Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz



Publisher: House of Anansi Press
Released: 2013
Pages: 456
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

Sisters, Beena and Sadhana grew up in a loving home with parents with different cultural backgrounds. Their mother was born in North America and traveled the world, she was very much a free spirit, their father came from a conservative family in India , and they eventually settled in Montreal. Their father owned and operated a bagel shop, while their Uncle managed the day to day tasks. When their father suddenly passes away, the three of them are left to grieve and learn to cope. A few short years later, their mother tragically passes away and the teenage girls are suddenly orphaned and left under the guardianship of their strict, single Uncle.  The family never approved of their mother and Beena and Sadhana had no other relatives they knew. Tragedy and grief seemed to always be around the corner. Both girls began to lead very different paths, Beena unexpectedly becomes pregnant at sixteen and Sadhana develops anorexia.


Review:

Bone and Bread was a great read. Essentially this is a book about relationships, and how life continually forces changes upon individuals. Beena and Sadhana are barely two years apart, they’ve always been close and dealt with tragedy differently. Bone and Bread opens with the death of Sadhana, while Beena tries to come to grips with her death, rehashing their hardships endured together. Beena, the older sister always felt protective of her sister but at the same time, she needed to care for her son and live her own life.  Sadhana’s anorexia really takes a toll on their relationship and Beena doesn’t know how much she can trust her sister or how long she can protect her. Sadhana struggles with needing her own space, creating her own life and needing to help her sister.

I really grew to love both girl’s and understand their hardships. Once they lost both their parents, their foundation crumbled. They barely knew their Uncle, never had a real relationship with him and being placed under his guardianship caused them to resent him. Coming from a conservative family, having no wife, readers can really see the struggles he faces. Everyone is in a predicament and trying to survive.

As a fellow Montrealer, the atmosphere of this novel really brings it to life. Nawaz writes about a Montreal I know, and live in. This has not always been the case when I’ve read other books that are set in Montreal. I love the cover of this one, I think it captures the story well. I really don't feel like I'm giving this book justice in my review, but I highly recommend this book, especially for those who have a sister. I believe the story would be even more powerful. Great for book clubs! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: The Registry by Shannon Stoker



Publisher:  William Morrow
Released: 2013
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

Mia grew up to wholeheartedly believe in The Registry, it was her duty to get married and provide her parents with a profit. In Mia’s forward-thinking society, daughters were sold to the highest bidder, and infant sons were handed over to the government to be raised as soldiers. Parents wouldn't waste their money or effort in raising a son. Mia couldn't wait for her turn to get married; she believed that marriage was rewarding and luxurious. When Mia’s married older sister came home broken, bruised and trying to warn her about The Registry, Mia began to rethink marriage. Mia was further alerted when her parents blamed her sister for giving birth to boys, and promised her that married life would get easier if she would just give her husband a daughter. They sent her back home, and learned of her “unfortunate” death a few weeks later. Mia knew she had to stop her marriage and decide her own future. How could her parents be so heartless? Did they really see their daughters as transactions only? Mia decides she must run away with her best friend, and black mail her father’s hired farm worker to help them escape.

Review:

The Registry was an interesting read but I had many questions throughout the novel that weren't really addressed. I didn't love the characters, but I was curious about their situation. I wanted to know what would happen, so I kept reading. Mia is so sheltered and naive, and her escape was relatively easy which was hard for me to believe. Mia’s husband leads the chase and his enjoyment is revolting. He doesn't care about Mia but feels like it’s his right to punish her for running away. His character was loathing and his chase was too easy. I felt like he never really had any struggle to figure out where Mia has been and where she’s would be going. I felt like Mia’s situation was similar, she would have small obstacles but never really struggled along the way.


I did enjoy The Registry, and I would be interested if there was another book. I thought it was a fast read and that helped with the enjoyment. If the book was drawn out and my questions were still not answered, I wouldn't have enjoyed the book as much. I think this one is worth the read, but it won’t be a favorite of mine. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: He’s Gone by Deb Caletti


Publisher: Banton
Pages: 352
Released: 2013
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis:

When Dani wakes up with a fuzzy head and what feels like a hangover, she spends her morning on her houseboat and wondering where her husband Ian is. He’s not answering his phone, not calling her back and she’s not sure if she should be worried or not. A day goes by and Dani can’t figure out where he is, when she spots his car in the parking lot, panic sets in. Dani wonders if something happened to him, or maybe he left her voluntarily.  They were both married when they started having an affair, and Dani wonders if the cycle has repeated itself. Dani must face their past because the police are asking questions, and having a blended family is difficult. Dani must do her best to find Ian, including working with Ian’s kids and ex-wife to figure out where he could be.

