The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

I took a trip to the library, checked out The Chemist, and then left it sitting around, waiting for it’s turn on the TBR pile. I finally got around to reading it, and it took me four days to devour the 500+ page book. I shouldn’t have waited to read it, because it has quickly become one of my top books that I’ve read this year!

The reader is immediately thrown into the action that is Dr. Juliana Fortis’ life. On the run for the past three years, she has shed her old name for unisex names like Chris, Casey, and Alex; lived in booby trapped hideaways; and driven in circles for hours in cars bought off Craigslist with cash. She’s extremely intelligent, and has successfully outsmarted the government officials that are determined to assassinate the escaped asset. What she never expected was the email she received- a plea from her old boss to help them solve a case, in exchange for her freedom.

Tempted at the thought of freedom but knowing what her old boss, Carston, is capable off, she decides to take his bait- her way. When she pops in for a surprise visit, they agree to work together this one last time. He sends her the information, and she gets to work. Kidnapping her new target, Daniel, is relatively easy. In fact, it’s almost like he wanted to go with her. When they make it to her newest designated hideout, she gets to work. Enter, the Chemist.

But of course, things don’t go as planned. Just as soon as she’s almost gotten the information she needs- though not exactly what she expects- from Daniel, someone literally drops in on their party. As “Alex” prepares to fight off another government lackey, she instead is surprised by her new guest… who just happens to be in the same boat as she.

Teaming up, Alex, Daniel, and their new guest decide to change the game and take out their pursuers in the hopes of finally being free from their previous lives. It’s absolutely thrilling, gripping, and full of plot twists. I also loved the sense of humor in the book- even in some of the most terrifying situations, there would be a line that would crack me up and give me a second to breathe. I may be a bit behind the curve on this one because it was published in 2016, but if you haven’t read this one, I give it a 100% recommendation!

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Spooky Halloween Tag!

I came across this really seasonally awesome tag (even though it isn’t book related) from Kourtni at Kourtni Reads, that I thought would be a fun way to celebrate the spirit of Halloween!

1. Favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Frankenstein by the Edgar Winter Group, or Dragula by Rob Zombie!

2. Name something you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark forest or in an abandoned building.

Um, I wouldn’t really want to go into a dark forest or an abandoned building, let alone run into something I wouldn’t want to run into!

3. Have you ever played with a Ouija Board?

No, no, definitely not. Those things freak me out!

4. Favorite horror monster or villain?

JAWS! OMG, he freaked me out. I’m still not a fan of swimming in the ocean because of this one, despite Shark Week’s attempt to teach me that sharks just have a bad rep.

Image result for jaws

5. The creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

I used to work as an equine vet tech on night shift, and occasionally I’d hear stuff that would creep me out, but one night especially: I was in the isolation barn, and I had one patient, way in the back of the barn, behind two sets of heavy doors. The horse had been there awhile, so I was familiar with what she getting for medications, and she was only on oral meds. But during that night, I swear I heard a fluid pump go off in the barn, and shuffling in a stall that was very close to the pharmacy where I spent most of my time. Totally creeped me out- but at the same time, I wasn’t surprised. The isolation barn held many a horse’s last stop.

6. If you were dared to spend the night in a “haunted house”, would you do it?

NOPE.

7. Are you superstitious?

Yeah, I’d say so. There are some things that I’d rather be superstitious about than not- you know, like saying something and then knocking on wood before it can be proven untrue.

8. Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

I tell myself no.

9. Which urban legend scares you the most?

Truth be told, I’m always creeped out by urban legends, so I guess one doesn’t scare me more than another. Being a Vermonter, I grew up with the legend of Champ aka “America’s Loch Ness Monster”; the sightings of Bigfoot; and more creepy ghost stories than you’d want to know! So I just take everything with a grain of salt and hope for the best.

10. Do you prefer gore or thrillers?

Thrillers, definitely. Gore gives me nightmares.

11. Do you believe in multiple dimensions or worlds?

I think you have to- the world is a big place, and we’ve proven that there is a lot out there that humans don’t know about. I guess you could say I’m open to the prospect, but not searching for it.

12. Ever made a potion of any sort?

Haha do mud pies count?

13. Do you get scared easily?

YES. I have a very impressionable imagination.

14. Have you ever played Bloody Mary?

No.

