“Crux” by Jean Guerrero

“Crux” by Jean Guerrero

Goodreads blurb: A daughter’s quest to find, understand, and save her charismatic, troubled, and elusive father, a self-mythologizing Mexican immigrant who travels across continents–and across the borders between imagination and reality; and spirituality and insanity–fleeing real and invented persecutors.

If you are expecting the type of memoir that is a simple recollection of life events, you’re in for a surprise with this one. This story is intense, dramatic, and at times reads like a thriller. Ms. Guerrero’s telling of her search for understanding of her past is un-put-downable. This book is really two stories in one, as the author tells us about her own life as well as her father’s. The intensity of their relationship and experiences is almost overwhelming at times. In addition to the life stories, there is also a good deal of 20th century Mexico history included. I found this quite enlightening, as I quickly realized I know next to nothing about Mexico and its history. I also have never been there but the author did a great job of describing the locations where the story took place. This memoir reads better than much of the fiction out there and I highly recommend you check it out.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 5-star-rating  5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

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“The Butterfly Garden” by Dot Hutchinson

“The Butterfly Garden” by Dot Hutchinson

Narrated by Lauren Ezzo and Mel Foster

Goodreads blurb: Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding.…

My thoughts: I was expecting this book to be really creepy and scary. But it turns out there’s a real story here and that story is very psychological. The Gardener almost has two personalities. At times he is very kind and considerate of the girls and yet he is holding them captive for his own pleasure. He is up in arms when he finds out one of his sons is abusing the girls but granting them their freedom doesn’t even occur to him. The story is told alternately by the girl Maya and by the FBI agents. I found Maya to be a very intriguing character. Her relationships with the girls and the Gardener are very complex. The twists and turns make the story very compelling. I think the choice to use two narrators was good one for this story and I enjoyed listening to both of them. Overall, I think this story is unique and very well written and narrated. I really enjoyed this one.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-5-star-rating  4.5 stars!!

Happy Reading and Listening!

Links:   Amazon   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“Stranglers” – the Podcast

“Stranglers” – the Podcast

This is an audio investigation of the Boston Strangler cases. There are a total of 12 episodes and a variety of audio is used including narration, re-enactments, and interviews. These events were taking place around the time that I was born so I have only ever heard about them in the past tense. Listening to this series I quickly realized that this was much more than 1 or 2 stranglings, this was more like a reign of terror in the Boston area. It also became obvious that this guy was such a charmer that even the most cautious of women could fall victim. Finally, I just want to say that this is so well produced that I was repeatedly drawn in to the point of complete unawareness of what was going on around me or the passage of time. This is a Stitcher production but I think you can find it on most podcast apps. Bottom line: I highly recommend “Stranglers”.

Happy Listening!

 

“The Sleeper” by Emily Barr

“The Sleeper” by Emily Barr

Narrated by Imogen Church

A deception, wrapped in a disappearance, wrapped in an obsession … all in one book! Lara Finch is an unhappy housewife with a dark secret in her past. When she is offered a job in London she jumps at the chance. She will have to take the sleeper train every Sunday afternoon and return on Friday night. She makes new friends among the regular travelers and loves being back in London. The only downside is the strained she relationships with everyone in her family except her godfather, who absolutely dotes on her even though she’s a grown woman. She has also recently befriended Iris, a lonely woman who lives near her. She too is hiding a deep secret. Then comes the Saturday morning that Lara does not get off the train and one of her traveling companions is found murdered. Is there a connection and where has Lara disappeared to? Iris is determined to find the answers.

