Second life, by S.J. Watson

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Second life S.J. WatsonJulia’s little sister, Kate, has been murdered in Paris and she thinks the police aren’t doing enough to solve the crime, so she decides to investigate on her own, signing in the dating webs Kate had been using to see if some of the guys she met online is the murderer.

Julia had been through drugs and alcohol abuse in the past and, even though she is perfectly healthy now and has a wonderful life with her husband and Kate’s son, Connor, raised by the couple since he was a baby, she is still struggling with some of the issues that she left apart in order to get out of her addictions. Eventually, these dating sites will absorb her as well.

The story is told by Julia. The reader can feel she is unstable, even before knowing all her background, but at first you think it’s because of the shocking news about her sister. She feels guilty for so many things and makes a number of wrong decisions, so when everything gets out of control, you can’t stop reading.

This is the first novel I read by S.J. Watson, and the first thing that caught my attention after finishing it is that he is a man! I couldn’t believe this book hadn’t been written by a woman, and there it is. I felt every emotion the main character felt in the book, all the fear, the excitement, the guiltiness… I have been taking a look on GoodReads and I have seen I wasn’t the only one who thought S.J. Watson was a woman after reading his books.

So, if you are a thrillers-lover, don’t miss Second life; it will get you glued to its pages, for sure.

rakin4

Second life
S.J. Watson
Published by Harper
978-0-06-239799-7
432 pages

New books – June 2015

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It’s time to show you my new books!

There has been a book fair here in my hometown a couple of weeks ago, so I had the perfect excuse to buy here and there and, besides, I have received a few books from publishers and from a giveaway I won.

Here you go:

new books 1The outcast and The river of no return were the books I purchased in the Book Fair.

Back in April I participated in Dewey’s 24 hours readathon and, as always, since I’m kind of an addict to the mini-challenges, I participated in many of them and I won the one hosted by Darren. The prize was £15 to spend in The Book Depository, and I choose Everything I never told you, Leaving time and Sharp objects. I still can’t believe how cheap books are in that web!

And finally, I received Second life (which I have already finished) and The wolf border from Harper. I’ll review them soon, because they are for sale this month.

new books 3

I also have a couple of new ebooks:

Her sister’s shoes (Ashley Farley): I’m participaing in a book tour of this book, I think it’s my kind of read.

Duet for three hands (Tess Thompson): I was browsing on Amazon Spain but this book wasn’t available in my country so I contacted the author and she kindly sent me a copy! You know she is one of my favourite romance authors, and I really wanted to read this one – I have already started it!

new books 2So that was it!

You see I have plenty of books to enjoy after I finish my exams next week :D

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J. Ratey

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Spark The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brainShort review:

Buy this book, borrow if from the library or a friend, download it illegally… Whatever, but grab a copy and read it immediately.

Normal review:

OK, so by now you all have heard about how good exercise is for your heart, lungs, muscles, joints, etc., BUT have any of you heard about what exercise does to your brain functions? Don’t worry; you can learn it with this book.

Spark begins explaining the biochemical process of exercising regarding your brain, but it’s not exactly about the “runners’ high”; it’s about the neurotransmitters released in the neurons, the factors that make neurons create new receptors, and the process of producing new brain cells in order to increase your brain functions. I had only heard about getting more oxygen in the brain thanks to exercise, and therefore making your brain work better, but the fact that you can increase the number of neurons and their connections between each other ONLY by exercising has blown my mind.

So well, the author explains this, and then he goes throughout a series of chapters where he talks about a specific matter, including normal situations as well as psychiatric conditions, and how exercise affects that situation or disease. The chapters include anxiety, depression, dementia, ADHD, chronic pain, pregnancy, menopause, learning and education, etc.

I could talk to you about every one of these chapters, but I think it’s better if you read the book. However, here are some random ideas from the book that I want to share:

  • Exercise changes your pain threshold so you don’t feel as much pain as if you don’t practice any exercise.
  • Stress makes your brain work slower and your neurons die.
  • Women over 30 who don’t exercise loose 1% of their bone mass per year.
  • Overweight people are more likely to suffer from dementia at old ages.
  • Exercise is now beginning to be used as a treatment for some conditions. Not as something to do besides the treatment: as the treatment itself.
  • To get benefits from exercise you only have to do 30 minutes every day, which I think it is something everybody can commit to do.

