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review 2020-02-24 20:20
No Place I'd Rather Be
No Place I'd Rather Be - Cathy Lamb

Nah you guys. This was from beginning to end a hodge podge of other of Lamb's works.


A character who is overweight (check) a mysterious family secret that really isn't secret if you have any critical thinking skills (check) a family that has names for all of their food (check) a family that somehow is making the best food or cake ever (check) a woman who is in love with a 6 plus foot man with barely any personality (check) a comment on CPS (check) children who have been abused (check). I liked Lamb's "My Very Best Friend" because she at least moved all parties to Scotland which made things interesting. This was written in 2017 and it just reads so poorly I didn't know what to do with it besides feel aggravated and relieved when I finished. 


I also did not like Olivia, she seems to be a victim of her own worst self at times and I had zero sympathy for her when she had her family and estranged husband ready to help but she was all, my pride, my pride. Don't keep going on about having $8 in your bank account and dealing with a terrible boss when you don't have to! I just...I am pulling my hair right now.


I can't say much about other characters because they are not developed at all. And I swear Olivia's nephew issues reminded me of another book of hers but I was too tired to look it up. 


I also shuddered at the HEA we get cause I have so many comments on it, but will wait until below to discuss in spoilers.



I don't know how familiar the readers are with the recent murder suicide of the Hart family and the many red flags there. I just felt uncomfortable at the thought of Olivia and Jace adopting 7 freaking kids. How are they supposedly giving 7 kids their full attention? Full love? Full care? 


(spoiler show)
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review 2019-10-15 17:07
Book Felt Up and Down While Reading
What I Remember Most - Cathy Lamb

Trigger warning: Depicts incidents of physical abuse of a child


So this one was my least favorite out of my Cathy Lamb reading spree. I think the problem is that the main character (Grenadine) doesn't even sound similar to the headstrong girl and then young adult we hear about via CPS reports and then court proceedings. I think that Lamb didn't think that through enough when she set this up. She wanted I think to have a book about a wife in hiding from her soon to be ex and had a whole story about her past. It didn't help that we also get narratives from an unseen killer in this one and it doesn't take too long to figure out who this may be and why it's important to Grenadine. I also thought the romance was pretty meh. I also loathed, loathed Grenadine's temper and how she talked and threatened people. It wasn't funny or anything like that to me. There's also comments about how she gets grossed out thinking about a woman in that way, but she's fine with lesbians (yeah that happened...twice in this book). All in all I was glad to put this one away. 


"What I Remember Most" follows Grenadine Scotch Wild who is in hiding from her husband Covey. Covey is apparently the head of a similar type Enron business and has tied Grenadine up in his financial shenanigans. Grenadine is trying to hide from Covey and also come up with money to pay her divorce attorney and her possible criminal attorney if the case goes to court. Grenadine has only $500 and her car and the art supplies she took. After being told no in several towns about possible work, Grenadine ends up in the town of Pineridge and gets work at the local bar/restaurant and then eventually at a furniture maker business as well. We also have Grenadine thinking often of the parents she recalls from her memories, but she never saw again after she was 7. 


So Grenadine as a child was all spitfire. I loved the parts showing via other people (police reports, CPS reports, court proceedings) what a fighter she was. Your heart also breaks for her though when you find out how she split through the cracks and eventually was in one foster home after another. She holds onto her art (which seems to be mixed medium collages) through her childhood and adulthood and then marries Covey. This is where Lamb looses me though. We are shown how Grenadine has a good bullshit detector after what she has been though so the Covey thing made zero sense to me. Also I didn't like Grenadine much as an adult living in Pineridge. I thought she was nasty and her temper and remarks to men and women at the bar she was working got old after a while. People saying they come in to watch the show were gross too. How about the owner telling people from the start no harassment of her staff? I guess it was done to make us tee hee about it. I did not. 

I also thought all of Grenadine's relationships were shallow. We just have her eventually meet Cleo and her daughter and then they are calling each other soul sisters. I don't even want to get into that nonsense plot with Cleo cause it didn't even work in the book. I forget though that Lamb always has to have some senseless tragedy though in her works.


Grenadine's love interest Kade was a no go for me. His backstory made zero sense, and the supposed attraction was lame. 


We have the usual case of some of the women and men in this town being eccentric. The thing with the snake guy creeped me out and that's all I am saying about that. 


The writing was okay. I liked the parts actually looking at Grenadine's past and the present stuff was boring. The narratives with the unseen killer could have been edited out. 

