Posts Tagged With: reviews

The BEST Obscure Books – Read off the Beaten Path!

Look – it’s fun to read what’s hot and new, isn’t it? I do it all the time. I see that book with thousands of reviews at 4.5 stars and I know I’m in for a good read. But, how fun is it to pick up that book with only a few reviews, maybe it was written ages ago, and you feel like you found a hidden treasure?

Here is your best of both worlds! Trust me on this – these little known books (fewer than 2,000 ratings on Good Reads) are SO worth your time – pick them up to today!

Caravan
Dorothy Gilman

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I’ve read this book twice now and it is truly incredible. It has everything – every twist and turn you can imagine. It’s the story of a young girl told by an old one where you can feel the truth of it but with the knowing eye of an old woman looking back. This is a book where horrible, terrible things can happen to the characters and somehow you still want their lives. This book is magic wrapped up in one neat little package and now I can’t say anything else without just positively gushing.

And I can’t wait to read it again!

In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams
Tahir Shah

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This is the only book I have ever finished and immediately wanted to re-read. I would have; but I really want to buy a paper copy and read it that way instead. I’m abroad right now, but when I get back in the states I will own this! I’m also planning on reading just about everything Tahir Shah has written.

So why? Why am I so ga-ga over this book? One of my greatest loves in life is traveling and this book just oozes with the emotions of a traveler. Shah is an individual who is restless, who is curious, who judges people with an eye of disbelief AND understanding, who takes people what they are and, while human being are unable to completely ever fill another’s shoes, he incorporates what he can. It’s incredible – I stopped multiple times while reading to ponder or scribble down a sentence. Shah’s words described my own emotions: it’s so wonderful to feel understood.

This book is both memoir and story – it’s a mixture of tales, events, meaningful and not. His ability to tie in everything makes me believes he’s led not only a great life but also a fascinating one – I believe this book is filled with both truths and fibs and it works beautifully into one tapestry. I picked it up because I was going to Morocco to travel – I’ve never been more excited to examine a place now after having read this book.

I’d recommend this to just about everyone who is willing to ponder new ideas, cultures, adventures, etc. It’s phenomenal!

The Girl Who Could Move Sh*T With Her Mind
Jackson Ford

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I clearly picked up this book because it has the best title in the known universe. And then it ended up being great! SCORE!

It’s hysterical. I seriously laughed out loud multiple times while listening to this (btw – the audio narration is excellent). I love Teagan as a character – beautiful perks and flaws. This book is full of action and adventure and the dynamic of the characters are so much fun. The ending got a smidge long but I can definitely overlook that and am so eager to get started on book 2.

My (Underground) American Dream
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.

Golden Earrings
Belinda Alexandra

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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.

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 incredible 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.

The Summer Fletcher Greel Loved Me
Suzanne Kingsbury

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I have never been to the south, at least not the “deep” south and, man, did this book make me want to go. It’s not that Kingsbury even made it seem that appealing – all she talked about was the heat, the way the sweat dripped down someone’s neck, the stifling air in the rooms, etc. But she really made me FEEL it and I haven’t really spent any time in that kind of environment…

It’s a powerful book. Kingsbury does such a great sense of having you /feel/ relationships. I could sense the tension or happiness or love or whatever they felt between the characters. It was invigorating.

Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones
Erica Jong

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This book was pretty astounding. Very rarely have I reacted to a book with as much gusto – and I’m not talking about tears and laughter here, I’m talking about flat out shock. In terms of fiction, I’ve never had a book startle me as much as this one did and I loved it all the more for it. Erica Jong wrote this in such a manner that I truly believed she was Fanny Hackabout-Jones. She said in the beginning that she would keep no modesty, and she kept true to her word. The events in this book had ways of simultaneously disgusting and arousing me but ultimately making me truly care for, and hate, the same ones that Fanny did. Fanny wanted to teach Belinda, her daughter, all the things she had learned in the world. At the very least, I think she succeeded in teaching me.

Incognito Street: How Travel Made Me a Writer
Barbara Sjohlm

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I’m a little biased as writing and travel are two of my absolute favorite things, but this is such a beautiful memoir that really takes you into her growth and self-discovery. Highly underrated and a truly beautiful book.

Death Wish (Reaper Reborn Series)
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 – Jade is such a fun character to follow and Brooks doesn’t pull the punches. Great series!

Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing
Steven Luna

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I sat down to read a chapter or two, just for a bit, and now I’m done. Devoured. That’s what happened with this book. Five, five, five stars.

This one had me from the get-go. Within about thirty seconds of reading you know Tyler Mills. He’s a teenage kid pissed off about something and is blaming it on his Dad for being a different person than him. At first you want to say “boo-hoo, kid” and kick off, but in the next thirty seconds you realize his Mom, his true connection, his source of inspiration, is dead. And then you feel bad about judging him for being all emo – and then you’re hooked.

What is it about Tyler that worked so well? It’s hard to pin-point. Maybe because he acted like a total teenager but his mind recognized how stupid he was being. Maybe because he was obviously smart and wanted to make good decisions but his fear and sadness was getting the best of him. If that isn’t a good representation of the young adult mind, I don’t know what is. The story was predictable but it moved quickly. The further it gets, in fact, the more cliché, but that didn’t detract at all. I loved it. I loved how I knew what was going to happen, I loved that Tyler did what I ultimately wanted him to do, and I love how it ended. Maybe I like clichés. I’m a firm believer that there are really only so many plotlines in the world, but there are never two personalities that are the same. It’s up to the writer to see an old situation from new eyes, and Luna nails it.

Love Perks of Being a Wallflower? Love angst? Love teenagers figuring out their shizz? How about if you just love good books? I don’t really care what you love – you’ll love this one.

Wall to Wall: From Beijing to Berlin by Rail
Mary Morris

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This book was phenomenal – not only is Mary Morris probably the most self-honest person on the planet (I don’t think I could read my actions for truth like she does even if I wanted to) but she’s a fantastic writer. Her personal struggles combined with the fascinating travel events make this a truly enthralling read. It’s set in such a dramatic time in history – Morris was in China, Russia, and Germany in 1986. Seeing some of those historic events happening through her eyes is unbelievably interesting. Great read!

Categories: Debuts, Lists, Pick Ups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 12 Favorite Books of 2020 (so far)

If there can be one good thing said about 2020 (and that’s a stretch, I know) it’s that it has given me a reason to double down on my reading. I have been positively devouring books this year and am proud to say I’ve finished 78 so far. Since we’re halfway through this delight of a year, I thought I would highlight some of my absolute favorites!

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

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You’re a good man, Linus Baker. I’m so very pleased to know you.

There may not be as accurate of a statement than this in the entire world. This book -guys, this BOOK. It’s like a dose of rainbow, sunshine, sprinkle glitter love happiness straight to the pleasure center. It’s beautiful.

Honestly, I want to write everything and yet nothing at all. You don’t need to know anything, you just need to read this book.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

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This is a truly wonderful book. Gah – I wish I could go back in time and read this as a young adult because it would have had even that much more POW.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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This is a fantastic book that should be read. Not only it is well written with personal stories and facts of cases, it’s properly balanced with success and failure. It’s not a story about only innocent people being released – it’s about criminals getting appropriate representation as well. I really appreciated that this didn’t just feel like a giant pat on the back, but it was the emphasis on how the broken system breaks individuals – and breaks those people of color even more disproportionately.

All in all, a great read.

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

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Undercover Bromance is a “great big manly hug huddle” (those are Lyssa Kay Adam’s words, not mine) and it’s and amazing 5/5 star book.

These books – they just GET me. I had legit belly laughs. I mean, the man-hating rooster? The banter? Heck, I was even belly laughing from FART jokes (I kid you not). It’s fun and funny and the relationships – romantic and friendship – are SO GOOD.

Can’t help it. Love these. Want more.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

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Confession: I have never, not once, seen an episode of the Bachelor. Which I assume this book is a literary version of.

Guys – this is the equivalent of a romantic “who dun it” – you literally can’t guess who the murderer, I mean, perfect lover is! I mean, okay, I guess I could but I also couldn’t. I’m not spoiling this for you but it’s kind of amazing.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

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Heaaaaarts, rainbowsssss, and sunshine.

That’s what I feel about this book. I adored it. I giggled – a LOT. The characters are delightful, the setting adorable, there’s some very satisfying sexy time and ogling, etc, etc. Basically, it was right up my alley and I highly recommend.

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

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If Sue Monk Kidd hadn’t written this book I NEVER would have picked it up. No way, no how. I have as little connection to any religion as possible – I was raised in the US and therefore have those Christian influences to my society, but had nothing by the way of religious education. For example – it wasn’t until the end of the book that I found out Anna was fictional. Ha!

So – yes, from a topic, not typically one of interest to me. And honestly there were parts that were a bit dry in the book or that I didn’t quite “get” because my lack of knowledge. But the essence of it… the drive Sue Monk Kidd put into the story and the protagonist. Anna is a storm to be reckoned with and merged with the society in which she lived – it was beautiful. The fact that Anna really was the center of this story, and the most interesting of the characters, and she was married to Jesus is pretty outstanding for the author, I have to say.

Overall, a truly great read and another example of the artwork that is Sue Monk Kidd’s writing.

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

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Wow – this was truly excellent. Complex without being confusing, unique without being unbelievable, and horrifying without being gross. Great characters who have enough of their own issues to be interesting but not so much so that they are distracting. I truly didn’t guess the ending. All in all, I very top notch crime thriller!

Beach Read by Emily Henry

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Welp, that was perfect.

And, for the record, I usually really dislike stories where the character is a writer. And this one had two writers.

It’s still perfect.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

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Ok – yeah, I was really skeptical about this book. The premise is bizarre and, honestly, after reading it, the premise is still really bizarre.

But, man, I liked it! The style of the narration is amazing, I wanted to quote about half of it. I love the main character and just the way she IS. The way she responds and adapts to the strange circumstances she’s put it is fascinating.

It’s super quirky and it’s a book that gave me a lot of thoughts and feels. And that’s how I’m leaving that review.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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Well, I should know better than to read what is the first in what is very clearly going to be a series so soon after it is published. I want to read the next one immediately and now I have to wait 😦

This is great – it raw and unique and Alex Stern is a bada**. I had a little trouble getting into it at the beginning and, frankly, it’s a dense book. I was trying to read it quickly but it takes a lot of mind power – there is a LOT that goes on here. That’s not a bad thing, it’s actually really good, but get ready for the investment.

All in all, Bardugo hit another one out of the park.

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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What an excellent book. I blew through this in a single day – which is no small feat in the chaos that is my life.

Maybe it’s just me, but I love when I come across a book where everything just works. The story is perfectly paced and snappy with action, dialogue, introspection, and magic. The character relationships are genuine and heartfelt – the main characters, Ryn and Ellis, are beautiful and flawed. The problems they face are real and unique. This is such a fascinating story that I have – and haven’t – heard before.

Oh – and it’s a zombie book, so, you know, that makes is automatically awesome.
Categories: Lists, Pick Ups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

1 out of 5 stars for The Baller by Vi Keeland

The Baller: A Down and Dirty Football NovelThe Baller: A Down and Dirty Football Novel by Vi Keeland
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ugh. No.

Look – this book had a lot of potential. What’s not to like? Super hot and talented football player and equally hot and talented reporter fall for each other. Let’s make it happen.

But man – in the end, what WASN’T wrong with this book? Okay, so here are the reasons why I, personally, pick up a book like this (in no particular order).

1) For the laughs
2) For the sex
3) For the characters/story

If it can grant me, honestly, even one of those three, then I’m pretty happy. If it can give me one of those three without irritating me with other things, then I’m really happy. This book didn’t do ANY of it in the end.

Let’s review:
1) For the laughs – there was some serious potential here. I mean, a cocky, sexy football player? and when he first meets the reporter he drops his towel? That scene made me laugh for sure. It was perfectly awkward. Annnd that was pretty much the only time I laughed in this whole book. The rest of the jokes were just blah. I mean, Brody made a joke about wanting to “eat” Delilah like 100 times. Original. Not.

2) For the sex – the sex sucked. No really – I know you think I’m joking, but I’m not. It really, really sucked. First off, it was dragged way too far out and when they finnnnally bumped uglies it was just that – ugly. It was rushed and didn’t even make a lot of sense physically. And that was probably the best sexual encounter of the book. Most of it was just glossed over, to be honest with you. At one point the author literally said “many hours and multiple orgasms later” – uhhh, HELLO? I don’t pick up a book with THAT cover to have you skip that shizz! Light it up, lady!

3) For the characters/story – this genre doesn’t always have the greatest reputation for characters and stories and I’ll admit, sometimes I’m okay with generic or cliche if it means I get numbers 1 and 2. But It still has to WORK. Ultimately, this book was just sigh-worthy. First off, cocky and arrogant Brody fell way too hard and way too fast. I mean, honestly, why? Apparently Delilah was love at first sight? Even though we later learn he was still hung up on his girl-next-door-druggie-whatever-that-was? That was a stretch.

Regardless, Brody was just a shell of the ‘perfect’ guy. Hey, ladies, I’m super hot and arrogant but oooh wait no I’m really super sweet and caring and do everything perfectly. Gah. The attractive cockiness dissolved into stupid one-off (not funny) comments and we were just left with a super sensitive man with muscles. Boring.

And don’t even get me started on Delilah’s mess of humanity. She made no sense. At ALL. I mean, Delilah was doing a sex ‘cleanse’ but then claimed she didn’t ever have sex with anyone without being in a relationship first? Uuuh, okay? Then he can’t be with Brody because she never gave up on her old fiance who died? I mean, I guess but that only came up halfway through the book. And what was the point of her fear of flying? No point. None. I kept thinking it was going to matter but it didn’t. It didn’t even matter for a funny scene. Stuff like that really irritates me in stories. Make people’s quirks matter!

I’m not even going to mention how the book ends. Not the last real chapter and not the epilogue. I was ROLLING my EYES so hard they almost popped out, I swear.

There is lots more I can complain about, but I’m going to leave you with my one really big, HUGE, issue with this book. There is no FOOTBALL. NONE. A couple of stats are thrown out here and there but otherwise we see NOTHING. And the man plays (and wins!) the damn SUPER BOWL.

I just. I cannot. Stop before you start here, people.

Categories: Put Downs, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See – 3/5

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Man, I am so in the minority here. Sorry, guys, but I just did not find myself enjoying this book.

Maybe it’s because at this point I have read a decent amount of WWII books. I dabble in a lot of historical fiction set in Europe during that time, and I’ve also found about an equal amount of memoirs or biographies as well. It might not be fair to compare the books but in all the ones I’ve read this one just really fell short for me.

What was it missing? I don’t know exactly. It took a really long time for me as a reader to see the connection between the stories, and, in reality, I still don’t really see it. Yes, paths crossed but… why do I care again? I guess there was impact, kind of, but it just didn’t feel meaningful to me. The timeline jumps around which, I guess, is to make the story not feel like its unfolding as slowly as it is, but it didn’t fool me at all. I kept waiting for something unpredictable to happen but it all just fell more or less into place. I also thought the story of a blind girl would be more poetic. I don’t think Doerr did a poor job, but it wasn’t as different as I expected it to be.

I really should have loved this book. I’m a sucker for WWII stories, historical fiction in general, and, to top it all off, I’ve been to (and am in LOVE with) the town of St. Malo. Just having that as a setting should have caused me to fall in love but instead it was like I was kept at arms length. I just didn’t really connect with anyone, nothing shocked me, and even the hardships of war didn’t hit me like they should have.

Sorry, Doerr. It’s not that it was bad, per se, and I did enjoy the last few chapters when finally, finally it all seemed to come together (though not to any real satisfaction) but the rest of it just felt flat to me. I can’t say I would recommend this book. I’ve much sooner refer someone to read The Invisible Bridge. Now that is one hell of a WWII historical fiction.

Categories: Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2014 End Of Year Book Survey

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Each year, Jamie from the Perpetual Page Turner does a Year-End Book Survey. I’m a total sucker for surveys – so here is my own take from this year! (P.S. – if you don’t know about Jamie’s blog yet – GO there! It’s amazing!)

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Number Of Books You Read: 58
Number of Re-Reads: 1
Genre You Read The Most From: Hard to tell – probably a tie between YA and women’s fiction

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Best Book You Read In 2014?

wings

In my opinion, Sue Monk Kidd blew this away.  This book is just perfect in so many ways – fascinating historical fiction, great characterization, excellent writing, good pacing. It’s perfection and she deserves all the praise!

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

lost

As a lover of women travel memoirs, I thought this was going to be a great read.  I really didn’t like it though – it just fell flat.

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?

oryx

This book was surprising in a number of ways – one because Atwood is one of my favorite authors but I wasn’t 100% in love with the book (it took me FOREVER to get through) and two because of it’s shocking ending!

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

gotham

I didn’t have to push too hard – this book is well-known for being excellent (and it is!)

Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

heartsblood

Outlander is still so incredibly fantastic.  This isn’t the season ender (thank goodness!) but it’s going to be AGES before the next one comes out!

Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

golden

It’s a little hard to say that Alexandra is a favorite author since I’ve only read one book,but this one was incredible and I am absolutely going to try another one from her ASAP.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

doubt

This is definitely a newer genre for me – in truth I don’t know if I’ve ever read a crime thriller.  I had some issues with this first book in the series but I liked the second one much better.

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

phenomenal

Definitely “unputdownable” – I read this all in one sitting and was completely taken with it. Highly recommend.

Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

worldafter

I love to re-read parts of series in preparation for the next one!

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

romancing

Women in pretty dresses on the front of romance novels are always wonderful, but I find this one particularly gorgeous.  Look at that color!

Most memorable character of 2014?

smoke

It’s not really fair to say just “character” – I think all the characters in this series are totally memorable. Very unique (as is the whole story) and it all works so well together. Karou is fantastic.

Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

lettersfromskye

I adore the way this story unfolds. I’m a sucker for any kind of novel that includes letters but I really enjoyed how this one left mystery throughout.  The life was an unveiling – very well done!

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

gifts

Okay, so I think “life-changing” is a bit heavy-handed but thought-provoking, certainly.  There’s a lot to ponder about who are and aren’t the bad guys – and the ending through a wrench into everything. I found it fascinating (and really readable!)

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?

poisonwood

This book has seriously been on the list forever.  I am sad I waited so long, too, it’s an incredible story and I’d like to try more of Kingsolver’s books.

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

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“I love you,” he whispered. “I hope you don’t mind.”

Okay, so I technically finished re-reading this in 2015 but I read 80% of it in 2014.  I love how simple this line is and it totally works for the story.  Ahhh, Touchstone!

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2014?

fierycross hishaven

I was really surprised to see that Fiery Cross was longer than the latest George R.R. Martin.  It did not feel like it at all – I plowed through this installment so fast!

Book That Shocked You The Most

gold

With any biography like this, there are things that will shock me, but maybe I was most shocked by how tame this one ended up being.  I really felt like a lot of it was sugar-coated or glossed over.

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

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Cinder and the Captain ❤

Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

siegeandstorm

This was just a wonderful second installment – and it almost made the list for the book that shocked me the most!

Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

earthabides

I read this book only because it was for my sci-fi book club and absolutely LOATHED it.  Ugh!

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

happy

Graham was frickin’ adorable, even if the book overall was not. I wish we could have seen MORE of him. (If you know what I mean!)

Best 2014 debut you read?

berlin

I actually didn’t really read many/any debuts this year. It’s kind of a cop-out to call this a “debut” but it is, technically, her only publication.

