S Is for Sunburn

I entered a giveaway on a lark. I’d heard her speak at a National Book Festival and enjoyed what she has to say. I also know she’s a local writer and I like reading books that take place in locations I recognize. I was very surprised when this book appeared in my mailbox.

This is not your average mystery or your typical love story. The pacing is slow but it makes sense for how the story unfolds and the games the characters are playing.

One of the things I really enjoyed about Pauline/Polly was that she’s a complicated woman with a dark past. She’s not especially likeable or sweet or easy to root for. She’s like an actual person who is complicated and has layers. Is she a sociopath (like a diagnosable lack of empathy) or just a woman who has had a hard life? I’ve finished the book and I’m still not entirely sure. She must have been great fun for Lippman to write.

Her love story is full of problems like the questions that aren’t asked and a foundation of deceit. The feelings and bonds are real but it’s so full of secrecy and lies that you’re not sure what ending you’re rooting for. Adam is also a complicated character but his self-awareness and honesty about what he is and what he wants make him a character you enjoy getting to know.

My personal taste for storytelling and pacing puts this at a 3.5 but all of the layers of mystery and deceit push it over to a 4 for me. The way it all unfolds at the very end surprised me and was worth the journey.


G Is for Glitter

Glitter Kiss by Adrianne Ambrose & Monica Gallagher has been collecting dust on my shelf for ages. It was pulled to be a part of my read-a-thin but we all know how I am with TBRs. I binged it the other night and really liked it.

It’s a graphic contemporary with a magical twist starring Tinka (WTF on that name though?). An enchantment causes the callous boys of Tinka’s school to realize being a girl isn’t as easy as they think, especially with boys like them to contend with. I love the message and lesson learned which was communicated without being too heavy handed.

The ending felt a little rushed. I wanted to see what caused some of the other guys to revert back to their original form. How did they learn their lesson? How is everyone so chill about magic? There were some easily answered questions that just weren’t so it lost a star for that.

I still recommend it at 4/5 stars

Black Panther Review

I finally saw Black Panther. My days off are random, I’m too broke to see an evening show, and theaters don’t show anything before noon on a weekday. Don’t judge me.

It lived up to the hype. The acting was great, the writing was compelling, the character development was excellent. The score, special effects, costumes were all on point.

There was even excellent nuance such as the battle cries of the mountain tribe, the looks of the different tribes, the architecture of Wakanda’s capital city, how the important the ‘battle steed’ became later. I loved how we followed the other characters’ journeys when we realize all hope is not washed away.

I have to actively try to find anything to say and everything I came up with was minor. That is definitely a soundstage or that’s totally not snow. I wanted to know more about the general’s relationship. That felt a little shoehorned in but I’m sure there are deleted scenes somewhere. The prodigy kid is a bit overdone but it worked here.

I loved how Everett Ross got to become a hero in his own way without stealing the show. He stayed a minor character because this wasn’t his story but will help tie this in with the larger MCU.

This movie makes me so happy because representation matters. In a time of major social backlash, this movie shows that Africans and African Americans can be heroes and carry major blockbuster films. We demanded it and let our dollars talk.

Let Black Panther and Wonder Woman reign at the box office. Our voices will not be denied and our children will learn that super heroes look like everyone.

Oh, 5/5 stars ICYMI.

W Is for Winter People

I waffled on whether or not to keep reading this. The beginning was interesting but I wasn’t sure if this would prevent the book slump I could feel creeping up. The good hype from folks I know kept me going and I’m glad I did.

Because this isn’t my first rodeo, I figured out how all the characters fit together pretty quickly. It was just a matter of getting there. Fortunately McMahon doesn’t waste time and the story kept moving forward. It alternated back and forth between the two timelines perfectly to maintain suspense and interest.

ChapterStackss mentions a character’s motivation seeming shallow. There are two this could apply to IMHO but I’ve spent a lot of time in the world of Cluster B personalities. Those motivations made sense to me even if they felt like a quick and easy wrap up. You spend enough time reading about crazy, you can see the twists and turns it tends to take.

The ending isn’t perfect but it doesn’t leave you wondering or wanting (much). I can see why it’s gotten positive reviews. If you’re hesitant about dipping your toe into horror, this is a great place to start. 4/5

February Wrap-Up and March TBR

My big goals was to read and release some books from my shelves and tackle my library holds. How’d I do?

