Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Nightingale


The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah

This is a World War II novel set in occupied France. It follows the lives of two sisters and the decisions they were forced to make during a time that the Nazis had taken over every aspect of their country. They are very different from each other and their paths seemed very different but I think that by the end they learned that they were not as different as they thought.

To be honest I was a little hesitant about reading another WWII book. The last few I have read have not been that great. I kept seeing this book being recommended though, so I decided to give it a chance. I sure am glad I did. I thought this was a really touching story and I feel like I learned a lot about the German occupation of France. I can't even imagine living through an experience like that, let alone risking your life to fight against them.

The best thing about this book for me was the ending. Did everything end happily ever after? No, it was about WWII after all. There was definitely some ugly crying involved, but it showed that there were good people who made a real difference. Even if it was a small difference, it was important. There is a lot to be said about our ability to help those around us even in it feels like we aren't making much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Runaway King


The Runaway King
by Jennifer A. Nielsen

This is the second book in this series and I enjoyed this one just as much as the first one. The characters are great and the story was engaging. I like that main character, Jaron, kept me guessing the entire time about what his next move would be. There always seemed to be some end game he was working for even when things didn't seem to be going his way. I liked finding out just how it would all work out. This is a great fantasy book and series that I would highly recommend.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Monster Calls- The movie



I finally got a chance to see the film version of A Monster Calls a few weeks ago and I loved it.

This was such a hauntingly beautifully book and I am so glad that they were able to keep the same feeling in the movie. I think they did an amazing job bring this story to life. They even included the  illustrations that added so much depth to the book. Liam Neeson was the perfect voice for the monster. The stories told by the monster were beautifully animated. It really was perfect. I cried just as much as I did in the book. I would highly recommend it.

You can read my review of the book here.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tiger Lily


Tiger Lily
by Jodi Lynn Anderson

I thought that this was such a beautiful retelling of the Peter Pan story but with the main focus as Tiger Lily. This story is told through the eyes of Tinker Bell and I really liked reading from the perspective. I thought that it made the story even more interesting.

I was immediately drawn into the world of Neverland that Tiger Lily lived in. Her story was fascinating and I loved that she was a strong character but that she also had weakness. She was independent and capable. She did what she wanted, even if it wasn't what was expect of a girl. But at the same time, she was so caught up in what was happening to her that she didn't realize what was happening to the people she loved.

 It did get kind of slow in the middle and it didn't really seem like much was happening. It took awhile to really get back to the meat of the story.  There was some very interesting commentary on Christianity trying to convert indigenous people and the problems that can cause. It definitely did not put them in very good light and even I found myself frustrated with him trying to change and convert everyone to his view of the world. Which I'm sure was the point the author was trying to make.

I did really love the ending. I thought it was a beautiful message about love and loss. About the ability to heal and move on. To love more then one person and to recognize that it is ok to love again. Especially when you love someone who is dearer to you then life and then lose them. It was the perfect ending to the story.

*Also if you are interesting in checking the book out the picture above gives you a direct link to Amazon. The same goes for all the other post on this blog. Most pictures of the books are linked to Amazon, where you can read more reviews or even buy them.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Geekerella


Geekerella
By Ashley Poston

This ended up being a really cute story. It was a fun take on the Cinderella story. It is full of fun geeky references. This is a modern telling, with food trucks, movie stars and Sci fi fans. I think this story does a great job of showing that it's ok to be yourself. That liking things that are considered geeky doesn't make you weird and that there are others out there who like the same things. You are not alone.

It did take me a little bit to really get drawn into the story but once I did I couldn't put it down. It jumps between the two main Characters, Elle and Darien. My one complaint at the beginning was that their voice in the book sounded too familiar, like reading the same character just one being a boy instead of a girl. After the first few chapters though I stopped feeling that way and they became very distinct personalities. I'm sure it is just her style of writing. I just had to get to know the characters first.

