Greetings! Here I have a quick review for y’all. I’m currently reading Ninth House first novel for adults by YA author extraordinaire Leigh Bardugo, so be on the lookout for my review soon. For now I’m adding my review for one of the most popular novels recently, and it’s on The New York Times Bestsellers List. So, if you enjoy contemporary literature, historical fiction, read on for the review of William Kent Krueger’s This Tender Land.
This novel was well-written, it pulls you in to the story immediately, and takes you back in time to the Depression era in rural Minnesota. The two main characters are two brothers: Albert and Odie O’Banion, two white orphans sent to the Lincoln School for Indians, where they are sent to be educated under the tutelage of Mrs. Thelma Brickman -“The Black Witch”, who is anything but kind. Anytime a student misbehaves they are sent to the Quiet Room, where essentially is a former jail cell; here, Odie is sent there many times, and also if the Black Witch deems it necessary, he is whipped by leather straps by the evil DiMarco, who enjoys punishing the young students.
After a natural disaster, and a murder, Odie, Albert, their friend Moses, and little Emmy find themselves fleeing Lincoln School for their lives, grabbing a canoe, and making a run for it by traveling through the rivers of Minnesota on a journey to freedom in St. Louis, Missouri. But along the way they encounter interesting characters, shady people, and a charismatic lady.
While on their journey, Mrs. Brickman and her husband, Mr. Brickman, are on their tail to find them. The book is well-written, the plot is well-structured, and you get attached to Odie, Albert, Moses, and Emmy. Sometimes there are parts of the book that are a bit slow and drag on for a bit, but the last half the plot thickens, and you’ll find yourself turning the pages. If the book hadn’t had its slow parts I would’ve given it 5 stars, but I’ll round it up for 4.5 stars.
Recommended for those that enjoyed “Where the Crawdads Sing”, and for historical fiction fans.
Until next time! Please post your most favorite reads here or on our Facebook page Read G-Rap. Thanks for reading!
Just as I had promised, here’s my review for Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. It’s a 5/5, highly recommended for thriller-mystery fans.
This is the very first book by Riley Sager that I read of his, and I was pleasantly surprised. The story captivated me from the beginning, with Jules Larsen down on her luck, with no job, no home, and no boyfriend. Luckily, she has her college best friend Chloe to lend her a hand. Then, she applies for and gets accepted to become an apartment sitter at the famous Bartholomew apartment building across from Central Park in New York City (just think of the famous The Dakota), saving her from becoming penniless. Apartment-sitting at the Bartholomew sounds like a wonderful job, but there’s a catch: you can’t spend a night outside of the Bartholomew; no visitors allowed; and you can’t talk to the other residents; privacy is a big deal.
Chloe tries to dissuade her, telling her about scary stories she’s heard about the famous building. But, Jules tells her that this is a great opportunity, and that she needs the money. So, she moves to apartment 12A, very spacious, grand, elegant, luxurious, with a staircase to the master bedroom, and a great view of Central Park. At first, Jules is in heaven, but then she begins to hear strange sounds; the wallpaper in the apartment is chilling, and then she meets a fellow apartment-sitter named Ingrid. They agree to meet everyday to eat hot dogs at Central Park, but at their first scheduled outing, Ingrid doesn’t show up, days pass by, and Jules suspects that Ingrid is missing, and that The Bartholomew is definitely full of sinister secrets.
Can she survive while trying to solve the mystery of The Bartholomew? That’s what the reader is going to find out. Very fast-paced, likable characters (except for Jules’ bad decisions, but hey, that’s what makes a novel more interesting), infamous characters, and the setting is awesome. You’ll be wanting to look for more information on real-life upper-crust apartment buildings in New York City, like The Dakota where John Lennon was murdered. Enjoy this spooky read!
