Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Blogging break

I will be taking a blogging break to help take care of my dad. I mentioned in this weeks' Sunday Post that he was having a cardiac catheterization. The procedure went well but to our shock we found out that two of his arteries are 90% blocked and he needs open heart bypass surgery which will likely be in the next few days. Thoughts and prayers for my dad and my family are appreciated. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sunday Post (92) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I am writing this post from my parents' home where I will be till Tuesday. My dad is going to have a heart catheterization done on Monday morning to see if he has any blockages. Please keep him in your thoughts. We are feeling pretty positive as his cardiologist is not too worried. Tuesday is my mom's birthday but we will be celebrating it today (Sunday) since Monday and Tuesday will be spent at the hospital. 

It's been a crazy first week of the summer reading program at the library. We have been so incredibly busy! The good thing is that it makes the day fly by but I also have so much work to do. So far over 90 adults are participating in the summer challenge. On Monday night I had my rock painting craft night which was fun. Ten people attended and they seemed to really enjoy it. I told them about The Kindness Rocks Project which is what inspired the craft night. 

Now I have my two big programs to plan for in just two weeks. We have our third annual Comic Con in the Burg on June 23rd and 24th and then on June 26th I have my 80s murder mystery dinner. I have a lot of details to figure out still and we are so behind in getting the word out about Comic Con which worries me. Our first year we had 100+ people and last year I think we had around 60. This year the event is big and we are putting a lot of effort (and money) into it. Hopefully people will attend and it will be a success! I also need to finish my Ms. Marvel costume. The month is just going so quickly!

Last week on my blog:

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf (review)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (review)

Books read:

Royally Roma by Teri Wilson

This is a contemporary romance inspired by Roman Holiday. In this version, a prince is visiting Rome and decides to ditch his responsibility to go sightseeing with the heroine, a tour guide who believes he is her client.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This fascinating novel is written like a tell all from a film star of Hollywood's Golden Age. Although the characters are all fictional Hollywood stars, I really enjoyed it. Evelyn Hugo led quite a life. 


The Summer House by Hannah McKinnon

I so badly wanted to like this book. I enjoyed Mystic Summer but for some reason even though I thought this started off well I wasn't interested once it was no longer just about Clem. I couldn't connect with the characters and I couldn't get into the story. I think if the book was just from Clem's point of view I would have liked it more. 

Currently reading:

The Undateable by Sarah Title

So far this is a lot of fun. Bernie is an academic librarian who becomes an internet sensation when a picture of her is made into a meme, Disapproving Librarian. A magazine writer wants to write a series of articles on her and set her up on dates to prove she isn't "undateable". I wanted something lighthearted to read and this seems to fit the bill.

On My TBR pile:

Falling for Trouble by Sarah Title

This is the second book in the Librarians in Love series and features one of Bernie's friends as the hero.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

I started reading this but decided to save it for later. I thought what I read of it was good and one of my coworkers really liked it. It inspired by true accounts of kids who were stolen from their families by Georgia Tann, this horrid woman who sold kids to wealthy couples who wanted to adopt.

White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

This will be the final book I review for Library Journal as I recently resigned as a reviewer after three years.  The book will be published early next year and is a historical novel set in Korea during WWII and South Korea in 2011.

New books received:

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (for review)

Everybody's Son by Thrity Umrigar (for review)

Falling for Trouble by Sarah Title (for review)

White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht (for review)

True to You by Becky Wade (library book)

How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana (library book)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi
By Sandhya Menon
Published: May 30, 2017

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

My review:

Dimple is thrilled and surprised when her parents agree to let her go to Insomnia Con, a summer coding and web developing program at SFSU. It will be an amazing boost to her career prospects and the prize involves working with her idol, web developer Jenny Lindt to develop a real app. Of course she doesn't know that there is a catch. Her parents are hoping to set her up with Rishi Patel, the son of their friends. Rishi thinks that Dimple knows about him and their parents' hope for an arranged marriage between the two of them down the road. So he shows up at camp and introduces himself by saying "Hello, future wife!" which of course doesn't go very well. Dimple is beyond annoyed with her family. She'd hoped they'd support her education and career goals instead of just wanting her to get married. After all, she just graduated from high school!

Rishi has a completely different view of things. He is a dutiful son who wants to please his parents (the polar opposite of his rebellious younger brother) so he agrees to go to Insomnia Con, thinking that Dimple also agreed to their being set up. Unfortunately that is not the case but Rishi is determined to stay on at Insomnia Con and help Dimple win the contest. He may be a dreamer with a different view of arranged marriage (his own parents' arranged marriage story was very romantic which influences his views), but Rishi is a decent guy. As he and Dimple are forced to spend time together as project teammates, they start to become friends and perhaps something more.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. It isn't the first book about arranged marriage I've read but this one took a different turn which I liked a lot. Dimple and Rishi are really young still and I really liked Dimple and definitely related to her view of things. She and Rishi do make a good couple but I liked that their relationship developed more organically. 

