By now, you all probably know what a harsh reviewer I can sometimes be, but I've gotta say: Lately I've been on a roll. I hardly ever rate books 5 sta...moreBy now, you all probably know what a harsh reviewer I can sometimes be, but I've gotta say: Lately I've been on a roll. I hardly ever rate books 5 stars, but this is the third one in a row!
The prose was gorgeous, the story line engaging, original, and honest. The academic in me loved it; the mother in me loved it. This is a great uplifting story that doesn't skirt around how hard the best things in our lives can sometimes be. I also loved learning about the saints.
Highly recommended to fans of literary, women's, family, and spiritual fiction.(less)
This is the best book I've read in a very long time. Those of you who know me know I love Jewish culture and folklore, and this book didn't disappoint...moreThis is the best book I've read in a very long time. Those of you who know me know I love Jewish culture and folklore, and this book didn't disappoint on its fascinating premise. In fact, it far exceeded it. For those of you who enjoyed Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, you must read The Angel of Losses too! It also weaves a fascinating contemporary story line with a a past timeline that is filled to the brim with magical realism. Beautifully written and suspenseful, this book really has it all. (less)
I often find that I'm disappointed by mega bestsellers, but I'm so glad to say THE FAULT IN OUR STARS lived up to the hype. My husband often questions...moreI often find that I'm disappointed by mega bestsellers, but I'm so glad to say THE FAULT IN OUR STARS lived up to the hype. My husband often questions why I read so many "sad" books. I think it's because witnessing the bleakness of others' lives (even of fictional other lives) somehow makes us feel that much better about our own. Finding the strength in Hazel despite her near hopeless situation makes me feel like I can be strong too. Stories like this remind us that our lives aren't so bad after all, that we must value love, life, beauty, and adventure whenever and where ever we are lucky enough to find it.
I related to Hazel, which surprised me. I, too, am the intellectual book nerd who loves trashy reality TV. I, too, began my most substantial romantic relationship (my marriage to Falcon) with a series of silly texts that showed just how well our over-sized vocabularies matched up.
I can't say the end surprised me. I always expect--crave--the nontraditional ending. I was glad that I was right about this one. Made it all the more powerful.
I really enjoyed this book. It's both classic and refreshing and offers an extremely relatable main character as she goes through a second coming-of-a...moreI really enjoyed this book. It's both classic and refreshing and offers an extremely relatable main character as she goes through a second coming-of-age. Sometimes, I just paused to admire the writing, which was flawless. I also enjoyed the inclusion of successful female icons from the 1970's era and enjoyed seeing how they helped Dana grow. I don't often sign up for series anymore, but I can't wait to see what's next for Dana McGarry.
Not leaving a star rating on this one, since I had the pleasure of assisting in the creation of the book club guide. I hope you'll all consider giving this wonderful literary novel a chance.(less)
This one is tricky to rate and review. How do I judge it? By its message, its prose, its story-telling? If it were either of the latter two, then this...moreThis one is tricky to rate and review. How do I judge it? By its message, its prose, its story-telling? If it were either of the latter two, then this rating would be a good bit lower. However, the author wasn't attempting literary genius; he just wanted to tell of his son's experience and to give hope to those who need it enough to pick up this book.
Although the story development was slow and overdone in the beginning (I suspect an editor forced the author to bulk his story up in order to make it more book-sized), I did enjoy this story.
The little boy is sweet, and I can tell his parents love him very much. Reading about his near death experience due to gross medical malpractice just about broke my heart. However, the recounting of his experience in Heaven was beautiful and innocent.
The part of his tale I found most touching was that of meeting his miscarried sister in Heaven, a little girl who is sad she didn't get to meet her parents but eagerly anticipating their arrival to Heaven. This scene made me smile through tears. Although I've never experienced a miscarriage myself, I definitely understand (to a much lesser degree than those who have experienced it) how miscarrying can make a woman lose all faith, all hope. Imagining the lost babies in Heaven is such a nice thought. And even though there's no empirical evidence to support it, I choose to believe.(less)
KISS ME LIKE THIS was fantastic in all the ways you'd expect from a Bella Andre novel as well as many of the ways you might not. Sean and Serena are e...moreKISS ME LIKE THIS was fantastic in all the ways you'd expect from a Bella Andre novel as well as many of the ways you might not. Sean and Serena are each in college, a younger coupling than Bella's ever undertook before. Sullivan fans will recognize the same passion, sweetness, and amazing escapism through sexy careers and impossibly dreamy men as they've come to love and expect. And they won't be disappointed.
