Monday, June 23, 2014

The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold

The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold

From Goodreads: After more than twenty years of marriage, Chloe Sinclair comes home one night to find that her husband, Nate, is gone. All he has left behind is a cryptic note explaining that he's returned to their childhood town, a place Chloe never wants to see again.

 Chloe is living an average lower class childhood when she takes matters into her own hands and stumbles upon Grace, Nate, and Cecelia and is swept away into their magical world filled with C.S. Lewis, Tolkien and many other beloved authors. Their lives are perfect, saccharine sweet. But the more Chloe becomes familiar with their lives, she realizes that there is something darker lurking underneath their wrinkle-free exterior. Then Chloe finally meets the revered and mysterious Mr. Sinclair, the children's father. She tries to understand their stilted behavior and stiffness whenever he is mentioned. But her child's mind cannot puzzle through it, so she follows suit with the other three children and does her best to gloss over their troubles.

Decades later, Chloe and Nate have married, and are watching their marriage deteriorate around them. A dark secret from their past threatens to pull them under any moment, so when Nate disappears Chloe finds that she is ready to confront the ghosts of her past and finally have some answers. She follows Nate to their childhood hometown, and uncovers things she never imagined.

This is the first book that I have given 5 stars to in quite a while! I was immediately drawn into the storyline. I just wanted to read more and more, and finally had to stay up late last night and finish. There are many twists and turns in this story, and just when you are sure you are about to know the truth, there is a curve ball. It is a very enjoyable book, but it is also filled with so much sorrow and heartbreak. At one point I had tears in my eyes. I highly recommend this book! I will be looking for more from this author.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Uh... Anyone There?

Man this place is dusty!

I haven't been here in ages! Even though I haven't been writing, I HAVE been reading! I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of reading I have been able to do since the arrival of my sweet baby boy. I had to work out a few kinks though. I am a proud breastfeeding momma, and I learned quickly that while nursing time is optimum reading time, it's quite hard to hold a baby and a paper book at the same time. So, I did something I said I would never do, again. I purchased a Kindle. You see, I am the previous owner of a Kindle Fire, which I hated. There was too much going on app-wise and it made the device run slowly, in my opinion. This go-around, I bought a Kindle Paperwhite, and I LOVE it! It is designed solely for reading and reading only. The only drawback is that since the screen is black and white only, I cannot see any covers of books I purchase as they are, which is sad because pretty covers make me happy. But hey, that's why I have Google and Goodreads! I still read paper books, and plan to switch back to mostly paper books when my breastfeeding journey is over, but since that will not be for a while, I am so thankful for my Kindle! Well, that was more than I planned to share about ereaders. Anywho.

Instead of making a bunch of individual posts of all the books I've read, I'm going to jam them all in here. :)
Here we go:

Looking For Alaska by John Green

From Goodreads: Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same

This is the second book by Green that I have read, and it won't be the last. I definitely found myself chuckling at some of the snarky teenage dialogue, but really this is a very emotional book. It's a lot of things wrapped into one; a coming of age story, a tragedy, and an inspirational story too. I did find myself a little annoyed with the characters in the end after the main plot twist. It seemed to take them a long time to put all the pieces together to figure out what might have motivated Alaska to act the way she did. I had it figured out very quickly and I had to patiently read through a lot of far-fetched speculation and the resulting drama. Still, I really enjoyed reading this book. 3 stars.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

From Goodreads: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time

Okay, everyone take a deep breath. When I read the synopsis for this book, my brain kind of went..wha? This is not your conventional romance novel couple. You have Louisa, who tries very hard to blend in and wants desperately to prove to her family that she can be good at something. And Will, a quadriplegic who needs constant care. Will may be physically helpless, but his mind is still fully intact. He is taciturn and cruel to Louisa, but she is determined to make her job as his caregiver work. What unfolds is a truly touching story, very Beauty and the Beast-esque. I thought that all of the characters were very real and relatable. The ending, which I will not give away, left me in absolute tears. Absolutely worth a read. 4 stars.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Cline

From Goodreads: The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

I really don't have a lot to say about this one, and I am on the unpopular side of opinions about this book. It just did not wow me the way I had hoped it would. There were a few writing flaws that I could not get past. During Molly's chapters the speaking voice would sometimes change from omniscient to first person, one instance I can recall very clearly because it felt as though the author herself were speaking directly from the pages. As far as Vivian's story line went, I enjoyed it but found it very predictable at times. Although I will say that I enjoyed the historical aspect of this novel very much. I had never heard of the real orphan trains, and found it to be particularly disturbing and very sad. I can imagine that many children suffered fates similar to Vivian's. 3 stars.

