Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Husband Hour

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

The Husband Hour
Jamie Brenner
Expected publication date: April 24, 2018
When a young widow's reclusive life in a charming beach town is interrupted by a surprise visitor, she is forced to reckon with dark secrets about her family, her late husband, and the past she tried to leave behind.
Lauren Adelman and her high school sweetheart, Rory Kincaid, are a golden couple. They marry just out of college as Rory, a star hockey player, earns a spot in the NHL. Their future could not look brighter when Rory shocks everyone-Lauren most of all-by enlisting in the U.S. Army. When Rory dies in combat, Lauren is left devastated, alone, and under unbearable public scrutiny.

Seeking peace and solitude, Lauren retreats to her family's old beach house on the Jersey Shore. But this summer she's forced to share the house with her overbearing mother and competitive sister. Worse, a stranger making a documentary about Rory tracks her down and persuades her to give him just an hour of her time.

One hour with filmmaker Matt Brio turns into a summer of revelations, surprises, and upheaval. As the days grow shorter and her grief changes shape, Lauren begins to understand the past-and to welcome the future. - from Goodreads

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Could Reread Over And Over And Over...

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is books I could reread forever.  I wrote a post awhile ago about why I love to reread, so this topic was perfect for me!  Here are some stories I keep going back to:

What are some of your favorite books?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Why I Don't Really Talk About My Blog in Real Life

Last year, Lindsey over at Lindsey Reads had a really thoughtful discussion post about the pros and cons of telling people about your blog.  It's a topic that had also been on my mind for awhile, so I wanted to put down my thoughts on the issue, as well.

Do I tell people about my blog and talk about it in my "real" life?  Yes and no.  Mostly no.

Before I started my blog, I only told two people that I was even considering it: my sister and my husband.  Now that I've been blogging for almost two years, there aren't that many more people that know about it among my family and friends.  My parents read it occasionally; my brother and his wife know, but I don't know if they actually ever check it out. 

I feel like I talk about the blog quite a bit, but my sister has become the (lucky or unlucky?) recipient of almost all my emails and phone calls about it.  She's been really great to brainstorm ideas with or help me proofread upcoming posts (one of these days, I will convince her to start her own blog!).

So far, blogging has been a really wonderful experience and I'm proud of the things I've written and what I've been able to put together.  Logically, I should want others to know about this hobby of mine that has actually become a big part of my life.  So, why don't I talk about my blog with more people or promote my posts on my personal Facebook page?

If I'm going to be really honest, I think there is a little bit of a feeling of embarrassment.  I think if I started telling people, they'd be like, "You do what?"  There are so many blogs out there on every topic imaginable; it's not uncommon for people to have a blog, but for some reason, I think my friends and family might think it's weird for me to have one?  Like, I don't even text on my phone, yet I've created this whole corner of the internet for myself?  And even though it's a public blog and part of the reason I started it was to join this amazing community, it still feels a bit personal.  Even if I'm just writing a book review, it makes me nervous to think that someone I know and see often is reading my words and maybe even judging me for my thoughts.  For some reason, it's less nerve-wracking to have someone I don't know offline reading my posts. 

I think a lot of my family and friends just wouldn't be interested in it.  I know some of them read often, but I don't think it's on the scale and with the passion that I have for it.  I don't really want to be talking about something that no one cares about.  Somehow it would hurt less to keep it to myself than to tell others and not get a lot of support.

Other book bloggers just get it - we started our blogs for a lot of the same reasons; we have the same interests; we understand each other.  Whether we're super excited about an upcoming release or gutted when a book doesn't live up to expectations, we all know how that feels.  I love that I've been able to join this community and develop a friendship with other bloggers.  I have all of you guys - most of the time I don't even feel a need to talk about my blog at work or with friends.

So, this rambled a bit!  Am I overthinking this?  Should I tell my friends and family about my blog?  Do you talk about your blog in "real life" or do you keep it private?

Friday, February 23, 2018

5 Reasons Why You'll Love "Something Like Happy"

Something Like Happy
Eva Woods
Published September 5, 2017
“It's simple, really. You're just meant to do one thing every day that makes you happy. Could be little things. Could be big. In fact, we're doing one right now…”

Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she'd once taken for granted—and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.

Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn't want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it's that your time is too short to waste a single day—which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission…

One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie's convinced it's impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences—and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men—Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there's still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly's about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking. - from Goodreads
Something Like Happy is the story of Annie Hebden and how her life changes when she meets the terminally ill Polly Leonard.  Here are five reasons why I think you'll enjoy this one:

  1. You'll root for Annie.  When we first meet Annie, she's at a low point in her life and has been there for awhile.  She has a crappy job, a crappy apartment, and her mother has early onset Alzheimer's.  Her husband left her for her best friend, and she also went through the terrible loss of her son.  Even though she has every reason in the world to be unhappy, I still wanted her to find joy again.
  2. You'll fall in love with Polly.  Diagnosed with a brain tumor, Polly doesn't have much time left.  Although she has sad moments, for the most part she is lively and vivacious, not wanting to waste a minute of her remaining days - and she wants the same for Annie.  I think we can all relate to her desire to do something important with her life and leave a positive mark on the world.
  3. You'll laugh AND cry.  The characters all have their snarky moments, and there were some funny one-liners in there.  But you all know I love a book that makes me cry, and this one definitely did.  I was basically in tears for the last 50 pages of the book - both happy and sad ones.
  4. You might be inspired to try your own 100 Happy Days Challenge.  Eva Woods took inspiration from a real-life challenge for her book.  Polly believes she has about 3 months left to live, so she embarks on this challenge to do one happy thing every day for 100 days.  She recruits new friend, Annie, to help her find joy in living again.  I love that the title of each chapter reflected what the characters were doing, but they can also act as suggestions for things we could all try, like "have a makeover" and "go outside."
  5. You won't want to stop reading.  Woods' writing is readable and approachable.  I found myself swept up in the story, wanting to see what Polly would do next.  I felt invested in all the characters, even the secondary ones.  Even though the story is sad at times, I still felt hope.
Although the story isn't terribly original and there was at least one secondary plotline that I felt was unnecessary, there was still so much to love about this book.  If you're looking for an emotional contemporary novel, try this one out.  4 stars

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Elizas

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

The Elizas
Saras Shepard
Expected publication date: April 17, 2018
When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins. - from Goodreads

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

TV Shows I'm Obsessed With Lately #5

Hmm, am I watching TOO much TV lately?  Here are some more shows I've been watching...

Tyra. Is. Back.  I used to watch America's Next Top Model religiously, but I haven't seen it in so long!  I decided to try it out again this cycle, with Tyra Banks returning after leaving for a year.  The drama, the cattiness, the photos - I'm obsessed.

Future Man is a comedy about a janitor who is recruited by two resistance fighters from the future to help save the world.  If you're not easily offended, you'll probably love this one, too - it's raunchy, it's outrageous, but it's so fun!  And it stars Josh Hutcherson and Eliza Coupe, both of whom I love.

So, 9-1-1 doesn't have the most original premise (it focuses on the EMTs, police officers, and firefighters of Los Angeles), but it's so good and has a great cast.  I especially love Connie Britton as a 9-1-1 operator who is also dealing with a mother with early onset Alzheimer's.

Have you seen any of these?  What are you watching lately?

Monday, February 19, 2018

5 Historical Fiction Books About First Ladies

It's Presidents Day in the United States, and I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit and put together a list of historical fiction novels about the women beside the men, the First Ladies! All blurbs are from Goodreads.

 Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini (2013)

In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, novelist Jennifer Chiaverini presents a stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.

In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal “modiste,” responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son, and then her husband to the assassination that stunned the nation and the world. 

The Secret Letters of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy by Wendy Leigh (2003)

The Secret Letters is a thrilling, compulsive novel with a unique premise: What if Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy---the two most iconic women of our time---had met and begun a secret correspondence?

A compelling page-turner set against the glittering backdrop of Hollywood and Washington during the 1950s and 1960s, The Secret Letters presents Marilyn and Jackie as you have never seen them before. As the story unfolds, we discover the two legends, the wife and the mistress, as friends and enemies, both in love with the same man---Jack Kennedy.

Author Wendy Leigh has created a daring concept and delivers it in fascinating detail. Each letter is rich with factual research on both women, the turbulent era in which they lived and loved, and the people who touched their lives.

Dolley by Rita Mae Brown (1994)

She had the president's ear and the nation's heart.

She's the wife of the fourth president of the United States; a spirited charmer who adores parties, the latest French fashions, and the tender, brilliant man who is her husband. But while many love her, few suspect how complex Dolley Madison really is.

Only in the pages of her diary—as imagined by novelist Rita Mae Brown—can Dolley fully reveal herself. And there we discover the real first lady—impulsive, courageous, and wise—as she faces her harshest trial: in 1814, the United States is once more at war with mighty Britain, and her beloved James is the most hated man in America.

From the White House receptions she gaily presides over to her wild escape from a Washington under siege, Dolley gives us a legend, made warmly human. For there has never been a first lady so testedèor, one who came through the fire so brilliantly.

Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini (2015)

In 1844, Missouri belle Julia Dent met dazzling horseman Lieutenant Ulysses S Grant. Four years passed before their parents permitted them to wed, and the groom’s abolitionist family refused to attend the ceremony.

