Something Different

Calm the F*ck Down Journal: Practical Ways to Stop Worrying and Take Control of Your LifeCalm the F*ck Down Journal: Practical Ways to Stop Worrying and Take Control of Your Life by Sarah Knight

The art of not giving a f*ck has been a topic of conversation for several years now. I am not a person who deals with general anxiety and have not read any of the other books in this group. So, why did I choose to read this one? Well, the title made me laugh and I was interested in how a journal would work on my Kindle.

Early in this journal, there is a quiz. The quiz is designed to help you identify what kind of anxiety responses you are experiencing. I ended up with a score of no anxiety, maybe I should gift this book. That was good news, and I read the remaining pages anyhow.

There was a lot of blank space in this journal, not a lot to read. But what was there was humorous and insightful. I can understand why so many people enjoy Knight’s philosophy and writing.

The journal has several prompts to encourage you to think about past stressful experiences and allow you to work through them to help build new responses. I have not bought a focused, guided journal in the past, but I do think they are interesting and helpful. Taking things out of the big picture to explore them individually can certainly be helpful. For the Kindle version, one would certainly need an additional notebook. And maybe it would be nice to use that notebook solely for responding to this journal.

This journal is scheduled to be available at the end of October, just in time to record all our holiday anxieties.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book. I have voluntarily left this review.

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A New Cyberthriller

FirewallFirewall by Eugenia Lovett West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Synopsis: “Former opera singer Emma Streat has survived the murder of her husband and the destruction of her beautiful old house. Now a full-time single mother, she struggles to move forward and make a home for her two sons. Because of her detection skills, she has become a go-to person for help–so, when her rich, feisty, socialite godmother is blackmailed, she turns immediately to Emma. Soon, Emma founds herself thrust into the dark world of cybercrime. Mounting challenges take her to exclusive European settings where she mixes with top people in the financial and art collecting worlds and has intriguing and emotion-packed experiences with men–including her dynamic ex-lover, Lord Andrew Rodale. When she is targeted by a cybercrime network using cutting-edge technology, it takes all of Emma’s resilience and wits to survive and bring the wily, ruthless criminal she’s hunting to justice. Action-packed and full of twists and turns, this third book of the Emma Streat Mystery series does not disappoint!”

I did not realize this book was part of a series when I started it. Early in the book, I was worried I may have missed too much information to jump in where I was, but quickly found the author gave plenty of hints and information about what had gone on before to be able to read this one on its own.

Firewall started out reading like a mystery, I certainly suspected several characters as being the original blackmailer, but as the story unraveled, I found it built more like a thriller, each part taking the reader a bit deeper into a larger conspiracy. The novel felt a little more like three linked novellas than one novel, but the links were there and there was some tying up of loose ends at the end of the book.

I liked our heroine, Emma. She was smart and humble. I have not read many books about former opera singers and thought that was an interesting background, I wish there could have been a little more about it in this book. It is nice to see a heroine who has a little bit of life experience, knows who she is and is still able to grow as a person.

The settings were the star of the book for me. France, Italy, Ireland, Boston were all beautifully portrayed. The bits of history and local color were utilized well in this story.

This story was full of twists and turns with bad guys turning up at the most inopportune times. I said earlier this was like three novellas, there were certainly distinct parts to this novel, but maybe it’s more like uncovering an iceberg. We discover the blackmailer quickly, but then we have to figure out who is blackmailing the blackmailer and so on through a litany of crimes. Reading this book was similar to a roller coaster; up and down for awhile, then a couple of straightaways lulling you into safety before plunging you down again at a dizzying speed.

I enjoyed this novel and am hoping to get my hands on the two earlier books in this series. This book will be available November 5.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my free copy in exchange for an honest review of this book.

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Medical Thriller

CODE BLUE: The Other End of the StethoscopeCODE BLUE: The Other End of the Stethoscope by Debra Blaine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Synopsis: “CODE BLUE follows Dr. Tobi Lister, a physician trapped in a wildly dysfunctional system and entangled in deadly intrigue. It is becoming obvious that something strange is happening at her clinic, but she has enough to deal with just trying to practice medicine, now that patients have become “customers” and the medical field is dictated by entrepreneurs whose sole objective is profit. And now suddenly, after nearly two decades, the man who broke her heart has resurfaced, but Tobi is determined to ignore his desperate attempts to communicate. She has no idea he is trying to warn her about a vicious Russian hacking scheme that is making billions of dollars murdering patients. But if he can’t get through to her soon, Tobi will be next.

