Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Year in Review- the Best Books I Read in 2015

I would say that 2015 was a very good year.  I read many great books this year, but the following are my favorites for the year.  They come in no particular order and they are all wonderful reads!

Product DetailsRobin Sloan, in this gorgeous work, talks about the right book at the right time.   This definiately was that book for me.  It has a colorful cast of characters, all richly developed and a delightful plot with a purpose.  I loved it.   If you haven't read it yet, it's fantastic and if you are doing the PopSugar Reading Challenge -  it does have a yellow cover.  :)

Product Details  Not just one of the best books this year, but one of my favorite books ever ( don't get excited, the list is long and distinguished).   Me Before You is a book that I put off reading forever.  It was recommended by friend and I should have read it immediately as this friend never steers me wrong.  I have since read EVERYTHING of Jojo Moyes and loved them all - but this one is my favorite.  If you haven't read it, stop what you are doing and read it NOW, before the movie comes out in 2016.

Product Details This was one of the best fantasy novels I have read in a long time.  It was sort of like The Selection meets the Hunger Games with a little Red Rising thrown in for good measure.  In spite of that though, the plot was original and the characters enchanting.   I simply adored Mare and have the sequel, The Glass Sword on automatic download on my Kindle.  Can't wait.

Product DetailsThis book was just plain FUN.  I couldn't put it down.  All the twists and turns keep you guessing throughout.  Plus,  I'm a Kindergarten teacher and I could definitely see the parents and some of the scenarios described.

Product DetailsI absolutely loved the first book in this series, Red Rising,  but as good as it is,  this book was ever better.  It packs a POWERFUL punch as a space odessy/ dystopian sci-fi.   I loved every second.  Darrow is a brilliant character with depth of emotion and the story line is complex and well thought out. This  probably was my favorite book all year because it's enjoyable, fast paced, but still complex and well developed.  The third installment comes out in February - I am counting the days!

Product Details  This book has all the feels.  It's about two young people, Violet and Finch, who met while they are both on the roof contemplatng suicide.   This book isn't about that though,  it's about the ups and downs of mental illness and what it really means to live your life.   It stays with you long after the story is done.  Sometimes when I have just finished a book, I can't remember the characters names but this time, Violent and Finch are still with me.   This book makes you think and changes attitudes.  It's a wonderful, wonderful book.

Product DetailsJessmyn Ward was a new author for me in 2015.  I read this one for the PopSugar Challange because it was an award winner.   This book really opens  the mind to experiences and different lifestyle choices.  I hate animal cruelty in all it's forms, but I could understand why some of the characters did what they do in the novel.  I think that it richly describes how poor people live in certain parts of the country and accurately describes one families experiences leading up to Hurricane Katrina.

Product DetailsWinner of the 2015 Pulitizer Prize for Fiction - this award was so well deserved. This book is fantastic.  It has lavish vocabulary with stunning descriptions of people, places and emotions.  I could taste the peaches the writing is THAT good.   It took me a little bit of time to get into the story but this one is well worth the effort.

Product DetailsI  LOVED this book. It's the story of  Zan, a chimpanzee who is adopted by a reseracher and his family and raised as a human.  The hypothesis of the research was the effort to teach chimpanzees American Sign Language in order to communicate.   The young boy in this family, Ben, is resentful of Zan and the attention he gets at first, but comes to truly view the chimp as his brother.  This is a story about love and what really makes a family.   I loved it so very much!

and last but never least.....

Product Detailsthe Pulitizer Prize for non fiction for 2015.  This book is fascinating - scary, but fascinating.  I loved the science and the detailed discussions especially in regard to the Rhinos and the Golden Panamanian Frogs.  I remember reading about the mass extinction of the frogs in the last 70's or early 80's in Ranger Rick magazine - true story.  At any rate, especially if you are a naysayer on Global Climate change - this book is for you.

Yes, 2015 was a great year and I am looking forward to 2016.   Happy Reading everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Kissing In America by Margo Rabb

   I've waited a long time to read thisbook.  I've been waiting forever and finally,  it went on sale and I scooped it up.   I almost never pay full price for a book  unless it's an author that I buy without even reading the cover - like Leila Meacham,  Kate Morton or Gillian Flynn.    This book was somehow both more and less than what I thought it would be.

