Books I’ve Bought and Books I’ve Read

Every now and then I make a to-buy list for books. They have to be a book I get something out of, or can use with what I do. I usually get them out of the library to have a read, if the library’s got them, and then if I like them well enough, I’ll find them where I can. Since Book Depository is gone, I won’t be getting my books from there anymore. And I stopped buying from Fishpond years ago. So, when it comes to buying books, it’s eBay or Amazon unless I can find a few new places that have cheap books.

I’ve recently done a post about the writing books I’ve been buying, and now, let’s get on with the other books I’ve bought this year.

 

I bought these reading journals and Style File books years ago, but have made such a mess of them that I bought them again so I’d have nice, clean, unused ones. I also finally bit the bullet and bought Iris Apfel’s book after getting it from the library a couple of years ago. I’m a bit cheap when it comes to books. I’ll wait until I can get it as cheap as I can.

 

Sisterhood of Sleuths – I’m yet to read this but it sounds cute. Not technically a Nancy Drew book, but close enough.

Maizy always assumed she knew everything about her grandmother, Jacuzzi. So, when a box full of vintage Nancy Drew books gets left at her mom’s thrift store, Maizy is surprised to find an old photo of her grandmother and two other women tucked beneath the collection. Stranger still, when Maizy shows the photo to Jacuzzi she feigns ignorance, insisting the woman is someone else. Determined to learn the truth – and inspired by the legacy of Nancy Drew – Maizy launches her own investigation with the help of new friends, Nell and Cam. What they discover not only points to the origins of the iconic series, but uncovers a truth from the past that will lead to self-discovery in the present, connecting three generations of women.

 

I’ve caught up with Sandie Docker’s books with The Redgum River Retreat. I haven’t read her last two, just the first two, so now I have three to read over Christmas. The covers are still rocking the pretty, the main reason I’m buying them.

Although, I shouldn’t really buy books just because the covers are pretty… Should I?

 

I found this Fashionpedia book a couple of years ago and debated whether to get it or not. While I’m still into fashion, I don’t buy books on it the way I used to. But it’s incredibly informative and has all styles, when they date back to, and the different variations of the style. The white section of the cover is material to look like a tag that’s been stitch on clothing. 

 

I caught up with some of Selina Lakes latest books. I haven’t bought hers since 2016, when I collected six of her books. These add to the collection. You can see them here.

 

I’ve recently bought a fellow writer’s group member’s book. Sheila, by Pamela Morrison. Since I couldn’t attend the book launch in our library, I bought her book which she inscribed for me. I’m also mentioned in the acknowledgements, which is a first for me.

 

And while I have not read and did not buy, they were free from my library…

 

And now onto books I’ve read.

I’ve read quite a few books this year, several novels, many non-fiction, and many on writing and business, as you would have seen in last month’s post of the latest writing books I’ve bought. I’ll be doing a list of the writing books I recommend over on my website, tiaraking.com.au later in the year.

 

I’ve read Alex North’s two previous thrillers, and in January I read his latest.

The Angel Maker (US) The Half-Burnt House (UK) – Alex North – 7/10 (different publishers gave it different names)

Growing up in a beautiful house in the English countryside, Katie Shaw lived a charmed life. At the cusp of graduation, she had big dreams, a devoted boyfriend, and a little brother she protected fiercely. Until the day a violent stranger changed the fate of her family forever.

Years later, still unable to live down the guilt surrounding what happened to her brother, Chris, and now with a child of her own to protect, Katie struggles to separate the real threats from the imagined. Then she gets the phone call: Chris has gone missing and needs his big sister once more.

Meanwhile, Detective Laurence Page is facing a particularly gruesome crime. A distinguished professor of fate and free will has been brutally murdered just hours after firing his staff. All the leads point back to two old cases: the gruesome attack on teenager Christopher Shaw, and the despicable crimes of a notorious serial killer who, legend had it, could see the future.

– I gotta say, I’m really sick and tired of the US and UK giving the same book different titles. It makes it confusing as to what you’ve read, and unless you read the description you wouldn’t know.

– As for the book, I weirdly felt this was an episode of British TV crime show, Lewis, once Hathaway was in charge that is, and kept imagining Laurence Fox as detective Laurence Page.

