Thursday, December 25, 2014

Me Before You by: Jojo Moyes

I have never read anything by Jojo Moyes before, and the only reason why I picked this one up was because I kept seeing reviews for it everywhere.
    This book for me is a perfect example of why I steer clear of synopses at the back of books. If I were to read the synopsis of this one I probably would've steered clear. Well, that and the cover. I mean all that red, white, and the title, - at first brush it seemed a bit contrived for my tastes. But I'm ever so glad I by passed all that and picked this one up.
    Louisa Clark's life is a small one. Her family consists of her "Golden Child" little sister, who even with a son out of wedlock can still do nothing wrong, and her parents and grandpa, all crammed into a small house they can barely fit into. Louisa has a waitressing job, a boyfriend who is more of a place holder than the actual emotionally involved type and due to her small but vital financial support the family depends on has never been beyond the confines of her little town.
    After losing her waitressing job, she is able to find a temp position caring for a paraplegic, Will, who before his freak accident was a successful, charismatic, adventure seeking, sports fanatic. Through her time with Will, Lou finds the desire, strength and courage to explore who she is and see the world beyond the confines of her small little town, and Will, though stuck in a wheelchair finds the adventure he would've never found outside of it.
    As I started the book with Will's description being just so, and his sexy girlfriend with her 'carmel-colored' arms, I was about to write this one off as another harlequin romance and move on, thankfully I stuck with it. The writing and story is good, and bitter sweet. The characters here could meet and all be tied up in a contrived happily ever after ending, but Moyes is better than that. I can't say I bawled with this book, but with tears in my eyes I definitely cried. I can't remember the last book I did that with. Though limited it was good but harrowing to see and learn about assisted suicide. Moyes is unflinching with the realities of an injury like Will's. Nothing clears your rose colored glasses like the reality of the life of a paraplegic. The care, and immobility of it all, being un able to do the simple luxury of shifting in your sleep from one side to the other to make yourself comfortable. The story is sweet and I really enjoyed the characters and Lou's family. Definitely a good read, one that'll have me searching out Moyes' other works.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Glass Castle by: Jeannette Walls

I initially picked this book up when I worked at the bookstore. It was definitely a hot item, but with the hub bub of life it unfortunately got put on the back burner. I’d see it pop up from time to time and mentally put it back to the front of my “to read” mental list but never got around to it until last week. The Glass Castle is American writer and journalist Jeannette Walls’ Memoir. The book opens with
 “I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a dumpster”.

         You immediately push on with the mental gasp of What?! echoing in your head. Jeanette then takes you back to her childhood. Jeannette’s father, Rex, is an alcoholic. He is unable to keep a steady job and often has views on the government, life, and entrepreneurial pursuits that border eccentricity and complete lunacy. Jeannette’s mother is an artist whose struggle for artistic freedom and recognition is often blamed on the children and the life she has. Both parents’ preoccupation with their own struggles and life pursuits often takes priority over the children. The family moves from place to place, often leaving in the middle of the night, and sleeping in card board boxes on the beach. When Rex is sober he often encourages his children’s creativity, but those windows are few and far between. While the parenting of both parents is definitely in question, the children’s upbringing was full of books, education, and “lessons” on self-sufficiency.
      Jeannette has an older sister Lori, one brother Brian, and a baby sister Maureen. With parents often time absent, mentally and physically, the children often protect and support one another. In fact when Jeannette finally gets the chance to leave the family and pursue her dreams, she gives the opportunity to her sister Lori. There’s another time in the book where the children are starving and they’re all sitting together with their mother and she keeps disappearing under the blanket and coming back up. Brian the brother, gets up and yanks the blanket away from her to reveal an open chocolate bar that she’s been eating. Immediately Brian grabs what’s left of the chocolate bar and divides it among the children. Their mom immediately starts crying, saying that she’s addicted to sweets just like their father is to alcohol. There are so many scenes like this in the book that are more baffling that really make you think, what does that do to a child? And What is wrong with those parents? The children, grow up not only to survive their childhood but prosper in their own right. Almost to the point where you think to yourself, maybe the parents “lessons” on self-sufficiency weren’t all that bad. Almost.

