Monday, March 30, 2015

"Paper Towns" - John Green

Hello fellow bibliophiles! This Sunday was filled with rainy skies, cold temperatures, and nothing to do but lay in bed with a cup a coffee and read all day. It was glorious :) Once again I jumped on the John Green bandwagon and divulged into his next book that will be soon gracing the big screens. I had not heard a lot about Paper Towns but something has always intrigued me about the story. So I picked up the book, started reading, and didn't put it down until I was finished. Here's what I thought:

I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars. It's a great story that I am glad I read as an adult rather than an adolescent who the book is targeted towards. The story is about a boy, Quentin, and his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, who have been intertwined since they were kids. Q has always loved Margo even though she hardly acknowledges him or sees him more than as just a friend. Now seniors in high school, Margo appears at Q's window one night and convinces him to help her play out a series of revenge ploys. The next day, Margo has disappeared and no one but Quentin seems to care. Q is lead on a wild goose chase from clues left by Margo to find where she is and why she left. Will he drive himself crazy trying to find her? Does she even want to be found? Is she still alive? Questions that keep the reader guessing and hanging on through every chapter of the book, right up until the end.

What I loved best about the story are all of the underlying themes and messages Green gives to the read. Green is right when he says we all see people differently, through different "mirrors" or "windows" and think we know each other's true selves. But do we really know each other or do we just believe what we want to think? In this book, Quentin and the other characters are all brought together because of Margo and her semantics. They realize different things about each other outside of their stereotypical, judgmental opinions they held before as high school students. I also really liked the literal use of paper towns throughout the story. The use of the word and its meaning changes and evolves throughout, guiding the reader down a path of self discovery both literally and figuratively. Many other reviews I read said this book was not as good as his others but since I have only read this book and Fault In Our Stories I cannot agree one way or the other. I did enjoy the book and do recommend it! Feel free to share any opinions, suggestions, and feedback!

Happy reading fools :)

"The Beast In The Red Forest" - Sam Eastland

Hello fellow bibliophiles! Another day, another book. I have finally caught up on the most current book in the Inspector Pekkala series by Sam Eastland. I previously reviewed another book in this series and you can check out that review here. I am a big fan of this series. Russian history, spies, and  intrigue during the 1930's and 1940's. Not to mention Eastland's fantastic writing.

This book continues where the last book left off with Stalin and Kirov's search for Pekkala when they now have concert evidence that he is indeed still alive. Stalin sends Kirov to Ukraine where Pekkala is believed to be hiding out with the partisans who are fighting to hold off the Russian and German armies. Eastland fills the book full of warfare, Russian and German politics, assassins with their own agendas, and more. Great book that is right on par with the previous 4 books in the series. While Eastland does provide some background into the characters and their history, it is important to read the books from the beginning and in order.

An interesting fact was the preface in which Eastland explains the reasoning for his use of a pseudonym and his back story for how he came to write the series. It was very interesting and has inspired me to check out his other books outside the series. Any suggestions, recommendations, and feedback are always welcomed!

Happy reading fools :)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

"The Haunting of Sunshine Girl" - Paige McKenzie

Hello fellow bibliophiles! Thanks to the great people at Net Galley, I was able to read this great new story and indulge in my weakness for YA novels. The The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie is based off of a popular YouTube Channel. I personally have never watched or heard of the story/channel before I saw it on Net Galley and therefore had no prior knowledge of what the it was about.

