Tag: 3.5 stars

A Good Marriage

 

A Good Marriage
Author: Kimberly McCreight

Published:  May 5, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
Dates Read: July 17-27, 2020

Book Description:

Big Little Lies meets Presumed Innocent in this riveting novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia, in which a woman’s brutal murder reveals the perilous compromises some couples make—and the secrets they keep—in order to stay together.

Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart.

No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes.

The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect.

As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Grace Hall private school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place.

Jessica’s Review:

This was another so-so thriller that had promise. The description is intriguing, but it did not totally deliver for me.  It does show one thing that people do their best to hide: Things are not always how they appear.  You think your friend has a great marriage? You better think otherwise!

We have multiple points of views for this novel: Lizzie who is an attorney, Amanda the murder victim, grand jury testimonies from the night of the murder, and confidential memos. They normally would all be interesting for me, especially the testimonies where people HAD to be there because they were subpoenaed.  It’s all about the secrets people have! 

Amanda was murdered after she attended a ‘special party’ of the wealthy in the area.  This is where secrets are known and what happens upstairs stays there.  Amanda’s husband Zach is arrested for assaulting a police officer after finding her dead, and he is being held under suspicion of Amanda’s murder.  He contacts Lizzie as they were old law school buddies: He wants her only her- and only her- to defend him.

Things are far from what they seem and everyone has many secrets. There is even a little side story of cyber-crime where certain people’s (even their teenager’s) secrets may be exposed. 

I honestly don’t know what this one did not totally intrigue me, as it has everything that usually does work for me. Maybe I am in a ‘thriller slump’ as the last few I read have not worked for me. I do have several more thrillers upcoming that need to be read, and I am hoping maybe one of those will ‘bring me back’ to really enjoying them again. Maybe it was because this was an audiobook and  it just didn’t work well in that format; perhaps this is one that should actually be read. It’s not the book’s fault, it is me in this case.  I would definitely give the author another try.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Maid by Stephanie Land

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive
Author: Stephanie Land

Narrator: Stephanie Land
Published: January 22, 2019
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 17-24, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

“My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.”

While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work–primarily done by women–fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s inequitable society.

While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren’t being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans.

Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes. With this book, she gives voice to the “servant” worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.

Jessica’s Review:

Stephanie Land’s memoir is written and narrated by the author.  I enjoyed that I was really hearing her personal story first hand in her own voice.  Land shows us the hard life of a single mom and the hard work she put in to take care of her daughter.  It also shows how difficult it can be to even get assistance from government programs, let alone to stay on them.

Most of the memoir focuses on her job as a maid and cleaning others’ houses.  It made me think about the people who clean our hotel rooms and that they may experience similar life difficulties.  (I can’t picture maids who clean homes, as we would never be able to afford one!) I hate to say it was ‘enjoyable’ to read about her working in the people’s homes. What I did not like at all was when she described putting on women’s expensive jackets and going through their personal things.  How invasive and wrong! 

The memoir has a happy ending, and I think it was the love of her daughter that kept her going through the very difficult times she faced.  This memoir leaves you thinking about many things, including not judging someone until you have walked in their shoes, which Land lets us do as she shares the story of her life as a maid.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Release Day Review: 13 Billion to One: A Memoir by Randy Rush

13 Billion to One: Winning the $50 Million Lottery Has Its Price
Author: Randy Rush

Published:  Today, June 24, 2020
290 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
Dates Read: June 11-21, 2020

Book Description:

As a welfare kid who grew up in the streets, Randy Rush had to fight for everything he got and knew what it was like to struggle. So, when he was suddenly handed $50 million in tax free money, he vowed to use his new-found wealth to help others. But what he didn’t see coming was Jeremy Crawford.

In his gripping, adrenaline-packed memoir, Rush takes readers on his rocket-fueled journey after a trip to the corner grocer to buy food for his beloved cat, Conway Kitty, leads to the discovery that he has won Canada’s $50 million Lotto Max jackpot.

Soaring on a seemingly endless endorphin high, Rush spends the months following his win traveling, feeding his passion for rare sports cars, considering charitable causes, and splurging on friends — paying off their debts and even giving them a free place to stay in million-dollar homes. But his world comes crashing down when he discovers that Dave Crawford, a man he loved like an older brother and had generously provided for, has served him up to his con artist son, Jeremy — who scams Rush out of nearly $5 million.

Reeling from Dave’s betrayal and fueled by the discovery that the Crawfords are serial con artists who have devastated the lives of more than a hundred others, Rush embarks on a mission to take his adversaries down. But as his quest for justice drags on, his festering rage reaches a boiling point and he is faced with a choice: Let the Crawford’s cons destroy him, or re-focus his attention on doing good in the world and enjoying the enormous gift he has been given.

Jessica’s Review:

A bit of a ‘rags to riches’ story that takes a turn, 13 Billion to One is also a cautionary tale. Yes, we all occasionally buy that lottery ticket and fantasize what it would be like to win. But then we never actually win…. But what happens if you actually DO win?  That was why I wanted to pick up this memoir.  Winning the lottery is not all it is cracked up to be. 

Some of Rush’s circumstances were of his own fault.  He first wanted to not do any investments for a full year after winning. If he had stayed with his first thoughts, he would not have found himself in his circumstances.  He also came off a bit naïve and over the top with some of his early purchases and helping out of his ‘friends’.  So many people came off to him expecting multiple handouts. I get it, you want to help your friends out, but multiple times?  No, that’s taking advantage of his situation and possibly losing your friendship.

I never lost interest in reading this memoir. It was very easy to read, even when it came to the legal issues, and Rush tells us his story first hand.  Despite wanting to try and help Rush learn to say ‘no’ to people and pay attention to the many red herrings that showed up which he ignored, I had little empathy for him.  I did like how he shows us how he did end up using his money for the good of others in another country. 

A very cautionary tale that shows that the love/greed of money is truly evil and how winning the lottery is really not all you might think it may be.

Many thanks to the publisher Rantanna Media for granting me an e-arc to read and review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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