book review: digital fortress by dan brown

3.5 stars

tw: sexual harrassment, racist comments, fat shaming, ableism, child abandoment, murder

Believe it or not, Dan Brown writes more than just the Da Vinci Code series. He actually has two other books counting this one that is not related to the Da Vinci Code world. They are written very much in the style of the Da Vinci Code which makes it easier to transition to these books. I own the other one and will eventually read it. 

Onto the actual review. This book was good. It wasn’t fantastic but I didn’t hate it. It didn’t blow me away or keep me on the edge of my sea but I enjoyed the ride nonetheless. It was just a real solid book and sometimes, that’s all you can ask for. 

One of the positives about this book is that the MC, Susan, is a code breaker. I love that. Seeing women in STEM makes my heart soar with happiness. It doesn’t happen often enough in literature, in my opinion. 

Another positive is how non confusing the multiple POVS were. Sometimes, more than two POVs can get a bit chaotic but not with this book. I knew exactly what was going on.

 I also appreciate how things were explained in this book. Anything that wasn’t known to the common people was explained. Brown always spends so much research into all his books. I applaud him for that. 

But unfortunately, that also can be a bit of a negative. There was a lot of CIA and technical jargon that I didn’t always understand even with the good explanations. It left me a little confused at times, hence the lower rating. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It has me super fascinated with everything CIA. Dan Brown is such a talented writer and I can’t wait to read Deception Point. 

❤ lacy

book review: the taster by v.s alexander

4 stars

tw: murder, rape holocaust horrors (everything horrible related to the holocaust), suicide, attempted poisonings, actual poisoning, attempted murder, murder of dogs, anti Semitism, bombings

As you all know or may not know, I am very much into Holocaust and World War II books. I love reading about how people overcome such evil and help others to make sure that kind of evil never happens again. I love the stories of triumph. They give me hope in this bleak world we live in. Most of the Holocaust/WWII books I have read have been related to the concentration camps, which, don’t get me wrong, they are good books (most of them are) but sometimes I like to read about survival on the other side. The ones that fight the evil from within.

And this book delivered that in spades. I had this book saved in my Overdrive (which is a truly blessed app that everyone should have on their Kindle) and I decided to give it a shot in an effort to get the list cleaned out. The synopsis had me intrigued and I wanted to know more about it. In short, I. Loved. This. Book. Everything about it was amazing. The main character was great, the story was heart wrenching and the writing was beautiful. I could yell all day long about how fantastic this book was.

Magda was the main character and let me tell you, her growth in a short amount of time that this book took place (it spanned the course of the war; 1939 to 1945) was amazing. In case you didn’t know, I love a good character growth in a book. Magda started off kind of whiny and a little bit spoiled, as she was a young adult at the time of the war starting. Quickly, she changed her tune and grew up to be a very strong and courageous woman. She excluded strength in desperate times and never lost who she was as a person despite the atrocities she faced. I was truly amazed at how well she adapted to being a taste for Hitler. I would have lost my nerve if I ever had to do such a job. She will be on my list as one of my favorite main characters, simply because of how strong she is.

The plot was what drew me into the book. How often do you see a book written about a taster? I have yet to see another one, to be honest. Like I mentioned above, Magda was a taster for Hitler. What that means is she tasted the food Hitler and his officials would eat to ensure it was not poisoned. Hitler was obsessed with the Allies poisoning his food. To me, having that job would just straight up suck. I mean sure, the chances of poison actually getting into the food was very slim as Hitler surrounded himself with nothing but incredibly loyal and blind followers but there is always that chance. I wondered, while reading this book, if it’s based on true events. I will have to do a bit more research to see if it is.

I do have one teeny tiny complaint about this otherwise amazing book. That complaint would be the ending. It felt kind of rushed to me, like as if V.S Alexander realized he needed to quickly wrap things up as the book was getting to be a bit longer. The last 100 pages or so, events seemed to happen at breakneck speed when before they had gone at a leisurely pace. It just felt off and threw the pacing of the book way off. It was one of the reasons why I rated this book 4 (four) stars instead of 5 (five) like I was originally going too.

Overall, everyone needs to check this book out. I can’t believe that it isn’t more popular. Be assured I’ll make sure this book will be known. Everybody, seriously, check this book out! You don’t have to be super interested in WWII like I am. It has a great plot line that would appeal to readers of all different types.

