Living the Good Death – a review

standalone-sundayTitle: Living the Good Death

Author: Scott Baron

Synopsis:

Wearing nothing but psych ward pajamas and fluffy slippers, the odd girl wasn’t really dressed to kill. Being the Grim Reaper, however, she felt confident she could make it work.

Review:

She thinks she’s Death. Is she right? That’s for readers to figure out as they read the entertaining new book by author Scott Baron. As the girl (she doesn’t have a name for half the book) goes through her new life, she experiences the normal human needs of hunger, fatigue, and going to the bathroom. She also makes enemies and falls in love.

The reader, meanwhile, is never quite sure whether the girl really is Death or whether she’s imagining it all. Sometimes the story makes you think she couldn’t know thar unless she was human. It was a fun idea, but I was really ready for some answers.

I liked the secondary characters in this one a lot. The doctor was a little too evil to be believed though, and the ease at which he’s able to get the girl admitted to a mental hospital without her consent was totally unrealistic. That bugged me enough that I almost quit reading. But the ending was good so I’m glad I stuck with it.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, but my opinions are my own.

 

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Standalone Sunday – Trapped

standalone-sunday

I  received this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Title: The Scent of Rain ☔

Author: Anne Montgomery

Rose lives in a very strict home. Not like you might expect, but much, much worse. Every aspect of their lives is ruled by what the Prophet wants. He expects complete obedience. Rose didn’t question this when she was young, but she’s beginning to have doubts. Why haven’t they heard from her brothers? Why did the school close? Why do they have to take vitamins ever day? And why is it so bad to think for yourself?

Adan is on the run. His family is gone and he has no one but himself. Now he’s been taken in by a Good Samaritan. He’s got a few questions of his own. Like who can he trust? What’s the story with the weird town? And who is this girl he sees running?

This is a compelling story about a little town in Arizona and the local Flds church. I am Lds, but the difference between my church and this one, which is based on extensive research by the author, is truly sobering. I am free to leave my church at any time without consequences. But when Rose tries to leave, her life is in great danger. It’s a good thing she has a few allies.

Local handyman Trak has grown up next door to the church and he’s too used to it to even notice. Cps case worker Brooke is new and she’s appalled. As soon as she arrives, she’s treated like a pariah. But when Rose and Adan meet, everything in the quiet town is turned upside down.

I wasn’t sure about this book, but like the author said, in some ways, I’m well qualified to review this. I live next door, so to speak, to the Flds Church. I know all the news stories about them. And I do appreciate the careful distinction the author made between the Lds Church to which I belong and the Flds Church. I liked the book and I was really drawn into the story.

I do want to give a Trigger Warning for this book. There are hints of sexual abuse, so be prepared.

Writing prompt

You get a chance to time travel. If you accept, you have a 90% chance of arriving where you intended, a 90% chance of arriving with your clothes and money, and a 90% chance of arriving with your memory.

You accept. You wake up 100 years before you intended, naked, with no memory of how you got there. What now?

Reviews to come!

I’ve gotten a little behind on my reviews. Sorry about that! I’ve still been reading lots, but sometimes I just don’t know where to start with a review because I have so much to say. Instead, I just put that one aside until later.

I need some help! Tell me which one to review next and I’ll get onto that one:

Conspiracy and Blood & Betrayal, both by Lindsay Buroker – both steampunk

Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb – fantasy

Sixth of the Dusk by Brandon Sanderson – fantasy-ish

Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body by Simon Petrie – mystery/sci-fi

Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis – non-fiction

The Innocent Flower by Charlotte Armstrong – mystery

The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg – YA fantasy

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen – MG historical fiction

 

If no one votes, I’ll probably review the Simon Petrie book next. Now maybe I need some help on what to read next! My review pile is mounting up and I’m getting kinda stressed about it.

Witness to Revolution

Title: Red Fire: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Author: Wei Yang Chao

Setting: Beijing, China 1960s

Ever wondered what it would be like to be a witness to history, to watch these watershed moments take place in front of your eyes? From what I’ve read, the answer is – terrifying. Wei Yang Chao was a witness to one of the biggest revolutions in history, especially if you go by the sheer number of people involved. He attended one rally that included over a million people, and the prospect of violence at every turn. He was lucky to survive.

This book  is a first-hand account of the Cultural Revolution in China. Chao was there after the Summer Palace was destroyed. He was a witness to the rise of the Red Guard. He saw teachers and other “enemies of the state” tortured, sometimes to death. His own parents were victims of a “struggle session” as soldiers his own age smashed through the house and beat his parents.

This was an incredible but grim read. To me it was nothing but terror and abuse, as the country fell into chaos. But Chao was more caught up in the struggle. At times, he wanted to fight against the class enemies, but when people he respected became targets, he would question why this revolution had to be so violent.

I would definitely recommend this book. I knew little about this time, so I found it darkly fascinating. It’s not for everyone. It is violent. But it’s an important record of real life.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Standalone Sunday: Into the Heart of Tasmania

Review: Into the Heart of Tasmania: A Search for Human Antiquity

Author: Rebe Taylor

Themes: race, anthropology, class, human evolution, culture

In 1908 it was widely accepted that the last Aboriginal in Tasmania was dead.  Enter Englishman Ernest Westlake, who planned to write about Stone Age implements and tools. Instead he wound up in the middle of a controversy he did not appreciate as he found living history all around him.