This medical thriller emphasizes the loss of humanity felt by both physicians and patients now that medicine has become a consumer-driven industry.”

Dr. Blaine has penned a scary medical thriller that captures our current time and attitudes toward the medical profession.

I found Code Blue to be engaging and accessible. The story moved along at a comfortable pace with challenges popping up around every corner. The opportunity for medical jargon was eschewed for more everyday language.

Code Blue follows two distinct story lines: an urgent care doctor and an investigation into a cybercriminal ring. The two pieces merge logically and make a cohesive, engaging thriller.

Dr. Tobi’s scenes can get a little preachy, but it left no doubt that that patients need to be patients and not customers. The scenes in the clinic, between the doctor and her patients, were entertaining and often enlightening. In an era where we believe we are the most important person in any situation and we know everything, doctors have a lot with which to compete.

The cybercrime circle had several POVs which removed much of the mystery from this story, but increased the suspense as we learn more about their motives, operations, and lack of values.

Running between these two stories, is an old flame who draws the two sides together for the explosive climax. While this character was a little too good to be true, he was entertaining and I am ok with a perfect character from time to time in my fiction.

There was a lot going on in this book, besides the medical profession, we touched on some ecological conservation, corruption in Washington, the danger of on-line medical records, and the Jewish religion. Much of this added to characterization for me and I could imagine having a glass of wine and an interesting conversation with Tobi.

I had some minor quibbles with the book: characters named Tobi and Tony can be confusing, the situation with her brother bothered me a bit, and sometimes I was annoyed by the repetitive preaching. But overall, I enjoyed the time I spent with this novel and would read more by this author.

I would recommend this book to people who like thrillers and are interested in America’s current health care situation.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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A Hospital Mystery

Not Quite DeadNot Quite Dead by Dawn Harris Sherling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Synopsis: “Doctor Autumn Johnson is convinced that someone wants the promising young researcher, Jay Abrams, dead.

And as a newly minted medical intern, Autumn tries to outsmart death on behalf of her patients every day. But she just can’t seem to get it right. Not knowing the answers her residents expect her to, prescribing the wrong meds, and nearly passing out as a patient is wheeled into the ICU—is not how she had pictured herself as a physician.

Determined to do better, Autumn decides to prove someone tried to kill Jay. When the trail leads her to Jay’s mysterious notes, Autumn has little time to discover who wants Jay, and now her, dead. With the help of the only other intern she can call a friend and a self-destructive perfectionist for a supervising resident, Autumn will have to solve a mystery that reaches deep inside the medical establishment, threatening us all.”

In my year of mystery, I was certainly excited about reading a few medical mysteries. The medical field is great for mystery. Doctors must make decisions based on any number of clues and red herrings and that alone can make for interesting reading. A victim could just as easily be felled by a fellow human as he (or she) could be felled by a strange disease/bacteria/infection. While this looked like medical mystery, it was more of a murder mystery set in a hospital.

The focus of this book did not feel like the solving of a potential murder; rather it was the life of an intern and a resident and how hard their work is. There were many references to 30-hour on call shifts, little time for rest, no time to eat, and demands on new doctors’s time. I get that it’s hard to be a doctor (thank goodness), but I felt like these ladies may have been too focused on what they were missing (i.e. sleep, food, social life). Much of this information became repetitve throughout the book.

One of the other things I struggled with in this book was the medical jargon. I don’t have a lot of medical experience (like none?), but I do recognize some medical names and some diagnoses from life experience. Early in the book there was talk of patients who could not survive without pressors, I did not know what those were and it took me out of the story. That was an example that stuck with me, but there were several others littered around in this book.

I did not think the multiple POVs were necessary, not particularly distinct. It was a way to give the reader as much information as was available, but without chapter headings, I would not have easily recognized whose story I was reading.

I may be at a point where I have read and paid close enough attention to a variety of mysteries this year, the guilty party was not a surprise to me. I did not question it for a moment.

This was not my favorite book of the year, and it could use a little more editing, but it was a fine read for a couple hours of entertainment.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

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New Detective Series

Little Girls Sleeping (Detective Katie Scott, #1)Little Girls Sleeping by Jennifer Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the publisher: “He looked down at the little girl, sleeping peacefully, her arms wrapped around a teddy bear. He knew he was the only one who could save her. He could let her sleep forever.

