Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Circling the Sun" - Paula McLain

Hello bibliophiles! So I made the mistake of starting season one of Entourage. Less than three weeks later and I have finished ALL... EIGHT... SEASONS... Oops! Needless to say "it took over my life" is an understatement. :) Well its back to the books folks! I just recently finished Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife. I received this book through NetGalley (thank you!).

The story tells the tale of famous aviator Beryl Markham. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. But there was much more to her life than flying. Beryl was also a pioneer in women horse trainers and lived an incredible life in Kenya throughout the 1920's. McLain does an incredible job at narrating the story through Beryl's point of view. From early childhood to her first marriage and then throughout all the scandal, heartbreak, and adventure.

I did have a little trouble getting into the story at the beginning. McLain starts off in Beryl's solo flight across the Atlantic and then quickly flashes back to her early childhood days when her family first moved to Kenya. McLain is very detailed then moving throughout her life from that point. It takes quite some time before flying even comes back into the story. I know she was trying to show the other accomplishes of Beryl rather than focus on her flying but it seemed like a strange way to start and end the story. I did though enjoy the book. It provided an insight into what life, especially for women, was like during British rule in Africa. I would recommend this book to anyone. If you have read The Paris Wife, I felt this was better. Great read. Very similar to Out of Africa by Karen Blixen, friend and confidant of Beryl. Thanks again NetGalley! As always, feel free to share any recommendations, comments, or questions!

Happy reading fools :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

"The Boy Who Granted Dreams" - Luca Di Fulvio

Hello fellow bibliophiles! I have a short review for you tonight. Boy Who Granted Dreams by Luca Di Fulvio was an extremely odd book. I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley. Thank you even though I did not care for the book! The story was extremely hard to get into. I don't even know how to explain it. Whore houses, a child named Christmas, and a boy who loves a girl far from his class level. The story bounced around in time, flashing forward and back with no rhyme or reason. I had a difficult time keeping track of where I was in time! Unfortunately I only read half of the book. Maybe I am judging it too harshly and it got better in the second half. I just couldn't make it there. I do not recommend the book but more power to you if you give it a shot! I would like to hear your thoughts on the book!

As always, feel free to share any recommendations, suggestions, or comments!

Happy reading fools :)

Friday, May 15, 2015

"Outlander" - Diana Gabaldon

Hello fellow bibliophiles! It's time for another Throwback Review to a favorite series of mine! You may have heard of this book since it is been made into a TV series by Starz. The series and first book is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Currently there are eight books in the series, with the most recent one just being released this past January. This was a series that was constantly being recommended to me by the different book sites I use but yet continued to disregard. That is until a couple years ago when I decided to pick up the first book. The rest is history.

From the moment I picked up this book, I could not put it down. If you've read any of my previous post, you will know I am a big fan of books set in two different time periods where the story alternates between characters and time periods. This book is similar to that except there is only one character going back and forth. That's right, time travel! While this book could be classified as science fiction, you could also categorize it as romance, historical fiction, military fiction, and so on. Diana Gabaldon, you're amazing. It's hard to quickly describe what the book is about as it's quite a daunting book. Almost 900 pages long with many characters and different events taking place. In short, here's a "brief" summary:

The story starts off after the end of WWII with an English couple, Frank and Claire Randall, on their second honeymoon to reconnect after being separated during the war. They travel to Scotland where they visit different landmarks and historical places of the countryside. One day while Claire is out walking on her own at the site of a circle of stones, she is transported back in time to the 1740's. British solider's, Scottish men in kilts, castles, Highlanders to the rescue, and no idea how to return to the present, Claire is forced to become involved with a Highlander named Jamie Fraser for her protection, and his. I cannot even begin to describe their relationship together. Too many moving parts that all connect and would give too much of the story away. Let's just say this, they were made for each other. They argue, they banter, they fall in love out of necessity, and then fall in love because its true. But Claire doesn't belong in this world. She has a husband and an entire life in the future. Can she stay in the past or must she find a way to get back?