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

dance

As many things as I don’t like about Martin’s writing, you certainly have to give him credit for world building.

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

rosie

Oh my goodness, this book is the definition of a fun read.

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

neartoyou

Oh yes, this book has ALL the feels.  Add in the fact that it’s based on fact and it’s impossible not to get misty-eyed.

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

phenomenal

Per what I said before, this is a book that can easily sweep you away if you let it.

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Weddingnight

Okay, so “crushing my soul” is a little dramatic, but I was really disappointed by this book. It had so much potential and it all just fell so flat.

Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

impulse

It wasn’t so much the story that was unique, but the way in which it was written.  Definitely a nice change of pace.

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

belltolls

It made me mad just because I really want to like Hemingway and I can’t do it.  This book was a beast to get through and I definitely consider it a waste of my life to have trudged through it. That direct Spanish to English translation of dialogue is just horrible.

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One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

isla

I don’t buy a lot of YA books because I read them so quickly and this was always checked out at the library.  I hope some of the popularity will go down and I can get my hands on it this year!

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

mrkiss

Oh man, I loved the first installment of this series and I can’t wait to listen to the next!

2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

simon

I actually don’t keep up much on debuts, but I saw Jamie’s review for this one and my interest is definitely piqued!

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

angelfall3

Seriously. So excited.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

Successfully have my baby in March!  That’s pretty much the one life goal. It would be great to keep reading some books, too, but let’s be honest, I’ll have some other priorities. 🙂

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups, Put Downs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: Mockingjay – 2/5

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Beware!  Rage ahead! – I actually read this book a couple years back before any of the movies were around, but I thought now would be a good time to re-earth the review.

Ugh. I think that’s a pretty good overall reaction to this book. Just ugh. The last three hours of listening to this was flat out annoying. I do not understand how people think this is good… I mean, maybe it’s easier to read and skim past Katniss’ irritating inner monologue but when it’s in audio book format there’s just no escaping it.

Seriously though, this book sucks. I only give it 2 starts instead of 1 because it is part of a larger trilogy and I enjoyed Catching Fire a decent amount. Was Katniss less annoying there? Or maybe I was able to ignore her the first 50 or so times and then finally broke.

Katniss is a ridiculous character. She’s supposedly this strong girl – emotionally capable of surviving the harsh world of district 12, of basically raising her family, having the strength to volunteer to (what she thinks) die for her little sister, and dealing with the emotional turmoil that was the games itself. That’s pretty bad ass.

But somewhere toward the end of Catching Fire and certainly in Mockingjay instead of being that strong, smart, independent young woman, Katniss is a quivering lump of jelly who second, third, forth guesses EVERYTHING from her sanity, the sanity of others, who she loves, who doesn’t she love, what people’s intentions are, whether the rebels are good, bad, whether the sun is actually in the sky, if rabbits exist, what the color blue is, whether she should kill herself, whether she should destroy the world, if unicorns exist, whatever I DON’T CARE. JUST GROW A PAIR. SRSLY. Katniss is fricking USELESS. And – just like Twilight and all the other stupid young adult books that think self-sacrifice and multiple lovers is the only way to have a proper love story, Katniss is nothing more than a little girl who can’t look internally and actually figure something out. EVER. Instead everyone else has to do it for her and die for her and trust her and blah blah blah stupid.

Oh – and another thing. Authors that think using nightmares as a way to show someone’s mental distress are twats. Lazy twats. And Collins uses nightmares about three times a chapter. I get it. Life is horrifying. She’s scared. She’s traumatized. News flash, I already know that from her stupid “ahh, I’m so broken and confused and damaged” thought processes that occur every 7.8 seconds.

