Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Review: Letters to the Lost

Title Letters to the Lost
By Brigid Kemmerer
Genre YA Contemporary
Format Ebook
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Juliet is reeling after the death of her mother, a world traveling photojournalist. To cope she writes her mother letters and leaves them on her gravestone. Then one day, someone writes her back. And thus begins a relationship between two broken people. If they can confide in each other then they might finally begin to heal.

First Sentence
There's this photograph I can't get out of my mind.

When I read the synopsis to this one I just knew I had to read it. It sounded like a tearjerker and we all need those once in a while, right?

I had no idea how how sad it was going to be, though. The hits just kept coming! I seriously don't know how these character's didn't just end it all. I don't think I could have went what they went through. The were so amazing and I was rooting for them in tears the whole time.

Totally character driven, this story was beautiful and sad and hopeful and I really loved it! I don't know what else to say. Go out and read it!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Review: Ship Out of Luck

Title Ship Out Of Luck (Antsy Bonano #3)
By Neal Shusterman
Genre YA Contemporary
Format Ebook
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Always getting into mischief with good intentions, Antsy intends to keep himself in check on his family's vacation cruise but when he meets Tilde and discovers her secret all his plans go right out the window.

First Sentence
Don't ask me cause I don't got an opinion.

Most people know Neal Shusterman for his Unwind series or his latest series: Arc of a Scythe but if you haven't met Antsy you're missing out.

I was beyond happy when I saw another Antsy book was coming out. I bought the book and then put off reading it for five years because I didn't want it to be over. Anyone else do that? Anywho, I finally decided I needed a good laugh and picked this one up.

And I was disappointed, guys. My heart broke a little because of that disappointment. Antsy was his same old, trouble maker with a heart of gold and he made me laugh but the story...the story felt all wrong to me.

I'm used to Antsy making observations about human nature and working on something with people at it's core. This book just took a political problem and thew Antsy into the middle of it.

I kinda, sorta, hate politics, if you haven't noticed, and think that no matter how many laws are changed or how many different presidents are in power or what political party is running things that the real problem is the way human beings treat each other: The whole, "I'm right, you're wrong, My way or the highway" mentality. So Ansty is such a great character because at his core he's genuinely good and kind.

This story felt like a cop out. Forget awesome insights into human beings treating human beings with respect and kindness that the other books in the series offer. This one just takes a political issue and places Antsy on one side of the issue. Boring!

I still gave this one three stars because...did I mention Antsy?

Don't let this one dissuade you from reading the others, though. Because they are amazing and deserve to be read and loved.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Review: Startled by His Furry Shorts

Title Startled By His Furry Shorts (Georgia Nicolson #7)
By Louise Rennison
Genre YA Contemporary
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Georgia gave Masimo and ultimatum but while he's thinking about it she's in agony. Normally she's confide in Dave the Laugh but he's declared his interest in her, at least she thinks he did. Why does life have to be such agony?!

First Sentence
I can't believe I am once more on the rack of romance.

Georgia and her love woes are back in the 7th book of the series. I flew through this one wondering what Masimo would say but caring more about poor Dave The Laugh.

I didn't expect that ending, though! I guess I should have expected things to amp up as the series gets close to its end but wow!

These books are so silly. I'm not blown away by them but I always find they make me smile. Good, solid, three star reads.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Review: Wires and Nerve

Title Wires and Nerve (Wires and Nerve #1)
By Marissa Meyer
Genre Graphic Novel, Sci-fi, Adventure
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Before Cinder and her friends brought down Queen Levana, she released wolf hybrid soldiers on earth. The hybrids have gone rogue and to help her friend, Iko becomes a hunter. Determined to stop the hybrids before they kill anyone else.

I was excited to read this graphic novel and get more from the wonderful world Meyer created.

Of course, I enjoyed the story but I wasn't as wowed or in love as I wanted to be. A lot of the characters didn't look at all how I imagined them so I'm not sure what I thought of the art.

I loved the relationship between Iko and the guard Cinder sent to help her. It was obvious but funny.

I'm not sure if I'll continue with the series, though. I preferred the novels.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

July Wrap-Up 2018

July, as I've mentioned before, is NOT my favorite month. It's just too hot! Even with a pool it's unbearable. And it seems to go on and on! Am I right? Anywho, I'm glad Dewy's 24 Hour Readathon decided to do a reverse reathathon. It was nice having something to look forward to and it really upped my reading numbers. I read 4 books for the readathon bringing my books read in July up to 11. I'm so close to reaching my Goodreads goal for the year and I still have so many months to go! Wahoo! Here's what I read.

Wishtree by Christine Applegate, The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, Bird Box by Josh Malerman, All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin, Startled By His Furry Shorts by Louise Rennison, Ship Out Of Luck by Neal Shusterman, A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson, Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf, The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby, Kristy's Great Idea by Raina Telgemeier and Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer.

Phew! Favorite was Bird Box for sure. You must go read this book! Least favorite was Our Souls at Night and All We Ever Wanted but even those were two star reads.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Review: Kristy's Great Idea

Title Kristy's Great Idea (Baby-Sitter's Club GN #1)
By Ann M. Martin, Raina Telgemeier
Genre Middle Grade Graphic Novel
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

When Kristy and her friends decide to start a baby sitting club they make friends with Stacey and get her to join. Things are going great with the club but Stacey seems to be hiding something and Kristy, upset that her mom is dating a new man, wants to know what it is.