Review:

He’s Gone was a great read. Dani has barely any memory from the night before, and she begins to question her relationship with Ian, her lack of memory from the night before and knowing she left the party upset. She vaguely remembers a woman in a red dress standing next to Ian. Dani is an unreliable narrator, and readers must keep in mind that Dani has very little knowledge.  Her and Ian fell madly in love, but realistically their past continues to haunt her.   

When Dani begins to have doubts about what happened that night, she begins to scare herself and readers. Could she have done something? Is she just afraid the police will assume she had something to do with Ian’s disappearance? He was married to her for three years, and now he’s gone.  After all, isn’t it normally the spouse? Caletti really draws readers into the story, and forces them to think and question what is really going on.


This was my first read by Deb Caletti, and it was compulsively readable. I kept picking it up every chance I could, because I needed to know what happened. I continuously questioned Dani and wondered if she could have been involved. At the same time, I felt really bad for Dani. If you’re looking for a great read, something that will keep you glued to the pages, this one is recommended. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: The Smart One by Jennifer Close



Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 352
Released: 2013
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5 ****

Synopsis:

Weezy struggles to let her children make their own decisions. She worries too much, and wants her children to be happy and secure. She’s sure every parent wants the same. Lately, her children are causing her to worry even more. Her eldest daughter, Martha, is living at home, working in retail and refuses to make use of her nursing degree. She’s anxiety prone and Weezy has to be careful how she approaches her. Her second oldest daughter, Cleo, has recently broken off her engagement, gave everyone no explanation and advises Weezy that she will need to return home due to finances. Her son, Max, is currently on track, going to college but she’s waiting for the ball to drop because his gorgeous girlfriend is sure to break his heart.

Review:

The Smart One offers readers a realistic look at young adults and the need to sometimes lean on their parents. Sure, every young adult intends to be able to make it on their own with no help, but the truth is, it doesn't always happen that way. Weezy grew up with parents who wanted her out of the house and on her own when she turned eighteen, and she had no intention to treating her children the same way. Her parents were great parents, but that doesn’t mean she has to raise her children the same way. Honestly, families can be messy and having your child return home in their twenties and thirties can be a difficult. The old family rules don’t apply anymore, and Weezy needs to allow her children to figure out their own lives.

The Smart One was my first Jennifer Close novel. I’ve had Girls in White Dresses on my ereader for a while, and I will definitely try to get to it soon. The Smart Girls was an interesting and realistic read. The characters are flawed, frustrating and likable. Martha and Cleo still struggle with their relationship, Cleo has jealously issues with how her parents coddle Martha. Max is doing well, going to school, and seems to be on the right track, but life sometimes throws you curve-balls and he finds himself living at home with everyone. Close draws readers in, and demonstrates the complexity of families. Highly recommended for those who enjoy women’s fiction. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mini Reviews: The Orphan Train, Looking for Me, A Change in Fortune

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Rating: 4/5 ****

Goodreads Description:

The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman
Rating: 5/5 *****
Standalone
Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Goodreads Description:

A Southern novel of family and antiques from the bestselling author of the beloved Saving CeeCee Honeycutt 

Beth Hoffman’s bestselling debut, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, won admirers and acclaim with its heartwarming story and cast of unforgettable characters. Now her unique flair for evocative settings and richly drawn Southern personalities shines in her compelling new novel,Looking for Me.

Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop.  Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky.  It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last.  But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.

Looking for Me brilliantly melds together themes of family, hope, loss, and a mature once-in-a-lifetime kind of love. The result is a tremendously moving story that is destined to make bestselling author Beth Hoffman a novelist to whom readers will return again and again as they have with Adriana Trigiani, Fannie Flagg, and Joshilyn Jackson.

A Change in Fortune by Jen Turano
Rating: 4/5 ****

Goodreads Description:

Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. Her fortune was the last thing she had left after losing her father, her fiancé, and her faith. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner, governess-at-large, she's determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London. 

