REVIEW: BACHELOR NATION By Amy Kaufman

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Publication March 6, 2018 by Dutton

For fifteen years and thirty-five seasons, the Bachelor franchise has been a mainstay in American TV viewers’ lives. Since it premiered in 2002, the show’s popularity and relevance has only grown–more than eight million viewers tuned in to see the conclusion of the most recent season of The Bachelor.

The iconic reality television show’s reach and influence into the cultural zeitgeist is undeniable. Bestselling writers and famous actors live tweet about it. Die-hard fans–dubbed “Bachelor Nation”–come together every week during each season to participate in fantasy leagues and viewing parties.

Bachelor Nation is the first behind-the-scenes, unauthorized look into the reality television phenomenon.

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My secret is out….I’m a Bachelor Fan! Of course, my immediate family and a few friends know I love The Bachelor and Bachelorette shows but it’s not something I regularly admit to watching. I know I’m not alone since I’ve been seeing comments for this book pop up on Goodreads from others who start off by saying The Bachelor is their guilty pleasure show. And a secret. Well, Amy Kaufman has now put our #BachelorNation obsession into coherent words with her engaging, witty book. Seriously, how has this show continued season after season, weathering controversy and drama and still manages to bring in millions of viewers each episode?? Amy has your answers.

Friends, I have to say this up front…I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I read it in one sitting on a Friday evening with a large glass of wine and I had the best time. As someone who’s watched the show since Trista and Ryan’s season, so the 2nd season and they’re now on season 35 I believe, I absolutely loved reading about how the show was created (a fluke) and the very interesting behind the scenes details about it’s creators. Amy Kaufman had behind the scenes access to the show for many years until one day it vanished and she was deemed banned from all things Bachelor…makes you say hmmm. I loved her interviews with past contestants and her inside scoop on how the episodes are actually made. I always wondered how the producers were working behind the scenes to get the girls and guys to SAY some of the things that come out of their mouths…now I know and truly I’ll never watch the show the same.

What I especially liked was Amy’s writing and her ability to keep the pace fast and the tone upbeat. I never felt that the book ventured into gossip territory; rather, I found her writing to be intelligent and informative. The only part that I sort of breezed through was the chapter on the history of reality dating shows but I appreciate the background info she was providing to put The Bachelor of today into context. If you’re a fan, secret or otherwise, of The Bachelor/Bachelorette I think you’ll absolutely enjoy this book!

Many thanks to Dutton Books via Netgalley for my copy

REVIEW: I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK By Michelle McNamara

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Publication Feb 27, 2018 By Harper
For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.”

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth.

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Riveting. Chilling. Fascinating. I could go on with the adjectives to describe this incredible work of nonfiction but you get the idea. It’s very rare that I come across a book, especially a nonfiction one, that literally made my heart race while reading certain scenes. Like others have mentioned, I couldn’t read this at night. To say it’s scary doesn’t seem to do Michelle’s writing justice, but it’s absolutely how I felt while reading about this elusive rapist/killer.  She has created a brilliant work of investigative journalism that was, at times, terrifying, yet utterly gripping to read. I couldn’t put it down. When I wasn’t reading I was busy looking over my shoulder, checking the doors and windows and thinking about all the unsuspecting victims and communities he terrorized . It’s unfathomable on many levels….not just the crimes he committed but how he’s managed to continuously elude authorities. At times, he had been right there in front of them and yet he managed to vanish.

Michelle’s passion for her work and yes her obsession with finding this killer came alive through her evocative prose. I often felt that I was there with her, looking over her shoulder, reading the case files and notes. When the narrative went back in time to the various crime scenes, I felt I was walking alongside the detectives as they hunted this killer. Her writing captured the essence of everyone involved in this story and that includes the killer and his victims. For this reason, there may be many people who may not be able to read the scenes she describes; there is an abundance of rape victims whose stories she delicately details along with the murders he escalated to. This is integral to the story but never gratuitous. She perfectly balanced these details, however, with glimpses of her own life which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. She became a friend who invited me into her world which makes the fact that she died before finishing this book all the more tragic.

