Gabe and Lea are the only ones that don’t see that they belong together. A Little Something Different is interestingly told from fourteen different poGabe and Lea are the only ones that don’t see that they belong together. A Little Something Different is interestingly told from fourteen different points of view of everyone around them, including a squirrel and a bench. Yes, you read that right. Gabe is terribly shy despite the fact that he does in fact like Lea and Lea, try as she might, she can’t seem to get through to him. Does he just not like her? Does he have a girlfriend? Is he gay? Oh the mental drama we subject ourselves to when trying to determine if a crush likes us back.
The most unique aspect about this book is the style of writing. While it wasn’t my favorite at first and the quirky few (namely the squirrel and bench) did seem rather odd, it definitely grew on me. I don’t know about you, but I’m a total people watcher, and it was pretty adorable how so many people took an interest in Gabe and Lea and their seemingly inevitable relationship. Even Victor, the moody kid in their Creative Writing class, couldn’t resist taking an interest in their shenanigans:
“...you two assholes are the most annoyingly cute thing I’ve ever seen. I’m annoyed at myself for even using the word ‘cute’. I feel sick to my stomach over using that word.”
If you were wondering, I’m a total Victor.
So while it was all cute and fluffy fun, there were some downsides that I can’t help but mention. I did wish that Gabe and Lea’s points of view were also included in the mix because while we do get a feel for their thoughts via their friends, it would have been better to have it firsthand. Another thing is I honestly couldn’t see why everyone thought Lea and Gabe were perfect for each other, especially with all the one-sided conversations Lea had with him where he literally said nothing. This happened for MONTHS. There’s shy (and yes, I get it that he was dealing with other issues as well) but after a point I wondered why Lea seriously even bothered. Their interactions with one another gave the story a very adolescent feel and when suddenly they’re at a party getting drunk it kind of threw me for a bit. And then there was the unnecessary lady-bashing when everyone thought Gabe liked this other girl in their Creative Writing class:
“There really is no point,” Lea says. “Even if he does like girls, he’s totally into this girl Hillary in creative writing.” “Sounds like Hillary is a skank queen of Cockblock-ville.”
But despite Victor and I’s shared moodiness, I still found myself charmed by this simple and sweet tale. It’s definitely one to save for when you’re in need of some serious fluff....more
‘It did not matter that this world was far from as simple as she might have thought. And it absolutely did not matter that heMy rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
‘It did not matter that this world was far from as simple as she might have thought. And it absolutely did not matter that her heart was… mis-behaving. She had come to the palace with a clear purpose. The Caliph of Horasan had to die.’
Shahrzad, sixteen years old, has been battling with her grief since her best friend was murdered by her husband, Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, Caliph of Khorasan. For reasons unknown, he takes a bride each night only to have her killed in the morning. When Shahrzad actually volunteers to marry him, her family and childhood sweetheart, Tariq, are devastated. To everyone’s surprise, she survives the dawn and begins to put her plan into action: to find the weakness of the Caliph of Khorasan that will help her to avenge her murdered best friend. She begins to realize though that his only weakness is Shahrzad herself.
Reading has been a bit of a struggle for me lately and I tentatively started this one not expecting to be able to stick with it. I also had some serious doubts that it would end up being something that lived up to the hype for me, especially after recently reading another super-hyped story that ended up being major disappointment for me. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t stop flipping the pages, couldn’t stop wondering what was going to happen next, and couldn’t keep the ridiculous grin off my face watching all the emotions unfold. Oh man, the feels. They got me. For the most part, the story is told from the point of view of Shahrzad, however, we’re also given scenes through the eyes of Khalid and Tariq. All three points of view intertwine to form a most enthralling tale.
“As silver-tongued as a viper.” He laughed. “Tell me, my lady, do you ever miss a moment to strike?” Shahrzad smiled, and it was brilliant and biting, all at once. “I fear that would be unwise, my lord. Especially in a den of snakes.”
I loved Shahrzad. She was wonderfully snarky and witty and courageous and bold. The addition in her story to being a prowess at the bow and arrow only sealed the deal to my love of her. I had my doubts at first that the story could pull off credibly Shahrzad falling in love with Khalid. I mean come on, she married her best friends murderer with the intent to kill thim herself. How possibly couldhat be turned around legitimately? Well, I’m happy to say that it was done extremely well and I was completely sold. The passion between those two… that’s where that perma-grin I mentioned comes into play.
