Letters Written in White

Letters Written in White

I’ll say this about Kathryn Perez’s Letters Written in White: it’s a quick read. Other than that, it is not what I expected. Here’s the back cover blurb.

I’m dead.

I’m cold and alone and I’m dead. There’s no air in my lungs. My chest is as cold and hollow as a cave on a snow-capped mountainside. My heart no longer beats there. Frigid winds whistle through my ribs and the sadness inside me weeps like my favorite tree.

Days ago, I met with death face to face. The mirror, our meeting place. My two darkened green eyes stared deeply into hers. I tilted my head to the side. She did too.

“It’s time,” I whispered.

“It’s time,” she whispered.

And with that I turned away from her, the woman in the mirror who knew all of my secrets and all of my pain. I walked away from her and yet we’d never been closer than we were at that moment. The inner struggle was over. No more arguing with the woman in the mirror. No more arguing with myself. The choice was made. She was the victor. Or was I?

That was the day Riah Winter died.

The blurb certainly pulled me in. And, as I mention above, it was a quick read. This book’s biggest strength is in its emotional description. There are several descriptions of depression and some of them were very moving. This one, for example:

You really don’t see death coming until suddenly, in one deeply dark moment, you’re face to face with it. Then, being worn down, exhausted from swimming in an ocean of despair, you drop at Death’s feet and surrender. Like a sander, it wears you down until there’s nothing left to fight it off. Soon your once strong oak exterior is worn down into a meager pile of sawdust.

I wish my husband knew how many times he’s held the dust of me in the palms of his hands, slipping through his fingers.

I could relate to this passage and many others.

But this book has many weaknesses as well. The main one is that I felt like the author had a message she wanted to convey, and so the characters didn’t feel like real people—just as vehicles that convey that message. This meant that while all sorts of sad things were happening, I felt detached from it all. I kept waiting for something more—a twist, maybe?—and didn’t get it.

When a story is more about message than about the characters, that puts more weight on the message. And there is also a certain aspect of the message I found unsettling. I know that’s vague, but I want to avoid spoilers.

Well, there you have it. I was sucked in by the back cover blurb but the book itself was a disappointment. Letters Written in White: 2-1/2 out of 5.

Reading Dilemmas

I am realizing that I don’t read like I used to. Most notably, I’ve stopped reading before bed, so I tend not to do much reading at all. I miss it. I miss discovering new-to-me authors and reading new stories. So I need to figure out how to make time. Maybe I’ll use reading as post-work relaxation.

I’m not entirely fiction free, however. I listen to audiobooks in the car. I enjoy this, but I find myself listening to books I have read and enjoyed. It’s too cost prohibitive to buy an audiobook as a first-time book I want to try. Which is why I want to get back in the habit of reading.

First up is this book.

Letters Written in White

I saw a recommendation from someone on Facebook (can’t remember who). I’m looking forward to jumping in.

Letting Go

I’ll just say it–I’m a book collector. I’ve felt comforted by books, both buying and owning them. I guess I was working with the philosophy that I needed plenty of books to choose from. When I was in college, I would go to a used bookstore a few times a year and come home with a plastic bag full of books. More than a decade later, I had shelves and shelves and shelves of books that I hadn’t read. Still more shelves and shelves with books I called “keepers” because my experience reading them moved me in some way.

Then I started reading ebooks. I started by printing them out and reading them as if they were paperbacks. Then I read PDFs on computer. Eventually, I switched to an ereader. By the time I bought a tablet, I realized something: the books I chose from my TBR pile were most often ebooks. I wasn’t reading much in print any more.

One of the reasons was that I was overwhelmed by print books. When you have more than a thousand to choose from–and I don’t think this is an exaggeration–how do you decide on one? My answer was that I didn’t. I’d choose an ebook instead.

This past month I had a major asthma attack, and that led to more reevaluating. I needed to do something about the books that were doing nothing more than taking up space and collecting dust. That meant tackling the TBR pile and deciding which books I still wanted to keep. It also meant looking at my keeper shelves and asking myself which ones I had really read again in the past five or so years.

