I’m still around, I promise.

Life has been super busy, you guys. In January, my husband and I and our cat and parrot moved about 600 miles away from the county where I had lived since I was in preschool. We got a gorgeous new apartment, I started working a crazy-but-amazing new job, my husband got a new job, and we adopted a dog. All within the span of two months. Things are just settling down now to the point where I’m making myself take some time to read.

(Oh, and did I mention that I’ve been pretty much constantly sick since we moved? My lungs do not agree with the new climate, even though it’s not THAT much different from where I used to live. Cough drops, cough medicine, my inhaler, tissues, Vicks VapoRub and Sudafed have become my best friends.)

Anyway, so I am getting back into reading. Slowly. Very slowly. So I’m still around, I’ll still be posting (hopefully a little less intermittently!), and I will do my best to read the books I have lined up to review! You know who you are. ūüôā

One of the perks of moving from a rural area to a much more urban area is that the library here is amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the small town library where the librarians knew who I was… but I am much more pleased with the collection of (physical) books that the library here has! Also, they have a reading room with comfy chairs and big windows. I don’t think there are words to describe how happy this makes me! I love being able to go there on a weekend and curl up with a big stack of books with my iPod playing, and just lose myself in a world that someone else has created. It’s one of the most soothing things I can do.

Another interesting “change” since we moved is that I’ve become more interested in nonfiction. I’ve started reading various humor authors – from Dave Barry (I like him but he is a bit repetitive) to Joan Rivers (don’t like her, too offensive on all levels) – as well as true crime (not right before bed though) and just various other books (for example, right now I’m reading Unmentionable: A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners – it’s pretty interesting! although I already knew some of the things written about in it). I’m also reading a variety of fiction – on my Kindle app on my phone, I’m STILL working toward finishing¬†Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (I didn’t like¬†Gone Girl – I think because I took too long to finish it so I lost threads of the plot – but I decided to give Flynn another shot). From the library, I’m reading¬†Let’s Get Lost by Ali Alsaid,¬†Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume (classic! I’d never read any Judy Blume prior to earlier this year, when I finished¬†Forever…), and¬†Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake. And here at home, I have¬†Fahreinheit 451¬†by Ray Bradbury waiting for me as well as¬†The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, which I’m buddy-reading with my mom. ūüôā

So all is (fairly) well here. I’m happy to be posting an update; I’ve missed being more active on here.

xx April.

Another absence.

Hey y’all. I’m still here!

I figured I’d post and say that no, I haven’t forgotten about this blog. For those of you who are authors and have commented and received a reply from me, I have not forgotten about your books, and for those of you who have commented and have not yet received a reply – I have not forgotten about you, either. I promise!

Life has just been really busy. The time I set aside for reading took a tumble in March this year, when my partner at work quit. It’s been 25 and a half weeks that I’ve been on my own, working about 200% of what my job is supposed to require (I have gotten some help from my supervisor as well as an intern that was with me for about 10 weeks). They are currently going through the hiring process now for a new partner for me, so I hope that soon I’ll be back to reading more.

I’ve been reading a lot of different books (and of course, not finishing [m]any) – from¬†Crank by Ellen Hopkins to¬†Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks to¬†Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown. And many others also.

It’s already late August 2016. Where did this year go…?

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark, via Netgalley, for an opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review!

4.5/5 stars.

Okay, in all honesty, I did get a little bogged down in The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. For me, the bogging down occurred around 75% or so through the book. However, once I picked it back up and resumed reading, the story sped up after ~80%.

I. Loved. This. Story.

It’s a charming, quirky, adorable story about a spinster bookseller, Sara, who comes to America to visit a close friend (with whom she has been in contact via snailmail for a long time, but never met in person). And it’s a charming, quirky, adorable story about how the little town that Sara is visiting falls in love with her.

There were a few sections that were confusing or that I felt weren’t completely well-explained.

But the adorableness of the ending and the soft spot I have in my heart for those who believe – as I do – that books can change lives… that bumped my rating from a 4/5 to a 4.5/5. I think it’s fair to say that this book almost received a 5/5 from me – the only reason that I didn’t rate it that high is because near the end of the book, I felt as though the characters were a bit flat (in some regards – Grace and her hunting rifle excluded!). Additionally, I think that in taking a rather longer-than-intended break from readingThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, I did the book a disservice since it was somewhat difficult to jump back into the story.

