This cozy mystery series sure is a lot of fun, especially since I'm so familiar with the locations where the action takes place! This book sees Meg, aThis cozy mystery series sure is a lot of fun, especially since I'm so familiar with the locations where the action takes place! This book sees Meg, a reporter for an outdoor enthusiast magazine, headed to Mt. Hood to hopefully write a story about a new snow team being formed to assist others trying to summit. The guy in charge, Ben, is a jerk to everyone, and when a blizzard traps everyone inside the cabin on the slopes, Ben somehow ends up murdered outside. Meg can't help becoming involved, and everyone seems to be hiding secrets and looking guilty.
It's been a few months since I read the first book in the series, but I think this one felt a little more polished and enjoyable. The setting was a lot of fun and made a great backdrop for the mystery. I liked the new characters introduced and how so many of the old ones returned as well, keeping some of the same overarching storylines going as well - both a mystery about Meg's dad and a love interest for Meg. Very fun and I can't wait to see where both stories are heading!
The main mystery in here was fun, and I had my (correct) suspicions about the guilty party but could easily have seen it ending up as being any of the characters, since everyone seemed to be hiding something (and looking quite shady in the process). It seemed like Meg's irritating qualities from the first book (she could be too klutzy, for example) were significantly toned down so there was just a nice story to enjoy. I'm eager for the next installment now!...more
As with most books about North Korea, I wasn't sure what to expect from this book and how depressing it'd be, considering the subject matter. But wow,As with most books about North Korea, I wasn't sure what to expect from this book and how depressing it'd be, considering the subject matter. But wow, was I ever impressed with this book! Some of the conditions described were terrible, yet this was never too depressing to read on and instead kept me completely engrossed and glued to the pages throughout. The author is a defector who grew up in a town on the North Korea/China border. When she was 17, she slipped into China planning to return a few days later, but her absence was noticed and she couldn't return to her home country. Instead, she spent years illegally living in China, scared they'd discover she was North Korean and deport her, slowly learning about the real world instead of the one she'd been brainwashed into believing existed. Eventually, she made it to South Korea and received South Korean citizenship. Twelve years after she originally left, she returned to help her mother and brother also escape North Korea.
The story in here was incredible. The author did not ever experience anything completely horrible in North Korea, since her family was what might be considered upper middle class (in a communist society...) and had access to goods and bribes that not everyone received. It was fascinating to read about all the things that she was taught growing up and how complete the brainwashing was - even though she could look into China and see that their power stayed on, even though she knew people smuggled in goods from China, she still believed that North Korea was the best country in the world and that all other countries were jealous. I guess it goes to show how people can be tricked into believing something when everyone repeats the same lies and all dissent is squashed. It was also interesting to read about how pervasive smuggling was, especially in North Korean border towns; it was an offense but such a minor one compared to the one MAJOR offense of insulting the Kims. It truly is difficult to believe a country like this actually exists in the world today!
The author's journey out of North Korea was riveting. While she didn't go through quite the hardships as other defectors might experience on their road to escaping, it was not an easy life by any means. Reading about her constant worries, the problems she ran into due to China's continued political relationship with North Korea (despite the country being lampooned by their media), and what difficulties she encountered because of her upbringing, poor North Korean education, and her position as an illegal... it was amazing to read about and to realize everything she went through for so long. It all really made an impact on me; I don't think you could read this book and not feel moved!
This was much different from other books I've read about North Korea simply because the author's experiences in the country were probably better than many (although still far from good!) and she obviously still feels a longing for certain things about North Korea that she will never be able to experience again while the country still exists. Additionally, this focused heavily on her journey out of North Korea and then her return to guide her family out as well. I loved this book and would heartily recommend it to everyone - what an amazing tale! I'm also now curious to watch the author's TED talk about her escape....more
What a cute book! After reading (and loving) this author's Grimm Legacy series, I decided to pick up her first book to see how I enjoyed it. And thisWhat a cute book! After reading (and loving) this author's Grimm Legacy series, I decided to pick up her first book to see how I enjoyed it. And this was great! Julia and Ashleigh are best friends whose adventures typically stem from Ashleigh's enthusiasm for her current interest. After Ashleigh gets into Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice in particular, the two of them crash a cotillon at an all-boys prep school in town, meeting two nice guys there, Ned and Parr. Ashleigh declares her love for Parr, who she considers to be her "Mr. Darcy" and claims that Julia is in love with Ned, supposedly Julia's "Mr. Bingley", and Julia feels awful knowing that she's really into Parr but can't say anything about it because Ashleigh's already claimed him.
