Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: The Peach Keeper

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

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.

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 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 ⭐️⭐️

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 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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 ⭐️

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'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 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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 ⭐️⭐️

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 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!