Definitely do recommend – definitely will keep this author on my radar!

The Forgotten Room – Lauren Willig, Beatriz Williams, & Karen White

Many thanks to Penguin Group Berkley, NAL/Signet Romance, DAW, via Netgalley, for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

3.5/5 stars.

I was super excited to have been approved to read The Forgotten Roombecause I’ve read books by Lauren Willig and Karen White before, and they were fantastic.

However, although I did enjoy reading The Forgotten Room, it did fall a little flat for me. I loved the idea of three storylines from three very different time periods in history… but I got confused all too easily about which of the women was whom (grandmother, mom, daughter). The relationships were also rather confusing to me, as was the continuation of the same family names throughout the 3 alternating storylines.

I don’t really know why I got so confused reading this book in particular – I think in part it’s due to the fact that the three protagonists are very similar in many ways. Additionally, it was not made clear to the reader what the relationships were between the women until about 75 or 80% through the book (I’m estimating since I did read this awhile ago and don’t exactly remember).

I would recommend it, but hesitantly – not because of shoddy writing or anything like that, but because I simply had difficulty keeping the story straight as well as the point of the book (which still somewhat eludes me, to be honest – it seemed like an awful lot of work to go to, in order to reach the ending that was reached). I would be much more comfortable recommending that people read books by each individual author, especially if you’ve not read books by them before. I am going to be looking up Beatriz Williams, since she’s the only one of the three whom I have not heard of prior to this book.

A Place We Knew Well — Susan Carol McCarthy.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Dell, via NetGalley, for an opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review!

4.5

I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t live through the Cuban Missile Crisis — obviously — but it’s also not a period of history that is really talked much about. That’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed A Place We Knew Well — because the family crises in this book combined with the actual Missile Crisis was very realistic and very sad, in some ways.

I feel that McCarthy brought the era back to life, in some ways, yet made the characters relatable to people who were born long after that era. For example — Wes Avery, the father, is a WWII vet. But the issues he faces as a vet and the issues that vets face now aren’t terribly different. And Charlotte (aka Kitty), his daughter, is 16 years old and is dealing with all of the “typical” 16-year-old stuff (prom, homecoming, etc.), that 16- and 17-year-olds still deal with today. The only person I didn’t really relate to in the family was Wes’ wife, Sarah, but although I couldn’t really relate, her situation was also something that occurs now.

I definitely want to read more books by McCarthy, and I’d recommend this book to anyone who either has an avid interest in the period of time in which the Missile Crisis occurred, or who wants to learn more about it

Top 10 Tuesday!~

Okay, so here’s the Top 10 Tuesday post, as sponsored by the wonderful folks at the Broke & Bookish blog. ¬†I’m going to be pulling these from the books that I’ve read this year, since my memory is bad otherwise!