First Sentence

Guys, I was such a Baby-Sitters Club nut growing up. I loved the books and read as many as I could get my hands on.  When I found out that Raina Telgemeier was doing graphic novels I almost cried. I bought the first one and had been saving it for the readathon. I'm so glad Dewy's 24 Hour Readathon decided to do a reverse readathon in July because there was no way I was holding back till October.

Bringing together these fun stories with Telgemeier's art was genius. It was so fun taking a trip down memory lane. I obviously don't remember the books, since it's been so long, but this brought back memories and all the feels and I loved it.

I'm just so thrilled that a new generation of young readers will get to enjoy these in graphic novel form. It makes my heart so happy!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Review: The Shadow Cipher

Title The Shadow Cipher (York #1)
By Laura Ruby
Genre Middle Grade Sci-fi Fantasy
Format Audio Book
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Morningstar Twins designed New York with amazing skyscrapers, machines, and train system then they disappeared leaving clues behind to a treasure. No one ever found the treasure. When twin's Tess and Theo's home is bought up by a greedy investor who's buying up and destroying Morningstar buildings, they'll have to move. But not before putting up a fight. Maybe if they find the treasure they can save their home. With the help of their neighbor Jaime, the twins will go on a wild ride deciphering clues and discovering more than they ever thought possible.

First Sentence
The true story of any city is never a single tale; it's a vast collection of stories with many different heroes.

I've wanted to try another Ruby book since I love Bone Gap so much and when this one was available on audio book I snatched it up...and listened to it in one day.

My synopsis did NOT do this story justice. It was so much fun! I loved all the characters...even the bad guys were memorable and fun.

This is definitely more plot driven, however, and I got immersed in the adventure as the kids chased clue after clue trying to solve the puzzle and hopefully save their building.

I loved the world Ruby created. It's like an alternate reality New York and it sounded much better than the real one. All the little differences were so fun. I want to go on an elevator that meanders about before bringing you to your destination.

My only real complaint was the unsatisfactory/cliffhanger ending. It's one of those stories that just sort of stops midway through and will continue in the next book. Which might have been fine if the next book is out but it's not! I'm so devastated! I want the next book now!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Dewey's 24 Hour Reverse Readathon!

In case you haven't heard, Dewy's is doing a Reverse Readathon and since I love any excuse to read, I'm joining up. This Reverse Readathon doesn't start Saturday morning and run all day this time; it's starting Friday night 8:00pm Eastern 6:00pm my time. So it's now!

Here's what I'll be reading.

I've got a couple of GNs, my traditional Georgia Nicholson book (I'm on number 7) and I'll be working on the books I'm currently reading too.

Let's face it, most of us don't participate in these things for the legit 24 hrs. People have to eat and live life and use the restroom, right? And there's that pesky thing called sleep. I'm never able to do a full 24 hrs and I highly doubt this Reverse Readathon will help with that. I need sleep people! So I'll be trying to go to bed later and trying to get up earlier but I will be taking a sleeping break...especially because, as I write this, I'm already tired. Sigh!

As per usual, I won't be updating on my blog; I'll be on InstagramTwitter and Litsy (@Jenny) if you care to see how I'm doing. One thing I wanted to do differently was keep track of the time I actually spend reading so I'll be using my stopwatch. This should be interesting...or really depressing. 

Are you participating? Wish me luck! I'll see you on the other side!

Review: Our Souls at Night

Title Our Souls at Night
By Kent Haruf
Genre Adult, Fiction
Format Audio book
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Empty-nesters and widow Addie and widower Louis have made an arrangement to spend the nights together and keep each other company. They talk about all sorts of things and it helps them sleep but in a small town people will talk.

First Sentence
And then there was the day when Addie Moore made a call on Louis Waters.  

First of all I can not read this title with out thinking of this Spongebob episode and adding the inflection.

Now that you have the correct way to say the title down let's move on to the story.

This is a short story and a very sad one at that. We have two people who have reached their "twilight" years. Their spouses and children are gone and they're puttering about alone and lonely. So they decided to spend the nights together. Of course, in a small town people start talking and assuming there's some sort of love affair going on and take in upon themselves to judge the hell out of them.

Seriously! What the hell is wrong with us? Why do we feel the need to judge people? Argh! This book just made me mad and depressed.

If it only showing us how badly we judge then I might have accepted and liked it but there was no happy ending, no escape from the judging; the uptight, judgmental people won. I was just so sad.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Review: All We Ever Wanted

Title All We Ever Wanted
By Emily Giffin
Genre Adult Fiction Chick-lit
Format ebook
Rating ⭐️⭐️

A photo snapped in a drunken state at a party and four lives are changed forever. Nina can't believe her son would risk his privileged life and recent acceptance in to Princeton but things aren't looking good. Tom Volpe is trying his best as a single father but when a promiscuous photo of his daughter Lyla goes viral he'll do anything to protect her.

First Sentence
It started out as a typical Saturday night.

I was so excited for a new book from Giffin and even more excited when my hold for it came in sooner than expected. Sadly, I'm like ninety percent positive this wasn't written by Giffin. Maybe I'm wrong but the writing was off and the story was all over the place.

It starts out introducing a pretty popular issue and I was thinking, "Um, OK. I guess Giffin is going to give us her thoughts on the #MeToo movement. Should be interesting since this isn't her normal thing" but then, no, it kind of lost steam and turned into her usual chick-lit.

