“You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.” ― Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face
I was inspired to read Girl, Wash Your Face after I had it recommended to me by my mother. In it, the author Rachel Hollis, has put together twenty-one different chapters that dive into and tear apart lies women often tell themselves. She encourages the reader to fight against these lies and to live a life that is honest and real.
Her story is touching, and it has the ability to make you cry in one paragraph and laugh in the next. The content was a combination of light-hearted, funny, and even at some points dark. I enjoyed how raw and down-to-earth the author came across in this motivational book. I was extremely inspired to change my daily routine to make each day count after reading this.
Personally, I felt as though I was participating in a deep conversation with a friend rather than reading her life story. I have applied a lot of her outlooks on life into my own. Hollis wrote a fantastic book that shows the real side of life not only what is pretty to look at. I appreciated her honesty, and I will definitely be reading more by her.
First line: She’s at Mrs. Ruthie’s house, eating one of Mrs. Ruthie’s peanut butter cookies, staring out Mrs. Ruthie’s living room window and waiting for her parents to come home.
Summary: After the death of her parents, Lo Denham, has spent years trying to find and reconnect with her sister Bea. As Lo was recovering from the accident Bea left and joined The Unity Project. The group preaches love, does charity work and helps out the community. They have slowly been growing but Lo has always been suspicious of them. Then one day a man comes into the office of the magazine she works for. He claims that The Project killed his son. Lo sees this as her chance to expose the group and finally find her sister.
My Thoughts: I wasn’t so sure about this book when I first started it. It has dual timelines with different narrators and time periods. It was a little confusing as the story set out and took a little time to get going. But as Lo learns more about The Project the story gets more twisted. Things start to reveal themselves but like most thrillers, not everything you hear and see is true.
Cults are scary things. As I read, I could easily see how people are drawn into them. They are looking for something or someone to guide them. They want a community. Someone to understand them. But then there is always the dark underside. And the author delivered all this.
I had a hard time rating this book. I struggled at the start but enjoyed the ending. It was worth a read and kept me invested until the end.
First sentence: Christopher Lee Watts was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina on May 16, 1985, the second child to Ronnie and Cindy Watts.
Summary: In the early morning hours of August 13th, 2018, Shanann Watts was dropped off at home by a colleague after returning from a business trip. It was the last time anyone would see her alive. By the next day, Shanann and her two young daughters, Bella and Celeste, had been reported missing, and her husband, Chris Watts, was appearing on the local news, pleading for his family’s safe return. (from www.amazon.com)
My thoughts: Not everything is as it seems. Looking at the life of Shanann Watts seemed to be the most perfect life, a beautiful home with a family, a loving husband and 2 beautiful little girls and a baby boy on the way. But behind closed doors is a whole other story. A demon was in the making and before you know it took everything away from so many family and friends in the sad stories of this unbelievable set of events. While not everything or everyday or everyone is perfect, this didn’t need to happen to a family.
*This can be found only on Hoopla or thru interlibrary loan.*
First line: Her mother had once told her the only way to truly know someone was to fight them.
Summary: Every seven years the gods of Olympus are made mortal and hunted by the descendants of legendary heroes. It’s called the Agon. During the last Agon, Lore Perseous walked away from the hunt and its world. But when the new Agon begins she is drawn back in by an old friend and the goddess Athena. As she binds herself to the goddess she is pulled back into this world she abandoned with the hopes of avenging the deaths of her family or die trying.
My Thoughts: I’d describe this as Percy Jackson meets The Purge. The gods of Olympus are fighting for their lives for one week every seven years. And if a god is killed by a mortal hunter then the hunter will gain the powers and immortality of that god.
I first started listening to this and had a hard time following everything. There was a lot of information dumped at the beginning describing the event and participants. So I switched to the text format and was completely engrossed after that. Lots of action, mythology and twists.