The story starts off with a young girl, Sunshine, who is celebrating her 16th birthday, the starting point for which all is to come. Sunshine isn't like most kids. She doesn't have a lot of friends, loves vintage clothing, and has some interesting likes and hobbies. She and her mom pick up and move from Texas to Washington due to her mom, Kat's, new job opportunity. Upon arriving, Sunshine starts noticing little changes within herself, with her mom, and especially with there new house. She quickly comes to the realization that their house is haunted and she can interact with the child ghost who has taken up residence in their home. This is just the beginning of a crazy journey for Sunshine. Spirits and demons, mentors and protectors, luiseach and a crazy art teacher all wrap up this fantastic ghost story that leaves you hanging for more! What I loved best about the story and what I think sets it apart of similar stories is the depth of background the reader receives as to what and why is happening. McKenzie did a great job portraying the emotions and struggles Sunshine experiences while also keeping the reader dangling for more from the mysterious mentor who juts in at times to share his view point. I am looking forward to reading the next one in the series! Great book! As always, feel free to share any recommendations, suggestions, or comments! Thank you Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book!

Happy reading fools :)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Thursday Throwback!

Hello fellow bibliophiles! This week my favorite little local movie theater has been paying tribute to Robin Williams with $4 movies all week. So of course I have been partaking which means I haven't had as much time for reading. I am also pretty bogged down with work right now and thanks to Net Galley I currently have 4-5 ARC's waiting on my TBR shelf. I can't wait to finish the one I am currently reading, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie. But until then, I thought I wouldn't keep you waiting any longer for my next review and share with you my FAVORITE book.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty A Smith is my all-time favorite book. It means more to me than I can express in words. I love it. I cannot even count the amount of times I have read it. Multiple copies and editions grace my shelves. I first read this book for a book review in my Language Arts class in 7th grade (yes I remember this). I have always felt I could connect with Francie Nolan in many ways which I think is why I love the book as much as I do. It's happy; it's sad; and it's honest. I have dreamed of having a rickety, old staircase to be able to sit up on the top floor among the tree branches and read my afternoons away in the sunshine. Francie dreams of adventure and getting more out of her life, everything I have always hoped for. The story is simplistic yet full of depth which has made it a timeless classic that deserves to be read over and over.

"From that time on, the world was hers for the reading."  I don't know if there has every been a better quote to sum up my beliefs or that completely expresses my life in a better way. It's not just about "books." It's dreams, and hopes, and desires. So do more. Explore more. Learn more. Give more. Travel more. READ more. Your life is what you make it. Make it worth living and make it worth remembering.

Happy reading fools :)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion" - Alice Kimberly

Hello fellow bibliophiles! This Sunday presented the perfect opportunity to curl up with a cozy mystery, comfy blanket, and delicious cup of coffee in my ugly green-gold chair. This chair is magnificent. It's also hideous. The chair was originally owned by my dad's grandparents and has finally landed in my living room, still in mint condition. It's the perfect-sized recliner and I love it. Here it is in all its glory :)

Now that you can all bask in the chair's glory, let's get back to the books! I've moved on from my thriller mood but haven't yet settled on what I want to read next so for now I settled on a cozy mystery to keep me company. You can never go wrong with one of them! I love Alice Kimberly! Alice Kimberly is known also Cleo Coyle which are pen names used by the husband-wife writing team, Marc Cerasini and Alice Alfonsi. They write one of my favorite cozy mystery series, The Coffeehouse Mysteries as well as this series, The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. These series are fun, "cozy", quick mysteries that I thoroughly enjoy each time I pick one up. 

The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion is the fifth book in the series about a bookshop owner who can talk with a ghost that haunts her little store in Quindicott, Rhode Island. The ghost, Jack Shepard, a private detective, was shot in the bookstore in 1946 and never left. For some unknown reason, the moment Penelope McClure steps into the bookshop she is able to communicate with him. Pen, with Jack's assistance, solves murder mysteries around town. In this particular book, Pen comes across the body of a rich, elderly woman who believed her house was being haunted by ghosts. With help from local business owners, known as "The Quibblers", Pen works to solve the case and clear one of her friends from a murder charge. Alice Kimberly is a great writer. She keeps you guessing for more and often throws curve balls into the story that you don't see coming. I really enjoy reading her books. They are a nice, easy, "comfort" read that I will continue to indulge in. Please check out the rest of the series as well as the Coffeehouse Mystery  and her website for both. The site is full of reading excerpts, book lists, and recipes all which you can find here! You won't be disappointed!! As always, please share any recommendations, suggestions, or comments! 