15. Do you believe in demons/the devil?

I believe in evil, and that it can take many forms.

16. You’re home alone but you hear footsteps in your house, what do you do?

Pray it’s the cat.

17. If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

I try to not watch scary movies (see question 13), so I’ll keep this real PG and say Hocus Pocus, hahaha.

 

18. If you could only wear one Halloween costume for the rest of your life, what would you be?

I think Kourtni nailed this answer- I too wouldn’t mind wearing a Hogwarts uniform! #HufflepuffPride

19. Would you ever go to a graveyard at night?

I have, and it creeps me out.

20. In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

I guess a gun- I don’t relish the idea of getting close to a zombie.

21. Would you rather go to a Halloween party or go trick or treating?

PARTYYYY!

22. You’re in a horror movie. Are you the final girl, the first to die, the comic relief, the skeptic, the smart one, or the killer?

Oh lawd, I’m so definitely the first to die. I can’t run, and I’m kinda gullible so I’d be all, yeah, let’s follow the creep guy!

23. Do you have to watch something happy after watching a horror movie so you can go to sleep?

YES. Ugh, my dreams get crazy. Shoot, I’m still having Hunger Games nightmares (though I’m extremely talented in archery in them!)

24. Whilst watching scary movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, the person with their eyes covered the whole time, or the person who falls asleep?

Cross between yelling and eyes closed.

25. Are you the one who gets scared, or the one who does the scaring?

In my younger days, I was the one who did the scaring. Now, I’m the one who gets scared. Adulthood is terrifying, y’all.

26. Favorite scary book?

I probably haven’t read anything scarier than Carrie by Stephen King, because I can’t handle scary stories. I also read this back in high school as part of an assignment, and I kept asking my teacher if I could read something else. She wouldn’t let me.

27. How old were you when you saw your first horror movie?

I have no idea- probably a teenager.

28. What was your first Halloween costume?

A kitty!

29. What are you going to be for Halloween this year?

A really cool aunt, LOL. I’m trunk-or-treating with my nieces and nephew this year, because I only had three trick-or-treaters last year! #ruralsmalltownprobs

30. If you could have a spooky Halloween pet (black cat, owl, bat, rat, wolf), what would you pick?

I’d definitely take a cat. I mean I already have two, what’s one more? #catladyprobs

 

I hope you all enjoyed, and feel free to do the tag too! Have a Happy Halloween!!

Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

Texts From Jane Eyre is another very witty and clever book that I highly recommend for a change of pace and a good laugh. The book is comprised of short “screenshots” of text conversations between some of literature’s most memorable characters and authors, including Jane Eyre (hence the title), some done in a modern style and some retaining their classic voices.

Because it’s such a short book and again, I don’t want to spoil it for you, here are just a few classic characters you will “chat” with:

  • Circe:
    • “where did the pigs come from Circe?”
    • “i don’t know, a pig farm, a pig mommy and a pig daddy who loved each other very much…”
  • Jane Eyre:
    • “I KNEW IT. DID YOU LEAVE BECAUSE OF MY ATTIC WIFE IS THAT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT”
    • “yes. Absolutely.”
  • Hamlet:
    • “darling i don’t mean to criticize but you really hurt your father’s feelings last night”
    • “hes not my real dad. why do you even like him”
  • Nancy Drew:
    • “do you think you can come get me?”
    • “are you tied up again?”
    • “i’m just over at the cave by the old mill”
    • “so you’re tied up…in a cave.”

If you giggled at any one (or all!) of these, then you’ll really enjoy the rest. It’s a perfect way to get to “connect” with some of your favorite literary characters in one place. It’s fast paced, light fare, and well worth checking out!

 

 

 

 

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

Where are my Gilmore Girls fans out there?!

Welcome welcome! So, I just had to read Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham for so many reasons.

  1. Because I love “Gilmore Girls“.
  2. Because Lauren Graham is hilarious.
  3. Because everyone who has read this said it’s hilarious.

So for all thee above, I checked it out of the library and read it in two sittings. And it is hilarious, and enjoyable, and makes me believe that Lauren Graham and I should be friends… just saying. Although, I think I’d have an awful time keeping up with her because she seems to like having a million things on her plate!