I have to admit that I really struggled with this book at first. If I hadn’t agreed to read it for Net Galley, I would have given it up. But I stuck with it, and somewhere around 10% I found it getting interesting. Westlake is not a sympathetic character. He struck me as a rather typical stuffy, pigheaded Victorian gentleman of the time. But the author, Rebe Taylor, was much more engaging when she allowed her personality to come through.

I think this could have been a more interesting book, but as it was I found it difficult to follow and rather dull. I’m not sure who the was intended for, but I doubt it was for average readers like myself. Thanks for the chance to read it.

Contest Reminder!

flatline-no-growth.jpg-1170x824-700x492All that stuff and a bag too! I warned you that I might keep adding to the giveaway, right? Well, here’s the latest. It’s a one of a kind book bag. It’s made of denim with a yellow and pink fringe at the bottom and hot pink webbing straps at the top. It’s just the right size for a couple of hardback books or a book and a bottle of water and your wallet.

Here’s a closeup of the fringe: fringe

How’s that for exciting? Pretty dang cool.

And just a reminder, it also includes the following books:

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan

Land on Fire: The New Reality of Wildfire in the West by Gary Ferguson

City Mouse by Stacey Lender

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

TO ENTER: like this post AND follow my blog.

EXTRA ENTRIES:

  1. follow me on twitter @cindy_bohn
  2. share this contest on your blog and link to it
  3. mention it on social media.

Just send me a link on Twitter or here to verify. Good luck!

DEADLINE: 6/27/17

Book Sins

I hate to single out books for hate, so I thought of a a way to do it without getting too nasty. You could still figure it out if you try, and if you really want to know, you could send me a private message and I’ll tell you, but I’m not trying to single out anyone for unfair criticism here. After all, it’s just my opinion. But there are some things that really bugged me about these books and I think it’s fair to warn you if you’re planning to read them.

  • A, S D by M K – cozy mystery. Tried too hard. Why do cozies do this? They remind me of the kids at school who want to be liked so much that they wear the latest fashion, attach themselves to the coolest crowd, and try to fool everyone into thinking that they belong. If you have to try that hard, you’re not cool. Your humor either works, or it doesn’t, and desperation is not helping.
  • TWWBK by KC – biography. Speculation. Look, either it’s biography or it’s fiction, but quit trying to be both. If you don’t have the sources to back up your guess work, just write it as historical fiction. Don’t try to sell it as non-fiction. You’re just irritating your readers.
  • A&TFK by SP – YA romance. General grump here. I think I was the wrong audience, but hey, tell your characters to quit whining already. You’re in Paris. That’s not too bad. Enjoy it already.
  • F by MRC – could you be more depressing? a druggie kills a kid and goes to prison? Why did I read this? My fault here, I should have expected it to be bleak.
  • Y by CK – thriller. This book does nothing by glorify stalking. It is disturbing and horrible. Why is this rated so highly? And why are some readers defending him? He’s a stalker, abusive, and a murderer. There’s no defense.

Those were my 1 star reads of the year. I may end up with more. Did you guess any of them? All of them? Some weren’t too hard.

Review: A Lady in the Smoke

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Review: A Lady in the Smoke

Author: Karen Odden

Format: audiobook

Setting: 1874 England

Themes: love, family, medicine, addiction, revenge, politics, law

Lady Elizabeth Fraser and her mother are returning home after a miserable London Season only to be involved in a train wreck. Elizabeth has a minor concussion and her mother’s ankle is sprained, but she can’t manage anything without Elizabeth’s help. Only handsome Dr. Wilcox is able to provide the care her mother needs. Elizabeth is drawn to the young man, but such a match would never be permitted by Society. Elizabeth knows this, but her heart refuses to listen. She’s drawn into Dr. Wilcox’s life, his crusade for safer railway conditions, and the bitter struggle against his powerful enemies.

I found this one while browsing the titles my library had available for online audiobooks, and I have to say I was hooked. I love a good historical mystery and this one was very promising. Victorian setting, star-crossed lovers, class struggles, and a new author, it was lots of fun. Definitely recommended.

 

Review: The Fixer

Title: The Fixer

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Setting: Washington DC

Tagline: Scandal meets Veronica Mars

Why did I read this book? I think it was because other people I follow really liked it, so I decided to give it a try. I should have known I wouldn’t really like it though.

It wasn’t that it was awful. The basic idea is not bad – Tessa is forced to move in with her older sister after their grandfather’s illness gets bad, finds out sister is a political fixer in DC, Tessa gets caught up in secret stuff in her elite high school, winds up in a big conspiracy – but then I have to go back to the beginning – it’s about high school. I don’t like books about high school. I already did that, did it with my kids, have no desire to read about it, watch shows about it, nothing.

So I’m sorry, whoever it was that read this and loved it, it just wasn’t for me. I did finish it and like I say, I didn’t hate it. But I didn’t like it either. At least it was a quick read from the library so I didn’t buy it or spend too much time with it.

2/5 stars

Currently reading

Into the Heart of Tasmania (and not enjoying it)

The Lady in the Smoke

about to start

American Born Chinese