The book is about a girl, Eva,  who lost her father to a terrible tragedy.  As a result of her and her mother's inability to deal with their grief,  Eva seems to be floundering aimlessly, until she meets Will.   You konw,  he's the perfect boy that has  some commonality with her that just seems to "get it" and when she's with him, even her grief goes away.  Vomit.    But alas,   Will has to move to CA to be with his dad and maybe our star crossed lovers will never see each other again.

Now for the REAL part of the story-  the abiding friendship between Annie and Eva.   They plan an across country trip to participate in a game show - The Smartest Girl in America.  Eva, of course, wants to see Will ( vomit)   but also to help Annie win the show so that  she can achieve her life long dream of  attending MIT.

I won't give away any more of the plot.  Here's what I liked:  I loved the real grief that Eva has for her father.   I adored the friendship between Eva and Annie and that Annie finally learned the true value of that  friendship.  I hated Eva's weakness when it came to boys and I absolutely despised what a complete douche  that Will is.     In spite of the great travel scenes, the flavor of America,  the  lessons about living life - this book was only eh for me.  I gave it three stars because it is well written.

A Bit of Tickle for the Mind by Melinda McIntosh Reading Challenge Task #5

 I read this for my Facebook group's reading challenge - like the PopSugar Challenge - but larger and more comprehensive.   I could have put this book a couple places:   A book with a yellow cover, a book I got for free or a book of poetry but I ultimately chose to put it here because I really don't read that much poetry.  I used to,  I even wrote a bit, some which was published but then I grew out of my teenage angst.  This book made me want to go back.

It's not a large book and the poems range over many different topics.  I would read one or two a day, think about them and move one.  Some of them really spoke to me so strongly, others not so much, but they were all beautifully written.I really enjoyed reading it and I think I will read more poetry going into the future.   I gave this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford

The Pocket Wife   I read this book for my 2016 reading challenge.  This one is task # 17 - a debut novel. I picked this one up because the cover and title intrigued me and let me just say that I am not usually a fan of mysteries - they have to be really exceptional to get me to like it - and this one is stunning  from start to finish.

This is the story of Dana and Peter - a married couple living in the Burbs  until one day, Dana's best friend and neighbor , Celia,  has something t tell Dana about her husband.   After that, nothing is the same and nothing is what it seems to be.

I loved Jack, the dectective in the case.  I loved all the characters and the unforeseeable twists and turns.  If this is the type of work that Susan Crawford has to offer, then I can't wait for her to write aother book!  There have been so many book - AWFUL books - all compared to Gone Girl or claiming to be "the next Gone Girl".   This is the first one that comes even close with the kind of unexpected plot developements  that Gillian Flynn is famous for.  If you like mysteries or are a fan or Gone Girl,  read this one today.  5 stars. A stunning debut.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

   This one has been sitting on my to be read pile for some time and I finally got around to reading it.  Once in a century a person is chosen by God to be the bearer of the Godstone.   Prophecy says that she will lead her people to the gates of the enemy and fight the realm of sorcery.  The problem is, Elisa is the younger, pampered princess who has no idea how she is to go about achieving this feat.

She is sent by her father and sister into a marriage of convenience to secure an alliance for the coming war.  The problem is, Elisa's husband is more than happy to keep their marriage a secret.  Elisa is unhappy and unsure who she can trust.

I don't want to give too much of the plot away.  I thought that the plot of this story is very unique.  It's about a girl who learns to become more than she thought she was capable of, which is a common enough plot line, but it occurs in a completely new way.   I enjoyed reading the story though was somewhat dissatsified with the ending of book one.   With so many books that I want to read, this will not be a series that I will pursue further but for those who like fantasy and don't have  hang up about happy endings, it may be worth pursuing..

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

   This book was recommended by a friend to our book club for our discussion for the month of Dececmber.  I didn't have high hopes,  it isn't a book I would have selected for myself but can I just tell you that I absolutely LOVED it.

The book starts out when Allan decides that he doesn't want to attend his own 100th birthday party, so he climbs out the widow and has an adventure.   Everything seems so impromptu and yet, if you have any experience with older people, seem somehow completely plausible.   This story was laugh out loud funny and I found Allan to be completely relatable.

I loved that fact that even at 100, Allan still felt like he had life to live.  He wasn't ready to pack it all up and celebrate the past, he was still busy living.   And what a life!    I think that in our society today, older people are often underestimated.   This book really brings that to the fore.  Sometimes it is a bit long, but it truly is  worth every minute spent reading it.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Cutting for Stone

   A friend and co-worker loaned this book to me.  It had been recommended to me many times, but when she put it in my hands, it moved to the front of my TBR list.

This is a powerful book - a story of twin brothers, Marion and Shiva, whose mother dies when they are born and who are abandoned by their father.   They are raised by surrogate paretns, Hema and Abhi.   The brothers are initially very close, but are torn apart by their love for the same woman.  The favored brother, Shiva, is very spoiled and allows Marion to bear the brunt of his actions, causing irrepairable damage to their relationship.

I love that this is a story of Redemption.  It's about realizing your mistakes and trying to make amends.  It's also about Karma.  Certain characters definitely represent the karmic idea that what comes around, goes around.   I loved that there were so many twists and turns that I never saw coming.  The book has a slow start, but by mid-way through becomes a real page turner.   I gave it 5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

Product Details This is a charming Christmas story told in typical Hilderbrand style.  Kelly Quinn is the owner of the Winter Street Inn on Nantucket Island, of course.  Every year, he and Mitzi put on a big Christmas party that is the social event of the season.  This year though, both the Inn and the family are struggling.

Bart, Kelly and Mitzi's youngest son, is currently deployed to Afghanistan.  The other adult children from Kelly's first marriage are also home iwth an assortment of their own joys and troubles.  When tragedy strikes, will the family be able to come together?

I expected the story to wrap up in a beautiful little Christmas bow, but was surprised when it didn't.  There were story lines just left - literally in the air.   I know this is a series but I was surprised by that.  I enjoyed this book, but not her best.  I gave it three out of five stars and I would recommend it for holiday reading.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The 9th of November by Colleen Hoover

   A friend from a great place for book lovers - Book Haven - a closed group on Facebook  -  turned me onto Colleen Hoover two years ago.  ( Thanks Amy!  And, if your on Facebook, ask to join and tell them Laurie Schultz sent you!)   I've been a fan ever since. The first book of hers I read - Hopeless - was amazing and started a trail of enjoyable reading culminating most recently in this wonderful book.

I'm not one to read Romance novels but there are so many ways that this author makes you genuinely connect with her characters  that it's a thing of  beauty.   In this book, Fallon is a young girl with many scars.  Ben is a young man that she meets through chance.  They have an instant connection, but neither wants to engage in anything serious as Fallon is moving across country that very night.   They agree to meet up once a year for the next five years on the 9th of  November.   This book is their incredible story.

I don't want to give any more away, but as a book lover, this book is just pure fun and enjoyment.  It's a real page turner, I read it in less than a day.   For my male readers, probably not for you, but you never know.  Ben reads romance novels.   :)  I gave this one 5 out of 5 stars for the feels and enjoyment.   To Ms. Hoover,   I'm a huge fan - keep writing!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

   I'm not sure what compelled me to pick this one up, but whatever it was, I'm glad for the inspiration.

This is the story of young Oskar, who lost his father during the attacks on September 11th.   Oskar finds a key among his father's belongings and goes on an incredible journey to find the lock that the key opens.  Along the way, Oskar meets a strange assortment of characters, most with the last name Black, who help him along his way.

In his quest,Oskar inadvertently  finds healing for himself and many others as well.   Sometimes the book was difficult to follow as it changed perspectives and narrators.  Still, it was well worth facing this challenge.

That day is a day that still lives close in my heart.  I remember watching the towers fall.  I remember the jumpers, and the smoke and the tragedy.  Oskar's story tells his experience of that shared collective memory.  4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christmas with Book Club by Heather Woodhaven

  After finishing my reading goal for the year,  I wanted to read something lighter.   Something fun.  This book is pure, feel- good fluff.  There is nothing terribly thought provoking or heavy about it, but then, there isn't meant to be.

This is the story about a group of women,  brought together at various stages in thier lives by their love of books.    I enjoyed how I could relate to each character and the issues that they were going through in their marriages - finding time together, keeping the fire burning after years together,  building traditions, working within their lives purpose.

Apparently, this is the second book in the "book club" series.  The first provides some background on the characters and how they challenged themselves to live fuller lives.  It is called The Secret Life of Book Club.  Anyway, this Christmas version can stand alone if you would like it to.   I got it free from Kindle Unlimited.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Program by Suzanne Young

  For lovers of Dystopian novels, this novel is a must.   This is the first truly unique dystopian novel that I have read in a while.  

Teen suicide is an International epidemic.  Sloane's brother, Brady, takes his own life.   Sloane's parents will do anything to keep their remaining child alive.   The Program is the only cure for the Epidemic but those who come out, return very different.  Their depression is gone, but so are their memories.

I love that this is a terrific love story but also so much more than that.  I gave it 5 out of 5 stars.  Loved the originality, the loyalty and determination of the characters and most of all, I'm a sucker for a true love story.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

  I love this cover - the colors ,the stark contrast of the girl and the stars in the sky.... all just so appealling.    This is the story of a young women, Charlotte, who is the inheritor of a great fortune and Bay, a man who loves horses and wants to ride in the Grand National.

I have loved horses since I was a child - long before I ever read about Violet and her paper horses  and the Grand National.  So the story line here was just so fascinating to me.   It wasn't necessarily a quick read but it was impossible to put down.  All the characters were so well thought out and developed.  I especially loved how strong and unique a character Charlotte is.  She is a true original.

This book was just a joy.  I loved every minute of it.   Maybe for those who didn't have the same interests are myself, the book may not read with the same zeal  but I do recommend it.  I gave it 5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker

Product DetailsI have to say that everything about this book intrigued me:  the title, the cover, the concept.   I picked it up because I felt compelled to do so, and I am so glad that I did.  This book truly is one of those books that really changes your life - your thinking patterns, how you view things, your entire attitude.

I was amazed at the changes in my own life when I really opened myself up for the 29 Gifts.  I believe that an attitude of gratitude is crucial to leading a happy life, but this book even takes it beyond that concept.

Cami Walker has MS.   I have a friend that also struggles with MS so I know how dibilitating that disease can be, but this book isn't about her MS, it's about life and living it to the fullest.   I would highly recommend this book to everyone!  I loved it,  I think you will, too.   So for my own gift, the first person who comments with "I'd love to read this" and an e-mail address.... I will contact you and send you a copy.   :)   Read it.

Max: Best Friend. Hero. Marine by Boaz Yakin

   I saw the previews for the movie and while it looked very sad, it also looked very good.   I've read quite a few books about military dogs this year and I was intrigued.  Of course, as a book lover, the rule in my house is you don't see the movie unless you have read the book.  I know the movie would have been a disaster for me, but the book was more approachable.

This is the story of a boy, Justin, who loses his older brother, Kyle, in the war.   Kyle was one of those special Marines who is lucky enough to work with a service dog.   The military brought Max back to the States for Justin's funeral.   Max didn't take the lose very well and had difficulty adjusting to a new handler.   The military deemed him dangerious and was going to have him destroyed, but somehow, he responded to Justin.   Justin's family agrees to take Max on and a wonderful bond is born.  But when Kyle's best frined, Tyler, comes home from the war, why does Max react the way he does?   This is a great story about loss, love and loyalty.

I especially recommend it for boys - reluctant readers - between the ages of 8-13 and young ones experiencing a loss.  4 out of 5 stars.

9 and a Half Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair by Elizabeth McNeill

  I picked this one up because it was free and short.   I saw the movie with Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke many years ago - ( he was fabulous).  There are two things that really strike me about this book - 1. the fact that it is a real story and 2. the cool detachment with which it is both written and experienced.

Elizabeth McNeill was a powerful executive when she began her love affair with the man - we never know his name.    It starts off with "May I blindfold you?" and quickly expands from there.   Her life is a story of contrasts - the tight, powerful control that she has during the day and the complete abdication of control during her evening and weekend hours.  One example that comes to mind is allowing herself to be handcuffed to the table leg while the man eats dinner and feeds her scraps like a dog.   I undrstand how the complete lack of control could possibly be exhilarating but the lengths that some people go is surprising.

This book was well written and interesting.  Not shocking, not pornographic, just the facts of her life for 9 and a half weeks.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

23341894  Samantha is a 17 year old junior in highschool who is searching for her identity.  She is friends with the "popular" crowd, but senses that there is more to herself than she is currently showing the world.  She questions whether her friends can be trusted when they criticize every outfit, decision and crush.   Sam knows that she can't trust them with the truth about her OCD.

Then Sam meets Caroline and her whole world changes.  Suddently Sam is feeling normal, fitting in, making new friends and maybe more.   She tells her psychologist that she feels "healthy" for the first time.   What will Sam discover about herself and her new friend that will cause her to question these feelings?

I loved the Glee like feel of Poets Corner and all the well developed characters there.    The characters that are superficial in the novel - mainly the 8's, are superficial because they are that way i life, as well.  I thought that this was a great book with a very poignant message.  I loved the idea of small changes making a big impact and often in ways for other people that we never get to see.   I look forward to reading more from this author.  4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

   In the beginning part of 2014,  a friend introduced me to this wonderful author.  She recommended a book called Hopeless, which I absolutely adored.  I loved it so much that I added the author to my list of authors I always read.   That helped me find Never, Never which is a completely different kind of story - but engrossing, compelling and everything I have come to expect from Colleen Hoover.

Yesterday I was scrolling through my facebook feed when I found a post about a movie being made out of this book .... Ugly Love.   It also contained this yumilicious picture....
Nick Bateman  I was intrigued so I decided to check it out.  I'm so glad I did.  This book is a gem.  It's a quick, engaging love story that is so much more than a love story.   Miles is an airline captain with a devastating past.  Tate is a nurse who just moved in across the hall.  They agree to a unconventional relationship - red, hot,, steamy sex with no emotional strings attached.  Needless to say, this does't work long for either of them.

It's a fantastic read, especially if you like steamy.   Colleen Hoover never disappoints!

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Change (The Bachelor Battles Book 1) by Angela White

   Imagine a world where  a virus has infected the entire female population causing them to become rabid, violent beings.   The only thing that can ease the effects of the change is having a mate.  Also effected by the virus?  Male birth rate.   Men become extremely rare - a commodity used by the government to control the population.

Daniel and Candice were childhood friends - meant to be together until Daniel's poverty stricken family sells him to the government.   Candice swears that she will get Daniel back.   Years later, she enters the Bachelor Games - a fight to the death with the prize for the winner being the bachelor of their choice.

The battle scenes were quick, not well fleshed out.   I dont' need gory details but the entire part of the book dealing with the games seemed to be over rather quickly.   The plot was actually more about infiltrating the Rebels - run by free males.  The sex scenes, which were numerous, were steamy and exciting not for young adult eyes.

I thought that the character of Daniel was the most developed and the relationship between him and Candace was very sweet.  That said,  I think so much more could have been done.  It's an interesting concept but I think more character interaction and analysis would enhance the book.  I will not read the next one in the series. 3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir

  I was late coming to the party.  So many people were reading this book and saying truly great things about it. I usually try to avoid the books that "everybody reads" but....  Finally, it was offereed at  sale price for Kindle so I said, "What the heck?"  

Obviously, this is the story of astronaut Mark Watney who is accidentially left by his crewmates stranded on Mars.   I like to think of this book as the modern day Robinson Crusoe, except that ,of course, Robinson had his Friday but Watney has literally no one.   Part of the writing was a little dry.... he goes on for an awfully long time about planting potatoes in his own shit but it's understandable.  Feeding yourself is a rather large problem when you are on a different planet.

I found the writing enjoyable - at times even laugh out loud funny.  My husband is an engineer so there were moments where I could really relate to Watney.  I thought the book read like a screenplay.  I thought it was very plausible right up until the end where there were parts where suspending my disbelief became a little difficult.  All in all an enjoyable read.   Not my usual cup of tea but good.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Symmetry of Snowflakes by Paul Michael Peters

Product Details This story is set at Thanksgiving time and I was looking for something to help me start to wind up that holiday spirit.   I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, but for the most part, I really enjoyed it.  

Hank has a really complitcated family life.   His parents are divored and both had remarried several times.  His Thanksgiving routine to see all his relatives is something of an Olympic event.  He visits the grandparents, his multiple step - parents and even his estranged Dad.   It is a nice reminder that we all have relationships that can be complicated.   I could see the holiday parade and taste the hot chocolate.  I loved the friendships that Hank had with his friends from college.  I loved the nicknames because, for me, that made the characters more real.  I think that guys do give one another stupid nicknames and each one fit.

The only aspect in the book that I found.... confusing.... is the relationship between Hank and Erin.   Hank worked through so much to be with Erin but she didn't seem like she was always willing to do the same.

All in all though, this book was a solid 4 out of 5 stars for me and if you are looking for a book to kick off your holiday season, this is a good choice.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Stray by Elissa Sussman

 Aislynn is a princess, but her life isn't as charmed as it seems.  She is 16 and just coming out for her Introduction.   She needs to find a husband by the end of her 16th year, but if she fails, she will be Redirected from her path to become a fairy godmother.

I love fariytales.   I always have and I suspect I always will.  There is something about the magic, the life lessons, the warnings entailed in them all warning us not to stray.   This book is no different.  It is a highly original reimaging of classic fairytales- so new in fact that the reader may remember aspects of a story but the whole plot doesn't apply to this retelling.

Aislynn is a bit of a sheep in this book. always willing to believe what other people tell her.   Brigid, one of the kitchen help, is a much more interesting character, in my opinion.  Still, I have high hopes for Aislynn as the story continues.  This is a series and I expect to continue on with it at some point.   I gave this one 3 out of 5 stars and I look forward to seeing how this author further develops the story.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Boy in Her Dreams by Laekan Zea Kemp

The Boy In Her Dreams by Laekan Zea Kemp    I read the first book in The Girl in Between series earlier this year.  I thought the premise of the first book was original and engaging.   This is the second book in the series.

Bryn has found Roman and managed to wake him from his coma, but not everything is as it seems.  Disheartened, she goes to Germany for further treatment of her sleeping disorder.  While there, both she and Roman gain insight into who and what they really are.

I'm all about fantasy novels.  I enjoy them quite a lot.   I loved the idea of a girl who could go into her dreams and effect changes in the real world.  However, even I had difficult suspending my disbelief for the revelations in this second book.   It just got a little too complex and strange.   The character development and relationships between characters wasn't nearly as good as it was in the first book.  This was just eh for me  Not continuing on with the series.   2 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge Update - Buy, Borrow, Bypass Edition

 At my last update,  I had read 30 books out of 50 for this challenge,   I have seven new titles to add to this Buy, Borrow, Bypass post, bringing my total to 38 out of 50 for the challenge.  12 more to go!

So without further adieu....

The books that, if you love reading this genre as I do, you should buy and buy now.

Product Details

Product Details  Sara J. Maas is a masterful storyteller.  I have loved reading every single minute of her Throne of Glass series.   It has everything:  magic, dragons, strong female characters, friendships, evil  bad guys and epic battles.  Read it now if you haven't already.  Can't wait to read more from this author.  Just added her new book, A Court of Thorns and Roses to my TBR pile.

Product DetailsJust started this series, but after the first book, so far it has everything going on.   I love the premise of a girl who needs to hide who she is.   I love the friendships and the love traingle, but most of all,  I love the strong female lead in Alexa Hollen.    I can't wait to read the rest in this series.

Product Details  This is the story of a woman who agrees to electroshock therapy after losing her twin brother and her husband.   This is a great book that makes you question the things that are really important.  I enjoyed this one so much more than I initially thought I would.  

The Borrows:
Product DetailsI really do love Sarah Addison Allen's body of work.  She has a very lyrical way of writing and this book is no different.   It's about a woman who, after losing her husband, takes her daughter to a place from her childhood.  It's about friendship, family and forgiveness.   If you like books with a touch of magic, this one is for you.

Product DetailsThis was a new author for me, recommended by my mom.  It's a dystopian future where only some get to attend university.   The things that one needs to do to get there are often unimaginable.  Think of a cross between The Give and Divergent and you nailed it.   I loved the premise and I look forward to reading more in this series and more from this author.


Product DetailsThis one really pains me for several reasons.  First,  I really love this series - The Iron Fey.   I highly recommend books 1-4 for anyone who enjoys the genre - they are imaginative and wonderful!  I really love this author, I think she has so much potential - her world and character building  are fabulous.  BUT.... this book, just doesn't have it.  It's hard for me to believe this is even the same author.  I struggled to even finish it.  If you read the Iron Fey series - let it end at book 4.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Undivided by Neil Shusterman

Product Details  I started reading this series a few years ago.  It took me some time but I have finally completed the Dystology.   It is difficult to discuss UnDivided without going into my thoughts on the whole.  

