Disclaimer: I received a free Advanced Reader's Copy of this book from the publisher via Shelf Awareness for my honest review.
This one is a contemporaDisclaimer: I received a free Advanced Reader's Copy of this book from the publisher via Shelf Awareness for my honest review.
This one is a contemporary YA novel told from the perspective of a teenage guy dying of cancer. This theme has been done many times and it rarely fails to touch the heart, but this particular book really stands out as unique, if you ask me. While the premise is sad, this book is so full of life. I think it's a real accomplishment that Hollis Seamon has written a book in this genre that didn't make me cry and not because of any failing on her part, but because it somehow manages to be honest and real while also being laugh-out-loud funny. Rich may still be an immature teenager in many ways, but he still handles his situation better than I imagine most of us would. I'm very picky about contemporary YA books and there are many in the genre that don't appeal to me, but this was a real stand-out.
WARNING: This book will cause uncontrollable laughter. Do not read in public if cracking up in front of strangers is something that embarrasses you.WARNING: This book will cause uncontrollable laughter. Do not read in public if cracking up in front of strangers is something that embarrasses you. If you are supposed to be doing something else, but want to surreptitiously read a book instead, don't choose this one because you will totally get busted. Don't hide this one inside War & Peace and expect to get away with it. Seriously. You've been warned. * * * * * Words can hardly express my love for this book! I first heard about it when Kay of It's a Book Life shared a link to an excerpt featuring 10 different snippets in one of her bookish news posts. I knew right away I had to read it and immediately put in a request at my library. Two days later I picked it up and had to force myself to not read it in one sitting because I wanted the enjoyment to last just a bit longer. I had been plodding though a bit of a slow book and this was just the break I needed. I brought it with me to my grandmother's house Mother's Day weekend and some of my more bookish relatives were laughing along with me as I read out some of my favorite passages. My aunt took it up to bed with her and finished it that night!
It's a slim volume and anyone who loves books and bookstores will get a kick out of it. If you've ever worked in a bookstore, other retail establishment, or any job that deals with the public, you will get a kick out of it. If you're amazed by the foolishness that comes out of people's mouths sometimes, you will most definitely get a kick out of it. A few of the anecdotes in the chapter 'Customers Behaving Badly' were more appalling than funny, but all of them will leave you have shaking your head and asking yourself, "How could someone really say that?!" You will appreciate your neighborhood booksellers all the more after reading this one, that's for sure. Read. This. Book. Just do it, because I can't imagine you would possibly regret it. :)
Before the entire series was published, this was my least favorite Harry Potter book. (Though let's be honest, least favorite is a relative thing whenBefore the entire series was published, this was my least favorite Harry Potter book. (Though let's be honest, least favorite is a relative thing when it comes to a favorite series -- it was always a good book for me, I just liked other installments better). After I knew the whole story, I had a much greater appreciation for the events of this second book and thoroughly enjoyed my re-read. This was at least the third time I read this one, if not the fourth -- I've lost track!...more
If you like novels with these characteristics, read Kate Morton's novels. I cannot say enough good things about her books and I wholeheartedly recommend them. She never fails to surprise me and I cannot wait until she publishes her next book. Bear in mind that her writing is not of the happy, feel good type. Her stories tend to be dark and creepy and not for the reader who needs a happy ending. There are always bright spots in her books and parts of the plot resolve themselves in a happy way, but overall these novels could best be described as tragic. But, the biggest tragedy of all would be to not lose yourself in these pages.
For the longest time, I misunderstood what this book is about. When I first heard about it, "The Help" sounded like some odd, philosophical, esotericFor the longest time, I misunderstood what this book is about. When I first heard about it, "The Help" sounded like some odd, philosophical, esoteric title I would have no interest in. As soon as I started seeing movie trailers, I realized I was totally off the mark and my interest was sparked. Clearly, I should have read the dust jacket. Lesson learned.
Now that I know better, I can tell you what this book is really all about. It's a look inside segregation right on the brink of major social change. It takes place in the deep South (Jackson, Mississippi no less) and shines a spotlight on what it was really like to live in the time of Jim Crow. It is told from three different points of view. Skeeter is a recent college grad with big dreams of becoming a writer. Abileen and Minny are two African-American maids who agree to be interviewed by Skeeter for a highly controversial book she wants to write telling the world what it is really like to work for a white family.
The main antagonist, a woman who represents all that is evil in man-kind, is a Southern "belle" Miss Hilly Holbrook. Not only is she a horrid example of the racism of the day, she is also what I refer to as a "mean girl," a downright bully. It's not bad enough that she herself holds such awful beliefs, but she tries her darnedest (often successfully) to force them upon others. As some of the other characters are starting to see the light, she's dragging everyone around her back into the darkness.
