Thanksgiving and Books

IMG_1531 Out of all the major holidays, Thanksgiving is probably my least favorite one. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what the holiday stands for, getting together with family and reflecting on all that one is thankful for, I do. It’s just that aside from one Thanksgiving when I was about six or seven where we actually celebrated the holiday with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins; the only Thanksgiving that actually stands out in my mind as all the other ones hold no real memories for me. Thanksgiving in my household has always been with immediate family and the only thing that made this dinner different from other family dinners is that there was way more food and my parents would spend all morning cooking.

Which leads me to the fact that I’m also not a fan of Thanksgiving because I don’t particularly like left over turkey. I know, I know, horror of horrors, what is wrong with me? Hear me out though, I prefer the taste of the turkey when it’s fresh out of the oven and the juices are fresh. Over the subsequent days that follow Thanksgiving, in which I inevitably found myself eating turkey for dinner the day after Thanksgiving and over the course of the next few days in sandwiches, the taste fails to still be present for me and after having had leftovers for two or three days following Thanksgiving, I never want to see turkey in any form again.

Now, something that I do love about the Thanksgiving holiday, and it actually has more to do with the two days following it, are the amazing deals on books and getting to see some of my favorite authors. To be more specific I’m referring to Barnes and Noble’s signed editions that are available on Black Friday, which is then followed with Indie’s First Day on Small Business Saturday at my local independent bookstore, the Tattered Cover.

Despite not enjoying the Black Friday crowds and madness, a result of having worked retail for years and having to deal with the craziness firsthand, I love getting up Friday morning and arriving at my local Barnes and Noble when they open at 7am so that I can get signed editions of books that are on my to be read list. From the moment Barnes releases their list of which signed editions will be available, I put together my list of books to buy and estimate how much money it will all cost me. Then once Black Friday finally rolls around, I leap out of bed (one of the few times I actually get out of bed with excitement), throw on clothes and head down to Barnes with my list, cash and a reusable bag in hand. After spending a fruitful hour or so gathering together my books in my store basket, I make my way to the cash register, pay for my massive book haul and proceed home to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

After a wonderful book shopping trip on Friday, I then proceed to my local Independent Bookstore, Tattered Cover on Indies First to see some of my favorite authors, get books signed and support Small Business Saturday. Last year, I got to meet one of my childhood favorite authors, T.A. Barron and get my copies of the Adventures of Kate series (Heartlight, The Ancient One, and The Merlin Effect) signed by him. This year, I will be attending a book launch party for Jessica Brody’s new book, The Chaos of Standing Still. I’m especially excited for this event because not only will I be supporting a Colorado small business, but I also get to spend the afternoon with Jessica who is such an amazing person and so friendly (she’s also a wonderful passenger, as I had her on a flight last month and look forward to having her on one of my flights again), but her new book takes place in the airport where I am based, Denver International.

In the end, the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, should be another wonderful weekend of books and authors and the best way for a bookworm to spend the holiday weekend.

 

 

 

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And I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you… “Meddling Kids” Book Review

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Author: Edgar Cantero

Publisher: Doubleday Books

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Rating: ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ out of ✈️ ✈️ ✈️✈️ ✈️

Synopsis:

It’s the summer of 1977 and the small mining town of Blyton Hills, located in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon, has it’s very own teen detective agency, the Blyton Summer Detective Club. Comprised of tomboy Andy, kid genius and budding biologist Kerri, horror nerd Nate, jock Peter and their faithful Weimaraner, Sean. During this fateful summer, the Blyton Summer Detective Club finds themselves facing their most terrifying and dangerous mystery yet. One that leaves a permanent scar on all of the members and leads to the disbanding of the group.

Fast forward to 1990 and the kids are grown and still suffering from the fall out of their final case. Thus, Andy decides that it’s up to her to get the gang back together to solve the case once and for all. After convincing Kerri, and her Weimaraner Tim (a descendant of Sean the groups original dog) to help her, the three break Nate out of the asylum he currently resides at in Arkhum, Massachusetts. Unbeknownst to Kerri and Andy, Peter is coming along for the journey, despite the fact that he’s long dead and can only be seen by Nate. With the group back together, they make the journey back to where it all began and find that the evil they unwittingly unleashed all those years ago has been waiting for their return in hopes of being made free once and for all.

Thoughts:

This was one of those books that I decided I just had to read it based solely on the title as it brought up memories of watching Scooby Doo, Where Are You? as a child and the infamous line said by every villain in the series who had their plot foiled by the group, “And I would’ve gotten way with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.” I did make a point to read the description of this newfound book that was invoking childhood nostalgia, and after reading the description I knew that this was the book for me. I immediately put in a hold request with my local library, despite the fact that the book had yet to release, and was beyond excited when my request came in and I was the first to read the copy that waited for me.