The setting of Pineridge seemed like the typical Oregon town that Lamb likes to write about. Everyone knows each other and likes each other and they embrace the eccentricities of all. The police also totally turn a blind eye to crimes if you cook for them or give them pie. I seriously remember this as a thing that happened in "Julia's Chocolates" and something else I am blanking on too.


The ending didn't work for me. I just thought it didn't work. We have Grenadine acting out of character with regard to Covey (no confrontation or anything) and then we have the story go on too long with the reveal of what happened to Grenadine's parents. And then the book just kept going. 

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review 2019-10-15 16:47
Dragged Too Much
The Language of Sisters - Cathy Lamb

Trigger warning: References to rape


So this was just okay to me. I think the biggest reason why I couldn't give it more than 3 stars was that the whole big just got so bogged down in the Russia plot, the sister dealing with a serial killer case (yep) and then the heroine's constant repetitions to herself to keep a secret that I just didn't care in the end about any of the characters after a while. There were some bright spots, but a couple of things that happened stuck in my craw (the outing of two men via video was gross to me and it being hailed as great was not okay) and I just felt myself getting annoyed. Also too many of the characters in this book sounded similar to previous Lamb characters in "Such a Pretty Face" and "If You Could See What I See". I read this immediately after "My Very Best Friend" and felt let down.


"The Language of Sisters" follows Toni Kozlovsky. She and her family immigrated from Germany after escaping from Russia decades earlier. Toni is a crime reporter and has two sisters, Valerie and Ellie. Valerie is a prosecutor and Ellie designs pillows that are sought after. We find out that Valerie is happily married with two children. Ellie is newly engaged to a man that her family finds wanting. And Toni is dealing with a devastating loss. When Toni realizes she can't keep up with writing about crime, she seeks to get a job at a new magazine that will take about people's homes. While dealing with this Toni is fighting to not get into a relationship with one of her neighbors while also remembering her family's past in Russia and the secret she was told to keep by her parents.

Not too much to say here except I found Toni lackluster. Her romance with Nick also sucked. There was nothing there to grab onto. We hear how great he is, but since Lamb only references them sleeping together and him discussing books in a general way with her, I had nothing else to go on. The men in most of Lamb's books tend to not be very developed, and Nick was not. We also have the whole thing with Toni and her sisters able to "talk" to each other in their heads. Toni needed a lot of hand holding and help and I get that with her past everyone was trying, but I thought she needed therapy.

We have the usual eccentric characters in this one though they are all Toni's neighbors on the dock where she lives on her tugboat. And of course her family. I was able to keep the family straight for the most part. Though the twin sisters and them being hyper sexual got old quick. Same with Ellie and her need to breathe in a bag and talk to herself and her heart like a character that did something similar in "Such a Pretty Face." 


The writing was okay, but the story took way too long to be told. The parts going back and forth to her family in Russia took forever to get to and then I was just bored after a while. It takes a while to get to Toni's father and grandfather being taken away and then what befalls the family after that. 

The setting of Oregon was good, we have references to places or people from her other books that was nice to read about. 

The ending was kind of ridiculous (sorry) with the whole serial killer case and the fallout from that. And I thought the trip back to Russia didn't seem quite realistic either, but what do I know, I have never traveled there. 

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review 2019-10-15 16:31
Went on Cathy Lamb Reading Spree
My Very Best Friend - Cathy Lamb

Trigger warning: Rape


Dealing with some repairs at my home since Monday so since Sunday evening I have gone on a Cathy Lamb reading binge. I am also almost done with the two Clare Mackintosh books I have right now as well. I should have just kept up to date with reviews, but honestly hit a wall of not wanting to post any of my reviews. So today I am sucking it up and getting caught up.

First up, "My Very Best Friend." So I read Cathy Lamb years ago. I got annoyed by one of her books so badly though "If You Could See What I See" that I just stopped insta-buying her like I have before. So here's the thing about Lamb, her books are mostly comfort romance reads. Usually the heroine will have a dark past, she will fall for a very tall guy with broad shoulders, they will have hot sex (that won't really be described), someone will die, and then they will still (heroine and hero) have a happy ever after. I am always puzzled by Lamb being considered chick lit though, her subject matters are often not breezy enough to be chick lit.

On another note, I do love it best when her books all tie together though. So in some of her books will be references to the characters in her other books. This one though, I believe stands alone. The main reason why I didn't give this 5 stars though is the book gets quite repetitive towards the last 100 pages when the heroine's very best friend returns. 