I was so confused! It kept me reading but I'm not sure if that's because it had her usual addictiveness style or if I just wanted to know what the heck was going on. And the writing was all off! It was all tell no show and I don't recall her previous books being that bad.

In the end, all I can say was this book was one hot mess. It was all over the place and I had no idea if that's what the author was going for or if she wasn't sure what she was going for either.

Super disappointed.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Review: Bird Box

Title Bird Box
By Josh Malerman
Genre Adult Suspense Thriller Horror
Format Audio book
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Malorie and her two small children need to make a perilous journey; rowing a boat on the river for twenty miles...completely blind. Five years ago something was unleashed on the world. When you see it you go mad and become violent and eventually kill yourself. Alternating between the past and the present, Bird Box tells the terrifying story of a horror you cannot see. 

First Sentence
Malorie stands in the kitchen, thinking.

A million thanks to Jen at BookDen for drawing this book to my attention. This book! Guys, this book! Just thinking about it makes me nauseated and tense all over again.

Can you even imagine a horror you cannot see? You know it's out there, you know if you see it you'll go mad and become violent and then kill yourself, and you don't know what it is. There's no way I would have been able to keep my eyes shut. I would have been too terrified of the unknown.

Add in a women, alone except for two four year-olds, rowing blind down a river being followed by something and you'd be as sick as I was.

This book was so freaking intense! And it wasn't just the intensity I loved. I felt for the characters and was rooting for them. The creepy characters were just the right amount of creepy and knowing that others were at their breaking point was almost too suspenseful.

Seriously! I think I'll be pushing this book on everyone I know.

With the current popularity of The Quiet Place which had a sort of similar feel, I don't know how people haven't read this one. It was much more intense for me. Being quiet is one thing but being stalked by something you can't look at; feeling it right beside you and. Not. Being. Able. To. Open. Your. Eyes. And. Look??? I just can't!

Read this book!!!! 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Review: The Undomestic Goddess

Title The Undomestic Goddess
By Sophie Kinsella
Genre Romance Chick-lit
Format ebook
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Samantha has worked hard her whole life to get where she's at: A high powered attorney at the most prestigious law firm in London. When she makes a horrible mistake that costs her company fifty million pounds she flees in a blind panic. Suddenly in a small town she's never heard of she get mistaken for a housekeeper applicant and decides to go with it. It's the perfect place to hide. But Samantha know's nothing about cleaning or cooking and some things you can't hide from forever.

First Sentence
Would you consider yourself stressed?

Another book club book. I might have picked this one up on my own, though. Kinsella is a hit or miss with me. I find her books hard to put down or at least intriguing enough to keep me turning pages but I usually find them a little too long and tedious and quite a bit too silly to be believable.

This one started off great. It was unbelievable but I was laughing along and enjoying the ride. The story was fun and brings up a lot of fun topics of discussion; that will be nice since it's a book club pick, but the silliness started to get too silly and it just went on for too long.

My biggest issue with this one was the MC. I didn't like Samantha's wishy-washy attitude. She kept going back and forth on her decisions and I felt like that was a slap in the face to the point this books sort of tried to be making about women's equality etc.

However, I mostly enjoyed the ride and I liked the end message of the story. That bumped it up from it's tediousness to a three star read.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: A Grown Up Kind of Pretty

Title A Grown Up Kind of Pretty
By Joshilyn Jackson
Genre Adult Fiction
Format Audio book
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Three generation of women. A small grave unearthed. A secret that could tear them apart. A love that will hold them together.

First Sentence
My daughter, Liza, put her heart in a silver box and buried it under the willow tree in our backyard.

I thought this was the first Jackson novel I've read but I guess I read one years ago and wasn't that impressed. I'm glad I didn't remember that or I might have passed this one up and that would have been a shame.

A Grown Up Kind of Pretty is one of those types of stories I love. It reminded me a bit of a Sarah Addison Allen book without the magic realism in it. A Southern setting, a generational secret and incredibly strong, vibrant, unforgettable characters.

The characters are almost what make this story. They're all so vivid and real and likable...or unlikable in some cases. But the plot is strong too. I couldn't stop listening, I needed to know what was going to happen.

The writing was great too. Basically this book had everything I look for in a book. The only fault with it was I couldn't quite get behind Liza. Her choices and attitude bugged but she wasn't the only character and there were others to love and I did.   

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Because I Promised

I promised you before and after pictures of my backyard and if you follow me on Instagram you probably already saw these but, if not, here they are!

I actually grew up in this house and once upon a time it didn't look THAT bad but by the time my husband and I bought it, it had been neglected and looked pretty you can see.

This one's my favorite. It looks so completely different! See that resort look I was going for?

 This was a before the before picture. We used to have a deck but it was falling to pieces.

I'm so bummed that we didn't have a before shot from this angle because over where the fire pit and my husband's shop is was a huge pile of branches and logs and just a big ol' mess!

And one shot at night because the lights are my favorite part!

It was a lot of work and took way too long to finish but I'm so glad it's done now. I spend most of my afternoons out by my pool reading! I love how low maintenance the yard is because the pool, while fun, is NOT low maintenance so every little bit helps.

Thanks for letting me show it off!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Review: Wishtree

Title Wishtree
By Katherine Applegate
Genre Middle Grade Fiction
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Told from the perspective of a tree comes the story of a young girl that doesn't fit in and a blooming friendship that will be forged to save the tree's life.

