BOOK REVIEW: Colleen Hoover “It Ends With Us”

817vqET828LTitle: It Ends With Us

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Ouch, this book hurt.

First of all, I almost didn’t read this. My first experience reading Colleen Hoover was November 9, which I despised. I hated it so much that I DNF’d it. I won’t get into it here, but I’ll just say: gross, controlling male MC. No, thank you.

Yet I decided to give Hoover another chance. I saw that It Ends With Us was a Goodreads Choice Awards winner, so I figured there had to be something good about it. The audiobook was available, so the stars were aligned. I read the book.

Holy crap, it hurt so much.

It’s difficult to talk about what this book is about without giving away too much; let’s just say that one of the heavier topics is domestic abuse. This wasn’t at all what I expected, but in the best way possible. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and so so difficult.

The main character, Lily, faces a few different abusive men in her life, the first of which was her father. Given her circumstances, it’s made her sure that if she ever found herself in a relationship with a man like that, she would never stand for it. She would never go back to him. She would be different.

Yet when she finds herself in a relationship with a man who does hurt her, she finds it’s so much harder when you’re the victim. She justifies it, makes excuses, and tries to write it off. He’s different, he’s not like her father.

When some new information comes to light about her current abuser, I was afraid that Hoover would make it seem like it was okay to stay. Encourage it even. In the end, though, I felt that the topic was dealt with really well. With such a sensitive subject, this book could have easily gone off-course; thankfully it didn’t.

I’m so glad that I gave Hoover another shot and hope to read a few more of her books. Comment your recommendations below!

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BOOK REVIEW: Taylor Jenkins Reid “Evidence of the Affair”

41Cfcwc9hcLTitle: Evidence of the Affair

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

For a short story, I’ll be writing a short review (which tends to be my type of review anyway; who wants to read a book about a book?).

This is a story told in letters written between Carrie and David. Their spouses are cheating on them with each other’s spouses. Messy stuff.

It begins with Carrie writing to David to inform him that his wife is having an affair with her husband. She knows this because she’s found some letters addressed to her husband from David’s wife. Carrie asks David if he can look for letters from her husband among his wife’s things because she just wants to know why, and asks if he wants to see his wife’s letters.

So begins the correspondence between the two as they cope with the pain of betrayal and ask each other for advice. What will they do? Will they try to work things out? Will they confront their spouses?

It’s a very easy read, and the end is both satisfying and yet not enough. It makes me wish there had been just a little bit more, or maybe even, dare I say it, a sequel? In such a short amount of time, Reid made me fall in love with Carrie and David. I cared for them both and wanted to see them happy.

I’ve had varying experiences reading Reid’s work, but I can say that this was a win for me.

A Year Full of Beautiful Covers

Listen, I’m not saying I judge books by their covers. I’m just saying, they’re nice to look at, and I’m more inclined to take pictures of them and display them on my shelves and okay maybe I judge books by their covers.

It’s just so hard not to when the books coming out are so dang pretty, and this year’s releases are no exception.

My blog is full of posts talking about books and their contents and reviews of those books. I think I’m entitled to be shallow every once in a while and bask in the beauty of a butt-load of book covers.

So here we go.

51ub94q0GWL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Even though I may not have loved A Very Large Expanse of Sea, the writing on this cover is so aesthetically pleasing. This combination of colors and pretty fonts is perfect, and I’m just disappointed I couldn’t love the inside as much as I loved the outside.

91JGnozCxiLThere is something so wonderfully ghostly about this paranormal re-imagining of Jane Eyre, My Plain Jane. I also happened to really enjoy this read, even more than I did My Lady Jane! Although I’ve never read Jane Eyre before, it definitely made me want to get into the original! And anything that inspires me to want to read classics is a win in my book.

81PYy9EQs1LWhat’s a pretty cover collection without a Schwab title? So I’m mad that this cover isn’t available in the US and I ended up with the blue-ish cover, but I can still admire this beauty from a distance. *soft crying noises* City of Ghosts was such a fun, adorable read, and it has convinced me that Victoria Schwab can literally write anything. Any genre, any age group, anything.