‘Her lips were hers one moment. And then they were his. The taste of him on her tongue was like sunwarmed honey. Like cool water sliding down her parched throat. Like the promise of all her tomorrows in a single sigh. When she wound her fingers in his hair to draw her body against his, he stilled for breath, and she knew, as he knew, that they were lost. Lost forever. In this kiss. This kiss that would change everything.’
This could have easily been insta-love, but instead it was a beautiful, slow and steady build up of honest emotion. It was a lovely thing to witness and I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Khalid even won me over at the same time. His pain and grief over what he felt he had to do, was his own personal suffering and it showed. I loved his own path to self-realization and how he became more confident in his roles and the decisions he had to make rather than sitting back and accepting his lot in life. I can’t wait to see how that continues in the next installment.
I had massive love for this book but there were a few aspects that could have made this better for me. First, I wanted to know more about Shahrzad’s family, especially her father, and there seems no doubt we’ll find out more in The Rose and the Dagger. The magical aspects of the novel were incredibly interesting and while I wished there was more of it, I appreciated the subtlety of it all. Second, Tariq’s character was a major low point and I disliked his point of view sections even if I can understand how necessary they were to see things from that aspect, to learn what all was being set in motion. Tariq is Shahrzad’s childhood sweeheart and while I get the whole “do whatever it takes to protect her” he got a bit manic about it, especially once he started realizing she was changing her mind about Khalid. He jumped to the conclusion that something was being done to her to make her change her typically immutable mind, which I get, but could have ultimately done without. Essentially I just wanted more kissy scenes. All the kissy scenes and all the swoons, please.
The Wrath and the Dawn is a wistful re-imagining of Arabian Nights with a forbidden romance that will leave you completely enchanted. I’m both eager and dreading the concluding story, The Rose and the Dagger, and desperately wishing for a satisfying ending that won’t leave my heart in tatters.
I received this book free from First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
Word of warning: This is a book 4 review, therefore there will be spoilers from previous installments.
‘She was the heir ofMy rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Word of warning: This is a book 4 review, therefore there will be spoilers from previous installments.
‘She was the heir of fire. She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.’
Just to quickly summarize the devastation that Heir of Fire left us with: Celaena/Aelin is headed back to Adarlan to begin the search for the Wyrdkeys and the war against the King after leaving Rowan behind, Dorian has become enslaved by his father, Chaol has fled and thankfully took Fleetfoot on his way out (or I could have never forgiven him) and in another part of the world, Manon has been made Wing Leader. Oh such fabulously wonderful characters, it was so nice to pick their stories back up. Queen of Shadows picks right up where HoF left off and continues the same steady sort of pace that some loved and some hated. I was a big fan for the sole reason that the story was really deserving of some slow simmering. I’m all for big time action scenes, however, I feel with this series there is not only the fantasy world-building aspect that is key but there is a wide cast of characters that need sufficient time to build them as well. And there are so many intricate details that just add to the elegant complexity of this fascinating tale.
Typically, I find that when I’m reading stories that deal with multiple POVs, there’s always ones that I prefer over the others and almost always one that I just can’t stand. I can honestly say that I enjoyed them all. Aelin’s POV because we’ve seen her come into her power but now we get to see her come into her role as queen (and still with the snarky we’ve all come to expect). We get Arobynn with more of an involvement in the story and they touch on their past (and Sam, *sniff*) which seemed a long time coming after the focus on him from the prequel stories so long ago. Aelin finds a new female friend in (shocker) Lysandra and her story/addition is fantastic. But mostly I loved Manon’s because… well, WHO DOESN’T LOVE MANON. It was great getting a little behind the scenes look at Asterin’s background but we’re introduced to a new character, Elide, who plays a part in the witches story but also has an interesting tie to Aelin’s past.
‘She was a whirling cloud of death, a queen of shadows, and these men were already carrion.’
There were a couple minuscule issues I had though. 1. Chaol continues to look down his nose in regards to the things that Aelin has done and continues to do. It got irritating after a while because, come on, craziness is happening and desperate times call for desperate measures and all that jazz. His opinions caused him to become a distant character in this installment and we honestly didn’t see him as much as I’d like. I wanted them to settle their differences and get on with it. 2. The villain. I’m a sucker for back stories on the villain and while the King was doing some pretty horrifying things, there was clearly an interesting/crazy story there regarding how he got to this point and why and how and why. I would have liked to see this delved into during his brief POV sections to build him up as a character like any other rather than a mini info-dump. 3. I would have also loved more of Kaltain’s back story as well because wow did her role ever get crazy.
