Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: The Simplicity of Cider

Title The Simplicity of Cider
By Amy Reichert
Genre Adult Romance, Magic Realism
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis 
Sanna has lived on her families apple farm her whole life. She loves the life. Her cider making has consumed her life, so much so, that she's only just becoming aware of how badly things are going for the farm. With the arrival of the handsome Isaac and his son Bas, Sanna's troubles are just getting started.

First Sentence
Sanna Lund's thoughts of apple blossoms and new cider blends stuttered to an end with the grunt of her dad's snore.




My friend Kami discovered this author this year and loves her books. Since she and I have some similarities in our tastes for books, I knew I'd have to give this author a shot. This one popped up on Overdrive so I downloaded and started listening.

What a cute little book! When I need a comfort read I reach for Sarah Addison Allen or Emily Giffin but since I'm coming to the end of reading everything they've written I needed a new go-to author. Amy Reichert will be great.

I liked the setting of this book. I'm not a huge apple fan but I swear I could smell apples while reading it. I even bought some apples (rare for me) and snarfed them down because of this book. The setting sounded heavenly. A cute little touristy town with apple orchards, a lake, and yummy food, sign me up.

The characters were your typical small town characters. I wasn't blown away by them but I liked them and wished the best for them. Bas was adorable. I feel for that kid!

The story was great too. Not too heavy but it had plenty of substance. I struggled a little becoming emotionally invested but it got me in the end.

With just a touch of magic and a whole lot of drama and romance, I liked this one and can't wait to try more by this author.

  Should you read it
If this one sounds like your type, you should definitely read it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: You Are A Badass

Title You are a Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness And Start Living An Awesome Life
By Jen Sincero
Genre Nonfiction Self Help
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Um, See the big long title of the book and that about sums it up.


First Sentence
Many years ago I was in a terrible bowling accident.







I actually bought this book at a thrift store to send to my friend as a "sort of" joke. But mostly because I believe she is a badass who sadly doesn't quite see herself that way.  Of course I decided to read it before sending it to her to make sure it wasn't completely stupid. And I was pleasantly surprised.

It's another "law of attraction" book like The Secret. But where The Secret fails to talk about taking action in controlling the universe, this one has all the awesomeness of The Secret with a more realistic, take action approach.

I loved the set up of each chapter as well. She talks about a subject and then has several tips/directions for action which I loved. As much as I like common issues we all face being pointed out and giving me something to think about, I also want answers; a "how to" of getting over said issues. You know? So this one was perfect for me.

Some of these types of books aren't understandable. Which is pretty sad. If a self help book can't even be understood how can it offer help? This book was easy to read. Had a great set up and the author had a good voice.

I know self help books aren't for everyone but I don't go into self help books because I'm unhappy with my life and desperately seeking help. I read them because I like looking at things in a different way.

I seriously loathe that people are brought up a certain way by their parents or community or religion and taught to think a certain way and they go their whole lives thinking one thing one way. How sad is that?!  If they never get out of their ingrained belief system how limited their experience. How much they miss!

Sorry, rant over. It just comes from my soul. I believed a certain way for so long and am just waking up and realizing there's this whole world of different opinions and guess what? They're not wrong. They're just different. I love kicking my old stubborn beliefs in the butt and telling them to shut up while I look at things in a new light.

And that's why I loved this book. It was another opinion. Another view on things. If I'm lucky, I glean the useful and move on to other experiences and ways of thinking and learn from those too.

I loved this book so much, that I told my friend if she doesn't like it to send it back to me. It's one I want on my shelf.

Should you read it
Yes!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Flicks: Wonder

Wonder
Rating ★★★


What It's About
We have this cute little boy (yes I said cute. Because he is!) who was born with a facial abnormality. His mom has home schooled him but, starting with 5th grade, he'll be going to real school. Here he'll struggle to make friends and face the world, face first, and learn the true meaning of friendship.










I read the book this movie was based on back in 2015 and, while I wasn't blown away by it, I thought it was cute. I was very interested in how the movie would be and thought the previews looked adorable. So me and my friends went to check it out.

As often happens, the movie was just so beautiful and fun to see. The characters were perfectly cast. Each kid did such an amazing and cute job with their parts.


They also stuck very closely to the book, if I'm recalling right, and I appreciated that. It's always annoying when they go way, way off from the book.


The kid that played Jack Will was so freaking cute! I know, I was supposed to be in love with Auggie but I couldn't help it. This kid was so cute and did such a great job with his part. They all did.

Much like my review of the book, I felt that this one was cute with an important message but not anything life altering. I did get a little choked up at one point but that was it. Meanwhile I know my friends cried through most of it so maybe I just have a stone heart.

Let's Talk
Do you like when movies follow the book or do you like when they take their own twist?

Recommendation 
Redbox or Netflix. It was cute but maybe not full price at the theater good.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: Beauty Queens

Title Beauty Queens
By Libba Bray
Genre YA Contemporary/Adventure/Comedy
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
When a plane full of beauty pageant contestants crashes on an island there's only 13 survivors. Will they survive long enough to be rescued? And can they keep up their looks and dance routines until then? The longer the girls are on the island the more they discover who they really are and just how strong they are.

First Sentence
"Are you alright?"





I've had this book on my list for 6 years. The number of years it's been released, I think. I enjoyed the Gemma Doyle books enough to give the author my attention and this one sounded just plain hilarious.

I listened to this one on audio and it was my first audio book read by the author. That was a treat! When the author does all the different voices you know they're done exactly as she imagined the characters sounding. Her voice for Tiara cracked me up!

Filled with "a word from the sponsor" moments and commercial breaks this one was written to be an audio book.

