Book Review #69: “All The Missing Girls”

All The Missing Girls

Image Credit: Amazon

It took a long time to get to this place, let me tell you!

This book was originally a Christmas gift from Al in 2017. I first started reading it in the summer of 2018, and then abandoned it about halfway through.

However, abandoning it started to bother me several months later, so I committed to pick it back up. Finally, after about a month of effort, I finished it!

Part of the reason I abandoned it at first was due to the story structure. Told in reverse, Miranda presents quite a complex set of characters, all trying to piece together the reasons why certain events occurred ten years prior.

The main character, Nicolette, known as Nic, was hard for me to grasp at first. She appears likeable, but as you get deeper into the story, it gets muddled and messy. Almost all of the characters have darkness in their pasts. Some, in their present, too.

On the surface, it’s a mystery story. Everyone in Cooley Ridge, or mostly everyone, is trying to find out what exactly happened to Corinne Prescott ten years earlier. Is she dead? Is she still missing? What the hell happened to her?

Then, just as mysteriously, Annaleise Carter vanishes off the face of the Earth. Everyone is a suspect. And Nicolette is at the center of it all.

This was not my favorite book in the world. It was a good idea, a decent mystery. Once I finished reading it, I started to better understand why I originally abandoned it. Nicolette was a tough main character for me, and it was almost too much trying to keep up with everyone else in her world. There were too many people involved in the story, and it got muddled and confusing from the first chapter. And maybe that was part of the point? To make it confusing to add to the story.

However, I’m glad I stuck with it. Miranda did a good job building the world of Cooley Ridge, and made the past and present blend together well. At the same time, I feel like she tried to accomplish too much in one novel, her debut for adults. I felt exhausted after just 1-2 chapters in a night, and struggled to read more than that in one sitting.

If you’re a fan of suspense and solving mysteries, this is a good read to try when you’re on vacation, or wanting a different book to read. Other than that, it’s a challenge for me to recommend it higher.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #71: A to Z Book Tag!

a to z book tag

Image Credit: Howling Libraries

I saw this tag on Destiny’s blog, Howling Libraries!

The tag was was originally created by The Perpetual Page Turner.

Here’s the link to Destiny’s post:


a | author you’ve read the most books from:

  • Ann M. Martin. More than 150 books between The Baby-Sitters Club series, Baby-Sitters Little Sister series, Mysteries, Super Mysteries, and a few others! I also had the Baby-Sitters Club Friendship Kit computer software in the mid-1990s.

b | best sequel ever:

catching_fire

c | currently reading:

Image result for all the missing girls book

d | drink of choice while reading:

  • Nothing. I don’t want to spill anything on my books.

e | e-reader or physical book:

  • My heart lies with physical books! However, I’m not against e-books.

f | fictional character you would’ve dated in high school:

  • Either Ron or Neville from Harry Potter.

g | glad you gave this book a chance:

  • WHO KNEW? … Reflections on Vietnam, J. Holley Watts. A powerful book / memoir of a woman’s service in Vietnam with the Supplemental Recreation Activities Organization (SRAO) program of the American Red Cross.

h | hidden gem book:

Image result for story of a girl book

  • Story of a Girl, Sara Zarr. I was assigned to read this in my Young Adult Literature class in the spring of 2011, and I fell in love with it. If I don’t have that copy at this point, I need to buy another one. I want to re-read it and review it here.

i | important moment in your reading life:

Image result for harry potter and the deathly hallows book

  • Finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows during the summer of 2008. I wasn’t interested in the series originally, even though a lot of my friends and classmates devoured them the minute the new book came out. However, I caught on quickly, and enjoyed all seven books. Finishing Deathly Hallows was really hard, and I clearly remember not picking up a new book for nearly two weeks that summer. I needed to heal first.

j | just finished:

evicted

k | kind of books you won’t read:

  • Anything that is truly horror, or glorifies abuse (Fifty Shades of Grey, for example).

l | longest book you’ve read:

  • The Bible.

m | major book hangover because of:

  • I don’t think this has happened to me in years. See the letter I for more context.

n | number of bookcases you own:

  • In my house, just one! It’s six-feet-tall, and I love it.

o | one book you’ve read multiple times:

The Great Gatsby - Complex

p | preferred place to read:

  • In bed before going to sleep, or a comfortable couch/chair if I’m reading during the day.

q | quote that inspires you/gave you all the feels from a book:

  • “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” ~ Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

r | reading regret:

  • I can’t think of one.

s | series you’ve started and need to finish (all books are out):

t | three of your all time favorite books:

Image result for harry potter and the order of the phoenix book

A Walk to Remember (Hardcover).jpg

  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
  2. Looking for Alaska, John Green
  3. A Walk to Remember, Nicholas Sparks

u | unapologetic fangirl for:

Pleasant Company Catalogue Holiday 1991

The Smugglers Treasure Cover

  • All of the American Girl books. I started reading them as soon as I could, and I learned a lot about history through these characters. I’ve re-built my childhood collection (Samantha, Felicity, and Kirsten), and added plenty more. I’m also on a quest to own all 22 History Mysteries. Also, I highly recommend The Care and Keeping of You series for girls. There’s a book for boys, too!

