Since I’ve never been to Yosemite, or many of the other national parks, I really enjoyed this travel memoir. It gave insight into tA Layered Adventure
Since I’ve never been to Yosemite, or many of the other national parks, I really enjoyed this travel memoir. It gave insight into the author’s constricted experience. In some ways, I can relate to being a tourist, and wanting to be away from tourists. I’ve wasted plenty of money on tourist restaurants and souvenirs. Two Yosemites does let readers know that it’s okay to be a tourist, but in an environment like this one, it’s much better to be close to nature. Jeri Walker-Bickett did a great job at showing how nature can perk up even the most trying of times with sentences such as, “In between the whiz of speeding vehicles, it quieted enough to hear the breeze wisp through the pines. The cool air raised goose pimples on my arms and for a few seconds my soggy egg salad sandwich almost tasted good.”...more
There are some book subjects, fiction and non-fiction, that carry plenty of controversy. It allows readers to discuss their feelings and opinions abouThere are some book subjects, fiction and non-fiction, that carry plenty of controversy. It allows readers to discuss their feelings and opinions about the book’s subject, but my review for Me Before You by Jojo Moyes will not venture into that realm.
Me Before You delves into the lives of a personal caretaker and her paraplegic client, who is biding his time before he takes his own life. Prior to an accident, Will Traynor, lived a full, adventurous life while making plenty of money to provide for his bold lifestyle. Two years in a wheelchair, dependent on everyone with a lifetime of serious illness and hospitalizations, Will decides that in six months’ time he will put an end to his suffering.
In comes Louisa Clark as his personal caretaker. A woman who has no training, has lived a sheltered life and doesn’t have a clue as to what to do with her future. The angry, arrogant and sarcastic Will tells her to remain quiet in his presence. As the clock ticks, Louisa begins to learn from Will, while at the same time working with the Traynor’s to change Will’s mind. To show him that he can still have a fulfilling life. Their work relationship morphs into a friendship and love.
This is the first book out of many recent books that I finished and liked. I cried, maybe because of my age or things in my life, but I had to grab the tissues more than once. I think Jojo did a great job showing character progression. To have a character, let alone more, grow and learn while the book moves on is not an easy feat. The characters in general were well written, likeable, believable and at times, frustrating. A tug-of-war between them kept the story going. I also learned a thing or two about paraplegics and caregivers.
The one thing I didn’t care about was the break in story as Jojo introduced the POV of the mother, Camilla, father, Steven and caretaker, Nathan. Their POVs didn’t give me a deeper insight into who they were and what got them to this place in life. I still didn’t understand Camilla and Steven’s rocky marriage. As for Nathan, he came off indifferent so I never got a feel for him. The author would have been better off giving the reader Will’s POV. Intertwining chapters with Lou’s struggles and Will’s from their POV.
My other gripes have to do more with the publisher. I didn’t like the cover and editing. The cover has little to do with the subject matter. A picture of the Alps, or a garden, or something else that pertained to the story would have been better than a red cover with swirls.
I’m a self-published author and I know all that is involved in publishing a book. I don’t have as many eyes looking at my novel as a traditionally published book, so I expect it to have as little errors as possible. Unfortunately, I didn’t mark the areas where words were left out, or too many adverbs in one area, or the same word was repeated in close proximity. I buy my books, and when I receive a traditionally published book that has many hands working on it, I do expect a decent edit job. Penguin didn’t do so good on this one.
I would recommend this book with caution, and let the reader know that its subject matter might offend them....more
I won't rate this book because I don't plan on finishing it. It's not the kind of writing that pulls me in. The main character has absolutely no depthI won't rate this book because I don't plan on finishing it. It's not the kind of writing that pulls me in. The main character has absolutely no depth. I think there is a lack of character development and not enough of show for me....more
**spoiler alert** This book starts off strong. Claire breaks her shoe, loses her job and then her husband asks for a divorce at a restaurant, leaving**spoiler alert** This book starts off strong. Claire breaks her shoe, loses her job and then her husband asks for a divorce at a restaurant, leaving her crying at the table. In the beginning, the character Claire is funny, but then things start to get repetitious. She is always turning to her sisters for support, which is great, but it seems they are there after she calls, as if they don’t have lives of their own. Claire is annoyingly needy. I thought she was a pushover and unintelligent. Maybe it’s because I like my characters to have some dignity, which doesn’t describe Claire. Another repetition that drove me crazy was that everyone was ‘smirking’. I think that word is on every page.
