Whisper Network

*Thank you Flatiron Books for this ARC!*

This was the first ARC I ever requested directly from a publisher… and I’m so glad I did.

My Synopsis: Four women learn their misogynistic boss is next in line to be CEO, and decide to put a stop to it.

Pairs best with: TBH, I totally cheated on the “snack” part of this pic. But what could this pair well with other than adorable babies? A glass of wine. Because nothing screams “girl power” like a glass of rosé.

Brief Review:

This book is everything. It had so much potential and so much going on, and it succeeded at every turn. I loved each character, even with their flaws. It was by far the most relatable book I’ve ever read. 

I was hooked. I laughed. I sent pictures of lines to my friends. I even got teary at parts. It’s insanely timely, both in the world, and in my life at the moment. I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it!

Extended Review: *SPOILERS BELOW*

Guys. If you couldn’t tell already, I loved this book. It was the most relatable book I’ve read, so this post will be a bit personal. I just couldn’t help relating everything to personal experiences, so here we go!

This book is so applicable to the #metoo movement, which is exactly what all the reviews said. But as a 29 year old woman in the corporate world, especially one who just had a baby about 2 weeks ago, this book really spoke to me on a personal level. I don’t work in a legal department, but I always thought the environment of a public accounting firm in Manhattan was similar to practicing law. Even though the firm I work at is technically more women than men, the actual billable staff are heavily male and it can be difficult being a woman in that world.

As a new mom, I’ve spent an absurd amount of time in the last 9 months thinking about my the future of my career. I’m also moving in a week, which will change my 20 minute walk to work into an hour commute. The combination of these two things is making me question pretty much every decision I’ve ever made in my career, along with where I will be going forward. Commuting an hour and working full time while trying to be a caregiver to my daughter is something I have been already struggling with in theory – and I haven’t even had to do it yet. If I stay at my current position, I will need to have some type of flex schedule, which is allowed at my company, but of course is looked down upon by the all male management of the firm. My direct boss is a woman, but everyone above her is male. It makes for a difficult situation where there appear to be options, but the system is flawed.

I heavily connected with Grace because of the new mom status. Especially because I was reading this while I was feeding the baby at nights (though I fed from a bottle… so I couldn’t relate to the breast feeding part!). While Sloane was used to and able to balance work and her daughter, Grace was new to it and struggled. I’m still on maternity leave (like I said, it’s been 2 weeks), but I fully anticipate a similar struggle come October.

This leads me to the few times the book mentioned “having it all.” This is such an interesting concept to me in general. When you hear that, you think of societies definition of “all,” but I’m a firm believer that everyone should define that for themselves. Whether it’s having a career and family life, or staying home to raise your kids, there shouldn’t be pressure to do everything at once. Anyway, I digress. Back to the book!

Each chapter started off with little blurb about how it is for working women. And I. ATE. THOSE. UP. I took pictures of blurbs and sent them to friends. I laughed out loud. I don’t know the last time I laughed out loud at a book. They were just all so true and so honest. Why yes Chandler Baker, you’re right, I DID waste my entire weekend watching Jane the Virgin. And yes, I DID read Lean In, and you’re right, it didn’t help my career. All the little snippets of information really helped build the story and sucked me in.

Obviously, some things were less relatable. I probably would not actually push my boss off the roof. But I also won’t say I haven’t thought about it!

Also understandable – the cliqueiness (not a word) of the women in the story. I loved all of the characters, despite their flaws, but it was interesting to me how a new woman joined the company and they instantly tried to get her to join “their side.” To me, it seemed them taking Katherine under their wings was them trying to win her over. To have another ally. It didn’t seem innocent.

Okay lets talk about the BAD list. This was so creative. I don’t live in Dallas, but I live in Manhattan which is its own beast. I could see a list like this circulating a college, and it isn’t so far fetched to think about it circulating a city either.

Sexual harassment. A very prevalent theme throughout the book. I was surprised in the end to find out that Ardie had also been raped by Ames, and I liked that in the end it was her and Katherine that had ultimately killed him. Katherine’s story line was frustrating, but rang all too true. And to be honest, I get where she was coming from. Why let an incident of something that happened TO her define her? If she could use it to elevate herself, why only let it hurt her and bring her down? I wish she didn’t have to do it at the expense of the other ladies, but I understand not wanting to relive that over and over for the public just to get back at a man who was already dead.