In my opinion, KISS ME LIKE THIS is even better than the best Sullivan book (which, for me, is Sophie and Jake's story, I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU). The reason being the change demanded by writing for a new adult audience instead of an adult one--the more cautious approach to love scenes. Serena is a virgin, and not ready to jump into bed with Sean from their first meeting. Instead, their love story unfolds sweetly and slowly, giving them the chance to really get to know each other, developing the story, and adding to the alluring out-of-bedroom plot. I loved the drawn-out build-up; it made it that much more exciting when the two finally came together.
Well done, Bella!
PS I'm not assigning a rating, because I help Bella with some marketing work--and doing so wouldn't technically be ethical. I hope my review speaks for itself!(less)
I did this one in audio over the course of about two months. Obviously, digesting it in little bits and spurts while struggling with rush hour traffic...moreI did this one in audio over the course of about two months. Obviously, digesting it in little bits and spurts while struggling with rush hour traffic leaves something to be desired... but mostly I really enjoyed this book. It was incredibly well researched, and I enjoyed seeing the gods of yore come to life. Our "new gods" were also well thought out and entertaining. I found Shadow relatable and interesting, and I enjoyed following him on his journey, especially with the amazing full cast recording audiobook.
Ultimately, the later parts of the book dragged a bit for me, and that is the only reason it loses a star. Excellent writing. Excellent character development. Well-researched, and mostly had me on the edge of my seat.
I’ve been reaching outside of my comfort zone lately and have found that there is a wealth of amazing literature I’ve been ignoring for far too long.
I...moreI’ve been reaching outside of my comfort zone lately and have found that there is a wealth of amazing literature I’ve been ignoring for far too long.
I decided to read EXODUS 2022 by Kenneth Bennett, because I read and loved his first novel, Gaia Wars, back in 2011. Although his first book was YA, this new one is more of a thriller. The common thread is this author’s love for the environment and his cool, tech-savvy way of bringing that message out without whopping the reader over the head with it.
EXODUS 2022 starts off at a full gallop and doesn’t slow down for a second. When Joe Stanton wakes up screaming for his lost daughter, Lorna Gwin, only to find out that he never even had a daughter and that there’s some disembodied voice sending him telepathic images and communications, well… I for one didn’t see it coming. The owner of the voice was a great surprise and took the book to a whole new level.
I’ll confess to not much caring for Stanton—though he’s a likeable enough guy. I grew up in a very conservative religious family, and although Stanton is meant to be a progress Episcopalian priest, he just didn’t act priesty enough for me. Overnight trips with his girlfriend? I just couldn’t get past that.
His girlfriend, Ella, was fantastic, relatable, and interesting to follow. The owner of the voice was my second favorite character, and I kept finding myself wondering how the author was able to develop her so well. What kind of research did he have to do in order to get into the head of…?
Nope! No spoilers here.
My favorite character was the villain, Sheldon Beck, a rich boy businessman who will always get his way, no matter whom he has to torture and kill. The more evil he became, the more I loved him. And his thought capture technology was both surreally sci-fi and something I could see happening before my lifetime is through.
The characters were very well developed given their diversity and how plot-driven this novel was.
To sum up, EXODUS 2022 is full of action, intrigue, cool future technology, great characters, and a fantastic message that we all need to hear before it’s too late. I <3 you, Earth!(less)
This is a hard one for me to review. I enjoyed the story and writing enough to read through it quite fast, but I had major MAJOR issues with the narra...moreThis is a hard one for me to review. I enjoyed the story and writing enough to read through it quite fast, but I had major MAJOR issues with the narrator. Charlie is supposed to be in high school, but his inner voice as well as his decisions just don't align to that. I kept waiting for it to be revealed that he's autistic, because he reminded me an awful lot of the narrator in Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime. There was some explanation for it at the end, but by then, I just wasn't buying it. The kind of trauma the narrator faced doesn't lead to acting and thinking like a child less than half your age.