– This story has a different vibe to Alex North’s last two. I don’t know why, but it felt as though his writing was not up to the level of his first two books. Sure, I could have forgotten how they were written, since it’s been 7-8 months since I did, but this felt different.

You get vibes from books, and I got one. The writing was different enough to make me feel as though it isn’t by the same person, or he slacked off with this book. No offence to him, it’s just the vibe I got.

– The story itself was entertaining, with its dramatic paranormal/supernatural theme, and red herrings that made you think this, and then that, as you went through the chapters. And yes, I cried at parts. Death makes me do that. But there were also sections I had to re-read to make sure I was reading correctly, getting names and birthdates right, and making sure I understood what was happening. It’s confusing, if at times convoluted, as certain smaller parts of the story were simply glossed over. And they were important parts, such as who the men were that adopted the two boys and what happened to them.

– Overall, as the third book by this author, I’d recommend reading it. But for this one I’m giving it 7 out of 10. Two down from his last two books. It felt off, and wasn’t as richly detailed, described and written as the last two.

 

No More Lies – Kerry Lonsdale – 6/10. This is the follow-up to No More Words that I reviewed last year.

Jenna Mason’s life seems perfect: a successful career as an animator, a town house near the beach, and an adoring son, Josh, whose artistic talent looks as promising as his mother’s. But there’s something nobody realizes about Jenna. She used to be Lily Carson, a young mother on the run from a secret no one must ever know.

After years of constantly relocating, Jenna concedes to her son’s request to settle down. He wants to make friends. He wants some stability. He wants to feel normal. She convinces herself they’re safe. Until a reporter discovers who Jenna really is, bringing her estranged father to her doorstep. When he threatens to expose her carefully fabricated life for the lie that it is, Jenna has no choice but to run again.

But just as she’s about to go off the grid, Josh disappears, forcing Jenna to seek out the one person she never thought she’d see again: Josh’s father.

– I quickly flipped through the first half as I really just wanted to find out what happened after they all found each other at the end of the first book. The character’s “journey” didn’t interest me, but how they got to where they were did.

– There’s also a really weird sentence towards the end of the book that makes no sense to me. Maybe it makes sense to someone else, tell me if it does. She looses a long sigh, and the tension coiling her muscles that had built up during her statement goes along with it. Ah, what the hell does looses a long sigh mean? Was it supposed to be LOSES? But even then, who loses a long sigh? Oi, maybe one for the editor!

 

One Of Us Is Back – Karen M McManus – SPOILERS

I finally got to read the final book in the Bayview Trilogy. It was written simply because fans wanted more, not because it was the natural progression of the story, so it felt a bit weird to me.

THIS is the end of the book? THIS is why Jake did what he did? And where the hell did the Alton’s come from?

I don’t know, it just seemed as if there was no real story and she had to come up with one. Was Jake getting out of prison a natural next step? It was a possible one. Was him not reforming along the way another next step? Sure. Were the unknown people who came into it a logical step? I don’t know. I guess something had to be the catalyst, but to have extras suddenly spring up out of literally (and I don’t use that word often) nowhere and have this whole back story on Simon and Jake just seemed like an unnatural progression.

I went back and read Karen’s Instagram posts to see if I could find some information and found this in one of her posts. “There was a subplot in One of Us Is Lying that I had to take out while revising, because it distracted from the main story. However, that narrative thread is still baked into the Bayview DNA, and it serves as the backbone of the mystery in One of Us Is Back. In many ways, even though I originally wrote One of Us Is Lying as a standalone, it feels as though the story is finally complete.”

So, maybe that was Jake’s story with the Altons, and why they seemed to come out of nowhere? I know the theme was toxic entitlement of the wealthy, but it just didn’t quite feel right.

And maybe I’m just being picky.

One of Us Is Lying was a great read, fresh and new. I gave it 9/10 for my review. The follow up, One of Us Is Next I gave 6/10 and this one I’ll give 8/10 which means it was better than number two, but not as good as number one. The book cover has shiny silver metallic for the titles and is quite a good cover from the UK side of publishing. These versions would be good for those who like to collect, just as the hardcovers would be.

 

The Trap – Catherine Ryan Howard – SPOILERS

Stranded on a dark road in the middle of the night, a young woman accepts a lift from a passing stranger. It’s the nightmare scenario that every girl is warned about, and she knows the dangers all too well – but what other choice does she have?