I loved the ending and how it all wrapped up. It was such a cute modern fairy tale. I would definitely recommend this if you are looking for something fun to read.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The False Prince


The False Prince
By Jennifer A. Nielsen

This was such a fun book to read. This is a fantasy novel filled with intrigue, hidden secrets and plenty of action. In the book several orphans are  taken by a noblemen, who has plans to use them take the throne, by having one of them impersonate the long lost son of the king. The story moved quickly and easily kept my interest through out the entire book. I thought that the characters were interesting. I especially liked the main character Sage, who was mischievous and stubborn but also kind and thoughtful. He was a character I could really get behind.

The story was somewhat predictable for me but I was happy with it any way. If it hadn't gone the way I wanted it to, I actually might have been a little disappointed. This is a case of knowing what is going to happen but in a good way. This book is geared towards 10-14 year olds but I still really enjoyed it. I think this would be a great book for a kid who needs something to really grab their interest in reading. I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Chemist


The Chemist
By Stephenie Meyer

This book is written by the same person who wrote the Twilight series and The Host. I really enjoyed those book so I was looking forward to this book. She dedicates this book to Jason Bourne and Aaron Cross so that should give you a pretty good idea about the subject matter of this book. Now I'm not always a fan of spy thrillers but I really enjoyed this one and I definitely liked it way better then the Jason Bourne book I read.

This book follows Alex, an ex-goverment specialist, who is on the run from the very people who trained and employed her. She will do what ever it takes to survive and bring the people down who want her dead.  She ends up kidnapping someone and in the process ends up learning that the conspiracy is much bigger then she ever knew. (Sound familiar yet?) I would say that the premises is a lot like Jason Bourne, except she has her memories.

I thought that the characters were really interesting and that the story moved at a good paced, especially compared to some others I've read. There was a lot of character development that need to happen to make the rest of the story work and that did take some time. But it didn't feel like it dragged on so I thought that part of the book was well done. The ending was especially exciting and tense, all the things you look for in a good thriller.

 I know that a lot of reviews didn't like how quickly the romance side played out but I found it so much more believable then the romance in Jason Bourne. (you can read my review of that book here.) I could actually believe that he fell for her so quickly because the book made it clear that there was an attracting from the very beginning.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Elantris


Elantris
By Brandon Sanderson

This should come as no surprise to you if you are familiar with me or Sanderson's writing, this book was amazing! I think the introduction at the beginning of this book explains his success as a writer best when  he said that Sanderson owes his success to the small human stories inside his epics. They are what make his books so great. He makes you care so much about his characters that you just have to read more. This book kept me up late finishing it because I just had to know how it ended. I haven't done that it years. My kids' 6 am wake up call came very early that morning.

This was an action filled story that I did not wan to put down. It was definitely worth losing a little sleep over. Princess Sarene has arrived in Kae, only to learn that the man she is supposed to marry is dead. But the truth is that he isn't really dead, he has just become an Elantrian, dead in a way but still alive. There are forces at work trying to take control of the City and they may be the only ones who can save them all.

The magic in this book is so different from anything else he as written and I found it captivating. I am amazed at his ability to create so many unique stories. None of them are the same. Well they are the same in that he creates characters that you grow to love and care about. I loved the characters in this book. Princess Sarene is strong, witty and determined. All characteristics I love seeing in a female heroine. Prince Raoden is kind, wise and intelligent. He was everything I would want a Prince to be and the perfect match to Sarene. I could go on and on. There are so many great characters in this book. It is what makes the story so great.

