Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Serious Moonlight

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

Serious Moonlight
Jenn Bennett
Expected publication date: April 16, 2019
After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel. - from Goodreads
Bookish Birdie sounds like an amazing character, and I'm interested in this reclusive writer and a burgeoning relationship between Daniel and Birdie!

Monday, February 25, 2019

What Makes You DNF a Book?


A couple months ago, my brother-in-law texted me about a Reddit thread he came across that he thought I would enjoy - what are the deadly sins that will make you stop reading a book?  I DNF quite a bit, so of course I was interested!

The contributors noted a lot of things that often make me roll my eyes when I'm reading - terrible characters, plots based on a misunderstanding that could be easily cleared up, worrying about a love interest when there's some sort of tragic or dangerous situation going on, infodumps.  It inspired me to go back through some of my DNFs and explore what made me give up on certain books.

 

I hope I won't be controversial with these first two!  I know these books are so beloved by many, many other readers and bloggers.  I actually really liked the beginning of The Cruel Prince, when it started in the "real world," but as soon as it switched to the fantasy world, I just lost interest in the world-building.  I started reading This Savage Song, but felt like it was getting too angsty.  I think part of the problem with these two is that I haven't been in much of a mood for fantasy recently, so perhaps if I was in a different mindset, I might give them another chance.

 

For some reason, Renee Carlino and I just don't mix.  I love women's fiction, and I thought I would like her books because they seemed similar to Emily Giffin or Taylor Jenkins Reid, both favorites of mine.  I wasn't crazy about the first book I read by her, and then I got to Swear on This Life.  The writing wasn't great, the characters were so melodramatic, and the book-within-a-book felt very pedestrian, so I quit it.

 

Onto two nonfiction books that I DNFed - I though the premise of Overdressed was fascinating (basically how we treat clothing as a cheap disposable item), but the first chapter was very unfocused and kept switching topics randomly from one paragraph to the next.  I really like Whitney Cummings - I think she's hilarious - so I thought I would love her memoir.  I started listening to it on audio, and while I enjoyed her voice, the subject manner was a different story.  I thought I was going to get the typical celebrity memoir, but it was more about her forays into therapy, so it felt at times like I was listening to a psychology textbook.  Also, she went off on random tangents that made following her stories difficult.  I stopped listening about halfway through.


Do you DNF?  What was the most recent book you DNFed?  What will make you stop reading a book?  Should I give any of these books another chance?

Friday, February 22, 2019

Backlist Mini-Reviews: A Retelling & A Romance

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry (2017)

A retelling of the classic Peter Pan that provides the origin story of Captain Hook.

Jamie was the first boy Peter Pan ever took to Neverland.  He has spent countless years alongside Peter, fighting pirates and monsters and taking care of the other boys.  Now, though, Jamie is starting to see that perhaps Peter isn't the best friend and leader he always thought he was.

I loved how Henry completely flipped this story and basically made Peter Pan the villain.  Peter is selfish, spoiled, manipulative, and dangerous.  The way he convinced boys to join him on his island and then completely disregarded them was a bit chilling.  It was left up to Jamie (the future Captain Hook) to look after the boys after Peter had no use for them.  Although probably only 13 or 14 years old, Jamie as the narrator sounds older, wise beyond his years, much more so than other boys who have been in Neverland for a long time.  I appreciated how thoughtful and protective Jamie was; it wasn't what I was expecting.  Overall, this story was a captivating look at friendship and loyalty, although a bit too gory for my taste at times. 4 stars


The Map That Leads to You by J.P. Monninger (2017)

During a European trip before she starts her career, recently-graduated Heather meets Jack on a train to Amsterdam, and the two fall quickly in love.  But can she convince him to join her in New York City?

I don't read a ton of romance novels, but what's more charming and romantic than meeting your great love while seeing the sights of Europe?  At least, that's what I was hoping for from this book.   From the start, I could tell that Heather and Jack had chemistry, and he seamlessly fit himself into her travel plans with her college friends.  I loved the way they explored together and how I was able to visit all these far-away places throughout the story, especially some non-touristy locales.

Heather and Jack's insta-relationship wasn't perfect and they just kept having these massive fights.  They had radically different viewpoints on life, and Jack's dismissive attitude towards Heather's desire for a stable career in NYC was hard to swallow.  It made me wonder how his free spirit could ever mesh with her planned-out life.  I can't say I really liked either one of them very much.  They were both SO pretentious, really full of themselves and their grand ideas about life.  I think their relationship was also diluted a bit because Heather's friend Constance and Jack's friend Raef were also victims of insta-love on the same trip - kind of unrealistic!  Also, the oddly stiff dialogue and continuous use of British slang by Americans was jarring and eyeroll-inducing.

There's a twist about 2/3 of the way through the book that wasn't entirely unpredictable, and then we just get a lot of "woe is me" attitude from Heather.  Surprisingly, I enjoyed the ending; it was a bit open-ended, but I think it worked.  2.5 stars

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: A Palm Beach Wife

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

A Palm Beach Wife
Susannah Marren
Expected publication date: April 9, 2019
For readers of Elin Hilderbrand, a delicious and irresistible commercial novel set among the high society galas and gossip of Palm Beach.

Amid the glamour and galas and parties of Palm Beach, Faith knows that image often counts as much if not more than reality. She glides effortlessly among the highest of the high society so perfectly that you would never suspect she wasn't born to this. But it wasn't always so; though she hides it well, Faith has fought hard for the wonderful life she has, for her loving, successful husband, for her daughter's future. In this town of secrets and gossip and rumors, Faith has kept a desperate grip on everything she holds so dear, built from so little. And yet even she--the only one who knows just how far she has to fall--never suspects from which direction, or how many directions all at once, betrayal will come. - from Goodreads
I love books about how "the other half" lives, so I'm excited about all the galas and wealth, plus it seems like there will be a good dose of drama!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Books I've Enjoyed


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is books we've loved with fewer than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads.  One of my favorite parts of blogging is bringing some of those underrated, lesser-known books to readers, hoping they will enjoy them as much as I did.  Here is a list of books I've loved that, at the time I'm writing this post, actually all had less than 1,000 ratings on Goodreads!

 

Avalanche: 138 ratings
Waking the Spirit: 149 ratings

 

Four Three Two One: 210 ratings

   

The Heart Between Us: 651 ratings

 

Ask An Astronaut: 844 ratings


Rutherford Park: 870 ratings
How to Be Married: 999 ratings


 Have you read any of these?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Book Haul #3


A couple months ago, my sister ordered a bunch of stuff from Book Outlet.  For whatever reason, her shipment got lost in the mail, so they replaced her entire order.  Then, the original package showed up!  She gave me all the duplicate books, so technically I didn't spend any money on these!


 The Thing With Feathers: A girl with epilepsy attends public school for the first time.

First Women: A look at the First Ladies of the modern era.


Even If the Sky Falls: During a trip to New Orleans, two teenagers fall in love, but a hurricane is headed their way.

The Game Can't Love You Back: The only girl on a boys' baseball team has to contend with some new players.


A Prom to Remember: A look at one of the biggest rites of passage of high school, as seen through the eyes of seven seniors.

Have you read any of these?
 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Review: The Huntress

The Huntress
Kate Quinn
Expected publication date: February 26, 2019
From the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling novel, The Alice Network, comes another fascinating historical novel about a battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track the Huntress, a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.

In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted…

Bold, reckless Nina Markova grows up on the icy edge of Soviet Russia, dreaming of flight and fearing nothing. When the tide of war sweeps over her homeland, she gambles everything to join the infamous Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on Hitler’s eastern front. But when she is downed behind enemy lines and thrown across the path of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, Nina must use all her wits to survive.

British war correspondent Ian Graham has witnessed the horrors of war from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials. He abandons journalism after the war to become a Nazi hunter, yet one target eludes him: the Huntress. Fierce, disciplined Ian must join forces with brazen, cocksure Nina, the only witness to escape the Huntress alive. But a shared secret could derail their mission, unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride grows up in post WWII Boston, determined despite family opposition to become a photographer. At first delighted when her long-widowed father brings home a fiancĂ©e, Jordan grows increasingly disquieted by the soft-spoken German widow who seems to be hiding something. Armed only with her camera and her wits, Jordan delves into her new stepmother’s past and slowly realizes there are mysteries buried deep in her family. But Jordan’s search for the truth may threaten all she holds dear. - from Goodreads
I received this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways.

After hearing Kate Quinn speak at a book festival last year, I was really looking forward to reading her upcoming book, and then I won a copy, which meant I got to read it even sooner!  The Huntress focuses on the search for a Nazi war criminal after the end of WWII.

Ian and Nina both have their reasons for wanting to find the Huntress, a Nazi who disappeared after the war ended.  The Huntress killed Ian's brother, and Nina was the only person to escape her.  They join forces to search for her in Europe.  In Boston, a young woman named Jordan is welcoming a new stepmother into her life - or, at least trying to, because something seems to be off about her, like she's not telling them the whole truth.

Although Nina wasn't a very likable character, I enjoyed the narrative of her time serving in a bombing regiment in the Russian air force.  It was clear that Quinn had done a lot of research and incorporated it well.  Jordan was probably my favorite character.  Although she wants to be a famous photographer, she feels pressure to take over the family business and look after her stepsister.  She's also dealing with this stepmother that makes her quite uneasy at times.

The book features three storylines, and I enjoyed the way they jumped between times and places.  The book was quite long, but the pacing was excellent.  I never felt bored, and even though the story was kind of predictable, I was looking forward to when the stories would converge.  Unfortunately, the climax of the story felt really off.  For me, it was just too melodramatic and unrealistic.  Overall, though, as someone who enjoys WWII-era novels, I thought this was a fresh and interesting look at the aftermath of the war.