That summary does not give the story any justice. Trust me. It's an amazing book. Diana Gabaldon is an incredible writer. She writes in a way that doesn't just make you feel like you could be there but throws you head first right within its pages. And yes the rest of the books are just as long and just as daunting, but they're worth any minute you spend within their pages. I have recommended this series to many and will continue to do so. I highly encourage you to take a look at this book. I'll end with a quote from Diana herself from her website (, "What I used to say to people who saw me sitting outside a store with a pile of books and asked (reasonable enough), "What sort of book is this?", was, "I'll tell you what. Pick it up, open it anywhere, and read three pages. If you can put it down again, I'll pay you a dollar." I've never lost money on that bet." 

Pick it up. Read three pages. Thank me later. Check out the Starz series as well! It's great! Feel free to share any recommendations and let me know what you think of the book!

Happy reading fools :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

"Orphan Train" - Christina Baker Kline

Hello fellow bibliophiles! I've had the pleasure of an afternoon off from work today. Perfect to indulge in and finish my current book. Finally I have finished all my current ARC copies and could hold an actual book in my hand! I picked up Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline a couple weeks ago while perusing the shelves at B&N and have been dying to jump into it since then. This book did not disappoint.

Kline tells the story of an "orphan train rider" during the 1920's starting with her journey coming to America, the hardships faced once her family made it to New York, and throughout the difficulties she faced as a young child being swept out to the Midwest, suffering and being passed from family to family. The story is split by the main character, Vivian, reliving her tale from memories to a young girl, Molly, an orphan herself, who is helping her clean out her attic for community service hours, going back in time from past to present. While the two characters are very different on the outside, they come to share the same kind of thoughts, feelings, and similarities in the hardships each has faced growing up. I have heard of the orphan trains and some stories about the children during the 1920's and 1930's who were brought from New York to the Midwest but I have never researched much or read other books on this topic in history. I found that aspect very intriguing. I cannot imagine what it would be like to first move across an ocean to an unfamilar world, then loose all of the family you have ever know, fend for yourselves on the streets, to be then picked up and shipped off to another foreign world with people you have never met before. Not only was this difficult for the children but families were not in great shape during this time period either. Great Depression, stock market crashing, and many unable to afford to care for their own children, let alone take in another.

Kline presents a well-written story. She clearly defines the back and forth between past and present and keeps the reader's interest with subtle comparing and contrasting of the two main characters. I enjoyed the book and learning more about this time period. A lot of what those children faced, are things foster kids continue to face today. Abuse and neglect are current issues that plague the foster care system still. Working as a Case Manager, you see it everyday and you never get used to it or understand it. Dfeinitely an eye-opening book. I highly recommend it. You won't be disappointed. As always, feel free to share you opinions, suggestions, and recommendations. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book!

Happy reading fools :)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Red Queen" - Victoria Aveyard

Hello fellow bibliophiles! Lucky treat for you today, TWO reviews! This book was another YA guilty pleasure that is popular on all reading lists right now. It did not disappoint! Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is the first book in a new, self titled series that I expect will be a huge hit among readers.

The book is Hunger Games meets Divergent meets Game of Thrones. I know, it is hard to imagine something like this but it is the only way I can even begin to describe the story. The main character, Mare, is a "Red." Reds are low born, peasant people who do all the hard labor and work for the worlds. "Silvers" are the high born and royal. Silvers control the world, make the laws, and enjoy all the splendors of the world. Silvers also have powers to control and manipulate situations and people. They are known as Reds and Silvers because that is the color of their blood. But Mare is different. While she may be a Red, she also has a power that she was unaware of. Mare is thrown into the Silver's world, under control by them, while all out war and rebellion is taking place throughout the different lands. Mare is torn between doing what is right for her people or protecting herself from the world finding out what she really is.

Aveyard writes a well balanced story that young, and older, readers can both enjoy. While many aspects of the book can be seen in other stories that are popular currently, she also adds in her own ideas and concepts. I don't know how I am going to wait until next year to see how the story continues! Be sure to check this out! It's a great read! As always, feel free to share any recommendations, comments, and suggestions!

