What Can I Read to Understand More About Black Lives Matter?

“Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of colour to deal with it. It’s up to all of us – Black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out.” – Michelle Obama

You’ve seen the protests, you’ve heard the news, and you’ve formed your own opinions. But there’s always room for you (and me) to learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement, how America got to this point, and where we expect to head in the future. The following books can help us broaden our perspectives and enlighten our communities. There is SO much more material available, but these five are a great starting place…

Author: Ijeoma Oluo

(4.52 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Nonfiction / Race / Social Justice / Politics

Publication Date: January 16, 2018, by Seal Press

An honest conversations about race and racism including how to have tough but constructive conversations about everything from police brutality to racist jokes. Ijeoma Oluo is a Seattle-based author whose work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Elle, The Guardian, and more.

Author: Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele

(4.51 Stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Nonfiction / Memoir / Race / Social Justice

Publication Date: January 16, 2018, by St. Martin’s Press

NY Times bestseller Khan-Cullors’ memoir about being raised as a black woman in America who eventually also becomes the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement along with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. Patrisse Khan-Cullors is an artist, public speaker, Fulbright scholar, and a freedom-fighter from L.A.

Author: Robin Diangelo

(4.51 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Nonfiction / Race / Social Justice / Politics

Publication Date: June 26, 2018, by Beacon Press

An exploration of the phenomenon of white fragility characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, guilt that result in defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, and how those moves can prevent meaningful dialogue across the races. Diangelo is an author, lecturer, and trainer on issues of racial and social justice.

Author: Angie Thomas

(4.51 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Young Adult / Social Justice / Contemporary

Publication Date: February 28, 2017, by Balzer + Bray

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter strikes an uneasy balance between her own poor neighborhood and the fancy prep school where she attends school. When her childhood best friend is shot and killed by police, his death becomes a national headline, divides a community, and could put Starr personally in danger. Angie Thomas is a bestselling, award-winning author, former teen rapper, and creative writer who was born and raised in Mississippi.

Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates

(4.38 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Nonfiction / Race / Memoir

Publication Date: July 14, 2015 by Spiegel & Grau

In an extended letter to his fifteen-year-old, Coates puts readers inside a dad’s honest and heartfelt conversation with his son about racism’s direct affect on people who look like them. Coates explores the past, confronts the present, and offers a vision for the future. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and is an award-winning author living in New York City.

Into the Wild

=> “Alaska has long been a magnet for dreamers and misfits,… The bush is an unforgiving place, however, that cares nothing for hope or longing.” -Into the Wild<=

Author: Jon Krakauer

(3.98 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Nonfiction / Biography

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: 2015, Anchor Books

Pages: 215

#IntotheWild #ChrisMcCandless #AlaskanWilderness

No longer would he answer to Chris McCandless; he was now Alexander Supertramp, master of his own destiny.

Who has come and taken over my body?! I don’t know what’s happening folks, but my first completely finished non-ARC, print book of 2020 is… wait for it… a NONFICTION BIOGRAPHY! What the heck is happening here?

Chalk it up to Goodreads. I casually scrolled by a review of this book months ago and the reader/reviewer made it sound so interesting. Why was this kid out there? Where was his family? What happened to him?
It’s one of the things I love most about reading – a mystery, only this one is real. Here’s the book blurb:

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

Chris was good at almost everything he ever tried…, which made him supremely overconfident.

Walt McCandless

Let’s just get the obvious out of the way, Chris doesn’t make it out of the Alaskan bush. He dies. That’s not a spoiler – it says it right on the back of the book. Now, I have my own personal opinions about what kind of person Chris “Alex Supertramp” McCandless was, but I have to make it clear that what happened to him is a tragedy and I feel so sad for his family. Chris was a dreamer, but his dream ultimately didn’t end the way he intended.

I really appreciate the way that Jon Krakauer approached telling this story. He focused on Chris’s unique personality, his connections to his family and few friends, and the events in his life that prompted him to make his fateful journey into the Alaskan wilderness. Krakauer opens readers’ eyes to the nature and character of a young man who wanted a life outside of the rat race; something different, something… other.

It is impossible to know what murky convergence of chromosomal matter, parent-child dynamics, and alignment of the cosmos was responsible, but Christopher Johnson McCandless came into the world with unusual gifts and a will not easily deflected from its trajectory.