Happy reading fools :) 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

"Descent" - Tim Johnston

Hello fellow bibliophiles! Another week, another book. I recently read the highly acclaimed and recommended book Descent by Tim Johnston. I hate to say it but I was let down by this book. The book has been getting great reviews and making it on many bestseller lists but I am not exactly sure why. I gave this book at 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. Here's what I thought:

The book tells the story of four family members and their paths after they suffer a great lost. While on vacation, the two children in the family head off on a run in the mountains but only one returns. The story goes on to tell how each parent and remaining child try to move on with their lives, each in completely different direction, dealing with the kidnapping of their eldest child. I had trouble getting into this book. The story does not start getting interesting until about 140 pages in and when I thought the story was finally starting to get rolling, I felt I was let down again as it did not get any better. The story is a thriller but I continually got lost as the story moved from character to character without a clear marker to know that the characters were switching . Not only does the story change characters back and forth but it also does not always go chronologically. Sometimes the main characters and plot line may be a couple days in between switches and other times it goes back and forth from past to present. Confusing. Very confusing at times.

I had higher hopes for this book but it never really gave me what I wanted. Maybe I am just over the thriller stage and that is why I was not completely hooked. Feel free to share your review or recommendation. As I am finally feeling better and almost completely caught up on work, I should have more time for reading! YAH! I hope to be back to three reviews instead of the two it has been for the past couple weeks! Not that my "To Read List" is getting any shorter, but I could always use new recommendations for books or series to read. Please share!

Happy reading fools :)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

'The Girl On The Train" - Paula Hawkins

Hello fellow bibliophiles! Unfortunately my cold is still plaguing me but I have at least been able to find some time to keep reading in between getting caught up at work. I hope everyone had some time to sit out under a tree in this GLORIOUS Spring weather this weekend. It sure is nice out there. Fingers crossed, winter may finally be behind us (yes, I knocked on wood when I wrote that!). I have another new and fantastic review to share with you from the current hit from debut writer, Paula Hawkins. It's hard to believe I have had two books this great in writing so close to one another (see my review of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah).

The Girl On The Train was fantastic! If I wouldn't have been sick and exhausted beyond reason when I started reading it, I would have easily finished it in one sitting. I enjoy books where the writer goes back and forth between characters showing both sides of the story, or in this case, three sides. The three viewpoints are from Megan, who is the main focus of the story, Rachel, the ex-wife and alcoholic, and Anna, the new wife/mistress and neighbor. Throughout these three viewpoints, we learn three completely different stories, each with their own issues and problems they are trying to work through. From divorce and depression to motherhood and alcoholism. We learn where they come from and how they are connected. As the story progresses, you believe you know what is going to happen and then OH MY GOSH the story takes a turn in the last 75-80 pages! Mix in a few lies and blackouts and folks you have yourself a thriller!

I loved this book. I gave it a 4.5 out of 5 on Goodreads. Well worth reading! One thing to be weary of though is make sure you pay attention to the dates Hawkins puts at the start of each chapter along with the character's name. In the beginning Hawkins moves back and forth over a couple years and then from the middle on, she stays closer to all the characters on the same concurrent date. If you were a fan of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, then you are sure to love this. As always, feel free to share any comments, suggestions, and recommendations for my next review!

