Thursday, May 25, 2017

Goodreads Book Tag

I've been seeing the Goodreads Book Tag going around lately and even though I haven't been personally tagged, I wanted to do it anyway because it seemed like fun!

What was the last book you marked as read?

What are you currently reading?

What do you plan to read next?

Do you use the star rating system?
Yes, but I wish Goodreads used half-stars, since that's what I use on the blog; sometimes I don't know whether to round up or down when I'm cross-posting reviews!

Are you doing a 2017 reading challenge?
Yes, I set a goal of 110 books.

Do you have a wish list?
Yes, but I keep it on Amazon and my TBR is on Pinterest.

What book do you plan to buy next?
I'm not sure.  I've been trying to limit the amount of books I buy; it will either be something I've read, loved, and want to have in my personal library OR a pre-order from one of my favorite authors, whichever comes first!

Do you have any favorite quotes?

I only have one quote tagged on Goodreads and that's:

"Courage, dear heart." - C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Who are you favorite authors?
Kate Morton and Emily Giffin are auto-buys for me.  I also love JK Rowling and George R.R. Martin.

Have you joined any groups?
No, I haven't gotten too much into the social aspect of Goodreads, except for checking out the statuses of my friends.

If anyone else feels like doing this tag, I'd love to read your answers!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"Waiting on" Wednesday: The Fortune Teller

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

The Fortune Teller
Gwendolyn Womack
Expected publication date: June 6, 2017
Semele Cavnow appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, deciphering ancient texts—and when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further, she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred.

The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele’s life. But what happened to the tarot deck? As the mystery of her connection to its story deepens, Semele can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Bossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him?

The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to interfere—someone who knows the cards exist, and that the Bossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess. - from Goodreads

Monday, May 22, 2017

5 Book Recommendations for My Husband

My husband Tom is a non-reader, but since I know his other interests pretty well, I wanted to put together a list of books he might actually enjoy!  And if your husband or boyfriend is more into video games and sci-fi movies than he is into books, he might like these as well!

I don't want to give too much away, but the sci-fi twists in Dark Matter are so amazing and fun and totally up my husband's alley.  I may have spoiled most of the book for him as I was reading it, but still!

Tom is a huge Doctor Who fan, and I think Doctor Who: 12 Doctors 12 Stories would be perfect for him.  Twelve different authors have each written a short story based on one of the Doctor's regenerations.  So, he would get to read about each Doctor with a very manageable page count!

So this one is still on my TBR, but having read a couple reviews and the synopsis, I think Tom would really love Ready Player One - I mean, video games and 80s pop culture are two of his greatest loves (besides me, of course!).  Oh, and Wil Wheaton narrates the audiobook?  He's definitely in.

Felicia Day is the ultimate guys' girl - she's gorgeous, she's smart, AND she can talk video games with the best of them.  I wanted to include her memoir You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) on this list because I know Tom loves Felicia from her appearances on Supernatural, one of his favorite shows, and some gaming videos, and I thought he would appreciate reading her story!

We really enjoyed watching the movie version of The Martian and I think if Tom were stuck somewhere with a dead phone battery, he would enjoy the book version, as well!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: After The Fall

After The Fall
Julie Cohen
Published May 2, 2017 (first published 2015)
When an unfortunate accident forces Honor back into the lives of her widowed daughter-in-law, Jo, and her only granddaughter, Lydia, she cannot wait to be well enough to get back to her own home. However, the longer she stays with Jo and Lydia, the more they start to feel like a real family. But each of the three women is keeping secrets from the others that threaten to destroy the lives they’ve come to know.

Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years.

Jo’s secret could destroy the “normal” family life she’s fought so hard to build and maintain.

Lydia’s secret could bring her love―or the loss of everything that matters most to her.

One summer’s day, grandmother, mother and daughter’s secrets will be forced out in the open in a single dramatic moment that leaves them all asking: is there such a thing as second chances? - from Goodreads
I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.

After The Fall is a story about three generations of women, learning to live with each other while still hiding the biggest parts of themselves.  When Honor is injured in a fall, her daughter-in-law Jo invites her to stay with her and her daughter Lydia until she heals.

Jo and Honor have always had a difficult relationship, which became even more strained after the death of Jo's husband and Honor's son, Stephen.  This part of the book was very relatable, since I think a lot of women have trouble connecting with their mothers-in-law.  Quite often there's tension and a feeling of inadequacy.

Jo, Honor, and Lydia each have a secret.  I didn't think any of the secrets were earth-shattering, but I can see how each might want to hide their true feelings.  In Honor's case, her secret could lead to the end of the independent life she has created for herself; Lydia's secret is tough because she's a teenager, and teenagers are so cruel to each other.