❤ lacy

audiobook review: the silent patient by alex michaelides

4 stars for both the book and the narration

tw: child abuse, murder, mental illness portrayed in an unsavory and harmful way (challenged by narrator), attempted suicide (multiple attempts), violent assault resulting in gruesome injury

How do you write a review on a book where anything you say just gives away the entire book? I feel if I even try and say something about the plot, I will give away crucial details. Trust me, this book is best read going in totally blind. I wouldn’t even read the synopsis of this book, if I were you all. Trust me on this. 

I suppose I can at least talk about the two main characters. No harm in that. Theo and Alicia were the two MCs in this book. I actually enjoyed Theo, even though he is the type of character I can’t stand. He is very much an antihero. Perhaps antiheroes are finally growing on me. There was just something about him that struck a chord with me. The ideas he talks about relating to psychology also makes so much more sense. One thing that stuck out to me was he said “people join psychology to help themselves.” and damn if that didn’t hit me in the feels. Because that is one of the reasons why I got into psychology. I wanted to be able to help others and help myself at the same time. 

The other main character, as I mentioned above, is Alicia. Although the book was from the point of view of Theo, the book centered around getting Alicia to talk again. The book incorporated bits of her diary as well. I thoroughly enjoyed those parts as we got to know Alicia through those pages. I almost wish that the book was narrated by her. She truly was a tortured soul and my heart bled for her.  

Speaking of narrators, since this is an audiobook, I should talk a little bit about it. I enjoyed both voice actors for Alicia and Theo. although I had to look up what exactly was Alicia’s name because the voice actor was British and I couldn’t quite understand what he was saying when saying the name Alicia. But other than that, I enjoyed the narrators a lot. I appreciated that they got a female to voice Alicia. I’ve seen books where they had a male doing the female part and I’m going to be honest, it just sounds off. So I’m glad a female did Alicia instead. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Having it read to me enhanced the experience. There is a lot of psychology in this book and having the ideas read to you will help to understand them better. Plus all the psychology made my little psychology heart happy. The voice actors are excellent. Overall, you can’t go wrong with this book. 

❤ lacy

book review: the couple next door by shari lapena

2 stars

tw: postpartum depression depicted realistically, cheating, mental illness depicted in unsavory lighting, murder

This was not a good book. I am disappointed because I was looking forward to this book and I was so excited when I found this book for less than ten dollars (USD). I had read some pretty positive reviews and I was ready to be thrilled with mystery. Instead, I got a lot of just awfulness. The characters were incredibly unlikable and just plain dumb. They constantly made awful decisions and then complained about what their decisions cost them. The secret twist was revealed halfway through the book so I had to slog through the rest of it. Everything about this book was just awful. 

The writing was not great either. It was incredibly stilted and I was just told things. I was told how the characters felt. I was told everything in such minute detail and repeatedly. It was a slog to read certain parts. It was a chore to read through the whole book. I basically guessed the twist about the first 100 pages or so.  

The characters were the absolute worst. I can’t even be bothered to look up their names because I just couldn’t bring myself to care about them. They were so damn unlikable. Now I have no problem with unlikable characters. They can really make the book. But not this time. They constantly were doing just the dumbest things and it made me want to scream “THAT WON’T HELP YOU!”. I was just so annoyed with them all the time. 

Overall, not a good book. The only kind of positive was Anne’s postpartum depression and how well it was depicted. I have never experienced postpartum depression as I don’t have a kid. But I felt like it was really well done and showed just how hard having depression and taking care of a child is. Course, she had another unspecified mental illness and the police made her look awful because of it. There was a point in the book where the police found her medications after searching the house and they immediately suspected her simply because she took depression medication. Great police work *rolls eyes*. That trope just needs to be retired. Honestly just avoid this book. It was really not good. 

❤ lacy

book review: maestra by l.s hinton

4 stars

tw: murder, attempted rape, fat shaming, so much slut shaming

Holy cow, did I love this book. I honestly figured I would since it mentioned heists and some other risque things. This is what 50 Shades of Grey should have been. Don’t get me wrong, I loved 50 Shades but it was lacking something for me. And I learned what it lacked: violence. 

Okay, that sounds kind of bad. What I mean by violence is I wanted Anna to take control of herself like Judith did. I suppose Anna did take control after a while, but the way she did was just annoying and convoluted.  Judith, after a while, found her voice and decided she didn’t want to take crap from anybody anymore. She took control and decided enough was enough. Even when I thought she had finally met her match, she had another trick up her sleeve. I loved that. 