Since childhood, Julia owned as a slave another Julia, known as Jule. Jule guarded her mistress’s closely held twin secrets: She had perilously poor vision but was gifted with prophetic sight. So it was that Jule became Julia’s eyes to the world.
And what a world it was, marked by gathering clouds of war. The Grants vowed never to be separated, but as Ulysses rose through the ranks—becoming general in chief of the Union Army—so did the stakes of their pact. During the war, Julia would travel, often in the company of Jule and the four Grant children, facing unreliable transportation and certain danger to be at her husband’s side.

Yet Julia and Jule saw two different wars. While Julia spoke out for women—Union and Confederate—she continued to hold Jule as a slave behind Union lines. Upon the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Jule claimed her freedom and rose to prominence as a businesswoman in her own right, taking the honorary title Madame. The two women’s paths continued to cross throughout the Grants’ White House years in Washington, DC, and later in New York City, the site of Grant’s Tomb.

Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert (2016)

When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1932 campaign, the two women become deeply involved. Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship documented by 3300 letters.

Set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War, Loving Eleanor reveals Eleanor Roosevelt as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation's First Lady. Hick is revealed as an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life. Loving Eleanor is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see, celebrating the depth and durability of women's love.

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.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Review: Wild Bird

Wild Bird
Wendelin Van Draanen
Published September 5, 2017
3:47 a.m. That's when they come for Wren Clemens. She's hustled out of her house and into a waiting car, then a plane, and then taken on a forced march into the desert. This is what happens to kids who've gone so far off the rails, their parents don't know what to do with them any more. This is wilderness therapy camp.

The Wren who arrives in the Utah desert is angry and bitter, and blaming everyone but herself. But angry can't put up a tent. And bitter won't start a fire. Wren's going to have to admit she needs help if she's going to survive.

In her most incisive and insightful book yet, beloved author Wendelin Van Draanen's offers a remarkable portrait of a girl who too a wrong turn and got lost--but who may be able to find her way back again in the vast, harsh desert. - from Goodreads
Wren is an out-of-control 14-year old - she smokes a lot of weed, she steals, she lies, she destroys things.  Running out of options, Wren's parents decide to send her to a wilderness therapy program.  Wren is dropped off in the middle of the Utah desert, joining a group of other troubled young women.  As the weeks go on, Wren must decide if she's willing to change her ways.

The author did a great job capturing Wren.  I really felt like I was in the mind of this 14-year-old; her tone of voice, her actions, everything felt very quintessential teenager.  The anger she felt towards her parents, her sister, and the bad group of kids she had gotten mixed up in leapt off the page.  I could feel her resistance towards the therapy program, but I loved those moments when Wren's walls came down and she could be really honest with herself (and others) about why she acted the way she did.

The story moved very quickly.  I flew through it in just a few hours; I found myself desperate to know what would happen to Wren.  I appreciated that the author mixed in both successes and failures for Wren within the program.  It felt realistic for her to have breakthroughs but to also experience setbacks.

There were only a few downsides to this book - the program Wren is enrolled in is only 8 weeks.  I don't think that's enough time to really explore one's issues and make lasting changes.  And although the story ends on a high note, I almost wanted some sort of epilogue or jump forward into the future, to see how Wren is doing now.

4 stars

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Month in Review: January 2018

Does anyone else feel like it's hard to start your New Year's resolutions (like exercising more and eating healthier) when it's cold and dark outside and all you want to do is sit on the couch under a blanket?  I hope it's not just me.  So, what happened this month?
  • The weather was out of control - brutal cold and snow followed by random days of above-normal temps.  Make up your mind, Mother Nature!
  • We went on a double date with my sister and her husband to see Jumanji, which was a lot of fun and I loved the Robin Williams reference.
  • We celebrated our niece's 2nd birthday - she is the sweetest girl, and she loves books, so that makes me a happy aunt! 
  • I feel like I was in a bit of a blogging lull.  I don't have as many scheduled-ahead posts as I normally do and I feel like I have no good ideas for new posts.  Hopefully this will end soon!

The Books:

The Posts & Reviews:

The Posts I Loved:

Amy at A Magical World of Words seeks to bring awareness to romanticized abuse in books, films, and media
Jordan at Forever Lost in Literature talks about why she blogs

Marie at Drizzle and Hurricane Books talks about why she doesn't do TBRs

Kristen at Metaphors and Moonlight discusses separating the author from the book

Greg at Book Haven asks if your personality shines through on your blog

Katie at Doing Dewey puts together a beginner's guide to nonfiction

Suzanne at The Bookish Libra discusses blogging while traveling
What was your first book of 2018?