Rosalita. I figured out early on, but only once the hints started, that Ames was her sons dad. Reading that part and her confessions is what drove me to a few tears (but we can also blame the postpartum hormones. I know Grace would feel me on that). I loved that she was so brave and stuck with the women to help bring Ames down. I’m a sucker for strong female characters.

There was so much feminism and girl power in the book that I can’t even write about everything I loved. From Ardie and Sloane sticking up for Sloane’s daughter to the law firm they build at the end and everything in between. This book was chock full of great moral lessons and positive messages.

Listen. None of these women were perfect. They were cheaters, they were single moms, they struggled, some of them were kind of murderers. But they were real and honest and raw, and by sticking together they were able to make a big change.

I can’t wait for a day when a book like this seems like something of the past. When the idea of women in the work place being treated differently than their male counterparts is historical fiction rather than contemporary. That the thought of women who accuse a man of sexual harassment aren’t bribed by a higher paycheck or have their authenticity questioned by other women.

If women stick together, like Ardie, Grace, Sloane, and Rosalita did, maybe we can make that happen! Until then, we have books like this to get us through.

If you can’t tell, I highly recommend this. Keep an eye out for it in July 2019!!

The Aftermath

I have a lot of thoughts on this book. I wish I wrote this post a while ago while it was still fresh in my mind, but lets see what stuck…

My Synopsis: This story follows a German family and a British family one year post WWII, showing how the war effected each person individually.

Pairs best with: Popcorn. The movie just came out… but of course you have to read the book first!! Nothing pairs better with a movie-book than popcorn.

Brief Review:

I’d say this was about 3.5 stars on the 5 star scale – it was pretty entertaining, but more than that it was an interesting time period you don’t hear about often. Germany one year post WWII. It brought up something you don’t think of; the kids who grew up during WWII, didn’t fully understand what was going on, but knew enough to feel the loss of loved ones and their home. Though the story itself wasn’t the most gripping, the setting and time period made up for it. Worth a read!

Extended Review: *SPOILERS AHEAD*

OKAY. Like I said, I have a lot of thoughts. Overall, I liked this book. But there were a lot of things that just didn’t add up or get fully developed. And I think that was my biggest issue – there were so many starts to story lines that didn’t quite make it as far as they needed to go, and it lost a lot of the momentum of the story.

Maybe this was explained and I just missed it, but I was confused at the ages of Edmund and Freda. Yes, Freda was older, but I didn’t think she was that much older. Their plots were so different that their ages seemed exasperated. Edmund was written as a child, while Freda was portrayed as an angsty teen. This confused me throughout the story.

At one point, Edmund is looking through Lewis’s wallet and notices that Lewis has pictures of Rachael and Michel, but not Edmund. When Edmund asks him about it, he gives a reason that Lewis latches on to even though its not the real reason. But we never learn what the real reason is. So I’m not sure what the point of this was?? Or did I miss an explanation elsewhere??

Jumping right to the end of the story – when Lewis’ driver gets shot in the end, I wanted to be heart broken. But I wasn’t. We met him in one scene, and yes the shot was supposed to kill Lewis, but it didn’t have the same gripping effect than if the guy (who’s name I don’t even remember!) had been a main character being killed.

One of the main plots in the story is the relationship between Rachael and Lubert. I get the concept of their affair; we can see the winners and the losers in a war, but at the end of war, everyone has lost something. Everyone deals with grief the same way, and even though they were on opposing sides, they both lost a loved one and had to learn to cope. But the way the first kiss started was just too out of left field. It didn’t make sense to me that Lubert just kissed her out of nowhere to distract her, and thats what led to the affair.

I didn’t follow Otis’s plot line. At the end, it tied in, but I didn’t care about it.

Freda’s plot line was the most interesting to me. Hated her. Full on hated. But it’s such an interesting point that I’ve never thought of. There was a whole generation that grew up in Germany during WWII, didn’t fully understand what was going on, but knew they had lost people they cared about and were angry. Having lost her mom (or thinking she lost her mom), I didn’t blame Freda for being angry. I always think about the adults in WWII/Holocaust books and how they were to blame in some situations, but the kids grew up being fed these ideas. It put a different spin on something I grew up believing.

I loved Lewis. He was almost too perfect, but he gave me hope that theres still good people in the world no matter what garbage is going on. Especially in todays world, it’s a really nice message to get from a book.

I know I just pointed out a lot of negatives, but I’d say all around this story worked because of the unique time and place. It did fall short in a lot of places and could have been much better developed, but the unique idea behind it still makes it an interesting read.