I love how unapologetic Judith was about herself. She was open about her sexuality. She loved having sex and didn’t care that it wasnt considered proper. She was herself and I enjoyed that. Judith is the definition of an antihero and I rooted for her during the entire story. 

The only negative thing I have to say is about the plot. I was expecting an actual heist like the synopsis mentioned. Think the Gardner Museum heist (look up the Buzzfeed Unsolved True Crime episode to get an idea of what I’m talking about). That’s what I wanted to see happen. And that didn’t happen.  It was a different type of heist. I still enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, but it was just like misleading. 

Overall, a seriously fantastic book. It was very dark with some well done sex scenes and an awesome MC. If you enjoyed 50 Shades of Grey and/or Anne Rice’s Beauty series (which I also highly recommend), you will love this book. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book, which I happen to have. I found it at a Dollar Tree, if you can believe it.  

❤ lacy

book review: last tango in cyberspace by steve kotler

4 stars

A special thank you goes out to Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for allowing me to read this arc. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

tw: drug use (a lot), death, decapitation (graphic description)

Normally I wouldn’t request a book like this. This book leans very heavily on science fiction and technology. But two things made me request it. One is that the publisher is St Martin’s Press. They have yet to steer me wrong and  I haven’t read a book published by them less than 3 (three) stars. Two was the cover. This cover was so damn beautiful, that I knew I had to read it. Boy, am I glad I did read it. It has become one of my favorite books.

This book was different and I mean that in a good way. I didn’t know what I was going to get when I started but it wasn’t that. It was very unusual. It was written unusually. Everything about it was so different and I enjoyed the heck out of it. Honestly, this book would make a great movie. The world reminded me of the movie version of OASIS from Ready Player One. 

The world was incredibly different and unlike anything I’ve ever read about. Basically, it blended a ton of different cultures, fads, stereotypes, labels, etc into a unique blend that left me fascinated and wanting more. I would love to get a book of just the world and how it came to be. The world included fun technology that I enjoyed reading about. As you can tell, it was the worldbuilding that really sold me on this book. 

The way the book was written was what hooked me in. It was written as if someone was following Lion (the MC) around, recording his daily life and feelings. Normally, that would be boring as hell to read but it wasn’t with this book. There was so much shorthand, that it just worked. 

The MC, Lion, was a cool character. He was an empath (which basically means he was incredibly sensitive to feelings of others) and essentially tracks people down. It was fascinating to see how he thought. Although, at times, it was hard to get to know him. He didn’t deal much with feelings unless it was about animals. He loved animals so much that he was willing to get arrested and lose his job over them and it was heartwarming to see that. 

Overall, this was a super cool book. The cover was breathtaking. The world was unique. The writing was spot on. Everything about this book screams awesome. St Martin’s Press has done it again!  Be sure to check it out today!

❤ lacy

book review: home for erring and outcast by julie kibler

3 stars

A special thank you goes out to Netgalley and Crown Publishing for allowing me to read this arc. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

tw: rape, victim shaming, homophobia, homelessness, incest, sexual assualt, sexism and child death

I went into this book expecting something and I got something else (story of my life). This book was split between the story of Lizzie and Mattie, which is in the past and the story of Cate, who is in the present. Cate finds the story of Lizzie and Mattie and the home that they lived in due to work at a college library. There wasn’t a real connection between the past and present, which I expected. It really brought the book down. 

I didn’t care for Cate’s chapters. I honestly would have liked them more if they were a whole separate book. Instead, they felt added on, simply to plump the book up. Maybe it would have been better if Cate was related to Lizzie or Mattie. That would have made more sense to me and it would have connected all the women. There was also an unrealistic aspect involved in Cate’s story that made no sense. There was no reason for it to be in the story and it just felt misplaced. 

As for Lizzie and Mattie, they were okay. I enjoyed Lizzie’s chapters the most and loved it when she got page time. I loved her growth during the years. She grew up and became one of my favorites. She acknowledged mistakes, recognized her weaknesses and overall had fantastic growth. You all know how much I love character growth. I don’t have much to say about Mattie. She was an okay person but not a good friend to Lizzie. I liked her but she was just meh to me.

Overall, the book was alright. It wasn’t anything special and that is such a shame because it could have been. It was just disappointing with how the book was set up. I still recommend this book because it has an important message about second chances and I think a lot of people would enjoy this book. It just wasn’t for me. 