While I was expecting a total comedy I was surprised to find a very feminist "girl power" twist on this one. I had mixed feelings about this. While I enjoyed the message, I sometimes found it a bit heavy handed and taking itself too seriously. But it actually gave depth to the story too so I don't know. I think I ended up liking that it chose to take that road. And of course it was still funny too. I laughed a lot.

There was a lot of eye rolling, yeah right, moments but I think any annoyance I had for those moments was ME taking things too seriously.

My biggest problem with this one was the length. (this seems to be an ongoing annoyance of mine as of late) I'm fine with long stories but needlessly long stories are another story. This one just kept going on and on! And on!!!

Should you read it
If you can buckle in for the LONG ride I'd recommend it for a laugh and a look at some cool messages about the awesomeness of girls.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

November Wrap-Up 2017


November, you and I really need to stop seeing each other. Last year I wrote about my heartbreaking miscarriage that happened in November and this year I'm having to write another sad post. I'll keep it short. As I mentioned last month, my mother had cancer and has fractured her spine and was bedridden. Some of you know already, but for those of you who don't, my mother passed away on November 11th. I've been through the gauntlet of emotions and am still struggling but I think I'm going to be okay. I won't dwell on the sadness. I just wanted to update you.

 I did manage to read some books though and since this is a book blog lets just get to that, shall we?

Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff, Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey, All The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry, Be Frank With Me by Julia Clairborne Johnson, The Sugar Queen by Sara Addison Allen,(review on Goodreads)  and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Favorites of the month were Fiendish and Be Frank With Me. Least Favorite was Haunting Violet.

 I promise I'm not heartless but since my mother had been diagnosed with cancer for over a year and we knew the end was coming I feel like I was somewhat prepared. Of course that means nothing when I want to call and tell her something and realize I can't. Then the water works come on and I get lost in grief but mostly I'm okay.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Whole New World!


Once upon a time, I couldn't sit still for two seconds and listen to my mom read out loud to me and my siblings.

It's not like I couldn't follow the story, it's just that I preferred reading it myself. Then I could go at my own (much faster) pace and and have something visually and physically to hold onto to keep my squirming body still.

Fast forward a few years and you'd find me sneaking books to work to read on my lunch breaks and then lying on a couch when I got home to read. Life was simpler then. I had a job and a few things to keep me somewhat busy but I didn't have a never ending list of "THINGS, JENNY NEEDS TO DO TODAY AND THE NEXT  DAY AND THIS WEEK AND AND AND." My reading slipped into oblivion. I was lucky to read 3 books a month, which, for me, is pretty pathetic.

And then...



Audio books! Honestly, I wasn't thrilled about getting into audio books. Like most people, I found them hard to concentrate on. We do, after all, live in a visual world that makes listening to something that doesn't offer something visual to look at difficult. I actually started listening to audio books because that's what was available to borrow for a book club book. I listened in agony. I hated how slow it felt. I hated that my mind wandered and I wouldn't know where I was in the story or what was going on.

But, as they say, practice makes perfect. And once I trained my brain to listen they weren't too bad. I would be working on the huge long list I mentioned and would remember I could listen to a book while I worked. Suddenly work became more bearable.

Just think of all the times you could be listening to an audio book.
  • cleaning your house
  • getting ready in the morning (showering etc)  
  • driving 
  • grocery shopping
  • doing yard work
  • swimming (turn your speaker on and you don't have to have dry hands to handle a book) 
  • remodeling yet another rental (what? is that only me?) 
  • exercising 
  • lying on the couch because the book's just to good to put down and you've accomplished your list for the day 


This summer I began listening hardcore to audio books. Especially once I discovered the "Always Available" audio books on my online library on Overdrive. Guys, I was able to reach my Goodreads Challenge back in September. I still love real paper books and ebooks but now, I always have an audio book downloaded to listen to when life doesn't allow lying on the couch.

So huge shout out to audio books! I never thought I'd be an audio book fan but, well, here we are!

Do you listen to audio books? If not you really should give them a try. Especially now that they're available for free on online libraries. Seriously! Download the Overdrive app and see what's available.
 


Friday, November 24, 2017

Review: Be Frank With Me

Title Be Frank With Me
By Julia Claiborne Johnson
Genre Adult Contemporary
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
M.M. Banning  once wrote a best seller but for years has been holed up in her Beverly Hills Mansion. When she tells her literary agent she's working on something new he'll do anything to ensure she finishes her book. He'll even go so far as to send his assistant, Alice, to watch Banning's eccentric 9 year old. When Alice meets Frank, the eccentric 9 year old who she's in charge of and immerses her life in theirs, she'll never be the same.

First Sentence
"Mimi's Prickley," Isaac Vargas told me when he asked if I'd go to California to work for M.M. Banning while she wrote her long-awaited second novel.

I don't remember who read this one and reviewed it and made me want to read it or if anyone read and reviewed it that I saw. I just know it ended up on my TBR list and when I saw it come up on Overdrive on audio I promptly downloaded it and began to listen.

I laughed my way through most of this one. Frank's innocence and bluntness amused me and he wormed his way into my affections just as he did with the MC Alice.

Occasionally while reading I'd wonder just what exactly the plot of this one was, there wasn't much of one, but then I'd become too immersed in Frank's shenannigans to care.

While I found this one an all in all delightful read it wasn't perfect. Xander really annoyed me, that is, his relationship with Alice really annoyed me. I found it unnecessary and kept wondering why the author even threw it in.

So, while I'm not sure why I picked this one up, I'm glad I did. It was a great read and Frank was adorably frustrating in all the right ways.

Should you read it
Yes, it was well worth the laughs.     

Monday, November 20, 2017

Review: All The Truth That's In Me

Title All The Truth That's In Me
By Julie Berry
Genre YA fiction
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Judith disappeared for two years.  She returned to her small town with her tongue cut out and unable to speak of where she's been. Her mother barely tolerates her presence, choosing instead to dote on Judith's brother Darrel. When their small town is attacked secrets about Judith's disappearance come to light. Now she must choose to stay quiet or find her voice and change her world forever.

