J-Dub’s Review of “Change of Heart” by Jodi Picoult

I think Jodi Picoult always does a fantastic job researching her work and making fiction feel more like non-fiction. Her stories are ripped from the headlines. They touch on sensitive subjects which usually cause heated debate. “Change of Heart” is no different. I won’t spoil it by giving away too much. This book has been out some time reducing the ability for spoilers anyway.

Death row inmates, double murder, the jury system, child in need of transplant, medical ethics, priest questioning his faith, child abuse, single female lawyer with disapproving mother … anyone of those stories could stand alone. My one and only critique is sometimes too much is packed into a single book. The subplots can be distracting.

I read this book faster than appears. I had another book which had an earlier due date so I started, stopped and started again. A quick pace, kept my interest the entire time. Packs an emotional punch which makes reading the book worthwhile even if you disagree with some of the points made.

I rated 4 of 5 stars.  Goodreads is 3.93.


J-Dub’s Review of “Baby Teeth” by Zoje Stage

The novel “Baby Teeth” by Zoje Stage was the September book club selection of the month for Shaefer’s Sippers.  The method to select is automated via library search engine.  We’ve now read three books in a row about mothers and their child/children.  Someone asked for a change of pace.  D is going to add different criteria for October.  Personally I could go for some lighthearted comedy with tons of cursing dropped in.

I was all prepared for the been there done that sameness.  However this book took a most sinister path.  I am not sure what it says about me that I enjoyed this book.  Mostly because the book let me escape.  No matter how awful things get around here we are not as hard up as these people.  Am I awful?  Or am I using self preservation?  Not that I feel good about someone else’s misfortune.  I DON’T!

Moving along to the actual review … no spoilers from me.

The book is written in alternating chapters from the POV of Suzette (mommy) and Hanna (daughter).  Starts in the middle and doesn’t really end.  The pace was quick enough in that I finished in less than a week.

Entertainment Weekly got it right in saying this book is “We Need To Talk About Kevin Meets Gone Girl Meets the Omen”. I could just picture this sprite little girl who is vastly different on the inside than her appearances let on. More confirmation for me than ever that you never really know anyone. Even more confirmation that we can’t change some facets of ourselves.  The whole nature versus nurture debate again.

My take is that we are all predisposed to be a certain way and the catalyst can be either innate or external.  We are all a mystery. Chilling when the seed is bad.

The book had no true ending. That is my only critique. Not sure what I wanted to happen but I was left feeling hopeless … almost as if redemption was not even a remote possibility for squirrel y girl.

Goodreads rating is 3.64.  I rated as 4 stars but wish I could give 1/2 stars as I might of rated 3.5 with this one.  Recommended read though for anyone who enjoys the psychological thriller.

J-Dub’s Review of “The Perfect Mother”

A few days ago I finished the Schaefer Public Library Book Club selection for August – “The Perfect Mother” by Aimee Molloy.  I will give my usual ramble.  Not really a review because on my misstep regarding “We Need to Talk About Kevin”.  I spoiled that book for a very irate person and I have gone to extremes to never do that again.

I really wanted to like this book … “The Perfect Mother”.  Though my kids are adults, I remember what it felt like to be a new mom.  I assumed I would stroll down memory lane which being thrilled by the scenes.  Alas, that was not the case.  This book tried to do way too much.  In the story, we had every cliche out there.

The chapters were titled by dates and most started with the mommy newsletter.  Trite and irritating.  I won’t name character names because basically they are all interchangeable.

Mysterious main character mommy.  She is “friends” with perfect mommy with perfect doting husband but baby not reaching milestones.  Another mommy with stereotypical do nothing husband.  The mommy with a secret which includes being the cause of a politician’s career ender.  We have single parent mommy.  Stay-at- home dad who tries to fit in.  Mommy who’s child was stillborn.  Typical mothers-in-law and moms to moms.  We have both a teacher and a doctor who took advantage of young girls.  Tragically sad.  We have someone talking to themselves in much like the book/movie “Gone Girl”.  Nothing original and nothing surprising in what is supposed to be a psychological thriller.