I am kind of bummed that this is the only book, so far, with these characters. I guess I can keep my fingers crossed that he will eventually bring these characters back so that I can learn more about Elantris and the magic that it holds.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Farewell to the East End


Call The Midwife: Farewell to the East End
by Jennifer Worth

This is the 3rd and final book in the series. It was filled with familiar stories from the TV show. Or I should say that the TV show used many of these stories. I really enjoyed this book. Her stories are engaging and fascinating. Book 3 was much more like the first book, filled with stories about the midwives' experience delivering babies in the East End of London. This made it a bit more interesting then the second book for me. The stories were all rather sad though. It was hard to imagine that people really lived that way.  I just feel so bad for the women who lived during that time. It really is amazing what proper training and medical advances can do for people.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Shadows of the Workhouse


Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse
by Jennifer Worth

I was really looking forward to reading this book. I love the show and the first book was so good. I was excited to read more about her experiences as a Midwife in East End London, a poor area of the city.

This book covered several of the episodes from the TV Series, or I should say the TV series followed the stories found in this book. I really liked reading the stories, even though I had already watched the show and knew how they would turn out. They definitely stayed true to her book in the TV series.

Book two is somewhat different from the first book because it has far fewer stories in it. It really only follows three stories, which are divided into several chapters. This made for a slower paced book but I still found the stories fascinating and was quickly drawn into to the lives that the stories followed. But I did wish there were more stories about the midwives. None of the stories in this book really had anything to do with the Midwives, other then they told the stories of some of the people who they interacted with more often. That was one thing I really liked about the first book, were all the tales of what it was like to be a midwife in that era. I definitely enjoyed the first book more because of this.

The stories that were told though out were really eye opening. The one about the three who grew up in a workhouse was heart breaking. What horrible places those workhouses were! It kind of bothered me that she kept almost justifying how they came into existence. That back then they really didn't understand how terrible they were being towards the poor. It was really the first form of welfare attempted. But how could they not see the terrible conditions and hopelessness these workhouses created. I mean how can you write an entire book about the horrors of the workhouse but then say they didn't know any better. It was just so horrible! She did do a great job of explaining how they came to be and why the poor were treated that way. It is easy to see how a good idea to help the poor turned out so bad. There were people who tried to improve the situation but it was still just all so hopeless and depressing. It's just hard for me to accept any kind of justification.

I still think this was a good, worthwhile read. The history really is fascinating, even if it is a little depressing. It is good to remember the things that happened in the past so that we do better in the future.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Still Alice


Still Alice
by Lisa Genova

This was such a fantastic book. I could not put it down. It is so well written and does an amazing job of giving you a glimpse into the world of someone suffering from Alzheimer's disease.  This story is about a 50 year old women, a brilliant college professor, who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease and follows her through the progression of the disease. I found it to be both heart breaking and eye opening. I think that the saddest part for me was how people acted differently around her when they found out and just how isolated she felt. It would be so hard to watch a family member lose their ability to remember but it would also be so difficult to know that you were going to eventually forget the people close to you. I think that this book can really help those who haven't experienced this disease better understand, not only what their families go through, but what those who have the disease are feeling. I really love books like this that can help people sympathize and hopefully react better to mental illness. The more we understand, the better we can help.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Cosmere Collection



I finally finished the last three short stories in Brandon Sanderson's Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. They all took place in different systems, on different worlds and all had different forms of magic involved. I am always so impressed by Brandon Sanderson's imagination. He comes up with so many unique and interesting concepts dealing with magic.



White Sand

This story takes place in a world where certain people have the ability to move sand. It contains and excerpt from his Graphic novel of the same name and a short story that goes along with it. I thought the story itself was really fascinating and fun to read. I wish this was a regular novel because I honestly preferred the story to the graphic novel. Don't get me wrong, the graphic novel was cool but I love his writing so much. His descriptions really make a story come to life, even more then pictures can do, at least for me. I would love to read more from this world.



Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

On this world there are Ghost everywhere that are attracted to blood and violence. They will kill anyone with a wound, the person who attacked the person and all those around them. This story was a little too violent for me and I didn't enjoy it as much as his other stories. It is quite an interesting concept but I guess it wasn't really my cup of tea.