Happy reading fools :)

"Ruins of War" - John A Connell

Hello fellow bibliophiles! Another ARC review coming to you. Thank you Penguin Books First To Read program for the opportunity to read Ruins of War (Mason Collins #1) by John A Connell. This is the first book in a new historical mystery series that is sure to be a hit!

Set in post-WW2 era Munich, Germany, the reader follows CID investigator Mason Collins on his path to find a killer running rampant throughout the streets, killing both Germans and Americans. Throughout the case, Collins is faced with pushback from his superiors in the Army who continually give and take his resources and fellow investigators. Short-handed, fast approaching deadlines, and a killer on the run who plays games with Collins' investigation keep the story on a fast pace that continually leaves the reader gripping their seat in suspense! Connell writes well and easily transports the reader into the war torn and damaged city. Whenever I felt like I had the story figured out, Connell would throw a curveball and kept me guessing.  I'm looking forward to the next book in the series! Great book for all mystery, suspense, and history fans! As always, feel free to share any comments, recommendations, or feedback!

Happy reading fools :)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

"The Sound of Glass" - Karen White

Hello fellow bibliophiles! I think I have just finished what is sure to be one of the top beach reads for this summer! Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to get an ARC of The Sound of Glass by Karen White. The book will be published this month and is sure to be a big hit. A story of love, a story a loss, a story of forgiveness and redemption.

Merritt, recently widowed, learns that she has inherited a family home in Beaufort, SC from her husband's family. Family that she never heard of while married to Cal for seven years. Needing a change and having the desire to face her fears, Merritt quits her job, sells her house, and packs up everything to move to Beaufort. There Merritt is visited by her step-mother Loralee, four years older than she, and her 10 year old half-brother Owen with whom she has had no relationship with since her now deceased father married her years ago. Merritt is faced by many fears, fears that she soon comes to learn the women in her husband's family also faced and kept hidden. Fears that come from being in an abusive relationship. Loralee helps Merritt to look past all her fears and insecurities to move on in her life and start fresh. While Loralee may have her own motives, she tries to show Merritt that their is more to life than staying hidden in the shadows.

The book is very well wrote. Mystery to keep the reader yearning to discover the truth, advice on how to face your worst demons, a little romance, and full of southern quips. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it as a great book for people who need something to read this summer! Great vacation book! Feel free to share your favorite summer reads with me!

Happy reading fools :)

"Inside the O'Briens" - Lisa Genova

Hello fellow bibliophiles! My weekend reading marathon is still in full swing with another ARC completed! Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to read Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova, author of the recent book to movie feature, Still Alice. I have not read Still Alice but I did see the movie and was quite moved by it. I know, don't curse me. I know I should have probably read the book first. The story itself was very powerful. It describes the struggle of an amazing intellect who is plagued with early on-set Alzheimer's and her family's decisions to best handle the disease. Great story that is very relevant to present day issues family's are dealing with.

Inside the O'Briens was very similar to that story in which the patriarch of the O'Brien family is diagnosed with Huntington's disease. Huntington's is not only a fatal disease but is also hereditary, with a 50/50 chance of children receiving the mutated gene resulting in the disease. Joe O'Brien is an Irish police officer from Charlestown, Mass. He is the epitome of all Irish-Catholic-Police-Boston stereotypes you can think of. At first Joe does not understand what is happening to him. He throws it off saying he is tired or it is just his bum knee bothering him. But once his symptoms continue to increase, his wife, family, and coworkers really start to worry and convince him to see a doctor. The story continues on throughout his struggle through the disease and the struggle of his four kids and their decisions to be tested to see if they are carries of the gene. Be tested and know your fate or don't get tested, pass the possible gene along to your own children, in turn risking their lives as well as yours. A struggle all four deal with in very different ways that have huge impacts on their lives.