The typical negative feedback from those who know grammar.  The stuff I miss since I must read stream of consciousness too.  Repeating dialog that is not wrong but unnecessary and other assorted faux pas.  Goodreads gives the book 3.54 stars.  I gave it 3 stars which was generous.  Two stars was probably more fitting.

As always, more to come.

J-Dub’s Review of “Good Luck With That” by Kristan Higgins

I quoted many a line from this book before I even finished reading.  Once I was done, I gave a resounding FIVE stars!!!!!  Then I went through and read some of the Goodreads reviews.  My oh my there are two sides to every story.  Or maybe more like three or four sides or as many sides as there are people.  Ugh!  Will I be a sheep and change my vote?

High level without spoilers this is a story of friendship with a romantic underlying theme.  Childhood friends (Georgia, Marley and Emerson) who met at fat camp are reunited years later in tragedy.  Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.  The story continues on dealing with grief and intersecting back in time and present day.  These girls want to be skinny and have boyfriends.  But oh there is much more to life.  They just don’t know it.  Chapters are titled by the character’s name who is expressing her POV.  Emerson’s journal entries are sprinkled throughout.  Basically this book attempts to take a good hard look at societal views of beauty and relationships – familial, friends, and other types.

I guess I am shifting my verdict somewhat.  Kelly and the Book Boar offered “However, that’s not how it was and they were all fucked up due to their families and apparently fat people can’t just be fat without superbadawfuls so like I said get pissed if you want because that was sort of grating.”  And then I thought with a critical mind.  She’s freaking right.  Society judges – when you’re fat you must have been hurt badly for surely you’d be thin otherwise.  And one explanation that the book offers for Emerson’s morbid obesity is sadly true from some.  There is however no universal truth.

Still I think what drew me in for the gut punch was how much I related to the females who led this story.  In fact they could be several someones I know very well.  These imaginary characters became my friends.  Then I realized my empathy was anything but and in fact I think my feelings bordered on pity and no one wants that.  I cried at times.  Of course I laughed too.  

The book is really long but I made it all the way.  I recommend you read it too if chick lit is your thang.  Not thing … your thang … lol

Before I go, here are a few more gems:

“The look that said fat was worse than hateful or dishonest or cruel”

“I was awash with guilt, the curse of the Catholics”

“You could take the Catholic out of the girl but not the superstition”

“People asked me why I left the law. For hugs I said”

“There was no reason to dress up for reading.  Books didn’t care.  Books were just happy to be read”

Goodreads 4.14 of 5 stars … fickle Jill is still staying with her 5. Any book that brings the emotions out – laughter or tears is worthy of five stars.  The emotions get me every time.

As always, more to come.

It’s Not Our Fault

… really?  yes!  Really …

give em a frame of context Jilly.

This is a book club review.  But first a word from our sponsor.  Me …

I hate the blame game – abhor it actually.  A major pet peeve.  Accountability is key!  Of course I have taken accountability to an extreme.  I blame myself for everything.  I am RESPONSIBLE!  Well me and the makers of Aquanet.  Hole in the zone … from too much hair spray in the 80s …  That was us!!

But I digress.

I just finished reading “the Obesity Code, Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss” by Jason Fung.  Now what makes me think his advice is any better than another.  I mean weight loss is a billion dollar enterprise.  And as always, everyone has an opinion.  The so called experts often contradict each other … more often than not.  Again I sit with analysis paralysis. What I do know is time is required.  No magic or hocus pocus. And why do I like Jason?  Because he tells us it’s not our fault.

