Monday, April 29, 2019

My Rereading Project

Hannah at So Obsessed With decided to ignore her TBR for a month and only reread her favorite books, dubbed #FebruaREREAD.  Her post really got me thinking - I love to reread and before I started blogging, I used to do it all the time.  Once I started blogging and building up a pretty big TBR, rereads fell by the wayside.  But, I was so inspired by Hannah that I decided to do a little rereading project of my own.  I was able to get a bunch of future review posts done and scheduled, so I wouldn't fall behind while not reading anything new, and when I ran out of library books near the end of March, I figured that would be the perfect time to start.  My goal was to only reread for at least two weeks.

Here's the great thing about rereads: in addition to being stories I love, they often have specific memories attached to them, which is just another reason for me to keep coming back to them.  I started with I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith.  My college roommate bought this book for me many years ago, and I fell in love with this charming story the first time I read it.  The story is told over a few months through the journal entries of a young woman who lives with her family in a dilapidated castle in England.

For our 7th dating anniversary, Tom bought me The Chronicles of Narnia box set.  The first time I read The Last Battle, I actually yelled at him for not warning me about the ending (although there was no way he could have known, he'd never read the book!).  I was just as shattered this time, but I could see some happiness in it.


Next, I moved onto The Lake House by Kate Morton.  Although she is a favorite author, I wasn't quite as thrilled by this one as I had been by her previous books the first time I read it.  However, this dual time-line story about a missing child was so much better the second time around!

I read Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver for the first time two years ago and loved it.  This time around, I brought it to read during my lunch hour and flew through it in just a couple days.


I brought Me Before You to read during my lunch break after I finished Before I Fall.  One day my coworker saw me reading it, and she and I bonded over how much we sobbed over the story!

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton was one of the first 5-star reads I had on the blog, so I wanted to see if it would hold up after a couple years.  This end-of-the-world story definitely did!

I reread Cinder last year on vacation but never continued with my reread of the series, so this was a perfect time to pick Scarlet back up.  I love the way this series introduces new characters while still keeping up with ones we've already grown to love!

Emily Giffin was one of the first authors I discovered after college when I had way more reading time.  She got me hooked on smart chick lit, and Something Borrowed is one of my favorites.  I listened to this one on audio, and I kind of wish I had just read it instead.  I didn't really care for the narrator's voice - she sounded way older than the character was meant to be, she had a weird accent, and she had a funny way of pronouncing some words.  But, I still enjoyed the story!

Over my two-week rereading project, I was able to revisit 8 beloved stories.  It's a comforting feeling to read a book and know you're going to love it, and I definitely need to make time in the future for more rereading!

Do you reread?  What's one book you could read over and over again?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Backlist Mini-Reviews: The Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza Edition

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza (2015)

When Glossy magazine editor Imogen Tate returns from medical leave, she finds her former assistant has been hired to turn the print magazine into an online-only presence - and Imogen will have to learn to adapt to a tech-savvy office.

I thought the premise of this book sounded very modern and timely.  Lots of magazines and newspapers are scaling back on print versions and focusing more on their websites.  I felt bad for Imogen that she had no idea this was going to happen; she was just thrown into it upon her return.  Watching her learn to use social media was entertaining, although I found it a little hard to believe that someone only in their early 40s was still printing out all their emails.

Eve, former assistant-turned-editoral director, was just the most unlikable character.  The way she treated her staff, making them work all hours of the day and night; the way she sabotaged Imogen at every turn; the way she turned her wedding into a social media event - just crazy.  She was too over-the-top at times, more caricature than character.  It's hard to believe that someone could be that awful.  On the other hand, Imogen felt a little too perfect at times.

I enjoyed the writing; it was very easy to read.  The story, though, felt a bit choppy, as though it was just skipping from one situation to the next with not enough regard for a complete story arc.  3.5 stars

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza (2017)

When Janey's business partner Beau makes her take a leave of absence in order to lose weight, she plunges into the New York City fitness scene.

Think of the most ridiculous workout regimens and diets you can, and it's probably in this book - topless yoga, clay diets, shamans, invite-only workouts, the list goes on and on.  The sad thing is, there's probably a lot of truth in some of these things.  I thought the book did a good job at exploring how women, mostly very wealthy ones, will do just about anything to lose weight.

