Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: Miss You

Miss You
Kate Eberlen
Published April 4, 2017 (originally published 2016)
Tess and Gus are meant to be. They just haven't met properly yet. And perhaps they never will . . .

Today is the first day of the rest of your life is the motto on a plate in the kitchen at home, and Tess can't get it out of her head, even though she's in Florence for a final, idyllic holiday before university. Her life is about to change forever - but not in the way she expects.

Gus and his parents are also on holiday in Florence. Their lives have already changed suddenly and dramatically. Gus tries to be a dutiful son, but longs to escape and discover what sort of person he is going to be.

For one day, the paths of an eighteen-year-old girl and boy criss-cross before they each return to England.

Over the course of the next sixteen years, life and love will offer them very different challenges. Separated by distance and fate, there's no way the two of them are ever going to meet each other properly . . . or is there? - from Goodreads
Miss You is the tale of Tess and Gus, but it's also a story about missed connections, family, and identity.

The approach to this story is unique.  This isn't a second-chance romance, it's not "the one that got away."  It's the stories of two people and how they finally connect with each other, after random meetings and near-misses over a period of 16 years.  The reader sees everything leading up to the beginning of their relationship and how they got to that point, with the twist that they've actually come across each other before.  It's an interesting look at fate and makes you wonder if all the people you come across on a daily basis will later have some greater meaning in your life.

The book switches back and forth between the points of view of Tess and Gus.  It's basically two stories in one, and each was fairly interesting enough that it could have been a stand-alone book.  Tess and Gus first cross paths in Florence, Italy, seeing each other at a church and later on the street.  However, they don't really talk and each returns to their own lives.  Gus goes on to medical school, while Tess' plans for college are put on hold after her mother passes away, leaving Tess to take care of her younger sister, Hope (their father is basically useless).

One thing I enjoyed a lot was seeing the parallels between their lives.  Both Tess and Gus are dealing with grief (Tess with the loss of her mother and Gus with the loss of his older brother).  Neither are living the lives they want to.  Tess feels responsible for her sister, especially after she's diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and I felt for her.  She made so many sacrifices for her family.  Gus, on the other hand, I had less sympathy for.  He's kind of awkward and timid, afraid to tell his parents that he doesn't really want to go medical school, yet he goes through with it all anyway.  He's like a bystander in every area of his life.  Both Tess and Gus are in various relationships that are each problematic in their own way.  Neither are particularly happy, which led to a somewhat melancholy feel over the whole book.

I did have a couple issues with the book.  I felt there was far too much infidelity, in both the stories.  It was a little disappointing that the plot hinged on cheating.  Also, I wasn't crazy about the ending.  It went on a bit too long and I didn't think the characters acted consistently with the rest of the story.  A much simpler ending would have gone a long way.

3.5 stars

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Try It, You Might Like It #8: Science

"Try it, you might like it" - it's what someone says when they present you with some food you've never had before or your mom wants you to try on some clothes she picked out for you.  I'm using it here on the blog as inspiration to choose books in genres I don't normally read; to branch out from my reading comfort zones; and to maybe find some new favorites!

Wow, I haven't done one of these in forever!  Over Christmas, I was talking to my sister and brother-in-law about books and how I was looking for something new and different to read.  My BIL suggested Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2017).

I was a bit leery.  Science fiction is one thing, but actual science?  And astrophysics at that?  Science and math were not my best subjects in school (I only passed calculus by reading over my twin sister's shoulder).  I was worried that this book would just make me feel stupid, but my BIL assured me it would not.  Deciding to trust him on this, I took a chance on it - and I'm so glad I did!

In Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Tyson has compiled a short book touching on the major areas of his field.  I wouldn't say this book "dumbs down" the science - there were definitely sections I could have used more background or definitions - but it does give an overview on various subjects explained in a more approachable way, like bringing in comparisons to dancing or cooking, for instance.  Tyson's dry humor kept the book from getting too textbook-y and made me chuckle a few times (like when he calls dark matter our "frenemy").

I have to admit, the first couple chapters were not my cup of tea.  He starts out with some of the most abstract topics, like dark matter and dark energy.  I was more than a little confused.  But as the book went on, I became more and more interested.  Tyson talks about different types of telescopes; why the sphere is the most common shape found in the universe; and the various types of matter found in our own galaxy.  I even started reading some of it out loud to my husband.

Some of the things in the book just blew my mind; these definitely aren't topics I think about on a daily basis - how the building blocks of the universe are smaller than you can even imagine; the sheer size, scale, and even age of our own galaxy, let alone the universe; how science has come forward in leaps and bounds in such a short period of time.  It's just astonishing the things we know now, compared to even 10 years ago, and new discoveries are being made all the time.  Tyson freely admits that there are so many things we still don't understand, and his last chapter reflecting on the role science plays in society is particularly inspiring.

