The Detective Ella Marconi Series

Ella Marconi is a no-nonsense, get-the-job-done homicide detective living and working in Sydney, Australia. Author Katherine Howell, a former paramedic, always gives Ella a run for her money with the cases that she puts before her and also with paramedics and their work calls thrown into the mix. So if you like mysteries and you like medical dramas, you’ll LOVE the Ella Marconi series. If you like one or the other, you’ll LOVE the Ella Marconi series.

I really like Howell’s writing style and I love that she uses her experience as a paramedic around which to base her secondary characters’ lives and stories. The series began in 2007 and is still going strong, with the last one published in 2015, and hopefully more to follow!

Frantic (1) 

In an instant, life changed completely for Sophie Phillips – her police officer husband, Chris, is shot on their doorstep and their ten-month-old son, Lachlan, is abducted from his bed. While the police, led by Detective Ella Marconi search not only for their colleague’s child but also investigate the very strong possibility of police corruption, Sophie begins her own search for Lachlan.

Detective Ella Marconi Series. Propensity to Discuss reviews.

But through it all, Sophie has to wonder if a terrible mistake she made will mangle her hope and efforts at finding her child. And what about Chris, is he a part of the corruption, or is he the one who brought it to the attention of the news media? The longer Lachlan is missing, the more Ella and her team know they are working against the odds to find him.

The audio version of this book is performed by Caroline Lee, whose audiobook performances I always absolutely love! She is actually the reason I purchased this novel to begin with but the writing and the story brought me back to the series. For other Caroline Lee audiobook reviews, check out this post or this one.

The Darkest Hour (2)

In the second Ella Marconi book, paramedic Lauren Yates finds herself alone in an alley helping a man that she knows all too well, Miles Werner. A man she knows to be angry, hateful, deceitful, and most of all, dangerous. All the while, another man lays dead in the same alley. When she begins to help Miles he threatens her life, her sister’s life and the life of her niece, Mile’s own daughter.

Detective Ella Marconi Series. Propensity to Discuss reviews.

Terrified of Werner’s threats, she lies to Detective Ella Marconi, to her sister and to her partner and sets into motion a trail that leads to even more victims. Lauren becomes desperate and has no idea how she will ever get out of this mess alive. Ella knows something is not right with Lauren’s testimony and knows that she must be hiding something. She will have to gain Lauren’s trust to get to the bottom of this case.

Unfortunately, there is no audio for this, but the book was a really good, pretty quick read and I really recommend this series.

4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

 

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I whole-heartedly recommend these linked products.

A Madness So Discreet. A Propensity to Discuss review.

A Madness So Discreet

Perfectly sane, Grace Mae leaves behind the life of a wealthy socialite and enters a horror filled existence when she is banished to an insane asylum for a reason thoroughly out of her control. Feeling that she has nothing to live for and certainly nothing to offer, she closes herself and her voice off from those around her.

When she is pushed beyond the limit of what she can withstand, she strikes out and is sent to the dungeon where she meets someone who changes the course of her life forever. Enter a very forward-thinking doctor who uses the clues left behind at the scenes of murder victims to identify their killers. Grace, in her new-found life, the doctor believes, can help him.

From the first few pages of A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis, I was completely mesmerized. I hated to put it down and when I had to, I could hardly wait to pick it up again. McGinnis did a remarkable job developing the characters for this story, as well as giving them social and moral dilemmas that show how they react to working for the right reasons, even if they may be morally or ethically questionable.

Add the rich history of the ethics, or lack thereof, in asylums in the late 1800s and you have a story that vividly brings to light what fate those with mental illnesses, those who were easily disposed of by their wealthy families, and those who were chronically ill had to face.  Throw in the beginnings of forensic science and several main characters that you come to know and love and you have one really great book on your hands.

This is an unputdownable, must read!

If you are interested in the audio version of A Madness so Discreet performed by Brittany Pressley, I do recommend this as well. I both listened and read because I did not want to be away from Grace for long periods of time!

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I whole-heartedly recommend these linked products! 

 

 

A – Z Romantic Comedy Movies

In continuing with my A-Z listings theme that I have used before, (A – Z Books for Adults; A – Z If I Were Stranded on a Deserted Island)  I have gone with one of my go-to types of movies, romantic comedy.

I did have to take a little poetic license with a couple, and there is one of those that is a stretch to make it a rom-com, but I’m not the one who names the movies. Let me just tell you, those people are sort of stingy about using the letter Q!

Hope you enjoy this. If you haven’t seen these, I highly recommend them all!