60869Another stunning cover that I think everyone can agree is just jaw-dropping is The Hazel Wood. The gold and silver embossing on this book is to die for; if I hadn’t actually enjoyed this read, I still would have kept it on my shelf just because. This one has such opposing reviews online, but thankfully I found it inventive and haunting and I can’t wait to read the next one!

the-wicked-deep-9781481497343_hrThe Wicked Deep is another obvious one for me, especially for the naked hardcover on the first edition and the beautiful night sky. *heart eyes* Such a lovely, atmospheric read, with writing just as pretty as the cover. I can’t wait to reread this next year around Halloween!

34499221I’ll indulge myself one moment longer and share the cover of To Kill a Kingdom, this beautiful Little Mermaid retelling. I absolutely loved this read, and it gave me hope that retellings aren’t completely hopeless! That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, but lately they’ve become a little repetitive. To Kill a Kingdom was inventive and unique while still remaining true to the source material.

Thank you for sticking around for my book fashion show. I promise I’ll go back to intelligent musings and discussions after this, but come on. You have to admit. They’re so pretty.

BOOK REVIEW: Felicia Day “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)”

23705512Title: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

Author: Felicia Day

Genre: Memoir/Humor

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

I actually really enjoyed this.

I say really, because I didn’t expect much from this. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t been exposed to Felicia Day much except for her role in Eureka and a few episodes I’ve seen her in on Supernatural. I knew she was considered “Queen of the Geeks”, so she’s someone that I should know more about since I’m a self-proclaimed geek myself. I knew she was a gamer, but I’m only just now getting into video gaming and it’s definitely just on a recreational, occasional basis.

Moving on, Felicia Day’s memoir was so much more than I could have ever imagined.

First of all, I listened to the audiobook, which was read by her; so listening to her story in her own voice was an experience in itself. It felt like it was being told and read in the way that she intended, so it was perfect. Day is so funny, so her voice was a delight.

Learning about her early life was so interesting. I could definitely relate to her homeschool trials, being homeschooled myself, and found it so interesting that she originally went to college on a violin scholarship. Yet even though she could have made a career out of that, Day realized that she wasn’t passionate about playing violin like she should be. She chased a dream that hadn’t even fully formed yet, and for some reason there’s something so inspiring about that to me.

I’ve struggled myself lately, trying to figure out what I want to do with my life and what kind of career I want to pursue. There aren’t a lot of options for someone who doesn’t have a degree and doesn’t feel good enough to try. But Felicia Day dreamed and she took a leap. She put herself out there.

Amazingly, it wasn’t her work in commercials that launched her fame, but her web series start up. Felicia went against all odds to film a show without any professional help or funding, and she made a name for herself. I think that’s awesome, and it makes me think and realize that I am capable of anything. If she can do it, so can I.

It’s been a long time since a book moved me to become motivated in the way that I am now. It was amazing. I’m so glad that I read this and I think that anyone who needs a little push should read this as well.

BOOK REVIEW: Katherine Center “How to Walk Away”

91de-kA4w7LTitle: How to Walk Away

Author: Katherine Center

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

I’ve seen this book compared to Me Before You a few times, but let’s make something clear: How to Walk Away is better.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the chemistry in Me Before You. Louisa and Will were absolutely precious and I will never not think about how adorable the sock scene was. But that ending.

(Spoilers for Me Before You ahead.) That ending made me so angry. I understand it, I do. I understand why it ended that way, but it didn’t have to. Will didn’t have to die. Of course circumstances in his life had caused him to become miserable, but didn’t Louisa prove that happiness in spite of the tragedy was possible? I’ll never get over that, I just won’t.

So in How to Walk Away, Katherine Center took a similar approach: Margaret is left paralyzed and burned from an airplane crash. She loses everything: fancy job, not-mangled body, handsome fiance. She faces many trials in the months to come and alternates between obsessing over getting better and not wanting to try at all. Many things occur that make her want to quit, and she does contemplate suicide.

Yet this story shows that even in the wake of adversity, contentment and even joy can be found again. And it doesn’t even have to be in the arms of a lover.

Although that’s super helpful because duh, romance.

Margaret reacts very realistically to her circumstances, and it makes her human. She doesn’t have a bunch of wise words now to share with her family, which is suffering from a bit of dysfunction itself. She doesn’t treat her piece-of-garbage fiance with grace or kindness when all is said and done. Margaret hurls all the righteous rage that is due her. She has depressive episodes and sometimes let’s it affect her recovery.

But what Margaret becomes in the end is not a shell of a person, but a beautiful flowering human who finds new hope and purpose in spite of her circumstances. I loved the message of this story and I loved the outcome.