The plot itself was incredibly detailed but still actually made forward progress, which I’ve found can sometimes be an issue with fantasy novels. There were slower moments, but there some impressive action scenes that helped balance it out. What I loved most were the small connections that pop up, small references that connect the previous installments and mostly the prequel are such a joy to see when they all come full circle.
The romance was subtle and definitely never made any attempts to high-jack the story, hallelujah. But oh man, the TENSION. It never amounted to much, which did make my eye go a little twitchy but all I gotta say is (view spoiler)[CHAOL, WHO? (hide spoiler)]
“…if it was death separating us… I would find you. I don’t care how many rules it would break. Even if I had to get all three keys myself and open a gate, I would find you again. Always.”
I appreciated the small amount of resolution we’re given, despite the fact that more disaster is inevitable since this is only installment 4 of 6. But still, gotta love a story with a solid ending rather than an ending that makes you pull your hair out when you realize how long you have to wait for the next one. Throne of Glass is easily one of my all-time favorite series with an amazing cast of characters and an incredibly thrilling fantasy world.
“Let’s go rattle the stars.”["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Lou owns a small French restaurant named Luella’s in the heart of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s engaged to be married, however, she tries to surprise hiLou owns a small French restaurant named Luella’s in the heart of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s engaged to be married, however, she tries to surprise him with a coconut cake for his birthday only to find a woman in his apartment. In lingerie. She doesn’t take the news well and the restaurant suffers from it that night, which also happens to be the night the local food critic visits Luella’s.
Her little restaurant begins a downward spiral after his scathing review but things are starting to look up when she meets someone new. Al is from the UK and has yet to be shown around Milwaukee so Lou agrees to be his guide. She takes him to see everything from the best restaurants to museums and festivals. They begin to fall for each other during their non-dates realizing just how much they have in common, but neither of them know that Al was the food critic that caused Lou to lose her restaurant.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a delightful, lighthearted romance story that is also a love story to delicious foods and the city of Milwaukee. The food descriptions had me re-declaring my love for food. And also making a raid on my kitchen. And maybe planning a trip to Milwaukee to see all these wonderful sounding sights for myself.
‘He started with the much hailed cheese curds, hot and oozing a little of the white cheddar; the outside was crispy and salty when he bit. A string of cheese dangled from his mouth to his hand as he pulled the cheese from his lips.’
‘Ingredients in baking were mixed in a specific way to create a specific result; a lot like relationships. If people didn’t blend well together, you’d never get the outcome you wanted.’
The requisite drama in this one was palpable and while it all came to a predictable resolution this was still a completely satisfying story. There’s something about the components of a basic foodie fiction book that I can’t help but fall in love with. Delicious food descriptions + quirky characters + adorable romances = me, head over heels. And The Coincidence of Coconut Cake has all the right ingredients.
P.S. There’s even a delicious coconut cake recipe in the back pages that I can’t wait to try myself.
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
An Ember in the Ashes was one of my most anticipated of the year. I knew very little about it going in, only that it's a fantasy inspired by ancient RAn Ember in the Ashes was one of my most anticipated of the year. I knew very little about it going in, only that it's a fantasy inspired by ancient Rome (Gladiator, anyone?) and there was already extensive praise from many bloggers. I'm sad to say that I not only found this extremely tedious but shockingly uninteresting based on the seemingly exciting subject matter.
'You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes. That is your destiny.'
In this world, the Martials rule the Empire and have done so for the last 500 years since they defeated the Scholars. Laia and her brother live with their grandparents after both their mother and father were killed for being a part of the Scholar Resistance. When her brother becomes privy to secrets the Martials would prefer to keep safe, they send Masks, elite soldiers, to capture him. Laia manages to escape but the guilt she bears for running instead of trying to save her brother eats her alive. When she seeks out the Resistance in order to ask for their help in saving her brother, she finds herself agreeing to become a slave, in exchange for their help, and signed up for a job that no one has survived: spying on the terrifying Commandant of Blackcliff Military Academy.