Being a biography, the book covers Graham’s childhood, to how she decided to be an actor, to her big break on “Gilmore Girls“, and then to her latest project of “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life“.  It was interesting to “get to know” Lauren, and to peek at how she came to be Lorelai Gilmore. The bio is full of comedy, sarcasm, and a little satire. But between all that is also a lot of great advice- some Graham’s, some “Old Lady Jackson’s”. Each chapter is fast pace

I don’t want to spoil it for you, as it is a relatively short book, but here are some of my favorite parts:

  • “I hadn’t really seen “Slap That Bass” as much of a comedic song, but maybe I was wrong? So I decided to go with their response and sort of shimmied my shoulders, adding even more personality and pizzazz.”
  • “The Top Secret Hollywood Secrets Food Chart”
  • “Paper Towels, a Love Story”
  • “Where ‘Oy with the poodles already” was born! I’ve said it on command for you in airports across the land, but honestly I forgot where exactly in the show it appeared.”
  • “But life doesn’t often spell things out for you or give you what you want when you want it, otherwise it wouldn’t be called life, it would be called vending machine.”
  • “It’s his variation on the Pomodoro technique, called Kitchen Timer, and it’s transformed the way I write…I love it so much that it makes me want to touch my fingertips together in that wonderful symbol we just invented in the last decade.

Image result for heart symbol hands

I highly recommend the read, especially if you’re a fan or if you need some light reading or humor in your life. I promise you’ll walk away from it with a smile and a good dose of laughter! 

Saratoga Payback by Stephen Dobyns

When I checked this out of the library, I thought there was something familiar about it. Turns out, I’ve read another of Dobyns’ books, called Saratoga Backtalk. Both are ‘Charlie Bradshaw’ mysteries, where we follow private investigator Charlie as he tries to solve crimes in the horse industry. I know that the horse connection had a lot to do with picking them both out, but in all honesty, while reading these novels, you don’t care much about the horses. The reader is too wrapped up in the suspense of the mystery!

In Saratoga Payback, Charlie is officially a retired PI (something tells me there is more to that story but it isn’t discussed in depth in this novel), yet he can’t help getting involved in the murder mystery that actually drops on his doorstep. Mickey Martin is found dead on Charlie’s sidewalk outside his home with his throat slashed and his tongue cut out. Charlie can’t quite figure out why, but he has a hunch that someone wanted Mickey to stop running his mouth, and wanted Charlie to know it too. So, trying his hardest to not meddle in police business, being that he no longer has his PI license and could go to jail for investigating, he takes on the “concerned citizen” role and tries to figure out why Mickey was brutally murdered.

It’s a quick paced novel, and very funny despite the scary situation, what with all the vicious slashing going on. As I was reading Payback, it made me recall why I liked Backtalk. Dobyns’ character driven plots make it easy to follow along but leave enough mystery to keep you turning the page. Charlie’s easy going personality and witty banter with his clients, friends, family, and informants make these novels an enjoyable read.

 

Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn

Before I get too far into this book review, I just want to state two things.

  1. I am and will always be learning about culture, respect, and what it means to combine the two.
  2. I think Kent Nerburn did an amazing job at trying to explain how the walk the line between the two.

On to the plot summary…

Nerburn is contacted by an elderly Indian man called Dan via his daughter on the phone. She relays the message that Dan read some of Nerburn’s work, and wanted to speak to him in person. Not knowing what he was in for, Nerburn makes the trip to meet Dan. When he finds out that Dan wants him to write a book about what he’s observed over the years with his white and Indian eyes, Nerburn is unsure if he can write it in a way that allows Dan’s stories to be heard without the white polish that’s rewritten so much of America’s history. Together, they go on a journey to figure out how to share Dan’s wisdom.

Now, I feel that if I delve into my thoughts and what I think about this novel, it would almost seem counter-productive from what I’ve learned from reading the story of Dan. Like Nerburn, I want to see further too. So I’m just going to give you some eye-opening lines from a few of the chapters, and hope that I pique your curiosity.