Something to keep in mind, the narrative does jump around in time quite often and not always in a sequential order. I’m not sure if this is indicative of the way Michelle was researching the story or that pieces were put together by the editors after her death. However, the fact that I was a little confused at times didn’t take away from the impact of the narrative. I often think the sign of a great book is one that not only teaches me something but also elicits a wide range of feelings within myself; I’ll Be Gone In the Dark has done both. And the ending…perfection.

Many thanks to HarperCollins via Edelweiss for my copy

IT’S MONDAY WHAT ARE YOU READING?

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Happy Monday everyone! I’ve been on a reading spree lately with some really fantastic reads that I can’t wait to share with you. I think my plan of not continuing on with books I’m not enjoying is really paying off because I’ve had the best time reading lately, staying up late and not even caring about the lost sleep! What I’m also excited about is the variety of books I’m reading, many I might’ve passed by before but am giving a try and it’s paying off. On the movie front, we saw Game Night yesterday and both thought it was great. Funny and pure entertainment as only Jason Bateman can do. Two thumbs up for that one!

RECENTLY READ…

I’ll Be Gone In the Dark  (Feb 27) was a page turning, chilling account of one woman’s search for the serial killer she called The Golden State Killer. I’m no longer going to my mailbox in the dark after reading this…(my review will be up Friday but consider this a must read!)

Kill the Angel (Feb 20) was one of my most anticipated sequels for 2018. I loved Kill the Father  last year but this one seemed to be missing something for me. It was less complex and the main characters who made Kill the Father so great felt stagnant in this one. On a positive note, the ending was a nice surprise.

The Family Next Door (March 6) was my most recent read and I read it in about a day. This is one I would’ve passed by a few months ago as it’s touted as a domestic suspense and I tend to steer clear of most of those; however, this was getting rave reviews from trusted bloggers so I had to take a closer look and I’m so glad I did. I predict this will be a big hit so you might want to add it to your tbr’s now! I’ll have my review up next week.

CURRENTLY READING…

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The Broken Girls  (March 20) Another one I’m really surprised to find that I’m not only enjoying, I can’t wait to get back to it and find out more. Typically I don’t enjoy alternating timelines or ghost stories BUT both are keeping me glued to the pages of this one. It alternates between 1950 and 2014 and I’m equally invested in both as well as the underlying mystery.

UPCOMING READING POSSIBILITIES…. 

The Italian Party  (March 20) I would read this for just the cover and title alone but I love that it’s described as “A smart pleasure” and “sharply funny” and the blurb mentions charming spies and prosecco so I’m sold!

Every Note Played (March 20) I’ve read and loved Lisa’s books in the past so I’m very much looking forward to this one featuring a pianist with ALS. There’s always great depth and emotion to her books so I’ll have my tissues ready.

What have YOU read recently? Feel free to leave a comment and share what you’ve read and loved (or not) or what you’re looking forward to reading!  

HAPPY READING!

 

IT’S MONDAY WHAT ARE YOU READING?

cheers!

Hi Everyone! I can’t believe it’s mid-January already although I’m kind of happy the month is flying by…I’m done with snow and freezing temperatures and ready for spring! I thought the cold temps would lead to cozy evenings reading by the fire but that is NOT what’s happening. I’ve actually only finished 2 books since Jan 1 which is shocking and perplexing for me. I have, however, started many and either abandoned them right away or in some cases (Grist Mill Road) at 35% into the story. So often lately the premise and/or blurb of the books I pick up sound so good but the actual execution or story development is disappointing.  On the flip side, we’ve been to several outstanding movies these last few weeks...The Darkest Hour, All the Money in the World, Molly’s Game and The Post…all excellent and all based on true stories. My favorite out of the 4 was Molly’s Game which was a juicy look at backroom high stakes poker. My advice is don’t google anything about the movie before you see it, just go then google!!

RECENTLY READ…..

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I think I fell for the marketing of this one which is billed as one of the top thrillers of 2018 but I can’t say I found it very thrilling. I’m positive it’ll be a favorite of many and the movie rights are already sold with Charlize Theron starring but I had many issues with this one from the get go. It’s probably a case of it’s not the book it’s me but I have pretty high expectations for thrillers and this didn’t meet them.

 

CURRENTLY READING….

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I just started this last night and while I’m intrigued and I like the writing style, it hasn’t grabbed me like I’d hoped. It’s early and I’ll keep going to see if I can stay invested

 

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO….