I’m happy to say that for me Meddling Kids did not disappoint. I loved all of the references to such childhood favorites: as Scooby Doo with the name of the valley in which the town sits being the Zoinx River Valley after Shaggy’s favorite exclamation; and local newspaper reporter Nancy Hardy, a reference to the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books of my youth. Reading this book made me feel like I was looking into an alternate Scooby Doo story where the teen detectives not only grew up, but ceased to solve mysteries after suffering a huge trauma that continued to follow them into adulthood. A trauma that resulted in alcoholism, crime, insanity and suicide. This is the story of what would’ve happened if the Scooby Gang had failed and needed to make one final attempt in order to heal once and for all.

I loved the characters in this book and seeing how their shared trauma affected each of them in turn. They each work to show the reader that although various people may experience the same event, what they take away from it and how they react and learn to cope with that event is different for every individual. The one character I loved the most, would most definitely have to be the dog, Tim. Tim, being a lovable dog obsessed with his penguin squeak toy reminded me of my own dog Ripley who also loves his squeaky penguin. Tim was the perfect comedic relief to what would’ve been a truly dark and unsettling story. He helped to lighten the mood while doing his duty of protecting his humans, especially Kerri.

Although there are those who won’t enjoy this book, either because they don’t like the style or find that it isn’t exactly what they were hoping for, I loved this satirical look at the teen detective genre and the childhood nostalgia it invoked for me. Now that I’ve read and enjoyed this book so much, I look forward to reading his first English language novel, The Supernatural Enhancements.

 

“The Flight Attendant” Book Review

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Author: Chris Bohjalian

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: March 13, 2018

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Rating: ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️.75 out of ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

Description from the book jacket:

Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She’s a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, already counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets.

Afraid to call the police–she’s a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home–Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it’s too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?

Set amid the captivating world of those whose lives unfold at forty thousand feet, The Flight Attendant unveils a spellbinding story of memory, of the giddy pleasures of alcohol and the devastating consequences of addiction, and of murder far from home.

Thoughts:

Earlier this year Chris Bohjalian came to Denver’s Tattered Cover Bookstore to read from and discuss his, at the time, latest novel, The Sleepwalker. During that discussion, the question that all authors are inevitably asked, “what are you currently working on?” came up. In answer to this, Chris shared that he was working on a book about a flight attendant who wakes up next to a dead body in a hotel room in Dubai. I couldn’t help but squeal when I hear this, turns out my squeal was quite loud as it caught Chris’s attention and I went on to share that I was excited because I am a flight attendant. This exchange resulted in not only email correspondence, but also a mutual following of one another on various social media platforms.

It was thus with much anticipatory breath that I waited for Chris to finish his book and for the galley’s to be produced, for I kept my fingers crossed I would get to read a galley of the book. Needless to say, my wish came true and I received my very own galley of the book. Thank you to both Chris and Doubleday for providing me with this wonderfully suspenseful book about a character with my same job.

Now for my thoughts on this book, both from a reader and a flight attendant’s perspective. As a reader, I found the book to be engaging right from the start as the reader is introduced to the main character, Cassie, and the body of the man she spent the night with lying next to her in bed. From those opening pages, I found that at no point did the story lag or lose my interest. I wanted nothing more than to keep reading, to see what would happen to Cassie and if her need for alcohol would be her inevitable downfall.

As much as I wanted to see what would happen to Cassie next, what she would say and do, I also feared what actions and decisions she would make. Cassie is perhaps one of the most complex characters I’ve read this year. At her heart she is a good person, but her drunkenness leads to such horrible decisions that I couldn’t help but want to reach into the pages and try to shake some sense into her as I feared both for her life and her career. Not wanting to give anything away, I will say that the climax of the book is like that final steep climb to the top of the tallest roller coaster and upon reaching its crest, you’ll find yourself wanting to throw your hands in the air and scream with the excitement of it all as it makes its final drop.

You’re probably asking yourself, if I loved the book so much, why the 4.75 airplane rating instead of a full 5 airplane rating? Well, this is where the flight attendant part of me responds to the book. Chris did a wonderful job in crafting and delivering this story, but there were some things about airlines and being a flight attendant that he got wrong. Although these few areas are ones that I know readers with no personal relationship to the airline industry (either work for an airline themselves or have a close relative who works for the industry) will pick up on these discrepancies, I unfortunately picked up on them immediately.

Despite this quarter point deduction, I still recommend this book and will even say that it’s my favorite of Chris’s books to date. This book is one that fans of Chris Bohjalian will not want to miss. It’s also great for readers who enjoy a good mystery packed with nonstop suspicion and thrills. For those who are going on vacation, whether it be to a beach or not, this is a great book to join you on your travels.