Despite all the ugliness in this book, there is also a whole lot of love. Despite how horribly unfair these maids are treated, they essentially raise the white children of the families they work for. They can't use the same toilet, but they form true and loving relationships with the children while they are still young enough to be color-blind -- before they have been taught to hate and discriminate. The relationship between Abileen and "Baby Girl" is so sweet it could break your heart. You could read this book for that part alone.
As difficult as the subject matter of this book is, it is still moving, enlightening, and absolutely a must read. If this book doesn't touch your heart, I think it may perhaps be as cold as Miss Hilly's.
It's killing me that I don't know anyone who has already read this book because I am dying to talk to someone about the ending! The overarching plot lIt's killing me that I don't know anyone who has already read this book because I am dying to talk to someone about the ending! The overarching plot line is the suicide of a young poet witnessed by two sisters, Hannah and Emmeline. Grace, now an elderly woman recounting her days as a servant in the girls' home, harbors a sense of guilt and we know there is more to this story than meets the eye.
As the book continued toward its conclusion, I could not put it down. It was a little slow going at first, but once I kept reading, I just couldn't stop. This is what you would call a gothic mystery, set in 1920's England and filled with family secrets, an old country house, and an almost unbearable amount of sadness and death. But, it also contains some brilliant bursts of happiness that I truly enjoyed reading. We know from the very beginning where the book will end, we just don't quite know how the story is going to get there.
I give this book exceptionally high marks because I was not able to figure out the narrator's secret until the very moment the truth is revealed. As a reader, I love being surprised and hate it when I see things coming from a mile away. That being said, there is more than one surprise in this book and one of the more minor ones I did figure out pretty early on. I'm fairly sure that most readers who are half paying attention would also figure out the same secret I did. This is not the type of book to have a happy ending, but the grand finale is grand indeed and just might leave you breathless. You'll have to read it yourself to find out because I'll never tell!
This is an excellent reference book with a fantastic, wide-ranging selection of recommended titles for all ages. If you are looking for suggestions ofThis is an excellent reference book with a fantastic, wide-ranging selection of recommended titles for all ages. If you are looking for suggestions of books to read with your kids, books for them to read independently, or even books for yourself, I highly recommend this guide. Many of the titles in the 8+ and 12+ age categories are beloved classics that would appeal to teens and adults as well. This would make and excellent gift.
For a longer review & comparison to the adult version, see this post on my blog....more
Imagine a world in which no one is allowed to fall in love. A world in which love is believed to be the root of all evils. At age 18 you get "cured" aImagine a world in which no one is allowed to fall in love. A world in which love is believed to be the root of all evils. At age 18 you get "cured" and are "safe" from contracting the "disease" of love, or Amor Deliria Nervosa as it has been named. Of course, this book was destined to be about a girl who falls in love right before she is scheduled to be "cured."
I found the premise of this book fascinating and I really enjoyed reading it. Until I got to the end, that is. I didn't care for the end and felt as if the story was left unfinished. Then, to my happy surprise, I discovered there is a sequel coming out! So, I feel it is only fair to not hold the ending against this book, because the story is not yet over! If you like young adult fiction with an interesting twist, give this one a try.
First of all, I have to say that Kate Morton is my new favorite author. I can't put a finger on exactly why, but I am finding her books thoroughly addFirst of all, I have to say that Kate Morton is my new favorite author. I can't put a finger on exactly why, but I am finding her books thoroughly addictive. I am trying to put off starting The Distant Hours because I know it is the only one I have left of hers to read until she publishes her new title next year. Of the two I have already read, I have not yet decided which I liked better: The Forgotten Garden or The House at Riverton. Luckily I don't really have to choose and I can happily find a permanent place on my shelves for both of these wonderful books.
The basic premise of The Forgotten Garden is the story of a little girl who travels alone on a ship from England to Australia in 1913. The girl is taken in by the family of the dockmaster who finds her and raises her as their own, naming her Nell. On her 21st birthday, Nell's father tells her the truth and shatters her sense of self. Nell has an intense desire to figure out who her birth family was and why she was abandoned on that ship all those years ago. One of the only clues Nell is left with is a white suitcase containing a book of fairy tales written by a woman named Eliza Makepeace.