As they drive, she alternates between fear and relief – one moment thinking he is just a good man doing a good thing, the next convinced he’s a monster. But when he delivers her safely to her destination, she realizes her fears were unfounded.

And her heart sinks. Because a monster is what she’s looking for.

She’ll try again tomorrow night. But will the man who took her sister take the bait?

– This is NOT her best work. While the storyline was written in Catherine’s usual way, the ending left me unsatisfied and annoyed as the criminal is not captured. 

– Lucy goes in search of her sister who’s been missing for over a year. The police finally get off their arses and find her sister, but then Lucy goes missing because she stupidly gave an interview and invited the kidnapper to come talk to her. It was fairly obvious that Lucy was brutally assaulted, and no doubt died, but her death was not stated, neither was the conclusions to other storylines. A year after the sister is found and Lucy is taken, the sister is now out doing exactly what Lucy did at the start of the book, putting her life in danger to get the kidnapper to take them.

– This story gives me vibes. I’m not sure what it is. There are many reviews on Goodreads where people aren’t satisfied with it, and I agree. It’s a weak story, a weak book, and I’m over weak, stupid women in books. I want to read about women kicking ass, not getting their asses kicked. Maybe I need to go and read my Jackie Collins books for that, I don’t know. But even the women I write, while some may have been abused, they end up finding their strength and fighting back. I don’t like reading about women who just fall apart and don’t fight.

– So while this book is not her best, neither was her first, there are some other great CRH books to read. Previous reviews of mine highly recommend them, but for this one, no, the story wasn’t good enough and so I gave it 6/10.

 

With everything going on in America and England, I decided to educate myself on a few things.

 

TRANS: When Ideology Meets Reality – Helen Joyce – 10/10

Gender identity ideology is about more than twitter storms and using the right pronouns. In just ten years, laws, company policies, school and university curricula, sport, medical protocols, and the media have been reshaped to privilege self-declared gender identity over biological sex.

People are being shamed and silenced for attempting to understand the consequences of redefining ‘man’ and ‘woman’. While compassion for transgender lives is well-intentioned, it is stifling much-needed inquiry into the significance of our bodies, particularly with regard to women’s rights, fairness in sport, same sex attraction and children’s development.

If we recommit to our liberal values of freedom of belief, freedom of speech and robust debate, we stand a chance of addressing what is at stake.

– It’s an interesting, powerful read, talking about where it all started, why and how it started, and how people are being railroaded into believing the claptrap at the sake of their job, their profession, their careers. What’s happening to those who don’t agree is sickening. What’s happening to children and teens is even worse and I’ve seen some serious shit on TikTok and Twitter with my own two eyes. The mere fact that these people get away with the garbage they do says society, especially in America, sorry Tote, is incredibly sick and degenerative.

 

The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society – Dr Debra Soh – 9/10

Is our gender something we’re born with, or are we conditioned by society? In The End of Gender, neuroscientist and sexologist Dr. Debra Soh uses a research-based approach to address this hot-button topic, unmasking popular misconceptions about the nature vs. nurture debate and exploring what it means to be a woman or a man in today’s society.

Both scientific and objective, and drawing on original research and carefully conducted interviews, Soh tackles a wide range of issues, such as gender-neutral parenting, gender dysphoric children, and the neuroscience of being transgender. She debates today’s accepted notion that gender is a social construct and a spectrum, and challenges the idea that there is no difference between how male and female brains operate.

The End of Gender is conversation-starting “required reading” (Eric R. Weinstein, PhD, host of The Portal) that will arm you with the facts you need to come to your own conclusions about gender identity and its place in the world today.

 

And last but not least, this interesting tome…which I give my thoughts on.

Mein Kampf – Adolf Hitler

This edition is considered the most accurate and concise. With a preface also by the author/editor, Michael Ford, which I found to be the most interesting part of the book. Especially page 8, but that’s my sick sense of humour. I have it in a lightbox at the end of the post.

85-90% is about politics, with one chapter on race, which made it so incredibly boring in my eyes.

I went in with an open mind, and an open thought into the time it was written and published, how the world and its population lived, and what came after.

