Sunday, August 31, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (189)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I can't believe that summer is pretty much over. It makes me kind of sad but I've decided that I am going to enjoy this fall instead of worrying about impending snow and ice. Things I like about fall: apple cider, Halloween, Thanksgiving, holiday library programs, and the upcoming fall books I am excited for like The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. Oh and an excuse to eat pumpkin pie...

Books read:

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

I loved this book and even though I'd already watched season two of the show, I enjoyed reading from the various character viewpoints and seeing the differences between the book and the show, most memorably the House of the Undying in Qarth and all the foreshadowing of events that will be taking place in the next book.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I liked this one even more than The Husband's Secret. It was a page turner and it had a little bit of a mystery too. I liked how there were snippets of the investigation to build suspense between the chapters so you knew something big was coming.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

I thought reading Big Little Lies was an emotional experience until I picked up this book. It is set in Sri Lanka and the United States and examines the war from the perspective of two families on opposite sides.

What I plan to read next:

I have no idea. Maybe something lighthearted and predictable...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (139)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week, I'm waiting on:

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
Release date: December 30, 2014 


The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Rosie Project, starring the same extraordinary couple now living in New York and unexpectedly expecting their first child. Get ready to fall in love all over again.
Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge because— surprise!—Rosie is pregnant.
Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.
As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia to reconcile, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business, and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him the most.
I loved The Rosie Project so I was very happy to hear that there is a sequel! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (188)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I've been busy the last couple of weeks and I went out of town both weekends so I didn't really have time to participate in this meme. So now it is Tuesday but I decided to participate anyway...

I visited my sister for my birthday and she got me a really cute bookish present: a Downton Abbey engagement calendar that I can use for work next year, a librarian mug, and a Manatea ( Isn't it cute?

Books reviewed:

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Books read:

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan (reread)

I enjoyed this audio book much more than I thought I would. I prefer the narrator for the first three books but after awhile I forgot the differences and just got into the story. I can't wait for the final book this October. 

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

I felt a sense of relief and accomplishment when I finished this book, almost as if I had walked the trail myself. Parts of the book are very entertaining and flow well while other sections are so bogged down with unnecessary detail about things not pertaining to the author's trek. At one point I referred to this book as "A Snooze in the Woods" but at other times Bill Bryson had me in stitches. I am curious to see how other members of my book group felt.

Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis

This was a humorous contemporary romance and I was able to understand the story without having read the previous titles in the Animal Magnetism series. It was recommended to me by a coworker and I'm glad I gave it a try.

I listened to this on audio and I really liked Jim Broadbent's narration. Unfortunately I think I missed some things since I was driving while listening so I may go back and read the print version someday, perhaps with my book discussion group.

Currently reading:

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

I am really enjoying this second book in the series and I like seeing the differences between the book and the TV series. I am contemplating purchasing A Storm of Swords when I finish this one but I also have review books waiting for me so I may have to put that off till winter.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (138)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week, I'm waiting on:

The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen
Release date: October 7, 2014


For fans of Sarah Addison Allen, Aimee Bender, and Alice Hoffman, The Night Garden is a luminous novel of love, forgiveness, and the possibilities that arise when you open your heart.
Nestled in the bucolic town of Green Valley in upstate New York, the Pennywort farm appears ordinary, yet at its center lies something remarkable: a wild maze of colorful gardens that reaches beyond the imagination. Local legend says that a visitor can gain answers to life’s most difficult problems simply by walking through its lush corridors.
Yet the labyrinth has never helped Olivia Pennywort, the garden’s beautiful and enigmatic caretaker. She has spent her entire life on her family’s land, harboring a secret that forces her to keep everyone at arm’s length. But when her childhood best friend, Sam Van Winkle, returns to the valley, Olivia begins to question her safe, isolated world and wonders if she at last has the courage to let someone in. As she and Sam reconnect, Olivia faces a difficult question: Is the garden maze that she has nurtured all of her life a safe haven or a prison?

