Tag Archives: book review

The Night Shift

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay is a fast-paced, adventurous murder mystery. There are a lot of characters in this novel. So many that I almost felt I like I needed to take notes to keep track of everyone!

With many interesting characters, and several plot twists to keep readers guessing, The Night Shift is highly entertaining. The novel follows multiple people, each on their own journey to discover the killer.

Who will be the one to solve the crime? Is there only one killer or does this new murder mean a new killer is in town? As our characters try to answer this question, we learn about who they are, and how they came to be involved. Each of our main characters is invested in finding the murderer, each for their own, very different, reasons.

At first, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this novel. In the first chapter, something about the writing style bothered me. I also generally don’t like books with so many characters, it’s so much work to keep them all straight in my head. However, I was soon hooked and needed to solve the murder myself. Any issues with the writing style and numerous characters were quickly forgotten, and I finished the book within a few days and as many sittings.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books for an advance copy. All opinions in this review are my own.

Mindy Kaling

Nothing Like I Imagined (Except For Sometimes)

Most of my friends and co-workers know I’m a huge fan of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. What fewer people know is that I’m also a huge fan of Mindy Kaling.

Ok, ok. I’m sure you’re thinking, “what the heck do Dwayne Johnson and Mindy Kaling have in common?” The truth is, they are both amazing people. I think they are remarkable role models in a time where that’s a really awesome thing to be and something we all need right now.

I won’t go into all the many, many reasons I love Dwayne Johnson since this post is about my girl-crush Mindy.

Mindy recently published a collection of short essays titled Nothing Like I Imagined (Except For Sometimes). I listened to them all within a few days. Audible is the way to go since Mindy narrates them all herself.

In these essays, Mindy primarily focuses on recent events in her life and being a single mother. So… I knew Mindy had a daughter, and it had briefly crossed my mind in the last year or two to wonder who’s the father. However, I did not spend any time trying to find out the answer to this. And guess what? In her essay collection, Mindy talks about not being married, about being a single mom, and such. So I googled it. The paternity of her daughter, Kit, is a big fat secret, AND NOBODY KNOWS WHO THE FATHER IS. Not even her close friends. Mindy says until Kit is old enough to be told, no one else needs to know. Kit should know first. I respect that.

On top of that, I learned that Mindy recently announced that she gave birth to Spencer in September. NO ONE EVEN KNEW SHE WAS PREGNANT. Again, secret baby daddy.

I follow Mindy on Instagram, and I recall seeing all these great photos of her looking glamorous at home during quarantine. Turns out 99% of the photos are old, and of course, that’s why Mindy is clearly not pregnant in these photos.

Now, obviously, secret pregnancies and secret baby daddies are not the reason I think Mindy is amazing. She’s a woman, a person of color, and she’s freaking awesome. She managed to work her way from The Office writers’ room, to a role on the show, to her own show. And now she is “mostly producing.”

Hollywood needs more female voices. We need more women in power and more women of color. And while Mindy is obsessed with Instagram, her posts are also usually down to earth. She may look glamorous and beautiful, but she is also open about her struggle with weight and the fine balance she has achieved between her love for running and her love for cheeseburgers and fries. You have to admit, the woman has got style!

I also identify with Mindy a lot. I too love running and struggle with my weight because I love food. And in her essays, she talks about her social anxiety. I’ve never thought to use that term for myself before. However, the way she describes it sounds so much like me! I used to say “oh, I’m an extrovert, but I’m shy.” Now, I’m thinking social anxiety is probably a better description. If only I were 1/4 as funny as she is.

My favorite line from Mindy’s essay collection is (paraphrasing here) “If my choices are 15 minutes of boring sex every night with the same man, or fifteen minutes on Instagram, I choose Instagram.”

I think Mindy is setting a great example for women: you don’t need a man to be happy, rich, successful, raise a child…

Also, she is hilariously funny. Just watch the Mindy Project. You’ll see. If you watched the office, and you hated Kelly Kapoor, and you’re not a Mindy fan because of that… please, please give Mindy another chance. Watch the Mindy Project. Follow her on Instagram. Or check out one of her books or her collection of essays. You won’t be disappointed.

Oh and a funny coincidence? My first dog was named Mindy.

Road Seven

road seven

Road Seven is an adventurous romp that unfortunately falls flat at the end. This is the first novel I’ve read from Keith Rosson, and I had high hopes at the outset.

Unfortunately, the two main characters are not at all likable. Brian is a hot mess, and Mark is either crazy or an excellent liar. 

First, we meet Brian. An unsuccessful, 30-year-old almost-Ph.D., he is thinking of dropping out. After responding to a bizarre online ad on a monster hunter website, Brian joins Mark Sandoval on an expedition to find a unicorn. With a background in anthropology and the historical significance of mythical creatures, Brian is uniquely suited to be Mark’s research assistant on this project.