So I really want all the people I know to read this book and began doing something about it. After all, we are responsible for our own mental and physical health, and to me, the idea that you can increase both at the same time is terrific.

Summarizing: read this book right now!

PS: I would like to talk about the first chapter, in which the author tells about a new program in some schools in Florida where students do exercise every day first thing in the morning and they have increased their ratings in the rest of the subjects. Besides, the Physical Education class in these schools is not the one we once knew and suffered: here the students have heart monitors and they can choose among a wide variety of sports, being rated only by how hard they had made their hearts work.

I was very surprised by this way of focusing PE in children, because I have always been rated for my performance in different sport tasks, and I had a good average in everything except for running. As an adult I began running with a heart monitor and I noticed that I run above the maximum of my heart rate according to my age, so I didn’t get good grades at running in school, but I was probably working harder than any other of my classmates.

I think that PE has to change and become the subject which teach us how to live healthily for the rest of our lives.

Getting the picture, by Sarah Salway

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I received this book thanks to Dean Street Press
in exchange for a review on my blog.

I had never heard of Sarah Salway before, but when I got contacted by Dean Street Press I saw that she is a poet and I’ve always thought that poets have something special in their narrative works, so I picked up Getting the picture to see if I was right – and I was!

getting the picture Sarah SalwayGetting the picture is an epistolary story told through the letters, emails and voicemails of several characters. The main character is Martin, a man in his eighties who once had an affair with a married woman called Mo, and she finally chose her husband over him. He has never forgotten her and his never-sent letters to her is what we are reading, even though she passed away a few years ago.

Martin is living in a nursing home because Mo’s widower, George, is also there, and he wanted to get to know the man she preferred to spend her life with. George, meanwhile, writes notes to the house manager of the nursery in order to let her know all the complaints he has towards the staff and the other residents, as well as voicemails to his youngest daughter, who lives in France. On the other hand, we have George’s oldest daughter, Nell, who is the one who tries to bring the family together, being all of them so adamant of the needs of the others. They still don’t know, but it’s Martin the one who will change their family life.

The author lets us get the picture step by step through the unique voice of all these characters, all of them with a background the reader doesn’t expect. We know that Martin’s curiosity, to the point of living under the same roof as Mo’s husband and getting in touch with her family, isn’t right but, at the same time, we also think that he deserves the explanation she never gave him. The fact that Mo, the character the story goes around to, isn’t there to say something makes you wonder how she would feel.

To me, this has been a delightful story whose turn of events was surprising; with human characters you end up worrying about; and with an original narration, through letters, that I always find enjoyable because they let you know the characters in more depth.

rakin4Getting the picture
Sarah Salway
240 pages
ISBN: 9781910570104 (ebook)/9781910570432 (print)

What are you hungry for? by Deepak Chopra

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To be honest, I had always wanted to read something by this author, but I wasn’t interested in his books about success, which was the only ones I knew, until I saw this one. I got it via Blogging for books, being this the first time I request a book from this web.

what are you hungry for deepak chopraThe thing is – I’m not alone in the world :D I wanted to know why I eat like a horse when I’m in the exams period, and why I can be comfortably reading for hours without thinking about food in the relaxing weekends after the exams.

Chopra says we are naturally programmed to seek comfort, so when we have a gap to fill we try with the most available and easy one: our stomachs. What he proposes is a way to act in a different way, being aware of our decisions regarding food in this case, without forgetting the rest of your unhealthy habits. This is not about dieting, on the contrary, the author explains throughout the book why dieters never get results on the long run.

As you may know, Chopra is fond of Ayurvedic medicine, so he explains his point of view through this discipline: in the book he talks about the six flavours you have to eat in every meal to satisfy your hunger; about the best foods, mainly vegetables (this is nothing new, though) to fit your needs, and the best habits when it comes to the table, which are simple things like making an effort to think about what you are doing – eating – and what the food you are about to nourish your body with is. Besides, I think this book is also an introduction to a new way of life, I mean, we read about nourishment, not eating, about being aware of our choices and feeling good about ourselves.

Regardless of this, let’s say, spiritual approach, Chopra also explains the scientific reasons why he is telling you all those things. He is an endocrinologist, after all, so I also liked to read about the hormones in control of our appetite and the rest of body functions, as well as our brain function when food is involved. That’s why I think that this book will satisfy the scientific-minded readers as well as the ones who want to know about other exotic ways of life like Ayurvedic medicine.