All of this has led to the great book sorting.

Book Sorting

It’s still a work in progress, but I’m letting a lot of books go. Hundreds of them. It’s scary, but it feels good too. I don’t want to deal with so much dust. I want to be able to find a book I want to read. I want to share books I don’t need with someone who will use them. So I’m sorting.

And I’m learning to be OK with letting go.

Emerging from the Stone Age

I had so many problems with my Kobo ereader that I took a deep breath and decided to make a change. Bye, ereader. Hello, tablet! Now I can buy from any retailer. If there’s a sale at Amazon? Great. I buy through Amazon. If I want to use a coupon code, I can use Kobo. And either will work on my tablet. Hurray!

I know–I’m way behind the times here. But that’s OK. It still feels good to emerge from the Stone Age.

Reflecting

I decided to check my Bloglovin’ feed for the first time in a week. After I read Wendy’s post about the romance community, I started thinking about my own reasons for disconnecting. It was partly a burnout issue: I simply wasn’t getting the same pleasure I used to from posting reviews. But there was another key component: the community doesn’t feel safe to me anymore and hasn’t for a long time. I’m sorry to hear that other readers are feeling the same way.

I took comfort in the fact that I’m still reading . . . until I tried to remember the last book I read.

. . .

It hasn’t been that long, has it? A few days maybe? No, weeks. Truth is, I’m several books behind in more than one series. I’ve been stuck partway through two books from authors I normally enjoy very much. It’s a little comforting to know that I’m not the only one who hasn’t felt like reading, but I’m still sad about it. I don’t have any answers at the moment. I’m just reflecting on how things have been and how they are now.

The community is different than it was when I started blogging, but I still believe my community is out there. I’ve made some great friends along the way–people I still consider friends even though we don’t have daily contact like we used to. To those people, I say this: you may feel like you are a lone voice, like what you say doesn’t matter. But you matter to me.

I’m gonna go on writing here every now and then. I hope you’ll continue to share your voice too in whatever way you can.

Changing for the Better?

I noticed that J.R. Ward’s Dark Lover has a new cover. The old one is on the left, the new one on the right.

Dark Lover Olddarklovernew

I am willing to concede that the old cover looks a little dated and the image is a little blurry. But it has a really distinct look. I think they could have played with that image a bit to maintain the look while still updating it.

The new one is just so much like so many other covers out there. Plus I don’t really picture Wrath like that.

What are your thoughts about the covers (whether you’ve read the book or not)?

The Party Girl

Party Girl

I picked up Tamara Morgan’s The Party Girl after reading a little about it on Rosario’s blog.

Kendra Khuso isn’t looking for long-term. Her traditional Indian family believes it’s time she settled down with a parent-approved husband. Instead, she’s focused on building her business by day and then enjoying all the nightlife has to offer . . . until she meets Noah.

Noah Walker is happy with a solitary, sustainable life on a plot of land outside of town. He left a high-maintenance relationship behind him and he just wants to keep his head down and his hands busy, living off the grid and making no plans . . . until he falls for Kendra.

The attraction is mutual and their chemistry is electric. There’s just one problem: Noah’s best friend, Lincoln, is head-over-heels in love with Kendra even though she’s keeping him firmly in the friend zone. Noah refuses to break the bro code by pursuing a woman his best friend professes to love—but Kendra is determined to get her man, even if it means giving up the social scene for the simple life.

The main strength of the book is this: Morgan writes good chemistry. Kendra and Noah have a tangible attraction that practically leaps off the page. I loved reading them discuss their attraction and what to do about it in light of Lincoln’s feelings. The way this played out was ultimately very satisfying.

I was super intrigued by the idea of a hero that lived off grid. I was a little disappointed because of his reason why. I won’t go into details to avoid spoilers, but it’s basically in response to a previous relationship. *Sigh.* I realized I was judging the book based on the expectations I had going into it. Once I let those go and enjoyed the book for what it was, I liked it very much. The ending in particular was moving. The Party Girl: 4 out of 5.