v | very excited for this release:

Image result for parkland book

w | worst bookish habits:

  • I buy more books before reading my current stack. I can’t let a good book pass by me.

x | x marks the spot! start at the top left of your bookshelf and pick the 27th book:

The Lady's Slipper

y | your latest book purchase:

Image result for janesville an american story

Image result for mosquitoland book

Image result for the hate u give book

Image result for a sky for us alonebook

  • Last week, I bought four books from Barnes & Noble with a generous gift card from my mom for my birthday last year:
  1. Janesville: An American Story, Amy Goldstein
  2. Mosquitoland, David Arnold
  3. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  4. A Sky for Us Alone, Kristin Russell

z | zzz-snatcher book—last book that kept you up way too late:

  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Matthew Desmond.

Tag – You’re It!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #161: “Tell The Story Challenge”

mystery

I was challenged by Kristian at Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table!

Here’s the post where I was challenged:


Kristian gave her nominees a photo to use for the challenge, and asked us to be as creative as possible and then nominate at least three more bloggers to keep the challenge going.

“The Polka-Dot Umbrella”

I received the polka-dot umbrella, with matching rain boots, for my seventh birthday. I was obsessed with polka-dots for years, and my whole family knew it. It was all I wanted on my clothes, my shoes, and even my room. So far, I’d scored two shirts, an Easter dress, and a fun comforter for my bed. I was already angling for a polka-dot backpack when school started again.

I remember fawning over the American Girl catalog when McKenna was the Girl of the Year, or GOTY, in 2012. I was only three then, and Mom told me I wasn’t quite ready for a doll that cost $115. I circled the umbrella and rain boots a bunch of times, wishing and hoping that American Girl made a girl-sized version. They had a lot of other matching doll-girl things! I was really mad for a while, but learned to enjoy what I had.

It rained the day after my seventh birthday party, and I was so excited. Still hopped up on cake, ice cream, and seeing family, I probably begged Mom twenty times to go outside. She finally relented, but only “when I’d straightened my room and found places for all of my birthday gifts.” I promised to knock out my birthday thank-you notes after playing in the rain, too. That made her smile, and nod. I dashed off to my room. What normally took me an hour, that day it was 20 minutes flat.

Mom stopped doing the dishes, followed me to inspect my room, and then knelt down to me in the hallway.

“Good job, Sarah. I’m impressed. You’re growing up. Seven is a big age, you know.”

“Why’s that, Mom?”

Mom thought for a minute. “Well, you’re starting second grade, and you’re learning new things every day. And, you’ve been such a good help to me with Jackson. I know your dad and I are hard on you sometimes, with straightening your room, and chores, but we’re always proud of you.”

Jackson was my three-year-old brother. He had “special needs” that I didn’t really understand. He could walk with his walker, and was slowly learning to talk. Mom was really worried, a lot, but she always appreciated me helping her. Daddy was really busy with his job, and I heard both of them talking a lot, at night, over “bills” and lots of big numbers and other things. They didn’t yell, but I would hear Mom crying. It made me sad. One time, after Daddy went to bed, I silently went downstairs and just gave Mom a hug. She was at the kitchen table, with papers covering the whole thing. She smiled, wiped her eyes, and whispered, “Thank you, Sarah. I love you. Back to bed, now, okay?”

Mom put a hand on my shoulder. I came back to the real world. “Sarah? Are you okay, honey?”

I hadn’t noticed that my eyes were full of tears. I smiled, put on my brave face, and swallowed the tears. “Yes, Mom. Thank you. I’m happy. I can’t wait to use my new umbrella and rain boots! Polka-dots are so fun!”

Mom straightened and nodded. “Put on your raincoat, too. Okay? You can go up and down the block for a while. I’ll call for you when it’s time to come inside. Got it?”

I nodded, dashing for the hall closet. Jackson was in his play area near the kitchen, where Mom could keep an eye on him. He cooed and laughed as I put on the purple raincoat, perfect polka-dot rain boots, and got my matching umbrella ready.

“Bye, Mom! Bye, Jackson! I love you!”

“I love you, too, Sarah.”

The rain had slackened, but still drizzling. And it was foggy. I was learning about weather, and how something called temperature helped make fog, and snow, and sleet. A few other people were on the sidewalk. Mrs. Perkins was walking her dog, and I saw my babysitter and her boyfriend under another umbrella.

It made me happy. I loved to play in the rain. A lot of my friends didn’t. They didn’t like getting wet, and especially not muddy. Daddy called me a “diva tomboy,” and I always giggled. I loved everything polka-dots, and unicorns, and glitter, but I also loved getting dirty and running around.

I turned right and skipped down the block, trying to stay on the sidewalk. I loved the puddles, but thought about what Mom always said. “Always look both ways for cars, bikes, and people.”

