why. Patterson writes them in a way where you just fall in love with them as a couple and want them to run off and get married (or maybe that’s just me?) I can’t wait to see how their relationship grows in the next few books.

If there was one thing that I didn’t think about this book was that it changed POV halfway through. All the other books are through Alex Cross’s eyes, but for some of the book, Thomas Pierce was the eyes and ears of the book and it was a strange transition. It was weird hearing “Alex Cross said” instead of “I said” but after a while, I got more used to it and saw why it was important in the book.

Easily a 5 star rating and I won’t be surprised if it’s at the top of my monthly favourite list for April. I would recommend this to everyone that read the first three books of the series. This is not a series to read out of order and this book will only makes sense (at times) if the first three were read. It also gives away other aspects of the previous books, so it’s very important to read the first three before diving into this one.

"I" is for Innocent (The Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries)

"I" is for Innocent (The Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries) - Sue Grafton Originally seen on my book blog!

I started this book last month but then forgot it at home while I spent a few weeks at my boyfriend’s house. Once I got back home and started the book again, it was a little confusing because I’d read so many books in between that I forgot what the book was about. Luckily it was easy to jump back into and it turned out to be a really good book with an interesting story.

When someone dedicated a character to 26 books (one for each letter of the alphabet) there are going to be some that are just kinda meh or just aren’t as good. Some book series’ get boring and redundant. This book was not either of those. Kinsey lost her job after her last case and is now working for someone else at the moment. A colleague recently died of a heart attack so she took his workload for him and is working on a case for a lawyer. Kinsey hasn’t done this before and it was interesting seeing her in this type of setting.

Five years ago someone killed Isabelle and the number one suspect was her husband David Barney. The jury didn’t think he did it and he was acquitted of the charges. Ken Voight, Isabelle’s ex-husband is not so sure Barney is innocent and is suing Barney for the estate. Kinsey is going through all of her former colleague’s information that he had before he died and is finding interesting information or lack thereof.

I love Kinsey as a character. She’s funny, independent, kinda risky, and isn’t afraid to break laws if she needs to. This book series is set in the 80s and through 23 books, 5 years or so have passed. Kinsey is hardly any older now than she was in the first book. She hasn’t changed much either and I’m glad about that. She’s one of those characters that could stay the same for 26 books and still be an awesome character. Grafton is great at writers characters.

There is something that I’ve picked up on that I find interesting: Grafton always, always, always describes new characters. If Kinsey is meeting up with someone, she will describe their meeting place:

“The place was so small, I could tour without moving far. The furnishings were antique: a crude pine table, two cane-bottom chairs, a corner cabinet with wavy, blue-tinted glass panes, a brass bed with a patchwork quilt, white on white. The bathroom was small, the only portion of the house that was fully enclosed.”

While I read this, I could picture where they were. She also describes who she is interacting with:

“I judged her to be in her late thirties or very early forties. She was slightly shorter than I with wide shoulders and a stocky build, which she managed to minimize by the clothes she wore. Her hair was a reddish blond, a fine flyaway shade much darker at the roots, cut shoulder length and crinkled from a perm. Her face was square, her mouth wide.”

“The outfit she wore was black and white geometric print, a washable silk jacket over a long black tunic top, her long loose skirt brushing the tops of her black suede boots.”

I can now picture what the house looks like and who she is talking to. I know that some people find this annoying, but I like to imagine things while I’m reading and if she just mentioned “I’m in a small house with a lady” I would probably picture this lady in a blue dress and looking like Alice from Alice in Wonderland.

Grafton does a good job of describing Kinsey’s surroundings but not in a way where it’s all descriptive things because that just gets annoying. No one needs thirteen adjectives in one sentence. (Someone tell that to E.L. James)

The things I liked most from this book was that it was different than what Kinsey usually does. She’s still doing PI work, but this time she wasn’t hired by someone on the street and she’s working something that someone else already worked. If someone got bored with her doing regular PI work, they should read this book and get a break from what Kinsey usually does.

This whole book I was going back and forth on if David Barney really killed Isabelle or if someone else did it. Even though there was a 50/50 chance that I knew the answer, I was still very surprised and I think it was a good ending. Grafton has a few books that end with such action that it’s nearly impossibly to put the book down until the end. The last 10 pages or so were filled with so much action that I did not look away from my book until I was done, and that’s how you know it’s a great ending.

At times, the book was a tad bit boring and it seemed that it veered away from the plot until all the pieces came together and it all made more sense. I love this series and am exciting to see if she ever gets her job back at California Fidelity. Another thing that I’m not a huge fan of is how many characters she puts in the book. I’ve learned to write down names and relationships to other people so I don’t look track of people. Other than that, Grafton’s books would all get 5 stars from me.

Things I got out of this book: Kinsey could definitely be a PI for a lawyer. I wish I had a house like Kinsey’s. A lot of people kill for money which is a scary thought.

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