The secondary characters were wonderful also. I loved reading about Margaret’s family drama, and of course loved all the scenes that included her attractive Scottish physical therapist. *wink*

I cheered for Margaret from the very beginning of this story and it was so rewarding to see her life play out for the better. What an inspiring story, that even caused me to examine my own life. I think that’s all we can ask of any good book.

‘Tis the Season for Fantasy, Thrillers, and Cheesy Holiday Rom-Coms!

Fa la la la la, la la, la, la! Am I one of those people? You bet I am. I love Christmas, and if it were even remotely acceptable to start celebrating in October, you bet I’d do that, too. But alas, I suppose two months of Christmas will have to be enough.

close up of christmas decoration hanging on tree

Photo by Gary Spears on Pexels.com

So it’s that time of year: the time to rewatch Harry Potter, Home Alone, The Grinch, and all the corny Hallmark Christmas movies. It’s also the perfect time to read all the thrillers, all the dark, atmospheric fantasy reads, and any wintery romance.

Of course, fantasies and thrillers are great to read any time of year, but isn’t it just so much nicer during the holidays? You can cuddle up in a warm fuzzy blanket, light a Christmas-y candle and read.

I say this like it actually gets cold where I am. Here in Hawaii, it doesn’t get below 70 degrees, so if I want to do any burrowing, I have to crank up the AC. But still!

51N8TdfrZ6LSo let’s talk about some of the books I’m planning on reading this holiday season! The first one is so obviously Christmas: My True Love Gave to Me is a collection of 12 short stories all set during the holidays. This will be perfect to read in the days leading up to holiday; I can read one story for each of the 12 days of Christmas! I’m especially excited to read the stories by Holly Black, Jenny Han, and Stephanie Perkins, who is actually the one author who edited and put the stories together.

9781492656623Next, I plan to read Furyborn, a fantasy from Claire Legrand about two women one thousand years apart. From what I hear, it’s full of magic and action, and it sounds like the perfect book to curl up with and read with a cup of hot chocolate. Several of my friends have already read this and said amazing things about this, plus I’m excited to read Sawkill Girls by the same author!

9781101985380_p0_v2_s550x406Final Girls by Riley Sager has been on my TBR ever since it came out, and I can just see myself huddling deeper under my covers and cuddling with my husband while I read this, scared out of my mind. This is about a group of women who are the lone survivors are horror movie-like situations. I’ve been interested in this story since the moment I first heard the synopsis, so I’m pumped to finally dig into this in the next few months! Maybe not the spirit of Christmas but the perfect book to keep you company during the winter months.

9780142412145Another very obvious choice is Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. This is three different stories about a snowstorm in a town called Gracetown by three different authors. It sounds like the perfect formula for a cozy, adorable read that’s going to make my heart burst with happiness and Christmas cheer. Bring on the cheese, John Green! I’m ready!

815D5sneiNLThe last title I’m going to include in this collection is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This looks like the absolute perfect novel to get me through the cold nights of the AC blowing on my face… wait. Disregard. It will still be perfect magical read for the season!

I’d love to know what you lovely people will be reading during the holidays! Let me know in the comments below so that I can add those titles to my TBR!

I’m a Terrible Reader, Please Help Me

I seriously suck.

Here we are, basically halfway through November, and I have read one book. ONE BOOK. And get this: it wasn’t even a book on my November TBR. Get this, there’s not a single book on my TBR that looks appealing to me.

So, yeah, I hereby ban monthly TBR lists for me. I can’t do them. I picked out a bunch of books, and I’m not in the mood to read a single one. Yet I feel guilty picking up anything that’s not on my TBR, so now I haven’t read anything. What a vicious cycle this is.

As of today, this monthly TBR has been disbanded and I am free to read anything I want. What a freeing, liberating feeling! *looks at my mile-high forever TBR pile* *cries* *hides in shame* *plays Skyrim instead*

I am in the worst reading slump, guys, and I need help. I can’t afford to be in a slump, so what are some all-natural remedies for a book-hangover? I thought that reading Geekerella would do it, and I really enjoyed it, but I still look at my pile of books and cower in fear. I still pick up a book, read three pages, then turn on Netflix.

In an attempt to pull myself out of this, I’m going to read another mystery/thriller type book, which was what seemed to have put me in a slump to begin with. The last book I completed last month was Little Monsters by Kara Thomas, which I loved. It was everything I wanted in a mystery/thriller and checked all of my boxes and was just so satisfying. Maybe if I read another book like this, I will cure myself; so Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart should hopefully do the trick.

In all seriousness, what are some tips and tricks from my fellow booklovers for pulling yourself out of a reading slump? How do you do it?

BOOK REVIEW: Nicola Yoon “Everything, Everything”

22053372_1813520378678045_2121720862_nTitle: Everything, Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Madeline has a rare disease which makes it impossible for her to go outside. Basically, she is allergic to the world. So she lives a confined life with little-to-no social interaction, which she is satisfied with. That is, until the new neighbors move in.

She watches the family next door and memorizes their daily schedules. Madeline watches the wife garden in the morning, the husband come home every day with anger in his eyes, looking for a reason to attack his family. She watches the daughter leave cigarettes in the front yard, and then watches the son. His comings and goings. His lack of routine. She watches him climb onto the room, where she’s unable to see him anymore. And occasionally, she watches him watch her.

Madeline and Oliver eventually connect via email, typing IMs to each other. A special relationship blossoms between them, and suddenly, Madeline is no longer satisfied with her life indoors. She decides she wants more.

This was a sweet story, and I loved seeing Madeline and Oliver’s initial interactions via IM. I loved it when they met for the first time, the nervousness and the flirting.

Oliver’s character was well-developed, and I was so glad that there was more to him than “bad boy next door neighbor, likes to wear black”. I love that he never gave up on Madeline and his genuine love and concern for her wellbeing. He was more worried about her being healthy than being able to have a normal relationship with her. He was willing to settle for zero physical contact and 30 minute visits if it meant that she would be alright, so he was selfless and caring.

Madeline was also an easy character to like. She wasn’t totally pleased with her health situation, but she was living with it, which is a lot better than I would be doing. But she was also strong and when she finally started thinking for herself, she stuck to her guns and she did what she needed to.

Unfortunately, I predicted the ending, but was still relatively satisfied with it. This was a quick, adorable read, and I can’t wait to see the movie now!

 

Nicola Yoon: Website | Tumblr | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows “My Lady Jane”

22016296_1813520372011379_1081536989_nTitle: My Lady Jane

Author(s): Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

If you don’t know the tragic backstory of Lady Jane Grey, it doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that her young life was extinguished much too soon. She was eventually seen as a victim and martyr, poor thing.

Don’t be so mad, I haven’t spoiled the end for you.

In this story, our narrators Hand, Ashton, and Meadows attempt to rewrite history in a fun, clever way. Not only that, they give the story a happy ending, which is what I’m here for. If you know me at all, you’d know that I hate a sad story, and I was so excited to read a book where a tragic history gets retold.

This story has some serious fantastical elements to it, so there is no doubt that this is fiction. Instead of a religious tension between Catholics and the Protestants, this is a story about a division between people who can change into animals, Edians, and those who can’t, Verities. It’s so silly, it borders on ridiculous; yet somehow it works. The language in the book seems a little too contemporary, but I suppose when one of the main characters is a horse, you can afford to be a little lenient?

Jane Grey is arranged to be married to Lord Gifford Dudley (who also happens to be the horse mentioned above). She doesn’t discover this crazy secret until the morning after her wedding night, when she awakens to find her hungover husband has turned into an animal. He can’t control the change, unfortunately, and is doomed to be in equestrian form during the day and a man only at night.

Our newlyweds also despise each other, although surprisingly, this has nothing to do with the fact that the groom is a horse. (Can I mention this enough?) This is something that I can’t help but love: when two characters that seem to hate each other eventually catch feelings. It’s a popular trope, and maybe an annoying one to some, but I will always think it’s adorable.

I can’t say much about our King Edward because he had no personality. He was so tasteless and charmless and boring to read. And unfortunately, this was what eventually killed the story for me; although I found it funny and sweet and entertaining, the story only got slower and slower. I wanted to be into it, but I just kept skimming.

Also, another thing I thought was irritating: every time a character changed from animal to human form, they would be naked. It makes complete sense and I know this was vital to the story, but the characters wouldn’t shut up about it. Someone would change and all they could talk about was how naked they were. Like okay, we get it, they’re naked. Grow up.

All in all, it was entertaining and crazy enough to pique my interest, but not enough to keep me hooked. I’ll read any sequels just to see what happens, but they won’t be a priority read for me.