First Sentence
You didn't come.  



First off, I have to say how much I hate the cover of this book. I actually think it's an awesome cover for what the story is about except for a few details. The girl has like twenty pounds of eye liner on and looks like she's in the present. Not so. This book takes place back in like the 1600s-ish. Why couldn't they use a picture of a Puritan girl instead of this modern looking girl? Whatever. The book I read just had a flower on the front but I'd seen this cover and was shocked when I found out it wasn't modern.

So, yeah, this book isn't modern. Moving on.

I think this strange little story was trying so hard to be important. A book about silencing a woman and the harm it can cause. If it was going for that, I felt like it should have been modern after all and not so literal. Cutting out the MCs tongue was overkill (for that particular message) in my opinion.

The story was too long. It just kept meandering along and making me keep questioning WHY the MC wasn't telling her story? Did I miss something? Oh well. I read this one for book club. Maybe after our discussion I'll have some different insights. For now I just found it too long and trying a little too hard.

Should you read it
If you do, maybe don't think about it so hard.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Flicks: Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express
Rating ★★

What It's About
Detective Poirot is finally retiring. Taking a train from his last case, he's looking forward to a relaxing journey reading Dickens but he boarded the wrong train. A murder takes place and it becomes apparent that the murderer is still on the train, Poirot must come out of retirement to solve the murder but this will be the strangest and most difficult case he's ever worked.










There was so much buzz about this one, am I right?! At first I thought it was because it has such a large and famous cast but then, silly me, I realized it was based on a book. An Agatha Christie book. Sorry. I never read her books. I couldn't get into them. Anyways, After realizing why it was so popular I decided to give it a try; I like a good mystery, after all.

And it definitely was a mystery. I tried very hard to guess what was going on but they did a very good job of keeping you guessing (if you hadn't already read the book) and I appreciated that. Of course, now I'm trying to figure out why you'd want to see this one if you read the book. If I hadn't been guessing what was going on the whole time I might have been bored.

I did guess what was going on, right before the big reveal but maybe that's what I was supposed to do. And what a strange reveal it was. Suddenly this murder mystery was trying to be all important with a moral question presented. Meh. I wasn't blown away.


The cinematography in this one was beautiful! Seriously. I wouldn't be surprised if it gets nominated for an Oscar for that or at least costume design. It was a feast for the eyes. I loved it.

 Kenneth Branagh was a delight as usual. He was quite funny and you could tell he brought his personality into the directing.

All in all, I only found this one pleasing to watch for its cinematography. The mystery had me guessing but when all was revealed I was just left with a lot of questions.

Let's Talk
This movie really made me want to take a train ride on this kind of train minus the murder. Do these kind of trains even exist anymore? If not, I'm sad.

Recommendation
While I want to tell you to see its beauty on the big screen, you should probably just Redbox it or wait till it's on Netflix.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review: Fiendish

Title Fiendish
By Brenna Yovanoff
Genre YA Supernatural/Paranormal
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
When Clementine was a child her mother and aunt dabbled in dirt magic, making cures and small spells for the local folk, but when strange things started to happen the towns people panicked. Clementine's home was burned to the ground and her mother was killed. Clementine was kept safe by magic but was locked in the cellar; trapped by willow roots and silenced she stayed that way for ten years, until a boy sets her free. Now she must come into her power and find out what happened in the past so she can save the future.

First Sentence
When I was little, everything twinkled.

I've only read one other book by Yovanoff and had only luke-warm feelings about it so I went into this one with pretty low expectations. Maybe that's why I ended up loving it so much.

The twisted magic of this one lent to a great atmosphere to start off with. Everyone in this crazy little town had a dark side that disturbed me. I think that's why I loved Clementine so much! She was so sweet and kind and forgiving and not in that annoying, too-good-to-be-true way. She was genuine and I adored her.

The story had me intrigued from page one. I wanted to know what in the world was going on. Were the fiends really bad? How did Clementine end up trapped in that cellar? Would the young teens be able to come together with their collective powers and stop another Reckoning? I wanted to know. I actually cared. It was great to be so invested.

I loved the satisfying ending and I love that Yovanoff writes stand-a-lones.

 Should you read it
 If you're looking for a exciting and unique page turner give this one a go.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: Haunting Violet

Title Haunting Violet
By Alyxandra Harvey
Genre YA Supernatural/Paranormal
Rating ⭐️

Synopsis
Violet's mother has been masquerading as a medium Violet's whole life. They've worked their way up to being invited to a country estate for a spiritualist party. But when Violet starts actually seeing ghosts she wants nothing to do with them. The ghosts won't leave her alone, though and Violet finds herself dragged into the mystery of a murdered young girl.

First Sentence
A lady does not dance more than two dances with the same gentleman.



Oi! This one has been on my shelf for a long time. I finally decided to pick it up and proceeded to be incredibly disappointed.

I'm not sure if it was a mood thing or what but I had zero patience for the amateurish feel of the writing in this one. I actually thought it was a debut novel, it felt so unpolished, but, nope, the author has written lots of other books. Several of which were published before this one. Could have fooled me.

I also think I was expecting a more modern day setting but this takes place back in Victorian times. Maybe Edwardian times. I'm not sure. That little detail escaped my notice, like most of the details in this one. Yay! Maybe I won't remember how bad it was for long.

Filled with all the YA cliche's of its day I found this one trite and boring and had to give up half way through and skim to the end. Even the skimming was bad. I should have just set this one down 20 pages in when I could tell we weren't going to get along. Oh well.