In this final installment,  Lev, Risa and Connor are all working to finally end Proactive Citizenry.   Thanks to friends made along they way, they have in their possession, the means to end the need for unwinding forever.   Of course, those behind the Juvie cops and Proactive Citizenry aren't just going to sit around and allow that to happen.

Connor has always been a leader, but never more so that in this final installment.  I loved his compassion for those who would do him harm, as seen especially in the end of the book.   I really loved Cam in this book.   Cam is a person who was created by Proactive Citizenry as a composite from over 100 Unwinds to be the perfect soldier.  He is the perfect example of how life doesn't always work out the way that you expect it to.   The most touching part of this book for me was how PC inserted nanites into Cam's brain to make him forget Risa.   The thing is though, love can never really be erased.

All this said,  UnDivided was my least favorite of the Dystology.  It does an adequate job of wrapping up all the loose ends, (Pun intended)   but just didn't have the same energy as the first couple of books.   UnWind will forever be my favorite of the Dystology.

Still,  I highly recommend this series.   It is imaginative and worst of all,   you could almost see how this  dystopian future isn't that unlikely.   3 out of 5 stars for this book, 5 out of 5 for the series as a whole.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Modern Monsters by Kelley York

Product Details  I have to admit, the premise of this one intriguied me - a young man wrongly accused of rape from his perspective and how it impacted his life.   Vic goes to a party with his best friend, Brett.   While there, he sees a girl he knows, Callie, drunk out of her mind and throwing up.   He takes he inside the party, helps her, finds her a quiet place to lay down, gets her a waste paper basket and leaves her.  

Someone rapes Callie and the only person she can remember is Vic.  Her memories of him are hazy, because she was so drunk, so she accuses him of the heinous crime.  

The beginning part of the book - where Vic has to undergo  evidence collection and how the people in his life respond to him was interesting.  I am sure that this would be very similar to what  would happen.   After that, the book takes some strange turns.    Vic somehow becomes involved with Callie's best friend, Autumn.   Most girls I know would not get entangled with a  person accused of raping their friend, so this seemed either very unrealistic or extremely open minded for a teenage girl.

I thought that the interpersonal relationships between Brett and Vic and Vic and his mother, especially, could have been better developed.  For starting off in such a promising way, this book - for me- was only ok.  3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

Product DetailsThis is the story of a woman who has undergone terrible tragedy.  She just lost her brother - her twin and then, to add insult to injury, her husband leaves her.    To deal with the tumult in her life, she decides to undergo electroshock therapy.   During the treatments, Greta somehow slips to alternative lives taking place in 1918 and 1941, as well as her own time, 1985.

In each life she finds all the people and places she loves.  Sometimes they are altered and Greta imagines perfected somehow.   What if you had a chance to glimpse your alternate lives, if such a thing were real?  What if you could hold on to the ones you loved just a little longer?

This book is sweet and very quick and yet, it really makes you question and have real, philosophical thoughts.  There were so many quotes in the this book that just really challenged me.  I'm going to share a few here:

THERE ALMOST HAS to be a heaven. If other worlds surround us, just a lightning bolt away, then what would stop us from slipping there? If love has left us, well, then there is a world where it has not. If death has come, then there is a world where it has been kept at bay. Surely it exists, the place where all the wrongs are righted, and so why had I not found that place?

“Who are we when we’re not ourselves?”

This is a powerful little book that gives you lots to think about.  It's magical.  5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Defy by Sara B. Larson

Product Details
 This is the story of Alexa and her brother Mical.  They watch as their parents are murdered before their eyes by the invading Blevon army led by a black sorcerer.  In order to hide her identity and avoid the Breeding house, Alexa poses as a boy and joins the army.  Years later, she becomes the head of Crown Prince Damian's personal guard.

Things are not as they seem in this book.   Those that we think of as enemies are not necessarily so.  It's a book about friendship and being who you are.  Most of all, it's a quick enjoyable read.

 This is a wonderful fantasy YA novel with a very creative plot line.   I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

After You by Jojo Moyes

    I waited too long to read Me Before You ( the prequel to this book), so, when this book came out I purchased it right away.  I'm so glad I did!  

