Tag Archives: reading

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

A while back I purchased The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer, but it sat on a shelf unread. I’m not really sure why, as I read and really liked The Host and to be honest, I loved the Twilight series.

This book, however, is a far cry from Twilight! Where that series has been raked over the coals by many reviewers, critics, feminists and the like for having a weak female character, The Chemist is 180 degrees in the opposite direction!

The Chemist. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Alex/Julianna is quite formidable. Having worked for a government agency of operations so dark, the organization didn’t even have a name, her work was to stop terror attacks from reaching American soil. But when someone in that agency turned the tables, Alex became the hunted.

After being on the run for 3 years, her former handler has found her, assured her she is safe and is asking her to come back and stop what could be the worst terror attack the world has ever seen. Her conscience won’t let her walk away, so she walks back into a world of people who want her dead. But this time she has more to protect than ever before.

All in all, I really liked this book. The characters were believable, likable and realistic, with pretty much non-stop action. This is not a love story with action thrown in, this is an action-thriller with a love interest that does not take over the story, it just enhances it. So if you like thrillers, read this one. If you are hoping for a Twilight type of love story, you’re not getting it here. The Chemist is much more realistic and a story for those who like mysteries, thrillers, and espionage.

The audio version of The Chemist is read by Ellen Archer.

 

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 wholeheartedly recommend these linked products!

Summer Rental. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

What more could you ask for than a month-long Summer Rental at the beach with your three life-long best friends? If you answered not much, I agree with you. And take this book with you if you get the opportunity!

Ellis, Dorie, and Julia have known each other since grade school. Each one knows everything about the other two. Or at least they did through high school. Now on the backside of 30, each of them has a few secrets. Not hair-raising, break-the-bank, here-come-the-police secrets, but each one of them is questioning some part of her life that she hasn’t really been able to own up to, either to herself or to her friends.

Summer Rental. A Propensity to Discuss review.

If you add those issues to an August Summer Rental at the beach in Nag’s Head, NC with these three, a gorgeous landlord, and a woman who is obviously running away from something, you get a pretty darn good beach read. And who doesn’t love a good old romantic, drama-centered beach read in the summer?

If you want a literary classic, this book isn’t for you. But if you want a satisfying, lazy day romance that doesn’t require you to break the brain bank, this is certainly a book you’ll want to choose. Throw in a beach setting and you’ll want to stick your toes in the sand with every chapter.

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!

Every Last Lie

I am a fan of Mary Kubica’s work. After I read The Good Girl, I could hardly wait to get my hands on all of her novels, so when I was given a chance to preview Every Last Lie, I jumped on it.

Clara Solberg’s last conversation with her husband, Nick, is about what to bring home for dinner. She wishes she could change that. She wishes she hadn’t sent him out. She wishes she had gone herself. Because Nick never came home after wrapping his car around a tree with their four-year-old daughter in the backseat. Thankfully, Maisie’s car seat saved her, but nothing could be done for Nick.

Every Last Lie. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Left with her four-year-old daughter and four-day-old son, Clara’s life is turned upside down as she tries to piece together the last few weeks of Nick’s life as strange things emerge one after another and make her question everything. Was Nick’s death a suicide with their daughter in the car? Was he having an affair? And then as Maisie begins to awaken screaming about the “bad man” in the middle of the night, Clara begins to wonder: Did someone kill him?

The novel moves back and forth between Clara’s point of view in the present situation and Nick’s point of view in the months leading up to his death. It is a good story, but I didn’t really feel much of a connection to either of the main characters. There is more development of Maisie than of either Clara or Nick, so it is difficult to feel much for either of them. And Clara is so busy with theories that she never grieves for her husband, making it difficult for the reader to grieve him.

That being said, Kubica’s writing style is still, in my opinion, top-notch and I plan to continue reading her novels. I just wish there had been a little more unfolding of the characters. I do recommend Every Last Lie, however, if you want true psychological thrills, read The Good Girl. It is amazing!