I enjoyed the characters even though most of them fell into the typical young adult tropes. Lore is the angry, tough girl hero. There is a love interest. Villains. Double crossings. It has it all. But I did not feel like it was a book set into a pattern. The idea was inventive and story was exciting. I did find the middle to be a little stretched and drawn out but it did give information that helped bring about the ending.
First Line: Sirens. Was that what she’d heard? Yvonne dreamed about air raids when there weren’t any, slept soundly through the actual warnings.
Summary: The Delasalle family of Normandy, France have been under Nazi rule in their village for four years. They have watched as their Jewish neighbors have been arrested and disappeared. Now in June 1944 the sirens wail each day as the Allied invasion is approaching. After a bomb destroys their home, 16 year-old Yvonne survives, but other family members lose their lives.
Yvonne’s sister, Genevieve, is in Paris to audition for the National Conservatory. While playing her violin, she does not know that her family’s home has been destroyed. While Genevieve plays, her brother and aunt await news from their loved ones in Normandy.
Decades later, Genevieve is married to an American musician and lives in the United States. Each summer she returns to her homeland with her children so they may know of their French family.
Thoughts: This story moves back and forth in time, with various characters telling their points of view. This book shows how family histories are shared and shows how powerful storytelling helps us understand the past and who we are.
I like this story as it was different in its theme and content to what I usually read about family. At first it was hard to keep the characters straight but I soon learned who each member was and it became more interesting. I would recommend this story for its family theme and historical venue.
First line: PERSONAL – comely widow who owns a large farm in one of the finest districts in LaPorte County, Indiana, desires to make the acquaintance of a gentleman equally well provided, with view of joining fortunes. No replies by letter considered unless sender is willing to follow answer with personal visit. Triflers need not apply.
Summary: Belle Gunness, a Norwegian immigrant, has learned some hard lessons early on. Upon her arrival in Chicago she married with the hopes of achieving the American dream. But the life she dreamed of did not come true. She was disappointed in her husband, home and lifestyle. She must make her own way in the world by any means necessary. Mysterious deaths, house fires and heated arguments the legend of the Black Widow of LaPorte begins to take hold.
My Thoughts: Before finding this book on Netgalley I had never heard of Belle Gunness. She was a female serial killer. She killed an estimated fourteen people but may be linked to many more. I was really intrigued by the premise, the story and the character of Belle. It was very disturbing to be inside her head. She rationalized everything she did. But even a book about a serial killer I found much of it to be drawn out. There was long periods of time passing and very little happening. I think that much of this could have been taken out and the story would have felt more thrilling.
After finishing I visited www.newpapers.com via the library’s learning databases. I wanted to see what the newspapers of the time were reporting about this woman. Many had the same headline or story. Then there was a resurgence of sightings and murders that some believed were connected to her. There is still lots of mystery around this century old murderer. It’s crazy how reality can be even stranger than fiction.
First Line: It was early morning on Saturday, the sixteenth of December, the first day of the Christmas holidays.
Summary: Two twenty-first century kids, Peter Schock and Kate Dyer, travel back in time to 1763. There they meet Gideon Seymour, gentleman and thief, on his own adventure. Together they try to hunt down the villainess Tar Man so they can travel back home and save the space time continuum. Can Peter and Kate put aside their differences and save the day? Or will the Tar Man succeed with his plans and use the anti-gravity machine and change history?
Thoughts: The book was so enjoyable with so many twists and turns and keeps you at the edge of your seat. The characters are highly entertaining and easily relatable. It has fun historical moments and it’s a great way to learn about the 18th century. An interesting twist on Gideon, a thief with manners, who is kind to strangers and willing to help young strangers on their journey. This book is great for people of all ages and highly recommended for those who love time traveling adventures.
Summary: On January 12, 1888 a blizzard swept across the Plains so suddenly it caught many settlers unawares. Over 200 people died during and as a result of the storm but a majority of them were children, which gave this storm its name, The Children’s Blizzard.
