Book Review: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

7-1-2-deaths-of-evelyn-hardcastleTitle: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle 
Author: Stuart Turton
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: February 8, 2018
Pages: 432
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: January 14, 2020

Goodreads Description: “Gosford Park” meets “Groundhog Day” by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you’ll read this year.

Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

My Review: Note: This review may include some spoilers! This book was picked by a member of my book club for our group to read. It had been on my TBR for more than a year, so I was excited to finally pick it up.

7 ½ Deaths has a strong beginning. The reader is immediately thrown into an intense situation. A few members of my book club were disappointed that it started with the main character having amnesia, as the concept of an unreliable narrator seems to be overdone lately. However, what I found interesting about the main character having amnesia was that he didn’t just seem to not know the people or scene around him, but he didn’t even recognize his own body. That made me think that maybe it was not his own body. And that my friends was the first of a few twists and turns in this book. The main character is forced to relive the same day 8 times in 8 different bodies to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle.

This book definitely had an Agatha Christie feel (house full of suspicious characters where a murder takes place) mixed with a bit of the fantastical like in the Netflix series Black Mirror. If you read any interviews or bios about the author, he is a huge video gamer, and this book felt very much like video game, where you have 8 lives to complete the mission.

I desperately wanted the answers to all my many questions like: Why was the main character, Aidan, being forced to solve this mystery? Who is Aidan, since he is not any of the bodies that he inhabits? Who does murder Evelyn Hardcastle? Is she murdered? With this need to have my questions answered, I read through to the very end, but I cannot say that I enjoyed the trip. There were so many characters (most of them not very redeemable characters) and the time hopping got a bit frustrating at times. One book club member dislikes time travel in books due to causality issues. I feel that there were a few of those issues in this book. About halfway through the book I really stopped caring about what was happening. I just wanted to get to the end. Even Aidan, in one of the end scenes, states, “Everything is a clutter – too many days, too many conversations.” He is not wrong.

By the time I got to the end, I was not quite sure how I wanted the mystery to play out or if I even cared. There were some twists at the end that I did not see coming, but that did not make up for the effort it took to get there. This book while incredibly unique is very involved and was just felt very meh to me.

Those who have read this, how did you feel about this book? How did you feel about the ending – particularly about Anna and Aidan leaving the past in the past and deciding to have a future together?

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: The 5 Love Languages

123456Title: The 5 Love Languages
Author: Gary Chapman
Genre: Nonfiction Self-Help
Publisher: Northfield Publishing
Publication Date: January 1, 1990
Pages: 204 pages
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: January 9, 2020

Goodreads Description: Couples who understand each other’s love language hold a priceless advantage in the quest for love that lasts a lifetime — they know how to effectively and consistently make each other feel truly and deeply loved. That gift never fades away.

My Review: After years of counseling couples and talking with people about their relationships (both good relationships and bad relationships), the author, Gary Chapman, derived a concept on how to build strong relationships and marriages. This concept is the understanding of what he deems the five love languages. The five love languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

I was curious about this book, because even though it is 30 years old, I still keep hearing about it on a regular basis. Plus, I am always looking for books that can help me strengthen my personal relationships.

The first step in utilizing this concept is understanding your own love languages. I admit that the more examples I read of each of the love languages the more I believed my love language was a bit of everything, so taking the free online quiz was really helpful. Apparently “Words of Affirmation” is my love language and then all the rest are pretty closely tied. A big tip I got out of this book is that we often treat others through our own love language and not their love language. Since I like to feel appreciated through complimentary words, I may speak those positive words and compliment my partner all the time and be frustrated when I don’t receive those words. Turns out my partner’s love language may not be the same as mine, so those words hold a different meaning for my partner than they do for me.

The second step and one that isn’t really addressed too much in the book is convincing your partner to also take the quiz. Yes, I could guess what my partner’s love language is, but I could be wrong. Taking the quiz prevents that error and will give further insight. It just may not be that easy to convince your partner to take the time to do that.

The third step is realizing what you want in a relationship based on your love language(s), and then also treating your partner the way that he/she wants to be treated based on his/her love language(s). Gary Chapman covers many case studies related to all the different love languages that can help those wanting to do things based on their partner’s love language(s). He helps us think a bit outside the box, when our partner may not be helpful in providing examples or expectations. However, if this is a concept that you really want to work on, it should be a team effort – you and your partner should both be investing time to meet each other needs. If you are finding it difficult to do that even once you know each other’s love language(s), that is when it might be useful to accept some outside help. Marriage/relationship counseling can be very useful.

Gary Chapman made a comment in the book that really moved me into action with this concept when he stated that there are “tremendous benefits to meeting the emotional needs of your spouse”.  If you listen to podcasts, the podcast By the Book discussed this book. They decided to live by this book for two weeks with their spouses and discovered many realizations regarding their own behavior and their own needs as well as their spouses. Jolenta made a comment on this podcast episode that this book was about getting over insecurities and putting focus on each other. I like that this book generates revelations, such as this one, to its readers and am not surprised that it continues to be a well-respected book and a well-used method in strengthening relationships.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

WWW Wednesdays – January 22, 2020

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

Currently Reading

Recently Finished

Practice to Deceive by Ann Rule – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell – audiobook = ♦ ♦
Buddy Readalong: Dune by Frank Herbert – book = ♦ ♦ ♦
Spark Joy by Marie Kondo – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Reading Next

What have y’all been reading? Please feel free to comment on these books and/or post your WWW link below!

HAPPY READING!!!

WWW Wednesdays – January 15, 2020

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Winter Reading: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
IRL Book Club Pick: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – ebook = ♦ ♦ ♦
Winter Reading: The Ghosts of Eden Park by Karen Abbott – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦

*My full reviews will be coming soon.*

Reading Next

What have y’all been reading? Please feel free to comment on these books and/or post your WWW link below!

HAPPY READING!!!

WWW Wednesdays – January 8, 2020

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

Happy New Year, everyone! I just returned from an amazing trip to New York City! I packed a lot of fun in that trip but unfortunately did not get to read much. However, I  managed to read 125 books in 2019, which I have never managed before. I think the ability to listen to audiobooks while at work has allowed me read a bit more.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Winter Reading: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦
Winter Reading: Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris – book = ♦ ♦
Winter Reading: The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦

Reading Next

What have y’all been reading? Please feel free to comment on these books and/or post your WWW link below!

HAPPY READING!!!

My Must Read List for 2020

What books do you want to read in 2020? Here is the list of books I would like to read in 2020:

  1. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
  2. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
  3. Furious Hours by Casey Cep
  4. Miss Iceland by Audur Ava Olafsdottir
  5. The Last Book on the Left by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, & Henry Zebrowski
  6. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  7. Copenhagen by Michael Frayn
  8. Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen
  9. Call Me God by Jim Clemente
  10. American Sherlock by Kate Winkler Dawson

HAPPY 2020 READING!!

Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2019

Out of the more than 100 books I read this year, I decided to share my favorites.

Favorite first time reads published prior to 2019:

The Library Book by Susan Orlean (2018)
The Shining by Stephen King (1977)
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (2012)

Favorite reads published in 2019:

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe (2019)
Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark (2019)
Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham (2019)
Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal (2019)
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2019)

Honorable Mentions – Books I reread because I love them:

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (1997-2007)
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)

americanah_book_cover

Favorite read of the year:

 

Americanah (2013)
by
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie