Posts Tagged With: reading

My Favorite Books from Diverse Authors (a never-ending list)

Out of pain you can sometimes find beauty and the continued push to celebrate and welcome art from people of color is one of those examples. I’d love to take the opportunity to highlight some of my favorite books written by non-white authors!

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

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Gold. This one, guys, is GOLD.

Let me tell you a story. I was reading late, husband asleep next to me (easily my favorite aspect of my kindle – night reading!) and came across a particular scene that involved dialogue relating to a non-vomit (you’ll understand when you read it) and I lost it. Like, truly lost it. Silent snort laughing, desperately trying not to wait said husband, crying because I was trying not to laugh, lost it.

Zaf and Dani are SO good. Their dialogue is amazing, their interactions are perfect, their troubles are real – it’s seriously such a solid book. And I wasn’t 100% sold on the first Brown sister, Chloe. But don’t short yourself and read this one, even if you skip the first. Because it’s truly excellent.

Death Wish by Harper A. Brooks

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Overall, this book was really engaging and interesting. A couple parts were maybe a bit of a stretch but overall I was able to get into the story. Great pacing and characterization. I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of the series.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

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I’m not sure I can say much more about this than what almost 500,000 other people have said on Good Reads but this is an exceptional memoir.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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I was able to read this via audible, with Maya Angelou as the narrator – and what a great highlight that made to the reading! It’s a powerful book with such an impressive scope. The items she chooses to showcase from her life are ones that were clearly not only impactful to her, but also become impactful to the reader, which I think is the key to a good memoir. She was able to reflect on the activities of her youth and how they shaped her, how they color her experience, and how they might cause the reader to understand herself, her society, and even our own selves. I can imagine reading this multiple times and discovering something new each time. A great experience and a great read.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Highly deserving of all the praise. This is a truly timely book that features intense situations, incredible characters, and an emotionally jarring and well timed story line. Honestly, a book that is very close to perfection. Highly recommend.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

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This book is SO GOOD. So, so good. What an incredibly fascinating and funny insight into growing up in South Africa. It was quick read that perfectly balanced some hard truths with the antics of a young man growing into adulthood. Absolutely phenomenal.

Angelfall by Susan Ee

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Angelfall, for me, was about the plot line. It was interesting, unique, and it was quick. I hate books that feel the need to explain everything and this isn’t one of those. You learn as you go and new questions are always coming up. It’s well designed and even though some of the character development was a little shallow, or at least predictable, I enjoyed it all the same.

My (Underground) American Dream by Julissa Arce

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I really enjoyed this memoir – I was able to hear Julissa speak in Chicago for HACE and her story is incredible and memorable. It is so timely and brave as well – definitely one to read.

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Overall, a really well put together novel. I like that it took place all in one day. I didn’t love the interjections of other people’s short backgrounds, though, by the end, I understood why it was there. I feel like the tone of the book kept me distanced just a tad so as to not make it a 5 star but, otherwise, I’m really glad I finally picked this one up.

Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis

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This book is what I love about chick-lit. It’s silly and sassy and exciting and a read that you can breeze through in just a few days. I’m a firm believer that a story you can get sucked into – silly or not – is a fun story.

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

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To say this book is intense is a significant understatement. Add to that some incredible narration and you have a book that is going to draw you in. To be honest I’m not quite sure what to say about the book – it doesn’t skim past the hard parts, it’s going to blindside you in many ways. It’s one of those books that you know is good but you can’t really say you ENJOYED reading.

This is a never-ending list! I’ll keep adding my favorites as I read them and I would LOVE your recommendations on books to read next!

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Reading between the Wines – our Top Book Club Books (a never ending list)

Choosing a book for Book Club is a lot harder than it sounds. You want something people are going to enjoy but also something to talk about. Easier said than done.

Our Book Club – “Reading between the Wines” (which is, yes, the most adorable name on the planet and one I cannot claim to have come up with myself) has been in progress for ~5 years. Here is a list of the (mostly) unanimous great books that led to even better discussions.

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Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
This is a beautiful book to make you laugh and cry and gives a LOT of fodder for discussion!

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Verity by Colleen Hoover
Honestly, it’s not common for our books to have a viseral reaction. Some of us will gush or dislike a book, but generally we accept good as good and move on. This book, however, will change you. For the better? … Probably not. But MAN does it make for great conversation.

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Becoming by Michelle Obama
We tend to do fiction but this was such a beautiful and timely book and one we all wanted to read. It also led to a lot of amazing discussion about what we knew, what we thought we knew, and more.

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Honestly, chick list/rom com type of books don’t often play well in book club (at least not ours). They are often met with “I liked it!” and then crickets. But Eleanor packs just enough of a punch that we had a lively conversation about it in addition to generally enjoying it.

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Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
So, it certainly helps that at least 2/3 of our book club are in love with Trevor. But, that aside, this book is as fantastic as it is memorable as it is eye opening. It’s easy to spend plenty of time combing through this book and chatting about his life growing up.

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Beartown by Fredrik Backman
This was a bit of a stretch for our little group but it nestled in quite comfortably. There are a lot of pieces to this novel and topics to pick out and dissect. And a sequel to boot (we read that too!)

What should our next book club book be?

This list is ever expanding so come back to see the latest top recommendations!

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Book Review: Golden Earrings – 5/5

Golden Earrings by Belinda Alexandra

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, this book.

Do you ever read a historical fiction and think, “This must have happened.” It was so expertly woven, the truth and tales of the times intermingled with the fiction so beautifully I thought it had to be true. The richness of the story, though certainly not all uplifting, felt like something that just had to have happened. Of course, I realize that’s not the case, but I don’t think I’ll be able to ever think about the Spanish Civil War without imagining La Rusa’s impact.

I adored this (audio) book. It’s a historical fiction that reads like a mystery. I knew the instant I picked this up it would be a winner of my heart: Spain, flamenco, and ballet? It’s like Alexandra knew what draws me to a story and decide to put it all into one place – beautifully at that. If you don’t already have a soft spot for any of those items, you’ll be hard pressed to walk away from this tale without one.

What more is there to say? Paloma, Evelina, Celestina – Golden Earrings is a tale of strong women who are impacted by a terrible war. It’s a story about how people react when their lives are altered by others’ choices. It’s not a story about making all the right decisions. Each and every one of the characters in this novel make mistakes – very large mistakes – that send waves of impacts down the line for years. But mistakes don’t make a person, and Alexandra’s weaving of the characters shows that mistakes can be made by good people, but that good people aren’t immune to hard choices.

This is a little known novel that needs some serious love. It’s incredibly via audio book and I’m sure just as good on paper. Highly recommend,and I will definitely be picking up more of Alexandra in the future.

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2013 End of the Year Book Survey

The Perpetual Page-Turner‘s 4th annual End Of The Year Book Survey

Jamie, a wonderful person and amazing book blogger, has posted a survey for the end of the year.  Once I saw it I immediately started making my list.  I can’t help it – I freaking love filling out surveys!

Seriously, though, if you’ve never checked out her blog, you have to.  She puts my blog to shame.

This year I read 70 books – here are some of my selections!

1) Best Book You Read In 2013?

This, of course, is a really hard question to answer.  I want to cheat and put down a couple but I’m going to get my focus together and make a commitment. Drum roll please….!

inarabiannights

This book just gave me so many FEELS.  It touched me, it fascinated me, and it made me really believe in the idea of traveling (not that I didn’t before) for the sake of meeting people but also for meeting myself.  Tahir Shah is a man who really understands the written word and it humbles and excites me all at the same time.  Not to forget just how beautiful the stories in this book are as well.

2) Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

This one was much easier to choose.

wayofkings

Man. I took me forever to commit to this book.  I had heard such good things but it’s so LONG that I never felt like I had time to read it. So when Eric and I went on a 40 hour road trip we thought this would be perfect.  But the end of the trip it was torture.  This book is just so long winded!  It could be half the length.  Even though the story is good and the writing is interesting the length just ruined it.  So disappointing.

3) Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

rads

I know very few people have read this, will want to read this, or will ever read this, but it’s the best answer for this survey.  This book is about a bombing that happened on the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus back in the ’70s. I had this book on my life forever but never got around to reading it.  When I finally got it from the local library I almost choked – it is over 400 pages long!  Dullsville, I assumed.  I still checked it out, however, thinking I would just skim the interesting parts and return it.  I didn’t though. I ended up finding it fascinating and learned so much about the school I call home.  I found myself talking about it and recommending it.  It totally surprised me!

4) Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

Unbroken

It’s hard to say, because I recommended quite a few, but I think this was the most likely.  I loved this book and I think it’s one of those books that I lot of people could like.  It’s fascinating because of its truth but it’s also just an incredible story.  As a memoir buff I realize that not everyone gets the same kick I do when truth-sounds-like-fiction but I think the popularity of this book shows that the author really did it right.

5)  Best series you discovered in 2013?

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Hands down.  I put off reading this forever because it was so daunting.  Not only are the books long in of themselves but the series is long – and still going!  I didn’t want to make a commitment to something that would take up so many hours of my life.  But I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve been power-reading these books on audible and I don’t often do the one-after-another read when it comes to series. I have had one of these books in my currently reading list for the majority of the year and I’m not even close to being sick of Davina Porter’s voice.  Love it!

6) Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

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Okay, so I’ve only read one book by her so it’s hard to call her a favorite author for the year but I really loved I’ve Got Your Number.  It was so damn FUN!  You can just tell she’s good and she really gets the whole chick-lit scene. I would love to be able to write books like her and I fully intend to make my way through others by her.

7) Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

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This was out of my comfort zone for a couple reasons – one being, as you can see, it was written in Spanish.  My Spanish is pretty competent but I still read with a dictionary and it takes some time.  Pair that with it being a mystery and my first Agatha Christie novel this was definitely not a typical read for me.  I loved it though and will definitely be getting more of Christie’s books under my belt- probably in English next, though. 🙂

8) Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

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There a lot of books that I power-read but “thrilling” is an entirely different category.  Gone Girl is pretty dense and I still ate it up.  In the end it didn’t hold as being a favorite book of mine but it still did the trick in the moment.

9) Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

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I’m not the kind of person that re-reads books very often.  Even my favorite book of all time, The Catcher In The Rye I’ve only read two or three times.  Caravan was a re-read for me this year, actually, and I freaking loved in.  Gilman is a master writer and Caravan is a story of such twists and such a strong protagonist.  I love it and will likely read it again, if not next year, sometime in the next couple years.

10) Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

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It’s just cool.  I like covers that not only are pleasing to the eye but also tell you a little about a story – Cinder’s cover is just perfect.  You know it’s a Cinderella re-telling but you also know it’s totally different but any other retelling you’ve heard!

11) Most memorable character in 2013? 

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The Darkling (Shadow and Bone)

I don’t want to say much since The Darkling’s character is, in of itself, a kind of spoiler.  Let me just say that I loved how dynamic The Darkling is – I also love how he has no name.  It’s kudos to the author that this character kept me guessing.  As a reader I definitely find him arousing and terrifying all at once.

12) Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

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This book was just really well done, such an interesting story and when it got exciting it got really  exciting.  I love when you’re reading a book and you can just take a deep breath and think, “This.  This is a book of beauty.”  This is one of those.

13) Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

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Somaly Mam – she knows how to tell you like it is.  Because I really like to read memoirs I think I already knew more about the sex trade than a lot of people in the U.S. do and this still shocked me. Maybe what shocked me even more is how Mam has survived.  This is a book that people can’t read without feeling it’s impact, I believe.

14) Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 

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I’m very much a read-such-and-such-book-before-you-die kind of person. When I hear from the masses that something is good or a classic, I tend to pick it up.  As much as I disdain the public opinion sometimes I still can’t withstand the curiosity of picking up a well-known book.  I picked up Slaughterhouse Five probably 10 years ago, read a few pages, got confused, put it down, and never picked it up again.  I finally got around to reading it here.  I was no less confused, but I definitely appreciated it more.

15) Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

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“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” – Tina Fey, Bossypants

16) Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013? 

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All I want for Christmas was just a fun little novella.  A Fine Balance was polar opposite of that.  A Fine Balance was truly a wonderful book that I would never wish upon anyone. (Don’t think too hard about that. Just trust me.)

17) Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

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This is the fourth book in the Outlander series.  My husband is reading all the Outlander books after me, but he’s one book behind.  Something happened in this book that I was positive couldn’t happen and I almost exploded for wanting to talk about it.  But, of course, he’s not to this part yet so I am STILL waiting!

18) Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)

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Jamie and Claire from Outlander

I know, Diana Gabaldon is taking over this survey but Jamie and Claire are the reason why those books are what they are. Seriously, so good.  It’s so believable and real and for one of the first times in a series I can see a parallel between my relationship with my husband and the characters.  No, Eric is not a 7 foot tall Scotsman, but I do really love him.

19) Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

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I’ve actually read a lot of new authors this year so this is a bit hard.  That being said, Lola and the Boy Next Door is just adorable and I had loved Stephanie Perkin’s Anna and the French Kiss too.  I’m excited to get my hands on Isla, too!

20) Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

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I never in a million years would have picked up this book (okay, that’s not true, but I doubt it would have crossed my path).  But I kept seeing it pop up on my GoodReads feed from friends and decided to give it a true.  I’m so glad I did!  This book is heartbreakingly beautiful.

21) Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

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Young Adult

I think I’ve read more Young Adult this year than I have since I was a young adult.  One of the reasons is because there are so many new young adults out there and a lot that have excellent ratings. The other was that I decided to write young adult for my NaNo novel this year and I wanted to do some “research” 🙂

22) Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

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Four/Tobias

Let’s face it – Four is a lovely brooder.  When it comes to real like I love it when men are sweet and cuddly.  But when it comes to a novel I’m more than happy to find someone who is totally scary.

23) Best 2013 debut you read?

Print

This book is so good.  She’s balls to the wall about how she talks about her experience, which is so brave.  I know that Lundhout had a co-author as well but I’ll still give her a lot of credit for telling us so much about her incredible ordeal.

24) Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

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It’s not very often that I am excited for a book to be made into a movie – normally I’m pretty nervous about it.  This book, though, is going to be an incredible movie.  The writing is so vivid and there are so many wonderful things happening.  It’ll look great with real visuals.

25) Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

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I cracked up over this book.  Giddy, maniacal laughter in public, the lot of it.  It was just a blast to read.  Literary books that are all deep and stuff are good, too, but this stuff is just awesome.

26) Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

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This is a book about kids with cancer and I don’t have a heart made of stone.  ‘Nuff said.

27) Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

caravan

Can’t help it – this book has always  been overlooked.  It is SO good.  All must read!

28) One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

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I know that Angelfall is popular in its own right but I never really hear much about it. I feel like I’m getting ahead of the bandwagon curve which is a pretty new location for me and I’m excited to stay there.  Angelfall left off in such an interesting spot, I am so curious to see what Ee does next!

29) Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

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It feels like so long since I’ve read Scarlet!  I love Meyer not only for her books but for being a NaNoWriMo author.  So curious to learn about the next step in this series!

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Reviewing a Classic: Slaughterhouse-Five – 4 out of 5

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Goodness me, the clock has struck-
Alackday, and fuck my luck.”

Tell you the truth, I don’t really get satire. Never have. Candide? Hated it. I just didn’t find it funny. I didn’t really find Slaughterhouse-Five funny either – except for the quote above. I did a great big make-people-look-at-you-on-the-train kind of guffaw laugh at that quote. And then I continued reading to find that Billy Pilgrim did the same thing before they trucked him off to the hospital.

So… somewhere in here I’m clearly not getting it.

That aside, I still liked it. I tried reading this book maybe seven or eight years ago and was completely lost. I expected a story – that’s not what this is. On my second attempt it made sense in that I knew it wasn’t supposed to make sense.

The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes you need to just read something and it’ll absorb into you. Your brain will try to decipher it like your high school English teacher but it’s really your body that you’re reading with. That’s this book. Vonnegut’s writing reminded me of Salinger, but it didn’t quite hit me with instant love.

There’s a reason why this book is one that’s so popular. I just can’t tell you what that reason is.

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Book Review: A House in the Sky – 5 out of 5

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s a reason why this book is so popular – Lindhout’s courage to tell her story is something people should pay attention to. Few who go through her distress live, and even fewer are willing to open their experience to the world. It can’t have been easy but I’m really glad Lindhout did. This is an excellent book which, for it’s length, depth, and emotions ties I read it very quickly.

Lindhout’s personality really came though and I identified with her so clearly. She loves to travel and see the world. She has the pull to go anywhere and everywhere. I can 100% understand. I can understand the thrill of traveling somewhere “off the grid,” where your presence as a tourist is a curiosity instead of an expectancy. Where you can accidentally see what real life is like instead of a show. I haven’t traveled the way Lindhout has, and I doubt I ever will. I think it’s testament to Lindhout’s writing style that, even though I know she gets into a horrible kidnapping situation, when she’s telling me about her initial trips and all she sees and the “risks” she takes, I all I feel is jealous and envy, not fear of the unknown. She’s lived and seen amazing things. It’s incredible.

So, there’s that piece to the book. It’s the unexpected wonderful part of this story – understanding her before the kidnapping, seeing through the lens of a backpacker. There’s also the terrible part when she is kidnapped. Lindhout holds little back. She manages to take this long kidnapping step by step and not a moment of it is boring. She’s able to pull us into her mind, to see her hopes, scares, wonders, and realities. To see her struggle between hatred for her captors and understanding, to see her strategies. What I like best is that Lindhout has showed what worked – but also what didn’t. This isn’t a Hollywood movie. She makes some awful, horrible errors. Errors that I myself could have easily done in her place. It’s a gripping, terrible reality.

It’s no spoiler that Lindhout survives. What I’ve often found reading memoirs is that sometimes this does ruin things. Because the author is the main character we know they are going to make it. That doesn’t hinder the suspense in this story. I found myself wondering how it was going to work, feeling her true despair. That’s all testament to just how well this story was put together by Lindhout and her co-author.

Excellent memoir and well worth all its praise!

Categories: Debuts, Pick Ups, Travel, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

YA Book Review: Wild Cards – 4 out of 5

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles

WildCards

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m just not going to argue with a book I read so fast. Whenever a book makes me flip page after page after page, it has something going for it. That’s how I have been with everything Elkeles has written. When I go back through and analyze afterwards I can usually identify things that bother me, that I wish were different. But I’m not going to ignore the fact that in the moment I was there and loving it. That’s what I really want in a book in the long run.

So, we have Derek and Ashtyn. Don’t be fooled – this isn’t a book about plot. Yes, there is one, since you need one in a book but that’s not what this is about. It’s about these two characters and how they fall in love. There’s no suspense or question that this will be how them book ends. Derek and Ashtyn are going to be together and we’re just reading a book on how that happens. If you want some kind of suspense about that when you read a book then this is not for you.

Elkeles does a really good job of making these two characters exist in real life. They have plenty of their own baggage and they are definitely teenagers. This is one of those books where the characters act their age. They are young, hormonal teenagers and because of this they sometimes do stupid things. You can see them learning and faltering along the way and as a reader you can’t help rooting for them. You want them to figure out their life because you hope if they can, then maybe you can, too.

Okay, that might have just been me. What I’m saying is that it’s easy to connect.

There were two things that bothered me about the story.

1) Ashtyn’s main character flaw. She projects herself as such a strong, independent young woman, a football player who, despite living with her father seems to have raised herself. For all of that, though, she can’t seems to handle herself and it’s bothersome. I wanted her to figure out about Landon on her own. For all the time she spent around guys I just don’t see how she or even her guy friends would have let her be with someone so negative to her life. I don’t see why Derek had to point out as many of these things to her as he did. I wanted her to do more on her own – but it wasn’t a deal-breaker on how I liked then.

2) Derek’s grandmother lives in Texas and the football clinic is in Texas and miraculously they are located withing CABBING distance? Texas is huge – what were the chances of them being in the same exact place?!

I’m kidding about that last point – kind of.

If you love cute, fun, YA RomCom, you’ll love this. That’s all you need to know.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella – 5 of 5


I’ve Got Your Number
by Sophie Kinsella

number

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can’t help it. Love this book.

I read this book over the course of two days, during which time the following happened:

1) I snort-laughed on the rush hour commuter train to work. I also gasp-laughed, guffawed, and tittered.
2) I read this book, at my desk, at work, over my empty lunch container, pretending I was still eating so I could keep reading. (mind you, I love my job and usually happily work through lunch.)
3) On the rush hour train back from work, I laughed maniacally, and loud enough, to make my seat-mate jump.
4) I had hard, set plans to go to the gym tonight. Instead, I sat for two hours and finished the book. Needless to say, I’m still on the couch.

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I adored Poppy. She was ridiculous and psychotic and so damn real. Sure, there were a couple parts where I said, no, not possible, but I rolled with it. She was a wonderful protagonist with such a great sense of identity. When you pick up a chick lit book you don’t always anticipate, or even hope for, real character growth and development. But I think Kinsella really nailed it.

There is one part in particular where she really nailed it. I had to go back and re-read. Kinsella had me totally fooled. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you know how it’s going to end when you start it, but the way she got there was just wonderful. Excellent author sleight of hand there.

Adorable.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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