I am a fan of Sarah Addison Allen's books so that grabbed my attention right away and the description and lovely cover make me want to give this book a try.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: One Plus One

One Plus One
By Jojo Moyes
Published: July 1, 2014

One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You
American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted stateside, she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation, Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story that reads like a modern-day Two for the Road.
Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.
One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.

My review:

I really felt for Jess and all the hardships she and her kids face. She has a horrible ex and she is struggling financially while trying to be mom and dad to her daughter and stepson. Of course Jess makes some bad decisions sometimes but only because she is desperate to provide for her family. Her daughter Tanzie has earned a place in a top private school but Jess can't afford the tuition. Then they find out about a Math Olympiad with a cash prize...

Ed's life is in shambles because of a bad decision and he is being investigated for inside trading. He didn't plan to take a road trip with a strange woman and her kids and their smelly dog but ensuring that they make it to the Olympiad is a chance to do the right thing for once. 

Jess is an optimistic character and the reader can't help but root for her. It took me a little longer to warm up to Ed but he and Jess work well together and I liked how their relationship developed. I loved the kids, even Nicky whose sullenness masks his hurt over his dad's neglect and the bullying he faces. He is protective of his little sister and even appreciates Jess who has been more of a real parent to him than his own. Then there is Norman who is a little scene-stealer and makes the road trip an unforgettable experience. 

One Plus One reminded me of the writing of Sophie Kinsella and Liane Moriarty and I think fans of those authors would really like it. The novel has a much lighter tone than Me Before You with plenty of humor and some really touching moments too. I think this would make a great movie though Hollywood would probably ruin it. If you haven't read anything by Jojo Moyes yet, I hope you will give this one a try. 

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (137)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week, I'm waiting on:

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
Release date: September 9, 2014


He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian.
When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body! From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety).
Okay so perhaps this WoW pick is a little tongue-in-cheek but I think it also sounds like a fun book, maybe with tones of Buffy the Vampire Slayer without the vampires. I am sure there are teens and kids and adults with huge library fines who think we are evil...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (187)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I'm back to blogging after a busy couple of weeks involving trips to visit family.  My mom's younger sister and her family came down from Canada to stay with my parents for a week and they drove over to see me for a day to visit Amish country which was a lot of fun. I took them to an Amish restaurant and we toured an Amish home (tourist attraction) and took buggy rides. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures though my dad has some I will have to copy. 

I finally got to watch The Fault in Our Stars which I thought was excellent and Divergent which was better than I thought it would be but still kind of disappointing in some aspects. You can check out the link to my review of Divergent below. I will be writing my review of The Fault in Our Stars movie later. My book group is going to be reading it for our September book and we will be showing the movie at the library.

Next Sunday is an event I have been sort of dreading for awhile. Yet another birthday...I remember when those used to be fun. At least I will be traveling to my parents' again :)

Books reviewed:

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Books read:

Expecting by Ann Lewis Hamilton

I thought this book had an interesting premise but it was pretty predictable in the end. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Goodnight Darth Vader by Jeffrey Brown

A cute Star Wars version of Goodnight Moon from the author of Darth Vader and Son and Vader's Little Princess. I need to read it again so I can write my review. 

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

I loved this book and can't wait for the final book in the series, The Ruby Circle, though it will be sad when it is over. I wouldn't be surprised if the author wrote another spin-off series though.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (reread)

I think this book was just as good the second time around though there were some parts that were really hard to read and I wished I could warn the characters! I wanted to reread this book before tackling A Clash of Kings which I hope to start soon. My goal is to finish that one by the end of the year. I bought the second book in 2012 and still haven't read it though I know what happens since I've watched the show on DVD.

Currently reading:

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan (reread)

I've been listening to this on audio and I was worried that I wouldn't like it with the new narrator (and he definitely isn't as good with voices as Joshua Swanson) but it isn't too bad and I am enjoying the story. This is not my favorite in the series because I hate the parts that are set in Tartarus. I can't believe the final book will be here in less than two months!