In my opinion, the book explains perfectly well all the emotions we experience with food in times when you don’t eat just for pleasure, but for stress, and I found that the solutions Chopra claims will work are the same ones I have read in other books about similar matters, like The willpower instinct, by Kelly McGonigal (my review): both, scientific and more spiritual explanations, say that you have to practice self-awareness and what I call self-kindness if you want to change any habit. McGonigal says you will change your bad habits and live healthily and Chopra says you will also experience joy and lightness of soul, but I think they are talking about the same thing.

I’m sure What are you hungry for? is a book I’ll read again and recommend often.

ginger beveragePS. This is not a recipe book, so there are only a few recipes based on Ayurveda at the end of the book. However, the internet is filled with recipes which follow this discipline. I still haven’t tried any of them, but I made a start getting used to drink a ginger beverage with 2-3 of slices of ginger in boiling water with also a slice of lemon. It doesn’t taste bad and it’s supposed to suppress hunger if you drink it before meal times.

Pleasant Day, by Vera Jane Cook

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I requested this book via Virtual Author Book Tours because I have read other novels by this author and I liked them a lot. This is quite different, though: is still set in a southern state of the US, but is set in the present time, not in the sixties, like many of the other books I have before.

Pleasant day Vera Jane CookPleasant Day is actually a teenage girl who is trying to solve a crime with the help of her friends in the village: a friend of hers, Millie, has been brutally killed and found in the house of another friend of Pleasant, John Peter. They only know that a man rang at John Peter’s door, and that he must have been the murderer. The police investigation is on, but nobody seems to have a clue about what happened.

On the other hand, we have Clarissa, a sixty-something woman with kind of psychic skills who, going for a walk one day, meets Pleasant and, to Clarissa’s surprise, the girl looks like her goddaughter who had been murdered several years ago. Clarissa begins to have visions that make clear that the two crimes have a connection.

Since I am a “family secrets lover”, I liked that part of the book. Pleasant discovers that her family has been lying to her, and Clarissa has to make some amends to have her goddaughter’s case reopened and that goes through uncomfortable talks with people from her past. We get to know everybody involved in the lies that neither Pleasant nor Clarissa had the slightest idea about.

These female characters were so interesting, especially Clarissa, who I think deserves a story of her own due to her psychic abilities. Her life is scheduled to the minute, but she has no luck regarding love relationships since her husband abandoned her for her – now former – best friend. I would also love to visit her house: it seems to have come out of a style magazine and the meals she cooks were so well described that made my mouth water. I also like the setting of the book, that southern village called Hollow Creek that sounds so picturesque to me.

What I didn’t like is that we don’t get to know the murdered until the end of the book. I mean, of course I don’t like the incognita to get solved at the beginning, but we don’t have a clue because this particular character is introduced at the end of the book, so it felt like I had been deceived because I couldn’t have known even if my detective skills were bright (they aren’t anyway). There is also a wrong explanation about two characters who are identical twins but they are a man and a woman, which is genetically impossible: they can only be fraternal twins.

Summarizing, I enjoyed the story of the two main female characters, but the end of the book didn’t work for me in this case.

rakin3Links:

Readathon: hour 19 update

Well, good morning to you all!

Here in Spain it’s 8 am and I’m going to spend the morning reading, to see if I can finish at least one of my books :)

But first, let’s do my favourite mini-challenge: a SHELFIE, which is a picture of your shelves, of course. Here you go:

shelfie

Readathon: Hour 11 update

I was going to bed… but first I checked the hour 11 mini challenge, and I decided that I could perfectly keep on doing mini-challenges. I can quit whenever I want, right?

So well, In 100 years, which books do I think will be classics?

Difficult question, indeed. Here are my choices:

  • Chaptain Alatriste, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte: because of his witty humour and adventures.
  • Me before you, by Jojo Moyes, will do for a classical romance with lots of drama.
  • The forgotten garden, by Kate Morton, because with this book we began to crave family secrets.

And now, guys, it’s 12 am here in Spain and this reader is going to bed. I’ll be back in the morning

Have fun!

Readathon: Hour 9 update

This is a quick post in order to participate in another mini-challenge: Book spine poetry.

Please, note that I am Spanish and I only have a few books in English, so this challenge has been extremely difficult for me since I don’t have many choices!

Here you go:

Book spine poetry

The misbegotten,

the invisible ones,

change of heart

life after life.

Night music

handle with care.

 

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