It’s been a crazy few months. I’ve had trouble updating the name of the blog on the Facebook page. So, as of right now, it is still called “Read G-Rap”. Facebook didn’t allow it, and I appealed, and the powers-that-be on Facebook denied my appeal and request. So for right now the WordPress blog — here — will be Lupita’s Reads, and the Facebook page will be Read G-Rap. I’m seriously considering creating a new Facebook page with the updated name, and closing down the current page, but I’m still figuring out the process if this would be feasible.
Anyway, I have read many good books lately, as you’ll see on the right-hand corner under my Goodreads widget. But, I’d like to showcase some of my new favorites. Thanks to my new job as a librarian (I’ve been here over a year already, oh my!), I now have more access to readily-available new books, get book reviews through work, as well as book recommendations for book clubs. So, take a seat, grab a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee, and get reading the following new favorite reads!
Harding is the same investigative writer/reporter that wrote about Edward Snowden, in The Snowden Files, as well as A Very Expensive Poison: The Assassination of Alexander Litvinenko and Putin’s War with the West. Luke Harding’s book about Snowden was turned into a film. His book Collusion reads like a political thriller, and it definitely opens one’s eyes into what really went on during the 2016 presidential election.
The second book is one that’s not quite well-known, it’s very underrated, but it’s one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read in the past year or so. It’s called The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. If you’re a Hitchcock fan, you’ll love this one since it’s reminiscent of the book by Patricia Highsmith titled Strangers on a Train, and made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock. The story begins with a man and a woman — both strangers — who meet at a bar in London Heathrow Airport; Ted Severson meets the mysterious and alluring Lily Kintner at a bar, and they begin to talk about their lives, and how unhappy Ted is about his marriage, and the fact he’s pretty sure his wife is cheating on him, and how it would be nice to kill her.
Lily, on the other hand, jokingly advises him that she can come up with the perfect plan for murder. But, nothing is at it seems. What secrets does Ted have? What secrets are hidden in Lily’s past? And is Miranda — Ted’s wife — really cheating on him, or does she have a double life? You’ll be turning the pages quickly into the night, and you’ll enjoy the surprising plot twists, especially the ending. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of psychological thrillers.
The third book is another one that wasn’t as well-known, but it is very good. It’s called The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger. This one is more of a political/conspiracy thriller that moves fast like the jet-setting characters the book introduces us to. It starts with a crash of a small plane in the Swiss Alps, and an American banker at Swiss United, a prestigious Swiss bank in Geneva, is killed, along with a VIP banking client.
His wife, Annabelle, is left to pick up the pieces, and continue her life as a widow, except that at the time of her husband’s death, she was told he was in a different city, and starts to unravel the secrets he kept from her, including an encrypted laptop and a “shady client list”. On the other side of the world, in New York City, there’s Marina, a talented investigative reporter who is engaged to the son of a New York billionaire — and US presidential candidate. She begins to investigate Swiss United, and her investigation, and Annabelle’s search for answers cross paths, and will ultimately uncover a Pandora’s Box of epic proportions. If you know of the famous Panama Papersworldwide scandal, then you’ll enjoy this ride!
The next book is a crazy, twisty, psychological thriller filled with sex romp. You’ll have your jaw dropped to the floor, and have your eyes go wide as saucers. The title is Verity by Colleen Hoover. It was first available as an e-book only, but thankfully it went into print, and now it’s available in a regular book format, and most likely available at your local library. Going back to the book, the book starts when Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling writer, gets an offer that, as the good Godfather would say, she can’t refuse: to finish the world-famous writer Verity Crawford’s famous murder mystery series, since Verity had a serious car accident, and has been in a vegetative state ever since. Because of her financial hardships, and because it involves a famous writer, Lowen takes a chance and moves to Verity Crawford’s home in New England to work on finishing the series using Verity’s notes and research.
But, within Verity’s office Lowen finds a strange manuscript that’s written as an autobiography of the famous Verity Crawford; instead of working on finishing the series, she begins to read the manuscript, and she begins to learn shocking things about her, and at the same time she begins to hear strange noises from Verity’s bedroom. What is going on? Is Verity really in a coma? Is she in perfect health? Is the house haunted? Also, another thing that plagues Lowen’s head is the fact that she falls head over heels with Verity Crawford’s handsome husband Jeremy. This book is crazy good, and it was a fast read because when you read this all you want to do is turn the pages to know what happens next. This is definitely becoming a cult favorite among social media book club groups. If you read this, you will enjoy the crazy ride.
