Doing Good Better by William MacAskill

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Purchase this Book on Amazon: Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference

I’ve recently gotten into reading non-fiction books, mostly regarding current events, psychology and self-help, so expect more reviews coming soon! This is the first book I’ll be providing a quick synopsis on, as well as my thoughts. Doing Good Better, written by William MacAskill, a professor at the University of Oxford, goes over a framework that helps us figure out how we can effectively use our money in order to donate to various causes. Many people feel better about themselves when they donate $10 here, or $20 there to a charity, without ever knowing what happens with the money they donated. Did you truly make a difference? Or are you just trying to feel good and worthy? Believe me, I used to do what I have described in the above scenario regularly, but then I realized that I actually wanted to ensure that my contributions were making a difference. Reading this book kicked me into gear to be more aware of which charities I’m donating to.

‘Effective Altruism’ essentially means that you’re constantly trying to figure out in what way you can make the largest difference possible, and MacAskill argues that we must use empirical facts in order to figure out where we should donate our money. I was rather skeptical before I read this book because I presumed that even donating a small amount of money would make some sort of difference in the world, but I later recognized that it is more important to make the biggest difference through reference to empirical facts. The concept of empirical facts has become more and more important to me as I progress through my university degree. I highly recommend this book for those who are interested in making a true difference in the world. 

If you’d like to purchase this book and read it, you can do so on Amazon by utilizing this link: Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference. Just as a note, this link is an affiliate link with Amazon. I believe that a lot of great value can be earned through reading this book. Please leave a comment below if you’ve read this book and what your thoughts were.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (My Thoughts)

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What a legendary start to an incredible book series! Rather than writing a review, I’ll be writing about what I thought about this amazing book because there is quite honestly no way I could adequately review such a renowned novel. First off, let me just say that I know that I’m most definitely late to the party regarding reading this novel, but better late than never, right?! I was hooked right off the bat as JK Rowling just has a way with words that is so eloquent and imaginative.

My favourite part of this book (and believe me, this was hard to decide on because I loved the whole book) was when Mr. Dursley was purposefully trying to ensure that Harry did not read the Hogwarts letter. The lengths he went to, so as to ensure that the letters did not reach Harry, are quite hilarious. But how can a muggle match up to a wizarding school? He actually thought he had a chance in making sure that Harry never received his letter. As if!!!

After reading the first book, I would say that my favourite character by far was Harry Potter (surprise, surprise)! I just love his personality and how he defeated ‘You Know Who’ when he was a baby. Let’s see if my favourite character changes once I read the next book.

I’m the kind of person who reads a book before watching the movie, but this wasn’t the case for this series unfortunately. I watched all the movies (not in chronological order) prior to deciding to read the novels. I truly regret this decision because I know tad bits of information about the future storyline while reading, but this does not hinder my curiosity to keep reading and immerse myself in these books. Now that I’ve started reading the books, albeit quite late, I have decided to read the book first and once I’m done, I watch the movie with my family to clear up any questions I had regarding the things I didn’t understand when reading. I feel as though this is the best way to truly understand and enter the wizarding world.

I guess you could say I’m a little obsessed at this point. I get so excited when I pick up the book. Reading is a fabulous stress reliever for me, now that university is back on. Reading these books helps me escape the real world, even if it’s just for a few hours, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.

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The Accident by S. D. Monaghan (NetGalley)

Stacking it up & Sunday Post

The Accident by S. D. Monaghan
★★★★★

First off, I would like to thank Bookouture for approving my request to read and honestly review this novel! This was made possible through NetGalley! So, what an interesting novel! The beginning was very intriguing, and you get right into the book from the start. I had to take quite a few breaks while reading this one because I had a lot of things going on (i.e. interviews and presentations), but I always found myself wanting to get back to the book because it was that good. It has alternating point of view chapters, and is quite suspenseful. 

David and Tara are a wealthy, married couple who have it all. They are about to move into their new dream home and begin their lavish life together. They have a baby on the way and they cannot wait to raise their kid in this beautiful, custom home. One mistake can easily alter your life, as the cover of this book suggests. In an instant, Ryan is falling off a balcony because of a punch David just threw. What has David done? Why has he done it? He had such a great life ahead of him…… 

For some reason, I instantly liked David. He seems perfect, yet he is flawed and emotional just like everyone else, which makes his character more relatable than those goody-goody, perfect characters that make an appearance in other books. In fact, all the characters are well-developed, which makes the book all the more interesting. This book is incredibly well-written. Monaghan does a fabulous job hooking the reader in. I read every word carefully because it was written that beautifully. 