For me, Jo's story and secret were the weak link.  Jo is one of those people who's perpetually happy and cheerful, always taking care of others.  She just didn't seem real.  She has a secret because she made a ridiculous promise to her 16-year-old daughter.  Letting your children tell you who and when you can date is not the greatest idea, but Jo also seems to exhibit little self-control when it comes to a certain man.

Overall, this book was a quick, easy read about the changing relationships between the three women.  I especially liked the growth that Honor's character experienced throughout the novel.  The ending seemed to come out of nowhere and was a bit jarring, but if you enjoy stories about family relationships, you may enjoy this one.

3.5 stars

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Waiting on" Wednesday: Standard Deviation

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

Standard Deviation
Katherine Heiny
Expected publication date: June 1, 2017
Graham Cavanaugh’s second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. She considers herself privileged to live in the age of the hair towel, talks non-stop through her epidural, labour and delivery, invites the doorman to move in and the eccentric members of their son’s Origami Club to Thanksgiving. She is charming and spontaneous and fun but life with her can be exhausting.

In the midst of the day-to-day difficulties and delights of marriage and raising a child with Asperger’s, his first wife, Elspeth, reenters Graham’s life. Former spouses are hard to categorize – are they friends, enemies, old flames, or just people who know you really, really well? Graham starts to wonder: How can anyone love two such different women? Did he make the right choice? Is there a right choice? - from Goodreads

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Mums of the Harry Potter Universe

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is a Mother's Day freebie, so I wanted to do something a little different and talk about mothers and mother figures featured in the Harry Potter books!

Lily Potter
Lily loved her son Harry so much that she made the ultimate sacrifice for him, and her death saved Harry and allowed him to defeat Voldemort so many years later.

Molly Weasley
Who wouldn't want Molly Weasley as a mother?  She's a great cook, knits a mean sweater, and she would do ANYTHING for her children.

Narcissa Malfoy
Her love for her son Draco redeems her.  She is so protective of him that she even betrayed Voldemort, saying that Harry was dead after being struck by the Killing Curse (even though he wasn't) and ensuring she would be reunited with her family.

Mrs. Granger
Even though we don't see a lot of Hermione's mother, I think she's very proud of her daughter and accepting of the new magical world Hermione has entered, even if it's a bit overwhelming for her.  I mean, Mrs. Granger really just wants Hermione to do well in school, even if that school teaches some unorthodox topics.

Petunia Dursley
Sure, she was a pretty (ok, extremely) crappy mother to Harry, but Petunia still took her nephew in and no one can deny that she was a loving mother to Dudley and spoiled him rotten.

Augusta Longbottom
She raised her grandson Neville after his parents were institutionalized.  Although she could be a bit scary and stern, I think Neville learned a lot from her and she was proud of the wizard he became.

Professor McGonagall
She never had children of her own, but I think part of Minerva McGonagall saw her students like her children, especially Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  Tough when she needed to be, she also went out of her way to help them and was loving and kind in her own way.  Plus, protecting the students of Hogwarts was a huge part of her story.

What are your favorite moments of motherhood from the Harry Potter books?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Never-Ending Series: Yea or Nay?

There are so many book trilogies and quartets out there.  But what about those series that just seem to go on forever?  There are lots of them, but here's three I've been reading:

Inspector Gamache by Louise Penny
This mystery series is currently at 13 books!  The books follow Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, head of the Quebec homicide division.  There is some carryover between the novels.  Many of the characters are the same, whether it is Gamache and his team or the residents of Three Pines, where many of the stories take place.  The books often refer back to events from previous installments, but for the most part, each mystery is its own. 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Outlander began as a time-traveling romance between Jamie and Claire in the Scottish Highlands and is at 8 books right now (although Gabaldon may be wrapping things up).  When I first started the series, I loved the premise and was looking forward to the love story and adventures in 18th century Scotland.  However, by the second book, practically everything had changed - from the time period to the location.  I kept reading even though it wasn't quite what I imagined anymore.  Over the course of several books, dozens of new characters have been added with new storylines in different times.  In addition, the tone of the books for has changed; it's less of a romance and more sweeping epic. 

The Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella
The Shopaholic books are getting more outlandish as the series progresses.  At first, it was organic, following Becky as she met her husband, got married, went on honeymoon, and had a baby.  Although still entertaining, the later books are becoming more strained.

I have mixed feelings about never-ending series.  I think it works well with a mystery series; we get the comfort of the same characters but each book feels new.  With other types of series, it's interesting to see how the author will broaden the story, but it doesn't always work.  Sometimes it can feel forced, or it can just get overwhelming.  It makes me wonder what the endgame is, or if the author even has one in mind.

And then there's the commitment factor.  If you can get in at the beginning of the series, it's not so bad - but you may have to wait a long time, maybe even years, for the next installment.  Even for the most ardent fans, this is rough.  And if several books have already been published, it can be hard to make that decision to start such a lengthy series.

Do you read any series that just seem to go on and on?  Or do you avoid those kinds of series?  Why do you think they work, or not?