Should you read it
I think my dislike of this one is personal. So go ahead and give it a shot if you think it's your cup of tea. Just don't expect me to show up to that tea party. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Flicks: Thor Ragnarok

Thor Ragnarok
Rating ★★★★

What It's About
If you've been hiding under a rock it's time to come out. Come on, it's ok. Out you come. There's a good boy! Alright! I'm done. So anyway, I'm assuming you know all about the Marvel Universe and their movies. I love how they all fit together, don't you? This one follows Thor as he discovers he has a sister. A sister that was so power hungry and crazy that their father locked her away. But she's free now and back to her old ways of power mad controlling! It's up to Thor to stop her....without his hammer. Eeeep!








 I got to see this one opening weekend because my awesome friend Jenni had a spare ticket. Thanks Jenni! I'll be honest. I've only see the first Thor. I know! Sacrilege. But I have seen the Avengers etc so I wasn't completely lost. Now I don't know if I'm just remembering wrong or if they took a different approach to this movie but it was hilarious! Way funnier than it's predecessors. And I don't mean silly little jokes here and there amidst some serious action. I mean a laugh a minute, not taking itself too serious funny. I loved it!

And the story was fun too. I liked watching Thor figure out who he really was without his hammer. I loved all the Marvel cameos and the newcomers were great too. It was such a fun ride! If you're a Marvel fan and a fan of 80s videogames this one will be right up your alley.

My only beef with the movie, the reason it's a four star instead of a five, is I felt it was a bit long. Now if you're loving a movie or book so much that you don't want it to end then length is great. And I was loving this one but it was crowded and hot in the movie theater and enjoyable or not, it had a few unnecessary things that could have been cut in my opinion. Still, it's totally worth the watch and I guarantee you'll laugh your head off. Go see it!

Let's talk
    Chris Hemsworth fan? Cause I am. Damn!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review: The Girl Who Chased the Moon

Title The Girl Who Chased The Moon
By Sarah Addison Allen
Genre Adult Magic Realism
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew--a reclusive, real-life gentle giant--she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes. (From Goodreads)

First Sentence
It took a moment for Emily to realize the car had come to a stop.

I needed another Allen book in this crazy depressing time of my life so I downloaded the audio of this one and listened while cleaning house and raking leaves. It was a life saver. 

I feel like this one isn't talked about as much as some of her others so my expectations were low. I thought it wasn't going to compare but I actually ended up really liking it. It was as sweet and enjoyable as Julia's cakes. (character in the story reference) 

I loved all of the characters in this one...mostly. One of the love interests annoyed the hell out of me (typical) but other than that I found the characters relatable and endearing. I also liked the story of this one. Allen's books can be a little light on story but this one held my interest and I wanted to know how everything unfolded.

A wonderful comfort read. If you haven't read Allen you need to.

Should you read it
Yes, A great Allen book to begin with if you haven't read any of her books.  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Review: The Roanoke Girls

Title The Roanoke Girls
By Amy Engel
Genre Adult Contemporary
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Lane's mother never talked fondly of her childhood home. When her mother commits suicide Lane has no other options. She must go to the strange estate in Kansas to live with her grandparents. That summer the secrets are revealed and Lane can't get away fast enough but when her cousin Allegra goes missing Lane must return to the home she spent a summer in as a teenager and confront the families secrets to find out what happened to her cousin.

First Sentence
The Second time I saw Roanoke was a month after my mother committed suicide.

Oi! I'm not sure what I expected when I decided to read this one but it isn't what I got.

I was blown away by the beautiful writing in this one. Not just the style but the way everything came together with the past and present story telling and glimpses of the Roanoke girls.

Thus I gave it an extra star. Without that writing this one would have been a one star for me. The plot was just so disturbing and cringe inducing and I felt sick just reading it.

And then I asked myself why. Why did the author decide to write this twisted little story? There's nothing to be learned from it. No hope to offer or message to be learned. It was just gross and crass and pretty graphic.

So while I really didn't like this one I want to try something else the author wrote. As long as it's not a disturbing story like this one.

Should you read it
Can't recommend it. Just can't.

October Wrap-Up 2017

My favorite month of the year is over. Honestly, though, this October wasn't so great. On the 1st of this month, the untreatable cancer my mother has ate enough of her spine that it fractured in several places leaving her bed bound and in a lot of pain. The cancer in her lungs was cutting her oxygen just enough to make her levels low and as a result she was uncomfortable and cranky. She's on oxygen now and the pain killers are balanced enough to keep her comfortable so that's good but sadly, my family and I are left in that waiting period and feeling pretty helpless. On top of all that my husband and I were scrambling to get one of our rentals remodeled and rented and then another tenant moved out and we had to find renters for that unit as well. It's been a rough month but things look to be calming down. I managed to read 8 books, (audio books are awesome!) rake all the leaves, and even managed a visit down south to see my mom. Trying really hard to stay positive here!


I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
A crime novel that surprised and entertained. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Incredibly stupid story with awful characters. ⭐️

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
ANOTHER multiverse story with nothing new to offer. ⭐️⭐️

The Warden's Daughter by Jerry Spinelli
A delightful middle grade/YA novel with depth and heart. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Way too disturbing of a story but what beautiful writing. ⭐️⭐️

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
A sweet story with a good message. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
Warm and fuzzy comfort read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Favorites of the month were The Warden's Daughter and the much needed comfort reads by Allen. Least Favorite was Imaginary Girls.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: The Peach Keeper

Title The Peach Keeper
By Sarah Addison Allen
Genre Adult magic realism
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Descended from a once wealthy family, Willa still calls Walls of Water home but knows her life is very different than her grandmother's used to be. The mansion Willa's family once owned is being restored to its former glory by Paxton Osgood, an old high school classmate who's family is still wealthy. Paxton intends to make it a high class inn. But when a skeleton is found buried beneath an old peach tree on the property, Willa and Paxton will learn about their families history and be drawn together to solve the mystery.