There was quite the twist in this novel, which was very unexpected. I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it kept me on the edge of my seat, which is why I gave it a solid 5/5 stars. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did! 

Have any of you been able to read it in advance yet? Let me know what you thought of it! 

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About the Author
S. D. Monaghan grew up in Dublin and has travelled quite a bit. He has a degree in psychology and he has also studied screenwriting. He has taught English in Thailand, which shows how much of a well-rounded individual he is. At the moment, he is working on his novels in Dublin.
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A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

★★★☆☆

This was an absurd book. In an okay way. Let me give you a summary taken directly from Goodreads before I get into my thoughts:

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

Home intrusion-related things always terrify me. There’s something so hair-raising about the idea of someone being in your house without you knowing. They’re right under your nose, but you’d never know they’re there. That’s the scary part. It’s kind of like a ghost. You don’t know it’s there, but it is. That spooks me out so much. So that’s why I picked up this book. I was looking for a nail-biter, something where I’m on the edge of my seat, ripping through the pages to find out what comes next.Image result for a stranger in the house

Honestly, I was disappointed in that respect. That part of the book, that I thought would be touched on throughout because of the title, was like trying to see stars in the city at night. It was barely there. I feel like I’m justified in wanting something more from the home-intrusion aspect of the book. It was lacking.

I haven’t read any other books from Shari Lapena as of yet, but I going to assume her writing style is similar through all her books. In that case, all her books could be read by a 10 year-old. I don’t mean the content itself, but the way in which she writes is so simple. When I read, I want a challenge. Something to test my vocabulary. I don’t want to read, what I think, is next to a children’s novel. Maybe her plan is to focus on the plot and not the wording. I think that writing style is important and it’s definitely something I look for.

Onto the story itself. I enjoyed it. There are many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. That’s about it though. It wasn’t the most amazing thing I’ve ever read, that’s for certain. One thing I loved about this book is the tiny amount of characters. Usually, the amount of trouble I have remembering characters and their names is astounding. It was so easy to remember everyone. More books need to be like that. You really don’t need hundreds of characters to make a good book.

Overall, this book was very average. I’m not obsessed and I don’t completely hate it. It’s alright. This isn’t a recommendation of mine, though.

Thanks for reading!

The Amateurs by Sara Shepard

★★★★★

(spoiler-free)

Sara Shepard; the queen of teen fiction. I have a theory that she single-handedly encouraged the world’s population of teens to read again. It’s pretty understandable, I think. I mean, ever since the Internet was born, teenagers claim they’ve never opened a book or smelled the musty pages of a novel. It’s completely true actually. Students at my school never read for pleasure. Ever. I hear it all the time. If they do read, the only books they read are Sara Shepard’s. So yeah. She must have some pretty good books to make brain-dead teenagers actually want to trudge on over to the library rather than surf through Instagram mindlessly.

When I saw that Sara Shepard had a new book, I put it on hold in a heartbeat. For some reason, those stories about teenagers and their “struggles” never fail to entertain me. To get some insight into the book if you haven’t already read it, here’s a little summary taken directly from Goodreads:

Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without any answers—without any idea who killed Helena, or why.

So when eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a desperate post on the Case Not Closed message board, she knows it’s time to change that. Helena’s high-profile disappearance is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she agrees to spend spring break in Connecticut working on the case with Maddy Wright, her best friend from Case Not Closed. However, the moment she steps off the train, things start to go wrong. Maddy’s nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin, doesn’t seem to want any help after all. Plus, Seneca has a secret of her own, one that could derail the investigation if she’s not careful.

Alongside Brett, another super-user from the site, they slowly begin to unravel the secrets Helena kept in the weeks before her disappearance. But the killer is watching…and determined to make sure the case stays cold.

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Mystery in a teen-y book was all I needed. I had been reading some pretty heavy books and needed a little break from that because I’m fragile. Maybe this is just me, but I thought that this would be a lousy mystery book. I mean, a group of teenagers solving a crime together just sounds boring. Well…I can’t even begin to explain how wrong I was. This book was GREAT.

The mystery keeps you intrigued throughout the book. It’s constantly being developed, even in the light-hearted situations. The characters were super dynamic. The personalities of everyone in their clique meshed together so well. The mystery was never quite solved until the very end. You think it’s over but then: IT’S NOT! Who doesn’t love that in a book? It’s no wonder there’s a second book coming out in November, titled “Follow Me”. Ominous. And I’m HYPED.