The book is told from various points of view and over various time periods. The story is alternately told from Eliza, Nell, and Cassandra's (Nell's granddaughter) point of view. It takes place 30 years ago when Nell is first investigating her origins, the present time when Cassandra has taken over the investigation after Nell's death, and the early years of the 1900s when all the mysterious "action" is originally taking place. It was fascinating to see Cassandra and Nell piecing together the mystery while also "going back in time" to see what really happened. From reading other reviews, I have gathered that many readers did not like all the bouncing around, but I found it intriguing and feel it really added to the story, making it more interesting.
As with Morton's previous novel, this one also had all sorts of twists and turns. Even when I thought I had it all figured out, there was always at least one more curve ball thrown my way, keeping me on the edge of my seat until the very last page. But unlike The House at Riverton, after finishing this book, I still had a few unanswered questions in my mind. I spent a good hour flipping back and forth, looking up various passages and piecing together a few of the more minor mysteries. I just couldn't shake the feeling that I was missing something. Upon further examination, I found there were indeed a few small connections that had slipped under my radar. I normally would not have done this, but I really enjoyed playing detective after the fact. Trust me, the details I was looking up were not the main thrust of the story-line; Morton wrapped up the primary mystery/secret in a very satisfactory way. But for anyone who likes to read in between the lines, there were a few other things to be discovered. If you were slightly more astute than I, or if you read this book over less time than I did, maybe you would see these things the first time around. Either way, it was an excellent and enjoyable read that I will treasure for a long time to come.
This is truly a fantastic book -- every single recipe I have made so far has been a hit. The recipes in this book transform ordinary vegetables into dThis is truly a fantastic book -- every single recipe I have made so far has been a hit. The recipes in this book transform ordinary vegetables into delicious, caramelized versions of their former selves. And there is a wide variety of recipes on offer; this is not just a book full of side dishes. To quote Ms. Chesman's preface, "This is a cookbook for vegetable lovers and vegetable haters. It is a cookbook for people who want to eat more veggies but have had their fill of steamed carrots & stir-fried snow peas." And she delivers just that and more!...more
My husband and I listened to this on audiobook in the car and I'm eternally grateful that we did not get in a accident -- it's just that funny. JustinMy husband and I listened to this on audiobook in the car and I'm eternally grateful that we did not get in a accident -- it's just that funny. Justin's Dad has something to say about just about every topic you can think of and it's all hilarious. The man has no filter -- he cuts to the chase, tells it like it is, says what he thinks, and really likes the word sh*t (and bullsh*t). If that kind of thing bothers you (Mom, I'm talking to you), you probably should pass on this one. If you prefer your humor with a sprinkling of colorful language, you MUST read or listen to this book. It's hands down the most entertaining memoir I've ever read.
I'm a little ashamed to admit that an odd title and the original cover which I didn't really care for stopped me from picking this book up sooner. ItI'm a little ashamed to admit that an odd title and the original cover which I didn't really care for stopped me from picking this book up sooner. It was making the rounds in book clubs, magazines, best-seller lists, the net, and anywhere else you might find book recommendations, but I just wasn't getting all the hype. It wasn't until I saw a trailer for the movie adaptation, that my interest was really piqued and I realized it actually was the kind of story I would enjoy.
Once I did pick it up, I was utterly mesmerized. I'm not a fast reader, but I literally inhaled this magical novel. If I had to tear myself away from it, I was still thinking about it and counting down the minutes until I could crack it back open and continue reading. And when I turned the last page, I immediately wanted start it again, I loved it that much. At it's core, this book is a romance, but there is so much more to it than just that. It's a Depression-era travelling circus come to life, complete with some amazing animals, men who just might be evil incarnate, and a cast of endearing characters who make the best of the tough hand life has dealt them.
It begins in the present day with Jacob Jankowski as an elderly nursing home resident. I might be a little biased here since I used to work at a nursing home, but this little old man charmed me from the first minute I met him. He's feisty despite his physical limitations and his enduring, lifelong love for his wife Marlena is touching to witness. There are some blurred lines between right and wrong, since his wife was married to someone else when they met, but once you meet the bastard (pardon my language, I really can't help it in this case!), I think you'll understand why sometimes breaking the rules can be overlooked.
All too often, when a book has a really well done romance, it's hard for other relationships in a story to shine, but that is not the case here. Besides Jacob and Marlena, the relationships between Jacob and Rosie the elephant and between Jacob and his friend Kinko were also amazingly well done. For me, this book is the very definition of a richly developed, plotted, and characterized novel, and I truly applaud Sara Gruen for that. This one will be on my re-read list for life.
I should also note, as such a huge fan of the book, I was a bit disappointed with the movie. I loved the actors they chose, the set was brilliant, and they did a really decent job of capturing the spirit of the book, but I just wanted so much more. But even if you loved the movie, that's all the more reason to read the book because the book is infinitely better!