The Masked Truth Review

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for. Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal. The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues”. But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage. The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree. Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next–but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

This book is basically a suspense movie in written format which means you have to suspend a lot of disbelief. If you can, it’s a great ride. The action starts slow, but as the book progresses, so does the body count. Riley and Max are the most developed characters of the story. Riley is traumatized by experiencing the murder and Max has his own demons to fight, which the reader earns about before any of the characters do.

It takes a while before the true motivation for the killing spree is revealed, but it’s a doozy. The identities of the masked men is also another twist. I admit that I skipped ahead because I had to know who the bad guys were. There isn’t much depth to the plot, but the action was so good that it didn’t matter. This was a really good suspense book. I kept wondering who was going to get killed next and how. The secret Max keeps adds a depth to what would otherwise be a slight novel. His and Riley’s mental status are big part of how they handle the situation and what they do to survive.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck Review

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” Th is book is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up. Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better.

Here are the quotes that stood out for me:

**There is little that is unique special about your problems. Don’t be special. Don’t be unique. Redefine your metrics in mundane and broad ways. Measure yourself by more mundane identities: a student, a partner, a friend, a creator.

If it feels like it’s you versus the world, chances are it’s really you versus yourself.

The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.

Instead of striving for certainty, we should be in constant search of doubt: doubt about our own beliefs, doubt about our own feelings. Instead of looking to be right all the time, we should be looking for how we’re wrong all the time. Being wrong opens up to the possibility for growth.

**Nobody else is ever responsible for your situation but you. Many people may be to blame for your unhappiness, but nobody is ever responsible for your unhappiness but you. This is because you always get to choose how you see things, how you react to things, how you value things.

**Popularity is a bad value. The value/metric isn’t based on reality: you may feel popular/unpopular, when in fact you have no fucking clue what anybody else thinks about you. (Side note: As a rule, people who are terrified of what others think of them are actually terrified of all the shitty things they think about themselves being reflected back at them.)

I starred the three that really hit me. I mean REALLY hit me. I spoke about them in therapy. I am still processing what I got out of that session. The last chapter of the book about death was a bit too mundane and anxiety inducing for me, but I truly enjoyed the rest. Even though there was some repetition, I didn’t care. Manson writes in a style that made me laugh and then think all in a span of a paragraph. What he says isn’t groundbreaking or new, but how he says it made the difference for me. I paused so many times as I read this book to reflect on what I just read. I don’t know if I will ever perfect not giving a f*ck, but this book helped me start down a path that I haven’t travelled before and that’s exciting.

Rating: 4.5/5

Undefeated Review

Jim Thorpe: Super athlete, Olympic gold medalist, Native American
Pop Warner: Indomitable coach, football mastermind, Ivy League grad

Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the winningest teams in American football history. Called “the team that invented football,” they took on the best opponents of their day, defeating much more privileged schools such as Harvard and the Army in a series of breathtakingly close calls, genius plays, and bone-crushing hard work.

I am a huge fan of Steve Sheinkin and he did not disappoint with this book. He writes non-fiction in a way that’s interesting and captivating. He writes the story almost like a novel. I admit, there have been times I’ve forgotten I’m reading about actual people.

There are a few stories in this book: a short one about Pop Warner himself, one about the Carlisle Indian School, and the one about Jim Thorpe. I had heard of the Carlisle Indian School, but I admit to not knowing very much about it. It was supposed to be a way to give Native American children some sort of skill training so they could find work. While it did train the students there, it also have a very negative impact on them all. All students were forced to wear the same uniform and have their haircut, which for some, was an important part of their Native American identities. Lastly, they were forbidden to speak their Native language while at school.

Most of the story centered on the football team. Football had just been invented when the team began to play and reading about how the game used to be played was eye-opening. At one point, players were allowed to punch each other in the face! The team itself is the epitome of inspiration. A movie could (and should) be made about their rise. They began with a horrible record, but ended up beating some of the most elite college football teams around.

I also learned a lot about Jim Thorpe. I knew about his Olympic victory, but little else. Sheinkin shines a light on his background, personality, and life beautifully. I had admired Jim Thorpe before reading this, but I admire him even more after. He was an interesting figure: determined, athletic, quiet, fierce. There are so many adjectives that can be ascribed to him.

Rating: 4.5/5