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 starting...like...right 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 bad...as 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.