First Sentence
The day Paxton Osgood took the box of heavy-stock, foil-lined envelopes to the post office, the ones she'd had a professional calligrapher address, it began to rain so hard the air turned as white as bleached cotton.

I love Allen's books. Just look at that first sentence. You just know it's going to be a good book, right?  My life's been so nuts and stressful right now I needed some of Allen's magic to comfort me. While this one wasn't quite as wonderful as some of her other books, I still found myself happily and dreamily turning pages while I tuned out my crappy life.

The underlying message I took away from this one was pretty awesome. I loved its take on women's relationships and how they usually look and how they could look. It was just beautiful.

The story seemed a little light to me. There wasn't much substance to it. And it was short. Less than three hundred pages but in the end I wasn't bothered by any of that.

So while, I wasn't blown away, It was still a lovely story that was just what I needed.

Should you read it
If you've never read and Allen book before this wouldn't be the first book I'd recommend you try but, yes, it's a lovely story.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Mini Movie Reviews #12

Oi! I've fallen behind in movie reviews. Life is not going so great for me right now and blogging is becoming a last priority.  Still, I'm seeing movies so I thought I'd do my old style Mini Movie Reviews to catch you up.



Flatliners
I'm not sure why they felt the need to remake this one. There's not some amazing story here that's worth retelling but since I never saw the original I figured what the hell. I was more entertained than I thought I'd be. It was creepy and enjoyable enough but nothing special...or memorable.














Victoria & Abdul
I was really excited to see this one. It seemed like it would be cute and fun. And it was...to a point. And then it just got weird. I don't know how accurate this was to real history, I'm guessing not very. And while I wanted to just watch and appreciate the relationship between these two it just got a little "what's-the-point" and I was left slightly disappointed.










Made in America
This one was the husband's pick. I had no desire to see it. And, as usual when I don't want to see it and he convinces me, I ended up liking it. I know Tom Cruise isn't anyone's favorite anymore but I thought he did a great job. It was very entertaining to watch this guy's life. It does end sadly but you know it's coming. I'd actually recommend this one. I guess I should listen to the husband's recommendations a little more often, huh?








 The Mountain Between Us
Why I didn't realize this one was going to be a romance I'll never know. I thought it was going to be about these two completely different people surviving some horrible stuff together. And it was but...then romance came into it. And the romance wasn't bad but when you're not expecting it and have to adjust your perception mid movie it can be a bit jarring.  It was still very entertaining and emotionally investing, though. I'd recommend it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review: Dark Matter

Title Dark Matter
By Blake Crouch
Genre Adult Sci-fi
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Jason Dessen lives a somewhat mediocre life with his wife and child. Once upon a time he could have chosen to go a different route but he didn't. When he's abducted and wakes up in a alternate universe where he has no wife and child and gets to see where his life could have gone, his mediocre life doesn't seem so mediocre after all and he'll do anything to get the life he had back.

First Sentence
I love Thursday nights.



Another book club read. Since I read and loved Crouch's Pines (the first book in the Wayward Pines series) I was very excited to read this one. Sadly, it didn't do much for me for several reasons.

First of all I've read several multiverse novels lately. It seems like that's the "In" thing right now and I'm a bit tired of them. They're hard to follow and wrap you're head around and must be done right. This one was not done right.

Littered with problems that were quickly brushed under the rug for the sake of the story, I found myself growing increasingly more angry as I listened to this one. Sure, it was a fast paced ride but that doesn't make up for all its flaws.

Luckily, I wasn't the only one at book club that felt this way. Usually I feel like I'm alone in my dislike of a book but there were a few other people there that had just as many issues with it as me.

Burnt out on multiverse stories or not, this one was just too flawed for me to appreciate. I'll still give Crouch's other books a chance, though.

Should you read it
No. I can recommend a few other multiverse books that are better than this one.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Review: The Warden's Daughter

Title The Warden's Daughter
By Jerry Spinelli
Genre Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Cammie O'Reilly lives and unusual life. Her father is the warden at the Hancock County prison and they live in an apartment on prison grounds. When Cammie was a baby her mother died saving her life. Now at the cusp of 13 her need for a mother has made her desperate. Finding a mother figure in a prison probably isn't the best idea but desperate times call for desperate measures.

First Sentence
It's a birdhouse now.



I'm not a huge middle grade fan so I'm not sure why this one ended up on my tbr list but it did and I'm very grateful. Actually, I think it's right on the line between middle grade and YA.

This was such a beautiful little story about a girl healing from the death of the mother she never knew. I found Cammie a bit of a brat at the beginning of the book and though I could clearly see why she was the way she was it still bothered me. Eventually she started to grow on me and I became very invested in her happiness.

I've heard people have a problem with this one because they think there's some stereotypical racism going on and I just have to smack my face. As I listened to his one I didn't have a clue what anyone's race was because no one in the book mentions race. They all treat each other the same which I'll admit was rare as this book takes place in 1959 but there you have it. Sheesh! Some people!

Anywho! The story wasn't perfect. I found some things to be skeptical about but I also found a thousand little moments that tugged at my heart strings. I really ended up liking it. I want to read more of Spinelli's books now.

Should you read it
I would highly recommend this one.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review: Imaginary Girls

Title Imaginary Girls
By Nova Ren Suma
Genre YA Magic Realism
Rating ⭐️

Synopsis
Chloe has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Ruby. The girl the whole town is in love with. But Ruby raised Chloe when their deadbeat mom didn't so Chloe loves her as much or more than anyone else. When a horrible accident results in a girls death Chloe is taken away by her father but when Ruby comes back for her and Chloe goes back home, the truth of what really happened will come out.

First Sentence
Ruby said I'd never drown - not in deep ocean, not by shipwreck, not even by falling drunk into someone's bottomless backyard pool.