Let me just start by saying that you need to read, or listen to, this book. This is a fabulous psychological thriller. Lara is a fascinating character. Sometimes, I found her to be very sympathetic and other times I just wanted to knock some sense into her. Her relationships with her husband and family are very complex and the author did a great job with the development of all the main characters. I found Iris to be the most interesting though. Her story doesn’t really begin until about halfway through the book but once it starts, it’s just irresistible. I had not paid too much attention to the description of the story before I began listening to it, and at first I thought it was just going to be another unhappy wife story. But, oh my gosh, about a third of the way through the story takes a turn that just makes it one of the most compelling thrillers I’ve read in a while. Did I mention how much I enjoyed listening to the narrator? Imogen Church was a great choice for this book. Her narration was irresistible but did not over dramatize. She let the words convey the drama more than her voice. I was very sorry when I had to stop listening to her voice. Bottom line is, I loved the story and the narration, and highly recommend both to you especially if you enjoy psychological thrillers.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  5-star-rating 5 stars!!

Happy Reading! Happy Listening!

Links:   Amazon   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“The Crochet Stitch Handbook” by Betty Barnden

“The Crochet Stitch Handbook” by Betty Barnden

Ok, crafty people, pay attention! If you want, or need, to up your crochet game, then check out this book. There are stitch patterns in here that I’ve never even dreamt of. I haven’t been crocheting much in the last couple of years but I found all kinds of inspiration packed into this one. The book is organized with an opening section on the basics, as you would expect. I found the stitch illustrations were very well done and easy to see the required movements of hook and yarn. The rest of the book is divided into section by stitch type, such as, Textured Stitches, Openwork and Lace Stitches, and Clusters, Puffs and Bobbles. There’s also an entire section on Trims and Edgings, which I’ve rarely seen, and one devoted to making shapes of all kinds. Every pattern has written instructions, a color picture of a swatch, and a graph of the stitch. I was especially intrigued by the graphs because I’ve never been comfortable using them and practicing stich patterns seems like a great way to learn how to read them properly. Overall, I found this book to be well organized, well written, and packed with useful information. I highly recommend it.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 5-star-rating  5 stars!!

Happy Crocheting!

Links:   Amazon   |   Goodreads

“Blue Murder” by Colin Watson

“Blue Murder” by Colin Watson

Kidnapping, murder, dirty movies. It’s just another day in the charming town of Flaxborough. A group of reporters are in town in pursuit of a story and manage to disrupt market day by nearly running over a police officer. They have taking over a local boarding house and the housekeeper is sure they are up to no good. Then the reporter of the group is kidnapped and it’s up to Inspector Purbright and Sergeant Love to return a state of order to Flaxborough.

I have to say I was disappointed by this installment in the series. The story just fell flat for me. Inspector Purbright barely appears in the first half of the book and there is no trace of the lovely Miss Teatime. I had the feeling that the author was just forcing himself with this one. So that’s it folks, just an average story, not up to the quality of the previous ones.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  3 star rating 3 stars

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon   |   Goodreads

Maybelline “Baby Lips” Lip Balm

Maybelline “Baby Lips” Lip Balm

I have spent all of my adult life living with dry lips. Sahara Desert, cracks that bleed, kind of dry. I have also tried countless products to try and relieve the dryness, the peeling and the cracking. So a couple of months ago I was in the makeup aisle, looking for a lip balm that I hadn’t tried yet. Way down in the corner I spot the Maybelline “Baby Lips” lip balm. It’s brightly colored and the packaging reminded me of the scented lip glosses I loved as a teenager, all smell, no effect. It claimed to moisturizing and shiny, and comes in a variety of colors/flavors. Priced at about $4.50 at my local Wal-Mart, I decided to bite.

Make a long story short, I ended up liking it so much the next time I was at the store I picked up 3 more. I now have them scattered all over the house. Yes, they are scented like the ones you remember, but that’s ok because this formula actually makes my lips feel better and since I started using it regularly I haven’t had a single cracked lip. They also give a little bit of color depending on which one you choose. My favorite is the cherry flavor but I also really like the strawberry and the crystal. For me this product is a hidden gem.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 5-star-rating  5 stars!!

Find it on Amazon!