3 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!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley in return for an honest review. I received this book free from NetGalley in return for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

Into the Water. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

In case you’ve been living in a cave with no access to electricity or social media, you have probably seen all the promotions about Paula Hawkins newest release, Into the Water. But does it live up to the hype? After listening to her first novel The Girl on the Train (read by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher), which I really liked, I was very excited to read her second novel.

Into the Water is read by Laura Aikman, Rachel Bavidge, Sophie Aldred, Daniel Weyman, and Imogen Church, a rather lengthy cast, as there are quite a few characters who make this book twist and turn and throw you for loop after loop. While it started a bit slowly, it did pick up the pace and there were a couple of turns I truly did not see coming. And then I listened to the ending three times because I just absolutely could not believe what I was hearing!

Into the Water. A Propensity to Discuss review.

For over 300 years the Drowning Pool has claimed many lives of Beckford women, whether they were accused a witchcraft and sorcery, adultery or to leave the world of their own accord, and Nel Abott has researched them all for the book she plans to publish.

When Nel dies falling into the “Drowning Pool” that has fascinated her all of her life, her sister must return to the town she ran from so many years before and swore she would never again set foot. This suicide, only months after a teen girl’s suicide at the same place leaves many in the town worried and many quite satisfied. Nel’s daughter knows it was suicide, but her long-lost sister stands at odds against the 16-year-old niece she has never met and swears that Nel had to have been pushed.

This book has quite a few negative feedbacks online. However, the audio version of this book has more positive responses than negative. I find this very interesting because I also listened to The Girl on the Train and loved it, but the people I knew who read the book didn’t like it. I actually have 2 friends who didn’t like The Girl on the Train book but listened to the audio and really liked it. So my suggestion here would be to start reading them and if you don’t like them, then listen to both of them. I really think it makes all the difference!

I highly recommend this book in audio form.

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!

 

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. 

7 reasons I let my kids read any book they wanted. A Propensity to Discuss post.

7 reasons I let my kids read any book they wanted

If you read my post  One note that rocked my world…for the best, you know that I was allowed to read anything I wanted. As an adult, a teacher, and still a voracious reader, I have come to realize how important reading is to education, growth, and mental development. That being said, the reasons I let my kids read anything they wanted is that I came to realize why my parents did the same for me.

Why am I worried about this, you ask? Kids today don’t read! No, no! Not so fast with that assumption! A study of more than 6,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center proves that Millennials are reading more books than the over-30 crowd. (LaFrance) My worry is that so many parents are blocking kids from reading what they want and that not only terrifies me, but it drives me crazy! Here are my reasons why:

(1) Reading teaches more than any teacher ever will.

Put your claws up, I’m a teacher, too, so I am NOT taking away anything from teachers! Teachers are amazing! But reading, well, reading is so much more!

Think about it this way. A student picks up a fiction book and starts to read. Maybe the book is set in Australia. Does he learn anything about Australia? Yes, climate, culture, the people. A whole geography lesson…and no one forced him to learn it. Another student is reading a fictional account of a girl in North Korea and her eyes are opened to other places where freedom is not something to take for granted.

7 reasons I let my kids read any book they wanted. A Propensity to Discuss post.

There are only so many teacher lectures that will get through to students, and then they have to start seeing things for themselves and experiencing them in order to be able to really understand them. Short of traveling to Australia or North Korea (good luck with that one) reading leads them into that understanding. Even if it is fictional, it has to have a plausibility of truth and that truth is where learning lies.

(2) Reading encourages imagination.

Imagination is a good thing. Kids who have a good imagination are capable of entertaining themselves, and for tired parents, parents who need some adult conversations, or parents who don’t want children who are completely dependent on them for everything, that is a great skill to develop.

Kids who have great imaginations grow up to be adults who are capable of thinking outside the box, a skill that is highly sought after by employers.

(3) Reading helps develop better writing skills and strengthens critical thinking skills.