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I was in the mood for an inspiring audiobook so when I heard Jack Canfield on Oprah’s recent Super Soul Conversations podcast, I knew I wanted to hear more from him. I’ve listened to about 5 hours of this and I really like it. Not all of the principles are new of course but that’s ok, I appreciate being reminded of what’s possible and I find the stories of the people he includes compelling and yes, inspiring!

LIKELY TO READ NEXT….

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I read and loved Matt Wesolowski’s first book Six Stories last year and this one is really calling to me right now. His writing is so original and creative that I know I’m in for a treat. If you’re a fan of podcasts ala Serial, Making a Murderer, etc then you should really grab one of these books.

How’s your reading year starting off? Anyone else struggling with 2018 reads like me? 

HAPPY READING!

 

 

 

 

 

 

IT’S MONDAY WHAT ARE YOU READING?

cheers!

The holiday season is in full swing and while I still can’t believe it’s not summer…it seemed like just yesterday it was August…I’ve decided to get a jump on my shopping and as of now I’m almost done:) I actually went to the mall on Black Friday which I NEVER do and now I realize why…I’ve never seen so many people and such long lines there before!! In the end, I really only got amazing deals at 2 stores (Macy’s & Joseph A Banks in case you’re wondering) so I’m not sure it was worth the crowds. However, I stayed up super late last night shopping for cyber Monday, that’s why this post is so late, and the deals were incredible! Now I know why so many sizes are already sold out on Monday…deals started last night and things were selling out while I still had them in my cart. It was crazy but I stayed up and got SO many deals! What has all this meant for my reading lately? Well, I haven’t done too much but I’m planning on getting back on track this week

 

RECENTLY READ….

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Although I hate this cover, I have a reading friend who’s been suggesting this book to me for SO long and I don’t know why I resisted reading it because it was great! It was an addicting read that I flew through in a couple days…look for a mini review soon.

TRIED BUT COULDN’T GET INTO….

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It pains me to say that one of my most anticipated reads of 2018, The Hush, was a DNF for me after 70 pages. I absolutely loved The Last Child but this wasn’t similar in tone or plot and I found myself bored.  I’ve loved several of John Hart’s books and always thought his writing was outstanding but in this one I felt the language was too flowery at times and for me it felt bogged down in descriptive setting details. Also, there’s a supernatural element to this story that I wasn’t expecting and it didn’t work for me at all. Well, I tried to jump onto the Louise Penny train and I gave it until 40% but ultimately I realized I didn’t care about the murder mystery and the pace was way too slow for me so…DNF. I know people love her books and I wanted to as well and I really really loved the setting of Three Pines but in the end that wasn’t enough to hold my attention

CURRENTLY READING…

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I had ordered this book for my dad for Christmas but what caught my eye initially when I saw it on Amazon’s new release list were 2 of my favorite buzzwords…undercover & FBI! When it came on Saturday I decided I had to read it first and I’m loving it so far. Tamer is a pseudonym and he’s currently still an agent which makes his story all the more timely. The writing is excellent and with every story he tells I feel like I’m watching an episode of Homeland, it’s very similar in tone and plot so if you like that show I think you’ll LOVE this book. You won’t believe what’s going on right under our noses in the world of undercover counterterrorism….it’s fascinating yet terrifying to say the least!

UP NEXT….

This is always a toss up for me so it could be

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Have a great reading week everyone! 

 

 

 

 

MINI REVIEWS: A SPELLBINDING FICTION & A FASCINATING NONFICTION

MINI REVIEWS

During my recent blogging break I decided that when I returned I’d incorporate more mini reviews into the blog in an effort to ward off further review writing burnout. As all book bloggers know, it’s a lot of work to write reviews for everything we read and sometimes it’s just as easy and convenient to write (and read) mini reviews. So, I’ll be trying out some new ideas here and there in terms of my review writing formats….

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Published June 2017 By Atria Books

Short Summary: Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

 

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I’m the first to admit that sometimes, ok many times, I’ve let books pass me by because of assumptions I make about them or as in the case of Evelyn, I read about 10 pages of it earlier this summer and thought nope, I’m not in the mood for a woman’s story about her 7 husbands. What a HUGE mistake that was and I’m so glad I came around to giving this another try. Being a mood reader is so bizarre sometimes and it took a complete reading slump and Sarah’s Alcohol and Advil post last week to bring this one back into my orbit.

