Unspeakable

Unspeakable is the second book in Laura Griffin’s Tracers series. Each of the novels in this series focus on two characters in the criminal/forensic fields in Texas. This book focuses on Elaina McCord, an FBI agent, and Troy Stockton, a true crime writer who was featured as one of the characters in the first book in the series.

Elaina is a rookie FBI agent trying to demonstrate her skills, but the men on the case want nothing to do with her and are essentially icing her out from being helpful on the case. She constantly has to prove herself, but often gets herself into more trouble than she should because she is more of a loner than part of a team. She always feels that she needs to do things on her own to prove that she isn’t a weak link to the team because she is a woman.

The team is investigating a series of murders of young women who were violently killed and left to decompose in the muggy Texas marshlands. The murderer begins taunting Elaina with phone calls and other notes. Luckily, through every dangerous turn Elaina has Troy Stockton keeping an eye on her. Stockton is the only one that believes Elaina is on the right track right from the get go and helps her develop her leads and interview suspects and witnesses. He introduces his contacts at the Delphi Center to Elaina so that she can get evidence tested when her supervisor doesn’t believe it is worth the FBI’s time. Troy seems to be the only one watching out for the safety of Elaina, when even she jumps into dangerous situations without thinking.

With the killer knowing how to get to Elaina, while she doesn’t know who he is, it is a race against time to figure out who he is before he gets more victims, or targets her. This is the cause of several arguments between Troy and Elaina as his first priority seems to be her safety.

Through a search back several years it is clear that the killer has been honing his skills for quite some time and in several locations. Police from different areas of Texas come in to help out and the forensic specialists at the Delphi Center score big when testing the evidence sent in. It was a true group effort to solve this case, and an enjoyable read. I can’t wait to continue the series!

Bored and Brilliant

I really enjoy reading books that will help me better myself in some way. For that reason I was really excited to hear about the book, “Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self,” by Manoush Zomorodi. Zomorodi is the host of WNYC’s podcast Note to Self, the podcast the launched the Bored and Brilliant experiment.

The experiment that was launched via the podcast was a series of challenges that listeners would follow in order to allow themselves to be bored. Many, if not most/all of the challenges included strategies that help you put down your devices and let your mind wander. However, Zomorodi is clear that she is not anti-tech and even shares a few apps that can help you make conscious decisions about your tech usage. One of these will tell you how many hours and minutes that you are using your phone. If you use certain settings it will break down how long you spend in each app through the week, which I have found very helpful to demonstrate where my weak points are so that I can avoid spending so much time on those apps the following week.

Some of the challenges are easier than others, and some aren’t new ideas either. I’ve heard from many places to delete ‘that’ app. ‘That’ app that causes you the most time suck to your day. Are you constantly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with no end to the perma-scroll? Then that is going to be ‘that’ app for you. Always mindlessly playing Candy Crush, Sims Freeplay, or Home/Gardenscapes? There’s your app to delete. I’ll be honest, I have yet to delete ‘that’ app on my phone/tablet. But I have been more mindful of my time on those apps and find myself closing them down after shorter time periods than before.

However, one of the more interesting things I took out of this book were all the sections of research on boredom and how being bored can lead to being more productive/creative. I did not really expect to learn as much as I did. I expected more of a general overview, similar to the many other self-help/happiness books out there. As a librarian, one of the most intriguing tidbits I read in the book was about how our attention spans have decreased from reading on the Internet so much, leading to fewer literacy skills. Zomorodi interviewed a scholar that had to reteach herself how to read her own favorite (lengthy) novel by increasing the amount of time spent reading print books. I found that absolutely fascinating! In beginning this blog I have definitely been picking up my reading of print and I have noticed a pick up in my “reading endurance” of print materials.

I found this book very enlightening and think it could be a good tool for those looking for a way to put down those devices and to start daydreaming more.

Happy Reading 🙂

Untraceable

As a Technical Services Librarian, pretty much every book that my library orders comes across my desk at some point. Fortunately, and unfortunately, that means I have a huge TBR list so a lot of my posts aren’t about the most recently released books. Nevertheless, they are still enjoyable reads. A few weeks ago, the most recent book in Laura Griffin’s Tracers series came across my desk. The plot sounded great to me, since I love detective/forensic murder mystery series. I didn’t want to start with the most recent book though, so I looked for the first book in the series and ILL’d the book–“Untraceable.”

