Saturday, December 31, 2016

Review: What She Knew

Title What She Knew
By Gilly Macmillan
Genre Adult Crime Mystery
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

When a mother lets her 8 year old son run on up ahead of her the unthinkable happens. Benedict Finch goes missing. Following his mother and the detective assigned to the case, the story takes us through the 9 days after Ben's abduction.

First Sentence
In the eyes of others, we're often not who we imagine ourselves to be.

I'm all for a missing person book. Several of my blogging friends had read and recommended this one, so when it went on sale for Kindle I snatched it up.

 What no one mentioned was it's more of a crime novel than a mystery. Let me explain. I consider a mystery or suspense or whatever you want to call it a book about the people that a tragedy happens around or to and how they cope or figure things out. A crime novel takes us into the head of the detectives working the case. Many moons ago, crime novels are about all I ever read. I loved them. Couldn't get enough of them. I watched Law & Order SVU religiously and binge watched old episodes. Sadly, I burnt myself out on them. Now if I see a book or show about detectives my eyes glaze over. It's kind of like when you eat so much of something you never want to eat it again.

So while it was a crime book and I almost gave up when I saw that, I decided to stick with it. It did have the mother of the missing child's POV and I was interested enough in whodunnit that I kept reading. It was a rather fast paced book after the first 100 pages or so and I liked the way it drew social media into the story. It showed us how awful people that read about these things on line can be so horrible stating their unasked for and biased, judgmental opinion. There were enough red herrings in this one to keep me guessing, though I had my suspicions, and I liked that. I hate when I know who it is from page one.

My complaints about the book are pretty straight forward. The crime novel aspect while not completely torturous did make me struggle and almost give up and I really didn't like a single character in this book.

Sometimes I think authors try so hard to create flawed characters that feel human and real that they make them a bit too unlikable. While they didn't all drive me nuts, I found them to be a bit irritating and that effected my overall opinion. Thank goodness for plot, right?

Should you read it
If this sounds like your kind of book I'd recommend it.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Review: Love Letters to the Dead

Title Love Letters to the Dead
By Ava Dellaira
Genre YA Contemporary
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What starts out as an assignment from her English teacher soon becomes a therapeutic outlet for Laurel to get over the death of her older sister.

First Sentence
Dear Kurt Cobain, Mrs. Buster gave us our first assignment in English today, to write a letter to a dead person.

Guys, I hate to throw around review cliches but I can't help it. This book was a beautifully, compulsive read! I adored it! It was real and gritty and had some of the most beautiful insights ever! Seriously! I had to stop at one point and write down a quote that I wanted to remember forever! This book touched my soul.

After finishing a book, I like to go see what my friends and a few other people on Goodreads had to say about it. If I liked the book I get all defensive when I read a negative review of it. No, I'm not one of those people that feel a need to start commenting on complete stranger's reviews saying how awful they are and how dumb they must be for not getting what a beautiful story it was. I think reading is subjective and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I would like to say, however, in case you've heard how childish the writing in this book is to remember two things. One: The whole story is written in letters. The author isn't trying to show off her extensive vocabulary and skill with the pen. She's trying to capture the voice of a teenager, a fairly young teenager, at that. Two: Have you read your journal from when you were 14-15? Cause, yeah, I have and I sound like a two year old. I didn't litter my description on events with adjectives and metaphors. I wrote what happened in a very matter of fact way. Just like this book. So, no, it's not childish writing, it's writing that's staying true to the character.

Phew! Sorry. I just felt I had to stand up for this one because of how much I loved it. If you haven't read this one I really hope you pick it up. It made me tear up more than once. Beautiful story!

Should you read it
Yes, of course. You should be warned, though, that it deals with a lot of heavy issues that are gritty and painful...but beautiful.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Review: The Replacement

Title The Replacement
By Brenna Yovanoff
Genre YA Supernatural/Paranormal
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

When bad things happen in the town of Gentry you look the other way. Things are as they are and it's best not to ask questions. When you are one of the "bad things" you lay low and and don't make anyone suspicious. In this beautifully written novel we get a insiders look at the things that go bump in the night.

First Sentence
I don't remember any of the true, important parts, but there's this dream I have.

I've been meaning to read this book forever! People raved about it when it came out and have since given great praise to Yovanoff's writing. And, yeah, the woman can write! I loved the beautiful, melancholic prose. The story and the legends it came from were fun in a creepy way. Then there was the characters. While A lot of this story may be forgotten by me, I doubt I'll forget the characters. They are still standing out vividly in my mind. There was something real and painful in their action that just got to me.

As I mentioned before, I'm not sure the actual story of this one will stick in my mind. While the legends it was derived from have been playing around in my mind since reading it, the story line...not so much. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, I never consider it a good thing. I like when a story is memorable.

Still, I'll definitely be reading more by Yovanoff. If only so I can say her name again! Say it. It's fun, huh?

Should you read it
The writing and characters make this book. And as far as debuts go, it's great.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Review: Made You Up

Title Made You Up
By Francesca Zappla
Genre YA Contemporary
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Diagnosed with schizophrenia at an unusually young age, Alex battles everyday to decipher between real and imagined realities. Struggling through her senior year of high school and making it to college almost seems like it might happen. Until she meets Miles. Is he or isn't he a figure from her past and why does she find his cold distant personality so irresistible?

First Sentence
Dad said my hair was lobster red.

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I went into this one and choosing to read just about anything in my current state is probably a bad idea. However, read it I did, and liked it. OK, I might have felt slightly schizophrenic myself at times through it but I had fun trying to figure out what was and wasn't real and guess what? There was a surprise in this one I did NOT see coming.

All in all, I liked this one but I expected a bit more humor and less drama. And....Sorry, that's about all I can think of to say about this one.

Should you read it?
Yes, I'd recommend it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Review: All The Light We Cannot See

Title All The Light We Cannot See
By Anthony Doerr
Genre Adult Historical Fiction
Rating ⭐️⭐️

A blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. (From Goodreads)

First Sentence
At dusk they pour from the sky. 

There's something about these prize winning books that I just never get. While I get that the writing was poetic and the story takes place in a historical setting, I just don't think that makes it worthy of all the praise. 

The strange, fantastical element to the story just didn't do it for me. It's as if the author came up with this stupid little story that would NEVER sell so he decided to set it in WWII because, well, then it would sell. I'm not sure what the two story lines (of the diamond and WWII) had to do with each other. And when I'm reading a story with two main characters just waiting for their lives to collide it sure as hell better be more than a few pages of the books when they do meet! 

And after all that, Marie-Laure doesn't even remember or care about Werner, the boy who saved her sorry life. 

Stupid story. Honestly wished I had skipped it. 

Should you read it?
If you haven't already read this one, just skip it. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

November (Personal) Wrap-up 2016

Oi! This is going to be a very different kind of wrap-up post. I only read one book in November and that's because it was for book club.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I haven't even written a review for it yet. I will. I promise.

As for favorites or least favorites um...well. I didn't particularly like the one book I read so I guess I'll just skip that part of my wrap-up.

And now for my long winded recap of this hellish month! The reason I haven't been reading etc.

So, I've been married just over three years now and I'm no spring chicken so my husband and I have been trying for kids for the entire three years....With no luck. I won't go into details but we tried just about everything except IVF.  And then, just when we'd given up and stopped trying everything, in October, we got that little pink line! We were pregnant! I couldn't believe it. I was beyond ecstatic. I told my family and close friends right away! I couldn't help myself. On Halloween, Oct 31st, the morning sickness started. My whole family has had it so I knew there was no getting out of it. And it was awful. Really awful! The smell sensitivities, the nausea, the puking, the food aversions. Oi! I spent all my time lying on the couch trying to keep food down and re-watching Gilmore Girls so I'd be all ready for the comeback episodes. (I'm still working on the last season so please, no spoiling the comeback yet!)

My first doctors appointment was November 21st. I was so nervous and by the time the 21st came I was beside myself. I kept getting this horrible feeling like something was wrong. There was no way I was lucky enough to have everything be normal and okay....I was right. :( We went in to the doctors office and met with a midwife, talked for a bit and then went in for the ultrasound. The minute my uterus came onto that screen my heart broke. There was nothing but an empty gestational sac. I knew exactly what I was looking at before the midwife said a thing. There was supposed to be a 9 week old baby in that sac and it just wasn't there. Of course the midwife was flustered and kept leaving the room and coming back. She was trying to find out how to measure the sac. She explained what I already knew. There was supposed to be a baby in there and there was nothing there. I had what is called a blighted ovum. Which means the baby stopped developing at 4-5 weeks but my body didn't get the message and the gestational sac and placenta kept growing and raising my HCG levels.

I was sent to the hospital for blood work to see what my HCG levels were and given some options for miscarrying as I still needed to face the fact that I needed to get my uterus cleaned out.

My husband and I drove home in silence in pouring rain and then sat in the driveway crying together.

After another HCG test we saw my levels were dropping so I chose to let the miscarriage come naturally. It came on December 3rd. I won't go into the details of that hellish experience but I will tell you I had two weeks to mourn so passing the tissue was a relief. I feel at peace now. As peaceful as you can feel after something like that.

On top of all this my family just found out that my mother has breast cancer that has spread all over into her body. I won't say more on that because we're still pretty in the dark on the whole thing.

Needless to say, you can probably see now why I only read one book this month. Sorry to be a downer. I just wanted to share my story with you guys. It's therapeutic to talk about it. I'm obviously still sad but I'm alright. It's not something I'd ever want to go through again and something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy but I have learned from this experience  and am OK. Thanks for reading, if you still are. Love you guys! You're a great community that I love and feel safe enough to share my experience with.

See you around the blogosphere!