Sunday, May 17, 2015

Read it Forward!

So here I am with an uncorrected proof of Sara Taylor's "The Shore," coming soon to a bookstore near you!  (I won it!  Woo!)

A big thank you to where I won this advance read copy.

I'm enjoying it so far!  Stay tuned for my review!

#RIFWinner  (Do hashtags work on blogs?)


Still alive and reading... not quite writing.

I have sure neglected this blog for quite some time now, but that's to be expected with a scatter-brain like me.  Life happens.  I have to keep my top ten priorities straight: (1) God, (2) family, (3) school work, (4) reading books, (5) wine, (6) watching Outlander on Starz, (7) blogging, (8) ... okay, I'm not going to make it to ten, but you get my point.  I've been busy, but I've still been reading!

Let's get caught up a bit, shall we?

I just finished reading "I Was Here," by Gayle Forman. This is the first book of hers that I've read and I really liked it.  It is the story of a girl dealing with the aftershocks of her best friend's suicide.  It is simply written, intended for a young adult audience, but also beautifully done.   As someone who has had personal experience with a suicidal loved one, I thought Gayle did a great job of sorting through the main character's emotions.

I gave it four out of five stars, only because I reserve five star ratings for books that deserve ten stars.  ;)

Do read this book if it sounds interesting to you!  I have already added more of Gayle Forman's books to my "to-read" shelf and am looking forward to getting my hands on them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

More Outlander...and Other Guilty Pleasures

Although I didn't post anything for two months, I was still reading.
Never fear, I will always be reading!!

So let's get caught up on a few of the books I covered, shall we?

After finishing Divergent, I actually read the 5th book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander Series, The Fiery Cross.  This book was a whopper!  It added another thousand pages (*gasp*) to the saga of Jamie and Claire.  The thing is, I love Jamie and Claire, and I love reading about them, but this time I felt there were parts of the book that were a little drawn out.  (Which is funny, because I'm sure a lot of people will argue that five 1000 page books of any single story is rather drawn out.)  The main thing that pushed me through it was that I needed to return it to the guy who let me borrow it.  (Ha.)  That, and I really wanted to get through the series to be ready for the 8th book, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, that came out last month.

Although it wasn't my favorite installment of the series, I am still helplessly addicted to the story and will most definitely read on.  I love Diana Gabaldon's writing style and the way she makes me live the story along with the characters.  And real life has slower seasons along with the busier ones...right?  So, I enjoy experiencing both the slower and busier seasons of life on Fraser's Ridge as well.  It makes it real, yo.  ;)

I already have the next book, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, waiting for me on my shelf since I bought it as soon as I finished this one.  Once I finish my stack of library books, I am looking forward to reading it.

*     *     *

Every morning I receive emails from BookBub and BookSends with eBooks that are currently available for free.  Never one to resist such a bargain (it's free!), I have nearly filled up my iCloud storage with these eBooks.  As a way to thank the author (and publisher), I always make a point to review the books both here and on Goodreads.

Winter Song, by Jennifer McMurrain, is one of the books I downloaded for free.  This is a book worth paying for!  (I think it's $2.99 now on Amazon, and it is totally worth it.)  Chalked up under my "guilty pleasure" category of books that are a quick read, I finished it in only a couple nights...since it was hard to put down.  At first I thought the plot might be cheesy (one of the main characters is a ghost), but I decided to read it anyway since I love Susanna Kearsley's paranormal love stories and because she has opened me up to reading stories of that genre.  To my delight, the book was well written and I really liked the characters… even the ghost, despite his faults.  :)

The story is a paranormal romance (I know, I know…but give it a chance!) about a woman who loses her fiancé in a boating accident.  Grieving, she decides to pursue the dream they had together of fixing-up and running a bed and breakfast, not realizing that he is still with her and watching over her.  As she gets closer to Noah, the handyman she hired to help her fix up the B&B, her deceased fiancé gets angry and tries everything to ruin their relationship since he is unwilling to let her go.

Overall, it is a sweet story and it's not too racy (which I like).  It has plenty of emotion and even a bit of a twist at the ending.  So, yes, I do recommend Winter Song to anyone who loves a good romance!

