“Lock Every Door” Book Review

LockEveryDoor

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!

Moving Pains…and Some Recommended Books!

Hello hello dearest bookworms!

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!

The first book that really got me turning the pages is a non-fiction, current events book, and this may be to your liking depending on your personal political views. But, I’ll take a chance and put this title out there. The book is Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Trump Win, by Luke Harding.

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.

Collusion

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.

TheKindWorthKilling

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 Papers worldwide scandal, then you’ll enjoy this ride!

BankersWife

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.
Verity

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.

EleanorOliphant

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!

LockEveryDoor

That’s it for now, thanks for your support, and keep on reading!

Cheers from a hot, humid, and rainy Florida!

 

Greetings from Florida!

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!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A Wikipage is coming soon!

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.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

TWO Book Reviews!!!

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.

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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!

5/5


darkmatter

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 Behavior are 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!

5/5

Banned Books Week

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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

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit content, unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James. Reasons: Sexually explicit content, unsuited to age group, poorly written [I was surprised to see this!]
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings. Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint.
  4. 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.
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group.
  6. The Holy Bible [No joke]. Reasons: religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel. Reasons: Violence and other (graphic images)
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson. Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit content, unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeannette Winter. Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan. Reasons: Homosexuality, and other (condones public display of affection)

* Source for the book list: ALA – American Library Association

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

For more information about Banned Books Week, click here – Banned Books Week

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!

ArtPrize 8 is Here…

…and I’m here with some interesting book titles related to ART!

The following are fiction titles that are somehow related to art; some are older titles, while others are newer. Enjoy!

Fiction

Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier. Timeless novel inspired by Vermeer’s painting with the same name. The novel focuses on Griet, a young girl who becomes Vermeer’s muse in this richly-detailed novel.

girl_with_a_pearl_earring


The Museby Jessie Burton

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.

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Girl in Hyacinth Blue, by Susan Vreeland

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.

girlhyacinth


The Agony and the Ecstasy, by Irving Stone

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.

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Other fiction titles:

Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant (Florentine Renaissance era)

I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis (Leonardo da Vinci, and his painting Mona Lisa)


 

Nonfiction

The following are some titles that can entertain you after perusing the artworks at Artprize…

Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies, by Ross King

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.

monet_water_lilies_1916

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King

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.

michelangeloceiling


Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind by Charles Nicholl

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!

davinciflight


The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Lotted Antiquities, From Italy’s Tomb Raiders to the World’s Greatest Museums by Peter Watson

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.

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Other nonfiction titles….

The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Brett Witter


Other links that you should check out…

Ross King is THE author of authors of books related to history of art. Here’s his link:

Ross King, Writer

Learn more about the continuing quest to recover stolen art during World War II, you can learn more about the continuing efforts, and possibly even donate/help:

The Monuments Men Foundation


Enjoy the books, and the art! Survey results are forthcoming but I need more responses! Here’s the link again so you can participate and share with your family and friends:

What Grand Rapids Reads Survey

Thank you!

New bookstore, and a survey!

Hey there, lovelies!

Just have two announcements to make:

  1. 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!
  2. 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!

 

Happy National Read a Book Day!

Greetings!

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 Amberby 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.

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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.

Happy Reading!

Lupita =)

 

 

Welcome!!!

Hello fellow readers! The website is UP! Here I’ll be posting my review for Girl on the Train, which I just finished, so be on the lookout for that. I’m also reading about five books at the same time, and I finally found a great way to read more than one book at the same time. What I do is read a little bit of book “A”, then read a little bit of book “B” before I go to bed. I also tend to switch books, read book “A” one day, then read book “B” the next day, and switch it again in the following days. I’m not an audiobook person, but many people tend to read books through audiobooks. Another book that I was reading, but had to return it to the library is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I returned it, and put it on hold-again-so I can finish it. It’s a wonderful book that immerses yourself into the colonial history of Ghana, especially the Gold Coast, where the slave trade began. I’ll wait until I finish it to give the novel a proper review, but I’ll say this: it’s a book not to be missed! Right now, there are NO copies available at the Grand Rapids Public Library or the Kent District Library systems, so you’ll have to add your name to the waiting list. But the wait is worth it, I promise.

Also, I’ll be posting my pictures of the Schuler Books midnight release party of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which I thoroughly enjoyed! I also am in the process of reading the book, so that’s another review to be in the lookout for.

For now, I’ll continue to read my books, and be on the lookout for any information about upcoming books, events at our local bookstores and libraries. Thank you for your support!

Keep on reading!

-Lupita