While thinking outside the box is a great skill, being able to write well and get those thoughts across is just as important when looking for a job. Not to mention getting through high school and college.

There are basically 6 actionable critical thinking skills for which employers look: Interpretation, analysis, inference, evaluation, explanation, and self-regulation. All of these can be fine-tuned through independent reading. Every single one. (Tilus)

(4) For readers, it is not the words, but the story.

“But some books have bad words! And what about ‘inappropriate’ content?” To this my answer has a few parts:

(a) No matter how protective you are, your child is going to hear/read/ and yes, even say those words eventually.

(b) Avid readers generally gloss over the actual words in a story and it is the content they concentrate on, not the individual words.

(c) Read the book at the same time and if there is content that makes you uncomfortable, talk with them openly and honestly about it. That is so much healthier than the head in the sand approach to sensitive topics.

Wouldn’t you rather your kids learn the truth from you rather than the generally uneducated gossiping and giggling in the school bathroom?

(5) Gives them more to talk about and encourages maturity and by the way, the world does not shield them.

Need something interesting to talk to your kids about during dinner that they won’t roll their eyes and tell you things like “I’m fine. School is fine. My friends are fine.”

7 reasons I let my kids read any book they wanted. A Propensity to Discuss post.

Remember I said you could read the same book?  Imagine the conversations from that. No eye rolling (unless you come out with a plot-spoiler).

When was the last time the public as a whole did everything in their power to shield a young child from the realities of the world? Have you seen the news? They show pretty much anything they want these days with a simple “This video may be hard for some viewers to watch” statement. Have you seen what is on TV? Oh. My. Goodness. I do not profess to be a prude by any means, but there are just some things I don’t want to see at 7:30 p.m.

Also, when was the last time you went to a sporting event? The language! So, if you don’t want your child to see and hear these things, are you going to be there with a blindfold and sound-masking headphones for your child every second of every day?

If not, then you need to teach them the good, bad and the ugly long before they reach kindergarten and keep on teaching it to them. Then trust that you have instilled in them a healthy dose of rational “this is good…that is bad…that is disgusting” ideology and let them out of that bubble!

(6) I would rather they know what they are reading is allowed and they can (had to) discuss it with me.

I have a student (I’ll refer to her as Suzy) who loves to read and loves to discuss books with me. One day one of her parents called to tell me that Suzy was far too young to have checked out a certain book and could not believe that it was even an option in the school library.

Parent: That book is full of sex scenes and profanity and people having affairs. I am appalled that you have the nerve to even own that book!

Me: So, you’ve read it, then?

Parent: No, my spouse read part of it and it was so terrible, it was not even finished.

Me: I was wondering, because I have read it and I don’t remember any sex, there were no extra-marital affairs and very little profanity, that I remember.

I then explained the “Not the words, but the story” theory. The parent stated that this 11th-grade student was not mature/smart enough to understand that “real people don’t act like that.”

In the end, Suzy was not allowed to have the book checked out, even though her prior conversations with me about the book allowed me to know that she did, in fact, know that it was a work of fiction, that what they were doing was morally wrong and that, yes, in fact, some people do act like that.

One of my initial reactions is to think “Wow, you don’t have any faith in your own parenting skills, do you?”

Trust your child. Talk to them about the book. Explain why you have reservations, and allow them to make their own decisions. I mean, surely no one reads a book about a fictional bank robbery to learn to become a bank robber. Do they?

7 reasons I let my kids read any book they wanted. A Propensity to Discuss post.

(7) Reading fiction promotes empathy.

A study by P. Matthijs Bal and Martijn Veltkamp entitled How Does Fiction Reading Influence Empathy? finds that reading fiction allows us the ability to empathize with others, which improves our social interactions.

This, my friends, is a total parenting WIN-WIN-WIN situation! Are you wondering how this could be? Follow me here.