First Sentence
It's hard to talk to trees.

I've never read a Katherine Applegate book before. I like middle grade books well enough but I don't really seek them out. I found this beautiful book at a thrift store and couldn't resist it's charm.

The book is beautiful; and I don't just mean the story. Every page is illustrated with sketches of leaves to enjoy but also has these beautiful pictures that go with the story. If you read this one for no other reason than the artwork you'd be satisfied.

But the story is beautiful too. It's a simple story that's been told before of prejudice and judgment and friendship conquering all. I didn't find anything new within the pages but the angle of the tree telling the story was a fun one and gave this book life.

 I'm lucky to have found a hard copy cover of this sweet story and am happy it's in my collection now.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Decisions, Decisions

Have you ever gone and seen the film adaption of a favorite book? Of course you have. Did the movie disappoint? There's a good chance it did. Or maybe you see the preview for a movie and know it's based on a book and scramble to read the book before seeing the movie?  Or have you seen a movie, found out it was based on a book and added the book to your TBR?

Why the blazes am I asking all these questions? Well, you're in luck. I'll tell you. I've done every one of the above mentioned things and started wondering which is better, watching the movie first or reading the book?

Of course this implies you've neither seen or read either. So let's play that hypothetical game, shall we?

When you read the book first it can be fun to see all the characters you love brought to the big screen; watching to see who's being cast as who and debating whether that was the best choice. And when Hollywood gets it right it's glorious. Or you see the movie and it's a train wreck. It feels rushed and they leave out all the good parts or, worse, they completely change everything, and not for the better.

When you watch the movie first and enjoy it; learning there's a book is like finding a twenty dollar bill in your pocket you'd forgotten about. You get to enjoy the story all over again and get the story from it's source. And the book is always so much more detailed than the movie. Of course, sometimes you find the book a little too long and detailed, or maybe you agree with the changes Hollywood made (I'm looking at you, The Bourne Identity).

So say you've seen the preview for a movie based on a book. What do you do? Do you hurry and read the book in preparation or do you watch the movie as a sort of preview of the book?

I think I've finally decided. I prefer watching the movie first. It takes two hours to watch a movie and (for me) much longer to read a book. If the movie is bad or rushed compared to the book but I haven't read the book than I can't do any comparing. That way, I usually enjoy the movie and then read the book and when it's way better than the movie, which it often is, I get to enjoy them both. Make sense?

What about you? Which do you prefer?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Review: The Broken Girls

Title The Broken Girls
By Simone St. James
Genre Adult Suspense Horror
Format ebook
Rating ⭐️

Alternating between the past and the present, The Broken Girls tells the story of a run down boarding school and the secrets it holds. Fiona has reason to hate the abandoned and derelict boarding school Idlewild. Her sister was found murdered and dumped on the grounds 20 years ago. But the old school has a history long before the tragedy that's haunted Fiona for years and she's about to learn all about it.

First Sentence 
The shrill of the cell phone jerked Fiona awake in the driver's seat. 

Oi! I've seen this one popping up all over the place; people raving, and praising it. So of course I had to get my hands on it. Peer pressure and all that. And once again,  I found myself feeling like the little child in The Emperor's New Clothes; wondering what the hell everyone was talking about! There's nothing special here!

Ugh! I kept stopping mid sentence in this book to look up again who published it because I was so sure it was self published. It had to be. It was so painfully bad. The conveniences were too many to count! I found myself rolling my eyes so hard and often I got a headache.

Why? Why did I keep reading? I guess I wanted to know how it would end and if it could redeem it's self but when the MC ended up with the man who's father tried to kill her...Yeah, no. I just couldn't get behind this one. At all.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

June Wrap-Up 2018

June brought another crazy month around here. We FINALLY got our backyard finished; that dragged out way too long. I don't have complete pictures yet because I'm waiting for my husband to re-set the diving board for the pool so it's all perfectly complete. When that's done I'll be posting some very dramatic before and after pics. Seriously! I just hunted down the before pictures I took four years ago and it's NUTS! It look so different!

Besides all that craziness I had to finally go see a orthopedic surgeon for my thumb. It's been giving me grief for over a year. After an X-ray and an MRI, they determined that, no, I didn't injure the ligaments (yeah, I could have told them that) and that, no, there's no cancer, (thank goodness!) but that there's tendinitis (just as I suspected) and calcification around that joint that may be a cause or a result of the tendinitis. So basically they gave me another steroid shot and told me if it acts up again I'll most likely need surgery to remove the calcification. Can I just cut my thumb off? Grrrr!

And we have another real estate deal underway that's turning into a huge ordeal. When that's all done and set in stone I'll let you know know all about it. For now, I'm just trying to get ready for the pool party I'm having for Independence Day and trying to read as much as I can to counteract all the stress.

Here's what I managed in June. 8 books. Not bad.

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani, The Broken Girls by Simone St. James, The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, The Optimist's Guide To Letting Go, and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Favorite this month was Eleanor Oliphant. Least favorites were The Perfect Nanny and The Broken Girls.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Review: Optimist's Guide To Letting Go

Title The Optimist's Guide To Letting Go
By Amy E. Reichert
Genre Adult Fiction
Format Audio book
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Gina's an optimist at heart but losing her husband and dealing with her increasingly angst filled daughter isn't making it easy. To make it worse her perfectionist mother has just had a stroke and a secret she's been keeping from Gina is coming out.