The last book is a more well-known book among book club circles and it’s called Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. It’s one of those rare books that contain a little bit of everything: romance, mystery, intrigue, suspense, and it’s all rolled into a well-plotted story about Eleanor Oliphant, a simple woman of simple means, just trying to survive everyday life as a thirty year-old office worker in Glasgow, Scotland, until she meets the new IT guy at her work — Raymond, and her everyday routine — same clothes for work, same lunch for work, same schedule everyday — changes, and it’s up to Eleanor to realize that change is good, and meeting new people, going to new places, and doing different things is what makes life worth living. This is an endearing and humorous read that you’ll enjoy. I have recommended this book to everyone, and another good thing is that there is a film in the works, so we’ll see what actress will portray the lovable but socially awkward Eleanor. But, in the meantime, read the book before it comes out in theaters.
Other books I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order, are
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
Recursion by Blake Couch
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Finally, I’m currently reading Lock Every Door by Riley Sager, and it seems it’ll be a new favorite. Watch this blog, or on Facebook (Read G-Rap) for a book review. Here’s the cover if you want to check it out!
That’s it for now, thanks for your support, and keep on reading!
Hello! I know it’s been a LONG time since I posted here, even if I continue to share and post on Read-GRap’s Facebook page. So, there have been many changes, and one of them is that I no longer live in Grand Rapids, MI. This caused a conundrum since I’m no longer privy to the events in that geographical region. Therefore, I decided to change my blog to cover everything related to books, as always, but do it nationally. Because the name “G-Rap” refers to the city of Grand Rapids, MI, I will change the name of my blog, here and on Facebook (if Facebook allows it). The new name will be: Lupita’s Reads. I now live in south Florida, in Broward County, and I am working as a librarian (yay!) in a public library, so I am always now surrounded by books. Since I organize events for the library, I’ll be posting them here, as well, if you live in south Florida. I’ll continue to post book reviews, book trends, and anything that may catch my eye and may be of interest to you. So, please be patient as I’m revamping this blog, and continue to follow the Facebook page. As of now the Facebook page will still be Read G-Rap until I get the “okay” from Facebook for the name change. I will design a new logo, as well. Again, thank you for your continued support, and hope you’ll continue to read my blog posts!
I’m in the beginning stages of creating a Wiki page for the blog, where I’ll have lists of information pertaining to books, authors, local libraries and bookstores. I’ll add my personal favorite sites for general information, as well.
In the meantime, I’ll be adding a new book review of The Hangman’s Daughter — a historical mystery set in 17th century Bavaria. Also, if you’re a fan of Outlander, I’ll be posting a longer blog here in regards to the books, the show, and the fandom; it’ll be a blog where you can get information on where to follow Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe and Diana Gabaldon. There are TONS of Facebook groups on all things Outlander, so be on the lookout for my list of the best groups to join!
In the meantime, stay connected through Read G-Rap’s Facebook page for the latest news and information.
Recently I read two very good books. Both quite different in genre and plot, but both very good reads.
The first one I talked a little bit before, and it’s The Monster’s Daughter by Michelle Pretorius.
The story begins in December 2010, when Alet Berg, a disgraced South African police officer is dispatched to investigate a murder in a very small town in South Africa; then, the story flashes back to the time of the Boer Wars–early 1900s–( see previous post), when Tessa and Benjamin, two children borne out of a horrific genetic experiment, survive in the midst of many of South Africa’s historic events.