Elias is a soldier in training at Blackcliff Military Academy but has dreams of one day escaping from the vows he made and from his mother, the Commandant. Just when he thinks his plans are secure and he'll be able to consider himself free, he is named an Aspirant, a candidate for the throne if he can beat out the three other competitors in the Trials. He has no desire to rule, however, refusing to compete is a death sentence. When Elias and Laia meet, even though they should be enemies, they both recognize that they share a common goal to one day become truly free.
I had to line it all out again because even just that snippet has me dumbfounded that it managed to be so dull. First and foremost in a fantasy world for me is the focus on world-building. The previously mentioned Roman inspiration is apparent and fairly detailed, but while this is also meant to be a fantasy that's where the world-building got real choppy. There were fantasy creatures that we're told were beings in stories the characters learned when they were children and they basically came out of nowhere with no explanation. Some fed off Laia's sadness but the fact that she was able to see them was apparently rare but it was never mentioned again. It just wasn't logical to me.
Next up in my list of letdowns: the characters. The chapters alternate between Elias and Laia's points of view and these are the most inexplicably dull characters, ever. Absolutely nothing they did was ever any interest to me. The fact that Laia was constantly being abused throughout the entirety of the book should have at least drawn a modicum of sympathy from me but for some reason there was none. Their obligatory romance also completely lacked any sort of passion which made me care even less for the duo if that was even possible. There is also somewhat of a love triangle (with a dude with red hair and freckles -- in Rome? Yeah, think on that one for a sec.) and I didn't like him any better. There was literally nothing I enjoyed about this one, honestly. The only reason it's not getting one star is because it wasn't horrible it just wasn't compelling at all. I found myself reading the last 7% of the story, one of the main characters is facing certain death (although let's face it, something miraculous always happens to save the day so I wasn't too concerned), bombs are going off, the crowd is in chaos... *yawn* hey, I need to organize my filing cabinet. No exaggeration. It took me a full two days to finish the last 10%. I really should have just quit but there's always that inkling of hope where you think something amazing is going to happen at the end to turn it all around. (view spoiler)[It doesn't. (hide spoiler)]
No, what we do get for the majority of this unreasonably long book is a lot of violence and bloodshed, primarily towards the female slave who is always either cowering in fear from threats, being whipped, fighting off rape, etc. I understand that this is all possibly meant to show how a slave lived in ancient times but there's violence and then there's gratuitous. I felt that line was crossed often. There were few redeemable females in the whole of this book. The Commander was sadistic and whipped her slaves for being a few minutes late with tea and even had another of her slaves EYEBALL ripped out when they were only five years old. She's a real peach. I loved the concept of Helene, the sole female Mask in her class, but instead of remaining that badass, empowered female she morphed overnight into this simpering fool when she falls for Elias. The jealous aspect was something I really could have done without. I did enjoy the scenes with Cook in it (another slave) and Izzi was tenacious despite the threat of violence as well so there's that at least.
The plot moved at a snails pace. Much of the story is spent with Elias undergoing the trials and Laia trying to survive while still attempting to figure out how to save her brother. The ending is one I pretty much saw coming but still managed to feel so very staged and engineered and just blah. Nothing was really resolved despite my understanding that this was meant to be a standalone. I've heard differing opinions on this though. Apparently it could be a series if the publisher opts to pick up other installments? But based on that ending it wasn't close to being resolved. I can't say I'm interested enough in picking up any future installments even if they do happen.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Yes, throw a fit because your new husband is the fucking worst and you never should have married him because he's only willing to take a month off forYes, throw a fit because your new husband is the fucking worst and you never should have married him because he's only willing to take a month off for a honeymoon instead of the year you wanted. Gawd. Becky is a complete and utter nightmare....more
‘It was starting. What Hitler had always promised – the Party and Germany were becoming one. The union that she had once thoMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
‘It was starting. What Hitler had always promised – the Party and Germany were becoming one. The union that she had once thought sounded so perfect. Now it terrified her.’
The year is 1933. Gretchen and Daniel have managed to extricate themselves from the dangers of Germany and have been slowly rebuilding their lives in England. Their lives are far from perfect and they both miss their families, but they’re at least safe. When Daniel receives a telegram with terrible news about an incident involving his family he rushes back to Germany without a second thought. Gretchen, being unable to remain sitting in safety while constantly wracked with worry, packs her bags and follows him straight back into danger.
