The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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A book about four siblings knowing the day they will die and what they do with that knowledge….  it really opens up the question, would you want to know?

~Sheila

 

It is the late 1960’s and four children (from 7 – 13) find themselves before a Traveling Physic who claims to be able to tell them the day they will die.  She does, privately with each one and go on their way believing and not believing…

The Immortalists then breaks into 4 parts and follows each sibling throughout their life to that day.  What choices they make, and where it all ends.  Do they live recklessly – or with abandon – or fully… as we, those who do not know, all should never knowing when that day or this day – will be your last.

What does the sibling do that has the least amount of time?  What about the one with the most?

 

I finished this book late yesterday afternoon.  I was listening to it on audio while channeling Marie Kondo and tackling my closet.  And to be honest, I am still tossing around in my head what I think of it.

I think I am struggling because it was not what I thought it was going to be.  I expected a more magical element to the book.  One portion of the book was also way more sexually detailed then for my taste in books and while that chapter is extremely powerful, admittedly I had a few moments where I considered giving up on the book.

Now – that I have completed the book and understand what the author was doing… I feel that overall the book is brilliantly written.  The diving of the chapters is a perfect telling for this style of read.

This book was up for vote by my book club on three separate occasions and won for our current read that we will be discussing tomorrow evening.  I am super curious where they landed on this one and I feel it is going to bring out good discussion.  I am looking forward to the big questions regarding dealing with grief, and the supernatural – and of course… if we could know when our last day would be…

would we want to know? 

 

NPR Review of The Immortalists

 

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Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

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In my teens… I loved me some Stephen King… he was my go to for dark stories.  In my twenties, I discovered Dean Koontz (a little less wild than King) and read everything the man wrote… and then I found Harlan –  who has a a way of mixing great mystery with witty humor…  there’s a little something he adds to the genre that makes my heart leap when a new book is coming by him.

~Sheila

 

New jersey Detective Napoleon Dumas (yes… Dumas… not a typo) is still haunted by the freak accident that took the life of his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana when they were all still in High School.  Both were found dead on the railroad tracks, the whole episode put in the books as teen partying.  That same night, Nap’s girlfriend Maura broke up with him and was never seen again… as years go on, it seems that other close friends of Leo’s are also dying in mysterious ways.  Is someone trying to keep something quiet?

15 years later… none of this still makes sense.

When Maura’s fingerprints show up in a rental car of a suspected murdered, Nap feels he may finally have a lead to answers.  His search becomes an obsession as he feels he is on the verge of knowing what really happened that night to his brother, Diane and what are these ripple effects that still seem to be happening….

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Harlan Coben and I at the book expo in New York, 2011

 

I do love Coben’s mind.  Don’t Let Go, is a perfect title for this book and true to form… Harlan does not let me down with a protagonist with a last name of Dumas.

Classic Coben.

Don’t get me wrong –  Coben’s humor does not get in the way of a good mystery, in fact other than Dumas’s unfortunate name (which admittedly he was teased for throughout school) the book lends itself to a dark mystery of covered up events.  I found myself having a hard time putting the book down as I wanted to know what was going to happen.  The ending was a solid “Whoa!”  And that’s a good thing.

Readers who enjoy a good solid mystery that does not go too far or gory will enjoy Coben’s books.

 

5Sheila DeChantal enjoys reviewing books here, and also writes on other subjects (as well as books) at IguessIamdoingthis.com

The Retreat by Mark Edwards

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Sometimes you need just a good solid mystery to wrap your mind around….

~Sheila

 

Julia’s world fell apart when two years previously she lost bother her husband and daughter Lily in the same day.  Her daughters body never surfaced and Julia, trying to move on but not sure how, remains in the same home which she has now opened up as an Author’s Retreat Center.

Lucas, an author who writes Horror, has come to the retreat escaping his own demons.  When he hears about Lily’s disappearance, he becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened.

Surrounded by a town that believes deeply in old superstitions, quirky characters and deep secrets – what is about to come to the surface is not at all what anyone expects.

 

I dove into the retreat looking for a good mystery to release my mind from the non fiction I had been reading of late.  A book about an Authors Retreat and a solid disappearance was just the ticket.  I enjoyed the mix of Author attendees at the retreat and the mystery of Lily had just the right amount of spooky flavor to not be over the top.  I thoroughly enjoyed this read – surprised in the end.

 

This was my first time reading author Mark Edwards, and it will not be my last.

 

5Sheila DeChantal writes book reviews at Book Journey as well as writes on other subjects including Life, Grief, Food and more at I Guess I Am Doing This.

Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977 – 2002 by David Sedaris

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A long time ago I discovered David Sedaris.  I have enjoyed him on audio while working on things and laughing out loud.  It is a good combination and it was fun to return to him and catch up.

~Sheila

 

I can not recall when I first found Sedaris.  I am sure it is in my archives here but I am being lazy drinking coffee and putting off what I should be doing so… meh.

I pulled this book out a list of audio I recently downloaded so I could listen while I painted the kitchen.  Sedaris proved to be as funny as ever and while painting I enjoyed some real laugh out loud moments.  Theft By Finding is snippets that he has taken from his diaries, of funny thoughts, happenings, and a solid reflection of the way he looks at the world.