I’m NOT going to give this book away because I reaaally think you should read it. Even if you’re an old hag. I loved it! It’s not overly long or short. Thanks for reading!

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

★★★★☆

Here’s a little review on my opinion of Janelle Fletcher’s “Watch Me Disappear”.

This book took me about 3-4 days of steady reading a few times a day to complete. That’s actually quite good for my speed! I’m trying to get it back up to where it was when I was younger. I’m getting there!

Before I get started, I think you should have an idea of what the book is about. Here’s a summary taken directly from Goodreads:

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a beautiful, charismatic Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. No body—only a hiking boot—has ever been found. Billie’s husband and teenage daughter cope with her death the best they can: Jonathan drinks, Olive grows remote.

But then Olive starts having waking dreams—or are they hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he knew about his wife. Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, their family, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.

Image result for watch me disappear janelle brownI’ll start with the characters. Jonathan, the husband and father, is rather bland. He manages to develop throughout the book but not change at the same time, strangely enough. He’s just a boring old dad who is obsessed with his work and realizes this obsession too late. Olive has more depth. She’s the teenage daughter with an attitude that’s labelled “aggressive”, although I beg to differ. I can relate to Olive and her teenage struggles myself. She’s been through a lot more trauma than I have, however. Still, she is comparable to myself. Billie is more intriguing than Jonathan, and her POV is only shown in the prologue and monologue. Of course, she’s described in the book but, as I’m sure you can tell, I was quite disappointed in Jonathan’s character. He’s such a crucial character in this story and I feel as though an opportunity was wasted, just because his character rubs off as so pedestrian.

That being said, the plot was great. I’m not going to lie, when I read the blurb on the back and I saw that ghosts would be involved, I was ready to put the book right back on the shelf. I wasn’t looking for an unrealistic book. However, I was feeling generous and so I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did! The “ghosts” part was nothing like a fantasy novel. It didn’t feel childish or anything. It integrated into the book very well, actually.

If I say anymore, I think I’ll be giving too much away. I highly (!!) suggest you read this book. It’s got a very special, interesting theme that I don’t often see in books.

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City of Bones by Michael Connelly

★★★★☆

             I’ve been trying to find the genres of books that most interest me recently. Growing up, I understandably wasn’t into crime novels and thrillers, rather I was into those typical children and teen novels; Harry Potter (still love with all my heart), Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, Divergent, Inkheart, etc. I was never into the classics or the comics (still not into comics, just not my thing) either. These past few years, I fooled around with different types of books. I started reading crime novels and quickly found myself enjoying them. This book just so happens to be the centre of my scrutiny today.
Before I get into the contents itself, can I just say that I bought this perfectly intact second-hand paperback book for a dollar?! A STEAL.

As a brief, brief summary for you to get an idea of the book, it starts off when a dog fetches a bone, a human bone, while out with his owner. Detective Harry Bosch must get to the bottom of the case. One thing puts a wrench in his gut; it’s a bone from a child. He uncovers a case almost twenty years old and struggles to find the evidence he needs to put the monster who did it behind bars.

Harry Bosch is part of a series of books Connelly has written. Harry Bosch’s endeavours are a TV show, which I just recently found out can be found on Amazon Prime. I will have to check that out.

This would be the first book I’ve read from Connelly and I liked it. It’s a very different writing style in comparison to previous books I’ve read. The writing and storytelling is very succinct, no fluff. I love that. Unnecessary writing is one of my pet peeves, and I’m sure I’m not alone on that. Since the writing was so easy to read and comprehend, I devoured this book faster than most. I’m not entirely familiar with Connelly’s work and style, but I think he puts more care into the plot and characters themselves than the manner in which the plot and characters are presented in. If that makes sense. I think that’s probably why there’s no unnecessary writing.

The plot itself is typical of a crime novel. It leads you to believe one person did it but then something else pops up that changes everything. There are many suspects that come up in the story and Bosch tries to figure out who the true suspect is. He’s led to believe one suspect did it, and the case seems to have come to a close, but then he realizes that something isn’t right. Bosch’s detective skills are spot-on, and he covers his mistakes.

Overall, this book was an enjoyable read. The story line is intriguing and I never found myself wanting to put the book down. I’m sure to read more books from Bosch. I bought “The Brass Verdict” and I plan on reading that sometime soon also.