Happy reading fools :)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"Double Fudge Brownie Murder" (Hannah Swensen #18) - Joanne Fluke

Hello fellow bibliophiles! I know I am a review or two behind so I apologize for that but I have been down with a terrible cold since Sunday night. I told a friend today "you know it's bad when I go 4 days without picking up a book," and that is exactly what happened. Do not fret though, I am back on the grind! Last night I started (and finished) the newest book in the Hannah Swensen series. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series as one of my "cozy books" but like those type of series tend to do, it is starting to falter not only in plot line but writing as well. Here are my thoughts:

I gave this book 2.5 out of 5 stars. The beginning of this book started off a bit shaky in writing. I was concerned for a while, unsure how the book was going to continue. While I have loved the story and characters throughout the series, I am also getting tired of the plot line. Every book involves a murder discovered and investigated by Hannah Swensen, the beloved main character and owner of the Cookie Jar bakery. The series is very similar to the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, f anyone has read any of those books, but instead of bail bonds, Hannah bakes cookies. Of course there is a love triangle that never seems to have a definitive decision made, cop vs. "guy next door," and crazy relatives to boot. What I do love in these stories are the recipes in each book which may be the one of the only reasons I continue to keep reading the series. It's hard to give you any more specifics about this book without giving anything away since the stories are short and all pieces transfer over from book to book. I will say this, Hannah is getting closer to making a decision about her love life (finally!!) and there are some tasty sounding recipes included that I am looking forward to trying!

Even though I say I am getting tired of the story line, I know I will continue reading. I do recommend these books or at least the first 10-12. After that, they do get pretty repetitive. For me though, they are a nice, easy, quick, cozy read! As always, feel free to share any comments, recommendations, or suggestions!

Happy reading fools :)

P.S. Currently reading the highly acclaimed and recommended The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. Look for this one in the next day or two!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"Frostbite" - Richelle Mead

Hello fellow bibliophiles!

I hope everyone is having a nice, relaxing weekend! I on the other hand have been busy with Bowl For Kids' Sake this weekend. Thankfully I was able to squeeze in a few hours this afternoon to finishing read the second book in the Vampire Academy series. Please read the review before this one to get my opinions on the first book!

Similar to the first book, I gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars. While this book was better and more developed, I did not feel it has yet earned enough credit to move up another level; maybe by the next book :) Even though the book continues to be wrote from the perspective of Rose, a seventeen year old half human-half vampire girl or otherwise known as Dhampir in this story, it is less "catty" than the first book. Rose's character is still full on "high school girl" but becoming more developed. The reader is able to see more into her struggles and different parts that have made up her life and why she is the way she is. As a reader, we also learn more about Lissa, full vampire or Moroi royalty, and her rare element power, spirit. Of course the story also continues the dynamic twisted love scenario that began in the first book between Rose and her guardian trainer Dmitri, which is always interesting.

I liked seeing the plot line progress as well as the characters becoming more developed and a deeper understanding of the three types of characters, Moroi, Strigoi, and Dhampir. There was more action and suspense in this book as well. I would say more than once I was covering the next page to avoid jumping ahead. I'm looking forward to continuing the next book! Feel free to share any comments, recommendations, or suggestions!

Happy reading fools :)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

"The Vampire Academy" - Richelle Mead

Hello fellow bibliophiles!

Reading Young Adult books as an adult has become a guilty pleasure for me you could say. I am a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. My Little Sister is to blame for this guilty pleasure! Reading books together is a favorite activity of ours. We pick out a book or series we would like to read and then we discuss the story together. Not only do I get to fulfill my guilty pleasure but she also improves her reading. Its a win win for us! She unfortunately likes to watch the movies first :/ So when she recently wanted to watch the Vampire Academy movie, which we did, I then suggested we read the series. Here is my review of the first book:

I gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I was intrigued by the Moroi, Strigoi, and Dhampir aspect of the story while we were watching the movie which gave me more motivation to read the books. Who doesn't love a little magic and fantasy every once in a while! I did feel the book was catty and a little annoying at times but it's wrote from the perspective of a seventeen year old girl. What did you expect??? I didn't necessarily like the book but I also didn't hate it. I feel it could have potential though. I am interested in seeing where the story goes from here. I guess it wouldn't hurt to keep reading! Frostbite will be up next! As always feel free to share any comments, recommendations, and thoughts.