Have you read The Aftermath? What did you think?

Where the Crawdads Sing

I said in my last post that The Night Olivia Fell was the most hyped book on social media, but I might have been wrong. It might be Where the Crawdads Sing. So, obviously, this was next.

My Synopsis: A double story following a young girl growing up alone in a marsh, and a murder in the same marsh years later.

Pairs best with: Grits. But I don’t know how to to make grits, nor do I think I’ve ever had them?? So I made pancakes instead. Obviously with chocolate chips. In retrospect, I wish I had mud cake. Damn it, now I’m mad I didn’t think of that before I took this picture!

Brief Review: 

Though it started slow, this book grew on me as it went. It was beautifully written, with a fast faced ending. My only criticism is the ending just didn’t quite click with me, things felt off. This book is one of the most hyped these days, and I definitely understand why. It combines a lot of different genres in a really well written way.

Extended Review: *SPOILERS BELOW*

So I know that I just said this book was good, and it was! But it had one main thing I really questioned.

The ending. The whole mystery was who killed Chase. Kya was accused and found not guilty, but in the end you find out she did do it. Great – do it! He sucked, and she was (in a nice way) a wild animal – her natural instinct was to protect herself and eliminate the threat. I get that part of it. But the elaborate scheme behind it just didn’t make sense to me. Kya was obviously incredibly smart. She knew the marsh like the back of her hand (what a weird saying) and it doesn’t surprise me at all she could plan a murder and get away with it within those parameters.

What made NO SENSE to me is the elaborate scheme she went through to make a scene of buying a bus ticket, getting on the bus, finding a hotel closer to the bus station, sneaking back into town, luring him into the marsh, killing him, getting back on the bus to the hotel, waking up in the hotel, and faking shock when she got home to find out he died. Really?? A girl who has literally never left the marsh except to go into town to get gas and groceries all of a sudden finds a map of a far away town she happens to get invited to, picks a convenient hotel, and gets a disguise to sneak back and forth!?

There was no evidence, so it makes sense that she didn’t get convicted. I knew the second they said not guilty that she actually was guilty – whatever she was found, I knew the “end twist” was going to be the opposite. There was nothing saying she did it. I just couldn’t get over how out of character the whole scheme was! Between the slow beginning and the ending, I wouldn’t say I loved this book as much as the vast majority.

Loved Tate, though.

Did you read this book? What did you think?

The Night Olivia Fell

*Thank you Netgalley for this ARC!*

Probably the most hyped book I have seen on instagram. You know me, I had to see what the hype was about.

My Synopsis: A 19 year old girl falls off a bridge. Or did she…? 

Pairs best with: Honestly, whatever you’re eating at the time whenever you’re eating it. For me, it was a salad at my desk while I rushed to finish this at lunch. It wasn’t even a “I CAN’T PUT THIS DOWN” but it was a “I am curious and work is boring so lets see if I can get away with it.”

Brief Review:

This book was a classic thriller, and I loved it for that. I didn’t see the end twist coming directly, and some of the journey was pretty heart breaking (like the revelations in the later chapters that you knew Olivia never got to tell her mom, and that her mom never got to tell her). I can see why this book is getting so much hype!

Extended Review: *SPOILERS BELOW*

I love thrillers. Hands down, my favorite type of book. In 2019 I’ve been expanding my horizons, so maybe its not clear from this blog, but in general I definitely tend to go more towards thrillers.

Was this the best thriller I’ve ever read? No. Did it pull at my heart strings more than some others have? Yes. Okay lets dive in shall we:

Where to even start! I guess I’ll start with a little more background on the story. Olivia is 19 years old, and falls/gets pushed off of a bridge. She is brain dead, being kept alive only by life support. TWIST: she is also pregnant. And in Washington state, it is illegal to take a pregnant person off of life support while the fetus is still alive.

The book goes back and forth between the past being narrated by Olivia, the 19 year old who dies, and the present being narrated by her mother, Abi. Because of this, a large theme of the book is mother/daughter relationships. It made me reflect both on my relationship with my mom, and my relationship with my future daughter (when she gets here in approx. 11 weeks, but who’s counting).

This is the part that was heart breaking. Towards the end, Olivia comes to a lot of realizations about her mom. As the reader, we know that she will never get the opportunity to tell her mom these things, because in Abi’s chapters she is fully unaware. It was incredibly sad to know that their relationship ended so much more strained than it needed to, and really emphasized the “live each moment like its your last” decal stickers so many teens have on their walls. YOLO.

