Tuesday, March 3, 2015

January-February Wrap Up

Hi everyone,

I'm going to try and do monthly wrap up posts. January I started off really slow, Caleb was sick every other week and I didn't get much downtime. February was much better. I decided to stop worrying about book goals and decided to just read and review what I feel like. Looking at my Goodreads, I realized I give most books 4 or 5 stars. 4 is really enjoyed it, 5 is loved it. If I'm not enjoying a book, I don't waste my time on it. I put it aside.

Here's what I read:

The Game Changer by Marie Landry. 4/5 Stars
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NG 5/5 Loved it!
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell 5/5
Cress by Marissa Meyer 5/5
Inside by Alix Ohlin 4/5
Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher 4/5
Kwe: Standing With Our Sisters 4/5

I'm currently reading:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: MacMillan
Pages: 445
Released: 2013
Source: Personal  Copy
Rating: 5/5

Cath and her twin sister Wren are starting college, and Cath can’t believe that her twin sister doesn’t want to be her roommate in the dorms. Cath is an introvert; she suffers from anxiety and can’t believe her sister is ditching her.  When they get to college, Wren even further distances herself from Cath and Cath is a little scared of her roommate. She doesn’t know where the dining hall is and doesn’t really want to find out. She has peanut butter and protein bars stashed under her bed.  Wren seems to be partying all the time, and Cath just keeps her distance and lets her be. Cath enjoys writing, and school, but her passion is fanfiction, Simon Snow fanfiction to be precise. Online she has a huge following, and Cath has no problem writing in her free time. However, college really begins to unlock Cath. We see her grow and face her fears.

I don’t want to give too much away about this book. I know a lot of people have reviewed it and loved it. I had no clue what fanfiction was before this book. Fanfiction is basically when you take the characters from one book, and you create a new story for them or continue their story. Rowell includes snippets of Cath’s fanfiction, and I found them enjoyable reads as well. Cath is a relatable character. I identified more with Cath than Wren. I was never the partier…

I loved the supporting characters in the book. The romance was also captivating in a realistic way. Rainbow Rowell is a great new-to-me author. I did read Eleanor & Park but never reviewed it. It was another 5 star book for me.  From the two books that I’ve read, she deals with heavy subjects but makes them enjoyable and relatable. This book deals with anxiety, family issues, mother abandonment and mental health. It really is a great coming of age story. If you've read any of her books, let me know what you thought.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 298
Released: 2014
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Everything I Never Told You is a heartbreaking and heavy story that will capture your attention and keeping you reading. The story opens with readers learning that Lydia is dead, and no one knows it yet. We soon learn about the parent’s: James and Marilyn. James Lee is an American-born Chinese professor who always felt left out. In his school he was the only Chinese boy, deeply embarrassed that his parents worked at his school. His wife Marilyn, blue-eyed and blond was the first girl who paid him any attention. She was a student, and him a professor at the time. Marilyn was a star student, who dreamed of medical school, a young woman who was determined not to become her mother- a housewife. When Marilyn became pregnant, and married James, she dropped out of school to raise her family. Before she knew it, Marilyn had two children, and school didn’t seem like an option anymore. She put all her hopes in dreams into her daughter Lydia, who secretly couldn’t keep up. Nath reminded James too much of himself, and Hannah was the forgotten child

Lack of communication is the heart of this story. Unknowingly, the parents don’t realize that their insecurities shape and mold their children. Lydia pretends to talk to friends on the phone because her father wants her to be popular. Nath wants to get into Harvard because he wants his father’s approval; Hannah just tries to stay out of everyone’s way.

Everything I Never Told You opens up with Lydia’s death and from there moves forward and backwards through time, giving readers a sense of the world and unhappy lifestyle that each character is living. James and Marilyn were never able to let go of the past, they couldn’t appreciate what was in front of them. Learning that Lydia was the favorite child was so hard for me to understand. Lydia really was set up to fail, and her parents had no clue.  Honestly, the three children were set up to fail.

