Tuesday, March 4, 2014

February Update- Books and Baby

Hi everyone,

The reviewing has been really slow here. I'm sorry, but Caleb refuses to nap longer than 30 minutes at a time and that doesn't give me much time to review. Once he's in bed, I feel like reading. I managed to read five books in February. My Goodreads goal was 52 books, and I'm two books ahead of schedule. Once Caleb settles into a better napping schedule, I'll hopefully have more time to myself.


Safe With Me by Amy Hatvany 5/5
The Bear by Claire Cameron 5/5
Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood 3/5
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 4/5
Slammed by Colleen Hoover 4/5

My favorite book read this month was Safe With Me by Amy Hatvany. I've loved each and every one of her books. If you're looking for a great read, check out her books! Her subjects are difficult but realistic. The Bear was another great read, I'm looking forward to reviewing this one. The Bear is narrated by Anna, a five year old girl who is left to fend for herself, when her parents are attacked and killed by a bear. Reading the book through Anna's perspective really draws readers in to the story. I also really enjoyed Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Slammed. Star Cursed wasn't as good as I expected, but I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.



Caleb update:

He turned 3 months, March 3rd. He hates to nap, and we're trying to figure that out. We actually have a bedtime routine, and it feels great to have some time to myself at night. He's still sleeping in our room, and I don't really want to put him in his own room yet. Maybe at 6 months, maybe... He's currently 15 pounds and starting to wear 6 month clothes. I've been wondering if the size indicators are correct for most babies? He's been outgrowing clothes so fast.

I'm hoping to have a few reviews up soon. If not, it's because he's keeping me busy. If you have any nap tips, please pass them along.




Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent




Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 322
Released: 2013
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis:

Agnes has been convicted of murder and sentenced to death. While waiting for her execution, she is sent to live in isolation on a local farm. The District Officer is expected to house Agnes, and his family is horrified.  His wife, and two daughters are told to avoid her at all costs. Toti, the local priest has been chosen to be Agnes’s spiritual guardian, and he tries to understand what went wrong with her to be found in such a circumstance, what was her background. The farmer’s wife and children slowly begin to learn more about Agnes, and realize there is more to her story than they’ve been told. 

My Thoughts:

Burial Rites is a historical fiction read, based on the true story. It's a truly riveting read that will leave you with a heavy heart. Hannah Kent's debut novel, will have readers quickly wrapped up in Agnes story, and want to learn more about her. It’s clear that there’s more to her story, and only time will reveal her secrets.

Burial Rites was very different from the type of books I normally read, it was very dark and heavy but captivating. Historical documents are provided at the beginning of each chapter, and this enhances the read. Agnes was abandoned by her mother, lived a life of poverty, and moved from farm to farm as a parish pauper. Her intelligence pushed people away, and eventually she began to work as a maid. When Agnes falls in love with Nathan, she believes that he truly loves her but his manipulative ways begin to show. 

The narration of the story is told from multiple perspectives. Agnes, which may be an unreliable narrator and a third person narrator. Burial Rites was a great read, as a reader, I don’t believe I’ve travelled to Iceland, but this book gave me a great sense of the time and place. Some of the names were difficult to get through, but overall, I enjoyed the book greatly. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor





Publisher: Harper Collins
Released: Feb 2014
Source: Publisher
Pages: 400
Rating: 5/5


Synopsis:

Olivia and Zoe are best friends who dreams of being dancers. The girls dreams of being a dancer gets derailed, when they are told “there is no longer space for you” at the prestigious NYBC dance club, Olivia deals with it better than Zoe. Both girls have been dancing there since they were nine. Zoe decides that she must give it up completely and remove all reminders of dance from her life. Olivia continues to teach a dance class, and tries to remain positive. The two girls have no clue that this is such a minor obstacle compared to what’s about to come. Olivia is suddenly diagnosed with cancer. Olivia is admitted to the hospital for rigorous treatment, and Zoe has to balance her life between school and visiting Olivia. School is torturous for Zoe, everyone pretends to suddenly be Olivia’s best friend and their concern for her is forced and fake. As Olivia’s health deteriorates, Zoe is worried that the family will stop her from visiting. Zoe doesn’t know how to cope, and worries when Olivia begins to tell her that she’s scared to die. 

