Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Waiting on" Wednesday: Never Let You Go

"Waiting on" Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Never Let You Go
Chevy Stevens
Expected publication date: March 14, 2017
Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband was sent to jail and she started over with a new life. Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When her ex-husband is finally released, Lindsey believes she’s cut all ties. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But can he really change? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought? - from Goodreads

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Can't Win 'Em All

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  This week's topic is "books I loved less/more than I thought I would."  It's unfortunate, but we're not going to like every book we read.  Here's a list of books that I sadly did not love as much as I thought I would, including a few DNFs!





Monday, February 20, 2017

How I Use Pinterest for Blogging

I guess you could say I'm relatively new to Pinterest, having only been a member for a couple years or so.  I'm so glad I started using it after I got married - I can only imagine the stress it would have added trying to make our wedding Pinterest-worthy!  Anyway... in an effort to broaden my blog's horizons, I've started using Pinterest more and more for blogging.  First, I put a link to my blog on my Pinterest profile.  A link to my personal Pinterest page is on my blog homepage, and in addition to the typical recipe and fitness boards, visitors will also find boards specifically related to reading and blogging.

  • I maintain a board of my blog posts.  I haven't been putting every post on Pinterest, but more those posts which I think other Pinners may be searching for, such as lists of various types of books.  Books for Downton Abbey fans, gift ideas for book lovers, best books of 2016 - things like that!

  • I have a board dedicated to reading challenges I am or are considering participating in.  It's helpful to keep them all in one place, and visitors can find quick links to things like the current POPSUGAR reading challenge.

  • I recently started a board for blogging resources.  Looking for ideas or inspiration for new posts?  I keep a board of posts written by other bloggers dedicated to this topic.  I love that there are so many bloggers out there with great ideas that they are willing to share with everyone!

  • I keep a board of books I love to read again and again.  Visitors to this board can see some of my favorite books.

  • It's where I keep my TBR!  I know a lot of readers use Goodreads to house their TBRs, but I find Pinterest to be more visually appealing for my list.  I put the release date in the description and can know at a quick glance if it's available yet or not.  This is by far my most popular board.  Admittedly, I don't have a ton of followers, but I get a pretty steady stream of re-pins from this board.

Is Pinterest an important blogging tool for you?  How do you use Pinterest?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Try It, You Might Like It #6: Science Fiction

"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!

For this installment, I've chosen science fiction.  Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (2016) has been on my radar for a few months now, but I was hesitant to read it because it's labeled as science fiction.  I'm not a big science/math person, so I often just feel confused/frustrated/annoyed with books that have too much focus on those topics.  But, this book was also described as being a thriller and a love story, so I wanted to try it out.

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.  Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe. - from Goodreads

Guys, this was just... wow.  Even if you don't think you're a science fiction fan, I think you need to read this book.  Jason Dessen is a physics professor with a beloved wife and son.  After being abducted, he wakes up in a strange place surrounded by people who claim to know him - but he's never met them before.  He escapes to find that his home looks completely different, he isn't married to his wife, and his son doesn't exist.  Is he dreaming?  Does he have a brain tumor that has altered his perception of reality?  Is someone playing an elaborate hoax on him?

I don't want to talk too much more about the plot and spoil it, because finding out what truly is going on is really the essence of the book and just the most fantastic twist.  It does get a bit science-y, but even I could understand what the characters were talking about, and I loved it.  Every few chapters I would say to my husband, "Guess what's happening NOW?"  This book would be totally up his alley.

As I said before, this book is more than just science fiction - it's also a thriller that I could not stop reading.  I literally read this book in a few hours.  The short, staccato sentences kept the story moving, and I had to know what would happen next.  I loved Jason as a character - I felt invested in his journey, and I was rooting for him.  I was really impressed by his ability to remain mostly calm and really think through his situation and the next steps to take.

And then there's the love story - Jason and his wife have been married for years, and they have such a great relationship.  They really do seem to love each other more now than they did when they first met.  Finding his wife and son is Jason's top priority, and I just loved his focus.  Even when things seemed dire, his only thoughts are of them and how to get back to them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"Waiting on" Wednesday: The Hearts of Men

"Waiting on" Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Hearts of Men
Nickolas Butler
Expected publication date: March 7, 2017
Camp Chippewa, 1962. Nelson Doughty, age thirteen, social outcast and overachiever, is the Bugler, sounding the reveille proudly each morning. Yet this particular summer marks the beginning of an uncertain and tenuous friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan.

Over the years, Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan marries, divorces, and turns his father’s business into a highly profitable company. And when something unthinkable happens at a camp get-together with Nelson as Scoutmaster and Jonathan’s teenage grandson and daughter-in-law as campers, the aftermath demonstrates the depths—and the limits—of Nelson’s selflessness and bravery.

The Hearts of Men is a sweeping, panoramic novel about the slippery definitions of good and evil, family and fidelity, the challenges and rewards of lifelong friendships, the bounds of morality—and redemption. - from Goodreads

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: When Royalty Falls in Love With a Regular Person

Happy Valentine's Day!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  This week's topic is romance tropes/types.  I think a lot of us harbor a secret fantasy that a prince will sweep us off our feet into a life of luxury.  But since I'm already married to my "regular guy" Prince Charming, I'll have to settle for reading about romance between royalty and commoners in these books!

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Winter by Marissa Meyer

The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne

The Queen's Lover by Vanora Bennett

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: The Mother's Promise

The Mother's Promise
Sally Hepworth
Expected publication date: February 21, 2017
Alice and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two all their lives. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works—until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and is given a grim prognosis.

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers, but who are her only hope: Kate, her oncology nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets—secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family. Imbued with heart and humor in even the darkest moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the power of love and forgiveness. - from Goodreads
I received a copy of this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.

Sally Hepworth's The Things We Keep was one of my favorite books from last year, so I was super excited when I found out I won an ARC of her new book, The Mother's Promise.  As I was reading it, the book felt like it was written by a completely different author, and not in a good way.

What initially drew me to the story was the blurb's focus on a mother and daughter.  I was really interested to see how the two of them would deal with the mother's (Alice) diagnosis of ovarian cancer.  However, I had issues with the relationship between Alice and her daughter, Zoe.  Alice came across as the type of person who never wants to admit she needs help, so she goes overboard in proving her independence.  At this stage in her life, she basically has no one besides Zoe, who is fifteen and has severe social anxiety. 

I was confused by Alice's actions after her diagnosis.  She doesn't tell Zoe about the cancer, instead telling her she is having gallbladder surgery, and would rather leave Zoe at home by herself for a few days than have help.  I thought that was so unfair to Zoe.  When people finally offer help, Alice is resentful and angry, even though they take care of her daughter when she isn't able to (and Zoe really needs the help).

If the story had just focused on Zoe and Alice, and how Alice finally accepts help, I think this could have been a great story, but there are so many other things going on here - in addition to cancer and anxiety, Hepworth also throws in alcoholism, a social worker who won't admit she's in an abusive relationship, and infertility.  It was just too much and kind of a downer.  There's also a subplot focusing on the identity of Zoe's father, which I felt was totally unnecessary.

I wasn't a huge fan of the setup of the book, as well.  The chapters are very short, and the focus would change from character to character almost every other page.  I felt like it skipped around too much and therefore didn't go deep enough with any character.  The book was readable and held my interest, but I really couldn't believe this was the same author as the one who wrote the beautiful The Things We Keep.

2.5 stars