"My Very Best Friend" takes place in 1990. The main character, Charlotte Mackintosh is about to return to her childhood home in Scotland. Charlotte and her mother left Scotland after the death of Charlotte's father when she was just 15 and she has stayed in touch with her best friend Bridget through letters. Now that a tenant that was renting her family's cottage has died, and Charlotte's mother is off in South Africa, Charlotte is the only one left to return and see about assessing the cottage and getting it ready for sale. Charlotte is also thinking it's a good time to return to Scotland since she hasn't heard from Bridget in a long time and is worried about her. Charlotte though when she returns finds that the home is in bad shape, she's dealing with an awful case of writer's block, and she is starting to think romantic thoughts about Bridget's brother Toran. 


So "My Very Best Friend" deals with some heavy issues. We have Charlotte still affected by her father's death and her wallowing at times in happier memories of her family and her three best friends, Bridget, Toran, and other childhood friend. The four kids often spent every day together. Charlotte we find out is a scientist, but also secretly writes time travel romance novels and is quite successful. Charlotte has been hit with a case of writer's block though and starts to wonder what is next for her. Charlotte is quite logical and I thought Lamb did a great job of slowly revealing Charlotte's first marriage and the supposed visions from her paternal grandmother about her life. 

Lamb typically includes a group of women that get together in her books and this one is no exception. Charlotte is invited to a group that meets weekly and for the most part everyone is great, except for a narrow minded nasty woman. 


The romance between Charlotte and Toran was a nice slow burn. I thought Lamb did a great job of showing off Toran more than she usually does with the heroes in her book. We get to find out about him via Charlotte's remembrances and also what he tells her. We find out that Toran and Bridget had a excessively religious father who beat them and berated his wife. Toran also provides insight into Bridget who is not in Scotland and that they are both looking for.

Lamb via letters though is where she shows the heart of most of the characters. We have Charlotte's letters to Bridget through the years and Bridget's letters back. We also after a time get to see letters that Bridget wrote to Charlotte and never sent. Those were heart breaking. We find out what drove Bridget from the family home years ago and we find out why Toran is so desperate to find her. I am not going to lie, the last part of this book had me in tears Sunday night. I went through a lot of tissues. 


I thought the flow of the book was pretty good up until we get towards the last 100 pages. I think Lamb got too repetitive (which is always a problem) with going over the same ground via the towns people and how Bridget was her best friend and her very best friend. 

The setting of this book is not typical for Lamb. Usually her books take place in Oregon so it was fun to see her move things from Washington state to Scotland. I was intrigued about Scotland, but didn't see enough things to have me feel it was Scotland except for some dialogue here and there. And also in the attitudes of the village towards the end of the book. 

The ending was bittersweet and I really enjoyed it. 

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review 2019-10-06 19:24
A complex book with an incredibly simple and sound suggestion.
Junglenomics: Nature's Solutions to the World Environment Crisis: a New Paradigm for the 21st Century & Beyond - Simon Lamb

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review, and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this non-fiction book.

I must confess to feeling totally unequal to the task of reviewing this book. I did mention that to the author of the book, who insisted that it would be of interest to authors and to the general public, as well as to economist, and particularly to anybody interesting in preserving the environment and finding new (and workable) ways to do it.

I am not an expert in Evolution, Economics, and/or Environmental Sciences, and this book’s approach uses and builds on elements and concepts of all three, so my opinion is far from a knowledgeable one when it comes to evaluating it. All my comments about this book are, as are all reviews, only an expressional as my personal point of view, and in this case I feel particularly unqualified to make an in-depth analysis, as I lack the knowledge required and cannot debate the nitty-gritty details to be able to either agree or disagree with the research. Don’t get me wrong, the basic idea is easy to grasp, but, as usual, the devil is in the detail.

Junglenomics proposes using Nature’s blueprint —the way ecosystems work— to solve the environmental disaster we’re quickly approaching. The author uses evolutionary theory to illustrate how we have got to where we are, explaining that all species are hungry for resources, and that is a normal evolutionary trait. The fact that Homo Sapiens is more successful at it than the rest of the species in our planet, means that we have exploited and accumulated Earth’s resources beyond the point where Nature itself can counteract our actions and re-establish the balance. Although ecosystems can adjust to increases in one bio product or species in different ways, our disruption of our environment has been so quick and drastic, especially in the last couple of centuries that our recent attempts at redress seem to be too-little/too-late.