The description of this book makes it seem rather fluffy, and while the plot was indeed very cute, the book was much sweeter and charming than I expected! The writing was excellent, there was so much humor, the characters were cute, and the story kept moving along in such a cute way. I loved the friendship between Julia and Ashleigh - it was so easy to see why they were good friends, despite Ashleigh occasionally embarrassing Julia with her passionate declarations or meddling. There were other girlfriends in here too, and they were entertaining as well and all felt nicely developed. The family relationships were also well done. Julia's family wasn't perfect, but the relationships she had with her mom, dad, and stepmom all felt quite believable. And the guys in here also felt realistic and were quite lovable.
One thing that I noticed about this book after the fact is that there wasn't necessarily a "villain" in here - no one who was simply mean or terrible for no reason. It seems like all books have some sort of antagonist like that, but while this book had its fare share of awkward situations (ones that I couldn't help but relate to!), the people in here were mostly genuinely nice. It was almost refreshing to read something that was just pleasant and managed to have tension and awkwardness without some sort of evil foil.
Fans of Jane Austen would eagerly devour this book, but I don't think you need to be a huge fan to enjoy it. Sure, the action in here stems from enthusiasm for a Jane Austen novel, but the story was entertaining and sweet enough to charm anyone looking for a cute contemporary story. ...more
I feel like I missed something, since there are so many rave reviews for this book but I just could not get into it! Apparently this is a classic memoI feel like I missed something, since there are so many rave reviews for this book but I just could not get into it! Apparently this is a classic memoir from a famous aviator, but reading this did not give me any insight about why she was famous. Each chapter seemed to be a different story about her life in Africa, arranged in a seemingly random order that made it feel disjointed, and none of the stories really got under my skin. I was bored for most of the stories, since there didn't seem to be a strong narrative, and it was hard to stay focused on the writing because my mind kept wandering. I only made it through half the book before finally giving up, knowing that it just wouldn't hold my attention (I doubt I remember half of what I did read). This was definitely ripe with description, and I enjoyed parts of one chapter that dealt with a supposedly domesticated lion, but the majority of it meandered all over the place. I wish I'd felt more captivated by this or understood why this was such a classic, but alas. ...more
I can't remember where I heard about this book but am so glad I picked it up because it was wonderful! This is a memoir, beginning with the author's iI can't remember where I heard about this book but am so glad I picked it up because it was wonderful! This is a memoir, beginning with the author's immigration from the U.S.S.R. to the U.S. after marrying an American she'd known for a short time. Having never experienced life outside a communist country, she had no idea what to expect or how to act and was completely bewildered in some respects, despite speaking English. This book chronicles moments in her life after her immigration, focusing on complicated family relationships and the way Russian (and the U.S.S.R) made a lasting impact on her life.
This book was beautifully written in first person present tense. The writing kept me hooked on the story, as if I was watching it all unfold in front of me. The difficulties she encountered were understandable, and it was fascinating to read about her struggles and frustrations in the new country while also recognizing that she didn't really want to go back to Leningrad and instead was simply remembering its charm from a distance.
I enjoyed the author's commentary about the life she'd left behind and the way the people she'd left behind were struggling to get by, and I also thought she did a magnificent job describing how complicated family relationships are, with her immigration fueled in part by a desire to put space between herself and her family... and then members of her family ultimately followed and also struggled to adapt to American life. I think she captured perfectly how hard it is to immerse yourself in a new culture, despite the best of intentions, because so much is so foreign. Her family relationships changed over the years, and I loved the depictions of how her relationship with her own mother somewhat mirrored, years later, her relationship with her own daughter. It was interesting because it wasn't just the usual mother/daughter issues but problems that also stemmed from the cultural differences between each generation. Really fascinating and extremely well written!