Young schoolteachers, Gerda and Raina, were teaching in their one room schoolhouses when the storm appeared. Unsure what to do with the frightened children they had to make a decision, stay in the cold building or brave the storm to find their ways home. The decisions of these young women lead to consequences they never even imagined.
My Thoughts: This book was more intense than I was ready for. I felt the tension and fear of the settlers as the storm swept over them. We are lucky to have weather forecasts that gives us some warning on what is coming. These people had nothing. And the amount of snow, temperatures and the white out conditions are terrifying.
I loved the different viewpoints that gave a look at the storm from several angles such as a young girl in the storm, the teachers, a newspaper man and a father who braved the storm to rescue his children. I cannot imagine the choices that these young girls had to make and the fear they would have felt. What sixteen year old with very little schooling could make a decision this big? That is a lot of pressure. Then the author spent time after the storm to see the aftermath on the land and the people. Many lives were lost due to carelessness or bad luck. People died just feet from their homes because they could not see where they were going through the snow.
After finishing the novel I visited www.newspapers.com, a library database with historical newspapers from all over the country. My ancestors spent years living on the Nebraska prairie. I wondered if there was any coverage of the storm near their hometown. I found nothing directly connected to them or their town but I read numerous stories in other papers that told the story of this tragic event.
FYI: The aftermath can be harsh for some readers especially hearing about the frostbite and amputations.
First Line: Greetings from jolly old England, darling daughters, where I am feeling anything but jolly.
Summary: Jacky Hart has found a hidden talent in the performing arts, and she’s a triple threat onstage! She wants nothing more than to act and sing all summer — but her parents have other plans for her. Jacky reluctantly signs up for a summer job in her resort town of Seaside Heights, New Jersey, where tourists come to enjoy the beach and fun carnival atmosphere. Now she has serious responsibilities like her job and babysitting her younger sisters, but Jacky longs to perform in the summer stock performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream . Can she handle all of her important commitments and still have fun with her friends — or will she learn that juggling isn’t one of her many talents? (jamespatterson.com)
My Thoughts: This book had me laughing the whole time, I enjoyed reading about Jacky and all of her summer troubles. I could not put this book down because I was always wondering ‘what will Jacky do next’. I liked this book not only because it is child appropriate, but also somewhat relatable. There were times when I would laugh and there were times when I would get worried. This book teaches several lessons, one being do not steal and another being sometimes life gets hard and we have to make choices we don’t like. I look forward to reading other books in this series.
First line: Prince Christian Augustus of Anhalt-Zerbst was hardly distinguishable in the swarm of obscure, penurious noblemen who cluttered the landscape and society of politically fragmented eighteenth-century Germany.
Summary: Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, reigned for over thirty years. She came to Russia as a fourteen-year-old German princess to marry the heir to the Russian throne. After years of marriage and her husband’s ascension to the throne she staged a coup and took over the country. During her time she implemented many new ideas of the Enlightenment on a country that had been living decades behind the rest of Europe.
My Thoughts: I became fascinated with Catherine the Great while watching the Hulu Original series, The Great. Even though it is not historically accurate it was a lot of fun! As I watched I looked up items about Catherine and her story is one that is made for television. She had power, lovers, and conflict. I knew that I needed to learn more about this woman who ruled such a vast empire. Luckily I was gifted the book for Christmas and I immediately started reading it.
I loved how the author wrote. It read like fiction. It was broken into short chapters dealing with different parts of her life and the people around her. I learned so much about the empress, the country and politics of the time. The book is 575 pages which is a time commitment but I broke it up by reading other books at the same time.
As I read I compared it to the TV show. Very little was the same but the show did include little details that gave it some peak into the history. The descriptions of her husband and the other members of Russian court are astounding. These people lived lives that are beyond what normal people can comprehend. It took me nearly a month to finish Catherine’s biography but I found it worth every minute. She did so much for her adoptive country. She bettered it and truly earned title of “Catherine the Great.”
FYI: The TV show is very adult. There are scenes of sex, violence, blood and vulgar language. But it has beautiful sets and costumes along with a great cast.