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

This is the August selection for both of my book discussion groups. I am glad I only have one book to worry about this month since I didn't get through both books for last month. It usually takes me longer to read nonfiction too since it doesn't hold my interest the way fiction does. So far I think this book is really funny in some parts and kind of draggy and boring in others.

What I might read next:

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I loved The Husband's Secret and What Alice Forgot and I've heard really good things about this one too.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Review: Silver Shadows

Silver Shadows
By Richelle Mead
Published: July 29, 2014

My review:

This is the fifth book in the Bloodlines series and after the shocking ending to The Fiery Heart, Sydney and Adrian face their hardest challenges yet. The book is told through both Sydney and Adrian's perspectives and it moves the action away from the school at Palm Springs and the drama that usually surrounds Jill, the dhampirs and her classmates. This allows the story to focus specifically on Sydney and Adrian with only occasional appearances by Jill, Eddie, and the others.

I've enjoyed seeing Sydney grow and gain confidence from the first book in this series. Here she takes a beating but she still has faith in herself and in Adrian. She may not have supernatural physical strength but she is very intelligent and caring even towards those that may not deserve it. It is not fun to read about her struggles in this book but I couldn't help but admire her. 

Adrian still has some growing up to do as he temporarily slides back into bad habits but he still finds the strength to pull himself out of his downward spiral if only to help Sydney. Something I appreciate about this series is how flawed and real Adrian and Sydney are compared to Rose and Dimitri from Vampire Academy. Rose wasn't perfect but sometimes she (and Dimitri) seemed so badass and larger than life. 

Silver Shadows is action packed but also thoughtful and romantic. There are some definitely happy moments which helped make up for the depressing stuff. The final twist at the end left me wishing that we didn't have to wait so long for The Ruby Circle, the last book in the series. Thankfully it is supposed to be out in February so I have something to look forward next winter! I love this series so in a way it will be sad when it is over. This is the only vampire series I still read and if you like paranormal romance with good world building, I'd recommend both the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. Ignore the movie and pretend it was never made...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Divergent Movie Review

While I loved the novel Divergent, I wasn't sure if I would like the movie so I decided to wait till it was on DVD. I thought it would be weird to see Theo James as Four after last seeing him as Mr. Pamuk in Downton Abbey. He is also 30 years old so considerably older than the character of Four and I didn't know if the chemistry would be awkward between Theo and Shailene Woodley (Tris). When I started watching the movie however I forgot all about my worries as both actors really seemed to fit the part and make it work.

Divergent is a fast-paced movie. Since this is the first movie and has to do the "world building", I thought the film does a decent job of giving enough information so the audience understands without bogging down the pacing. We get a quick rundown of the various factions and then things start to happen pretty quickly with Tris going through the Choosing ceremony and then becoming a Dauntless initiate. I thought the training was brutal like it is in the book and I liked the way the fear landscape was done. 

I think Shailene Woodley really does a great job as Tris and gives a believable performance of a young woman who gains confidence as well as physical strength over the course of the film. Theo James is good as Four when he is in instructor mode. He comes across as tough and badass but also decent at the core. It will be interesting to see him interact more with Marcus and then Evelyn in the later films. I also loved the performance of Ashley Judd as Tris's mom and I thought Kate Winslet was sufficiently menacing as Jeanine. 

One thing that disappointed me was the lack of character development for Tris's friends. We don't really get to know Christina, Will or Al very well and there are some secondary characters that aren't even there but seemed important in the books. I was mostly disappointed that there was less impact with certain events because the audience isn't allowed to connect with some of the characters the way readers can with the books. Also Peter seems like your average school bully in the film and less like the calculating enemy he is portrayed as in the book.

Overall I really liked the movie. It wasn't as good as The Hunger Games but it was a much better adaptation than I had expected and I definitely plan to watch Insurgent. I hope the secondary characters will be more developed even as new ones are added to the cast.

Did you watch the movie? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (136)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week, I am waiting on:

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Release date: October 7, 2014


I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn't belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

I got a sampler of the first few chapters of the book when I was at Barnes and Noble recently and I really liked what I read so I have high hopes for this even though the synopsis suggests the possibility of a love triangle.