Mr. Hamilton Beckett, much to his chagrin, is the catch of the season, and all the eyes of New York society—all the female ones, at least—are on him. He has no plans to marry again, especially since his hands are full keeping his business afloat while raising his two children alone. 

Eliza's hapless attempts to regain her fortune unexpectedly put her right in Hamilton's path. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces and, before she knows it, Eliza has a whole retinue of people helping her. Eliza's determination not to trust anyone weakens when everyone's antics and bumbling efforts to assist her make her wonder if there might be more important things than her fortune and independence. 

When all of Hamilton's and Eliza's best-laid plans fall by the wayside, it will take a riot of complications for them to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mini Reviews: The Originals, Thousand Words, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

The Originals by Cat Patrick
Rating: 5/5 *****
Non-Series
Review: Forgotten by Cat Patrick 

Goodreads Description:

A riveting new story from Cat Patrick, author of Forgotten and Revived.

17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best grew up as identical triplets... until they discovered a shocking family secret. They're actually closer than sisters, they're clones. Hiding from a government agency that would expose them, the Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one daughter named Elizabeth. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey take turns going to school, attending social engagements, and a group mindset has always been a de facto part of life...

Then Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, a guy who seems to see into her very soul. As their relationship develops, Lizzie realizes that she's not a carbon copy of her sisters; she's an individual with unique dreams and desires, and digging deeper into her background, Lizzie begins to dismantle the delicate balance of an unusual family that only science could have created.

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown
Rating: 5/5 *****

Goodreads Description: 

Ashleigh's boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he'll forget about her while he's away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh's friends suggest she text him a picture of herself -- sans swimsuit -- to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits "send."

But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone -- until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he's the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh's photo -- and didn't look. 

Acclaimed author Jennifer Brown brings readers a gripping novel about honesty and betrayal, redemption and friendship, attraction and integrity, as Ashleigh finds that while a picture may be worth a thousand words . . . it doesn't always tell the whole story.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Rating: 5/5 *****

Goodreads Descriptions:

I wish I could tell everyone who thinks we’re ruined, Look closer…and you’ll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true. We have never been what we seemed.


When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.

What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel—and his witty, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, adopts daring new fashions, and revels in this wild new world. Each place they go becomes a playground: New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera—where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.

Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who isZelda, other than the wife of a famous—sometimes infamous—husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda’s irresistible story as she herself might have told it. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mini Reviews: The Last Summer, Requiem, The Innocents

The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn
Recommended for Downton Abbey Fans
Rating: 5/5 *****

Goodreads Description:

Clarissa is almost seventeen when the spell of her childhood is broken. It is 1914, the beginning of a blissful, golden summer - and the end of an era. Deyning Park is in its heyday, the large country house filled with the laughter and excitement of privileged youth preparing for a weekend party. When Clarissa meets Tom Cuthbert, home from university and staying with his mother, the housekeeper, she is dazzled. Tom is handsome and enigmatic; he is also an outsider. Ambitious, clever, his sights set on a career in law, Tom is an acute observer, and a man who knows what he wants. For now, that is Clarissa.

As Tom and Clarissa's friendship deepens, the wider landscape of political life around them is changing, and another story unfolds: they are not the only people in love. Soon the world - and all that they know - is rocked by a war that changes their lives for ever

Requiem by Lauren Oliver
Delirium
Pandemonium 
Rating: 3/5 ***

Goodreads Description:

They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.
But we are still here.
And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

The Innocents y Francesca Segal
Rating: 3/5 ***

Goodreads Description:

WINNER OF THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2012

What if everything you'd ever wanted was no longer enough?

Adam and Rachel are getting married at last. Childhood sweethearts whose lives and families have been intertwined for years; theirs is set to be the wedding of the year.

But then Rachel's cousin Ellie makes an unexpected return to the family fold. Beautiful, reckless and troubled, Ellie represents everything that Adam has tried all his life to avoid - and everything that is missing from his world. As the long-awaited wedding approaches, Adam is torn between duty and temptation, security and freedom, and must make a choice that will break either one heart, or many.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mini Book Reviews: True, Someday, Someday Maybe, Taking Changes

I'm behind in so many reviews, and at this point I really want to catch up and review recently read books. Many of these books were read months ago, and I can't possibly try to write full reviews. Just the thought is a little overwhelming... I will give the publisher synopsis and my rating. The good news...I'm READING!! I read The Smart One by Jennifer Close and I'm currently reading He's Gone by Deb Caletti. Both books, really enjoyable. I pretty sure, I've overcome this reading slump. 