You would think this read, with the description and synopsis would be heavy and depressing, but the voice in which Jeannette writes this memoir is beautiful. There is no malice, judgment, or self-deprecation, just a voice that depicts what is with honesty.  Everything that is, just is, without a hint of remorse or apology. I loved this book. I loved that it left me with feeling and thought. Thought on life and the pursuit of happiness, and feeling on how interesting life, circumstance and we as people are. Definitely a read I think everyone would benefit from. I loved this interview with her about her book. She encourages everyone to write their own story, and the more I think about the more I think everyone should. I know I want to read my moms story, my sisters and my friends. All in all a good book. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Scarlet by: A.C. Gaughen

I needed a book to read, and found myself lazily browsing through Angie's Blog. I came across her review for a book called Lady Thief...I must confess I didn't get past the first line. Instead it sent me in a mad scramble to get my hands on a copy of the first book, Scarlet.
     Scarlet is a retelling of the classic Robin Hood. Because most think she is a boy, Scarlet is referred to by the gang and well most everyone in the town as Will, an assumption that Scarlet is more than happy to play a long with. Robin saved Scarlet in London, when he thought she was nothing more than a wayward pick-pocket boy, and she thought he was a regal lord and a good target. Scarlet joins Robins rag tag team and their noble cause, protecting the people from the sheriffs ridiculous laws and tax penalties. When the sheriff hires the worst of the worst, Gisbourne to catch the hood and his bandits, we find that Rob isn't the only with demons in his past.
     I love retellings. There's something about them, done right, that really just speaks to me. That being said I don't know how I necessarily feel about Robin Hood Retelling's. Mostly because I guess I'm not in love with the story. More particularly, I've never read the original tale to really fall in love with it- so I guess that plays a huge part. That being said- this wasn't too bad of a read. Scarlet's slang at first bothered me, but as the story progressed I hardly noticed it. Maybe I've been reading too many books with altruistic characters that deny themselves of what they want, thinking that they couldn't possibly be worthy of something so good, because at times both Scarlet and Rob's obtuseness about each other really grated on my nerves. Or maybe I'm just that selfish to know what I want, and think myself worthy enough to have it. I loved the Idea of Rob. I would've loved Scarlet more if she had more confidence in who she was. If she understood that everything that went wrong wasn't her fault and that at times, more often that not, things have an odd way of playing out how they will without any care of your wants or intents. I enjoyed the story enough to finish the book, even eagerly so- like I was always thinking about it. Do I feel passionately enough about this read that I'll look back and feel tingles? probably not, but I will be picking up the sequel because despite all my quarrels- I really did like the story and want to see what Scarlet, Rob, and their rag tag bandit crew have in store. 

Rob came out from around the building, sliding in the darkness and nodding to us. "The family is safe and calm." He nodded to me. "And grateful, Scar."
    I nodded back. It were dark, so they couldn't prove I were blushing.
    "Much, why don't you and I take them back over to Worksop? Scar, John--go back to the Oak. We need to be on the roads early tomorrow, and I want your eyes sharp."
    "Scar has information that Gisbourne's effects are coming up through the forest. At dawn, disguised," John said.
    Rob smiled. "Very interesting. We'll all meet at the archway an hour before dawn. Agreed?"
    We nodded, and I took my chance to run off. And I ran. And ran. It took an hour to get to Thoresby Lake, the farthest bounds of Lord Thoresby's property far in the deep of Sherwood Forest, so I were running as hard as I could. I felt filthier than in London. It weren't the blood. He hit me and broke my knife. For one measly second I were scared, and I needed to get that off me before the dawn, before we patrolled the roads, when I couldn't be one inch of scared.
    My fists were shaking as I ran, sweat pushing out the filth, desperate for the water. I jumped the big rock and dove in, braking the surface and crashing into fierce cold.
   I hung there, under the water. My eyes were closed and my skin went fair numb. My lumps and slices went to ice. There were no room for nothing in my mind but cold.
   When I pulled out of the water, heaving shivery breaths on the shore, I were fearless.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Carpe Diem... Seize the day

Robin Williams
July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014

I must say.
I was a bit surprised at how much the news of his passing affected me.
I realized, what a sad day, that such a bright
cheerful spirit, who brought smiles to so many- is now gone.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fair Game by: Patricia Briggs

Ever since I caught wind of another Alpha and Omega novel coming out from the wonderful Patricia Briggs I've been stewing over the third installment Fair Game. I've had this one for a while, just have never picked it up to read. Trust me, it's not from lack of want- Anna and Charles have always had a special place in my heart since the first time I met them. I just never quite felt  in the right mood until now.