As I continued to read, I was waiting for Claire to reinvent herself. Instead, she continuously cried to her sisters about Charlie even when a wonderful man, Mac, enters her life. She doesn’t give Mac the respect he deserves, and he allows her to hurt him time and again, which is surprising since he is divorced, too. You would think Mac would be on-guard instead of letting Claire walk all over him while she tries to figure out whether she wants him or Charlie. That’s just a slap in the face.
Darian Wilk has her main character, Claire, rely too much on her sisters instead of bringing the book to a new level and making it about ‘Reinventing Claire’. I wanted to read about Claire’s life without Charlie, such as her job, which is mentioned but not discussed; feelings about children (whether she wants them or not. She was married for a long time to Charlie and they didn’t have children); dealing with Mac’s son’s mother; and her new home. Darian Wilk left out the reinventing part. Majority of the book is about Claire and her sisters, Claire thinking about Charlie, and her confusion about which man she wants. By the end of the book, Claire still doesn’t feel like her new home is home; there isn’t anything mentioned about children even though her new love has a son, and it takes her close to the end of the book to realize she doesn’t want Charlie. If she was reinventing herself, the book would be more about her new life, feelings about home, job, children and some definite anger toward Charlie and how he treated her. How did she get a job working from home? Does she want children, or can she have them? Where is the anger toward the way Charlie treated her in the marriage, when he left her, and his divorce demands? Very little growth is shown.
Along with characters I didn’t like or relate to, I found the dialogue annoying. When writing dialogue, you don’t always have to write, ‘he said’ or ‘she said’, especially when there are only two characters in the scene. Darian Wilk continuously wrote ‘she said/he said’, which were like speed bumps to me. Give the reader some credit. It’s all right to guide the reader at first as to who is talking, but when all dialogue tells you who is speaking, it becomes monotonous.
If you’re looking for a predictable, light romantic chick lit book, then you might enjoy Reinventing Claire by Darian Wilk. ...more
This book of short stories reveals the naked truth about impulsive choices and every day struggles. I love these stories because they expose how we feThis book of short stories reveals the naked truth about impulsive choices and every day struggles. I love these stories because they expose how we feel, the spontaneous things we do, and sometimes, the regret that follows but we keep moving on. Pretty Girl and Leaving Big Sky are about internal struggles, which sometimes lead us to do things we might otherwise not do. You can't possibly resist Jeri Walker-Bickett's vivid storytelling with lines like, "A flash of panties appeared and then somersaulted back into the lesser shades of bath towels and sport socks." Along with, "Jessica Nelson understands writers pull from many sources of inspiration which bear absolutely no reflection on the conduct of their daily lives", which embraces a need for understanding.
As much as I enjoyed all the stories, I really liked the last one, River Walk. It painted such inner turmoil and pain about mental illness that for the first time, I could understand what it feels like. Jeri manages to show how dead Marinza feels through the simple chore of making a sandwich. "I slap cheddar cheese on two bread slices. The cheese reminds me of limp flesh and the lettuce feels like decaying skin. A corpse sandwich." Or her description of the Quarter, "The Quarter always smells like an alcohol and piss cocktail." I don't think anyone can describe what mental illness is like quite like Jeri does with this line; "The sun could engulf the planet in arms of lethal solar flame and I wouldn't feel it. I don't do or feel anything anymore, hindered by an Antarctica of depression and a tsunami of mania." Jeri has a flare for storytelling, and has done so through stories about simple lives, impulse and moving on because "Such is Life".