I had a really hard time putting this book down and thought it was just excellent overall. Perhaps not for everyone, since there's not necessarily a "big accomplishment" or something that the author ever describes - this is simply a memoir about complicated family relationships and cultural shifts. But the descriptions of the two countries are great, and the family relationships depicted in here were incredibly well done. A great read overall!...more
Bex is an American who spends a year abroad in college, studying at Oxford, where she meets fellow student, prince, and future king, Nick. They fall iBex is an American who spends a year abroad in college, studying at Oxford, where she meets fellow student, prince, and future king, Nick. They fall in love and secretly date for a few years but can never be seen in public without too much scrutiny, and Bex feels like she's never living up to the standards expected by Nick's family. Years later, they're engaged and their wedding is hotly anticipated as one of the biggest events, but Bex can't stop worrying about what's to come.
I first heard of this book when it was nominated for one of the Goodreads Choice Awards and thought it sounded like a fun read, so I picked it up. And indeed it was a very cute story! The story kind of jumps around in time a little, beginning with Bex preparing for the wedding and then dropping into how they first met, years earlier, and everything that happened between their first meeting and their wedding day. The story was a lot of fun and didn't ever feel too cheesy or "perfect"; there were a number of details included showing how difficult life in the spotlight could be, including how Bex and Nick couldn't go out as normal couples do, or how Bex's every move was closely monitored because of how every slight misstep would get heavily scrutinized. I liked the way this was handled, showing how fame and fortune comes with responsibility as well and that it's not necessarily as glamorous as we think!
This book reads a LOT like Kate Middleton / Prince William fanfic, with just enough details changed to be acceptable. It read so much like fanfic that after finishing the book, I looked up to see whether it was originally published as such. Apparently not (although I did discover that I'd read a previous book by these authors - weird coincidence!). Reading like fanfic isn't necessarily a bad thing; the book was certainly entertaining, and it did make it easy to picture the characters, since they were seemingly all based on real people!
The romance between Bex and Nick was cute, and I liked the surrounding cast of characters as well. I couldn't always remember the backstory for all the supporting characters, but they still rounded out the story nicely. Additionally, everyone seemed to grow (in ways both good and bad!) throughout the story, so it was fun to see how all the characters changed over time. This book spanned so many years, it would be strange if all the characters stayed static; seeing how they all matured or not was interesting. Even the relationship between Bex and her sister, once best friends who could not be separated, changed over the course of the book, and although it wasn't always for the better, it was easy to understand how Bex's engagement changed so much - for everyone.
This book felt slightly longer than it could have been, but the story did move along nicely. I never tore through the pages, but I also never felt bored and did enjoy it. Cute story overall and anyone looking to live out their British princess fantasies will probably devour this!...more
Sukie reluctantly moves with her parents to an old house owned by her elder cousin, Hepzibah. The house is in poor shape and appears to be inhabited bSukie reluctantly moves with her parents to an old house owned by her elder cousin, Hepzibah. The house is in poor shape and appears to be inhabited by ghosts, but this is nothing new to Sukie, since her own sister is now a ghost that only Sukie can see. The ghosts themselves, however, are new. Soon Sukie becomes aware of certain old items that appear to be haunted somehow, with a "feel" to them that's different but she isn't sure what it means. Meanwhile, Sukie's learning about her family's history from Hepzibah and trying to figure out how some of the stories end and where buried treasure might be buried, since a ghost in the house says she wants Sukie to find that. All this leads Sukie to the New-York Circulating Material Repository, where fictional items that have entered the real world are stored.
I really enjoyed this book and was sad to see the story end, especially since this is apparently the final book in this series (they're all loosely related, set in the same world but with different characters and self-contained stories). This one focused mainly on spooky stories, such as those written by Edgar Allen Poe (hence the title...), but also included adventure stories and the like. As in previous books, I loved the New-York Circulating Material Repository and the whole idea behind it!! I wish this had been featured in the book a little more, as it felt so magical yet Sukie doesn't discover it until at least halfway through. But I found the entire story charming nonetheless and thoroughly enjoyed while reading.