I may have said before that I'm not a science person, but this is one book I would gladly read again and again.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Hotel on Shadow Lake

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Hotel on Shadow Lake
Daniela Tully
Expected publication date: April 10, 2018
When Maya was a girl in Germany, her grandmother was everything to her: teller of magical fairy tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then, shortly after Maya’s sixteenth birthday, her grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving Maya with only questions to fill the void.

Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is found in a place she had no connection to: the Montgomery Resort in upstate New York. How did she get there? Why had she come? Desperate for answers, Maya leaves her life in Germany behind and travels to America, where she is drawn to the powerful family that owns the hotel and seemingly the rest of the town.

Soon Maya is unraveling secrets that go back decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and beyond. But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies in order to uncover the circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s death, she must decide whether her life and a chance at true love are worth risking for the truth. - from Goodreads

Monday, February 12, 2018

Quotables #7: Love Is In The Air

This edition of Quotables is all about love!  Happy Valentine's Day (a little early)!

Why it speaks to me: When you're truly happy, you feel like you can do anything.  You feel like you have everything to look forward to and the possibilities are endless.

Why it speaks to me: I think love can make us better people.  Our lives are no longer singular; there's someone else to think about and take into account.  It can make us less selfish and more selfless.  And when you really love someone, you want to do everything you can for them.

Why it speaks to me: I love that this quote acknowledges that we don't need a husband/wife/partner to be fulfilled in life, but that it's okay to want one.  It's a wonderful feeling knowing someone is waiting for you at home, who will share your highs and lows.
Which of these is your favorite?  What's your favorite quote about love?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Mini-Reviews: Sister, Sister

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase (2017)

A dual timeline story: In summer 1959, four sisters visit Applecote Manor, the home where their beloved cousin Audrey disappeared from 5 years prior.  In the present day, a woman seeks a fresh start at the manor with her husband, daughter, and stepdaughter.

I love stories about families, secrets, and especially old English manors, and I was not disappointed by The Wildling Sisters.  In 1959, the four Wilde sisters visit their aunt and uncle, and it is a summer of upheaval for them all.  The relationships between the sisters are pulled apart and back together again.  In the present-day timeline, Jessie has a hard time connecting with her stepdaugher.

Chase did a tremendous job creating these delicate relationships, and each story feels a bit haunted.  The story is very atmospheric, and I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of the house and surrounding lands; it almost felt as if the manor were another character in the story.  While I was a bit more drawn to the 1959 story, I thought both parts of the book were strong.  4 stars

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson (2017)

Leia, a graphic novel artist, finds out she is pregnant after a one-night stand at the same time she discovers her grandmother is suffering from dementia.

This book had a lot going on, almost too much at times: Leia's pregnancy, her grandmother's health issues, small-town politics, discussions about racism in the South, Leia's sister's marital issues, even a body found in the attic of Leia's grandmother's house.  It seemed like there was a lot of talking, but nothing got resolved; for example, Leia is constantly thinking about how her child will be biracial, yet we don't get to see how this plays out.  Normally, I don't mind open-ended stories, but here everything just felt... unfinished.

I never felt connected to the characters, and I couldn't get a handle on the tone of the story - sometimes it seemed light, while other times it tried to be serious and impart some deep thoughts.  The secondary characters were cliché, especially (unfortunately) Leia's elderly Southern grandmother, with her cutesy nickname and overly prominent standing in the community.    2.5 stars

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Not That I Could Tell

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Not That I Could Tell
Jessica Strawser
Expected publication date: March 27, 2018
When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else. - from Goodreads

Monday, February 5, 2018

TBR Book Tag

I saw this tag over on Kirsty Chronicles and bookmarked it as something I'd like to do eventually.  Well, today is that day!

1. How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
I actually keep my TBR on Pinterest.  I have a separate board for it.  I use Goodreads for a lot of things, but for some reason Pinterest is just more visually appealing for my TBR!

2. Is your TBR pile mostly print or e-book?
It's exclusively print at this point.  I don't read e-books yet, although my sister is always trying to get me into them!

3. A book that's been on your TBR the longest?

I will read this in 2018!
4. A book you recently added to your TBR pile?

5. A book in your TBR pile strictly because of its beautiful cover?

I don't think I've ever added a book to my TBR based only on the cover, but this cover is pretty beautiful!

6. A book on your TBR pile you plan on never reading?
Occasionally I'll put a book on my TBR thinking I should read it rather than really wanting to, but if I don't think I'll read a book, or it doesn't appeal to me anymore or whatever, I just delete it from my TBR.

7. An unpublished book on your TBR you're excited for?

8. A book on your TBR pile that everyone's read but you?

9. A book on your TBR everyone recommends to you?

10. A book on your TBR you're dying to read?

11. How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?
There are only a couple books on my Goodreads TBR shelf - it's pretty much only for books I own but haven't read yet - but on my TBR I have over 150 books.