Griffin introduces readers to a crime in the middle of it, instead of after the fact. I really liked that she did not bring us in to the plot by immediately introducing us to PI/computer genius Alexandra Lovell and Detective Nathan Devereaux. Lovell also takes on clients who are women who have suffered abuse and are looking to disappear. Alex helped victim Melanie Bess disappear and now she is really missing and Alex has a gut feeling that something isn’t right.

I really hate giving spoilers–yes, even for a book published in 2009, so I don’t want to give away too much plot. But the rest of the book focuses on searching for Melanie and what crimes are connected to her abusive husband, who is a cop. There are many twists and turns throughout the story line including some that I didn’t see coming.

The other subplot going on is the budding relationship between Alex and Nathan. There is a sexual tension between them throughout the novel, and includes some back story as to when they met previously. As I was reading I had to double check that this was the first book in the series because their meeting was brought up so often.  I’m intrigued to find out how their relationship further develops and was surprised to see how much happened in just the first book of the series. Normally, authors will let the tension build up a few books and slowly jump in, but this book jumps right in.

This book was a fun, quick read, and I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I can’t wait for the book to get shipped to me so I can get started!

TFD–The Financial Diet

I’ve been on a kick of reading nonfiction books, mostly along the lines of self-help and learning about yourselves. Think books like The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin and You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. This review focuses on The Financial Diet, written by Chelsea Fagan. It’s by far the most recently published book that I’ve reviewed so far.

Fagan is the creator of the popular blog The Financial Diet, which the book is based on. It aims to help millennials (especially women) with their finances. A coworker recommended the book to me before it was even released, and I got really excited. And, although there are some nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout the book, I was fairly underwhelmed by the book as a whole.

Fagan got on my annoyed side before I even finished the introduction. She tanked her credit score as an irresponsible teenager. Yet, she tries to appeal to her millennial readers by talking about the many thousands of dollars of debt in student loans that many, if not most, millennials have. One is a personal choice to ignore debt and the other is an unfortunate side effect of trying to better educate yourself. I don’t want to get into the debate of whether or not everyone should go to college, and whether or not it’s a waste of money, but as one of those millennials that has quite a bit of student loan debt, I don’t appreciate being preached to from someone that doesn’t have it. I have yet to read one of these financial based books aimed at millennials that isn’t written by someone that was privileged in some way.

In this book I think I got more out of the guest interviews than from the bits written by Fagan. I didn’t really learn anything new–make a budget, don’t spend beyond your means, buy cheap foods that go further and can be frozen. How about you actually say how to make a budget? I wish one of the books would go deeper into the specifics of how to do the things necessary to get out of debt. And that one of these books would be written by someone that overcame their debt by doing something realistic, that isn’t a once in a million chance.

One guest interview in the book that I enjoyed specifically mentioned not even thinking that studying abroad was an option because she had to work while in college. That was a breath of fresh air to read in a book, and see that that person has worked hard all her life and gotten into relative financial success. That is motivational.

I hope that eventually I find a book that doesn’t preach and goes deeper into financial education.

Happy Reading!

You’re A Badass Pt. 2

My last review centered around Jen Sincero’s “You are a Badass” book, which discusses strategies to increase your self esteem in a “you can do it!” fashion. Today’s review looks at her next book which is a follow up to that book and is called, “You are a Badass at Making Money.”

I initially wanted to read this book even more than Sincero’s book “You are a Badass”, because I am in serious need of learning more about creating a stable financial lifestyle. While reading the first Badass book the money section was one of my favorites and I was thrilled to see she decided to write a book solely focusing on the topic. This book was well balanced between the “You are a Badass” way of living of doing whatever you put your mind to, and providing ideas of how to succeed at being as wealthy as you want. Sincero is clear that it is up to you to get over your mental hurdles, and that you need to do some leg work to figure out what you want. It’s more about figuring out your financial goals and then figuring out your own path to get there. So you want to pay off your debt faster? Can you sell stuff you have? Can you start a second — or third — side hustle to give you the extra cash? Why can’t you do these things, and if you “can’t,” then how bad did you really want to reach the goal you set for yourself if you aren’t willing to do extra to get it?

I absolutely love (in case you couldn’t tell) the mentality of this book. However, there were sections I didn’t find as helpful, or as easy to digest. By easy to digest, I mean more along the lines of the topic needed to be sold better instead of it being difficult to understand. Sincero wrote this book from her perspective and life experiences. She’s a life coach, and wrote heavily about her path to become a coach and coming up with  A LOT of money to pay her first coach in order to learn. I liked the message that if there is something you want bad enough you’ll find a way to make the money to get that thing. But, I found her examples weren’t the right ones for me.