“Final Girls” Book Review

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Author: Riley Sager

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 out of 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸

Synopsis:

It’s been ten years since Quincy Carpenter found herself the sole survivor of a horrific mass murder at Pine Cottage, which left her five college friends dead at the hands of a knife wielding madman. Having blocked out the events of that night, Quincy finds herself a member of the one club that no one wants to have to belong to, that of the Final Girls as dubbed by the media. Other survivors include, Lisa, who lost nine of her sorority sisters one night the knife wielding college dropout; and Sam, who survived an attack from the Sack Man while on duty at the Nightlight Inn.

Each woman has worked to put the events that forever changed their lives behind them by trying to move on with their lives as much as possible, despite the media’s attempts at disrupting their lives further. Quincy has worked hard to move on with help from her Xanax prescription, her baking blog, her caring boyfriend Jeff, and the constant reassurance of Coop, the cop who saved Quincy’s life all those years ago. For Quincy, she truly has moved on as the events of that night at Pine Cottage were so terrifying that she has completely blocked everything and suffers from total memory loss.

It’s after the first of the Final Girls, Lisa, is found dead in her bathtub with slit wrists, and the second Final Girl, Sam, shows up on Quincy’s doorstep, that she finally finds herself having to revisit the events of that night once and for all. Quincy finds herself in a race to learn the truth about Sam and why she’s there, evade the police and reporters, and to remember once and for all what truly happened that night at Pine Cottage if she has any hope of ensuring that she remain a survivor and Final Girl.

Thoughts:

I am an avowed life long horror movie fan and it is because of my love of this genre, especially the slasher movies of my childhood and youth (Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream to name a few), that I knew I had to read this book after reading the synopsis. I made a point to reserve the book at my library before it was even released, in order to ensure that I would be one of the first ones to read it, that’s how excited for this book I was. I am happy to say that this book did not disappoint as it pulled me in right from the start and held my interest up to the very end.

I found the author’s writing style to be not only engaging, but vividly described. I was able to picture everything as though I were watching it unfold before me on TV. It was because of this wonderful storytelling, that I felt more and more like I was reading the story of my new favorite slasher movie. In fact, this book made think so much of those classic slasher flicks, that I finished the book wanting nothing more than to have a horror movie marathon.

Something I appreciated about how Final Girls was told, was that the reader was told not only what each of the women went through and how they survived, but it also showed what happened to them years after their respective attacks. This is something that few movies do, usually they end with the main character surviving the attack and being surrounded by emergency personnel as they clean up the scene. I liked getting to see how each of the women responded to what happened to them. From Lisa who went on to help other women who had survived violence against them, Sam who went off the grid, and how Lisa resorted to prescription drugs to cope.

One of the things I loved most about this book, aside from learning about the three women and their stories of survival, were all the red herrings that were dropped throughout the book. Just when I thought I knew where the story was heading and what actually happened to Quincy at Pine Cottage, something would be presented that completely changed my supposition and proved that I was wrong in my thinking. At no point was I able to figure out where the story was going and I greatly appreciated that, as too often I find that I can figure out the plot and ending long before its revealed. It was indeed a joy to have been surprised by the ending and I couldn’t be more satisfied with how everything was wrapped up.

I don’t want to give away too much about the plot or how things turn out, so I’ll just say that if you are a fan of horror movies, teen slasher movies and a good thriller that keeps you guessing up to the very end, then definitely read Final Girls. Now if you will excuse me, I think it’s time I re-watch some of my favorite slasher flicks and the strong women who survive them to the end.

#TBRBingo Challenge

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With a to-be-read list that currently has over 1200 books on it, and is continuously growing, I’m always trying to find ways to help me work on cutting that number down to something that doesn’t seem so daunting. Thus, after seeing a variety of posts on Litsy of other readers #tbrbingo cards that I decided this sounded like a great and fun way to help me make a dent on my never ending to-be-read list.

For my first card, I have compiled a total of 24 books, with one free space available for a book that may or may not be on my TBR list. The books on my card encompass books that have been on the list for a while, as well as books that I received in either my Uppercase or Owlcrate subscription book boxes and were inevitably added to the list.

As a way to help push myself to complete this challenge and reward myself for doing so, I have decided that upon completion of the entire card, I will reward myself with a new book as well as a bookish item, such as a candle, from one of my favorite shops that I follow on Instagram, Etsy or Society 6. I’ve also decided that should this prove to be a success, then I will make another card for another set of 25 books.

Note: I created this fun bingo card at myfreebingocards.com 

“Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” Book Review


Author: Becky Albertalli

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Type: Young Adult, LGBT, Romance

Rating: 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 out of  🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸

Synopsis:

Simon Spier is a sixteen-year-old junior with a secret from his friends and family, he’s gay. The only person with whom Simon has been able to share this secret with, is a fellow student he exchanges emails with. Before Simon knows it though, Simon’s email fall into the hands of another student who uses them to blackmail Simon into helping set him up with one of Simon’s friends. Simon finds himself faced with the choice of either helping his blackmailer, Martin; or refuse to do so and have his secret laid bare for the entire school. Even worse, Simon fears that if his pen pal, Blue, who is also not out in the open, finds out about Simon’s carelessness that he’ll lose the boy he’s falling for forever.