Still, if anyone knows about any books where a character goes off grid (and not for some romantic suspensey reason), let me know.

E-Reader Scare

I had a bit of a scare with my e-reader last week. The latest books I bought were not syncing to my reader, and I’ve come to depend on my regular syncing. After doing some research on one of my favorite forums, I ended up uninstalling Kobo Desktop and reinstalling it. Everything transferred over fine, so all is well. It was a rough 24 hours or so, though, until I figured everything out. LOL.

In other news, yes, I’ve got yet another blog design. I was really missing the purple of the original design. I thought about having a new one made with my old image, but I decided that it is a little dated. So, a bit regretfully, I decided to set aside the old image and go with a new design altogether. I’m really liking it so far. Designer Blogs has some great templates for both Blogger and WordPress, so I definitely encourage anyone to check them out.

Take What You Want

Take What You Want

I picked up Jeanette Grey’s Take What You Want after reading Rosario’s review of it, and I’m glad I did. I’ve been reading several angsty new adult books lately. Don’t get me wrong–I like angst–but this turned out to be a sweet story about two nice people who turn a one-night stand into something more.

College senior Ellen Price spends every spare minute studying to get into medical school. Until spring break yawns before her, as empty as her wallet.With no money to hit the beach, she fills her empty to-do list with a plan: for just one week, she will become the kind of take-no-prisoners woman she secretly wishes to be, starting with the hot guy at the bar. It’s a no-risk situation: at the end of break, he’ll head back to his campus, and she’ll go back to hers. No muss, no fuss.At first, Josh Markley isn’t sure what to think when the quiet, intense beauty from his pre-med classes approaches him for a night of casual sex. Even more mystifying, she doesn’t seem to return his recognition. But if she wants to play “strangers in a bar,” he’s game.Their passionate night is a welcome respite from life’s stress, but afterward, Josh realizes he wants more—from himself, from life, from Ellen. Except she still thinks he’s a one-off she’ll never see again. Confessing the truth now—before she figures it out on her own—could shatter the fragile beginnings of just what the doctor ordered. A forever love.

The chemistry between Josh and Ellen is palpable, so their initial encounter is very believable, and this read is plenty steamy. But I also liked their interaction outside the bedroom and the way these two changed for the better because of their relationship. Josh’s interaction with his parents is another aspect I enjoyed. So many new adults have problematic issues with parents, so this positive relationship was quite refreshing.

A couple of things struck me as weird–Ellen asking to meet Josh’s family after just a few days, for instance. But for the most part, I enjoyed Take What You Want: 4 out of 5.

 

Our Little Secret

Our Little Secret

Time for a true crime review of Our Little Secret by Kevin Flynn and Rebecca Lavoie.

For twenty years Daniel Paquette’s murder in New Hampshire went unsolved. It remained a secret between two high school friends until Eric Windhurst’s arrest in 2005. What was revealed was a crime born of adolescent passion between Eric and Daniel’s stepdaughter, Melanie–redefining the meaning of loyalty, justice, and revenge.

I was drawn to this book because I remember the Unsolved Mysteries segment about it. The case seemed so strange and mysterious. The book makes it a lot less mysterious, in part because the back cover reveals who committed the crime. Still, Our Little Secret is an interesting glimpse into how so many people could know what had happened but yet nothing was done about it for so long. Several people had small pieces of the puzzle, and those who actually knew the truth were family members who weren’t about to turn anyone in.

This book is also an interesting glimpse of what happens to a person who does something like this. Neither Eric nor Melanie is able to put it behind them. Eric in particular is weighed down by what he did. And truly, he should be. Whatever Paquette may have done to his stepdaughter–and nothing has been proven there–killing him was not the way to go about resolving it.

Our Little Secret was an engaging read that offered intriguing glimpses into the people involved: 4 out of 5.

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