First Sentence
1. Throw away Xmas cards.

I've only read one Reichert book before and found it quite cute so when I saw her latest available on audio book I snatched it.

Can I just say how much I love the cover of this book?!  Not only is it pleasing and adorable but it's actually relevant to the story! Isn't it great when that happens? No? Hmmm, maybe it's just me. Anyway, the story is as cute and pleasing as the cover.

The character's are what make this one so great. Jumping between Gina, her daughter May and her mother, Lorraine it tells a great story that pulled me in and had wanting more.

Besides making me crave grilled cheese and brownies I had zero complaints. I wasn't in love with the book but I found it a solid read with memorable characters and a interesting plot. The perfect beach read.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Review: The Perfect Nanny

Title The Perfect Nanny
By Leila Slimani
Genre Adult fiction
Format ebook
Rating ⭐️

Louise seems like the perfect nanny. She's loving, organized and goes above and beyond. Cleaning the apartment and cooking for the family. She stays late and comes early and is becoming quite invaluable. But Louise begins to unravel. Strange little habits she has hint of what is to come and goes to show you can never really know a person.

First Sentence 
The baby is dead.

This one sounded like a train wreck of a story. Something morbid and depressing that you just can't quite get enough of. I was exited to get my hands on it. Sadly, it wasn't for me.

I don't know if it was the translation (it was originally written in French) or the way the author didn't seem to want you to care about a single character but it just didn't work for me.

The whole story kept you cold and removed and I had a hard time caring about the horrors I was reading about.

It was also just overly depressing and I kind of wished I'd just skipped it. There's nothing worse than not liking a book and it not even have riled you up enough to hate it. I was just....meh.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Title Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
By Gail Honeyman
Genre Adult Fiction
Format ebook
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Eleanor is completely fine. She has a nice, normal job in accounting, a modest apartment, and a perfectly ordinary routine. OK, she's a little weird and her coworkers make fun of her and she doesn't have any friends but so what? She's just met the love of her life. He just doesn't know it yet. As we learn more about Eleanor we begin to understand that maybe she isn't fine after all and that you should never judge a person you don't know.

First Sentence
When people ask me what I do-taxi drivers, dental hygienists-I tell them I work in an office.

I don't know why I decided to read this book. I don't think I ever even read what it was about. I just heard both good and bad things and was just inexplicably drawn to it.

I adored it. It was engaging and hard to put down. I had no real idea what to expect and I as I learned more and more about Eleanor my heart broke a little. She was so quirky and weird and if she existed in real life I bet I would have judged her too; imperfect human that I am and that makes me sad.

I think that's why I adored Raymond so much. He just accepted her as she was and offered no judgment at all. He was a great character.

In a world so full of the "I'm right, you're wrong" mentality and all the hate bursting from social media and the news it was delightful to read about how a little kindness can go a long way and be reminded not to judge.

I really loved this book and would highly recommend it. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Review: The Little Stranger

Title The Little Stranger
By Sarah Waters
Genre Horror, Suspense
Format Audio book
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Dr. Faraday is called to the Georgian house Hundreds Hall, home to the Ayres for over two generations. Always an admirer of the old manor he soon finds himself enmeshed with the family and their troubles. The house is struggling financially and as a result is falling down around them but soon strange occurrences begin to take place and Dr. Faraday struggles to determine if the house is truly haunted or if the family is slowly going insane.

First Sentence
I first saw Hundreds Hall when I was ten years old.

I saw a preview of the movie they're making based on this book and became intrigued. I'd heard of Sarah Waters but haven't read any of her books before. I guess this one isn't her usual style but it sounded good to me so I gave it a listen.

It was pretty creepy, guys. My anxiety was flaring up while listening and I had to put it down sometimes and give my poor nerves a break.

I really loved the style and slow mystery as it unfurled. I loved the creepy house and the recounts of the haunting that was taking place. I was emotionally invested and dying to know what was going on. It was hard to stop listening.

But that ending made me want to scream! I wanted answers and was offered none! I guess if I was expected to come up with my own answers I have a theory but that's MY theory and I didn't write the book. Waters did and I'd like to know what HER theory was! Sheesh!

Still, despite the lack of any answers I liked the book and am interested in reading Water's other books. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Review: The Hate U Give

Title The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas
Genre YA Contemporary
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

When Starr see's her friend get shot by a cop during a routine traffic stop her world begins to unravel. She'll have to learn to be brave and stand up for what she believes and speak out or risk never seeing a change.

First Sentence
I shouldn't have come to this party.

Another book for book club but since I found this one at a thrift store I probably would have read it eventually.

I was really terrified to read this book. I was afraid it was going to be very manipulative and make me feel like crap for being born white and "privileged" (FYI: I just had to look up how to spell privileged. Does that mean I'm not privileged?)

I was relived that Angie Thomas managed to just write a story that was a story. Yes, it was written with an agenda, and yes it was pro-black, anti-white, (a little)  but it was handled smoothly.

It showed good and bad black people and good and bad white people and also managed to tell an interesting, albeit longer than necessary, story. I liked it.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Review: The Outsiders

Title The Outsiders
By S.E Hinton
Genre YA Classic
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Ponyboy has only ever known the life of a "Greaser". Keep your head down and stay away from Socs but when a fight between the Greasers and the Socs goes wrong, Ponyboy's life gets turned upside down.