My thoughts:

Maybe One Day will simply break your heart. Zoe and Olivia are your typical high school best friends, they can’t do anything unless they’re together. They will remind you of your own best friend relationships during high school. When Zoe is suddenly alone at school and Olivia is fighting for her life in a hospital bed, you really feel for the girls. The reaction of their peers is completely realistic, everyone pretends to be Olivia’s best friend, and the cheerleader’s are relentless in asking about her. Zoe has to standby and listen when they start forming charity drives in honor of Olivia. 

Zoe’s relationship with Olivia’s brother changes and they become closer, his best friend Calvin also becomes closer with Zoe. It takes Zoe some time to get over Calvin’s popularity and trust that he truly has her best interests at heart. When Zoe begins to realize that she has feelings for Calvin, the guilt kicks in because she knows Olivia has a crush on him. 

Olivia’s parents reaction of protectiveness is completely understandable, and heartbreaking. Their daughter’s prognosis is grim, and they refuse to accept her circumstance, they try to remain positive and keep Olivia as happy as possible.

Although, Maybe One Day is a young adult novel, I think it would appeal to many age groups. It’s raw, honest, and very emotional. When someone is diagnosed with an illness, many people are affected. When that person is a teenager, even more people seem shocked, and involved. I highly recommend this one! It will pull at your heart strings and leave you recommending this one to others. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review: Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson



Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 400
Released: 2013
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: 

Lily is the daughter of an Earl, and not the type of girl her mother wants her to be. It’s 1914, war is looming and her mother wants her to take her place within society and try to secure herself with a good marriage. Her world is divided by class, but Lily wants to marry for love, she dreams of having a career, and traveling the world. Her mother is appalled by her actions and ideas. Lily and her brother’s friend Robert seem to hit it off at a party, but her mother quickly puts a stop to this. Robert grew up in poverty, and graduated on scholarship. Robert may be a doctor but his background will never be forgotten by her mother. 

When  the war breaks out, Lily doesn’t want to just sit idle and knit. She goes against her parents wishes, accepts their threat to disown her, and she leaves home. She is determined to put her driving skills to good use, and become an ambulance driver. Eventually Lily earns her position as a driver, and is stationed at a field hospital in France, reunited with Robert. While their relationship never progressed passed friendship, Lily is drawn to Robert. She must convince him that she is not above him in any way, and certainly not out of bounds for him. 

Thoughts:

I really enjoyed Jennifer Robson’s debut. Lily is a strong, independent character, and for Downton fans she will remind you of Lady Sybil. Although this novel has been repeatedly compared to Downton, the novel is able to stand on it’s own. The plot is original and captivating. I really don’t like when novels are compared to whatever is popular at the moment. I don’t think the comparison is necessary, Somewhere in France really stands on its own.

The relationship between Lily and Robert is complicated, and the war puts further strain on their relationship, at any time they could be attacked and lose one another. Robert is afraid to cross the friendship line, he knows that after the war Lily will still be Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford, and his best friend is her brother. 

Robson’s doesn’t spare readers the graphic scenes that Lily encounters as an ambulance technician. Readers can really grasp the dire situation, and the long arduous days those in the medical field endured. As a historical fiction novel, she really delivers and engages the imagination. Overall, I highly recommend this one for fans of historical fiction, and/or romance. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin


Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Released: 2012
Pages: 544
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3/5



Goodreads Description:

Mara Dyer knows she isn't crazy. She knows that she can kill with her mind, and that Noah can heal with his. Mara also knows that somehow, Jude is not a hallucination. He is alive. Unfortunately, convincing her family and doctors that she's not unstable and doesn't need to be hospitalised isn't easy. The only person who actually believes her is Noah. But being with Noah is dangerous and Mara is in constant fear that she might hurt him. She needs to learn how to control her power, and fast! Together, Mara and Noah must try and figure out exactly how Jude survived when the asylum collapsed, and how he knows so much about her strange ability...before anyone else ends up dead!

Review:

I really enjoyed The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and had high expectations for the second book. Mara continues to be an unreliable narrator. Mara has to convince her parents that she’s not crazy. They have her on lockdown, and have threatened to institutionalize her. At the same time, Mara is trying to protect herself, and her family from Jude. He’s alive and well- she’s not sure how- but it’s clear that he can’t be trusted, and he enjoys tormenting her. She can’t protect her family when she’s locked up, and interrogated by psychologists. So, she must convince them that she can be trusted at home. 