Timebound by Rysa Walker

From Goodreads: When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

I was immediately sucked right into this one! All I needed was to hear the words time travel and I was in! I loved all of the characters and their stories. Operating on different timelines was a bit confusing at times, but it really made the story. Watching Kate's life unravel around her was heartbreaking but I made me feel very connected to her character and I was rooting for her the whole way. She made a huge sacrifice for her family, and I was happy with the way it intended, and very intrigued at the mention of a sequel. My one and only complaint, which seemed to be a much bigger stumbling block for others than for myself, was that at times the characters were completely fine with with learning information that would be incredibly shocking to most people. They were very go with the flow about everything, which I imagine made writing more easy, but it does cause a problem with my suspension of disbelief. 4 stars.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

From Goodreads: In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary's own brother.

At last and long awaited, the final installment in Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series, CoHF did not disappoint me( and I need to admit, I thought it would). It has been so long since I read any part of this series that I was completely disconnected from it. I considered rereading the entire series so that I wouldn't have to cast about to fill in the blanks of what I had forgotten. But then I realized that at the pace I read these days, that might take me the rest of the year. So I dove right in, and found that I had little to no trouble recalling significant details. The ending of this book made me surprisingly emotional. It brought back the feelings that I got while reading the first book in the series. The ones that drew me in and really made me love reading these books. At their heart they are very fun as well as being emotionally conflicting. They give me feels. :P Clare also set up her next series, The Dark Artifices, quite nicely. I really like the characters that will be featured and I expect some cameos from TMI series as well, since Clare clearly likes doing that sort of thing. 4 stars.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

From Goodreads:An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

I find myself going against the grain again with this one. It was well-liked in a book club I am a part of, but I really did not enjoy it very much. Of course I understand that the main character, Don, has a social disorder, and I think that the writing from his point of view was meant to be quirky. Some parts were funny but mostly it just felt very dry to me. 3 stars.

Well that has been me these last few months! I set a goal for 50 books this year on Goodreads, and while I am very behind according to GR, I'm hoping I can make it happen! Onward and upward!

And here's a picture of my adorable baby! :D
See why I can't get any reading done? hehe love this precious boy!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I'm not really sure if my mediocre ramblings are going to do this one justice, so if all you read is this: Please read this book.

Where do I even start? Hmm, okay. Hazel Grace.

From the beginning, I loved Hazel's voice and her opinion of the world. Reading those first couple of sentences I remember smirking and thinking, oh yeah, I'm going to enjoy this one.  I thought that her outlook on life was very real and honest. She wasn't whiney, and she wasn't written to be a typical heroine either. She was blunt about what she was feeling, and I think that makes her a different kind of heroine. A better one.

And now for Augustus.

Gus. He is the perfect combination of passionate and apathetic in the way only a 17 year old can be. His passion for his friends and their struggles is truly admirable. He counts himself as a survivor, and instead of carrying a chip on his shoulder about having a prosthetic leg, he makes it just another part of who he is. He refuses to let that have all of his attention when there are so many other wonderful things out there in the world to be concerned with.

Oh, but the plot twists. I'm tellin ya, read it!

This one is without a doubt a tear-jerker. But not in a grossly sappy Nicholas Sparks way( no offense, Sparks) but in a truly touching way that will make you think about life. All while being a complete snarkfest, which I loved.

Really, go read this one. Like, now.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snowed in!

Well it has snowed here in my little corner of Northwest Georgia, USA. The ground is covered in fluffy white and we are all pretty much in for the night(those of us who have made it home, that is. Many prayers to those still out there.)

I escaped from school today just in time to throw a bag together, collect my dog and my husband and "evacuate" us (his term) to his nanny's house. Our apartment has a bad track record of losing power if someone sneezes too hard. We really did make it just in time though. The usual six minute trip took us a minimal thirty minutes in the snow. It took others in our family an hour to two or three hours to get home!

Anyhow, as I was packing my bag, amidst the essentials, I naturally threw in a book or two. For Snowmagedon 2014, I chose two books in a series that I have had on my mind a lot lately that I have been considering rereading. I meant to grab the first book in the series but it was on a different shelf from the last two and I was in a bit of a frenzy. Luckily they are basically stand alones, and the second one is my favorite anyway.

The two selections I have in my bag are


First of all, can I just say, these covers are absolutely stunning. Bitterblue also has some illustrated pages that are breathtaking. I really love when I find books that have amazing, creative covers as well as amazing, creative stories. Ultimate win!

I probably won't read both all the way through while I'm snowed in, but then again, I might. But the important thing I'm trying to communicate here is...

My first regret is leaving the first book in the series, Graceling, at home. Here's an image of all three together so you can see how lovely they all look side by side. 

So gorgeous.

My second regret is not remembering to throw a few bags of tea in with my books. :(

Alas, off to read about Lady Fire whilst missing my Lady Grey.

What is the one book you would be sure to grab if a Snowmagedon came your way?