If you appreciate biographies or if you’ve ever heard of Chris McCandless and want to know more about him and his abbreviated life, this book will provide that insight. While what happened to him is sad, Krakauer takes a methodical and practical look at his journey across North America, the people he met along the way, and how he positively impacted each of them. It all makes sense in the end. From his initial escape from the status quo to his haunting final photograph, Chris Mccandless will be one of the most enigmatic people you will ever read about.

Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer is an American writer and mountaineer, well-known for outdoor and mountain-climbing writing.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

“People like you must create. If you don’t create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society.” –Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Author: Maria Semple

(3.90 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Humor / Mystery

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: August 14, 2012, Back Bay Books

Pages: 326 (Paperback)


Just because it’s complicated, just because you think you can’t ever know everything about another person, it doesn’t mean you can’t try.

Trust is not an easy thing for an adult. For kids, it’s much, much easier, and that makes me nostalgic for the days when the most I had to worry about was beating my cousin to the mixing bowl after my aunt made a cake. If only “adulting” was that easy.

Bernadette Fox knows exactly what I’m talking about. The social pressures, the parental pressures, the marital pressures, ugh! The pressure of it all! I don’t blame her for developing a few cracks in her foundation. I think we all have a few more than we care to admit to anyone else. But this book is about Bernadette’s cracks, so let’s read the blurb…

When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.

For the past twenty years I’ve been in training for overwintering at the South Pole! I knew I was up to something.

OK, solid confession coming up… I have had this book on my shelves and on my TBR for years a long time now. And although I have had the best intentions toward this book and its very talented author, it only jumped to the top of the list because the movie just recently hit theaters. Hey, every book selection has to have a trigger, right?

Anyway, I finally shuffled through my paperbacks bookshelf and fished this little gem out from behind China Rich Girlfriend, Night Circus, Ready Player One, and A Man Called Ove – all of which are waiting patiently for me to crack their covers as well. But whether it was perfect timing for the movie debut, or just perfect timing in my life, Bernadette gave me everything I needed and a lot of what I never expected.

I wished I’d never made the connection about Dad being a gigantic girl, because once you realize something like that, it’s hard to go back.

When authors try to write humor into a novel, it doesn’t always hit the mark. Sometimes it’s a little stiff, sometimes it’s a little forced (that’s what she said! Sorry, couldn’t help it). But the way that Maria Semple writes Bernadette, she’s hilarious even when she’s not trying to be. Especially when she’s not trying to be! Her writing is smart and not fussy. I’m normally a relatively slow reader, but I found myself racing through these pages as if the story would get away from me if I stopped reading.

And while Bernadette is the focus, everyone around her is so fleshed out and defined, it’s like you really know these people. Audrey is that one intense PTA member. Bee is your daughter’s friend who dresses weird but has an IQ of 10 gillion. And Elgin is that man that you always wonder about when you pass him on your daily commute – what does he do? where does he go? why is he talking to himself? When all of these personalities come together in this epistolary novel, let’s just say that it’s no mystery that Bernadette wants to escape!

And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on YOU to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.

So, yes, I have plans to make it to the theater to see the movie, although I can’t imagine it could be any better than the one that played in my head as I read this novel – no offense, Ms. Blanchett. After that, maybe there’ll be a trigger for Siddhartha or The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye. <Sigh> My poor, poor TBR…

Click to see the movie trailer for Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Maria Semple

Maria Keogh Semple is an American novelist and screenwriter. She is the author of This One Is Mine, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and Today Will Be Different. Her television credits include Beverly Hills, 90210, Mad About You, Saturday Night Live, Arrested Development, Suddenly Susan, and Ellen. – MariaSemple.com

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

⇒ “It’s really a paradise on earth, if paradise for you smells of paper and paste.” –The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Berkley Publishers, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author: Abbi Waxman

(3.95 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Women’s Lit / Romance / Humor

Format: Kindle Edition

Publication Date: July 9, 2019, by Berkley

Pages: 352

#TheBookishLifeofNinaHill #BookishLife #NinaHill

…she thought of books as medication and sanctuary and the source of all good things.

What a smart, funny book! It’s a romance, but the “love stuff” is surprisingly detached from the principal story, not saturated into every chapter. The Bookish Life... is simply about a woman and her love of literature and trivia. Nina Hill seems like a fairly normal bookstore employee. She reads, a lot. She knows trivia, a lot. And she talks to her cat, the normal amount.

In public Nina was a quiet, reserved person; in private she was an all-singing, all-dancing cavalcade of light and motion.