    Now that the werewolves are out (as in they've gone public- it's not a huge secret anymore), Bran has had to be more strict with the penalties and repercussions that are dealt. Which means Charles, the Morrok's official hit man has to put wolves down that would've other wise been dealt with in a different manner. This in turn has taken it's toll on Charles, and Anna has realized it for months now. Charles has simply not been himself. He no longer brings Anna with him on his assignments and with each return he seems further and further away.

 Anna has had enough, fearing for his sanity she takes the issue to his father, the Morrok. Yet in all is wisdom he doesn't see it. As a last hope she brings it to an old friend, who- in his own way is able to open Brans eyes to the danger and levity of the problem. Along with the help of Adam- Bran is able to devise an assignment that might just help Charles with the literal ghosts that have been haunting him.

    There has been a serial killer on the loose that has been killing for years. Recently the targets have changed from human, to fey and werewolf. Charles and Anna fly to Boston to be consultants for the FBI on the case. Anna hopes the change of assignment, where Charles is a hero in helping find the serial killer, instead of being the revered enforcer, will finally break the barrier Charles seems to have built up between them and bring back the man she loves.

   I have always had a soft spot for deserving side characters that have me just as excited (in some cases more) to see them as I am to see the main characters. Charles has always been that way for me. I lived for the brief glimpses the Mercy Thompson series gave me. He was the mysterious, loyal, hit man for his father the Morrok, that I just wanted to know more about. And well, that strong silent type always leaves me in a putter. So when Ms. Briggs released that they would have their own series I was ecstatic. I loved this book. I've really enjoyed the whole series.

    As The Ranting Dragon mentions, this book comes at a time where Charles and Anna are over the butterfly stage. They have been married a few years and have become comfortable and happy in each others company. The romance in this book takes a back seat, but Anna and Charles' relationship is still in the forefront. Ms. Briggs is an artist when it comes to creating suspense and adventure. Each chapter in this book had a purpose, there wasn't much meandering- which I love. The story was good and fast paced. I thought the "I'm going to keep you in the dark and avoid you for your own protection" theme would be tiresome- and I could feel the itch of disappoint slowly begin to creep up- but honestly, Charles' issue with his ghosts, and blocking off their connection, left me really admiring Anna and how she handled the situation. This was the perfect read to get me revamped for the next installment due out March 3rd of next year! If you're a fan of Iloana Andrews, the Mercy Thompson Series or really just urban fantasy in general pick this series up!

  Angie!- Well, because she always just gets it... Most of the time I just want to re-post her reviews
  Dark Farie Tails- "What a worthy sequel to an equally worthy series."
  Ranting Dragon "If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, I consider Briggs to be a must read"
  Rhapsody in Books "I love how the paranormals make fun of one another qua paranormals. For example, Isaac, the hip and streetwise alpha wolf of the Boston pack, calls Alistair Beauclaire Lord of the Elves"

Monday, August 4, 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

          I had stopped by Angie's as I wont from time to time, to borrow from her beloved shelves. (which are warm, inviting and not in the least judgmental... ) I simply asked her what I should read this time around in which she immediately gushed about a  book called Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Bummer that she had just lent it out but assured me with much quiet (and not so quiet) reverence that I simply must read it. Later that night I took home the delights that we had picked out together from her shelves, and while the ones I had were good, in the back of my mind, ever present, was this persistent presence of Fangirl. 

   Cath is an 18 year old girl who in every way is your ultimate fan girl. All her life here constants have been her father, her identical twin, Wren, and her fanfiction of Simon and Baz. It's the way Cath likes it. Predictable, sane, reliable and safe. Cath is thrown for a loop when Wren decides not to room with her at college and is stuck with an all too much, loud, opinionated, angry (really all the emotions you can think of but cheery), totally-opposite-from-her-in-every-way roommate, Reagan.