I often have a difficult time going full steam ahead on something and try to figure out the pitfalls, when it might be a better option to be wholeheartedly optimistic and just go for it. A large part of the methodology of Sincero’s books, as well as other books in this genre, is that you need to let it all go and just believe. I often begin the book, and maybe even begin doing some of the things the book in question suggests, but then start to flounder, and it goes by the wayside. One of my 2018 goals is to get over some of these mental hurdles I have and do the things!

Happy reading 🙂

You are a Badass Pt. 1

Everywhere I turned it seemed I was finding the book, “You are a badass: how to stop doubting your greatness and living an awesome life,” by Jen Sincero. I kept thinking to myself–I should read that book, but wouldn’t set aside the time to read it. It’s not a long book, and it was a pretty quick read cover-to-cover.

I started reading the book with a pretty open mindset on what Sincero was proposing for readers to better themselves. What was most appealing to me was the no nonsense attitude she has toward getting over crippling behaviors and beliefs. Sincero is not shy about using language that many authors typically stay away from to make sure they get the maximum numbers of readers. To Sincero it is simple–you will only succeed if you really want to make progress in that area of life. If you are only half invested in making yourself better, sooner or later a slip up will happen and it will be harder to get back on the wagon eventually with making good decisions.

I agree that you have to be wholeheartedly invested in improving yourself to actually improve yourself, and many of the tactics mentioned throughout the book are useful in helping you do just that. As I began the book I was gung-ho and thought everything was great. And I believe that this book is great for getting readers up and raring to start a change.

As I finished the book I started thinking it was a little unrealistic. Once you have the tactics down, I’m not sure how helpful the book is. It may be helpful as a boost when you’re not as sure of your skills, or feel on a downward spiral into your old ways. It would be a good idea to continually check back and reread sections of the book if you intend to follow a badass lifestyle.

Although I do have some reservations about the book, I mostly really liked it and it invigorated me to get started on living a badass lifestyle and not taking no for an answer. I also decided to read Sincero’s “sequel” to this book, “You are a Badass at Making Money,” which as a millennial with many student loans I was even more excited to dive into than this book. You all can look forward to a review of that book later this week.

Happy Reading 🙂

The Mistletoe Secret

The post might be a bit late, as I read this book in time for the Christmas holiday, but haven’t quite had the time to write about it.

To get in the holiday spirit, and to break up my reading of non-fiction books, I decided to read: “The Mistletoe Secret” by Richard Paul Evans. It is the third installment of the Mistletoe Collection. I got in the mood by getting comfy under a fuzzy blanket and making hot cocoa and settling in for a good night of reading.

“The Mistletoe Secret,” centers on Alex, who is a recent divorcée begins reading a blog about loneliness, and signed by LBH. By doing some detective work, he finds out that the writer is based in a small town in Utah and travels to meet her. Most of the time I was thinking that Alex was a really creepy guy, stalking this blogger. Usually, while reading romance novels it is easy for me to remember that it is a fictional story and actions that may be less than appropriate are deemed logical in my mind. However, it was much more difficult to do so while reading this book. I think that is because of how realistic this story could be, and also because of how relevant this story can be in relation to predatory sexual harassment and abuse stories coming to light in the news. I had a really hard time justifying Alex’s actions and behavior. In line with how I was concerned with the lead character’s behavior, was his friends’ reactions to his behavior. When I saw this, I felt more like the author created Alex to be border line creepy on purpose.

There were aspects of the story that I didn’t find as objectionable. I never read any of Evans’s books before this one, and before I started reading I was concerned about how a romance novel written by a man might come across. I assumed that it would focus on the lead female character as so many of these books do. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book centers on the male lead character and the turmoil he faces through divorce and finding love and possibly more importantly, trust, again.

Alex’s friendship with his two closest friends, and co-workers was also of interest to me. Often in media male friendships are centered on sports and talking about lust instead of love. Instead, the friendships in, “The Mistletoe Secret,” depict emotional connections that bring light to the dark feelings that can be brought on by depression. I really enjoyed the character development throughout the novel. The different backstories of each character were clear in shaping the way the characters were as their present selves.

All in all, I enjoyed this book as a light hearted leisure read, and would read more by Richard Paul Evans. This book definitely served its purpose to get me out of reading so many non-fiction books in a short period of time.

As always,

Happy Reading 🙂