What the hell did I just read?! You see that cover and you're intrigued. You find the book for $2.00 at a thrift store and you have to buy it, right? So I did. I guess I should have realized it was probably at a thrift store for a reason.

I'm sorry but I feel like this book falls in that "Emperor's New Clothes" category. You know? Everyone is too afraid of looking stupid because they missed something so they all rave about how beautiful it is even though they're all wondering what the hell.

Yeah. I loathed Ruby. She got what ever she wanted and it made her an insufferable brat who didn't give a damn about anyone else. Oh, she claimed to love Chloe but if she'd really loved her she would have let her stay with her dad.

I'm pretty sure the author wants you to love Ruby but I hated her. If my opinion of the book was to be dependent on my opinion of Ruby...well...it's not good.

And Chloe drove me nuts too. She was so weirdly obsessed with Ruby it bordered on creepy. And it wasn't just the stupid characters that ruined this one but the completely unbelievable story line that was so twisted and nonsensical that I spent most of the book just angrily trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

Complete waste of time.

Should you read it
Um, no. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Review: I Let You Go

Title I Let You Go
By Clare Mackintosh
Genre Adult, Suspense, Crime
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
A hit and run takes the life of a child. Detective Inspector Ray Stevens is determined to find the driver but has nothing to go on.
Jenna Gray, devastated at the loss of her child and the horrible memory of the accident runs away from the life she's known to Wales. Hiding out in a small rental on the beach she slowly begins to heal but the past isn't done with her yet.


First Sentence
Detective Inspector Ray Stevens stood next to the window and contemplated his office chair on which, an arm had been broken for at least a year.


As I've mentioned before, I used to love crime novels (a story that follows a detective or police officer as they solve a crime) but have been having a hard time enjoying them these days. I'm determined to not lose my love of them, though and have heard good things about this author so I decided to give this one a go.

And I ended up liking it. Mostly because as we followed Detective Stevens we saw a lot of his personal life and not just the investigation. I ended up really liking him in spite of a few things and am curious if he features in the author's other books. I kind of hope so.

We also get a first person POV from Jenna as she escapes to Wales and tries to start a new life. While I found her a bit too victimized and fragile I did have empathy for her.

I was shocked numerous times in the book, which, as you know, is rare. I always see things coming from a mile away but was shocked at how easily I had been mislead and fooled. I did not see several twists and really enjoyed being surprised.

I listened to this one and really liked the two narrators and was entranced the whole time. I loved how just as you start to think things will settle down and this might be a quieter book, you get wrenched back into the mystery and suspense. It easily distracted me from hours of painting and cleaning during the remodel. 

The epilogue threw in a little twist that had be rolling my eyes and docking  one star from my review. Sorry, but I really hate endings like that. It would have been just fine the way it was, thank you very much. Still, it was an entertaining read that had me on the edge of my seat.

Should you read it?
Usually I only recommend these types of books to people who like them but this one I'd recommend to anyone. Even those who DON'T like these types. I think they'll like this one.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: The Shadow Queen

Title The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1)
By C. J. Redwine
Genre YA Fantasy
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Narrowly escaping her evil step mother's clutches, Lorelai has been on the run with her brother and protector Gabriel. Training her magical powers so she can defeat the wicked queen and take back her kingdom has been her life's goal. When the king of a neighboring kingdom comes seeking help from the orgres that are attacking his people he has no idea that he will be caught in a battle between queen and princess.


First Sentence
Nothing had been right in the castle since her mother's death.


If that synopsis sounds a bit like Snow White to you it's because this story was inspired by Snow White. I wouldn't call it a retelling, however. It was different enough to be its own story. I listened to this one while remodeling and, well, I'd hoped it would have distracted me better. Instead (maybe due to the horribly overly dramatic narrator) I was rolling my eyes and muttering under my breath the whole time I was listening.

I finally turned the speed to double time just to be done with the story. And I feel bad. Looking back at the story it really wasn't bad. It was adventurous with a kick ass, independent heroine with no instalove. And yet, I was unsatisfied.

It didn't feel unique enough??? I'm not sure. Honestly the narrator really effected my opinion. Had I read it I probably would have liked it a bit better. Still, I gave it 3 stars. It was a fun adventure.

Should you read it
Sure, but read it, don't listen to it.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Review: The Bookshop on the Corner

Title The Bookshop on the Corner
By Jenny Colgan
Genre Adult chick-lit
Rating ⭐️⭐️


Synopsis
When she loses her job at the library, book lover and literary matchmaker Nina makes a crazy decision to buy a van, move to a small town in Scotland and sell books out of said van.


First Sentence
The Problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things.




I couldn't resist a book about books so when this one came up on Amazon as a daily deal I snatched it up. And that's the book's strongest attribute. It's about books. The author mentions dozens of books and talks about books so fondly you just know you could be friends with her.

I loved the idea of our MC buying a huge van she can barely drive and turning it into a bookshop. I also loved that she moved to a small little town where everyone knows everybody.

But that's about as much as there is to love in this one. You'd expect some pretty big issues to come up when starting a business but for Nina it just unfolded beautifully. There was no conflict getting in her way. She even moves to a town full of people that love to read...like all of them. I find that a little hard to swallow. I'd love if everyone loved to read as much as me. I think we'd all get along better if we had that one thing in common but most people I know don't like to read and never do. Sad but true. So the idea that everyone from shop owners to frazzled mothers to farm workers all love to read was a bit hard to swallow.

Maybe I took this one too seriously. Maybe it was supposed to be a low conflict story written to make you smile and escape your own complicated life but it felt a bit patronizing.

My biggest issue, however, was that for the first 50% of the book I thought it was self published. It FELT self published. Finally I looked it up and discovered that HarperCollins published it. I sat there shocked. It didn't feel like this book went through a mainstream publishing house at all.