I'm looking forward to her psychological suspense ghost story, Lost Girl Road. ...more
I’ll start off by saying that I am a huge fan of The Book Thief and I couldn’t understand why it would be sold as a YA. The subject matter was deep anI’ll start off by saying that I am a huge fan of The Book Thief and I couldn’t understand why it would be sold as a YA. The subject matter was deep and I felt a younger audience wouldn’t truly appreciate the beautiful writing. I felt the same about Between Shades of Gray, but then I realized that both of these books teach younger generations about history and compassion.
I bought this book because of the subject matter. I’m of Lithuanian and German descent and I find ancestry and history fascinating. Although the characters in this book are fictional, the events that took place are very real. Between Shades of Gray introduced me to the sadness and horror that Soviets inflicted on the Baltic states, something I wasn’t aware of until now. In the book, a gifted teenage girl, Lina, struggles to find her father, the boy she fell in love with, and tries to keep her family alive as they’re imprisoned in Siberia—working for the Soviets. The Soviet’s reason for the millions of captures—they were accessories. What occurred in the Baltic States was another genocide.
Ruta’s writing captured the essence of agony, horror and defiance with sentences like, “Death had begun to gather a crop.”, “Or a sadness so deep, like your very core has been hollowed out and fed back to you from a dirty bucket?”, and “I had no tears. The sensation of crying would fill me, but my eyes would only dry-heave and burn.”
Lina tried to get word to her father through her drawings—an exceptional artist ready to learn the craft of art in Vilnius before the Soviets captured her family. They rode in cattle cars, having to relieve themselves in front of others, and subjected to sickness from malnutrition and battling the elements. As Lina stated, “I was sure the insides of my bones were full of ice. They made a cracking, snapping sound when I stretched.” She fights to survive her 12-years of imprisonment.
Another wonderful thing Ruta did was refer to secondary characters using character traits. I found it fascinating that the descriptions and what the characters said were enough for the reader to get an idea about them. For instance, she refers to one character as ‘the man who wound his watch’, and another character as ‘the bald man’. Here’s a little flavor of the bald man (pg 257):
Janina tapped the bald man on the shoulder, “I heard you’re a Jew,” she said. “That’s what you heard, eh?” said the bald man. “Is it true?” asked Janina. “Yes. I heard you’re a little brat, is that true?”
The ending left one thing unresolved, which normally would make me upset but it went well with this book. As Lina fought for survival, she carried hope and love with her, and that’s what the end is all about—hope and love.
While Hitler was murdering millions of Jews, Pearl Harbor was bombed, and Josef Stalin is estimated to have killed twenty million people during his reign. I thank Ruta Sepetys for bringing this to light and educating me along with many others about the horrible genocide that occurred in the Baltic states.
This book is not only a 5-star for its eye awakening history, but Ruta did a wonderful job showing us history through the eyes of a fictional 15-year old. ...more
I never read Edgar Allan Poe in high school or college. One of the major contributors to classic literature, Poe's style for today's reader is dauntinI never read Edgar Allan Poe in high school or college. One of the major contributors to classic literature, Poe's style for today's reader is daunting, to say the least. Jeri Walker-Bickett was a featured author on my blog, and she piqued my interest in her Popular Poe Stories in Plain English. Since I hadn't taken the time to read the original Poe works, I decided to purchase Jeri's book to see how she wrote Edgar Allan Poe's works using today's language...and I have to say I loved it. The dark stories he wrote were brilliant, and I was able to visualize them in my head thanks to this rewrite. In all the stories, there was an eeriness to his characters, like you weren't quite sure if the narrator wasn't just mad (crazy). If I felt the darkness and madness reading Jeri's rewrite, then I can only say she succeeded in conveying his stories in modern day language. I think Jeri did a great job at choosing his most popular stories and sharing them in a way that the average teenager could understand. The Cask of Amontillado and The Masque of the Red Death are my favorites. I can't believe I missed out on reading Poe all these years, but thanks to Jeri, I hope to look into his other stories. ...more
Winter Garden is about a mother’s fairy tale of love and survival in Leningrad, Russia during the war. Kristin Hannah accomplished one very difficultWinter Garden is about a mother’s fairy tale of love and survival in Leningrad, Russia during the war. Kristin Hannah accomplished one very difficult task as a writer, and that is progressive character change. From the start, her characters are flawed and lost, but as the story progresses, the characters gradually change … and the mother, Anya, changes a lot. It’s incredible to read and experience a writer creating flawed characters, one to the point of dislike, and then seeing them transform to the point of liking them.