The Cute Girl Network by Greg Means

This had been collecting dust on my shelves for ages so I was glad to read and release. It was cute and fun 4/5

Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

A sleazy journalist writes a book about sleazier people running my country. Rushed editing and mediocre writing mean, despite major relevance and importance now, this won’t be remembered well in the future. 3/5

The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

A very interesting novella about a girl who must regularly kill her double. Lots of questions, not all answered, and good storytelling. 4/5

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

A thriller with an unreliable narrator and literary style was not my jam. Full review went up yesterday but 3/5.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

A dual timeline suspense/horror novel. A longer review is forthcoming but it mostly lives up to the hype. 4/5

March TBR

Last month’s TBR was more than impossible so I’m going to try to bring it back to reality this month.

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman by Catherine Mayer

In honor of women’s history month, here’s some feminist nonfiction.

I Promise Not to Suffer by Gail Storey

A memoir of newlyweds trekking the PCT that has been collecting dust on my shelf for too long.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This is one of my all time favorites and I want to revisit it with the movie coming out at the end of the month. The story lends itself well to imagination so I am excited to see it in my untainted image one more time before the movie changes that.

A dog book

I work with dogs as part of my full time job as well as one of my side hustles. I’ll go by feeling on deciding which one but I want to read at least one.

An unfinished book

I have way too many books I’ve made a sizable dent in but haven’t finished. I want to finish one of these.

For the TBR Jar, this month is myth or fairytale. I love a good retelling and I have those in abundance in prose and graphic form. Let’s see what I come up with.

Doggy Daycare Starter Pack

I’ve mentioned how I’ve been working at a doggy daycare. The place I work at is a bit understaffed. We have enough people to do our jobs but if someone needs to leave the play area, the front of house person has to cover for us.

In the pen we’ve got collars, slip leads, poop bags, paper towels, and hand sanitizer along with the mop buckets, water bowls, and trash cans. We don’t have toys or treats to prevent resource guarding or potential aggression.

These are the basics but I need a bit more to get through my day.

I have a little pouch of items I keep with me to minimize my need to leave the pen.

  • Tissues: For when my nose gets runny or cleaning the occasional bulldog face fold.
  • Eye drops: I have major dry eyes so I always keep some drops handy
  • Ear plugs: Our daycare is in a warehouse so when you get ~80 dogs playing and having feelings, it can get LOUD. These have made my job so much easier.
  • Lip balm: I bite my lips. This helps stop that.
  • Sleeve holders: We’re discouraged from ‘customizing’ our uniform tees so I use these to roll up my sleeves on warm days.
  • Energy gummies: If it’s been a rough day, I’ll have one of these toward the end of my day. Whether these actually work or it’s a placebo effect, I still like them for $3 a pack.
  • Gum: Another way to perk me up. Since a big chunk of taste is smell, I move the gum under my tongue for the gross necessities of my job.
  • Protein bar: We are allowed food but I’ll still only eat a small bit of this at a time if I need it. My little bag is plastic lined so it helps trap the smell.

I always have a water bottle and am trying to wean myself off cherry Pepsi. Some dogs look at me like “Share?” when I open my soda. I also have my phone so I can use the timer and take photos. When things are slow, I have some fun with their ears.

TBR Jar: The Ultimate Flowchart

This month’s jar read was brought to you by The Ultimate Flowchart. I opted for edge of your seat fiction but had read 2 out of 3 and didn’t want to read the third. So I went with a close substitute courtesy of a giveaway from Paper Obscura. To quote my local library, “[The Woman in the Window is] THE big fiction hold this month.”

It’s a thriller about a shut-in in NYC who sees something happen at her neighbor’s home but nobody believes her. Based on her condition, should she even believe herself? I loved how it sounded but was disappointed in practice.

It was written in a literary style which I hate in a thriller. I can appreciate a more literary or lyrical style but not when you’re trying to build suspense. It also took 200 pages before the book really kicked off. I didn’t need that many pages to understand our narrator is an unreliable mess. The classic film noir references were also very heavy handed. I went through a Hitchcock phase. I get it. Thank you.

Instead of being a thrill ride, I was often bored or frustrated. I wanted to yell at Anna to take a shower and the author to hurry the hell up already. It felt like such a slog to me that I completely missed the title coming to life in more than one way.

I will give major props on several unexpected twists but almost all of them happened in the final 100 pages. It’s interesting but a slow simmering literary thriller is not my jam. 3/5