     Mixed with her anxiety (over, well, just about everything) and worry for her father back at home and a daunting class load, Cath finds herself delving deeper and deeper into her online world of Simon and Baz. While she has created quite the following from her online community- reaching reader numbers in the tens of thousands- her relationships manifested in the physical are minimal at best. If that's not enough, que entrance from her absent for more than fifteen years mother who had just decided one day that she needed to find herself and left, and an all confusing, quite but  not quite, is-he-or-isn't-he Reagans boyfriend Levi who Cath just can't decide if he is or isn't in her staunchly guarded inner circle.

   I can't say I fell immediately in love with this book. Or with Cath for that matter. Cath, as a person, is someone I don't think I would connect with in real life. Not truly. It felt like we kept missing each other on the "I get you" scale and I very nearly put this book down.

      I get the whole fanfiction "thing", and being so enveloped in a world that you don't want to come back to reality. And getting joy from someone's work who was able to take that lovely world and extend it beyond the realms the originators were willing to take it... But I can't say I'm a part of it. I get the whole introvert "thing", and the anxiety "thing"-- maybe not to the extent where I would stay in my room scarfing protein bars in lue of the cafeteria due to the anxiety of it all. But I just kept turning pages nodding on and on, because while I wasn't exactly resonating with Cath, the writing and story was good.

And as I kept reading I began to realize. That hey, I do like this book, and this quirky girl Cath that we have barely anything in common with, and that charming, good guy, Levi and yes even that crazy roommate Reagan.

   And it's because of this. As I read this book and got to know Cath, I realized, these weren't "things". It wasn't a fanfiction "thing" or an anxiety "thing" it was her. This is Cath, it's who she is. And I feel its credit to  Rainbow Rowell and her impeccable writing that I was able to realize this. Cath in the end, yes does learn how to work through her anxiety and maybe not be so worried about everything, But she doesn't change who she is. She doesn't suddenly become a social butterfly or someone I could immediately relate to. She stays true to the person she is, but is able to mature and grow.  I know it sounds so petty and old and common sense. But realizing that people are different-- that people are raised differently and come from different families is such a simple concept, but a life long lesson I feel I will always be learning. So even though Cath and her dysfunction is different from my dysfunction, we somehow still meet on many levels.
     The third time was in high school. They were sixteen, and their grandma came to stay, but not until the second night. That first night they'd spent in Wren's bed, Wren holding Cath's wrists, Cath crying.
    "I'm like him," she'd whispered.
    "You're not," Wren said.
    "I am. I'm crazy like him." She was already having panic attacks. She was already hiding at parties. In seventh grade, she'd been late to class for the first two weeks because she couldn't stand being in the halls with everyone else during passing periods. "It's probably going to get worse in a few years. That's when it usually kickS in."
    "You're not," Wren said.
    "But what if I am?"
    "Decide not to be."
    "That's not how it works," Cath argued.
    "Nobody knows how it works."
    "What if I don't even see it coming?"
    "I'll see it coming."
    Cath tried to stop crying, but she'd been crying so long, the crying had taken over, making her breathe in harsh sniffs and jerks.
    "If it tries to take you," Wren said, "I won't let go."
A few months later, Cath gave that line to Simon in a scene about Baz's bloodlust.
      For whatever reason, this scene stuck with me. I cried with Cath in this scene, being totally afraid of what you might become, the fear of maybe becoming someone you don't want to be and having the notion that there's nothing you can do about it. I'm sure I've bored you all to death with this somewhat life epiphany this book gave me, but it really did give me insight! Insight into a persons life I probably would've never been able to experience or understand. This YA novel read as a YA novel should. I echo Janice's sentiments Exactly.

        "This is what I want New Adult fiction to be–not a marketing term that means sex, but an  extension of the coming-of-age tale into a post-adolescent bracket. Fangirl captures that awkward unsure side of tasting independence for the first time."