Sedaris fans may find this book at times to not be as solidly funny as his other books, sometimes you only get a sample of where he is going, and at other times the story may be more about family and life events.  Still – I enjoyed it.

 

 

5Sheila DeChantal also writes at I Guess I am Doing This where she talks on other things besides books such as Life Happenings, Food, Adventures and Grief.

 

Artemis by Andy Weir

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The Martian was my first dabble into the mind of Andy Weir and I loved my stay.  Artemis is one of those titles that sat in my mind way too long before I finally pulled it to the top of my list.  
What took me so long?

~Sheila

 

Jazz Bashara lives on the only inhabited are of the moon, Artemis.  She is snarky and resourceful, doing small smuggling jobs to keep her in barely enough coin to cover a place to stay and a little food to eat.  You do what you need to do to get by.

When a chance to do a large job with a big payout falls into her lap – Jazz can not resist the possibility of having a big pay day.  With a little help from her friends she dives in with a few miscalculated bumbles and an error that reveals a much larger plot that appears to threaten all who live on Artemis.

 

In a word… Jazz is a hot mess.  She is mouthy, quick witted, always in trouble and I adored her.  I listened to Artemis on audio and hearing those first few snarly words brought me right back to The Martian.

I was giddy with happiness.

Absolutely treat yourself to a a ticket to Artemis. If you enjoy Andy Weir’s style – this book will not disappoint.

 

5Check out my writing on other topics such as Food, Adventures, Life and Grief at I Guess I Am Doing This.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

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This is my first dabble into Rachel Hollis… and it will not be my last.

~Sheila

 

As I try to think how this came on my radar – I get little snippets of memory.  In the office – I am sure it was mentioned,  then at a lunch with friends… I started to see the book show up on “Must Read” lists, blogs, and in stores… and then…

it was in my home.

Whoa.

And now for my confession.  I tend to look (or I guess looked… past tense now) at books like this as Self Help, a Genre I never had much time for.  If I am totally honest – I had an opinion on these books to be full of things we should already know….

  • Get up – Its a new day!
  • You are the controller of your actions and reactions
  • One Step at a time
  • RAH! RAH!
    • etc… etc…

AND…. honestly (again with the honesty) when I started reading this book – I had a friend in mind who I wanted to pass it to and told myself I would see if it was a good fit for her.  I started reading it with that mindset of “Oh yes, this will be good for her to read.  Oh – that’s perfect for her

AND… for all of that – I am sorry.

BECAUSE – As I read Girl, Wash Your Face it started to resonate with me.  It went from being a book for my friend…. to a book that slapped me in the face.  There are things in each of our lives I feel we believe or hold back because of – something in your childhood, the way you were brought up, something that happened – or did not happen…etc etc… your own self perspective that makes you who you are today and why you do some things and why you don’t do others.

I really hope you are following…

I could go on and on here.. and in fact I may pull out the SPOILER Button here so as I process through this those who choose to can follow and share as well…

Bottom Line – we all got STUFF.  It makes us who we are – for better or for worse and I find the message that Rachel sends out to the world is the same one I try to live by –

Live life to the fullest.  No matter what your stuff is, you can take it and make it into a part of building you up and into a positive.  I know – (believe me I know) that does not always come easy.  If fact you are probably thinking of some of your stuff – harsh losses, broken relationships , deaths, finance issues, sickness….  and wondering how how how do you possibly turn that around to something.

Let me end with this – I found Girl Wash Your Face to be just the voice people want to listen to and know is out there.  Rachel Hollis is real and raw and lives much the way I choose to live my own life.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and shares her hardest and darkest moments coming from the “one of us” Team which speaks volumes in today’s society.  It’s nice to know there is someone out there that has been through it and come out the other side – not perfect – not having it all together – but broken like so many of us and still doing it.
THAT I can relate too.

If you haven’t given Rachel Hollis a try – I recommend you do.

Rachel Hollis website

Rachel Hollis Podcast:  RISE Together

And. yeah…. if you want to go there.. I think I have more to say.  ;P
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Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

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Most likely, not a book I would have chosen on my own.  This Book is a Books Burgers and Brews pick for our community Book Club read.  Pleasantly surprised, I enjoyed the book and learned a bit along the journey about the Osage. The Murders and the FBI.

~Sheila

In the 1920’s, the Osage Indians were the richest people per capita in the world.  Land was given to them was later discovered to be hiding a wealth of oil – oil that now belonged to the land owners.
Or at least… one would think.

One by one the Osage started to die.  Mysterious ways looking anywhere from drowning, food or alcohol poisoning, and downright murder.  Anyone who looked to closely at what may be happening to the Osage either disappeared or was found dead themselves.  As the death tole climbed, the newly organized FBI took on the case.  What followed was cover ups and corruption and eventually – a truth that becomes known as one of the biggest conspiracies in history.

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Continuing my reign of terror on my house – I listened to this book on audio so I could paint, scrub, sand and clean up while enjoying this book.  A series of narrators:   Will Patton (Narrator), Ann Marie Lee (Narrator), Danny Campbell (Narrator) make up this read flawlessly.  I never rally noticed the voice change as the story unfolded.

David Grann captures details of American History that I think is safe to say – little known. The book held my attention as the details came to light of  sinister undertaking of greed and privilege.  I am astounded that I did not know about this.

History buffs, non fiction readers will take to this book.  I look forward to our discussion in our group.