Happy reading fools :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

"The Nightingale" - Kristin Hannah

Hello fellow bibliophiles!

I sit here in preparation to write my next review with tears still in my eyes, trying to fully process the story I have just finished. I started this book in plans to read for a few hours on my relaxing Sunday afternoon when then next thing I know 6 hours have passed and I have read over half of the book. Needless to say I got up from my chair long enough to make a fresh pot of coffee and then sat back down to finish.

I easily gave this book a rating of 5 out of 5 on Goodreads. Unbelievable is the only word that comes to mind right now. I am not sure if I can give this book the justice it deserves from a review; there are no words that can fully justify a story as unbelievable as this one. Please, understand that what I have wrote below does not even scratch the surface of the story and I fully encourage you all to read it.

 "In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are."
                                                                            -The Nightingale

Those words rang true throughout the entirety of the story which begins in the present, Oregon 1995, told by an unidentified narrator who begins by setting up the mystery of that which is her life story. We quickly are transported back to France 1939 at the start of World War II where we learn about two sisters who take decidedly different paths of resistance throughout the duration of war. One who yearns to protect her family and home at all costs while the other risks everything, including her life, to save the strangers around her; each one battling what is right or wrong but necessary for survival. While the story bounces back and forth between the two sisters and their journeys, the reader is also brought back to the present at times in which the story is being remembered. Kristin Hannah writes in an unbelievable and moving manner. She easily places you within the story, hoping and praying for the characters. I often found myself covering the next page to prevent myself from jumping ahead or covering my face in disbelief at what was happening at that point in time. The reader is constantly kept on their toes in anticipation of what is to come next.

While the story may be fiction, Hannah does an incredible job at including many historical facts about the resistance in France and other aspects of the Germany Occupation during WW2. Hannah's writing and storytelling bring light to the daily choices people in Europe were faced with throughout the war and the toll it took on them not only at that current time but also years later down the road. The book is enthralling and constantly leaves you yearning for more. Hence I finished the book in once sitting. There was no preventing the tears that came throughout the final chapter. Books like this do not come along often. Whatever you do over the next few weeks, I hope reading this book is one of them. You won't regret it. 

As always, feel free to share your comments, suggestions, and recommendations! I would love to hear what you thing of the book! 

Happy reading fools :) 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"The Counterfeit Heiress" (Lady Emily #9) - Tasha Alexander

Hello fellow bibliophiles! I hope everyone had a relaxing, fun-filled weekend. While I had planned to get this review up to you yesterday when I finished the book, I unfortunately was called into work for a few hours. Anyways here it is for you, better a day late than never!

The book for this review, The Counterfeit Heiress, #9 in the Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander has been a favorite series of mine for a while. I have enjoyed the series since the beginning and continue to do so thus far. I have heard that the series will be ending with one more book but until then, I will pretend that it is not true! The books main characters, Colin Hargreaves and Lady Emily, are once again off to solve a murder mystery with their fellow friends and counterparts. As always, the dashing Hargreaves and ever witty and exceptionally wise Lady Emily search to find the truth about a murder discovered in England after a masquerade ball. The murder is connected, of course, to one of Lady Emily's dearest Parisian friends, Cecil de Luc. Colin and Emily, together with Cecil and Jeremy (Duke of Bainbridge), travel to Paris in hopes of finding the truth not only about the murder in England but also Cecil's friend who "disappeared" over twenty years beforehand.

As I said previously, I have always enjoyed this series. England, France, a handsome Lord, and Lady who yearns for learning all set in the 18th century complete with masquerade balls, coming-out parties, and gossip scandals throughout the books make them not only enjoyable but entertaining as well. Each book has its own complete story line with continuing characters that appear throughout alongside the few main characters. I gave this book at 4 out of 5 on Goodreads. Feel free to check out my page on there too! As always please leave any comments, suggestions, questions, or recommendations!

Happy reading fools :)