Love that.
I loved the detail of the twins' names. Cather and Wen...Katherine. -- and gives insight I feel to the mother.
I loved that boy Levi.
"I just want to know--are you rooting for me? Are you hoping I pull this off?"
Cath's eyes settled on his, tentatively, like they'd fly away if he moved.
She nodded her head.
The right side of his mouth pulled up.
"I'm rooting for you, " she whispered. She wasn't even sure he could hear her from the bed.
Levi's smile broke free and devoured his whole face.
*sigh* oh that smile of his.
I loved both Cath and Levi together.
She didn't look over at Levi again until they were standing together in front of the elevator. (Condition: Smiling, stable). When it opened, he put his hand on her back and she practically jumped in.
"What's the plan?" She asked.
He grinned. "My plan is to do things that make you want to hang out with me again tomorrow. What's your plan?"
"I'm going to try not to make an ass of myself."
He grinned. "So we're all set."
Well because give me a boy that talks like that and I will die a happy woman.
I love Cath here cause her response would pretty much be my mantra the whole night if I were on a date with someone like Levi.

And because most of all, it makes me smile.

    Book Harbinger
    Pretty Books

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Prodigy by Marie Lu

   It has been so long, I can't remember if I even did a review of Legend, the first in this trilogy. I was working at the bookstore one day and we had just restocked the shelves behind the cash register with best sellers, so they'd be easy access/pickup for the customers as they came through the lines. Prodigy was one of those books. I had to grab a stack of them to have by my cash register because so many people were buying it. I remember thinking that I should probably get the first book to see what all the hub-bub was about. Sure enough I bought the first in the trilogy, took it home and devoured it that night. (fast forward a good 5-6 months)
   I couldn't tell you why, but it wasn't until last week when I stopped by my local library and went to my go to Librarian/Writer who never does me wrong, that I even thought of these books. She pulled this one out and said, "Well, you've probably already read Marie Lu's Trilogy..." I quickly grabbed it as memories, fuzzy, but still earnest, told me not to wait.
    My heart is still in a putter from the remnants of this book. I have literally just closed the cover on this power block, and for whatever reason, I felt that I needed to hurry and get my feelings out about it.
     The story continues on right where Legend left us. June and Day making their way to Vegas where they hope to receive aid from the patriots. The valiant duo go up against betrayal, deceit, and glory, leaving them in roles and sides they never thought they'd be in. With riots and the threat of a revolution on their hands, the republic, patriots, and elector all vie for June and Day's crucial vote.
   I have to admit, I was a bit nervous when diving into this one. Do I remember enough of the initial story to go a long with this one? Do I remember these characters? Do I love and feel for them? But all qualms were silenced from the turn of the first page. How could I forget about these two? Forget their mission? Forget their friendship, their shortcomings and love. I love that Day and June struggle. It's not like they meet and all is well...
    But dang, the first time they met, when June stepped into that skiz fight and saved Tess? *sigh*... oh man. I'm kicking myself because I returned the book without thinking twice about it. There were so many thoughts floating in my head I wasn't thinking of any particular passage to put down (as in there were too many I was thinking of) and I just thought to myself, I just need to write the review, don't stress over the passage (because really I was almost hyperventilating)... And now as I sit here writing my thoughts and feelings it's killing me that I can't put the perfect passages down to emphasize my point.
   Day and June are just so perfect together, as in they're so real and not perfect. Does that even make sense? They come from completely different sides of the tracks and yet have so much in common. They've each lost so much and yet have found a comfort and love in each other. I have just ordered the trilogy and can't wait till they're all sitting in a row on my shelf. In the mean time I have the third book sitting here on my desk next to me, totally over due with a waiting list behind it, and totally unrepentant about my inner struggle of being selfish and just keeping the book to finish and returning it so the other eager readers in line can have their due chance. Oh the struggle.
   But for real. This book was good. The story was beautiful. It kept me turning pages in wonderment and surprise. It's action packed and face paced. Pair a good story line with awesome characters and you have it made. I loved this book, I still get antsy typing out my feelings about it. I think this book was just perfect for me at this time and in this mood I've been in. Which in turn, might be having me view this all through rose colored glasses, but hey- its why we read right? To find that book that swaddles you in what you need, even if you don't even know it's what you need yet.

    Book Central
    Library Lady Hylary
    I'm Loving Books
    Foil The Plot