The author goes on to analyse both, the situation and the attempts at redress, noticing that most have been piecemeal and lacked in a consistent application, for a variety of reasons, but most of all, because rather than appealing to the market (money makes the world go around, let’s not forget, and Lamb makes a good case for how money came to be what it is, a stand-in for our hunger for resources), and trying to find solutions that make sense from an economic point of view (something that will either produce money or reduce costs, or both), so far the focus has been on penalising and restricting practices that, until now, have resulted in great profit and advancement for the markets. Getting a lot of nations, not only developed ones, but also developing nations (that feel they are bearing the brunt of such policies without any of the benefits Western developed nations had had years to reap) to sign up to agreements is difficult, and enforcing them is near impossible, as we have all seen. Rather than accusations and counter-accusations (and the author discusses in detail the reasons for the difficult relationships between ecologists and economists, but also points at some positive recent trends), a combined effort based on a new perspective and understanding of the issues could be the way forward.

This is a book full of gems and information (some totally new to me, and other that I had only heard about in passing), and although what I’ve said might make it sound as if the text deals only in generalities, nothing is further from the truth. The author looks at all (or most) aspects of the question, from climate change (noticing that there is now an extreme focus on that to the detriment of the rest of the imbalances in the ecosystem equation), to waste management (not only factories but also human and animal), not forgetting the pollution of the seas, and the depletion of certain animal species, to name just a few. He highlights organisations, programmes, schemes, industries, and even countries (Costa Rica gets the gold star) that have found workable solutions to some of the problems, proposes specific ways to deal with issues such as funding (issuing bonds, and he mentions war bonds and the similarities with the situation we are in now), the need to find international organizations to monitor the implementation of such plans, and also, the importance of coordinating the efforts and working together at a supranational level.

I am not sure if I am a sceptical who tries hard to give new (and idealistic) proposals a chance, or I’m a dreamer trying hard to be a sceptical. In any case, as I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but write down many of my ideas and my objections/questions in relation the content, and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that most of them were tackled by the author, who has done much research and has tried to be as even-handed as possible, presenting always the two sides of any argument, and also dealing with the possible criticism and objections. Although his attitude is never complacent and he points out the facts, he does not point the finger of blame at individuals (while he praises those he feels are already applying a Junglenomic-like approach), and despite his realism, he remains optimistic and encouraging.

As I said, I don’t know enough about Economics or Environmental Sciences to offer an informed opinion as to how successful a model Junglenomics would be. It made me think, and at a completely untrained level, the suggestions make sense, although implementing them would be as complicated as the author already envisages. This is clearly a labour of love and much time and effort has gone into the creation of the book and the theoretical/philosophical/practical approach behind it.

Regarding the style of the book, it is not an easy book to read. It is a very ambitious text, and it seems to try to be all things to all people. It does contain some examples and anecdotes to try to make it accessible to all (and it has great quotes in all the chapters), but it also contains tonnes of footnotes, and detailed disquisitions on subjects that are quite specialized, sharing much in common with academic texts (there is an index at the end, and illustrations, charts and diagrams to explain some of the concepts). I kept thinking that a non-expert reader might benefit from more of the examples and stories (we like stories), while if the book is addressed at policy-makers and analysts (both Ecologists and Economists) they wouldn’t necessarily care for the basic explanations. Perhaps two versions, or two separate texts, might achieve both, to reach a wider audience and raise awareness, and to also get into the hands of the people likely to be able to influence policies and induce change. I am sure it would make for a very compelling documentary in the right hands. I’d recommend possible readers to check a sample of the book to decide if they think it would be a good fit for them.

At an anecdotal level, I observed that many of the studies mentioned come from the UK and the European Union (probably down to availability of studies and familiarity with the material, although it does reflect the true situation of the research as well); I wondered about the use of words such as “benign” (it might depend on one’s perspective or definition) and also about the fact that despite trying to be as inclusive and non-Eurocentric as possible, there are topics that are culture-sensitive (the issue of the kinds of animal products used in Chinese Medicine, which he discusses, although I couldn’t help but notice that he uses rabbits as an example of an animal most people would only eat in dire circumstances. I don’t eat any meat, but rabbit is regularly grown for food and eaten in Spain, and I’m sure in other countries as well). I’ve always wondered, when it comes to Ecology, if we can truly observe the ecosystem we’re a part of in any objective manner (we are, indeed, part of the problem, and we know about the observer’s paradox), but…

In summary, this is a book that requires a dedicated reader, keen on digging beyond the surface into the topic of how to save the environment, taking as an example the way ecosystems work (symbiotic relationships in particular) and using sound market strategies. I’ve learned a great deal from it, and I thought I’d leave you with the last quote from the book, a particularly relevant one when it comes to this topic:

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do. Edward Everett Hale

You only need to think of Greta Thunberg (that the author mentions as well).

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