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke centers around the mystery behind the factual Reichstag fire. Gretchen and Daniel feel that if they can expose the lies surrounding the fire that they can hopefully put a stop to Hitler’s rise to power. I actually knew very little about the fire prior to this read so a little investigation of my own was needed. It was shocking to learn just how important that fire became in establishing Nazi Germany because as a result of the fire, Hitler was able to get the Reichstag Fire Decree passed which subsequently suspended civil liberties of German citizens. This Decree remained in effect throughout WWII, technically legalizing many of Hitler’s actions according to German law. That time in history will never cease to shock me.
This second installment in the duology was a solid one with the inclusion of actual historical events adding some legitimacy to this tale. The characters seemed to be constantly placing themselves needlessly in danger but I can’t decide whether it was actually or the fact that we know the outcome of it all made it just seem like a lost cause. Akin to horror movies where people are constantly making the worst possible decisions and you’re screaming at them to stop, I was begging them to stop from the very start when Gretchen and Daniel both travel back to Germany and right into Hitler’s dangerous hands. But considering it from their point of view, they may have understood the danger as it was during that time, but they couldn’t even begin to understand just how terrible it would truly get.
Equally knowledgeable and thrilling, this is a must-read for historical fiction fans. What I loved most about this duology is how interesting it was to read a story that was set well before the war, just as Hitler was first gaining power. While we are all cognizant of the occurrences of WWII, it was still hard not to hope that Gretchen and Daniel would actually succeed.
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
From Cinder as cyborg Cinderella to Scarlet as Little Red Riding Hood (or hoodie, rather). Cinder has joined up with fellow inmate Thorne to bust outFrom Cinder as cyborg Cinderella to Scarlet as Little Red Riding Hood (or hoodie, rather). Cinder has joined up with fellow inmate Thorne to bust out of prison in order to escape the wrath of Queen Levana. Scarlet is in search of her grandmother who has been missing for two weeks and the only one that seems to know anything is a guy who only goes by the name of “Wolf”.
I’ve always been a huge fan of fairytale retellings but the idea of steampunk/sci-fi/fairy tales blended together never inspired me to pick up these books and as more and more installments released the more sure I was that these weren’t books I would ever enjoy. Not only do those same elements continue but the incorporation of multiple fairy tales all in one universe sounded like a big hot mess. Then I finally caved and read Cinder just to try to see what all the fuss was about… so. much. fun. I loved Cinder’s Cinderella story and all of the steampunk and sci-fi elements were done so, so well. But then came the end of Cinder’s tale and I was under the impression that the next story focused on an entirely different character which bummed me out so I didn’t end up picking it up immediately. Don’t make the same mistake I did because I was pleasantly surprised to find that Cinder gets plenty of page time. But also don’t be surprised if you manage to like Scarlet just as much if not more (serious, the girl even packs a gun for protection). That is hands down the best thing about these books and the main characters is that each of these female leads are imbued with some serious badass-ness that you can’t help but love.
The time spent on both Scarlet and Cinder’s stories was well-balanced and inevitably blended together rather seamlessly. The thing with fairy-tales and their re-tellings is you can’t help but not be surprised at typical turn of events because we already know what’s going to happen. Meyer has managed to inject The Lunar Chronicles with an entertaining level of originality that continues to keep those pages turning. I have sky high expectations at this point and I won’t be wasting anytime before picking up Cress....more
‘Listen closely. Hang on to every word. But most of all, please believe me.’
It’s been a full month since Naomi Carradine waMy rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
‘Listen closely. Hang on to every word. But most of all, please believe me.’
It’s been a full month since Naomi Carradine was involuntarily admitted to Fairfax Mental Health Institute. She’s adamant that she’s fine, healthy and ready to go home but the doctors are also adamant that it’s going to require more time for her to be ready. Her memories of the past leave her baffled and confused as to why her parents would ever put her in a place like this. As part of her therapy she begins to tell her story, her full story, and slowly the painful pieces of her life begin to piece back together.
Unravel was incredibly captivating from the very start. The story transitions between her present life in the mental health institute and various pieces of her past. I was thoroughly engrossed and eager to find out how Naomi got in the position she was in and with each new bit of information it continued to be intriguing but all conclusions I came to were shrouded in a haze and nothing made sense. I spent the majority of this book in a haze, questioning everything and disliking the character because of her actions.