  • On the top of the rock, insignificant to anyone who didn’t understand, some previous passerby had placed a few broken cigarettes…that person had placed the sacred gift of tobacco on the rude image of the buffalo, and in doing so had paid homage to the animal.
  • You have to love your own people even if you hate what they do.
  • You’re writing a story about Indians. But you’re writing it like a white guy. You want everything all neat. Put it all in. Just write it the way it is.
  • You took the land and you turned it into property. Now our mother is silent. But we still listen for her voice. And here is what I wonder. If she sent diseases and harsh winters when she was angry with us, and we were good to her, what will she send when she speaks back to you?
  • You’re learning. I can tell because of your silence.
  • Before you wanted to make us you. But now you are unhappy with who you are, so you want to make you into us.
  • You are trying to learn. White people like to learn by asking questions.
  • If you had listened to us instead of trying to convert us and kill us, what a country this would be.
  • Keepers of the fire cannot be cowards. They are carrying light.
  • You tell us we have to elect a leader to represent us, and he has to represent us in everything. He is supposed to be wise about everything because he is responsible for everything. Even if we don’t want him to speak for us on some matter, he gets to because it says so in the constitution you made us write.
  • “She’s not one to mess with,” Delvin laughed… “Should’ve sicced them on the white man. You guys would’ve gone home in rowboats.”
  • You must forget yourself. You are not here for yourself. You are not here for me. This is Wounded Knee. You are standing on the grave.
  • Perhaps we had to return to the earth, so that we could grow within your hearts.
  • We are prisoners of our hearts, and only time will free us. Your people must learn to give up their arrogance. They are not the only ones placed on this earth.

If any of these strike a chord with you, buy this book, borrow this book, check it out of the library… anything to get your hands on it, and READ. If they don’t resonate with you, then pay no never-mind…you wouldn’t respect and appreciate what Nerburn and Dan have done anyways.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

What?! Just because I’m a 25 year old adult doesn’t mean I can’t reread the Harry Potter series…LOL! As I said in my last post, my parents brought me my boxes of childhood memorabilia and books. Among the books were the HP series (except  Prisoner of Azkaban, for some reason) and I can’t possibly keep myself from enjoying them again- especially with the new release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. So, I eagerly devoured the first book in 2 days. Because I know you all don’t live under a rock, instead of the typical summary, I’m just going to remind you of the things the movies left out like I did when I re-read the fourth book (Goblet of Fire).

First off, the thing that bothered me the most about the first Harry Potter movie was how dumbfounded they made Harry seem. He questioned EVERYTHING, repeated everything, and barely said more than boo to anyone except Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid. In the books, Harry’s sassy personality that love is apparent much quicker than in the movies.

“Hagrid almost had to drag Harry away from Curses and Counter-curses (Bewitch Your Friends and Befuddle Your Enemies with the Latest Revenges: Hair Loss, Jelly-Legs, Tongue-Tying and Much, Much More) by Professor Vindictus Viridian. “I was trying to find out how to curse Dudley.””

Second, Peeves. I don’t think Peeves is mentioned once in any of the movies. Filch and Mrs. Norris stalk the halls of Hogwarts in the movies, but in the books, Harry and his friends have to also dodge Peeves, the school poltergeist.

“A bundle of walking sticks was floating in midair ahead of them, and as Percy took a step toward them they started throwing themselves at him. “Peeves,” Percy whispered to the first years…”Go away Peeves, or the Baron’ll hear about this, I mean it!” barked Percy. Peeves stuck out his tongue and vanished, dropping the walking sticks on Neville’s head.”

Then, there’s the school song. Not a peep about it until the third or fourth movie, even though the first night that Harry’s class arrives, they learn the lyrics. I don’t think this one is really a big deal overall, so I understand why they left it out of the first movie, but it would have made more sense to have it there than in the future films.

The last difference that stands out to me in the way they not only learned about the sorcerer’s stone, but also the protective tasks they must pass before getting to it. In the movie, Harry and his friends are much more secretive and seem to get most of their information from Hagrid by chance. In the book, they are bolder about gathering information, asking direct questions to Hagrid, telling him they are actively trying to figure out who Nicholas Flamel is, and they even tell Professor McGonagall that they know about the stone. When it comes to getting to the stone, there are more tasks than the movie shows (which isn’t surprising, due to the movie length I’m sure they had to cut for time) and the one that Hermione gets rewarded for at the end of it all is makes more sense if you know about the task she performed!

Of course, there are more things I could go on about (Norbert’s escape, the dark forest unicorn hunt, Harry’s introduction to Malfoy, etc etc) that vary from one medium to the other, but I’ll stop before I get too ranty and nit-picky. The important thing to remember here is that the magical world of Harry Potter continue to be expanded in individual imaginations and cherished, no matter what medium you experience it in!