First Sentence
When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I only had two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.

There's plenty of classics out there that I haven't read and that, quite frankly,  I probably never will. The Outsiders was one I wasn't particularly interested in but I recently found out how young the author was when she wrote and and I became intrigued.

While I can see why it's considered a classic and had some surprisingly sound writing, I wasn't blown away by it. I only found it somewhat interesting and didn't really connect to any of the characters.

I found some of it a bit unbelievable and the lack of character growth depressing but at least it was a quick read and I can say I've read it now...right?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Review: The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

Title The Resurrection of Joan Ashby
By Cherise Wolas
Genre Adult Fiction
Format ebook
Rating ⭐️⭐️

A best selling author at the age of twenty one, Joan Ashby has a plan. Don't fall in love and get married and don't have children. Of course life never goes as plans and love and children come into her life taking over and Joan's writing is put on the back burner. Will Joan ever write again? When a horrible truth comes out about her first child Joan must relearn who she is and was to find happiness and fulfillment again.

First Sentence 
Joan Ashby was frank with Martin Manning right from the start: "There are two things you should know about me.

I have absolutely know idea why I bought this one last year on a Kindle Daily Deal. Maybe someone was talking about it? (If that's you, raise your hand) Maybe I just thought it sounded interesting. I'm not sure and I'm not sure what made me pick it up when I did but here we are.

This one was a longer book at 550 pages and yet I was quite glued to it. The author did a wonderful job of making me want to follow Joan through her normal, rather boring, day to day life. Of course, things did pick up and get interesting when you learn about her oldest son and what he did but then it kind of fell back into a quiet, unassuming pace that still managed to keep me interested.

I think it helped, that I related to Joan. Not that I'm a great writer and I don't have children but I sometimes get that trapped feeling and it helped me empathize with her. I wanted to see her find herself again and find peace.

What I did NOT like about the story was endless pieces of Joan's writing that was scattered plentifully throughout the book. Joan's "amazing" writing was anything but, in my opinion, and made me want to tear my hair out. I found it incomprehensible and tedious and way, way, WAY too abundant. Seriously! Without all that dribble the book would have been much shorter and much better. I even thought that maybe the writing was supposed to be tied into the story and that it was symbolic but it was far too indecipherable to tell. By the end I was just skipping it all together.

  Horrible story excerpts aside, it was a slower but interesting story that I think a lot of women could relate to and appreciate.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Review: Leah on the Offbeat

Title Leah of the Offbeat (Creekwood #2)
By Becky Allbertalli
Genre YA contemporary
Format Audio book
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Leah has always felt like the odd one out in her group of friends. She's the daughter of a single working mother while her friends come from happy whole homes and she's bisexual and hasn't told her friends. Not even her best friend Simon who's openly gay. When her tight-knit group of friends hit a few bumps in the road on the way to their perfect senior year prom Leah will have to open up or risk losing her future happiness.

First Sentence
I don't mean to be dramatic but, God save me from Morgan picking our set list.

I'm a tiny bit obsessed with Albertalli's books right now. Have you noticed? I wanted to know how Leah's life panned out after Simon so I got my hands on this one and had a listen.

I don't know if I'm having and overload of her books or if I was in a mood or if it was Leah but I didn't really like this one. It was cute and had the great writing and dialogue Allbertalli is so good at but the story fell flat for me. I wasn't invested at all and I found Leah overly annoying and bitchy for my taste. Still, I feel like the author was true to Leah. She is who she is and makes no excuses. I just wish she didn't annoy me so much.

I was glad she got her happy ending and I enjoyed seeing Simon again but so far this has been my least favorite

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Review: Young Jane Young

Title Young Jane Young
By Gabrielle Zevin
Genre Adult fiction
Format Audiobook
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Aviva Grossman had a bright future ahead of her when she started interning for her congressman. When she makes the mistake of having a love affair with her boss and blogging about it the truth comes out and she takes the fall. Ridiculed and condemned for life she has no other choice to move far away from her home, change her name and try to start her life and career over and give her daughter a better life. But when she decides to run for public office will the truth come out again? And when her daughter finds out will she still be respected and loved as a mother?

First Sentence
My dear friend Roz Horowitz met her new husband online dating, and Roz is three years older and fifty pounds heavier than I am, and people have said that she is generally not as well preserved, so I thought I would try it even though I avoid going on line too much.

 I've never read a Zevin book and while this wouldn't normally be my first choice among all her books it was available on audiobook so I gave it a go.

Zevin is one hell of a writer. I loved her style and the voices of all the characters were endearing. I'm very excited to read more by her.

The plot of this one, however, was a little weird for me. I felt like we were really only getting a brief look into these character's lives rather than a start to finish story. There wasn't much closure or resolution; particularly with Aviva's daughter and her new opinion of her mother. Maybe I missed something?

Issues aside, I loved Zevin's writing so much that I ended up liking, if not loving, this one and am eager to try her other books now.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Review: Forbidden

Title Forbidden
ByTabitha Suzuma
Genre YA Contemporary
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Stepping in for their alcoholic mother, Maya and Lochan work hard to get good grades and raise there three younger siblings while their mom pursues her latest love interest and goes on benders. Brother and sister forced into the roll of parents the two start to find themselves with feelings for one another.