As Alet Berg begins to investigate even further, the mystery of the murder victim begins to unravel, and somehow is related to the events of the past, especially with Tessa and Benjamin. I will not go into it further, because I don’t want to spoil the plot. But it’s a very well-written novel, and it’s a debut for South African writer Michelle Pretorius. It’s part murder-mystery, part science fiction, and part historical fiction. By the end you’ll receive an astonishing plot twist, and most of the loose ends are tied neatly, but there’s the question about the genetic experiment that wasn’t answered, and that’s what I wanted to know more.
But, this was a great read, and it is fast-paced; at first one doesn’t know how a current murder investigation is tied to the lives of Tessa and Benjamin, but as you read you’ll realize it that they’re both related.
I highly recommend this underrated novel; look for it at your local library or bookstore!
The second book review concerns the sci-fi/thriller Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. This one was a dizzyingly fast read, and there there were a lot of twists and turns, and at times I found myself re-reading parts in order to digest what just happened at that moment.
This novel tries to answer the question of what if? What if I took the other way, or what if I didn’t get married and have children? Would my life be completely different? This novel tells the story of Jason Dessen, a small community college physics professor in Chicago, who gets kidnapped after a Whole Foods run, and taken to an abandoned factory where before being injected with an unknown substance, his kidnapper curiously asks him, “Are you happy with your life?”. Then, he wakes up on a gurney in a physics research institution, and he’s still Dr. Jason Dessen, but a famous and accomplished physicist who has won a prestigious award, and in this life he is not married to his wife, and he does not have a son. Everyone thinks he’s crazy, but he knows there must be more than what he is experiencing.
Could this be an alternate world? Could this be caused by the drug he was injected? What is really going on? This is what Jason Dessen tries to figure out while being chased by his “colleagues” from the institution, and trying to return to the life that he knows.
If I tell you more I fear I’ll give you some spoilers, so the less you know, the more thrilling the read will be for you. On another note, Blake Crouch is the SAME author as Wayward Pines, that was made into a TV show; and the novels that the TV show Good Behaviorare based on. So he’s known to be a talented writer who knows how to do thrillers. This novel was one of the more buzzed-about books in 2016, and it was definitely one of the best books I’ve read. Highly recommended!
Banned Books Week has begun, and I’m here to share with you all some interesting information. It’s a week full of events that are occurring nationwide in schools, libraries and even bookstores. It is an important week to celebrate our right as readers to read any book and to combat censorship. Below, are 2015’s most challenged books. Have you read any of them?
2015’s Most Challenged Books
Looking for Alaska, by John Green. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit content, unsuited for age group.
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James. Reasons: Sexually explicit content, unsuited to age group, poorly written [I was surprised to see this!]
I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings. Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin. Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group.
The Holy Bible [No joke]. Reasons: religious viewpoint.
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel. Reasons: Violence and other (graphic images)
Habibi, by Craig Thompson. Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit content, unsuited for age group.
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeannette Winter. Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, violence.
Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan. Reasons: Homosexuality, and other (condones public display of affection)
Those people who are challenging books like those listed above are, in its vast majority, parents. Others can be teachers themselves, organizations, and religious organizations. They challenge books not out of malice, but because they believe they’re trying to do the right thing. Books have been censored and burned for many years, due to political reasons, religious reasons or to preserve the morality of a society. For a little more history of book censorship, click here: Beacon For Freedom.
What are your favorite banned books? Mine are Harry Potter Series, The Hunger Games, The Kite Runner, and Bless Me, Ultima.
To end this post, I’ll finish with the story of Sherman Alexie’s novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, and how the police got involved in an Idaho community when people were giving away copies of Alexie’s book after it was banned: Teens Hand Out Challenged Book.
Happy Reading, and read whatever suits your fancy, no to censorship!
A new book came out recently by the author of the historical fiction The Miniaturist. Writer Jessie Burton’s new book is titled The Muse, and the story is about a mysterious painting by Isaac Robles found in a 1960s London art institute ; the plot of the mysterious painting unfolds throughout the novel, and the painting itself connects two women: one from the 1920s, and the other in the 1960s. It involves drama, romance and mystery. It has been garnering rave reviews.