I highly recommend this one. The characters are so well developed and complex. It’s amazing that this is Celeste Ng’s debut novel. I can’t wait for more. I couldn’t wait to review this one, but at the same time I wanted to take some time. The characters are not likable, you’ll want to scream at them and ask them how they live like this. The core of the story is what will stay with you, and keep you interested

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: The Game Changer by Marie Landry

Publisher:  Amazon Digital
Pages: 295
Published: 2012
Source: Personal Ebook
Rating: 4/5

The Game Changer by Marie Landry was an enjoyable read. It’s a story about relationships and life changes. Melody Cartwright lives in a small town in Ontario, she’s in her late twenties and expecting a proposal from her boyfriend. She’s hoping sooner rather than later. When she is finally faced with the fact that her boyfriend hasn’t even considered marriage after three years of dating, Melody decides that it’s over. Melody needs a change, and it’s now or never. When her best friend, Olivia decides that she wants to move back home, Melody insists that they become roommates. Together they force each other to come out of their shell, face some hard choices, and explore new romances.

While this is a romance story, there’s more dynamics to the story. First the romance, Melody meets Julian, a man who seems out of her league and not her type. She doesn’t want to be interested in him but he insists that they become friends. Olivia on the other hand might finally have found someone who is relationship material. Melody and Olivia’s have been best friends since they were children. They know each other so well, and can tell when one is trying to run away. Together they face these new relationships and help each other out.

Some of the other aspects of the story include Melody’s family life. Melody’s mother has become the primary guardian to her granddaughter, and Melody isn’t sure where she stands with her niece, afraid to overwhelm her or disappoint her. We also learn that Olivia’s mother has less than desirable parenting skills, and Olivia needs to learn that she’s an adult and needs to leave her mother be. She’s the only person who can determine what’s she’s capable of.

I really enjoyed this one. I thought it was a fun read, and I loved the relationship between Melody and Olivia was great. Everyone should have a best friend that knows them inside and out. I loved that Marie Landry is a Canadian author, and would recommend this book. It’s a fast read. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Publisher: Algonquin Books
Released: 2003
Pages: 307
Source: Personal Read
Rating: 4/5

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother seem to live in a world of luxury in Nigeria.  Their father, a self-made man found Catholicism and devoted his life to the religion. He’s a wealthy man, but in actuality, he is a religious fanatic who shelters and controls his families every move. Kambili and Jaja have their daily lives scheduled for them, and they must never deviate from his plan. When political unrest sends Nigeria into a military coup, the family is threatened and their father sends them to live with his sister who lives a very different life.
Kambili and Jaja live in a very abusive household, both physically and mentally. I really felt for Kambili, she begins the novel truly worshiping her father. She sees him as a respected man, a man who has all the answers and just wants to make him proud. When she ranks second in her class, her father beats her because his children must be the best.  In her mind she accepts the pain and feels it is her fault. Her brother is a little more independent but has nowhere to do.  It’s either obey, or suffer the circumstances. Their own mother is a victim, she’s helpless and treats her children’s wounds the best she can.

Adichie writes a beautiful coming of age story, filled with abuse, breaking free and forgiveness. Kambili’s father is a monster, but he’s like that for a reason. He truly believes what he is doing is right. His perception of his religion blinds him. He loves his family, but can’t separate himself from what he thinks a good Christian should be. He’s a dictator in his household but he gives generously to the community and his church, everyone showers him with compliments. Kambili loves her father, and her love never falters for her father clearly depicting a grey area, not every relationship is black or white.