The story is well wrote and very interesting how each member of the family handles the diagnosis. Seeing the four children struggle to decide what is the best for them and their future makes a person really think about their own paths. While I did enjoy the story, what I didn't like was how similar it is to Still Alice. I was told by a friend today that "some writers only have one good story within them and do not know when to stop." I think Genova has this issue. She writes well about struggles and decisions that plague every day people but its just the same story over and over with a new disease. Not much for originality. I also felt no closure with the book. The ending was nothing like I was expecting and I was very upset by this. The reader is left out to dry with no real ending to anything that has happened. It was very irritating even though I know why Genova did what she did. She wanted the reader to not focus on the "what ifs" but rather focus on the present. Live in the moment. You only get one chance at this life. Make it worth living.

As always, feel free to share any recommendations, suggestions, and comments! Thanks again NetGalley!

Happy reading fools :)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

"The House of Hawthorne" - Erika Robuck

Hello fellow bibliophiles! Another day, another book as I continue my weekend reading marathon! I said in my previous review, I have a slew of ARC's to get through. The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck was provided to me by NetGalley. Thank you! I am always greatly appreciative of your books!

The House of Hawthorne is a beautifully wrote book. From the point of view of Sophia, the reader is transported through the tale of her life from her time in Cuba as a young woman through her courtship with the famous writer Nathaniel Hawthorne and finally through their life together as two artists struggling to stay afloat. It's a beautiful love story full of happiness, heartbreak, and the constant need for each of them to not only work on their own art but also foster the other's needs.  Nathaniel is a writer but struggles to write what he considers "enough" to fully support their family which forces him to take other jobs as necessary and puts the family on a gypsy-vagabond lifestyle, constantly moving and uplifting the roots of their Hawthorne bush. Sophia is a painter but is plagued by severe headaches that leave her drained of all energy when creating. Because of this, she is unable to paint majority of her time or make enough to support the family consistently. Through all their pain and struggles, Sophia and Nathaniel have a love that goes much deeper than the surface; their souls become one with each other.

Robuck does an incredible job writing and expressing the story with great detail that places the reader within the pages. The writing is somewhat difficult at the beginning but once you are immersed and get in her style, it just gets better and better. I really enjoyed this book. It's a side of a writer that we often do not see or know about; their struggles in daily life, their struggles in supporting their families while yet supporting their creative needs, and the constant internal struggles they face within themselves. The overall toll it takes on their lives and the lives around them makes for a fascinating story. Great book. Highly recommend it. Thanks again NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.

As always, please share and recommendations, suggestions, or comments! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book as well! Enjoy your weekend!

Happy reading fools :)

Friday, May 1, 2015

"Liar's Bench" - Kim Michele Richardson

Hello fellow bibliophiles! I keep promising you that I will get back to posting 2-3 reviews a week and I know I keep letting you down. Because of that, I am starting a reading marathon for myself this weekend! I am kick-starting it off tonight with my most recent read, Liar's Bench by Kim Michele Richardson. I was able to read an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley. Thank you!

I gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. The Liar's Bench is a bench (obviously) set in a small Kentucky town, made from the gallows of a slave that was charged with thievery by her son years after her death. The story itself though is set in 1972 from the point of view of a 17 year old girl named Mudas. Mudas has not had an easy upbringing for many different reasons. On her 17th birthday she discovers that her mother hung herself. Or that is what the police believe. Mudas sets out on a path of discovery for truth to what really happened to her mother. Along the way, parts of the past tie in and are centered around the Liar's Bench. While I did find the story itself interesting, what it lacked was depth. The book hurries through the story, moving quickly from one thing to the next. I would have liked more expansion on the different aspects that made up the story. I never felt connected to the characters which is what I think make or breaks a book. That's just my opinion. If there is no connection, its hard to feel for the characters and their struggles. I also would have liked more on the historical aspect of the story. History and slavery in the town were touched upon but never fully talked about. But this could just be me being a huge history nerd. Once again, just my opinion. Overall, a good read, just not a great read.

As always, feel free to share any comments, recommendations, or suggestions! I currently have a slew of ARC's and new books to get through but I am always up for adding new ones to my read-to list!

Happy reading fools :)