I think back about my diet from my younger days when I was stick thin.  Food was an after thought.  I never ate breakfast that I can recall.  Lunch was the bread part of my sandwich, a bag of chips, and piece of fruit.  And always ate a sensible dinner which back in the 70s consisted of some kind of meat, potatoes and canned vegetable. At every single meal we had bread and butter.  When I didn’t like the meat option which was often, I ate bread and butter.  Bread of the Rainbow or Buttercrust variety.  And the butter was really Parkay – oleo.  The crappy artificial stuff.

Why was I not fat???  Was it because I walked everywhere?  Played outside until the street lights came on?  Jason says no.  It’s not about calories in and out.  We need to eat the right calories (and enough of them) at the correct time.  Re-set our thermostats.  And I have a bridge to sell ya.  Or not.

Jason’s answer is intermittent fasting.  He maintains we’ve been told what to eat but not when.  His idea is simple.  Nothing processed and no snacks.  Three meals is enough people.  Grandma had it right.  Snacking makes us fat.  Mindless eating when we are not even hungry.

At the very end of the book Jason gives us two seven day meal plans around a 24 or 36 hour fast.  I will try the 24 hour variety since it most resembles my childhood eating pattern.  Every night I will eat today’s version of a home cooked sensible dinner.  Breakfast will be every other day and of the petite variety like the French.  Lunch will also be every other day.  Homemade goodness.  I think I can do this!

Might sound like another scam.  Too good to be true.  And what do I care about love handles anyway.  Enough body shaming.  This is about health.  Even if I do not drop a single lb. I hope my symptoms will subside.


JDub’s Review of “Never Tell” by Lisa Gardner

A mystery suspense story told in alternating chapters named for the person providing her POV.

D.D. The detective

Flora the confidential informer

Evie the suspect

With lots of interesting minor characters mixed in. Fast pace, hard to put down, my first … this is #10 in a series. I’ll definitely read more from Lisa Gardner.

Did Evie do it? You’ll have to read it to see. I give a solid 4 ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️. Goodreads rating 4.2.

As always more to come.

J-Dub’s Review of “a spark of light” by Jodi Picoult

Before I start, I’m taking a detour.  I assumed I had read most if not all of Jodi’s books.  The jacket of “a spark of light” contained the list of all her works to include two YA novels I had not heard of until now.  I’m only 1/2 way through her list which I moved to my Goodreads TBR queue.  I am giddy with anticipation.

Now for the review which will contain zero spoilers.

This story primarily takes place in a single day with some references to events before and after which serve to provide understand of the characters motives.  In reverse chronological order, we tick back hour by hour to the beginning.

What she typically does with flair and fashion is provide both sides of a debatable subject without judgment.  Always diligently researched, she presents just the facts jack.  Then we, the readers get to decide.

This novel is an example of ripped from the headlines with a contemporary subject matter but not sensationalized for rating.  Packs an emotional punch with characters I could relate to in a very intimate way.  Not because I experienced same but because some things are simply universal.  What it means to be a woman in today’s society.  Choices and consequences.

I filled up my common place book with quotes.  I gave this book a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.  The Goodreads rating is 3.67.  I am in the minority of liking this book. Still I suggest you read and see for yourself.

As always, more to come.

J-Dub’s Review of “Beautiful Bad: A Novel” by Annie Ward

The story was alright until the awful ending. Real life doesn’t work that way. Or maybe it does? While I know this is fiction, but the ending seemed far fetched with no closure. In the tradition of “Gone Girl”

I did enjoy the work backwards chronological telling until the day of … the after the day of read like a post script. Nice going. For that I rated 3 stars ✨ This book has 3.7 stars ✨ on Goodreads. There’s worse ways to spend your time.

As always more to come.

J-Dub’s Review of “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng

From the jacket – Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

No spoilers.  Plots and sub-plots.  Haves and have nots. Putting on facade for others.  Lost dreams.  Choices.  It’s all in there.  Despite the ending being a little too unrealistic (can’t explain more or I’d spoil it), I enjoyed this book and rated it 4 of 5 stars.  Goodreads over rating is 4.12 as of 6/2/19.  Okay, now I am really done. 🙂

As always, more to come.