Things start to get a little abnormal when single child Nina discovers that her estranged father has passed away and left her an inheritance and a large extended family as well. Add that discovery to an unexpected mutual attraction to a fellow trivia buff who always smells like sawdust (what? sawdust is sexy!), and you have the formula for a series of events that threatens to uproot Nina from her quiet, introverted existence.

Book nerds are daredevils, as you know.

This book has everything: rowdy relatives, a talking cat, flying cupcakes, and Mephistopheles. But if you’re thinking that it sounds like that makes it an utterly ridiculous story, you’d be utterly wrong! Bookish Life is a witty and well-rounded book that left me laughing, commiserating, and then, at the end, wishing that I knew Nina Hill irl. This book earned every one of the five stars I gave it.

Trust people with your truth, and bravely tell them you’re not brave at all.

Read the first chapter here: First Chapter

Buy it here:

Abbi Waxman

Hi there. I’m a chocolate loving, dog loving writer living in Los Angeles. I sit down if I can, and lie down whenever possible. If you enjoy my book and would like a personalized, signed bookplate to go in it, email me your name and address and I’ll send you one! abbi@amplecat.com

Waiting for Tom Hanks

⇒”… true love sometimes involved a little bit of light stalking and a lot of encouragement from Rosie O’Donnell.”⇐

My fourth #Julybrary book this month is Waiting for Tom Hanks. So far, my library picks have been excellent – well, three out of four ain’t bad. I hope my Julybrary challenge inspires other readers to use their public libraries more often. Using mine has certainly saved me both money and bookshelf space!

Author: Kerry Winfrey

(3.55 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Romance / Humor

Published June 11, 2019by Berkley

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288

#WaitingforTomHanks #Julybrary

My Tom Hanks is out there, and I’m not going to settle until I find him.

Before I got old(-ish) and cynical and jaded (yes, all of those), I was a hope-ful romantic. I just knew that fairy tales do come true and that relationships actually could have happily ever afters. Then I had my first boyfriend and realized that boys are jerks. I tell you, fourth grade is very traumatic.

But before that, believing in romance was fun. It was not unlike believing in Santa or the tooth fairy – there’s a certain magic to it. Waiting for Tom Hanks revives that magic in a perfectly-paced love story (set in snow) where the characters are totally sold-out on love.

Blurb: Annie is twenty-seven years old, single, and obsessed with romantic comedies (she and her mother watched them religiously, before her mom died). Her dating life is limited by the expectations she’s formed from these movies. She is not as open to new experiences as she might be, because she’s waiting for her Tom Hanks–i.e., a guy she’ll find in the perfect, meet-cute romantic comedy way. When Annie does finally meet her perfect match, it’s not quite in the way she expected, and she’s forced to reckon with the walls she’s built around herself over the years.

There’s a part of me that needs to see a world where everything works out for the best, where people are together forever, or where Tom Hanks can destroy someone’s business but they fall in love anyway.

Waiting… made me happy in so many ways. 1. It’s the perfect summer read for a quiet weekend or a lazy morning in the beach. 2. Its characters are instantly familiar and funny. 3. It’s a love story that isn’t set in New York (imagine that!) And 4. It’s both devoted to romance and charmingly irreverent of it all at the same time.

My current jaded nature makes me appreciate that last point the most. Author Kerry Winfrey has penned an entirely clichéd romance novel, made fun of it, doubled down on it, and then made me love it. It’s perfect. You know what you’re going to get, but the way Winfrey delivers it is so satisfying and fun. It almost made me forget my misanthropic tendencies. Almost.

Read the first chapter of Waiting for Tom Hanks.

Kerry Winfrey

Kerry Winfrey is the author of Love and Other Alien Experiences and Things Jolie Needs to Do Before She Bites It. She’s written for many websites, including HelloGiggles. She lives with her husband, baby, and dog in the middle of Ohio.

#Julybrary Challenge & The Furious Hours

I’m celebrating libraries this month with 31 days of #Julybrary reads!

One of my favorite days in elementary school was the day our class went to the library! The promise of a new adventure and new characters inside the pages of a borrowed book was such an exciting prospect.

Even now, just entering the library gives me flutters of excitement. And not just because of all the books. Libraries offer so many programs these days, community outreaches, group games, STEM projects, crafting lessons, and more. Plus, never forget the amazing library book sales!

So, in July, I thought I would celebrate my local county libraries and libraries in general by picking out all of my July books from their stacks. And I used a great library tool to line up books for my whole month – the library hold! In June, I added some new release titles to my request list and waited patiently. By July 1st, I was getting notifications to pick up some excellent reads.