Having grown up in a family that tried to push me several times into arranged marriages, I could appreciate Dimple's frustration (although my parents value education more and waited a few years longer than Dimple's did). Thankfully Dimple's parents aren't portrayed as ogres.They do love their daughter even if they were misguided and they support her career aspirations (though her mom is still pretty old fashioned about it). 

Aside from the romance, the book also involves friendship, nerd culture and family relationships. Both Rishi and Dimple have to figure out how to bridge the gap between their parents' dreams and expectations for them and their own dreams and plans. Dimple is really smart and she knows what she wants to do with her life but she wants her parents to believe in her too. Rishi has to decide if he wants to go into the family business or follow a more impractical career path but do something he truly loves.

Overall I thought this was a fun and enjoyable book. At times I was reminded of the movie Bend it Like Beckham. I would have loved this book as a teen (I grew up during a time when people like me weren't represented in teen literature at all). Even though it is a book about two Indian teens I think it has some themes that would appeal to teens universally. It is challenging to break away from your parents' dreams for you to follow your own and figure out what you want in life. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review: Not a Sound

Not a Sound
By Heather Gudenkauf
Published: May 30, 2017

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again. 
As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?  
New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf has been described as "masterful" and "intelligent" and compared to Lisa Scottoline and Jodi Picoult. Introducing her most compelling heroine yet, she delivers a taut and emotional thriller that proves she's at the top of her class.

My review:

Amelia Winn is a talented and dedicated nurse who specializes in working with victims of assault and abuse. One evening when she is escorting a patient to her vehicle, she and the other woman are hit by a car. The patient dies and Amelia is left profoundly deaf. Amelia turns to alcohol for comfort, a decision that destroys her family. With the help of her friend Jake, she gets her life back together, attending AA meetings and learning sign language. Now she is reentering the work force by getting an office job at an oncology practice. Then while she is out kayaking with her service dog, she finds the body of a former coworker.

I felt bad for Amelia and what she went through even if some of that pain was caused by her own choices. It was good to see that she was able to rebuild a life for herself. It was interesting to read a book from the view point of someone who is deaf and to see how Amelia adjusts to that and how others respond to her. I loved Stitch. He wasn't always the most obedient dog but he was definitely endearing. I also learned about the technological advances for hearing impaired people like phones that will translate what people say into text. 

Not a Sound is definitely a suspenseful story and adding to that feeling of suspense is the fact that Amelia keeps putting herself in dangerous situations. I felt frustrated with her for doing that but it is a common trope in suspense for the amateur investigator to take all kinds of risks in order to increase the suspense. Aside from my frustration with Amelia's risk taking, I did like the book. It is a page turner and while I figured out who the killer was early on in spite of red herrings, there was one little twist I wasn't expecting. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sunday Post (91) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Happy June! I am glad that summer is finally here though I know it will go by quickly. I've got a busy summer planned at work as well as a possible family trip at some point. My book group is also planning a field trip. Last year we went to a winery (it tied in with a book we read). This year we have a couple of places we are looking into.

Last month I participated in the Clean Sweep ARC Challenge and I read 11 ARCs. It may seem like a lot of ARCs to cross off my list but I have so many waiting on my Kindle still that it is just a drop in the bucket. Now I need to get caught up on writing reviews!

This week is the first week of our summer reading program at the library. Tomorrow night I have a rock painting workshop to tie in with the theme of "Build a Better World". Painting rocks (and leaving them for people to find) is such a big thing these days. Someone keeps leaving painted rocks at the library too.  

Last week on my blog:

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (review)

Books read:

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

This is the book we selected for May in my evening book group. It didn't have much of a plot but some of the story was interesting. I thought it was an okay book but not something I'd rave about.

It was great to catch up with my favorite characters from the first book. I mostly enjoyed this one though I prefer The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

This was a suspenseful book but at times I was frustrated with the main character because she kept putting herself in dangerous situations while investigating. 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

While this book was a page turner it definitely wasn't a book I enjoyed reading. I felt sorry for Hannah and what she experienced but I was also really angry with her. I thought what she did to Clay was awful. I think her suicide was motivated by guilt, loneliness and depression but also revenge. It was just a sad book. I know the show is getting a lot of buzz and I might check it out but after reading the book I'm not so sure.

Currently reading:

The Summer House by Hannah McKinnon

So far this book is dragging for me though I've heard it is good. Maybe it will get better but right now I find it kind of boring though it started well enough. I liked Mystic Summer much more.

On my TBR pile:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I have heard this is excellent and I liked One True Loves so hopefully I will like this book too. If The Summer House doesn't get better I may switch to reading this instead.