It wasn’t pleasant, however, it still made for quite the page turner. It feels wrong to complain about the confusion the story causes only to have it all answered in the end, but I can’t help it. There were various instances where I was close to quitting, but as I said, it does make sense when you have the resolution but getting there is half the problem.
My main issue from the very beginning was the semblance of a love triangle that was happening. Naomi has returned home for the summer from college but is staying with her friend Lana’s parents as her parents are traveling Europe. Naomi went off to college, leaving behind Lachlan after the two professed their love for each other. Upon Naomi’s return however, she meets Max and their tumultuous affair is sudden and instantaneous. It’s incredibly hot and super steamy but it came straight outta left field.
‘...if you listened very carefully, you would hear the sound of a faint tear. That was just the sound of my heart unraveling like a torn ribbon. All from one touch.’
This is the 2nd time they’ve met.
‘The hunger I had for him was like an addiction. It controlled me. It took away the power I thought I had and controlled every single action I made.’
It was an eye-rolling good time. In addition to their mad infatuation with one another right off the bat, Max was doing things for her that no new boyfriend would ever do, like get crazy angry when something bad happened to Naomi’s friend and subsequently helped her pay rent when she needed to move into her own place. Again, it all becomes justified in the end and makes much more sense in retrospect but there were sections that were so ill-fitting that it made it a tough pill to swallow overall.
Unravel is a New Adult novel that touches on the deep topic of mental illness. Having read books that featured similar storylines, I can’t say Unravel was my favorite or that it was even portrayed accurately. Not being a doctor, I could be completely off the mark but some things just didn’t seem logical. I did enjoy the psychological twists overall though because they were shocking and kept me guessing right up till the very end. Just a heads up, there is one, maybe two incredibly violent scenes of rape that were very hard to read about.
I’ve been very wary about branching out into New Adult because the subject matter never sounds like my cup of tea. Unravel seemed to be possess an originality that I would enjoy so I took a leap of faith. While I wasn’t completely disappointed, I did expect more....more
When six-year-old Holly’s mother dies in a car accident, her Uncle Mark is named guardian. Holly is devastated and hasn’t spoke in the six months thatWhen six-year-old Holly’s mother dies in a car accident, her Uncle Mark is named guardian. Holly is devastated and hasn’t spoke in the six months that she’s lived with him. To top it off, Mark just found Holly’s letter to Santa where she was asking for a new mommy. Wandering the local shops in town, the two go into a toy store where the store owner Maggie gets Holly to finally come out of the shell she’s created around herself which sets in motion an attraction between Mark and Maggie.
The story felt incredibly rushed with only 224 pages and extremely large font but it was nonetheless still a quick and entertaining Christmas read. I would have loved for the story to have more detail and back-story and I especially wanted more build-up as far as the romance went though. The connection between Mark and Maggie was instantaneous which wouldn’t have been as problematic if Mark wasn’t already involved in someone. I would have been able to enjoy this short and sweet tale if we weren’t dealing with the dramatic aspects of the love triangle. Having Mark be a single guy connecting with a very motherly character would have sufficed.
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor reads much like a story that should be included in a Christmas anthology but it’s the start of Kleypas’ ‘Friday Harbor’ series. I enjoyed it enough to continue the series but hope that future installment are further fleshed out. Definitely a worthy Christmas read for those looking for a sentimental albeit predictable story to get quickly absorbed in. (And there’s also a Lifetime movie adaptation of this to check out!)...more
“You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me tha“You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always.”
It’s 1986 and Eleanor is forever the odd girl out at school due to a combination of her weight, her crazy red hair (causing the nickname “Big Red”) and her eclectic fashion sense. Her home life isn’t any more glamorous where she lives with her mother, her cruel step-father and her group of siblings that all share a room with her. School might not be the sanctuary she might hope for but it’s still an escape. One day, not finding a single seat on the bus, she takes a seat next to half-Korean Park who is almost just as much of an outcast as Eleanor. They begin sitting next to each other every day, not saying a single word to one another and slowly but surely, their relationship grows over comic books and music without words being spoken.