First Sentence
I gaze up at the small, crisp, burned-out black husks scattered across the chipped white paint of the windowsills.  

This one has been on my radar since it's release in 2010. I wondered if the author could convince me that siblings falling in love wasn't the cringe inducing topic I think it is. She couldn't.

In fact, it's been several weeks since I read this one and the distance has made me reconsider the two stars I gave it. It earned a star for some beautiful sentences here and there that made me think this author was quite talented but the romance? Nope. Didn't buy it. I wanted to FEEL what these kids were feeling and be forced to look at things in a different way but I just didn't. Couldn't.

Oh well. There's other books out there that can shake me up and make me question the world around me better than this one, I bet. I just need to find them.

Friday, June 1, 2018

May Wrap-Up 2018

For some reason I feel like I read a lot more in May then I really did. Seven books isn't bad but it felt like more. Sadly, there weren't any 5 star reads either. That's always a bummer. Oh well. May was eventful. My husband and I took a short vacation to our happy place; the Oregon coast and then less then two weeks later, spontaneously drove back for Memorial Day weekend.

How can this not be our happy place?! It's so beautiful! Anywho, I listened to two audiobooks on the drive which made it a tinsy bit more bearable but, dude, that's a LONG drive. Flying is much better. Here's my books.

Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy, Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Allbertalli, Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Allbertalli, Finnikin of the Rock my Melina Marchetta, Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin and Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. 

Favorite of the month was Being Friends With Boys. Least favorite was Finnikin of the Rock.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Title Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Creekwood #1)
By Becky Albertalli
Genre YA contemporary
Format Audiobook
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Simon has a secret that not even his closest friends knows. He's gay. The only person that knows is someone he's been emailing from his school that's gay too. As their romance blooms they struggle with whether they should reveal themselves to each other but when Simon's secret gets out things get complicated.

First Sentence
It's a weirdly subtle conversation.

Ever since I read Albertalli's The Upside on Unrequited I knew I had to read her other books. Somehow she writes in a way that just makes you so emotionally invested. I listened to this one in one go while I was mowing lawns etc at our house and rentals. Sure makes the time fly when you listen to audio books.

I'd given in and seen the movie before reading this one and found it adorable too and liked the subtle differences between the two. There's a fine line of balance when making a book into a movie; it can't be  too different but too similar and it's no fun either. This one did a great job. Both the movie and book were great.

While I didn't love this one as much as Unrequited I enjoyed it immensely and have already downloaded Leah on the Offbeat to listen to right away!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review: Finnikin of the Rock

Title Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles #1)
By Melina Marchetta
Genre YA Fantasy
Format Print
Rating ⭐️

Since the royal family was killed and a usurper put on the thrown, Finnikin and his guardian have been outcasts from their beloved home. When Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, an arrogant and strange women who claims to know where the long lost prince is, he'll begin the journey of a lifetime.

First Sentence
When it finally appeared in the distance, Finnikin wondered if it was some phantom half-imagined in this soulless kingdom at the end of the world.

I've been wanting to read this book for ages! I love Marchetta's books and was eager to see her take on the fantasy genre. Why I didn't pick it up sooner, I don't know. I guess that's what you get when you have hundreds of books on your TBR list. Anywho, my book club decided to read it so I finally picked it up.

I don't know if it was timing, my mood, or a lackluster story but this one was a no go for me. Fantasy is pretty formulaic and that's OK. I get it. It's what I expect when I pick up the genre but I guess I was expecting Marchetta to bring something new to the table or maybe I just wasn't in the mood for a fantasy but I was really unimpressed and had to drag my way through this one. It didn't help that I was trying to read it on vacation on the Oregon coast and, well, look at that view! It's hard to focus when the water is right there!

My other beef with this one was how much I disliked the two main characters. Finnikin was one of those overprotective annoying guy's I can't stand and Evanjalin was such a little snob. I really had to contain myself from reaching into the book and backhanding her!

So, yeah, I guess this one just wasn't a match for me. There's no telling if I would have like it if I'd read it at a different time so I just have to go off my impressions today and they weren't good. Not good at all.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

TV Talk Sundays #6

Hi! I haven't done one of these boring posts for awhile! So just in the nick of time, here you go.

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming 
(On TV now)

Season finales have happened, people. Let's talk.

 Jane The Virgin
What. The. Actual. F#&*! Did you guy's see this? I can't even! Mind blown! Why?! Why did it end that way? My only hope is that we have a long lost twin on our hands cause I just can't handle it!!!

Much less of a cliffhanger here. I do hope this series gets picked up for season two. It's completely ridiculous but I kinda like it.

The Good Doctor
This one had me choking up. I couldn't have handled watching poor Sean lose one more person in his life. This one better be coming back!

The Resident
I was SOOOOOOO happy to watch stupid Dr. Hunter get dragged off by the FBI. She's the biggest Beotch! If this one comes back next season I'll be watching. What can I say? I'm a sucker for medical dramas...even if they are all the same.


I've been watching The Chalet thanks to Greg's recommendation and liking it. If you like mysteries and can handle subtitles you should check it out.

I'm still working through season two of Jessica Jones but sadly am taking forever.

