meg says read this, Read This, Uncategorized

Read This: The Woman In Cabin 10

Recently I read a mystery book that I had really been looking forward to. Unfortunately, I was totally let down when I finally got my hands on a copy. So, I was a bit apprehensive when I checked out Ruth Ware’s The Woman In Cabin 10 last week. Though really, I shouldn’t have been because when have Reese Witherspoon’s recommendations led me astray?
So, here we go. The Woman In Cabin 10. Read it, right now, if you haven’t already.

I read this in less than 24 hours. It’s a page turner, it’s exciting, Ware’s writing is great. This was exactly the type of mystery I was looking for. The story begins with Lo in her apartment in England, being awoken by her cat who keeps nudging her. Of course, she tried to sleep it off…until she heard a noise. (If you’re a restless sleeper because of everything that “goes bump in the night,” then this is probably your worst nightmare.) The noise wasn’t just the refrigerator or the air conditioner or some banal house sound, it was an intruder. The physical harm the intruder caused was minimal, but the psychological damage was much more than Lo lets on to her coworkers, boyfriend, neighbors, police, etc. Of course, who could blame her? It was a violation of her privacy, and she was trapped in her own home, and her cell phone was stolen. So! That was a bit of a jarring opener to Lo’s story. Amidst the whole, get all her credit cards sorted, and a new phone, calling locksmiths, and all the other unpleasantries that go along with being robbed – we find out that Lo was prepping for a big gig for her journalism job with a travel magazine that would hopefully open doors for her to climb up the industry ladder. With Lo’s boss in the hospital, she’s supposed to fill in as a guest – taking a cruise on a luxury liner, and reporting back all the details, and hopefully schmoozing some advertising deals with fellow passengers in the process. With Lo’s luck running a bit amuck lately, of course everything doesn’t go quite as planned. Ruth Ware writes intently. It’s easily to imagine Lo’s surroundings, how she’s dressed, whether the person she’s conversing with is a snobby jerk, etc. You’d think maybe with a story that opens with a burglary, that’s where the mystery would be…think again. Ten cabins on this ship, and not everyone is accounted for at the first dinner. Dun, dun, dun.

With recent thrillers like Gone Girl or The Girl On the Train maybe you’re wondering as a reader, is Lo a reliable narrator? Well, that’s up to you to read and find out.

Who’s the woman in cabin 10? Does Lo have reason to be suspicious of her fellow passengers? An ex-flame? Her boyfriend who’s off on a work trip (what’s their status anyway?)

I love that Ruth Ware doesn’t belittle the reader. I hate when we’re clonked over our heads with repeated facts, and the dots are connected so cleanly way before a story is wrapped up, as if not to give readers a chance to speculate their own theories – she does the opposite.

If you’re looking for a book you won’t be able to put down, something original that will keep you guessing, with a great plot and interesting characters – I say give this one a try! I enjoyed this one so much that I immediately texted two friends who’d read it so we could chat. Then of course, I recommended it to a lot of people, and of course had to post here. Now I’m thinking that I’ll need to read Ruth Ware’s other novels as well! Have you read The Woamn in Cabin 10? What did you think, did it meet your expectations? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

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Read This: Talking As Fast As I Can

A few weekends ago, I finally got my hands on a copy of Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast As I Can. I was really excited to read this one. Of course, I loved her as Lorelai Gilmore on Gilmore Girls and Sarah Braverman on Parenthood, and in anything else I’ve been able to watch her in. When I’ve read interviews, she seems so personable and real. I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine parts of her own personality come shining through her characters in certain moments. Since middle school (yeah, I named characters in my short stories for English class Lorelai,) I’ve admired her. We know she’s an incredible actress but she’s also a phenomenal writer. I thought about this a lot while trying to figure out how to put into words the way reading her book made me feel. Lauren Graham’s writing is like sitting on your best friend’s bed in one of those just absolute down in the dumps moments, and knowing there’s not another single place you could be that would provide that level of comfort. (You know, the ultimate look of understanding your pain even if there aren’t any words for it? And how there’s a spot just for your head on their shoulder while they listen to you cry, or tell an angry story, or whatever it might be, and the way their pillows seem so much fluffier and better than yours in that second because you’re just not alone?) Lauren Graham being real about her own struggles is so refreshing to read. But the thing is – she’s not complaining, it’s just life, and she’s just putting it out there. She worked her ass off for any piece of success that has come her way, but the cool thing is – she didn’t do it for the success per say – it sounds like she carefully picked projects where she felt connected to the characters and wanted to invest in something beautiful with the cast. How wonderful is that? I firmly believe this book found me very specifically at the time that it did (or I found it, and I’m not just saying that because I was cooped up in the house for the weekend feeling gross not being able to shower for almost 60 hours) because when I reached the hundredth page, there’s a passage that spoke to me so loudly it brought tears to my eyes and I re-read it a few times. I wouldn’t normally include an excerpt, but I am sure there are others out there that may need to read this right now:

Because here’s the thing: I was fine on my own, and so are you. But it can be hard when you feel ready for Happy Couplehood and you seem to have missed the train. As my friend Oliver Platt used to say to me about hopes and dreams I’d share with him: “It’s coming, just not on your time frame.” I find this a helpful reminder in any number of ways: not only when you’re hoping to meet someone, but also when you’re waiting for a better job or some relief during a bleak time. When Peter and I held hands that night all those years ago, I had no idea we’d end up shopping at REI together one day. It might have been nice if he could have turned to me and said: “Look, tonight isn’t the right time, but we’re going to leave here and learn a bunch of things that are going to make this work approximately five years from now – see you then!” But life doesn’t often spell things out for you or give you what you want exactly when you want it, otherwise it wouldn’t be called life, it would be called vending machine.

It’s hard to say exactly when it will happen, and it’s true that whatever you’re after may not drop down the moment you spend all your quarters, but someday soon a train is coming. In fact, it may already be on the way. You just don’t know it yet.

I’m not going to lie, I desperately needed to read that. The last six months have tried my sanity and strength so hard, and that was the most appropriate reminder. Reading can be a portal to escape, but it can also be a bridge of understanding between author and reader and that quiet whisper of, “I know.” Don’t get me wrong though, you don’t have to be in the throws of a life crisis to appreciate this book. Aside from Graham’s words of wisdom on timing in life, she also has great anecdotes of friendship, and quirky stories that will make you laugh out loud. Plus, I think she gives good advice about acknowledging the time we have with people we hold dear, and not taking it for granted. She shares parts of her own journey, which I think is important because she didn’t wake up one day as the star of a TV series that ran for seven years, without putting in work to get there. (And she had her own series of disappointments and speed bumps on the way.) Beyond that, she’s like your cool older sister reminding you not to waste time on people who treat you like crap. Obviously, easier said than done but it never hurts to remind people of having positive self-worth, and not to settle. Somehow she conveys all this with a gentle subtlety, and firmness. One of those where if it were in person, you know you’d be disappointed in yourself if you didn’t heed the advice. Plus, any Gilmore Girls fan will love the insight into the re-boot. I’m telling you, if you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you appreciate the little things – read this.

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Meg Says Read This: All the Light We Cannot See

18143977 There’s a reason All the Light We Cannot See won a Pulitzer Prize. It took me a few weeks to work my way through this one. In early January, one afternoon it was a surprise waiting for me in the mailbox from one of my favorite teachers. Over the weekend I was bound and determined to find out how this story wrapped up. Sometimes while reading, I had to take breaks because my stomach was in knots and my thoughts would wander (not out of boredom, quite the opposite – this book gave me so much to think about.) The story alternates view points, and points in time throughout the novel, later adding on to the character’s perspectives you’re seeing through, and eventually (as may have been expected), intertwining these character’s lives. There is so much to digest here, so much to take away. We have Marie-Laure a young blind girl living in occupied France during WWII. Marie-Laure’s father Daniel LeBlanc is a locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. You have orphan Werner Pfennig living in a children’s home in Germany with his sister Jutta, with their kind care taker Frau Elena. As you can imagine in war-time, all of these character’s locations change and their stories expand and they encounter more people who become essential to their stories. I’m intentionally being vague because I would hate to ruin the beautiful way this story unravels. I think some of the key points I was reminded of is the way art, music, books, and imagination can be threads of hope in the darkest of times. I was reminded that although we know what’s right and wrong, people who do bad things, are still capable of doing good things. Recently, I saw a tweet that said “Historically, ‘I was only following orders’ has not been a solid defense.” How true this is, and some people only come to the realization after so much damage is done. Friendship can sprout from curious places. Fear makes people do evil things. It’s never wrong to do the right thing, even if it means you’re going against the current. Doing the right thing takes a tremendous amount of courage sometimes. People can be very impressionable, it’s important to remember to think for yourself and not be a follower. We have a responsibility to maintain a knowledge of the past, so we don’t repeat history’s mistakes. This story tugged on my heart strings, and these characters will stay with me for years to come. If you haven’t read this novel yet, I highly recommend you do so immediately.