A*American President, The (Michael Douglas, Annette Bening)      [Amazon, IMDB]

BBreakfast At Tiffany’s (Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard)     [Amazon, IMDB]

CClueless (Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy)     [Amazon, IMDB]

A - Z Romantic Comedy Movies. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

DDeeds, Mr. (Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder)     [Amazon, IMDB]

EEnchanted (Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey)     [Amazon, IMDB]

FFailure To Launch (Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker)     [Amazon, IMDB]

A - Z Romantic Comedy Movies. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

GGrease (John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John)     [Amazon, IMDB]

H*- How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey)     [Amazon, IMDB]

IIt’s Complicated (Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin)     [Amazon, IMDB]

A - Z Romantic Comedy Movies. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

JJust Go With It (Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston)      [Amazon, IMDB]

KKnocked Up (Katherine Heigl, Seth Rogan)     [Amazon, IMDB]

LLife As We Know It (Josh Duhamel, Katherine Heigl)     [Amazon, IMDB]

A - Z Romantic Comedy Movies. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

M*My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Nia Vardalos, John Corbett)     [Amazon, IMDB]

NNotting Hill (Julia Roberts, )     [Amazon, IMDB]

OOne Fine Day (Michelle Pfieffer, George Clooney)     [Amazon, IMDB]

A - Z Romantic Comedy Movies. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

P*Pretty Woman (Richard Gere, Julia Roberts)     [Amazon, IMDB]

QQueen* (Kangana Ranaut)     [Amazon, IMDB

RRoxanne (Steve Martin, Darryl Hannah)     [Amazon, IMDB]

A - Z Romantic Comedy Movies. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

S*Sweet Home Alabama (Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey)     [Amazon, IMDB]

TTwenty-seven (27) Dresses (Katherine Heigl, James Marsden )      [Amazon, IMDB]

UUgly Truth, The (Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler)     [Amazon, IMDB]

A - Z Romantic Comedy Movies. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

VValentine’s Day (Jessica Alba, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey)     [Amazon, IMDB]

WWhile You Were Sleeping (Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman)     [Amazon, IMDB]

X – SeX And The City (Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis)     [Amazon, IMDB]

A - Z Romantic Comedy Movies. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

YYou’ve Got Mail (Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan)     [Amazon, IMDB]

Z –  CraZy, Stupid, Love (Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore)      [Amazon, IMDB]

A - Z Romantic Comedy Movies. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

 

One other one that I dearly love and watch over and over and over is Sabrina, both the original (1954 – Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn) [Amazon, IMDB] and the remake (1995 – Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond) [Amazon, IMDB]

A - Z Romantic Comedy Movies. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

*Favorites that I can watch over and over.

**Okay, so I took a little poetic licensing with this one. It’s not really a rom-com, more of a falling in love with oneself. But how many movies with Q in the title are there?

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I whole-heartedly recommend these linked products! The only one I have not seen is Queen and that link is not an affiliate. 

Helicopter teachers. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

Helicopter teachers

Whether or not you have read my post on helicopter parenting…I think the research shows that “hovering” as parents is a no-no. It is so detrimental to kids and it is a travesty of justice for kids. But now there is an issue with teachers being led into hover mode.

What another insane travesty of justice.

In school systems where parents have 24/7 access to their students’ grades and access to all the upcoming assignments, and quiz and test dates for their students through a learning platform, why are teachers required to call/email a parent when a student fails a test? Why on earth do parents have to be specifically notified? If parents want to hover and helicopter, this is the one area where they actually should be a little over the top. But ironically, most are not.

Many of the same reasons that make hover parenting bad, also make hover-teaching bad. Let’s look at entitlement. So the child fails, the teacher calls the parent and the parent wants to know why the child failed. Hello? Your child doesn’t study. Your child doesn’t prepare for class. Your child doesn’t care. Why? Because a parent that doesn’t hold kids accountable for their grades gives that child an open invitation to entitlement.

Think about it: Mom and/or Dad know that Junior isn’t studying. He is playing video games. Or hanging out with friends. He may even be working. But if he isn’t studying, he is not preparing for his job as a student. So, when Junior (or Suzie-Q) fails, Mom/Dad really don’t have any recourse. They have allowed the child to forgo studying, so how can they legitimately get angry when he/she didn’t pass?

Chronic complainers? Yes! Kids who don’t study and don’t pass are generally the ones who complain about the test or the teacher or the school or anything else that doesn’t go exactly they way they want it. They are entitled, so they know for certain that it is not their own fault that they failed. “This wasn’t on the study guide/We didn’t get a study guide.” Guess what, there is no study guide for life or for your job/career. What then?