 True by Hilary Duff

 Rating: 4/5 ****

 Book 1 Review: Elixir

 Book 2 Review: Devoted

Goodreads Description:

The epic love story of Clea and Sage comes to its thrilling conclusion in the final book in the Elixir series by multitalented star Hilary Duff.Following the harrowing events ofElixir and Devoted—and the ceremony that almost killed Sage—Clea faces a new reality: With Sage’s soul in Nico’s body, the love of her life looks an awful lot like her best friend’s boyfriend. Can Clea and Sage really be happy under these circumstances?

Clea wants to try to enjoy their new life together, but Sage is acting different—angry—and she struggles to keep her friends from finding out what has happened to him. Something is clearly haunting Sage, and Clea is losing control. Can she trust her friends with the dangerous truth, or will she have to risk losing Sage to madness?


Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
Debut Novel
Rating: 4/5 ****

Goodreads Description:

A charming and laugh-out-loud novel by Lauren Graham, beloved star of Parenthood and Gilmore Girls, about an aspiring actress trying to make it in mid-nineties New York City.

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates-Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material-and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works. 

Meanwhile, she dreams of doing "important" work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It's hard to tell if she'll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won't call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet. 

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job.


Taking Changes by Molly McAdams
Rating: 3/5 ***

Goodreads Description:

Her first year away is turning out to be nearly perfect, but one weekend of giving in to heated passion will change everything.

Eighteen-year-old Harper has grown up under the thumb of her career marine father. Ready to live life her own way and to experience things she's only ever heard of from the jarheads in her father's unit, she's on her way to college at San Diego State University.

Thanks to her new roommate, Harper is introduced to a world of parties, gorgeous guys, family, and emotions. She finds herself being torn in two as she quickly falls in love with both her new boyfriend, Brandon, and her roommate's brother, Chase. Despite their dangerous looks and histories, both men adore Harper and would do anything for her, including taking a step back if it would mean she'd be happy.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tales of a Reading Slump...




I've been having the longest reading slump ever, and I'm trying my best to overcome it. I had intended to read Lighthouse Bay by Kimberely Freeman, but ended up choosing to read The Smart One by Jennifer Close. I'm really enjoying the book, and love the portrayal of relationships. For the first time in months, I can't wait to review this one.



I've also been doing some book browsing and I found some books that I'm really interesting reading. These have been added to my wishlist.






Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Reading Recommendations


I've been having a hard time getting back into reading and blogging. At first pregnancy exhausted me, and I've been feeling much better but I still can't fully get back into reading. I feel guilty about it all the time, and it's time I start working on it. I think I'll start with mini reviews to help me with the books I read months ago. Many of the books I've been picking up lately haven't been holding my attention as much as I would like them to, and I'm looking for some recommendations. Which books would you recommend as great summer reads?

I recently finished:


A Change in Fortune was a nice Christian Fiction read, it was very easy to get into and kept me wanting to know what would happen. When Eliza's father passed away, his fortune was stolen and Eliza was left with nothing. Her fiance wanted nothing to do with her, as soon as he realized her dowry was gone. Eliza follows the man who stole her fortune, and tries to find her opportunity to regain what is rightfully hers.

I loved Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman, and thought I would pick this one up next.


Description from Goodreads: From the author of Wildflower Hill, this breathtaking novel travels more than a century between two love stories set in the Australian seaside town of Lighthouse Bay.

In 1901, a ship sinks off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The only survivor is Isabella Winterbourne, who clutches a priceless gift meant for the Australian Parliament. This gift could be her ticket to a new life, free from the bonds of her husband and his overbearing family. But whom can she trust in Lighthouse Bay?

Fast-forward to 2011: after losing her lover, Libby Slater leaves her life in Paris to return to her hometown of Lighthouse Bay, hoping to gain some perspective and grieve her recent loss. Libby also attempts to reconcile with her sister, Juliet, to whom she hasn’t spoken in twenty years. Libby did something so unforgivable, Juliet is unsure if she can ever trust her sister again.

In these two adventurous love stories, both Isabella and Libby must learn that letting go of the past is the only way to move into the future. The answers they seek lie in Lighthouse Bay.


What other books have you read lately that completely captivated your attention?