Here’s what I found to be important about this book…I went into it not reading any recent reviews so the entire storyline was a surprise to me and there were SO many unexpected twists along the way. Legendary movie star Evelyn tells her story to young and inexperienced Monique and while you’ll wonder what she’s got up her sleeve for choosing Monique of all people, that will take a backseat as you’re swept into the 1950s glitz, glamour, and excitement of Old Hollywood. As we get to know Evelyn though, we come to find that her life wasn’t all glamour, there was plenty of heartache, drama, betrayals, and secrets to last a lifetime. And that’s what kept me completely captivated and made this a book I spent my entire Saturday reading. I was unprepared for the respect I felt for Evelyn despite not agreeing with so much of what she did; I really did like her…in the end I think she was her own worst enemy most of the time. I can’t forget to mention the supporting characters…sheer perfection! Get your tissues ready for this addictive, gorgeously written novel that’s earned a place on my 5 star bookshelf.

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Published March 2017 by Knopf; narrated by Mark Bramhall

Short Summary: In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later

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Believe me when I say this was the perfect audiobook for not only long dog walks but also cleaning the house, running errands etc. I listened to it nonstop. I was immediately drawn into the story which really starts at the end in terms of when Chris Knight, not of his own volition, ended his 27 years of solitude in the Maine forest. As a lover of psychology, I really wanted to know what made someone choose to leave society behind and basically spend 27 years camping. How did he survive? What did he do for all those years? The awesome thing about listening to this was that Mark Bramhall made Chris Knight come alive, so during the many long interviews it felt like we were hearing from Chris himself and I was beyond intrigued.

I still think about this story for many reasons but mainly for the ways it made me think about it from so many different sides. Chris Knight was a complicated individual and in no uncertain terms broke the law…over and over and over again. I loved hearing from the citizens whose lives he affected, some were forever (negatively) changed and some who brushed him off and even tried to help him. As I said, fascinating! If you’re looking for an engaging story for nonfiction November, I highly recommend this audiobook.

HAPPY READING!

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

My Pick This week is….

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Published Oct 2015 by Atria 

From America’s favorite football player turned morning talk show host—a man who makes just about everything look easy—a mélange of stories and motivational advice to inspire the reader to turn up the heat and go from good to great in pursuit of their personal ambitions.

Michael Strahan spent his childhood on a military base in Europe, where community meant everything, and life, though idyllic, was different. For one, when people referenced football they meant soccer. So when Michael’s father suggested he work toward a college scholarship by playing football in Texas, where tens of thousands of people show up for a weekend game, the odds were long. Yet he did, indeed, land a scholarship and from there a draft into the NFL where he scaled the league’s heights, broke records, and helped his team win the Super Bowl as a result of which he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. How? Inspiring and chock full of advice that will help the reader make significant strides toward pursuing his or her dream, Wake Up Happy is a book no one, young or old, male or female will want to miss.

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I felt like this was the perfect book to highlight this week because who doesn’t need a little happy in their life? I for one have had quite a bit going on lately so I thought why not profile one of my favorite non-fiction pick me up books. This book was surprisingly good and I say that because I initially hesitated as I really don’t have much interest in football but I really do think there’s something about Michael Strahan that makes me feel good whether I’m watching him on Good Morning America (and previously Kelly & Michael) or on the red carpet. I wondered if he’s truly as positive as he comes across. Turns out, he is. I listened to this on Audible and he narrates this book which was perfect as I felt like he was was having a conversation with me. I found myself walking extra when I listened because I was truly interested in hearing about his life. He had an interesting childhood growing up on a military base and his journey to being a top level athlete was not all that easy. I especially enjoyed hearing about his life in Europe and college in the US. Strahan had a fairly easy to follow plan for ways to wake up happy and while there wasn’t any new earth shattering ideas in it, I found myself agreeing with his principles and applying some to my own life. If you’d enjoy a little pick me up, especially if you have access to this on audio, I think you should give this try!

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Cathy at Between the Lines

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Nicki atThe Secret Library Site

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Annie at The Misstery