Meredith and Nina’s mother, Anya, was never really a mother to them. She was cold and distant, but the one thing that brought them together as children was Anya telling her fairy tale. On his deathbed, their beloved father, Evan, made his wife promise to tell the entire fairy tale to his daughters, and asked his daughters to truly listen to the story. As Anya begins to tell the fairy tale, and her erratic behavior diminishes, Meredith and Nina realize the fairy tale isn’t really a fairy tale, but about their mother’s life in Leningrad, Russia.
Along with dimensional characters and learning about suffering, Kristin’s writing adds to the beauty of the story. Below are a few examples of her writing style:
“Words were like pennies, fallen into corners and down the cracks, not worth the effort of collecting” (pg. 52)
“Grief had become her silent sidekick.” (pg. 81)
“She hears a squawking sound coming through a speaker and the word—Attention—thrown like a knife into wood.” (pg. 254)
A few things I didn’t like about the book were the ending and the mothers’ relationship with the father. The ending seemed rushed and everything wrapped up too nicely. I also wondered how Meredith and Nina felt knowing their mother’s heart belonged to another, and also why their father married such a woman.
Because of these flaws, I give this book a 4.25-star out of 5. ...more
Books have a way of reflecting or blending into our lives, and this is part of what makes or breaks a book. It’s the internal and external moments inBooks have a way of reflecting or blending into our lives, and this is part of what makes or breaks a book. It’s the internal and external moments in our lives that coincide with the books we read. We might need a book to make us feel not so alone, laugh, take us to another dimension or simply keep us company. At this time in my life, On Folly Beach by Karen White happens to blend with my life. I have lived in Germany and I’m still coping with the loss of my mother. This is what attracted me to On Folly Beach.
On Folly Beach switches from present day 2009 to 1942, during World War II, showing the struggles of two women, Emmy and Maggie, who are trying to cope with their lives and loss. Emmy lost her soldier husband in Afghanistan, and Maggie lost her love to the perils of war through secrets and deception. Even though these women were from different times, they were brought together by the things in life that keep us all going and that can make us crumble—love and loss. Emmy tries to remain the person her husband, Ben, fell in love with while fighting with the fact that she never said good-bye. This haunts her and prevents her from letting go and moving on with life. Maggie has taken care of everyone else but herself. The people in her life are secretive, and the man, Peter, she has waited for her entire life deceives her in many ways. From one lie to the next, Maggie is able to overcome and forgive. Both of these women carry the same phrase in their hearts—Come back to me.
I either liked or disliked the characters in this book, and to some degree, understood their troubles. Most of all I had the pleasure of crying with Emmy and Maggie. This book demonstrates the sacrifices of war, and I learned about how close the Germans were in taking over the U.S. with spies and U-boats. Seeing Germany and the U.S. today gives me a greater appreciation of the struggles German citizens had under Hitler’s dictatorship, and how Americans dealt with the scarcity of supplies for the sake of defending our land.
I recommend this book to anyone who has experienced war, loss, and/or love. ...more
I really enjoyed Double Mocha, Heavy on Your Phone Number. It’s a light romance with a few surprises tucked in throughout the story. I found myself chI really enjoyed Double Mocha, Heavy on Your Phone Number. It’s a light romance with a few surprises tucked in throughout the story. I found myself cheering for Ellie even though I wouldn’t have responded in the same way when it came to her troubles. From the beginning, Bix was head over heels for Ellie, but she needed a bit more time to realize her own feelings. The story makes you think about deception and forgiveness. I would definitely recommend this to all the romance lovers out there…and those who haven’t taken the romantic plunge yet. ...more