But really, I almost (almost) got teary eyed when Olivia went to kiss her mom goodnight in her last chapter. Her mom doesn’t, and never will, know that happened. I was taking notes on a post-it while I read and just wrote “Olivias mom sleeping :(.” That was sad.

There were some parts of the book that had me scratching my head. Her relationship with Anthony was weird and obviously not what it seemed from the start. It didn’t make sense he just showed up and cared. Even after the explanation that he was really working for the police, it still was a little extreme. Why did he care tHaAaAt much. I get that they explained why, but I still don’t buy it.

While the murderer being Tyler shouldn’t have been a huge twist (the boyfriend did it… I mean, its not anything ground breaking) I didn’t see it coming! They did such a good job making it seem like it was the dad and step sister (who’s names I’m blanking on), that I knew it couldn’t be them. It was a good tie in to be related to the step sister, without being her. But she still seemed like a troubled person so I’m glad she was somewhat involved.

In the end, the baby had to live. There was nothing surprising about that, but I was still glad she did.

Also. I must say, as a 29 week pregnant lady, I did not enjoy reading about the C-section. I’m choosing the “blissfully unaware” method of childbirth. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

The author very easily could have written “Olivia was 19. Fell off a bridge. Died.” without throwing in the baby. Normally, I’m anti-baby as a plot point, but in this case I thought it really added a lot to the story. It gave a reason for Olivia to stay alive even in her death, and kept her as a character in Abi’s parts as more than a memory. It was a bold, but overall successful, choice by the author that I admire.

Have you read The Night Olivia Fell? What did you think?

The Siren

I’m usually more of a mermaid fan, but I guess sirens are close enough.

My Synopsis: A siren meets a boy and falls in love. But she can’t speak to him without risking his life, and can never be with him because she belongs to the Ocean.

Pairs best with: Whatever your favorite food is. For me, Charleston Chews. Since sirens are not technically human, they don’t need to eat to survive. They still can eat for enjoyment though (and don’t put on any weight). Where do I sign up??

Brief Review:

This was an enjoyable read, but it didn’t live up to The Selection (which I loved). It was well written and had a really interesting plot, but there were parts of it that were a little slow and dragged. There were too many chapters of the main characters internal struggle without having enough action woven in. But overall it was a quick and satisfying read!

Extended review: *SPOILERS AHEAD*

The Selection is definitely my favorite YA series. I loved it. Shortly after I finished, I got The Siren and it’s been sitting on my bookshelf ever since. I’m talking years. Seriously – the purchase order is still in there and I bought it 11/2/2016. Do you know how much has happened since November 2016?! I got a dog. I got married. I got pregnant. I moved twice. But did I read The Siren? NOPE.

Enter bookstagram: someone posted they were reading this book on instagram, and I commented that it had been sitting on my bookshelf for years and I still hadn’t read it. She responded “read it with me!” and I couldn’t pass that up. A chance to clear an unread book from my shelf, and have someone to talk about it with. SOLD!

She hasn’t finished it yet so I haven’t had a chance to discuss it with her. And I think by the end there are definitely things to discuss, the middle just dragged a little. It wasn’t a “chat as you go” kind of book.

Kahlen (a name I had a hard time pronouncing in my head) falls in love with Akinli (…same) and I honestly did buy their love. I have a hard time with love stories because sometimes I just don’t believe the two characters are in love. Akinli’s interest in her made sense because he seemed somewhat like a lost soul. He fit in fine, but he enjoyed having someone he really could talk to. Kahlen’s love worked because she needed someone to see the real her without knowing her background or who she was.

There was a lot of violence in this book, and I enjoyed those parts. The book starts with a shipwreck and has 2 (maybe 3?) more throughout. It’s an intriguing start, and every time it comes back to the morbid ship wrecks it got a little exciting. But there were parts in between the wrecks that were a little slow.

A lot of the book is thoughts inside of Kahlen’s head, and while I understood her struggle, it came across a bit whiney at times. When she was with Akinli trying not to speak and towards the end when she is sick – that had the action other parts were missing.

I really enjoyed the Ocean being its own character. It reminded me a little of Moana – except meaner. But when they were being sent around the world to different countries, I pictured Moana’s ocean. I thought the dialogue between the Ocean and the girls was great, and I loved how it was written in italics rather than quotations because they were speaking somewhat telepathically.