One thing I really loved about this book is how fresh it felt, even compared with the previous two books in the series. The entire course of the book was different in here, with Sukie not discovering the Repository herself and instead first discovering fictional objects in the "wild", being able to feel their power but not understanding why they felt different. It was so fun to have Sukie try to figure this stuff out on her own and run into other "collectors" along the way, which helped her understand what was special about certain objects.
At the same time, however, this book was probably the weakest of the three. That's not to say this was bad by any means, since it was definitely quite fun and enjoyable; it simply didn't have the same intensity behind the plot. The story was cute and moved along nicely, but the plot itself was kind of weak and not necessarily developed as much as it could have been. I think having a stronger plot with more urgency would have helped give this story the slight push it needed to take it from good to great.
That said, I really did find this book charming. Even being the weakest of the series, it was still a better than average read and completely drew me into this world. These stories are just so fun and so clever! I love how much classic literature is drawn upon to make this world come to life, and of course I love the whole idea of the Repository. Definitely worth reading, especially if you've read the previous two books. The author kept the world fresh in here and the story never once felt old due to the new characters and completely different approach to the plot. Very fun! I'm looking forward to rereading all three books one of these days....more
This is the companion novel to Every Day, which dealt with someone named A who woke up every morning in someone else's body, shifting to a new personThis is the companion novel to Every Day, which dealt with someone named A who woke up every morning in someone else's body, shifting to a new person every day, and never having any constant in life until A meets and falls in love with Rhiannon. This book features Rhiannon as the main character, spanning the same timeline that the first book did, only from Rhiannon's eyes instead of A's. Rhiannon is kind of frustrated, with a boyfriend who barely seems to care about her, until one day he suddenly does and makes her fall in love with him all over again. But, as Rhiannon later finds out, it wasn't her boyfriend himself that day but A in her boyfriend's body. Rhiannon then finds herself falling for A and A's personality, feeling like she has more of a connection with A than anyone else but can't share this secret without sounding crazy.
I didn't remember all the details about Every Day, which is probably a good thing because this book definitely followed the same storyline quite closely. The main new things in this book that weren't noted in Every Day was Rhiannon's personal life, from her up-and-down relationship with Justin and her tenuous relationship with her friends due to their dislike of Justin. It was frustrating to read about Rhainnon's insistence on staying together with Justin when he was so clearly not right for her, not to mention a terrible boyfriend in general. But, I do think the author did a good job depicting such a relationship, one that isn't abusive but also isn't good and everyone but Rhiannon could see it.
The growing relationship between A and Rhiannon was definitely the main thread in the book, and the whole reason the book existed. I liked how Rhiannon gradually began to trust that A's story was indeed the truth and how she started relying on A more and more, even though she understood that they couldn't manage a future together. It was the sort of situation so odd that there just wasn't an obvious "happy ending" in store.
This ended at the same place where Every Day ended, making it a solid ending but also leaving the reader dangling, since we now know what Rhiannon was thinking at the end of all this. I wish the story had continued further than it did so I could have seen what happened next. Because I remembered how the story ended in the first book, it wasn't a surprise the way this ended. While it was fun to see the exact same story told through someone else's eyes, I wish there had been more "new" revelations in here instead of it just recapping the same timeline. But who knows - the way this ended set it up for a continuing story, and I hope that a third book is indeed written so it will bring these stories to a real conclusion. This was a good story overall, but so much of it repeated the first book that it felt like a retelling that left more questions hanging. Worth reading for fans of Every Day, and they can be read in either order. ...more
Angela Gillespie writes a Christmas letter to friends and family every year on December 1, usually painting quite a rosy picture of their lives that yAngela Gillespie writes a Christmas letter to friends and family every year on December 1, usually painting quite a rosy picture of their lives that year. This year, she's frustrated about a lot of things, getting frequent stress-induced headaches, and can't seem to find the words to brag about the family's achievements. To get it out of her system, she writes a very honest summary of what each family member has been up to over the past year: her husband, Nick, barely talks to her anymore and is obsessed with genealogy research; twin daughters Victoria and Genevieve are both having meltdowns, Victoria's caused by an affair with a married man, Genevieve's caused by her inability to honor a non-disclosure agreement; her other daughter, Lindy, has moved back home and does nothing but mope around; her son, Ig, has an imaginary friend despite being too old for one; and Angela herself has dreamt up an imaginary life, in which she married an old boyfriend instead and had the perfect life together, frequently escaping from her real life to the perfect one in her mind. This honest letter accidentally gets sent out, right before the entire family gathers for Christmas, and suddenly everyone is forced to confront their faults and band together in order to weather the fact that everyone else knows their business.