I went a long time without picking this one up. Mostly because I’m extremely selective when it comes to contemporary YA but I had read (other than Fangirl) all of Rowell’s other books and I figured I should at least give it a shot. I didn’t find any real issue with it but it wasn’t a breakthrough novel for me. It likely didn’t help it that I had read Pushing the Limits earlier this year which is extremely similar: opposites attract, one of the two have a bad home life, they develop a strong and ‘unbreakable’ bond that changes their lives. I didn’t really care for Pushing the Limits and I felt about the same for Eleanor & Park. It must be said though that I appreciated the less than perfect girl, Eleanor was overweight with crazy hair and has a mad love for music. I wanted to love her. I loved how we didn’t have the obligatory insta-love, but rather a slow-building love that developed in silence. I wanted to love it, I really did.
When we aren’t given glimpses of Eleanor & Park falling in love, we’re shown just how awful and terrible Eleanor’s home life is. She has to make sure to take her baths when her step-father isn’t home since their bathroom is lacking a door, she can’t afford a toothbrush or batteries for her Walkman which is everything to her, she’s not allowed to have friends over and she’s interrogated fiercely if she leaves the house. Her mother, in fear of her husband, won’t help her and leaves her to suffer his wrath alone. It was heartbreaking yet resonated an honesty that I think is sorely lacking in most YA contemporary. While it was heartbreaking though, it was also hopeful, because Park gave Eleanor a much needed spark that she needed in her life.
So where did it go wrong for me? I loved their slow-build love, their lack of vocalizing, it was obscure and different from any other love story I had read before. It didn’t stick to that same path though, it ended up veering off into typical territory with them declaring their undying love for one another after a few short weeks. I can completely understand finding that person that gives you that spark when you need it most in your life, but must it always transform into a “I simply cannot live without you. I will die.” It’s overboard and dramatic. Their bonding over comic books and music was wonderful and built a friendship between the two of them before the romantic feelings ever came. I kind of wish that it would have been kept as a friendship because I never truly felt the attraction between the two of them like I should have. The aspects of this book I loved, mostly the beginning, still made this well worth the read and I’m glad that I finally picked this up.
From a post on BookRiot “...members of the district’s Parents Action League deemed the Rowell’s breakout YA novel Eleanor & Park “dangerously obscene.” The "too hot for teens and taxpayer money" novel was ordered off school library shelves and there was a call to discipline the school librarians who chose the book.” Also, “The Parent Action League cited 227 instances of profanity in the book (including 67 “Gods”, 24 “Jesuses,” and four “Christs.”) as well as crude and sexually charged material that was inappropriate for students.” Despite my less than glamorous rating, I still feel like this is a valuable read that will open teens eyes and I would personally recommend it to my teens to read. Sure, there’s profanity. Sure, you’d like it if your teens don’t use it but regardless of how sheltered you keep them it’s simply not possible to shelter them from everything. Dangerously obscene. You know what’s dangerously obscene? Banning books. The only thing we’re accomplishing is making sure that our future generations are narrow-minded and in denial about the realities of the world....more
‘Laying there on our bed is Jeremiah’s work shirt where I left it, the map unfolded beside it. And then like a hornets’ nest in the hot dust that you‘Laying there on our bed is Jeremiah’s work shirt where I left it, the map unfolded beside it. And then like a hornets’ nest in the hot dust that you almost don’t see until it’s too late, but once you have, you can’t not see it for the buzzing in and out of the crack in the dirt crust, the idea of it just comes to me.’
It’s 1862, and the country is in the midst of the Civil War that goes on for another 3 years. Jeremiah Wakefield, a New Yorker, has dreams of someday owning his own farm and being able to take care of Rosetta and their future family and the Army’s enlistment bonus would be exactly what he needs to do that. Rosetta is a tomboy and helps out on her fathers farm but when she finds out that Jeremiah is leaving her for the war, she insists that if he’s intent on going off to war that he’s going to marry her first. They end up marrying and Jeremiah leaves shortly afterwards. Rosetta finds that life just isn’t the same with him gone and sitting alone in their house day in and day out worried about his safety is more than she can take. So she chops off her hair and enlists in her husband’s unit as “Ross Stone”.