I loved all the characters in Me Before You but my favorites, of course, were Will and Lou.   I wanted Lou's story to go on, and it has in such a brilliant way!  Twists and turns in fate that I never saw coming challenge Lou in new ways.    This book is about holding on to what is important while, at the same time, letting go of the past to find the future.  As usual with Jojo Moyes, it is beautifully written with a rich cast of characters all fully developed.  There are new characters to love and dislike, old characters make a visit ( Patrick)  and old friends are all there waiting.

I never thought that I could love this book as much as Me Before You but I did.  If I could give them both 10 out of 5 stars, I would.   If, heaven forbid, you haven't read Me Before You,  DO IT NOW!   Then, when you finish, give yourself a few days and continue on with this lovely book.   This was  brilliant birthday present!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Product Details  I have wanted to read this forever and having been putting it off for nearly as long because I knew it would be exactly what it is.... a fabulous book that made me cry.  A LOT.

It's a philosophy book hidden inside the wonderful story of a dog, Enzo, and his family.   His human, Danny, is a race car driver that is sort of down on his luck, he never seems to find the right brakes... and then he meets Eve and they have a beautiful daughter together.  It sounds like everything comes up roses, right?   Not exactly.

This book is about life and learning to deal with everything that it throws at you - the metaphorical title - you learn how to race in the rain.  I loved this book but it was extremely difficult for me to read.  You see, I've done the Cancer dance now and I really don't ever want to do it again.  My beloved Grandmother had the same type of cancer that one of the characters in the book gets.  The chapter with Enzo guarding this person through the night - it just KILLED me.

I also couldn't understand why Enzo thought humans were so wonderful, why he thought that dogs envolved into humans.   As for me, I think it's the other way around and maybe, if I'm lucky enough and work hard enough,  I'll come back as a dog in my next life.   This is a wonderful book, but have your tissues handy because you will need them   I was balling before the first chapter even finished.

5 out of 5 stars.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

   This one has been waiting on my TBR pile for some time - it happens when your pile is well over 1000 books.   I came across it while I was browsing what was available on Kindle Unlimited and it, happily, moved to the top of my pile.

I have been a fan of books set in Scotland since I first fell in love with Jamie Frazer.  If you are a fan of Outlander, ( and who isn't?) , you know what I am talking about.   I also enjoy the occassional historical fiction.  This one is about a little known, but accuraate, period of time - a Jacobite uprising in 1708 - long before the Battle of Culloden.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly as it moved back and forward through time.  I found both the setting and characters to be delightful.  I gave it 5 out of 5 stars just for the pure joy of it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Testing by Joelle Carbonneau

 This is a classic dystopian novel - something has happened to the Earth, in this case a devastating war resulting in contaimination and ruin.   The government that has risen from the ash, isn't being completely honest with it's people.

Cia is from Five Lakes colony.   All her life she has wanted to be chosen for the testing - and become a student at the Universtiy.  Only a very select few are chosen to do so.   Cia's father shares his recurring nightmares with his daughter and warns her to trust no one.  Nothing is as it seems.

During the testing, Cia and her friends are tested intellectually and morally.   There are tests within tests.   A little slow in the middle but worth continuing.  I will most likely finish the series.  I gave this one 3/ 5  stars.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Lost Prince ( Iron Fey #5) by Julie Kagawa

   It pains me to do this.  It really does.  I am a HUGE fan of the Iron Fey series books 1-4.   I loved the fresh take on the Fey courts and the incorporation of the Iron Fey.  I thought that the characters in the books - all of them - but particularly Ash, Meaghan and Puck - were very memorable.  They felt like friends.  

When I saw this title, I was really excited to return to that world, but sadly, this is not that.   Yes, you do return to the NeverNever.  You do see favorite characters again but this time, they are the supporting cast for a new crew - Meaghan's half brother Ethan, his annoying, ripped straight from Lost Girl  love interest Kenzie and Todd - the half fey who needs Ethan's help.

I couldn't wrap my head around Ethan.  I understand that he hates the Fey because of bad things that happen to him, but, he's a tool.   I understand the tough guy with a heart of gold  persona, but Ethan just didn't do it for me.  Because I couldn't relate to Ethan - OR Kenzie - who I just found annoying - the whole story fell flat for me.   So disappointed.  Stick with books 1-4, they are AWESOME - and then, let it go......