meg says read this

Meg Says Read This: Bare Bones

51yuw-gupvl-_sx329_bo1204203200_If you follow me on any form of social media, my Bobby Bones interest is pretty evident. They don’t broadcast the morning show where I live now, but I still listen to clips. Even more than that – I am absolutely hooked on the Bobby Cast podcast where he interviews different artists (musicians, songwriters, etc.) It’s always about the stories, or to get a little VH1 on you guys, the stories behind the stories. I love to learn what makes people tick, what events set in motion all the things that brought someone to where they are, I want to hear their climbs and stumbles, but also their passions. When you talk to someone who is passionate about anything, that drive and interest just pours out of them in a beautiful way. (At this point you’re probably wondering what I’m rambling on about, but hold on a sec.) All of this to say, Bobby Bones is propelled by stories – his own and the stories of others. That’s exactly why his new book Bare Bones: I’m Not Lonely If You’re Reading this Book is so dang wonderful. Bobby has always been open and real on the radio show, but it was really interesting to get the stories of his life in chronological order. (You learn about Bobby’s life, growing up in Arkansas. His mom got pregnant with him at 15, and had him at 16. His dad was only around for a few years. He had a sweet grandma that definitely did what she could to take care of him. He worked really hard in school, and tried to surround himself by positive influences. He talks about the way his childhood has affected his ability to open up in relationships. He shares how his background lets him to connect with people.) And my word…the obstacles he has overcome in life to get where he is? The drive he had to make something of his life, from such a young age? It’s inspiring. I’m an emotional reader (obviously,) but I’ll admit I had to pause sometimes while reading to let the weight of his words sink in. (Also, maybe to get it together and stop crying.) Sure there are definitely some pretty sad parts to this book, but it’s life and it’s real and it’s gritty. At the end I don’t think you’re going to walk away saying “man, I wish I didn’t read that book I’m so sad now.” Because you’ll laugh, out loud. You’ll be reminded how important it is to keep going and learn from mistakes. And you’ll probably take a closer look at your own relationships. It’s a real reminder about the lifelines of friendships, how big of a difference the little things make. When I was reading it, I was reminded that we all come to the table with our own battles and scars we’ve been carrying and they shape us, but they also allow us to connect with others on a deeper level. You never know what someone else is carrying. Sometimes the people who make us laugh the hardest,  have the heaviest hearts. You just don’t know – but that’s what’s so important about sharing our stories. So if you haven’t yet, read this book. Laugh a little, cry a little, appreciate everything.

(Image via Amazon.)

 

meg says read this, Uncategorized

Meg Says Read This: Between Shades of Gray

51fa0mhsovl-_sx331_bo1204203200_I have had a fascination with realistic historical fiction books since I was a little girl reading the Dear America series. Anything involving the 1940’s, and World War 2  particularly peaks my interest. A few years ago I read Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, and I knew that it would be a rare thing for me to find similar novels that left an impression on me the way these did. Since I try to keep up with the buzz in the YA world, I was aware of Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray, but I wasn’t sure if I was emotionally prepared for the read. Well, about  a month ago after reading a variety of different subject matter (such as The Hopefuls, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend) I stumbled upon BSoG at the library and figured why not give it a try? Oh my goodness, what a treat. Between Shades of Gray tells a really beautiful story of one girl’s struggle to hold on to hope, in the face of such horrifically dark and trying times. Lina is young, intelligent, inquisitive, and her sharp tongue speaks of her brutal observations (though sometimes she is able to restrain herself). The fact that that she shares her story through the eyes of an artist, provides a beautiful angle to the icy events. There are several references to flashbacks of simpler times, girls days shopping with her mom, the joy of splashes in a lake in the moonlight, laughing til your stomach hurts, ice cream on a hot summer day, the comfort of a hot cooked meal around a dinner table with family. They’re all reminders of sweet moments we might take for granted in our everyday lives. These people didn’t expect for their worlds to be torn apart overnight, separated from family, some to never be seen again, and uncertain fates. While the subject matter is incredibly heavy there’s a way that Lina’s perspective gives your heart wings while you’re reading. Her strength and persistence lets readers emotions rise above the despair while reading. This novel is superb and I can’t recommend it enough. This is one of those stories that my heart felt like it was shattering while I was reading it, and I definitely shed some tears, but there was also the light of hope picking me back up again.

I will shamefully admit that prior to reading Between Shades of Gray, I had really limited knowledge about Stalin’s deportation of Lithuania and the Baltics during the Russian invasion. This novel pushed me to start researching after I finished, and I was surprised to find that there is still so little communicated from these people that were sent away to work camps and prisons for years, and if they did return to their homes only to find that they were occupied by soldiers who had assumed their identities?! And the fact that they were threatened if they were to speak out against what happened to them? It’s another reminder how important it is to learn from our past, and not let the same atrocities be committed again.

(Image from Amazon.)