❤ lacy

book review: fine things by danielle steel

4 stars

tw: homophobic comments, cancer, death, kidnapping, mentions of drug use

This will be a pretty short review as I don’t have a lot to say about it. It’s not that I hated the book, I just don’t have a lot to say about it. A solid piece of work from Danielle Steel. This is one of her older pieces but still pretty good but it was certainly dated. There was some comments made about San Fransico and the homosexual community. This book takes place in the 80’s, I believe. Not that it defends the comments made, but it explains it. Other than that, this book was good. One of the positives about DS is that even though she is a romance writer, she often has male MCs, like this book. Which is something I absolutely respect. 

This book follows the story of Bernie Fine, a Jewish man, who is vice president of a very fancy clothing store that I can’t remember the name of. Think Goldman Sachs and the likes. He’s had a very good life as most of the characters in DS novels have, for the most part, with loving parents. He hasn’t had the best of luck with love, as it’s mostly women trying to use him for his lofty connections, until he meets his wife. Instalove ensues, then tragedy followed by the rebuilding of his entire life. 

What this book does well is display realistic emotions. Danielle Steel made me feel grief that Bernie felt. There was no end to his grief. It was always there and very much present. Even during happy days, the pain was still here and I respect that she kept that in there. You never truly get over the loss of a loved one. You can try and move on but it will always be there. 

Overall, solid work, like I mentioned with a few minor complaints that I stated above. I wasn’t in love with this book but I certainly didn’t hate it. It was refreshingly realistic (to a point) and it was a quick and easy read. 

❤ lacy

book review: the last summer (of you and me) by anne brashares

2 stars

I was so beyond frustrated with this book. It had the makings of easily being a 4 (four) star book. The writing was absolutely beautiful. It was very prosy and it had me from the first sentence. I was so sure I was going to love this book as I have enjoyed other books by this author like her Traveling Pants series. 

Nope. I did not enjoy this book at all. Well, that’s a lie. I did like it up until the halfway point. From there, I was just a giant ball of frustration. It had the one trope I cannot stand and that is the self punishment trope. Why this is even a trope is beyond me and how people even enjoy it just straight confuses me.  

The self punishment trope is when a character decides to punish themselves because they were doing something that made them happy and while they were doing this, tragedy strikes. The character then thinks that “oh, this tragedy occurred because I was happy. Therefore, I must deny myself all forms of happiness no matter what.” How dumb is that? It makes no sense for this to even be a thought. 

That is basically what I dealt with for the second half of the book. It was ridiculous. I probably could have dealt with it for a little bit but it was the MC that was doing this self punishment and she had most of the page time. So my enjoyment was completely ruined. This easily could have been a beautiful story of friends and sisters coming together in the face of tragedy. I was so bitterly disappointed. I even wrote in my notes that I was “heckin mad”. That’s me, the professional reviewer. 

Overall, this book was a disappointment. I didn’t even write about the characters because I was just so fed up with the plot that I can’t even remember if the characters were any good. I suppose if you are into that self punishment trope then this book might be for you. It just wasn’t for me. 

❤ lacy

book review: the landscape of anne of green gables by catherine reed

3 stars

A special thank you goes to Netgalley and Timber Press for allowing me to read this arc. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I am actually incredibly disappointed by this book. I expected to learn about the world of Anne but it was just a lot of repeated information from the books and not much about the island in which the Anne of Green Gables series was based on. There were sometimes just pages of parts and quotes from the books. It honestly felt like I was rereading the books. If I had wanted that, I would have just read the books myself. I was like yes, I’ve read the book series already, please give me more information about the landscape. 

I did learn that even though the author of Anne of Green Gables, L.M Montgomery, says her and Anne are not the same person, when in reality, they are very much the same person. There were parts of her journal scattered throughout the book. It was neat to see her thought process and how she incorporated her life into her writing. So that was kind of fun to learn. L.M Montgomery was an interesting person. 

The only reason I gave this 3 (three) stars instead of 2 (two) is because of the beautiful pictures. I turned off blue shade and suffered through glaring white pages just to see the amazing pictures of the island. It was well worth the headache I received afterwards. Prince Edward Island is an absolutely breathtaking place and I would love to visit sometime. 

Overall, this book wasn’t great but it was horrible either. I just expected something and got something completely different. I suppose if you enjoy Anne of Green Gables, then maybe you will like this book. It does repeat a lot of passages from the books but I still felt like it was somewhat worth the read. At the very least, the pictures are worth it. 

❤ lacy