First, teenagers are still working on the whole empathy thing. They don’t really have their full-tilt, completely functioning, everything works as it will in a few years brain yet. So, eye-rolling is going to happen, but with empathy, perhaps they can start to see your side of the argument about things like curfew, as well.

Second, the more empathy they learn, the more likely they are to consider the feelings of others. Not just other students, but their teachers, their siblings, their parents…see where this is headed?

Third (and there are probably more), they begin to see how their actions affect those around them. How many of you see a piece of paper on the floor at work and leave it there? How many teenagers leave it? Most of them do. But people who empathize with others may look at that and think, there is no reason why I can’t pick that up. There is one company that leaves a piece of trash on the floor as a test. If the applicant doesn’t pick it up, they don’t get the job. This shows both the level of empathy and work ethic of the applicant. In other words “It is my job to help everyone else around here.”

Whew…that’s a lot of reasoning! So, yes, I was allowed to read anything I wanted to read. Yes, my kids were allowed to read anything they wanted to read. Yes, they had to read…even during the summer. But I also read with them and to them and I read my own books while they were reading. We have even had great road trips with audio books for company. Also, they had to discuss their reading with me as they read. This encouraged conversations with them then and now about anything and everything.

So I hope that you will keep on reading, and I hope that you will encourage your kids to read anything they like. Because if they like it, they will read it. Then they will keep going back for more. The more you/they read, the more you/they benefit.

Happy reading!

Let me know what you think!  Do/did your kids read anything and everything? And what about when you were growing up?

 

Citations:

3 Simple Steps to A Well-Read Life. (2016, August 11). Retrieved September 05, 2016, from https://www.bookofthemonth.com/magazine/post/159

Bal, P. M., & Veltkamp, M. (2013, January 30). How Does Fiction Reading Influence Empathy? An Experimental Investigation on the Role of Emotional Transportation. Retrieved September 06, 2016, from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0055341

LaFrance, A. (2014, September 10). Millennials Are Out-Reading Older Generations. Retrieved September 07, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/09/millennials-are-out-reading-older-generations/379934/

Tilus, G. (2012, November 12). 6 Critical Thinking Skills You Need to Master Now. Retrieved September 07, 2016, from http://www.rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/main/critical-thinking-skills-you-need-to-master-now/

How could someone she trusted have done something so heinous? A Propensity to Discuss Review. The Life I Left Behind.

How could someone she trusted have done something so heinous?

Melody Pieterson was strangled and left for dead. She woke from a coma in the hospital with no memory of what happened to her and no idea who was to blame. But her neighbor and friend, David Alden was arrested and convicted of the crime.

How could someone she trusted have done something so heinous? A Propensity to Discuss Review. The Life I Left Behind.

She has spent the last 6 years living a life of suspicion and foreboding. Terrified of everything outside the walls of her house, she has become less than a shell of her former self, and when David is released Melody’s fears take her to an even deeper level of terror. Her life can absolutely be summed up as “The life I left behind.”

How could someone she trusted have done something so heinous?

Less than 6 months after David’s release, Eve Elliot is found in the same place where Melody had been found, holding a necklace exactly like the one Melody had been holding.

Eve knows exactly who hurt her. But she won’t tell. He made sure of that. Eve Elliot is dead. All because she believed in David Alden.

The story, told from Melody’s point of view and Eve’s voice, moves back and forth from the past to the present and keeps you guessing right up until the very end.

I love a good mystery, throw in some psychological thrills, great character development and you end up with a book that is hard to put down. And Collette McBeth has done just that with The Life I Left Behind! Definitely a 5-star book!

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

I felt as though I knew both Eve and Melody when I finished this book and I miss them both. This one was such a great read that as soon as I finished it, I ordered McBeth’s first novel, Precious Thing. I am hoping it comes in the mail today!

I’ll keep you posted!

Have you ever read a book that you liked so much you ordered more from that author immediately? If so, which ones. I’d love to know!

 

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure. A Propensity to Discuss Review.