Aaaaaand that's all I have to report on. This is my busy time of year taking care of too many yards so I never have as much time as I want. The heat does drive me inside though so hopefully I can catch up on my ridiculously long Netflix watch list. That being said, I probably won't be doing too many of these posts during the summer. see how much faith I have in myself?)  But you never know, miracles do happen.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Review: Bitterblue

Title Bitterblue (Graceling Realms #3)
By Kristin Cashore
Genre YA Fantasy
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Bitterblue has an overwhelming responsibility on her hands as the queen of a people ruled by a madman for 35 years. As she struggles to become the kind of queen her mother wanted of her she'll have to rely on her friends and her own intuitiveness to succeed.

First Sentence
Queen Bitterblue never meant to tell so many people so many lies.

I read Graceling, the first book in this series, ages ago when it first came out and Fire, the second book, not long after it's release. It took me six years to read this one after it's release. I even reread the first two in December to refresh my memory. I don't know why it took so long to get to this one, though, it was a perfect ending.

It was slow and a tad long but I loved ever minute of it. Watching Bitterblue maneuver the politics of her kingdom and her heart was a delight.

I enjoyed the return of old characters, especially Po and loved how it all came together and ended satisfactorily.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Review: Being Friends With Boys

Title Being Friends With Boys
By Terra Elan Mcvoy
Genre YA Contemporary
Format Ebook
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Charlotte has been friends with Oliver forever. Writing lyrics for his band and hanging out with him and Abe and Trip has been a blast but when Trip drops out of the band and things start changing dramatically. Will Charlotte be able to handle the changes or will she lose her friends forever.

First Sentence
I'm on the way up the stairs to my locker Monday morning when Abe down the other direction.

I did the absolute worst job with that synopsis. I apologize. This book has so much going on in it that's it's hard to capture it all in a tiny little synopsis. First of all, just know, that that cover is the worst pick for this book. It captures nothing that the book is about.

And I really liked this book. It wasn't the greatest thing I've ever read but it was very character driven and there was a lot of drama happening that both delighted and entertained me.

I love a book that can just keep me in the present and not have me thinking ahead to what might happen or who will end up with whom etc. This book was perfect that way. I was totally enmeshed in the story and the characters and am very interested in trying more books by this author now. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Review: Sometimes I Lie

Title Sometimes I Lie
By Alice Feeney
Genre Adult Psychological Thriller
Format Audio book
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

When Amber wakes up in a hospital she has no memory of how she got there. Even worse she's not really awake. She can hear everything going on around her but she's in a coma and can't talk or move. Alternating between one week before her accident and the present the truth slowly unfolds.

First Sentence
I've always delighted in the free fall between sleep and wakefulness.

Maybe you've heard of this one? It's fairly popular in the world of psychological thrillers made popular by the likes of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. I find these to either be a hit or a miss for me.

Sadly, this one was a miss. I just don't get why people are raving about it. It was OK and I didn't see a few things coming but I did see enough to be unimpressed.

At one point I was listening and a huge reveal came but I was at at a restaurant ordering food so I paused it and then just sat there, my mind coming up with this really awesome way the story could go and how mind blowing it would be. Then I started listening again. Nope. It went some predictable boring way and I was left feeling disappointed.

On the bright side I have an awesome idea for a psychological thriller if I could make myself actually write it.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Review: Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers

Title Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers (Georgia Nicolson #6)
By Louise Rennison
Genre YA Contemporary
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Georgia is back and this time she's traveling to America with her family. Maybe she can find her latest love interest Masimo.

First Sentence
Sun shining like a big yellow, warmey planet on fire thing.

I always read one of these during the read-a-thon but didn't manage to get to more than a few pages in. I decided to go ahead and finish it anyway.

This is the first time a book in this series had a little more depth to it and I loved it. Georgia is growing up and I'm loving watching it.

These books are great for a laugh and some cute romance but rarely have much depth to them so if you ever read them just go into them for some fun.

The ending of this one was a bit of a cliffhanger so I might have to read the next book sooner than intended.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Review: Drama

Title Drama
By Raina Telgemeier
Genre Middle Grade Graphic Novel
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Callie loves the theater and is working on the new set design for her school's latest production, Moon Over Mississippi. Crushes, heartbreak and drama ensue.

First Sentence
"Do you think Mr. Madera will let me operate the spotlight again?"

For someone who isn't a big graphic novel fan, I love Telgemeier's books. They're so relatable and I'm not even the intended audience!

When I was young I acted in a few plays and, boy oh boy, did I have some serious crushes. I could totally relate to this one. It's my new favorite of hers.

As usual the art was wonderful and I couldn't put it down. I read it in one sitting, not that that's hard, but still.

Very fun story. I'd highly recommend Telgemeier for anyone trying to get into graphic novels.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

April Wrap-Up 2018

April was a busy month for me. With the concrete poured we got to start putting patio furniture in but that meant assembly which was a big headache. Plus it looks like spring is finally here and so we've had to start mowing at our rentals so....yeah, I'm crazy busy and when I get busy I often don't feel like reading in my downtime. So I didn't read that much this month. Dewy's 24 Hour Readthon helped me get two more books under my belt though.

Our new swing, Cliff has made himself at home, and the new fence on the north side of the house

Pergola minus the fire pit.  I'll get complete pictures one day
So there's a few pictures of the backyard for you. Now onto the books.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier, Optimists Die First by Susan Nielsen, Daughter of the Sun by Zoe Kalo, My Sister's Bones by Nuala Ellwood, Ross Poldark by Winston Graham and Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Favorite of the month with five stars was Optimists Die First. Least Favorites was Daughter of the Sun.