Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.


Jenny Lawson is a blogger (a.k.a. The Bloggess) who left her job in HR to see if she could write a book. Let's Pretend This Never Happened is that product of that endeavor. It is a collection of "mostly true" stories from Jenny's life -- from hilarious stories of growing up in Texas with a father who was a taxidermist and unbelievable tales from her years of working in HR to her very real struggles with multiple miscarriages, an eating disorder and depression.

Whether or not her stories are completely true, some will make you laugh out loud and a few may even make you cry. I enjoy humor books and thought this was definitely worth the read even though there were a few times where it felt a little bit rambly.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened is definitely not for you if you are offended by language.

Monday, October 20, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.


This book was offered for free through the "Kindle First" program.  It seemed an appropriate pick for October, so I downloaded it and was immediately hooked.  It will be available on Amazon beginning November 1, 2014, but is currently available for pre-order.

Tracy Crosswhite is a homicide detective in Seattle.  She was drawn to the profession a few years after her life took a dramatic turn for the worst when her younger sister disappeared.  Tracy was never fully convinced that the man who was arrested for her sister's murder had received a fair trial. There were too many questions left unanswered. Tracy spent 20 years desperately trying to put the missing pieces together, until a body is found and Tracy has another chance to get to the bottom of the story once and for all. 

The story is dramatic and suspenseful.  It has the reader questioning many of the characters along with Tracy until the truth finally comes out in the end. If you like fiction - mystery/suspense, I highly recommend it. My only word of caution is to make sure you have plenty of time to read this book once you open it because you will not want to put it down!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: A Cold and Broken Hallelujah by Tyler Dilts

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

My favorite crime novels care about the victim. They don't forget that a person—albeit a fictional one—died to put the story in motion. Tyler Dilts's protagonist, detective Danny Beckett, cares about the deceased when no one else does. He's on a mission to discover who the dead man was and what brought him to the circumstances of his final days. There's a heart to this mystery that is both tender and broken.

Tyler uses the framework of the investigation to communicate something about the human condition. We are, he shows us, more than just a name, a social security number, a height, weight, shoe size, eye color. We strive to connect, to be understood—and Beckett wants to understand the victim of this terrible crime. He inventories the dead man's shopping cart, which contains all his earthly possessions.

To tell the story of the man, Beckett has "Fleece blanket, recently laundered" the way Hemingway had "Baby shoes, never worn." The detective pieces together an identity for the dead man so he can understand the world that killed him.

Tyler has crafted both their stories carefully, as one man's death leads another man to face the missing pieces of his own life.


A Cold and Broken Hallelujah is a short, easy read.  It's a crime story that grabbed my attention with the shock of a homeless man being burned to death by a group of teenagers, and then kept me hooked through the suspense of the investigation. 

We get to know Detective Danny Beckett as he investigates the case.  As a hard-working police officer in Long Beach with a couple of side stories from his past to help us understand who he is, Danny is a very likeable character.  He obsesses over the case and needs to find out who the victim was - not just for identification purposes but for a deeper reason that Danny himself doesn't quite understand.

When I first finished the book I felt a slight lack of closure, but then as I had time to let it sink in I realized that the "end of the story" wasn't what it was about.  Dilts purposefully leaves the reader with some deeper things to think about.  It's a crime story with a life lesson and I enjoyed it.  I would not hesitate to read more by Dilts.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Winner of the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award

When she sees what looks like a child tumbling from a ferry into frigid Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. When she gets the child to shore she discovers that his name is Paul, he speaks only French—and no one seems to be looking for him.

Her determination to protect Paul pulls Troy from her quiet life in a small Adirondack town into an unfamiliar world of wealth and privilege in Canada and then in Vermont. Her attachment to him—and the danger she faces when she tries to unravel the mystery of his abandonment—force her to evaluate everything she thought true about herself.

Sara J. Henry's riveting, award-winning debut will keep readers engrossed right up to its shattering conclusion.


I'd never heard of this book or the author before, but I accidentally came across it somewhere and it sounded interesting so I thought I would give it a try.  I could not put this book down.  The story grabbed me from the very beginning and then there was mystery, suspense and a subtle romance that kept me hooked until the very end.

Troy Chance is the heroine who rescues a young boy and then makes some risky decisions in order to keep him safe. As she discovers more about who he is and where he came from, she also discovers more about herself.  There is a twist toward the end that might be slightly unbelievable, but it's easy to forgive because the story is just that good.

I recommend this book primarily for women who enjoy fiction and I would definitely read anything else by Sara J. Henry.

Friday, July 11, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Award-winning author Gretchen Rubin is back with a bang, with The Happiness Project. The author of the bestselling 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill has produced a work that is “a cross between the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.” (Sonya Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want) In the vein of Julie and Julia, The Happiness Project describes one person’s year-long attempt to discover what leads to true contentment. Drawing at once on cutting-edge science, classical philosophy, and real-world applicability, Rubin has written an engaging, eminently relatable chronicle of transformation.


A friend recommended this book to me awhile back and I'm glad I finally read it.  I think the idea of a "happiness project" is intriguing.

Rubin conducted her "happiness project" over the course of a year, with one "resolution" per month.  Her plan was to tackle one resolution at a time and build upon those resolutions throughout the year. Some of her resolutions included: boost energy, make time for friends, and pursue a passion.  She went into detail on each one about how she would accomplish those "resolutions" (she cautions the reader not to view them as "goals" which can be accomplished once and then we move on to something else, but rather these are resolutions that she will continue to strive to keep over time).

I connected a lot with Rubin as she discussed her husband and her kids and balancing work/life as a working mother. She is a likable person with a positive energy that she wants to spread to others.  I felt inspired to start my own happiness project and may even use some of her examples (like cleaning out the clutter in my house and getting my birthday calendar organized!).

One of my biggest take-aways from this book was that our general mood affects those around us - in our home, in our work environment, in our social media communities, etc.  Wherever we are on the happiness scale, there is always room to move up higher, and when we choose do that, we can have an impact on everyone around us.  Why not give it a try?