Following are the titles I requested, received, and have already started enjoying for my Julybrary challenge:

Furious Hours by Casey Cep

After the End by Clare Mackintosh

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper

Waiting for Tom Hanks

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

My first #Julybrary book is the audiobook version of Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

Author: Casey Cep

(3.89 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Nonfiction / True Crime / Biography

Published May 7, 2019by Random House Audio Publishing Group

Format: Audiobook

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)


…the people of Coosa County kept wondering and worrying—not just about what Willie Maxwell had done, but about whether he was done doing it.

Unpopular opinion alert! This did not live up to my expectations.
It was well researched, layered, and fact-heavy. But it wasn’t the true crime-focused thriller I felt was represented in the blurb. The crimes of Willie Maxwell served as more of a long-winded introduction to a biography of Harper Lee, which the author was obviously more interested in sharing.

If you’re into bios, you’ll really enjoy this brazen peek behind the curtains of this famous author’s life. But, if you’re like me, and picked this book up because of the lure of a gritty Alabama true crime story, you’ll only have the length of the front portion of the book to enjoy it.

Casey Cep

Casey Cep is a writer from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her first book Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee was an instant New York Times bestseller, and comes recommended by David Grann, Helen Macdonald, and Michael Lewis. Cep graduated from Harvard College, then earned an M.Phil. at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Her work has appeared in The New YorkerThe New York Times, and The New Republic, among many other publications.

My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies, #2)

⇒Reader, don’t think for a minute that this is anything like the Jane Eyre your English-Lit teacher made you read. ⇐

Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

(3.80 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Historical Fiction / Retellings / Romance / YA

Format: Hardcover, Owlcrate Edition

Publish Date: June, 2018 by HarperCollins

Pages: 450

#MyPlainJane #TheLadyJanies

‘I am no one special,’ Jane said. ‘I am just a girl. I can see ghosts, yes, but it has only ever brought me trouble!’

Jane Eyre

Whenever a group of friends gets together to create anything, there’s a certain type of magic that happens. Things get weird, they get messy, and they get magical. I can only imagine that that’s how this process went when these three authors came together to write this second book in their Lady Janies series. And clearly, at least one of them has as much love for The Princess Bride as I do. As you wish.

Here is the Goodreads summary: You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!) Or does she? Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

Charlotte had always known Jane to be a kind, thoughtful sort of person. Even when she was committing murder, she was thinking of others.

Reader, you will be fully immersed in this story. You will be addressed, redressed, and made as much a character as the actual characters. So much so, I was surprised to not have been handed a kettle and asked to prepare tea. No, seriously, there’s a lot of tea-making in this book (but not a lot of bathroom-going. Wonder how that works?).

How do you feel about being made a part of the story? If you’re an immersive-type reader (like I am) it can tend to be a little jarring. Yes, yes, I know my introvert is showing! Pardon me while I tuck it back in and continue…

A shudder made its way down Charlotte’s spine. There was nothing so disturbing to her as an overdue book. Possible fines. It was very scary.

Good luck to anyone who is able to pin down the exact genre for this book. Sci-fi / YA / Romance? Historic / Humor / Fantasy? Mystery / Paranormal / Retellings? Yes, yes, and yes. And add whatever else you want to throw in there – it’ll probably fit.

And I don’t mention that to make story seem unfocused. It’s not that at all. It just covers a whole lot of ground and stretches itself across the gamut of literature – past and present. Like a little ghost action with your romance? Fancy a little mystery with your historical fiction? Want a dash of comedy in your YA? My Plain Jane‘s gotcha covered. It’s the buffet of book genres!

Jane sighed. ‘You’ve been around ghosts your whole life- er- afterlife. What are you afraid of?’ Helen shook her head. ‘I think it might be haunted by the living.’

Jane Eyre and Helen Burns

Any reader worth their salt will be able to pick out tons of pop culture and political references. Got a book club? Make a drinking game out of it. Or, if I didn’t want to encourage underage drinking, I’d say offer a gift card to Target for whoever finds the most. Yes, do that one, YA audience. 🙂

This is definitely not your 9th grade literature class’s version of Jane Eyre. (Phew! But love you Ms. Willoughby!) So don’t go into it thinking that you’ll have to translate imagery and determine the ultimate meaning of Mr. Rochester’s moodiness. (You’d never guess!) Just expect the unexpected and you’ll have a good time with this book, their previous title, My Lady Jane, and their upcoming 2020 title, My Calamity Jane.