*     *     *

Another great book I picked up while it was available as a free download was Peter Cunningham's The Sea and the Silence.  This book had mixed reviews, but its description on Goodreads caught my attention:

"A powerful novel from one of Ireland's best writers on the turbulent birth of a nation, and the lovers it divides."

How can I not download this one?  I love history, I definitely love Ireland, and, of course, I love lovers.  And the description goes on to call the book "an epic love story."  So I was excited to read it despite the fact that people seem rather divided by either loving it or hating it.

I am one of those who loved it, but I didn't love it until I read the entire book.  It seems that most reviewers (on Goodreads) who didn't like it are readers who didn't finish the book.  Finish the book, people!!!  It is a book you don't fully appreciate until you reach the end!!  I promise!  And then, when you do reach the end of the book and you still don't like it, I will listen to your opinion.  I will admit the first half of the book isn't as captivating as the second half.

The first half tells the story of a woman named Iz (our heroine), and her failing marriage.  Even though that was reason enough for me to continue the story, I appreciate why people may want to give up on the book prematurely.  Admittedly, the first half is not exactly riveting, yet it is crucial to know before reading the second half of the book.  It is in the second half where the reader learns about Iz at a younger age and where the plot quickly speeds up.  This is when the turbulent history of the Irish comes in and when we begin to fully understand Iz, her early years, and what lead her to be who she is in the first half of the book.  When you finish, I believe you will be surprisingly satisfied with the book.  I know I was, and it earned the book 4 stars from me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Love Your Library!!! (The 11th Commandment)

I love books.  I love holding them, I love reading them, I love hugging them and smelling them… I wish I could keep every book I've ever read, but I just can't afford to.

Thus the benefits of using the library system.  How awesome a feeling it is to browse through their rows of shelves and walk out with a large stack of books in your arms --absolutely free!  (Of course, I had to work through my little anxieties about the general uncleanliness of library books… who knows who's been reading them, and where?  On the toilet?  After blowing their nose?  What is that small smudge on the page?  Ew!)  So, with hand sanitizer nearby, and with your immunizations up to date… the library is a great resource.  The only disadvantage is that you must give the books back.  Well, at least you should give the books back.  Let's just say it's generally frowned upon if you don't give them back.

Yesterday, I happily left the library with these books:

With all that said, I have been thinking about the library a lot, especially with the release of Amazon's new Kindle Unlimited.  While I am very excited by the idea of instant access to over half a million eBooks for such a low monthly price (*grin&wink*), it also makes me a bit nervous.  There is something so special about a book in its printed form… I don't want to see it lost and replaced by a digital version.

So please, love your library.  It is free, after all.  It is also more fulfilling than you might think, when an urge to splurge on books is boiling up inside you.  (I doubt I'm the only one who battles with that, right?)

And don't get me wrong, I do read eBooks myself and I have a long list of things I love about them, but I first loved a proper book and I will never forget my first love.

I suppose that sentiment is shared by many, so I needn't worry about the newest achievement of book technology.  Perhaps I can give in to the excitement after all, because even for those who only read eBooks, at least they are reading, right?  And that is something to get excited about.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Neck deep in the series...

I am now two-thirds of the way through Veronica Roth's Divergent series, and although I can't say that I'm loving these books as much as the Hunger Games trilogy, I can say that they have captured my attention.

On Goodreads, I gave this book three stars but then bumped it up to four stars after a couple day's reflection.  The thing is, I liked Divergent better than Insurgent, so it doesn't seem right to give them both the same ranking.  But since there are no half stars, and since the trilogy so far (in my humble opinion) is a four star story, I decided to do my "packaged deal" ranking of the books.  Also, giving the book Four stars seems quite appropriate, don't you think?  (*giggles*)

Now, as far as the plot goes, I don't want to reveal too much since you really must read the first book, um, first.  If I tell you the plot of Insurgent, I will be spoiling the plot of Divergent.  Since I strongly lack talent in summing up plots anyway (and in writing as a whole), I'll just skip it this time.  (You're welcome.)  Just know that if you do read Divergent, I do recommend continuing on in the story by reading Insurgent.

