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.