Ashton, Hand, & Meadows

Authors of the New York Times bestselling novel My Lady Jane, who met in 2012 on a book tour. They’re friends. They’re writers. They’re fixing history by rewriting one sad story at a time. (-bio adapted from cover)

The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare, #6)

⇒Hijacks, hijinks, and hot stuff in Hawaii.⇐

Authors: Janet Evanovich & Peter Evanovich

(3.70 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Humor

Format: Audible Audiobook

Publish Date: May 7, 2019, by G. P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Audio)

Pages: 320 (Hardcover & Kindle Versions)

#TheBigKahuna #BigKahuna

Everyone should have one of those series on their reading lists. You know the ones, light-hearted, funny, crazy unbelievable antics, with a kooky cast of characters that immediately separate you from the real world. I never take those books for granted because, after all, that is why I read books in the first place.

The Big Kahuna is a humorous, adventurous escape from my laundry, list of chores, 9-5 (7:30-4:00), and the seemingly endless taxi-ing of my daughter to/from soccer and friends’ houses. The series is funny, smart, sexy, and a great way to spend a few hours away from the reality of adulting.

From Goodreads: A stoner, an Instagram model, a Czech oligarch, and a missing unicorn. Nick Fox and Kate O’Hare have their work cut out for them in their weirdest, wildest adventure yet in this latest entry in the New York Times bestselling series by Janet and Peter Evanovich. Straight arrow FBI Agent Kate O’Hare always plays by the rules. Charming Con Man Nicholas Fox makes them up as he goes along. She thinks he’s nothing but a scoundrel. He thinks she just needs to lighten up. They’re working together to tackle the out-of-bounds cases ordinary FBI agents can’t touch. And, their relationship? Well, there hasn’t been so much explosive chemistry since Nitro was introduced to Glycerin.
Next on the docket: The mysterious disappearance of the Silicon Valley billionaire, known as the Big Kahuna. Kate’s been assigned to find him but no one seems particularly keen on helping. His twenty-six year old adult actress wife-turned Instagram model wife and his shady Czech business partner are more interested in gaining control of his company. For that they need a dead body not a living Kahuna.
The only lead they have is the Kahuna’s drop-out son, who’s living the dream in Hawaii – if your dream is starting your day with the perfect wave and ending it with a big bowl of weed. To get close to the Kahuna’s son, Kate and Nick go undercover as a married couple in the big wave, bohemian, surfer community of Paia, Maui. Living a laid back, hippy-dippy lifestyle isn’t exactly in Kate’s wheelhouse, but the only thing more horrifying is setting up house with Nick Fox, even if he does look pretty gnarly on a longboard. If they don’t catch a break soon, waves aren’t the only thing she’s going to be shredding (or bedding).

So, we’ve established that it’s funny, its adventurous, and also more than a little kooky and unrealistic. No problem with any of those aspects. The one gripe I have with this books – and others in this series – is that, let’s be honest, isn’t it kind of aggravating when the characters spout out all this knowledge that they just have stored in their brains about the most obscure things. I mean, come on! No one just retains data about the length and width of some random canyon in the back woods of a barely pronounceable island in the most remote part of Hawaii you can find. It’s really OK just to say its long and wide; I’m not gonna test you on that later. Thanks.

Despite all the Trivial Pursuit-style fact-dropping, its an enjoyable trip (for us, maybe not so much the characters!) with 1,000 different twists and turns that keep you guessing throughout. And we even get the satisfaction of a healthy dose of romantic energy between the main characters, Kate and Nick!

Let this book wrap around all your angst and anxiety and strip them away, along with all your anger and responsibility. The Big Kahuna is a fun little book that doesn’t take itself too seriously, so neither should you!

Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

The Bone Farm (and some series spotlights)

⇒This week I review Dean Koontz’s The Bone Farm and shine a spotlight on some of the other book series I’m addicted to.⇐

Author: Dean Koontz

(3.76 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Published April 25, 2018by Brilliance Audio

Format: Audiobook

Narrator: Elisabeth Rodgers

Pages: 100

#TheBoneFarm #JaneHawk

Let me say first that if you are looking for a series to get invested in, Dean Koontz has some wonderful, easy reads that will keep you on a series train for a nice, pleasant (tense, suspenseful, thrilling, sometimes scary) ride. The Bone Farm is book #0.5 (a case file that precedes the events of the Jane Hawk series), and is every bit as engaging as its older, bigger siblings. But if death-defying females aren’t your thing (hmm, who are you?), then you could try any of Koontz’s other appealing series: Odd Thomas, 9 books that will have you seeing death in a whole new light; Frankenstein, a new look at an old monster in 6 books; or Moonlight Bay, 3 books (2 pub & 1 on the way) that will test if you can survive the darkness of night. I’ve read all of Odd Thomas (love, love, love) and Moonlight Bay (well, not book 3 because it isn’t out yet (and may actually never happen). And I read Prodigal Son of his Frankenstein series last year (sooooo good). Dean Koontz has yet to disappoint me.