The end was fairly predictable. But the more I write about this book, the more I think I enjoyed it! I feel like I’m talking myself into liking it more and more. It definitely was not The Selection (<3333), but I’m glad I finally got to it!

Have you read The Siren? What did you think?

Maid

*Thank you NetGalley for this ARC!*

I just finished the book Maid, and it was enlightening. Though I do have to say, while this one was incredibly well written, I keep trying memoirs and they are just not my type of book.

My Synopsis: A young, single mother, documents her experience with trying to raise a young woman alone while battling with poverty.

Pairs best with: A beer. Throughout the book, whenever Stephanie was splurging on food, it was a burger and a beer. She also talked a lot about missing being able to stop at a bar on her way home from work. I hope that now that she wrote this highly successful book, she can stop for beers whenever she wants!

Brief review:

Maid was a great story, and showed a life that I don’t often hear about. Of course, I know about poverty in America and the different government programs that we have, but I have never read a book (or memoir) told from the point of view of someone that has used them. Though the book only approached these options on a surface level, reading Stephanie’s story was really enlightening. She had a unique situation of being a single mother who was somewhat born into the poverty that she was in, but still had more family support than others in that situation might have had. It made for a very interesting dynamic. Stephanie had a great voice, and overall it was a really enjoyable and eye opening book. I finished reading this with a lot of respect for the author, and a pride that she was able to achieve her goal of becoming a writer.

Extended Review *SPOILERS AHEAD*

I know that I said that I was done with memoirs, and honestly I am. The next time someone sees me start one on Goodreads, say “Brooke. I know this one sounds good. But don’t do it!!” But this wasn’t the fault of Stephanie. She did a great job writing this book, and like I said, I felt genuinely proud every time she mentioned her dream of being a writer. She succeeded!

I just have realized its not my favorite type of book. And thats okay! I can still appreciate the book.

Have you read it? What did you think?

The Adults

I saw this one on social media, and liked the sound of it. Well, bookstagram for the win! Because it was adorable.

My Synopsis: Mom and Dad decide to bring their daughter, Scarlet, on a Christmas trip. The catch? They’re divorced and each bring their significant other. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, and you find out on the first page – someone gets shot with an arrow.

Pairs best with: Fish of any kind. Also pasta of any kind. Basically anything because Claire is an amazing chef and finds cooking relaxing (the opposite of me). But I went with the fish and pasta theme – shrimp pasta!

Brief Review:

Overall, this book was super cute. It wasn’t laugh out loud funny, and I wasn’t drawn into the mystery dying to know who did it, but it was really enjoyable and light. The author also did a really good job of using different voices and sharing different points of view. Definitely worth the read!

Extended Review: *SPOILERS AHEAD*

Honestly, this one will be brief. It was a really cute book, but theres not much to discuss! Reviews said it was “laugh out loud funny,” which it wasn’t quite, and some labeled it as a mystery, which it wasn’t really either. But it was really light and enjoyable.

I loved Alex, I felt bad for her because she was in such an impossible situation. But I thought (for the most part… obviously the wine didn’t help) that all of her thoughts and actions were reasonable. Patrick, on the other hand, was annoying AF. I felt for him also, an equally as impossible situation (if not worse), but sometimes he was annoying.

I wasn’t surprised how drawn out the “mystery” of who got shot was and who did the shooting, I also wasn’t surprised to find out it wasn’t the true story. But, like I said, I still really enjoyed it. It didn’t need the mystery to make the story, it just helped add to it.

Sometimes, neat happy endings can drive me mad because they’re just so unrealistic, but I liked this one. Even though Patrick bugged me at times, I was very happy to have a hint of him getting his own happily ever after. I was glad that Matt and Alex were okay, and that Claire was fine on her own.

Also – I got this far without mentioning Posey. But I think I’ll continue to not mention Posey. All I’ll say is I was happy for Scarlet that he “left” too.

One thing the author did REALLY REALLY well is different characters and points of view. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of books with different points of view per chapter that aren’t written well, and its a personal pet peeve. If they are different people speaking, I should be able to tell. Different people have different tones, different speech patterns, different slang. I thought this book did a good job of the 3 different POV (Alex, Patrick, and Scarlet) and it was interesting reading the same situation from different peoples perspectives.

I also thought it was an interesting, and good, choice to only have Alex, Patrick, and Scarlet speak. Not hearing directly from Claire or Matt helped legitimize Alex and Patricks feelings, which I really appreciated.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! Have you read it? What did you think?