Katniss and her breakdowns make me want to shake Collins by the shoulder and give her a backhand. Yes, I know Katniss has lost a lot of people in her life. Her dad, friends in district 12, people she knew in the hunger games, other important people (spoilery)…Obviously that’s hard. But here’s the thing. SO HAS EVERYONE ELSE. Everyone in this freaking book has had a hard life! Everyone has lost their family, their friends, other loved one, other neighbors, the list goes on! Yet why is Katniss such a little bi-otch? Why does she has the ridiculous mental breakdowns where she’s silent for MONTHS. Where she semi-kills herself with drugs? Where she’s sobbing and irrational and people have to slap her? Oh yeah, because Collins thinks it’s dramatic or some crap. Instead it’s just ridiculous and it’s a cop out. Do you see Gale falling apart? Do you see any number of other characters falling apart for no reason? Sure, there’s a handful of other with mental issues – Finnick for one – but at least those have some kind of literal mental breakdown. And at least for them it happens ONCE. No, instead Katniss has to fall apart multiple times in the most dramatic way possible. It’s disgusting and flat out annoying.

You’ll probably note I haven’t talked about the plot line at all. It’s fine. Nothing too exciting, a little slow in fact, and pretty predictable. If the characters were less annoying I don’t think I would have a problem with it.

Sorry, I don’t know why this book rubbed me the wrong way. I probably shouldn’t be so angry about it – I should just have shrugged my shoulders and tossed it aside. I think it’s because of the hype though. So many people have read through this half-jizzing themselves the whole time when it’s really just crap. It’s poor writing that stems from a series getting popular before the end.

My last and final outrage was the epilogue.  It wasn’t as bad as the Harry Potter epilogue but it was darn close.  The Hunger Games, of all trilogies, should not end with a sugary-sweet Disney happy ending type of story.  It’s placating to the masses instead of sticking to the theme and, after all the let-downs of the book itself, it isn’t even of interest to me.  Do I care about who is happy and who isn’t?  Not really when I as a reader am so disappointed.

All in all – gross.

I have to say that I haven’t yet watched the Mockingjay Part 1 movie yet – I have enjoyed the first two movies so far and I hope that Hollywood adapts Katniss as a character and makes her better than this final book allowed.  We’ll see!

Categories: Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: The Girl with All the Gifts – 5/5

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

gifts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really want to give this book a nice, solid slow clap. This book goes down like a really well-made plain cheesecake. When you take a bite, you get the flavors you expect, it is just what you had hoped for, but somehow it is also still so much BETTER. Start to finish, Carey really nailed this one. This book has so much of everything and Carey just did it right.

In essence, this is a zombie story. End of the world, post-apocalyptic zombies. In many ways we have heard this story multiple times before; good humans and bad humans and always the zombies. But nothing about this story is dull. The protagonist just isn’t who you think she is. In fact, no one quite is. The story line moves quickly and effectively. It provides all the necessary drama to, what I think, is the best part – the character reveals.

The book keeps you guessing a subtle way. The twists and subtle and believable. It all is works and I sincerely find myself in awe because of it. These kinds of stories often have gaping holes, but I think Carey really cinched this one up.

It can be a quick read, but I think it’s one that will stay with you. Well worth the read.

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

Book Review: Thousand Pieces of Gold – 3/5

Thousand Pieces of Gold by Ruthanne Lum McCunn

gold

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s hard to rate these kinds of books anything by the highest rating. I mean, how terrible and calloused of me is it to rate a book about a young Chinese girl who is sold by her family only three stars? But I have to be honest – it just lost me after the first third of the book.

I’m just going to come out and say it. After Lalu gets to the U.S., her life just really isn’t that bad. Now before I start getting hate mail, I understand there was a lot of fear and challenge in her life and I absolutely marvel at that. I get that Lalu was an amazing and strong individual and this is the story of her life. I just felt like the first part, when she was really young, was the true essence of the story. She kind of found her happily ever after – so why did the book keep going?

That’s always my problem with biographies, in all honesty. We’re always forced to read right up to the very end. But someone’s death isn’t always the climax of their life. This needed to end far sooner and it would have proved to be, overall, much more entertaining and impactful.

I can’t say I’m sorry to have learned about Lalu’s life – I am glad that I know this woman existed. I just wasn’t entirely thrilled with the portrayal of her story. I’d only recommend this to someone who has a very keen interest in that time period and geography, otherwise it’s likely not worth your time.

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

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