“Happy Face” Podcast

“Happy Face” Podcast

Happy Face is a podcast from HowStuffWorks about the serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson. Jesperson traveled America’s highways committing brutal murders for years while evading the police. This podcast follows his daughter Melissa Moore, as she investigates her father’s past and tries to uncover what turned him into a killer. In the process, she comes to terms with her own past and the legacy her father has left.

This podcast is weekly, with 7 episodes thus far. I am finding this series fascinating. The story alternates between Jesperson and Ms. Moore’s. I really like that they’ve been able to incorporate actual audio of Jesperson’s interviews with police and Moore’s conversations with people from the past. This series is well-researched and put together in a compelling way. New episodes are released on Friday. If you love true crime, you will love this podcast.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 5-star-rating  5 stars!!

Happy Listening!

October Round-Up

Hello again! I hope you have all been enjoying October. It’s definitely gotten cooler here and my trees are pretty much bare now. I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning out and re-organizing of my TBR so that number sees a big change. I’ve also been incorporating some review of items other than books on the blog. I hope you’ve been enjoying it, or at least not hating it. So let’s see what the numbers look like.

TBR – I eliminated a total of 76 books from the list after revisiting them and deciding that I was no longer interested in reading them. In addition, I read or listened to 6 books this month, very, very sad performance here. Finally, I acquired 7 books during the month. All of that, brings the grand total to 192.

Goodreads Challenge – Not good, but not too bad. I am 4 books behind schedule currently.

NetGalley score – Somehow I have managed to keep this score at 86% despite my dismal reading performance.

John Connolly Challenge – Book 9 finished this month. Again I listened to the audiobook version.

Coming Up – In November, I plan to listen to Book 10 of the Charlie Parker series “The Burning Soul“.The Burning Soul I will also be listening to “The Butterfly Garden” by Dot Hutchinson.The Butterfly Garden This is my first book from this author and sounds like it could be really creepy. I am reading “Crux” by Jean GuerreroCrux right now and after that plan to take up “The Dream Daughter” by Diane Chamberlain.The Dream Daughter I will soon be posting reviews of “Blue Murder” by Colin Watson,Blue MurderThe Sleeper” by Emily Barr,The Sleeper and an outlier “The Crochet Stitch Handbook” by Betty Barnden. The Crochet Stitch Handbook

I think that’s about it for the month guys. I hope every one has a great November, enjoy your Thanksgiving if you celebrate it, and don’t forget to read!

Happy Reading!

“The Whisperers” by John Connolly

“The Whisperers” by John Connolly

Charlie Parker Series Book 9

Narrated by Holter Graham

Charlie has been asked to look into the suicide of a young soldier recently returned from Iraq. The father thinks maybe it wasn’t a suicide but Charlie doesn’t really expect to find much. He agrees to look into though. As he begins to look into the young man’s relationships he uncovers a smuggling operation run by the ex-military men that he served with. Goods are moving between Maine and Canada and Charlie suspects the usual, drugs. But as the men in the group start to die it become apparent that something very dark is going on. This is about much more than drugs and if Charlie can’t stop it soon more lives will be lost.

John Connolly just continues to deliver gripping, thrilling stories with this series. The plotline is unexpected and there is nothing formulaic about this book or any others so far in this series. I continue to marvel at the author’s creativity. Louis and Angel are back in this one, but so is The Collector, a totally creepy guy that somehow seems to hover halfway between being human and inhuman. This story has a lot of PTSD in it since the guys involved were a specialized force in Iraq. I found that aspect a little bit challenging to get through but primarily because while I was listening to this a Vietnam vet in my family died, so it felt very close to home. I wouldn’t let that scare you away though, I think the topic is dealt with in a thoughtful way while at the same time highlighting the impact that participating in war can have once you return to “normal” life.

I only thing I was a little disappointed with was the narration. Not the narrator himself because he has a great voice and a great delivery. I just had a hard time picturing Charlie with his particular voice. I think that previous narrators in this series have fit my image of Charlie Parker better, that’s all. Otherwise, this was a great listen and I highly recommend it.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  5-star-rating 5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website