Mara has to lie her way throughout the whole book because no one believes her. I  really wanted someone to believe her, someone besides Noah. Mostly her brother. Mara and Noah seem to be in a little bubble, and I wanted someone else to be brought into their struggles. Mara and Noah are so reliant on each other, that I became annoyed. Mara puts all her trust in him, and seems very weak. She has the ability to kill people with her mind, but puts all her trust in Noah. I wanted her to spend more time figuring out her abilities and becoming more independent. Honestly, I thought their romance was a bit cheesy. I wanted to like them as a couple but I couldn't completely enjoy them. 
It really annoyed me that her parents had so much trust in Noah. He was able to practically live at their house, and I thought this was strange. Her parents see her as vulnerable, weak and on the brink of sanity. Why would they allow her high school boyfriend so much freedom?
All in all, I enjoyed the sequel but it didn’t really satisfy me as a reader. I will probably read the third book, but my expectations have been lowered. 



Sunday, February 2, 2014

January Reads


January ended with me reading a total of 5 books. I read a mix of Young Adult and Adult Literature, and enjoyed them all. I'll be reviewing them shortly. Caleb doesn't always like to nap during the day, so reading hasn't been as plentiful as I had expected. You know what else I never expected? How much laundry one little baby can go through... Seriously, his hamper is always full! He'll be 2 months old tomorrow, and growing so fast!

Books Read

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor 5/5 Stars
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd 4/5 Stars
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 4/5 Stars
The Evolution of Mara Dyer 3/5 Stars
Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robinson 5/5 Stars

My favorite book read this month was Maybe One Day. This one releases in March, and will sure to have rave reviews. It certainly pulled at my heart strings. Zoe and Olivia are best friends, who were always inseparable. Olivia is suddenly diagnosed with Leukemia, and both of their worlds are rocked. Zoe tries to be positive, and refuses to think the worst while Olivia has her mother hovering over her.

The Evolution of Mara wasn't as enjoyable as the first book. I found this one too long, but I will read the final book. This book left me with too many questions.



I'm currently reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Rigg's. I went into this one with no expectations and I'm really impressed with how much I'm enjoying it. When the book was first released, I remember seeing the cover on many blogs but I never paid much attention to it, with the sequel being released, I wanted to see what this one was about.


I'm hoping to get more reading time in February, but as long as I'm reading, i'll be happy. I have a wide variety of books I want to get to, but I usually pick my next read depending on my mood. I won't tell you how long it took me to write the post, Caleb is finally napping but for how long...I'm not sure.


Happy February Reading!




Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mini Review: Cataract City by Craig Davidson


Goodreads Description:

Owen and Duncan are childhood friends who've grown up in picturesque Niagara Falls--known to them by the grittier name Cataract City. As the two know well, there's more to the bordertown than meets the eye: behind the gaudy storefronts and sidewalk vendors, past the hawkers of tourist T-shirts and cheap souvenirs live the real people who scrape together a living by toiling at the Bisk, the local cookie factory. And then there are the truly desperate, those who find themselves drawn to the borderline and a world of dog-racing, bare-knuckle fighting, and night-time smuggling.
     Owen and Duncan think they are different: both dream of escape, a longing made more urgent by a near-death incident in childhood that sealed their bond. But in adulthood their paths diverge, and as Duncan, the less privileged, falls deep into the town's underworld, he and Owen become reluctant adversaries at opposite ends of the law. At stake is not only survival and escape, but a lifelong friendship that can only be broken at an unthinkable price.

My thoughts:
Rating: 4/5

Cataract City drew me into a world where two men dreamed of escape. In their small town, escape seemed like the only way. I received this book for review, and wasn't sure what to expect. In the end, I found this story fast-paced, gritty and completely believable. I was married in Niagara Falls, Ontario and really wanted to read this one. Cataract City exceeded my expectations, and captivated me until the end. This book was nominated for the Scotia Giller Prize in 2013, and really impressed me, never dragging on and always keeping me on the edge of my seat. I love coming across Canadian authors that leave me wanting more from them. I really wish I could go into more detail and do this book justice, but I read this book last September. I do however, highly recommend this one and encourage readers to keep this one in mind.