This is an amazing debut novel, and I’m so glad that I read it. I’m really trying to read back-list titles, and not just the new releases. I kept hearing about Americanah and decided to start with this one instead. Americanah is on my tbr list, but so is all her other titles. Purple Hibiscus is a valuable novel about Nigerian culture, religion, and character growth. I highly recommend this one.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Publisher: Harper
Released: 2013
Pages: 337
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Reconstructing Amelia is an amazing debut novel. I had only heard good things about this book, but kept an open mind going in. A lot of times young adult books are hit or miss with me. I really needed something entirely different from my previous read, otherwise I would surely be disappointed in my next read. It’s really hard to pick up a new book when the one you finished was so good. Immediately, Reconstructing Amelia grabbed my attention and demanded that I pick up the book every chance I got. So,  let’s dive in and let me explain a bit about this one:

Kate Baron, a single mother with a very demanding job juggles her time between work and her teenage daughter. All her life her parents instilled in her a sense of career and focus.  As a partner in a law firm, Kate has had to put in long hours and Amelia seemed to mostly understand and accept that Kate works very hard for all that they have.  Amelia is an excellent student and well-rounded teenager. However, her daughter Amelia has been asking a lot of questions about her father, asking to spend a semester in Paris and she seems distant. Kate knows something is going on with her. When Kate receives a phone call that her daughter was caught cheating, Kate knows that’s not true because her daughter would never cheat. Despite her hectic schedule, she knows her daughter and knows how important academia is to Amelia. When Kate gets to the school and realizes there’s police and an ambulance, she begins to wonder what is going on. Kate unfortunately learns that her daughter jumped from the roof and committed suicide. Kate knows her daughter didn't cheat, didn't jump and when she starts to receive anonymous text messages that tell her Amelia didn't jump, Kate starts digging into Amelia life. It seems like everyone has a secret to uncover.

As a new parent it was hard to read about Kate’s grief, and knowing that her only daughter was gone forever. Once she starts getting deeper into Amelia’s life, readers really want to know what happened. There are quite a few twists at the end that I didn't see coming. The book mostly takes place in present day, but we do get some flashbacks of Kate as a young mom. Amelia’s narrative is interwoven throughout the story explaining her months beforehand.  Her life really started to spiral out of control with bullying, hazing, questions about her own sexuality, difficult friendships and school pressure. Reconstructing Amelia is a multi-layered novel that is sure to capture your attention, and leave you recommending it to others. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: The House of Riverton by Kate Morton

Publisher: Washington Square Press
Published: 2009
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I started The House of Riverton while going through a major reading slump, and decided to pick this one up. Kate Morton has never left me disappointed but I didn’t know what to expect from her debut novel.  It was on my tbr list for a long time, and I thought I should give it a chance. As soon as I began to read, I knew I was going to love it. In the end, I was right, this book was amazing and I had trouble to put the book down. The characters were so vivid, and likable. For those who watch Downton Abbey, the world was very similar; Aristocratic family relationships upstairs, while the servants live and interact downstairs.

The House of Riverton introduces readers to Grace; she’s ninety-eight years old and living in a nursing home.  When a filmmaker contacts Grace about her time living at Riverton, Grace realizes that so much of Riverton was a mystery, including an alleged suicide by a family friend. Grace begins to tell her story and readers are taken on a captivating ride. At fourteen Grace was given a position as a servant, her mother was once a servant and seemed to have some pull since positions weren't easily given. Grace was told to listen and do as she was told but she couldn't help but become fascinated with the children upstairs. Grace’s attachment to the siblings grew overtime and her loyalty remained strong.  As the children grow into young adults, Grace is fully aware of their struggles and desires.

Kate Morton’s descriptions are so vivid. 1920’s England, a world war and its aftermath are all key elements in story. While readers will love the past story, Grace’s present story is also very interesting. Grace admits that she wasn’t the best mother. She mentions that mothers and daughters have a difficult relationship because there’s so much pressure but grandchildren are different. The expectations are different. She has a close relationship with her grandson but his life has recently been turned upside down, and he hasn’t communicated to anyone in months. Grace knows that her time is limited, but she’s kept so many secrets for so long. The House of Riverton won't disappoint. Kate Morton is one of my favorite authors and can't wait for her upcoming release.