And don't get me started on the "romance". Just don't.

Oh well. I did appreciate that the author obviously loved books and it came through loud and clear in her book.

Should you read it
Sadly, I think you won't be missing much if you skip it.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

September Wrap-Up 2017

September has come and gone. It started out hot and then got deliciously cold with lots of rain. Fall is in the air and I love it! We had a tenant unexpectedly move out in the middle of the month and of course it was one of the rentals that has not been remodeled so we've been working on a smaller scale remodel but keep running into problems. I'm SO over these remodels! Oh well. We're really close to being done and I still managed to read 8 books so it can't be all bad right?


IT by Stephen King
I was expecting horror but got an amazingly well fleshed out story that blew me away!

Invaded by Melissa Landers
The plot go going in this one and encouraged me to read the last book in the series...

United by Melissa Landers
...Which was a bit of a let down. All in all, it's a fine series but I found it a little unbelievable.

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutoski
After loving books one and two I was DEVASTATED by this one. It felt like I was reading about completely different characters and Arin did NOT redeem himself!

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Not at all what I was expecting but a fun, unique story.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson 
Laughed so hard I cried. That's a good thing, right?

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain 
Not enough conflict and then I wondered why the hell I need so much conflict? Brought on some deep introspection.

The Book Shop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
Uh, again I felt like there wasn't enough conflict...or that there was but it was too easily resolved. Talk about a charmed life???

Favorites of the month were Furiously Happy and IT. Least Favorite was The Winner's Kiss. Made me so mad!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Flicks: The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower
Rating ★★★★


What It's About
Another Stephen King book made into a movie. There's a magical tower that holds the universe together. Roland, a Gunslinger, is sworn to protect the tower and The Man In Black is determined to destroy it. There's a prophecy that a child's mind is the only thing that can destroy the tower so, of course, The Man In Black is kidnapping kids from different universes and trying to use them. But he needs to find THE kid. Enter the plucky but tormented Jake, who's been plagued with dreams and visions of the Tower and The Man In Black since his father died. Jake's mom is at her wits end and, wanting to help, has decided to send Jake off to a type of "psychiatric camp" for troubled kids. Little does she know that the people who run the camp are actually working for The Man In Black and she's sending her kid to his doom. Taking matters into his own hands, Jake discovers a portal to another realm where he finds Roland and the two join forces to the stop The Man In Black.


I actually saw this movie some time ago. I wanted to review it on here but was trying to keep up with the latest movies so I figured I'd just have to skip a review. However, I was out of town this weekend and didn't go see a movie with my husband this week so I'm using this opportunity to review this one. And I'm happy I get to review it because. I really liked it.

Full disclosure. I have not read the books this movie is based on. I tell you this because I could tell just from watching it and without researching it that the book fans were going to HATE this movie. And I think it's safe to say they did. I, however, had nothing to compare it to and while I thought some parts were maybe a little hokey, it was a very fun, entertaining film.

Newer star Idris Elba did a good job of being a serious, kick ass hero who managed a few comedic moments with his younger co-actor beautifully.

While, I almost didn't see the movie because they cast McConaughey as the villain, (sorry, not sorry) I didn't mind him as much as I thought I would. I expected to find him annoying and doing his usual overacting theatrics but he wasn't too bad. I still

thought he had too much screen time but all in all found him tolerable.

I haven't seen the young kid that played Jake in anything else, I don't think, and I really liked him. He did a great job of being tormented, funny and the unwilling hero.I was impressed.

The story was a fun fantasy that now has me interested in the books. So if nothing else, the book readers who hated the movie benefit from this one because now those of us who've seen it want to read the books. Now they'll have more fans in their club, right?

Let's Talk
Strange topic but what are your feelings on McConaughey? The man drives me nuts. I used to like him but now I think he's only typecast in movies and can NOT get rid of that western slang no matter what role he's playing.

Recommendation 
See it in theaters.

Stay tuned for the last few seconds of this trailer. It's worth it. ;)






Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Review: The Red Notebook

Title The Red Notebook
By Antoine Laurain
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Laurent finds a handbag in the garbage on the street. There's no way to know who the bag belongs to but there are other things. Things that intrigue Laurent enough to search for the owner.

First Sentence
The taxi had dropped her on the corner of the boulevard.







I'd heard good things about this one and thought it sounded cute and romantic so when I saw it available on audio book I decided to give it a listen.

And it was cute and romantic but it was short. Really short. And there was absolutely zero conflict. The author is french and maybe they don't do conflict but I just didn't feel at all invested in the outcome of the story. It was just like hearing a cute little story of how two people met. So...I guess that's OK but it felt just a little too light for me.

Should you read it
If you don't mind the whole lack of conflict then, sure, go ahead.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: Furiously Happy

Title Furiously Happy
By Jenny Lawson
Genre Non Fiction memoir
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Jenny explores her battle with mental illness, depression and a myriad of other issues that should make her anything but furiously happy.


First Sentence
"You're not crazy. STOP CALLING YOURSELF CRAZY," my mom says for the eleventy billionth time.




Whether my book club has decided to read this one or not I definitely would have picked it up. I've heard too many people rave about this one and how can you turn down a book that's described as a funny book about horrible things? You can't. And I didn't.

And it's exactly that. A book that had me laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face and sad at all the author had to deal with.

I feel like I can't even begin to compare my self to the author...and I don't...but I think we all have times when we're depressed, some more than others, and it does make you feel better knowing you're not alone.

I adored this one because it made me laugh and made me felt understood. I loved that the author was so honest with us about her problems. But mostly I loved how the author made me see how we all take things way too seriously. It's OK to have fun and look at life in a more cheery manner.

Should you read it?
YES!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Flicks: Mother!