Mark is ultra-famous. This is primarily due to his memoir—in which he claims to have been abducted by aliens. Some people believe this is the truth, and Mark has traded on this fame for decades.

The writing holds it all together almost until the end. As we progress to the climax of the novel, there is a theme of truth versus lies. There are a few possibly surprising twists as to what’s true and what’s not.

However, in the end, there is a “big reveal.” This is where Road Seven falls off a cliff. There is a complete lack of motivation and reason behind the reveal, and it’s just very out of place, in my opinion, with the rest of the novel. 

It’s like this man says, “well since you’re here, I have to show you this.” And the reader—me, in this case—is thinking, uh no you don’t. You want to, but it is entirely unclear why. This made me so angry. It was so pointless and very much felt like the author just wanted it to have a crazy ending and he couldn’t come up with a plausible reason, so he forced it. With no character motivation, no purpose.

I wish it had ended some other way. I enjoyed most of the story up to the end, despite not feeling much empathy or concern for our main characters. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Thanks to Book Sirens for a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions here are my own.

Best Books of 2019

As many of you know, I’m an avid reader. My co-workers were actually joking that I was probably going home from the holiday party in order to read. And I did… at 3am. It’s a habit and it’s hard for me to get in bed and go to sleep without reading first. And that’s not the only time I spend reading. This year, I thought I’d share with you my top books. These books were not all published in 2019, just books I happened to read this year.

If you’re curious to see all the books I read, you can check out my 2019 “year in books” from goodreads.com. I surpassed my reading challenge goal of 60 by quite a bit this year. This is due to my new habit this year of listening to audio books, and the addition of Audible Originals and the 2 free selections per month.

Ok, let’s get back to the best books of 2019. These are in no particular order, and are not necessarily the books I rated the highest. I chose each of these five books for the impact they had on my life and the stories they tell.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

To the stars who listen and the dreams that are answered.

I am huge fan of fantasy novels, and this one was spectacular. I loved the series so much, that I actually read the entire second book on an airplane (Munich to San Francisco is such a looooong flight!), and finished up the third the day I got home. I would recommend this series to anyone that enjoys YA fantasy with a good romance plot.

The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

The Case Against Sugar

This year, I’ve been trying to focus on making healthier choices in my life. My relationship with sugar has been difficult, to say the least. As much as I try to break up with sugar, we keep getting back together. The Case Against Sugar was really an eye-opener for me as to just how terrible sugar actually is for us, and has helped motivate me to cut a lot of sugar out of my life. Even if you feel like you don’t have a sweet-tooth, sugar (including high fructose corn syrup) is very pervasive in our modern processed, commercially available food. Once I started looking, I noticed that almost everything has added sugar, it’s even lurking in unexpected items like bagels! This book has caused me to rethink my eating habits and to be extra careful with reading labels, and most importantly, to start ditching the processed stuff (i.e. junk!) in favor of home-cooked foods. I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in health, better eating, worried about diabetes, or well anyone who eats!

Ketotarian by Will Cole — Another food book! While The Case Against Sugar presents historical data, science, and research about sugar and how it affects our bodies, Ketotarian focuses more specifically on the keto diet (high fat, low carbs), and how to adopt this type of eating while being vegan or vegetarian, although the author does recommend eating some animal products like eggs and fish. This book was recommended to me by my doctor with the caveat that she doesn’t think I necessarily need to go to the extreme low carbs prescribed by the keto diet, she would prefer to see me eating more healthy fats, less grains, and less carbs overall. I completely agree, and will soon be incorporating some of the recipes from this book into my meal-planning rotation. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a new, potentially healthier way of eating.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb — I wasn’t expecting to like this book. It popped up very quickly as a hot book, and I figured I could wait 4-6 months to read it when it was available for Kindle from my local library. However, the new book club I recently joined picked this as their selection. I missed the original event invite, and ended up having a marathon reading weekend to read it time for book club. I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I expected! I love how the author weaves together her own story with those of her patients. Most of all, I love the message that it’s OK to be in therapy, it’s OK to need to talk to someone, even therapists have therapists!

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou — This is another one that I wasn’t expecting to like, even though multiple co-workers recommended it. Despite the fact that I live and work in Silicon Valley, I had only vaguely heard of Theranos – mostly through advertisements about getting bloodwork/lab tests done at Walgreens. I wasn’t really aware of the meteoric rise and fall of Theranos, so when people kept telling me to read this book about Theranos, I didn’t quite understand. Having read the book, WOW. I started a book club at work, and earlier this year, we read a book called “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, which talks about — you guessed it! — the five dysfunctions of team. That book illustrates the dysfunctions through a fictional story of a fictional company and team. They could have easily written about Elisabeth Holmes and Theranos instead! I would recommend this book to anyone who likes true stories and/or investigative journalism, and is interested in how a company can fake their way to a 9 billion dollar valuation.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about what I think are some of the best books of 2019. Drop me a comment if you’ve read any of these, or if you’re thinking about it after reading this!