I love this author's ability to create believable worlds, complicated families, beautiful scenery, and emotional relationships; this book was no exception. I fell into the world almost immediately, and although the narration jumped around between the various family members, it was never jarring and simply made sense, getting an idea of what was in everyone's head. It was easy to understand how the family dynamics had landed this way, and it was interesting to see how everyone fit together based on what was going on in their own lives and the way they regarded the decisions of others.
The premise this novel was built upon was quite cute. So many people send out holiday letters, but how many actually tell the truth about everything that's going on? I liked the idea of Angela's letter being brutally honest, embarrassing everyone she mentioned - including herself!
For all that I liked about this book, however, I didn't think there was nearly as much depth or complexity to it as they should have been. It also seemed very light and shallow compared to the author's other books. There was a large cast of characters and everyone had their own issues, but many problems seemed to be wrapped up quickly or not really delved into, as if the problems were a plot point but nothing to be dwelled on. I wish there'd been more detail and explanation! The three daughters all seemed quite immature, which was fine, but none of their stories included a lot of character growth. I wanted to see a little more growth and a little more resolution to the issues they were dealing with. Each had a love interest, for example, and all those stories wrapped up quickly without giving the reader much of a chance to "see" how they ended; instead, the love interests either appeared and all was well, or they disappeared with a short explanation. It needed more!
I did like this book overall, but it didn't seem to contain as much heart as I'd have liked, nor were the resolutions completely satisfying to me. It was a sweet novel that I enjoyed, but it lacked the little details that make a story magical. Still, there were definitely lovely touches that kept it interesting. I'll still look forward to the author's next book; this one just wasn't one of my favorites....more
Cassandra's spending the summer in a Massachusetts beach town with her family. She isn't having a great time until she meets Lawrence on the private Cassandra's spending the summer in a Massachusetts beach town with her family. She isn't having a great time until she meets Lawrence on the private beach behind her house. She hasn't seen him around town before, and they soon realize they're only able to meet on the beach. Cassandra's living in 2015, and Lawrence lives in 1925. They fall in love almost immediately, and then Cassandra looks up Lawrence in old newspapers, only to realize that she needs to help him change the past because his life is in danger.
I was really intrigued by the premise of this book, but I didn't enjoy the actual story as much as I'd hoped. The beginning seemed really awkward to me, almost like it was forced, and I had a hard time sympathizing with Cassandra and understanding her behavior. The interactions between Cassandra and Lawrence didn't make me feel any sort of chemistry between them, and it was hard for me to believe that the two of them felt like they were falling in love because it just didn't seem all that developed.
Once the mystery part of the story got underway, it picked up quite a bit. I was curious to find out what was going on around Lawrence, since his uncle seemed to be involved in something shady, and I had no idea how it was going to be resolved. I kept reading out of interest in this and to find out how the author would bring it all together in the end.
I thought the end was satisfying in some regards but confusing in others. None of the supporting characters were very complex and they seemed all but forgotten by the end, leaving me confused as to why any of them played roles earlier on. Also, I didn't understand how the story was able to end as it did, since a large part of the ending depended on something that would not have been possible based on conditions at the beginning of the book (can't get more detailed without spoilers!). I didn't mind the ending by any means; I was just confused at how it could happen.
While reading, I wondered if this would have been a book I'd devour at a younger age, and I probably would have. The idea behind the story was really cute, and I liked the story itself. I just didn't feel like the characters were as developed as they could have been, and the supporting cast was weak. I wanted to connect with the characters more or be carried away by the story, and that didn't happen. But this was a quick read and decent overall....more