Helicopter teachers. A Propensity to Discuss Post.

At what point do we hold the students responsible for their actions or inaction, as the case may be. The teacher has to notify the parent. Really? Can the parent not talk to the child? Can the child actually be held accountable?

I was, and I am pretty sure you were, also. In the 70s and 80s, how many times did our parents blame teachers for our bad grades? How often did our parents get a phone call about a failing grade we made? They didn’t. And they didn’t have instant access to grades.

Our parents got a report card once every 6 or 9 weeks, and it had to be signed and returned to school the next day. That was it. They knew about those things, not because they had a learning platform on a computer that was updated daily, but because they took an interest in our education and asked us what we were doing in school.

Let’s face it, anyone who doesn’t hold kids accountable is responsible for the anxiety and lack of confidence these students have. In the same way that helicopter parenting damages kids, helicopter teaching has a similar outcome.

Should parents know their kids have failed a test? Yes!

Should the teacher have to be a helicopter figure to let the parents know? No!

If parents take the initiative to know what their child is doing in school, the child will be more likely to take the initiative to do better. If not, the parents must force the issue with the child. The parents. Not the teacher.

We are raising the future here. We need them to be confident, non-entitled adults ready to take on the world by themselves, not just because someone is forcing them to do so.

Sorry for the rant, I just get a little heated sometimes!

Anyway, what are your thoughts on this?

 

Not a story I would advise you to visit.

Summit Lake (Charlie Donlea) is a very small, close-knit town of full-time and part-time residents and tourists. It’s the sort of place where everyone knows everyone else and no one’s business is safe from the local gossip mongers.

So when a part-time resident, Becca Eckersley is savagely murdered in her family’s cabin, the entire town is up in arms to find out who killed her and why.

Not a story I would advise you to visit. A Propensity to Discuss review.

When Kelsey Castle returns to work as a crime magazine reporter after a month-long recuperation from a brutal attack, her boss and mentor sends her to Summit Lake for more rest and relaxation and to write a story on the murder. Makes sense, right? She’s trying to get over being raped and beaten, so send her to investigate a case where someone was raped, beaten and died.

She arrives to find that Becca’s family is doing everything they can to cover up some secret, including shutting out the local sheriff and calling in the State Police. Kelsey sets up an appointment with the Sheriff who gives her all of the notes that he and his team have on the case. Just like that. She asks; he gives. That happens, right?

In the meantime, Kelsey meets Rae, the pseudo owner of the town coffee shop and they become instant friends and confidants. Kelsey even opens up to her about her own attack, which is something she wouldn’t even do with her therapist.

There is also Dr. Peter Ambrose, a surgeon in town who is ready to do anything at all, including Breaking and Entering to help this reporter he has only just met. Not to mention the fact that having been brutally attacked 6 weeks before she was willing to just go out and commit not one, but 2 B&Es with this man she has only met three times. How does that make sense?

In the end, of course, the reporter is able to break the case that neither the local nor the state police were able to even get any leads on. And it leaves you asking why the family would try to cover up the murder anyway. Wouldn’t they want to see their daughter’s killer brought to justice?

Sorry, this one just didn’t do it for me.

And if I may add another warning: Do NOT purchase the audio of this book! It is really bad. Shannon McManus has recorded quite a few books, but this one is an absolute mess. Her inflection is completely wrong. Her voice goes up at the end of most sentences, the way it should when asking a question. She has no grasp of cadence in moving from one sentence to another. Thank goodness I only paid $2.95 for it! If I had paid more, I would be sick over it.

1 Star. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. 

What would you give up for Harmony?

Alexandra and Josh Hammond live a somewhat stressful life. Their daughter, Tilly, has a disorder that really can’t be classified. She isn’t exactly autistic, but close. She doesn’t have Asperger’s, but almost. She can’t seem to connect to social norms and sees everything as strictly black and white and she has no control over her impulses.

Since Tilly has been kicked out of every school she has ever attended, Alexandra takes it upon herself to find a way to “fix” Tilly. And she thinks she’s found the answer. Scott Bean has a way of talking Alexandra down from the ledge. His no-nonsense, very easy-going manner and his suggestions on how to handle Tilly are actually helping.

What would you give up for Harmony? A Propensity to Discuss review.

All Alexandra wants is Harmony for her family. And author Carolyn Parkhurst weaves a story that is so very real about families with special needs children and the lengths some might go to find any harmony at all.