But let me back up a little and give you the Goodreads blurb on The Bone Farm:

Katherine Haskell, a young college co-ed is on her way back to school, but she never makes it there. Instead, she becomes the latest prey of the rapist and murderer dubbed by the tabloids the “Mother Hater.” He is a twisted soul who kidnaps young girls for pleasure then discards them. Katherine is missing, but she’s not yet dead. FBI agents Jane Hawk and her partner Gary Burkett must descend into the hell of this killer’s mind to solve the case before it is too late. The question is – will they both get out alive?

This novella is presented as a case file which only hypes me up that there will be more of these – oh book gods, please don’t fail us on this one. The bad guy is bat$&!# cuckoo, Jane is smart and ruthless, there’s a controlling mother, and an old creepy farm house – I’m here for ALL of it!!!! I almost wrote a spoiler right there because I got excited, but stopped myself right in time. Y’all lucked out. But just know, it gets twisty and good!

The Bone Farm is part of the Jane Hawk series, which includes 6 other books to date. The series features a strong heroine in an all-out battle against a new world order. The books are suspenseful, thrilling, and addictive. In a word, readthem. (I know, I know. Just do it.)

So since we’re talking about series, I thought I’d spotlight just a few of the other series that I have followed unfailingly over the years. Most of them are in my preferred genre of mystery/thrillers, but there are a few deviants in the bunch. And you might be surprised by what you won’t find on my list: namely, Harry Potter. (No shade! I just haven’t read them!)

Pendergast Series

One of my longest-standing series, I got hooked on Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child’s series featuring the enigmatic Aloysius X.L. Pendergast from the very first book, Relic (read the book, skip the movie) – even though he was only a supporting character way back then. The authors obviously saw something in him and took off running with his story, and it has been a favorite ever since.

Stephanie Plum Series

Many readers will own up to the fact that they have at least one numbered (or alphabetical) series on their reading list. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is mine. She just released book #25 last year and Twisted Twenty-Six is expected in November 2019. These books are cozy crime fiction with hilarious characters that become as familiar as your own family members. I don’t care if this series goes to 200, I am never not going to read a Stephanie Plum book. And oh, by the way, #teamRanger.

Jack Reacher Series

Please, please, please do me a favor and tell me that you did not watch the movies that were supposed to depict this character. And if you did, just forget all that you saw. This Jack Reacher – The REAL Jack Reacher (yes, he’s real to me) – is bigger than life and yet can disappear at a moment’s notice (just thought about that – Sasquatch tendencies? Hmmm…). He is such a fascinating personality with such an amazing skill set (think Taken, but with a brilliant, powerful, Matrix-like Army drifter). Reacher is BIG and BRAWNY, but he is not beautiful. He’s a brawler that doesn’t want to fight unless he has to. And then he’s deadly.

Crazy Rich Asians is a new series for me. I only started reading it because I saw that the movie was releasing soon and I happened to find the first book on the shelf at my neighborhood Goodwill store (where I buy most of my books). After I read it, I went back and found the other two there as well (I have some very generous, good-taste readers in my area, apparently)! I love the humor of this series, as well as the way they sneak social commentary into the text without being preachy or judgy. (It’s a word!)


4MK Thriller series by J.D. Barker

(The 3rd book may release in 2019 – fingers crossed)

Illuminae Files series by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

(I’ve reviewed all of these and I wish it wasn’t over!)

Archie Seridan & Gretchen Lowell series by Chelsea Cain

(A sadistic female serial killer. Nuff said.)

Court series by Sarah J. Maas

(YA romance with faeries. Yep.)

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

(Seriously, these are as good as – or even better than – the HBO show)

So if you’re a dedicated series reader, stick with it because series = goals! And if you haven’t found a series you love yet, keep looking – there’s a perfect succession of books out there just waiting to be discovered. Happy Reading!