An eight-year-old girl, Chelsea Compton, is missing in Pine Valley, California and for Detective Katie Scott it’s a cruel reminder of the friend who disappeared from summer camp twenty years ago. Unable to shake the memories, Katie vows she won’t rest until she discovers what happened to Chelsea.

But as Katie starts to investigate, the case reveals itself to be much bigger and more shocking than she feared. Hidden deep in the forest she unearths a makeshift cemetery: a row of graves, each with a brightly coloured teddy bear.

Katie links the graves to a stack of missing-persons cases involving young girls—finding a pattern no one else has managed to see. Someone in Pine Valley has been taking the town’s daughters for years, and Katie is the only one who can stop them.

And then another little girl goes missing, snatched from the park near her home.

Katie’s still haunted by the friend she failed to protect, and she’ll do anything to stop the killer striking again—but can she find the little girl before it’s too late?”

A little detective fiction to start off my fall.

This was a solid mystery. There is a bad guy killing young girls, a flawed detective must use all her wiles to figure out who he is.

I thought this was a good beginning to a new series. Katie, a veteran, returns home with her canine friend and is able to jump into a new career with the help of her family. As the story progresses, we get to meet other people from Katie’s past and new people she will be working with throughout her story. And the weird part at the end could make for some interesting future experiences. (Read the story and you will know what I am talking about, no spoilers here).

There were plenty of twists and developments to keep a slow burn feel to this novel. I do not have issues with the pacing, but this was not a fast-pace thriller. Plenty of suspicion flung in a multitude of directions made this one a little harder to figure out; but the guilty party was certainly not too low on my list of possibilities.

I had not read anything by Jennifer Chase before this, but I will be looking at reading both her earlier novels and additional titles in this series.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book and share my honest opinion.

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A Debut Thriller!

Come and Get MeCome and Get Me by August Norman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the publisher: “An intrepid journalist confronts a small town’s dark secrets in Come and Get Me, a breakneck thriller for fans of Tess Gerritsen and Julia Keller.

At Indiana University, someone’s been studying the female student body: their dating customs, nocturnal activities―and how long they can survive in captivity.

When award-winning journalist Caitlin Bergman is invited back to campus to receive an honorary degree, she finds an opportunity for a well-earned victory lap―and a chance to face the trauma that almost destroyed her as an undergrad. But her lap becomes an all-out race when a student begs her to probe an unsolved campus disappearance: Angela Chapman went out one Friday night and never came back.

To find the missing woman, Caitlin must join forces with a local police detective and the department that botched her own case so long ago. But while Caitlin follows the clues behind Angela’s disappearance, someone else is following her…”

This one took me far too long to read!

I started reading it and put it down after our main character announces to a room full of students that she was a rape victim. I was not sure if I wanted to continue down the path of a male author depicting any part of that. However, I am sorry it took me so long to get back to it. I ended up liking it quite a bit.

Caitlin was a fierce, strong character who I wanted to see win with minimal damage, preferably. Every other character was suspect. They were real and each took their turn to be on the hot seat. While I did not guess who the guilty party was, there were clues and bread crumbs throughout the book.

The pacing was perfect; I did not find a dull moment. The glimpses into the perpetrator’s world were well-spaced and while dark, a great addition to the hunt.

It appears this is the author’s first novel and that he is planning a series with Caitlin. I will watch for future titles by this author.

A big thanks to netgalley and the publisher for my advanced copy!

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Wendy Walker’s The Night Before

The Night BeforeThe Night Before by Wendy Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book kept me guessing!!!

I did not want to walk away from the story of Rosie’s missing sister Laura. Although, as life will have it, I did have to put the book down and participate in my own life from time to time. The mystery in this story was kept taut and the suspense was fabulous. I think Wendy Walker has crafted another great story for mystery, suspense, and thriller readers.

I enjoyed the alternating between points of view and time line disorienting in the best possible way. This structure kept me off-balance and unsure of who I should trust throughout the story. This lack of trust in the characters, made it hard for me to *like* any of them, but I did care about how the story concluded. This is a fine line for me. I wanted to see justice for all, but did not feel myself rooting for any of the protagonists, and probably would have been satisfied with any of them being the guilty party.

There was suspense and story a plenty here, and certainly a satisfying conclusion that did not require any stretch to believe it was true. I will watch for future titles by this author.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this e-book!

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