Scott is there for Alexandra. When she hits the end of her rope he becomes the knot that allows her to hold on. It’s a “right place, right time” scenario for Scott to come in and convince her and Josh that Camp Harmony is the only way to take back her life.

And it is working. Scott is really good with Tilly and the other kids who have similar issues. He makes a difference and Tilly seems much more capable of controlling herself.

Tilly’s younger sister, Iris, is the “normal” child, or the “good kid” as Scott tells her. Iris sometimes questions Scott’s motives and his honesty, but she loves her family and she is willing to go along with it all because that is what has been asked of her.

What would you give up for Harmony? A Propensity to Discuss review.

Tilly’s black and white issues also led her to believe that if something does not go exactly as planned, the imagined outcome would be far more damaging than the reality usually is. Strangely enough, Scott tends to have the same sort of ideology, but no one sees that in the beginning.

As other families come to Camp Harmony for help in dealing with their children, the families who live there truly believe in what they are doing. But when one of the kids is kidnapped, everything begins to implode. Choices are made that affect every aspect of camp life and not one person will be left unchanged.

Is Camp Harmony a cult? Or is it just a group of families who will do anything they possibly can to help their children grow and thrive. And what about the rest of us? Would we shake our heads at the senseless adults who followed a cult leader, or would we have done the same thing given all the same circumstances?

The audio version of Harmony is a very easy, quite soothing narration. Cassandra Campbell who is the voice of Alexandra does a really good job of showing the desperation of a mother who has no idea how to cope with a child like Tilly. Abigail Revasch and Jorjeana Marie also narrate as Iris and Tilly.

Iris tells the story of what happens at Camp Harmony, while Alexandra fills in the back story. Tilly narrates the Hammond Family Life as it would one day be sure to appear in the museum of Hammond Family History.

All in all, a really good book and a nice flow of narration.

4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I whole-heartedly recommend these linked products!

Guilty…of being Truly Mad

It’s over. And I am at a loss. What do I do now? My new friends have moved on, but I can’t seem to do the same. I hate it when this happens! And for me, it happens a lot. I get so attached, they become a part of my everyday world. Then, suddenly, they move on and out of my life and I am left wondering if the characters in the next book I read will have such a profound effect on my mind.

I have finished Liane Moriarty’s Truly, Madly Guilty and Clementine, Erika, Holly, Ruby and the rest of these amazing characters have left me feeling like I have let go of a few new friends. They came into my life and now, their stories told, have moved on and I miss them.

That, to me, is the beauty in the writing of Liane Moriarty. She gets into the minds of the characters and shares both the extreme and trivial details that make each character behave in the way that they do and this gives you a feeling that you actually know these people. You have been with them through thick and thin. You have seen what has brought them to their knees and walked with them as they pulled themselves up, dusted off their britches and moved forward with their lives.

Guilty...of being Truly Mad, A Propensity to Discuss review.

 

This story is written in 3rd person, but each person tells a new chapter and that person has almost 1st person ability to tell not only the background, and what they are thinking, but almost what is going on with everyone else in a 1st person type of viewpoint.

This book is a lot like Big Little Lies, in that you know there was something big that happened, but you don’t know exactly what or how, but that it affected everyone who was involved in quite a discernible way. You know that the lives of these people are all different after the Bar-B-Que at Tiffany and Vid’s house. But what you learn are the events that led up to that fateful day and how every person who was there is changed and challenged after that day. What you don’t know is what actually happened.

That is the beauty of this both Truly Madly Guilty and Big Little Lies. You know what the outcome is, but you don’t have any real idea of what caused the problem until the characters have pretty much gotten themselves and their lives almost back on track. Add to that all of the background information given through flashbacks leading up to the moment of crisis and you end the story almost back at the beginning, but you know the entire story which leaves you feeling as though you know the cast of characters completely.

And, if you are like me, you miss them when they leave.

Caroline Lee is the narrator for the Truly Madly Guilty audio, just as she was for Big Little Lies, and she is absolutely magical. Her inflections and change of style for each character exactly matches what you would imagine each of them would sound. Especially her characterization of Vid that is spot on and wonderful. Plus, at the end of the book, there is a Q&A between Lee and Moriarty that is quite interesting and fun to listen to them talk about the characters from their perspectives.

 

Guilty...of being Truly Mad, A Propensity to Discuss review.

And, just like Big Little Lies, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman have picked up the rights to Truly Madly Guilty for a movie deal. I can hardly wait!  Big Little Lies will be a 7 part series on HBO hopefully airing soon!

 

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

 

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I whole-heartedly recommend these linked products!