The Top 10 (or so) Characters that you didn’t click with

  1. I’d have to say any of the characters from Jodi Picoult’s¬†House Rules. ¬†I disliked all of the characters in that book, except for Jacob’s brother, Theo. ¬†Sadly, Theo did not play a large part of the story, but I did find him the most interesting. ¬†The book overall made me angry though — very poor representation of a teenage boy with Asperger’s. ¬†How someone can confuse Asperger’s (now known as high-functioning autism, since the DSM-5 no longer has Asperger’s as a diagnosis) with low-functioning autism is beyond me.
  2. Edna from¬†The Awakening by Kate Chopin. ¬†I get that it was a groundbreaking book when it was published in 1899, but to me, Edna had no reason for the infidelity aside from boredom. ¬†If she had been being abused by her husband or something similar, it would’ve made more sense to me and Edna would’ve been a little more likable. ¬†But as it stands, I really couldn’t wait to finish the book so there would be no more Edna for me to read about.
  3. Agnes from¬†The Cleaner of Chartres by Sally Vicker. ¬†I didn’t dislike her, but I never felt like I got to know her well at all, and I don’t like not feeling as though I have had a glimpse into a protagonist’s mind when I’ve read almost 200 pages about her. ¬†The story itself was a bit odd, honestly, and I’m not entirely sure what the point of the book was. ¬†It was interesting enough if you like psychological analysis stuff (which I do enjoy) — Sally Vicker was a psychoanalyst prior to starting writing, so it makes sense I guess.
  4. Renee and Flo from Goose by Dawn O’Porter (review of Goose can be found here). ¬†They didn’t make sense to me, but the review will explain more than I can in just a bullet point in this top 10 post.
  5. Kate Fante from Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline. ¬†Although the book got 3/5 stars from me, I still didn’t enjoy it very much, and I think it’s because I never felt like I understood what “made Kate tick.” ¬†There were some personal glimpses of Kate in¬†Dirty Blonde but I felt like more personal life bits would’ve been helpful to make her feel more like a person rather than a one-dimensional character.
  6. Eleanor Burden from¬†The Lost Prince by Seldon Edwards. ¬†I read this one without realizing it was the sequel to another book, and although I enjoyed the book, Eleanor always felt too distant and aloof for me to feel as though I understood her. ¬†This is similar to #5 — except the readers did get glimpses of Eleanor in her personal life, but that still did not really tell us who she was as a person (or so I felt).
  7. Colin Singleton from An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. ¬†He irritated me more than anything else, so I finished the book fast and now I don’t even really remember any of it except that his “genius” status kept being pounded into the readers’ heads (as well as Colin’s dialogue about whether he really is a genius or not). ¬†It got old. ¬†And I really didn’t like Colin.
  8. Herschel Walker from¬†Breaking Free (which is his autobiography about life with DID [DID = dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder]). ¬†I really didn’t understand how he developed DID from being teased at school — sure, you can learn to dissociate from that, but it takes severe abuse early in life to cause DID to happen — not “merely” bullying. ¬†Walker’s writing style was okay, and made me feel like I understood him a little, but again, he just annoyed me. ¬†Sadly, this is a real person, rather than fictional… blah.
  9. Richard Baer from Switching Time (which is his true-life story of being a psychologist, with no prior experience with trauma or dissociation, treating a woman with DID and “fixing” her). ¬†This is a despicable book for more reasons than I can say, and honestly I wonder if Baer wrote this book in an attempt to save his practice from going bankrupt, since the entire book makes him out to be a hero who “saved” Karen from herself… when he had NO experience treating someone with DID prior to this yet somehow seamlessly helped her integrate. ¬†Plus, the fact that he calls it a “harrowing story of a doctor treating a woman with 17 personalities” pisses me off. ¬†How does “harrowing” describe being the therapist who treats a multiple patient who exhibits no violent tendencies?! ¬†I can guarantee you — IF this story is true — that the work Karen did herself was much, much more harrowing than anything Baer could comprehend with his limited knowledge of anything to do with dissociation.

I guess top 9 is just going to have to do! ¬†Are there any characters that you couldn’t click with, that you would like to share?

The Truth & Other Lies – Sascha Arango.

Many thanks to Atria Books, via NetGalley, for a copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review.

3.5/5 stars (rounded up to 4/5)

I’ll be honest. For about the first 30% of this book, I got very frustrated and almost stopped reading it. The timeline seemed a bit off, and while that may partially be due to the translation, I’m still not entirely clear on when certain events took place.

However, at about 38%, the book really picked up. (And when I say that, I mean — it took me ~3 days to get to 38%, but then I finished the remaining 62% of the book in less than a day.)

I really thought that Arango’s portrait of Henry was interesting. He’s supposed to be sociopathic, but he was… I don’t know. Not your typical sociopath — because he was almost likable at some points throughout the book. He did good deeds — and not because he’d personally benefit from them — so I don’t really buy the “Henry is a true sociopath” story.

However, there were definitely sociopathic tendencies and some very sociopathic actions. Also, it was absolutely incredible the false stories that Henry wove around the death of his wife and subsequent scenarios that came about as a result of her death. Even though he is not a writer, he can still fabricate (and manipulate) with ease.

Although I did have a hard time at the start with the timeline of events, I ended up really enjoying this book. It’s definitely not a typical thriller, nor is it typical literary fiction, but a blend of the two. Arango makes this work very well, and I will definitely be on the lookout for other books by this author.