There was one huge puddle near the corner, where I needed to turn around. I looked both ways first. A car zoomed past. I’m glad I waited. Once it was safe, I splashed as hard as I could. I think all the neighbors could hear my squeal of delight.

My jeans were wet, my new boots were really muddy, and I loved it. I felt free. It was hard to feel that way in the house, a lot. Mom and Daddy were busy, Jackson needed a lot of attention, and I was alone. By myself. I felt left out.

Mom didn’t know that I wanted McKenna so badly, the 2012 Girl of the Year, because I wanted a friend to play with at home. Sure, I had friends, but most of them couldn’t come over to play with me because of Jackson. At least, that’s what they’d said at school.

While I was skipping, splashing, and singing, Mom watched me from the window. She finished the dishes, checked on Jackson, and then rummaged through the top shelf of the hall closet. The one place I couldn’t reach.

She smiled, smoothed the polka-dot birthday wrapping paper on the stack of boxes, and sighed. Sarah earned this gift, she thought.

I was still singing “Fight Song” when Mom heard me squeak inside. For once, I put my new polka-dot umbrella in the stand, took off my new polka-dot boots on the rug with the other shoes, and hung up my wet raincoat on the lowest hook of the coat stand. I felt important now that I was seven. I locked the door, and padded down the hall. I said hi to Jackson, who laughed at my wet hair and jeans, and was saying hi to Mom when I spotted the polka-dot wrapping paper.

“Mom?”

“Hi, honey. Oh, look, there’s another birthday present. Do you want to open it?”

My eyes were as wide as saucers. I had no clue what it could be.

Mom silently cried as I unwrapped McKenna, beautiful, perfect McKenna, and most of her clothes. The last box held the precious umbrella and rain boots, just like mine. I just stared at the kitchen table for what seemed like a really, really long time.

Mom wiped her tears, and hugged my shoulders. “Happy Birthday, Sarah.”

I was in awe. I couldn’t speak. I think my mouth was a big, wide O shape. “This was the best birthday ever, Mom. Thank you. I love you.”

She sighed, trying not to cry again. “You’re welcome, sweetheart. I hope you enjoy McKenna. I know how much you’ve wanted a doll like her.”

I think I was still in shock. “Can I – take McKenna outside?”

Mom smiled, happy to see her oldest child so thrilled. “As long as both of have your polka-dot umbrellas open and polka-dot rain boots on your feet, yes.”

“Yippee! Thank you!”

The last tears sliding down her cheeks, Mom watched as I carefully put McKenna’s boots on, opened her umbrella, and then re-dressed myself in my raincoat, boots, and bigger umbrella. I carefully shuffled my new umbrella in my left hand, and gingerly carried McKenna under my right arm. “Come on, McKenna, let’s go play in the rain! Do you know the words to “Fight Song”? Let’s sing it together!”

Mom picked up Jackson and held him close as she pointed to me and my new friend. He smiled a big smile, and clapped his hands.

He giggled. “Sarah.”

“Jackson? What did you say?”

“Sarah.” He pointed to the window. “And – doll.”

Mom hugged him. “Oh, Jackson, sweet boy. You’re talking! Yes, that’s Sarah and her new doll! What a smart boy!”

“Sarah. Doll. Happy.”

Mom started crying again, overjoyed. She couldn’t wait to share the good news. I had a new friend, and Jackson was finally talking.

The girl-sized polka-dot boots and umbrella are too small for me now. But, they proudly sit on top of my dresser, right next to McKenna. I don’t “play” with her much any more, but I still have everything from my seventh birthday. It’s one birthday I know I’ll remember forever.


Thank you so much for the nomination, Kristian! I really enjoyed this challenge!


Nominees:

  1. Didi Oviatt
  2. Jenna at Bookmark Your Thoughts
  3. Destiny at Howling Libraries

Here is your photo:

Image result for nature scenes


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #67: “Small Town”

I found this book at a thrift store in Florida in May of this year, for $1.50. Why it took me so long to read it, and finish it, I don’t know. But, overall, I enjoyed this book. Lawrence Block was a new name to me, but what captured my attention was the setting – New York City. I’m a sucker for books set in the Big Apple!

Originally, it took me a while to read more than two chapters per night. Block’s writing is so incredibly detailed, and the cast of characters is extensive. His chapters are meaty, but mighty. I told a group on Facebook that this is a good thriller, but if you’re not a fan of sex, violence, and profanity, I would avoid this book. Those three things are very prevalent in this one!

I liked this book, for the most part. It’s not my favorite thriller in the whole world, but I liked the structure of the story, and how the title is so fitting. Despite several heavy subject matters – It’s set in 2002, so that gives you an idea of the circumstances in New York City – the characters were constantly engaging. Each character was unique. Also, one of the main focuses is on a published author, and seeing the process of a book deal in a fictional story was really cool to see. I enjoyed following the author’s story, and the saga he’s involved with.

I could have seen less graphic sex, and the violence was definitely unsettling. But, it’s a thriller. And Block accomplished that with his writing.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