Monday, August 17, 2020

Review: 1st to Die (Women's Murder Club Series #1) by James Patterson

1st to Die (Women's Murder Club, #1)

The first of the Women's Murder Club pulled me in from the beginning, and it happens to be the first book by James Patterson that I've ever read. This is an easy book to listen to while I'm multitasking on other thoughtless activities because there aren't many details that absolutely have to be remembered to enjoy or understand the story as a whole. In other words, there isn't a lot of depth to the plot or the characters. It's a mindless story, which surprises me somewhat considering how popular James Patterson is as an author.

As James Tivendale, another Goodreads user and book reviewer, put it in his review, "I tend to read Patterson's books when I don't want my brain to work that hard. 1st to Die fits that bill perfectly." He is absolutely right.

While I loved the idea of a Murder Club, as opposed to the book clubs that typically catch my attention, and that the club consists of four women in jobs that typically work closely together on crimes, I was not keen on the fact that none of the women were all that "real." The journalist, Cindy Thomas from the San Francisco Chronicle, is portrayed as a stereotypical drama queen. Lindsay Boxer, a homicide detective for the San Francisco Police Department, had a health scare that seemed to only be included to give the character a personal crisis to handle while trying to track down a possible serial killer. The district attorney, Yuki Castellano (token Asian and Italian name/character?), was not memorable - perhaps those were the sections where my mind had wandered to something else. Claire Washburn, the medical examiner, is the token best friend and confidant for the main character. Why is it always the medical examiner that serves as the token confidant and wise person in crime dramas?

All the fluff of "you go girl" kind of attitudes left me cringing and wondering if Patterson just wrote this for the sake of writing this kind of story, or if he really does actually know how to write strong female characters.

I don't typically like reading the first book of a series because it's such a commitment if I end up liking them and there are so many other books I'd prefer to read. This particular series has 20 books, which is why I chose to read it because it fits the 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge Advanced prompt of "A book from a series with more than 20 books."

In the end, this book accomplished its purpose for me - checking off a reading prompt. I am 100% okay with not continuing to read the rest of the books.

I recommend this to those who enjoy mindless reads, shallow characters, and fluffy plots. This is perfect for a beach read.

Review: 1st to Die by James Patterson
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Suzanne Toren
Published: November 1, 2005 by Hachette Audio
Dates Read: August 12-17, 2020

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Reading Challenge: 2020 Audiobook Challenge late than never to officially post and sign up for the 2020 Audiobook Challenge hosted by Hot Listens and Caffeinated Reviewer. This year officially marks the 4th year that I've participated in this challenge, and every year I have a stronger appreciation for the audiobook because without it, I wouldn't digest nearly as many books as I would like.

As I mentioned in last year's signup post, I used to be anti-audiobook because it felt like cheating and like I wasn't truly reading. Once I got past that and realized that I was still absorbing the same information, it became a real challenge for me in the sense that it's a competition for myself.

I enjoy trying to outdo myself and now that I've been doing this challenge for a few years now, it's amazing to see how my listening habits have evolved over the years.

There are seven Achievement Levels:
  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multitasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
  • Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+
In 2017, I was the Stenographer because I listened to 15 books.
In 2018, I surpassed my personal goal of 15 books, and achieved the Binge Listener level by listening to 24 audiobooks.
In 2019, my goal was 25 books (Binge Listener), and I surpassed that by listening to 34 books pushing me into the My Precious level.
My 2020 Goal: 30 books to reach My Precious level again. I may increase it to 50 at some point considering I've listened to 22 books so far this year (thank you COVID-19).

Are you interested in signing up for this challenge? Head on over to Caffeinated Reviewer's link up post where you'll also find the rules. You do not need to be a blogger to join - you can link up using your Goodreads, Facebook, LibraryThing or other account.

Happy Listening!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Poem: She's More

She's more than meets the eye
She's more than your preconceived notions
She’s more than the one awake at night
                watching over her child(ren)
                                She worked so hard to have
                or staring out the window
                                Wondering when she’ll be next
She’s more than the one declining invitations
                to the baby showers
                                to avoid the painful reminders
She’s more than the one always on the sidelines
                watching others catch her dreams
She’s more than the one trying so hard to be whole on the outside
while she’s cracking from within
She’s more than the one who wants to scream from the rooftops
and tell the world her story
but instead, she sobs
into her husband’s chest
while he’s hurting too, and doesn’t weep with her
because “big boys don’t cry”
She’s more than the one who feels punched in the heart
                every time there’s a pregnancy announcement
She’s more than the one who crumbles
                every time the pregnancy test is negative
                and her feed is full of positives
She’s more than the one who’s constantly wondering if she’s worthy
of the love society says she should have
the love of parents (a status she wants so badly to have)
of partners (who leave because she can’t make them parents)
of children she doesn’t even know if she wants
and if that decision is because of infertility, or not
She’s more than the one waking up at 2am
from the nightmare that her surrogate would change her mind
the one staying up late rereading tips
                                on how to get pregnant for the 1767th time
or trying to figure out ways to pay
                                for the treatments, adoption fees, surrogacy
                wishing people wouldn’t be so hurtful
She’s more than the one crying (again)
                that her surrogate did change her mind
or that yet another embryo transfer didn’t take
or that her husband left her because he couldn’t handle it anymore
and(or) he found someone to finally make him a father
She’s more than the one putting on a brave face
                in public
                in the face of the news that it’s actually her husband who is infertile
She’s more than the one wondering
                why her body is unable to do the one miraculous thing it’s built to do
                                carry a child – make another human
                when people will stop invading her privacy
                                with silly questions
                “are you pregnant yet?”
                                Are you smart yet?
                “when are you having kids?”
please drop the “when”
                “when are you starting a family?”
Um, my partner and I are already a family…
“you’re not a real family until you have kids”
                See above answer.
“what do you mean you’re not? (pregnant, having kids)
                Uh, “no” is an option…
                “it’s your responsibility to raise the next generation!”
                                Really? Says who?
                “what’s taking you so long?”
                                Oh, so many things…
                “trying to get pregnant is the fun part!”
                                Obviously you’ve never really tried to pregnant
                                Or have a functioning uterus
She’s more than the one who’s lost friendships
                because they simply don’t understand
                yet she’s been welcomed into a sisterhood of those who do

She's more than all of the bad days.
She's more than the battles, the fights, the tears, the pain.
She's more than the distance between her and her partner.
She's more than the obstacles.
She's more than the decision to pursue motherhood.
She's more than the decision to not pursue motherhood.

She’s more than the negative:

She's the one who still hopes
                amidst the questions, the doctor’s visits, the endless tests,
                the pain, fear, and broken dreams
                the weight gain, needles, and heartbreak
She’s the one building others up
                because she knows what it’s like to be down
She’s the one breaking glass ceilings
                and floors
                and walls
                breaking the silence to show that there’s no shame in this struggle
and somehow manages to lead by example…
She’s the one who practices
                self-care and self-love
                to maintain her own mental sanity
She’s the one who has the strength to say no
because she knows when
she needs to say yes to herself
yes to her family
She’s the one who politely exits a conversation
                about periods, pregnancy, families
so others can save face
she doesn’t need to be rude
they don't know
She’s the one who loves with all her heart
even when she’s not feeling so loved herself
She’s the one who learns to own her truth
and discovers her worth,
stands up for what
and who she believes in
She’s the one who uses her pain to her advantage
to treat others with compassion
because she knows that behind that smiling face
are years of heartbreak
and some of the strongest people
She may have crashed and burned
                and then rose from the ashes
                a member of a club no one ever wanted to join
                yet proud to represent the strength and love
                of an infertility warrior