The movie was better--a rare occurrence--because it mostly fixed the questionable actions, many crying spells, and discovery/ explanation of what masturbation is. I was not impressed. 2.5 stars.(less)
What makes you pick up a book? A cool cover? A recommendation from a trusted friend? A good price?
Do you ever decide to read a book that you aren’t qu...moreWhat makes you pick up a book? A cool cover? A recommendation from a trusted friend? A good price?
Do you ever decide to read a book that you aren’t quite sure about? Maybe it’s to appease a friend who won’t stop raving about a particular book, but has given you not-so-hot recommendations in the past. Maybe it’s to see what all the fuss is about, or just maybe it’s because you’re expecting an absolute train wreck and want to see how it turns out.
I can’t say for sure what drew me to Brandon Tietz’s GOOD SEX, GREAT PRAYERS–but more than likely it was a combination of all these things. By now, I know to expect fantastically written and wonderfully different books from the Perfect Edge publishing house, but a book billed as Christian Erotica, and with THAT title no less?
The synopsis was well written and sounded pretty okay, so I very hesitantly decided to give it a try…
…And I was met with one of the absolute best books I’ve read in quite some time–a year? Two? Three?
It’s true, I don’t think the genre or the title do this book the justice it deserves. I’m not sure what I’d rename it, but genre-wise this is definitely dark literary fiction at its finest–with some magical realism thrown in for fun.
I fell into the world of GOOD SEX, GREAT PRAYERS almost immediately. Father Johnstone is a very likable and relatable character, and some very strange/ horrifying things are happening to him. It turns out he’s been cursed by a powerful witchcraft practitioner, and now the whole town is at risk of being wiped clean off the map.
Father Johnstone must team up with Madeline Paige, a woman who I’d describe as kind and pure despite her promiscuity and belief in witchcraft. Like Glenda of the North, she’s a good witch. And the ways the author combines Catholicism and witchcraft is genius but also very respectful. Having been raised in a religious home, I surprisingly didn’t find this book offensive, although I’ve found many other secular books with Christian characters to be done poorly and inaccurately.
So back to the action… The bad guy draws nearer, and we are afforded occasional glimpses into his evil guy doings. Let me tell you, this is some of the most disgusting, deranged stuff I’ve ever read (right up there with Chuck Palahniuk’s GUTS, but maybe worse because this guy is hurting other people instead of himself). The grotesqueness of it all only adds to the horror, knowing that this monster is approaching our heroes.
The final confrontation is perfectly done, and I don’t throw that word around casually. Threads and characters you may have forgotten about come back to weave their threads, and as a reader, you know this is the way it had to end all along–but you probably won’t figure it out before the end, which leaves things amazingly, rapid-page-turning awesome.
While this isn’t my usual reading fare, GOOD SEX, GREAT PRAYERS breathed some much-needed freshness into my bookish life. The title may not appeal to you either, but please give it a shot. It’s THAT good.(less)
Listened to this one in audio format as part of my daily commute. I understand that the ending of Allegiant is quite controversial, but I found it per...moreListened to this one in audio format as part of my daily commute. I understand that the ending of Allegiant is quite controversial, but I found it perfect, sensible, and redeeming. While Insurgent was a hot mess of too many characters and too much text, Allegiant brought the trilogy back on track. I still feel there were far too many characters and that some were introduced simply to be killed off, but that didn't ruin my read this time around. I liked the twist and the explanation for the Divergent world--I'll leave it at that, lest I drop major series spoilers!
I will say that I really thought Kara and Four would end up together, so I was surprised when that didn't happen. Anyone else feel the same way?(less)
Turns out I no longer trust the critics. They raved about this one, even listing it as a best book of 2013. The synopsis also lured me in. I was so su...moreTurns out I no longer trust the critics. They raved about this one, even listing it as a best book of 2013. The synopsis also lured me in. I was so sure I'd love this one, I even committed to a hardcover purchase. What a huge disappointment...
Not only does the synopsis put forth an interesting concept that the book doesn't deliver upon, but, for once, I've found a book for which I have absolutely nothing to praise. Life after Life presents all style and no substance, paper thin characters, and contrived, overdone prose. It may have turned me off to historical fiction all together. Could fans of the genre, pleas let me know if setting routinely takes over plot, characterization, and basically all other traits of good fiction?
Hate writing such a scathing review, but was just so sorely disappointed!(less)