4 stars

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Girl He Used to Know

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

The Girl He Used to Know
Tracey Garvis Graves
Expected publication date: April 2, 2019
Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people's behavior confusing, she'd rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game--and his heart--to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She's living the life she wanted as a librarian. He's a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins. - from Goodreads
This sounds so emotional, and I want to know what happened to tear Annika and Jonathan apart and if they can make it work the second time around.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Quotables #12: The Love Edition



I love this quote because for me it's so true.  You can't take love for granted.  While I don't believe that love should be difficult, you and your partner still have to put work into it.  You have to keep showing the other how much you love them, because complacency can lead to resentment.


The act of falling in love can be a wonderful thing - everything is new and exciting.  But there's something to be said for being in love - it feels comfortable and safe knowing you've found your person.


For love to be true, there has to be honesty.  You have to show that other person who you really are, the good and the bad parts, and then it's up to them whether they will accept you.

Which of these can you relate to?  What's your favorite quote about love?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Review: Uncharted

Uncharted
Erin Cashman
Published September 4, 2018
Seventeen-year-old Annabeth prefers the fantasy of her books and paintings to reality—because in reality, her mom is dead, and it was all her fault. When she accompanies her father to the funeral of some family friends who drowned, she’s surprised to find her grief reflected in the face of Griffin Bradford, the son of the couple who died. Griffin is nothing like the carefree boy she once knew. Now he’s irritable, removed, and he’s under police investigation for his parents’ deaths.

One night following the memorial service, Annabeth’s dad goes missing in the woods, and she suspects Griffin knows more about the disappearance than he’s letting on. He refuses to answer her questions, particularly those related to the mysterious “expedition” his parents took to Ireland, where they went missing for seven months.

Annabeth fears her father isn’t lost, but rather a victim of something sinister. She launches her own investigation, tracing clues that whisper of myth and legend and death, until she stumbles upon a secret. One that some would die to protect, others would kill to expose—and which twists Annabeth’s fantasy and reality together in deadly new ways. - from Goodreads
Annabeth and her father are visiting family friend Griffin Bradford, whose parents have recently died, when her father disappears from the Bradford manor.  While searching for him, Annabeth learns that her father and his friends may have been involved in something much more mysterious and fantastical than she could have ever imagined.

I really wanted to love this book - the premise sounds so intriguing, particularly the way myths and legends are involved.  Unfortunately, this one let me down a little.

Some things that didn't work for me:

- The romance.  I really could have done without it.  It's just another example of when the main character can't get over how cute the love interest is while people are being kidnapped or murdered.  And Griffin was the stereotypical YA "hero" - thinking he's always right, not telling Annabeth things under the guise of trying to protect her.
- The pacing.  It took SO LONG for things to start happening, and then it was just a lot of repetitiveness of Annabeth trying to figure out what this mysterious "expedition" entailed.  There were bursts of action and conflict, but I felt like they were resolved too easily.
- Annabeth.  I liked certain things about her (she holds onto a lot of guilt surrounding her mother's death, she had a mental break at one point), but there were just trivial things that annoyed me.  Like, way too many mentions of how much she loves coconut iced coffee and desserts.  It just made her seem shallow.

But, there were some things I enjoyed:

- I think the blurb leaves out a big element of the novel, which is the group called the Magellans, a club started by Annabeth's father and his friends in college in order to explore and research various legends and myths around the world.  The idea behind this group was so cool, and I liked the way it played into the story.  A mysterious island, genetic experiments - I wanted more of it!
- It was a very quick read, even though it's not a short book.

3 stars

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Library of Lost and Found

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

The Library of Lost and Found
Phaedra Patrick
Expected publication date: March 26, 2019
A librarian’s discovery of a mysterious book sparks the journey of a lifetime in the delightful new novel from the international bestselling author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.

All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.

Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heartwarming and poignant tale of how one woman must take control of her destiny to write her own happy ending. - from Goodreads
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper was one of my favorite reads from last year, so I was excited to hear that Phaedra Patrick had another book coming out!

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Greek Gods Book Tag


Thank you to Amy at A Magical World of Words for tagging me!

Rules:

- Link back to Zuky HERE so she can read your posts!

- You can use your own graphics or copy Zuky's (I used Zuky's!)

- Tag however many people you want!


I don't think I can pick a favorite book, but this is one of them!  Interesting family dynamics in this story, to say the least!


I think we can all agree that Katniss is pretty badass - she's smart, she's resourceful, she's killer with a bow and arrow - and she doesn't need magic to do it.


This one really stood out to me in 2018 - sometimes in debuts, the author hasn't quite found their stride yet, but the writing in Something in the Water was pretty superb!


I know I mention this book a lot, but it is beyond fantastic!


If you enjoy sweet love stories and charming characters, you'll love this one as much as I did.


I would never say that a book shouldn't exist, but this book really ruined the series for me!


Dr. Paul Kalanithi started writing this book as he was dying from lung cancer and passed away before he could finish.  His writing is honest and touching, and I think it's groundbreaking in the sense that he was able to tell his story as it was happening.


Emma Mills has the best covers, and I just love the colors and swirls and texture of this one!


This story about 1950s Houston socialites was almost 400 pages, but it felt like nothing happened!  The pacing was so sloooooow.


This story about an out-of-control teenager attending a wilderness therapy camp kept me glued to the pages!


Consider yourself tagged if you'd like to do this one!