The Undateable by Sarah Title

I think this sounds like a fun romance. I like that the series is about librarians. The first book features a college librarian who becomes a meme when someone shares a picture of her rolling her eyes at a marriage proposal (not hers). A women's magazine wants to do a series of articles on her as an "undateable" woman by finding her dates.

In This Moment by Karma Brown

I thought The Choices We Make was really good and I think this sounds intriguing too. It reminds me of something Kristin Hannah might write.

New books received:

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf (for review)

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley (for review)

Royally Romanov by Teri Wilson (for review)

Royally Roma by Teri Wilson (purchased)

The Undateable by Sarah Title (library book)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (library book)

In a Perfect World by Trish Doller (library book)

You're The One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher (library book)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Clean Sweep ARC Challenge Wrapup

clean sweep 2017

I have a big TBR pile of ARCs so I decided to participate in the Clean Sweep ARC Challenge hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. I didn't have a set number of books I wanted to finish but I'm pleased with how many books I managed to get through. Now I need to get caught up on writing reviews!

The books I read:

The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff
The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
The Vicar's Daughter by Josi L. Kilpack
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis
The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey Moore
Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Review: The Names They Gave Us

The Names They Gave Us
By Emery Lord
Published: May 16, 2017

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake and spending quality time with her parents. But when her mom's cancer reappears, Lucy falters-in her faith and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend "pauses" their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp-one for troubled kids-Lucy isn't sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?
Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord's storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life's biggest challenges.

My review:

Lucy's life changes on prom night when she inadvertently finds out that her mom's cancer is back. On top of that, she has to spend the summer as a counselor at a "hippie" camp that is very different from the comforting familiar Bible camp she has worked at in past summers. Lucy doesn't want to leave her mom while she is sick and she is dreading her new job but then she realizes that there is more to the camp than she thought and maybe it's exactly where she needs to be.

I wasn't sure what to expect from a book with a Christian teen protagonist but I thought it worked. Lucy reminded me a little of myself as a teen as I grew up in an evangelical conservative Christian family. I also liked the portrayal of Lucy's struggle with her faith. I do think Lucy's parents were way more understanding and open minded than the adults around me during my teen years.

I was glad to see Lucy grow and change through her experience at Camp Daybreak. She was naive and a little judgmental (but not as judgmental as I thought she'd be) and I think being at this camp challenged her in many ways. I think it helped her to interact with kids from difficult home situations or who had many struggles in their young lives. Lucy becomes a more confident person and she is able to help the kids in her cabin.

There was a lot going on in this book. Aside from Lucy's story line there are also the various issues with some of the campers and Lucy's fellow counselors such as teen pregnancy, abuse and bullying. I did like the secondary characters, especially Anna who is a great new friend for Lucy. There is also some romance between Lucy and Jones, another counselor. Jones is a great guy and I liked how their relationship grew. 

I did have a few small issues with the book. I felt like there wasn't closure at the end--I wanted to know what happened. Also I thought the big secret wasn't really wrapped up well because other things took precedence. Overall I liked this book. Emery Lord is one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. I like how her stories are about so much more than teen romance. It is story about faith and family and relationships. I also liked that the characters were more diverse and I loved the relationship Lucy has with her parents. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purpose courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books for the Second Half of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's theme is "Top Ten Most Anticipated Books for the Second Half of 2017".

Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

I think this is the book I'm anticipating most. After the way things ended in the second book, I'm curious to see where the story will go.

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen

I always find these mysteries so delightful to read and I'm glad to have another one to look forward to this August.

Cafe By the Sea by Jenny Colgan

I enjoyed The Bookshop on the Corner and the Rosie Hopkins books and I think this sounds like fun. I love the cover too.

The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

I love this WWII spy series and the setting for this one is especially appealing. Maggie continues to be an interesting character and I love how each book includes historical events and characters.

From a Certain Point of View by Renee Ahdieh, Meg Cabot, et al.

This collection of stories all take place during the events of the first Star Wars movie but from the POV of minor "background" characters (not the main cast). I think that the concept is interesting and I'm willing to give it a try.

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

I still need to read her second book which I've heard is fantastic and I also want to read this one. I love the colorful cover.

Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

After reading The Girl in the Castle last fall I've been tempted to buy this sequel (under its original title) from Book Depository but I am going to wait and get it from the library. The final book comes out this summer in the UK.

The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby

I usually like her books and while this amnesia story sounds familiar I plan to read it anyway.

The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

This book is being compared to Jenny Colgan's and the fact that it features a librarian and is set in Ireland makes it a win-win for me. Love that cover!

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Thankfully I don't have to wait very long to read this (hopefully) as it is released next week. I am sure I will love it :)