Title Mother!
Rating ★★

What It's About
Depends on who you ask. We have a young woman in an isolated house with her husband. We're to understand there was a fire there and she's been renovating the house to it's original glory. A stranger shows up and for reasons unknown to us or the young woman, the husband allows the man to stay with them. Then the man's wife shows up and she decides to stay too. Obviously the woman is a bit flustered. Then things get really weird.






The preview for this one is very misleading. It leads you to believe that this movie is a horror movie. It's not long before you realize it's not. Although it is a bit horrific. Sadly, I was bored out of my mind for this one. It was fun listening to the sold out theater muttering things like, "what the hell is going on?" and "wait? what?". My husband turned to me at some point and and said, "do you know what's going on?"


After the movie was over everyone was talking about it. Why? The movie is not a story about a young woman and her husband and some very rude house guests. It's symbolic...the whole thing is an analogy. And yes, I did know what was going on....mostly. I'm not being arrogant. My dad was obsessed with symbolism so I can usually see it.

Then the question becomes do you want to go see it knowing nothing and be confused or would it be more entertaining knowing what's going on? Personally I was so bored I considered getting on my phone to pass the time and be one of THOSE movie goers. But I didn't. I think I would have liked it better if I'd known what to expect.

***Spoilers***

So, if you want to know what it's about going into it here you go. The woman represents Mother Earth and her husband is God. That's the symbolism I saw. The director claims it's basically parts of the bible. The weird couple is Adam and Eve. Their two sons are Cain and Able etc. That's all you really need to know. NOW it will make more sense for you to watch....if you're even still interested. My husband, after discovering what it was all about was a little miffed that he got tricked into watching a religious movie. I was just bummed that the writer/director ripped off the oldest story in time and I payed money to see it.

Let's Talk
Do you like symbolism in movies or do you just like a story? I prefer a story. I just want to be entertained.

Recommendation
Wait till it's free on Netflix




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review: United

Title United (Alienated #3)
By Melissa Landers
Genre YA Scifi
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Just when Cara and Aelyx thought they could finally enjoy their new life together on L'eihr a message from a new planet threatens to destroy not only the bond between earth and L'eihr but between Cara and Aelyx.


First Sentence
Greetings, earthlings!





Again, free and available on Overdrive and something to listen to whilst I do all the things I have to do that don't allow for sitting on a couch and staring at a book. And I admit I wanted to know what was going to happen.

While this one felt too long and had a lot of uneven pacing lowering my rating back to two stars, I still found it a satisfying, albeit convenient, ending to the series and I don't regret reading it or the series.

One of my favorite things about this series is the guy. Usually I hate these teen guys who do that whole youhavetostayhereandoutofdangercontrolfreakthing. I LOATH that about guys. I know it's supposed to be out of love but it's suffocating and insulting and I hate it!

Aelyx however never even came close to uttering those words. Cara was right there beside him fighting and I loved it. Alright, teenagers, especially a 17-18 year old red head with as much responsibility as a 50 something adult, responsible for saving the world was unbelievable and more than far fetched but it works. It was fun watching them save the world. Again.

Should you read it
Well, if you've made it though the first two books then alright, read it. ;) Did I mention they're free and always available to listen to on Overdrive?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Review: Jane Unlimited

Title Jane Unlimited
By Kristin Cashore
Genre Magic Realism
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Before her Aunt Magnolia died, she made Jane promise if she ever got invited to the elusive Tu Reviens house to go. Such and invitation has come and Jane, true to her word goes. But no one could have prepared her for the crazy world she's about to enter.


First Sentence
The house on the cliff looks like a ship disappearing into fog.





How I came upon this book was a stroke of pure luck. No, publishers weren't pounding at my door or littering my inbox with requests to read the newest book by one of my favorite authors. No, I'm not one of those bloggers. However, one of THOSE bloggers received an ARC of this book in THEIR mail and they, hopefully after reading it, donated it to my local thrift store. Imagine my delight when a book not even published yet fell into my lap because I happened to be at the right place at the right time. And if that wasn't good enough, I only paid a dollar fifty for it. Giddiness ensued.

So, I quickly lapped it up. For some reason I thought this was going to be a fantasy novel like Cashore's other books. I was WAY off! This reads more like a contemporary NA and a choose your own adventure. At first, that's what I thought it was but there was no instructions to skip ahead to a certain page for such and such choice so I read it front to back. (which, I saw later in the author's notes, was exactly how she meant for it to be read)

I enjoyed reading all the different possibilities Jane's choices presented. I'm glad it wasn't a choose your own adventure because the endings of some of those choices were pretty gloom and unsatisfying. Seeing how they all coincided was fun too.

I loved how real all the characters felt. Cashore does such a great job with her characters. By the end of the book you feel like you actually know these people. I adored Jasper the very best. I'm sorry, but basset hounds are my favorite type of dog and, yes, he's only a dog but animals are often the very best of characters. Am I right?  I loved him so much!

I found Jane's umbrella making fascinating to read about. I loved what a unique talent it was. I've never read a book about someone who makes umbrellas, have you? No? Exactly. It was so fun. And it was interesting seeing each different umbrella she created with each different choice.

The house. Oi! On the one hand I want to visit this crazy house and on the other I want to stay far far away from it. A house full of art with a indoor pool, bowling alley and atrium on its own island surrounded by the ocean...yes please. But I could do with out that creepy library. Yes, I called a library creepy. Read the book and you'll know why.

I won't go on and on anymore. I think I've praised the book enough. You'll notice I only gave it three stars and perhaps you're wondering why if I appear to have loved it so much. Well, I'll tell you. ;) I found it a titch long and a little slow moving at parts. And books like these tend to get a tiny bit repetitive. But other than that it was a delightful journey. One I found unique and entertaining.

Should you read it
This book is in bookstores September 19th and yes, I'd recommend you go pick yourself up a copy.