If you set aside what came after this book, all this book is, is one man’s whiny hatred of the world around him and who he blamed for it. It wasn’t just the Jews he blamed, he also blamed other countries, and many in the political arena, especially for the deaths of others in power and politics.

It starts off with a chapter or two, or more, about his childhood. He lost his father at thirteen, was sick for a year and missed school, then lost his mother to cancer two years later, becoming an orphan at seventeen. He then spent five years living in the slums of Vienna trying to scrounge together a living like the millions of others around him.

If you pause, and take into account that nothing else had happened yet in the very late 1800s to the very early 1900s then yes, he had a shit life. Millions did, because that was the time in this thing called life. Humans didn’t have a good life. Many suffered as they still do today. He was one of them. Is this a case of nature versus nurture? Hell yes! And his surrounding nature made a fucked up human being.

Fast forward to when he joined the German army for six years for WW1 and then, once he’d left, the German Worker’s Party. He’d already formed a fair amount of hatred for many people and had started revolting against the hierarchy, especially during the war. He ended up in jail in 1924 where the first part of this tome was dictated to a fellow inmate, and another secretary. Yes, he was allowed male secretaries in jail to type up this rubbish. And all of that is what I have a problem with.

If this translation is the most accurate and concise, then Hitler made this shit up. I really don’t know how anyone can dictate their life so precisely that it seemed as if I were reading a diary of daily thoughts. More like “dear diary, you’ll never believe what happened to me today” entries. This isn’t a diary; it’s part memoir, part biography. But God damn it seems so accurate it’s as if he’d recorded every single thing in his life and remembered it to the last crossed t and dotted i. The second part started off right after the first part even though it was dictated years later. Which is why I’m highly suspicious. This is too over the top, too specific, too well remembered.

I really don’t know what to make of this book. As I mentioned, it’s one whiny bitch’s whiny bitching about how much life sucked for him and his fellow Germans, even though he was born in Austria. Any one of tens of millions of people could have done the same thing. Written a book about their whiny hatred.

I get it. Life can suck for a lot of people, and nature v nurture has been around for decades if not centuries. But the way I see it, up until 1924/26 when this full book was dictated and released, he was just one bitch whinging about hating people. He wasn’t the first to hate a country, person, member of the royal family, member of politics, race or religion, of which he himself would go back and forth in regards to the Jews to whether they were race or religion, and he certainly won’t be the last.

It’s what came next that wreaked havoc on the world and the population. And that is a story I wish he’d also dictated. How people’s minds work fascinates me. Why they do the things they do, and why did he choose to take over a whole god damn country and exterminate millions of people no one will ever really know. You can have every psychologist and psychiatrist give their view from a medical point of view, you can have people give their views whether they’ve read this book or not, but no one will ever really know why unless he did dictate that somewhere and it has either been found and I need to find it and read it, or is yet to be found. Why did he turn out the way he did? Unless, it simply comes down to who and what enters this world.

Why people turn into vicious murderers and rapists, others turn into victims, while others live an idle life with nothing happening to them. Is it a switch in the brain? Is it a choice? Is it really nature v nurture? Regardless of your thought on this book, and I highly suggest reading this version, the Ford Version, for accuracy, what this book represents is just the foreword for what came next. Because to me, this book, in and of itself, in its context of time, place, and era, means nothing. Whereas what came next means everything. The choices he made, the things he did. They are the problem. And they are problems that have lived throughout history and will continue to do so until there are enough generations to forget who he was and what he did. And only then will he disappear into the realms of history to never be heard of again.

 

So, have you guys read any of these books? Let me know your thoughts.

And no, I will not tolerate abuse so your replies will be deleted and you will be blocked.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. The Tote Trove September 13, 2023 at 12:33 pm

    Wow! You’ve been really busy book-wise! Sisterhood of Sleuths sounds really cute; I love that the grandmother’s name is Jacuzzi. And I too have the Iris Apfel book, which I got after seeing it on your blog. Finally, I have totally bought books just based on the cover — and it’s mostly been worth it!
    The Tote Trove recently posted…Dark Lark: Duchess of the CornMy Profile

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    1. Jewel Divas Style September 13, 2023 at 6:00 pm

      The covers can suck you in, but the blurb makes me want to read it.

      Reply

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