With that said, I have started reading the third and final book in the trilogy, Allegiant.  I am actually really interested in how Roth will end her series, especially since it has such mixed reviews.  (Nothing peaks curiosity like a good controversy!)  Also, when I'm done reading it, I can pat myself on the back for being so cool and contemporary (two things I never attained in high school) even if my fourteen year old doesn't think so… she watched the movie, "Divergent," and hated it because she had no idea what was going on.  *sigh*  Oh well.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Falling behind in life… but not in reading books!

I never like to admit when my husband is right, but it's true, it didn't take much time for me to go silent on this blog.  Since no one is following this blog, I suppose it doesn't really matter, but let's pretend it does for a minute….  ;)

Last month I moved to a new city.  With that being such a big life event, I have fallen behind in a lot more than updating this small corner of the internet.  One thing I haven't neglected, though, is reading books!

After reading The Alchemist, I gave in to popular culture and picked up Divergent, by Veronica Roth.  It came highly recommended by friends of mine, but I must admit I wasn't too interested in reading it until after I saw the movie.  Yes, it's true.  I really did just admit that.  Here I call myself a book lover and I saw the movie before reading the book it's based upon.  (For shame!)  But I can't take it back now, and maybe it's a good thing after all, since I am now enjoying this trilogy quite a lot.

The book is a dystopian novel, set in Chicago many years after society (as we know it) collapses and a new society forms.  The new order consists of five classes (or factions): the Erudite are the intellectuals, Amity consists of those who work the land, Abnegation are selfless and caring (taking the role as government leaders), Candor value truth and transparency, and the Dauntless are brave, providing protection and keeping order.

Beatrice ("Tris") Prior is the heroine, who must decide which faction to dedicate the rest of her life to on her 16th birthday.  She takes a routine aptitude test on that day, which is designed to reveal which faction she truly belongs to.  Instead of giving her clear direction, it shows that she has strong traits from more than one faction.  She is what they call Divergent.  With that knowledge --which she must keep a secret since the Divergent are considered a threat to society-- she goes on a journey of self discovery within the faction she chooses.

There is romance in the book (which makes me happy, of course) when she meets a boy named Four.  They soon discover a plot by the Erudite to usurp control of all the factions, conspiring against the Abnegation leaders.  Since her father is one of the Abnegation leaders, she takes a personal interest in stopping the plans of the Erudite.

It is the first book of three, and I am currently reading Insurgent, the second book.  I am a bit nervous about finishing the trilogy since there are such mixed reviews about the final book… but, of course, I must read it and come to my own conclusion (as everyone with an opinion on anything must).

I'll be sure to update this blog again once I finish reading Insurgent… which will be soon… since it was due back to the library three days ago.  :)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Alchemist

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, has been on my "to read list" for, well, a very long time.  So long, in fact, that I forgot I wanted to read it.  Ha.  But now I have, and I'm glad I did!

Browsing through people's reviews on Goodreads, it is apparently a book that you'll either love or hate.  It is full of deep truths and profound thoughts on life and our purpose in living.  Either the author's beliefs will resonate with you and your personal journey through life, or it will piss you off (seriously, some people were quite angry with their reviews).

The author mixes many religions in his views of God and draws man's purpose, his Personal Legend, from them.  Although I don't personally believe that "all roads lead to Rome" (to use that popular phrase), I do believe that all truth is God's truth, and this book was full of little nuggets of truth.

The story is of a Spanish shepherd boy, named Santiago, who dreamt of finding treasure at the Egyptian pyramids.  Shortly after a gypsy woman interprets his dream and tells him to go seek his treasure, he meets a man (who calls himself a king) that prophetically encourages him to discover his Personal Legend by making the journey to Egypt.  The boy then sells his flock of sheep and sets out to find his treasure.  On his way he overcomes obstacles, fights discouragement, almost gives up… and meets an Alchemist.

I do recommend this book, as I quite enjoyed it.  It's less than 200 pages and an easy read, although it shouldn't be read too fast since the book is more philosophical that fanciful.  Just be sure to read it with a highlighter --there are lots of great quotes like the one I posted above (that one is a favorite of mine) that you might want to refer to again as you make your own journey through life to discover your Personal Legend.  :)