Thoughts:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of those books that’s I’ve seen in bookstores, but I had no idea what it was about. It wasn’t until I came across a tweet from Penguin Platform about the books they were going to be discussing for their #PrideBookClub that I finally got around to reading the description and decided to check it out from the library.

I loved this book, so much so that I read this book in one sitting. This was such an enjoyable book to read in large because of Simon. I found Simon to be a highly realistic character. He does his best, but he messes up sometimes and has to learn from those mistakes and keep moving forward. It was nice to follow Simon’s growth throughout the book and get to see him become more comfortable with who he is and opening up to his friends and family as a result of his conversations with Blue and Blue’s courage in coming out to each of his divorced parents.

The romance between Simon and Blue was so sweet and gave me butterflies as it reminded me of what it’s like to have a crush. I really enjoyed following the progression of their relationship: from two students operating under assumed names looking to discuss their sexuality, to a friendship that evolved into deeper feelings for one another. When Simon and Blue finally meet in person, I couldn’t help but release a huge sigh of contentment as I was so deeply happy for each of them as they had each overcome varying obstacles to find themselves and one another.

Reading this book, I couldn’t help but think back to when I was in high school and two of my friends came out to me. Each of these friends chose to inform me prior to informing the rest of our group of friends. I remember when I asked them why they chose me over other friends of ours they were closer to, they each said because they knew I loved them and accepted them for who they are and wouldn’t judge them. Much like Simon, it took a lot of courage for my friends to come out to me and our other friends. What Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda did for me was to remind me of these occasions from my teen years, when homosexuality wasn’t discussed the way it is now, and how important it is to have those friends you trust and know will love and accept you no matter what.

I’m so glad that I stumbled across Penguin Platform’s #PrideBookClub and finally read this book. It’s the kind of book that I will gladly recommend to fellow readers and that I would assign as part of a summer reading list if I were and English teacher. If you’re interested in learning more about what other books Penguin Platform has chosen for their book club, be sure to check them out @penguinplatform. They will be discussing this book and others through the end of August.

 

“The Hate U Give” Book Review

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.” The Hate U Give

Author: Angie Thomas

Publisher: Balzar and Bray

Type: Young Adult

Rating: 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 out of 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸

Synopsis:

Starr Carter is sixteen and trying to navigate two different worlds. In one she comes from a poor black neighborhood where gangs rule the street and people are afraid to speak out against them. In the other world, Starr is a student at a predominately white prep school in the suburbs. As Starr walks the line of these two worlds, that line becomes blurred when Starr witnesses the shooting of one of her childhood best friends, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. The catch though, Khalil is unarmed.

Struck with fear of speaking about what really happen out of fear about police retaliation against her family, as well as fear of what her friends at school will say if they find out, Starr has to work to not only overcome the horror of that night but to also find her voice if she hopes for any kind of justice to be brought about. As racism starts to rear its ugly head at school, Starr’s neighborhood goes from protests to full on riots in a matter of moments.

Thoughts:

I will be the first to admit that I did not have anywhere near the same kind of upbringing as Starr. Where Starr comes from a poor black neighborhood and her father is a former convict; my father was an officer in the US Air Force and we were considered upper middle class. Despite these differences in our upbringing, I could relate to Starr in other ways. As an African-American young woman, I was able to empathize with Starr when she was questioned about having a white boyfriend and if it was because she thought she was too good for the black guys. I know what it’s like to get looks from those around me when I’m seen holding hands with a white boyfriend. I know how it feels to have other African-Americans try to put you down for wanting to get good grades, go on to college and succeed in life.

Angie Thomas’s debut novel is a timely and poignant novel that takes a close look at what its like to witness a police shooting and feeling powerless and afraid to do anything. The day I finished reading this was the same day that the jury decided to acquit the police officer of all charges in the shooting and death of Philando Castile. I’m sad and sorry to say that I was not at all surprised that the jury chose not to convict the police officer. As is discussed in the book, it seems like anymore, anytime a black man is shot and killed by a police officer, that they’re not going to be charged. That’s a horrible thing to think and believe, but that continues to be the case.

Just as Starr believes that one day things will get better, I too believe that. But, it’s going to take hard work and diligence. It’s going to take continuing the dialogue and working together to find solutions. The Hate U Give serves as a wonderful way to open up that dialogue. It’s the kind of book that can bring wonderful discussions to mixed race book clubs and even to high school and college English and literature classes.