In this novel, we return to the world of Vermeer, and it begins in the present-day when a professor showcases his secret painting that he swears that it’s a tru Vermeer, but the question is why was the painting hidden from the world? There begins the story about the painting going back from the present time to World War II and to Vermeer’s age in Amsterdam.
This is one of the classic biographical novels about the life and art of Michelangelo. It devlves into his life and art work and his passions and how his life and experiences affected his art. One of the most buzzed-about books with rave reviews. This old classic should not be missed.
This book was just released on September 6th, so it’s brand new. Monet fans, like yours truly, will enjoy reading the real story behind the famous water lilly painting, and the true story of the artist himself: Claude Monet.
With this book we return to the Italian Renaissance, and to Michelangelo. In this book, the story is told about the Sistine Chapel, and who commissioned it, why, and how Michelangelo created this wondrous ceiling that is still enjoyed by millions today.
This is a biography of the enigmatic genius Leonardo da Vinci, and his art work and inventions. The book provides black-and-white and color illustrations of da Vinci’s artwork and inventions. Worth a look!
This is a real-life whodunit book that will keep readers on their edge of their seats. This book covers the illicit antiquities trade, where precious artifacts are stolen at the behest of millionaires who want those artifacts for their own collections. If you like classical antiquity art and thrillers, you’ll enjoy this book.
There’s a new bookstore in Grand Rapids! It’s called Books and Mortar and it’s located on 955 Cherry Street SE Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506 — East Hills area. I’ll be paying them a visit pretty soon, hopefully this weekend! Check out their website and their Facebook page for more information!
I put up a survey about the “state of reading” in the Grand Rapids area. I put up this survey on the Facebook page, but I’ll have the link here so you can participate. The responses will be anonymous, and the results will help me serve you all better!
I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day weekend, and had some time to squeeze in some reading. Currently it is raining cats and dogs, and hopefully it won’t turn to a tornado. But, a good atmosphere for reading is a thunderstorm in the background, right?
Now, currently I’m reading, still, Dragonfly in Amber, by Diana Gabaldon, it’s taking me awhile to get through the book. It’s a long one, too! I had to return Homegoing back to the library, so I won’t be able to finish it until it’s my turn-again-to check out a copy. So instead of reading right now Homegoing, I’m now reading a South African thriller titled The Monster’s Daughter by Michelle Pretorius and continuing to read Night Film by Marisha Pessl. Not sure how I’ll be able to finish reading THREE books at the same time, but all three are quite different in genres and very well written.
Speaking of reading, I discovered The Monster’s Daughter while browsing the Grand Rapids Public Library’s New Books section. I never heard or read about this particular book before, and that’s one way to discover new reads on your own. Sometimes a good book doesn’t have to be the book that’s on the bestseller list, or the book that’s being buzzed about at the moment. I’ve read some great reads that weren’t necessarily popular or famous. I’m just starting this novel, but it got me hooked; it is a mystery/thriller set in South Africa, and the main character is a disgraced police officer from Johannesburg who’s been demoted to a small town; while there she gets involved with a murder that somehow is tied with a dark past in South African history, and right now I have the impression that the story will go back and forth between the past and the present, but I may be wrong. But the past is set during the Boer War, when the Dutch/Afrikaners are fighting the British for their lands. If you want to know more about the Boer War, which occurred during the early 20th century, click here: The Boer Wars (aka South African War). During reading novels that involve historical events, such as The Monster’s Daughter it is always a great idea to do a little research in order to better understand the story being told. So, I’ll let you know what I think of this book once I’m finished, but let me tell you it’s been a great learning experience because you learn a lot more about what went on in another part of the world, and there are historical facts that might surprise you–such as the British operating concentration camps during the Boer War where the Dutch/Afrikaners were held. For more information about that–hey there’s nothing wrong with learning something new!–click here: Boer Wars and Concentration Camps.
Ok, I hope you learned something new, and I’ll post new information about upcoming events in the area, and new books; keep an eye out in the future for book reviews, as well.