Janey, as a main character, is kind of blah.  She's a divorced, 40-year-old woman who owns a wedding dress business with her best friend, Beau.  Beau doesn't show up a lot in the novel, except to tell Janey she's fat, but I never got a good feeling about him.  Janey is supposed to be smart and savvy, and she never realized how awful of a person Beau is and has always been?  I appreciated that by the end she learned to stand up for herself, and her return to the dating world was pretty cute to read about.  3.5 stars

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

My Third Blogoversary & Giveaway!

It's a little hard to believe, but my blog is turning three years old today!  It went by so fast.  I'm the type of person who has lots of dreams and ideas, but never really makes them happen, so I'm so glad I took a chance and started this blog.  I've had a lot of fun and met so many new and wonderful people.

The blog has gone through many changes in three years - the look of it (it will never be perfect for me, but I think I've gotten it to a clean, stream-lined look), how I review books, new features.  It's also fun to look at how much my life has changed in the same time - our extended family has grown, we bought a house, I've changed jobs.  No matter what has happened, though, my love of books has only grown!

As a thank you to everyone who has supported me, I'm hosting a giveaway for a book of your choice worth up to $20.00 from The Book Depository, as long as it ships free to your country.  The giveaway will be open until May 4, 2019, and the winner will be notified by email, with three days to respond.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you and good luck!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: My First Ten Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is the first ten books we reviewed.  Gonna be honest, I considered not joining in this week because it can be kind of cringe-worthy to look back on my early posts, but it's also fun to relive the journey and see what I was reading three years ago!

The first book I reviewed on this blog was Code Name Verity!

Have you read any of these?

Friday, April 19, 2019

Review: The Au Pair

The Au Pair
Emma Rous
Published January 8, 2019
Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her. - from Goodreads
When Seraphine finds a photo taken the day she and her twin brother were born that shows only one baby, she begins to suspect that something isn't right.  As a twin myself, I have been looking forward to this one for awhile; unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.

The book started out with so much promise: I thought the writing was good.  It flowed nicely and never felt over-dramatic or flowery.  I liked the setting of the estate of Summerbourne; I could really tell how much the characters loved the home, especially Seraphine. It had a bit of a gothic feel, which I always enjoy.

The story moves between the past, narrated by au pair Laura, who was there the day that Seraphine and her twin Danny were born, and the present, narrated by Seraphine.  Both women are a bit melancholy, unsure of where their lives are headed.  Normally, I appreciate a dual timeline story, but here I was often confused; I don't know if it's because the timelines are so close together or what, but I had to keep reminding myself who was who and at what age.

The premise of the story, the missing twin and the mother who killed herself the day they were born, was intriguing, but I kind of guessed early on what the twist might be.  Although I didn't get it completely right, I was pretty close.  The plot relied entirely too much on coincidences and total suspension of disbelief.  When the mystery was finally solved, it was very convoluted; I felt like the author had to really spell it out so the reader could understand it.  And it hinged on one person acting completely out of character, or at least it seemed that way to me.

3 stars

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Beholder

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

The Beholder
Anna Bright
Expected publication date: June 4, 2019
Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending. - from Goodreads
I almost don't even care what this book is about because I'm so obsessed with the cover - but, I'm interested in Selah's journey!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Book Haul #4

I feel like I'm always saying that I don't really buy too many books anymore, yet here I am with book haul #4!  However, since these were all purchased with gift cards saved up from Christmas and my birthday, I don't feel too badly, since I didn't actually spend any of my own money on them!  I'm really excited about these historical fiction and nonfiction books, and even though I've read Pride & Prejudice, I couldn't resist that beautiful cover at B&N!

Have you read any of these?

Friday, April 12, 2019

Backlist Nonfiction Mini-Reviews: The Foodie Edition

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson (2016)

Thank you to Emma at Words and Peace for the recommendation!

Craig Carlson fell in love with Paris at a young age, and after pursuing a career as a screenwriter, he decided to switch paths and open an American-style diner in Paris, serving up the types of dishes that he felt were the only things missing from his beloved city.

This memoir is a perfect reminder that with enough persistence and determination, you can make practically any dream come true.  Craig Carlson had never worked in a restaurant or owned a business, yet his dream was to open a restaurant - in Paris, no less, and a diner, a concept which didn't even exist there.  I think he was very honest with the myriad of problems he faced - from raising money, to getting a loan, to finding a space, to dealing with terrible employees.  It's hard enough opening a business in your own country, let alone one where you don't know how the banking system or employment laws work.  Craig pretty much had to learn everything the hard way!

I enjoyed Craig's writing - it's down-to-earth and very relatable.  I think at times he could be a bit melodramatic, and it seemed that for all the problems he had, he also had many "lucky breaks" - it was kind of amazing how many times the exact thing he needed showed up at the exact moment he needed it.  But, his love for his dream and business always shone through, as well as his love for France.  If I ever make it to Paris, I will definitely check out his diner!  4 stars

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (2013)

In this graphic novel/memoir, Lucy Knisley takes readers on a journey through her lifelong love of food.

I didn't realize that this book was basically going to be a comic.  I thought it was going to be a regular memoir with some illustrations, but the graphic novel approach worked here.  The stories were simply told, and the pictures added fun context.  As someone who has a lot of beloved memories that revolve around food, I really identified with Lucy.  I loved reading about her helping her parents in the kitchen as a child and trips that helped open up her eyes to foreign cuisines.  She also passes along some of her favorite recipes.

I think this could be a good book to read with children, although the chapter about a Mexican vacation had some elements that may not be appropriate for young ears/eyes.  4 stars

Thank you to Stacked for the recommendation during last year's Nonfiction November!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Star-Crossed

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

Minnie Darke
Expected publication date: May 1, 2019
Sometimes even destiny needs a little bit of help.

When childhood sweethearts Justine (Sagittarius and serious skeptic) and Nick (Aquarius and true believer) bump into each other as adults, a life-changing love affair seems inevitable. To Justine, anyway. Especially when she learns Nick is an astrological devotee, whose decisions are guided by the stars, and more specifically, by the horoscopes in his favorite magazine.  The same magazine Justine happens to write for. As Nick continues to not fall headlong in love with her, Justine decides to take Nick’s horoscope, and Fate itself, into her own hands. But, of course, Nick is not the only Aquarius making important life choices according to what is written in the stars.

Charting the ripple effects of Justine’s astrological meddling, STAR-CROSSED is a delicious, intelligent, and affecting love story about friendship, chance, and how we all navigate the kinds of choices that are hard to face alone. - from Goodreads
I think this just sounds adorable, and it's an interesting look at free will versus destiny in relationships.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Tudor Queens Book Tag!

Jess at Jessticulates created her own original tag, called the Tudor Queens Book Tag!  Even before I saw that she tagged me to take part, I knew I wanted to give it a go myself, because I am a huge Tudor fan!  All graphics are courtesy of Jess!

Elizabeth of York: In Henry's Sisters, the siblings had a difficult childhood with their mother, leaving the sisters with myriad issues as adults.  They also thought their father was dead when he actually wasn't.  Henry is the only "normal" one in this family!

Katherine of Aragon: I'd been hearing about Red Rising around the blogosphere for awhile, so I figured I would try it.  Right from the start, I couldn't get into the world-building.  I thought about DNFing, but just ended up skimming most of the book.

Anne Boleyn: I really enjoyed The Nanny Diaries the first couple times I read it, but just don't feel a pull towards it anymore.  Plus, the sequel was pretty terrible.

Jane Seymour: Dear Mrs. Bird was a short, quick read that packed a lot of charm and heart.

Anne of Cleves: I had seen some god reviews of Rebel of the Sands, but I'll be honest, I mostly read it because I loved the cover!

Kathryn Howard: The romance in How to Walk Away wasn't so much forbidden as it was unethical.

Katherine Parr: The book-within-a-book in The Distant Hours feels so real, it makes me want to check the library catalog for it.

Lady Jane Grey: I really could have used an epilogue on this one!

Mary I: I wouldn't really burn Fifty Shades of Grey, I just think it was poorly written fan-fic that didn't really portray a particular lifestyle in the best way.

Elizabeth I: Princess Winter was one of the most intriguing characters in The Lunar Chronicles, and this book was the perfect ending to the series!

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