Rosetta was the most incredibly memorable and courageous character. I Shall Be Near to You showcases one woman of this time period that defied gender expectations but Rosetta was not the only woman out there fighting alongside husbands, brothers, or fathers. In the Author’s Note, McCabe states that "...the fictional Rosetta’s experience as a soldier is an amalgamation of the experiences of the more than two hundred women who are known to have enlisted [...]". It’s an aspect of war, not just during the Civil War either, that is not often explored and it was so fantastic to read this beautifully written story bringing these women’s stories to life, women who put their lives on the line when they didn’t have to.
McCabe’s time spent researching this period is evident from her descriptions of the camp sites set up, to the foods, and of the deep seated feeling of dread these men (and women) were experiencing when marching into battle. Rosetta’s sacrifice and dedication to her husband is truly inspirational and you’ll be hard pressed to forget their ardent love story. Skillfully constructed and masterfully executed, if you are a fan of historical fiction novels and especially Civil War centered novels, this is a must read. A most impressive debut novel, I eagerly await more from McCabe....more
“We all have a past. Some people just can’t let go of it.”
Ross and Claire are newlyweds, honeymooning in Scotland when tragedy strikes. Shortly befo“We all have a past. Some people just can’t let go of it.”
Ross and Claire are newlyweds, honeymooning in Scotland when tragedy strikes. Shortly before the two are due to leave for home, Claire becomes ill and ends up in a coma in the hospital. Ross becomes completely overcome with grief, unable to come to terms with what is happening and ends up in an accident and blacks out. He wakes up in the year 1333.
‘I marvel at the fact that I haven’t broken out in hives. Apparently, not only has my eyesight improved, but my allergy to horses hasn’t transferred to this time period, either.’
I blame Outlander on my time-travel obsession. I also blame Outlander for my high expectations when it comes to time-travel. I’m able to count on one hand the amount of time-travel books that managed to work for me. Unfortunately, this was not one of them. There weren’t any special stones or portals that sent Ross back in time, instead he was run off the road while riding his bicycle by a semi and tumbled down a hill. He woke up in another time in completely different clothes with renewed eyesight and a curious lack of his typical allergies. Instead of going back in time as himself, he went back in time and took over the life of one of his ancestors (à la Assassin’s Creed, just replacing the Animus with a grassy hill). It worked yet it didn’t and was cause for some serious confusion later as the story develops.
The historical aspects of this novel were well-done and felt very authentic but the incorporation of time-travel bits and a modern man in a medieval world felt clunky and strange. The biggest issue I had was with Ross, the main character, and his complete lack of a spine throughout the entirety of the novel.
‘I’d signed up for a fencing class during my freshman year of college, but during the first session my impulse whenever my opponent thrust his rapier at me was to roll up in a ball on the floor and cover my head with my hands. I quickly switched to bowling class.’
He improved somewhat as the novel progressed, but he was an irritating character from the beginning which made it difficult considering the entire story was told from his point of view. We’re given past glimpses into his childhood that were clearly meant to provide reason behind his meek and submissive personality but it still didn’t work for me. The time period did succeed in maturing him and turning him into a ‘manly man’ but even then there were passages that were clearly meant to show his character development that were slightly ridiculous.
‘Somewhere a lamb, trapped in the ruins, bleats. I slow, keening my ears, and finally see it, its pink nose pressed between the bars of a wooden fence that has been pushed over. The small building next to it is still on fire. Adam sees it, too. He glances at me, shrugs in pity and goes on. A gap opens up between us and I dark after him, the lamb forgotten.’
If this was intended to show his growing manliness it was a big fail. The character was a total coward, completely spineless and while he was a little less cowardly by the end he failed to generate any sympathy from me and his plights.
The romance(s) were a big hot mess. We’re first introduced to Ross and Claire who are on their honeymoon yet Claire is constantly making fun of him, all in the name of playful teasing of course, and their spark couldn’t light a campfire if their life depended on it. When Claire becomes ill, Ross is distraught while contemplating life without her but it felt more like he was distraught about just being alone and didn’t have anything specifically to do with Claire. He wakes up in 1333, already resigned to the fact that he’s going to lose Claire and it immediately became oh! I have a wife here and another chance to love. The icing on the cake is the simple justification at the end, explaining everything with a pretty bow on top. It was a bit too perfect for my liking.
In the Time of Kings is a historical fiction romance with a time-travel twist but was lacking in both characterization and romance. The historical fiction bits strongly showcased the authors abilities and will appeal to fans of the genre....more