Sixth of the Dusk

This was by far the strangest world Sanderson has created. Islands filled with deadly creatures and plants. Predators who hunt by sensing other's minds. Birds that have special abilities then can bestow on humans. I liked how he explores the idea of technological advancement, human exploration and the environment. I ended up really liking where this story went even though it was kind of a bizarre world for me. I think this story really makes you think and that is definitely a good thing.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dangerous


Dangerous
By Shannon Hale

This is a Sci Fi novel that follows a group of teenagers who gain powers after being exposed to Alien material. This is a very different genre then the books I have read by Shannon Hale in the past and it was not my favorite. Sci Fi tends to be hit or miss for me. I know it is fictional but for Sci Fi to work for me I have to really be able to believe that the events could be possible with some future advances in technology. I had a hard time feeling like this story was believable. Just the events that lead to them being exposed seemed a little far fetched and that was just the beginning.

I did think the characters were interesting and the concept was actually really fascinating. It was a fun read and I liked how the story developed and changed. I just didn't love this book as much as her fantasy novels.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mistborn short stories



I recently check out a collection of short stories by Brandon Sanderson from the Library. I had no idea it would be so huge! I started at the beginning, only reading the stories that did not contain spoilers for books I have not read yet.

I was very excited to find 3 Short stories set in the Mistborn world. I love all the books in that series and it was really fun to delve back into that world. These stories do contain some spoilers so I would recommend waiting to read them until you have read the novels first.

The Eleventh Metal takes place before the original series so this is one that could be read before reading the novels. It gives you a peek into Kelsier before he meets up with Vin but after he has escaped the pits. It was cool to see what his Mistborn training was like.

Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania was a fun short told from the perspective of an over the top adventure set in the steampunk world of Wax and Wayne. I loved this one. It was just so fun to read, especially the Postscripts written by a Terrisman who compiled the tales of Jak.  Sanderson says in the Postscript that written the Terrisman's annotations were one of the most amusing things he has ever done. I agree. Hilarious. I would recommend this one.

Mistborn: Secret Histoy was such an amazing story. This one is much longer then the other two stories and so good. I couldn't put this one down. This Novella follows Kelsier after the event of book two and through book three. You definitely need to read those first 3 Mistborn books before reading this one. Oh how I wish I had know about this book back when I finished those books. It has been so long since I read the first 3 books I didn't have the story fresh in my mind which I think would have made it even more amazing! Plus adds so much more to the story for me and I very interested in seeing where he goes with this in the second half of the series.  I don't want to give anything away but there are definitely connections to Wax's era that I am interested in how it plays out.

There are a few more short stories, set in different worlds that I look forward to reading next

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Challenger Deep


Challenger Deep 
By Neal Shusterman

Wow. This was such an unique and fascinating peek into what it is like to deal with mental illness. I love well written books that explore topics that are not as widely talked about. At first I found it a little difficult to get into the story as it jumped back and forth between reality and fantasy. But it all started to come together and I began to understand the connections. Neal Shusterman did an amazing job of weaving together what was happening to Caden in real life and the world he was imagining around him. I thought this was a great way to show just how easy it is to confuse fact and fiction when you are suffering from mental illness.

Maybe it can even help others better understand their friends or families who are going through something similar. It seems like there are more and more books that are addressing hard issues like mental illness, but I think there is still somewhat of a stigma around this subject. We need to talk more openly about Mental illness.

I know there were a couple times at the beginning of the story that I completely understood the anxiety that he was feeling, because I've been there and felt very similar. After reading this book I feel really lucky that my postpartum anxiety eventually got better and didn't become worse. I didn't understand what was happening to me and I didn't realize that I could get help for it. I really feel like that is because we just don't talk about these things very much. I hope that stories like these will help others become more willing to open up about their mental illness, so that more people see that they are not alone and that it is ok to ask for help.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Emperor's Soul


The Emperor's Soul
by Brandon Sanderson

So those of you who have been following my blog, already know just how much I like Brandon Sanderson's Writing. He is a fantastic storyteller and his books never disappoint.

This is a short story, set in the same world as his book Elantris (how have I not read that book yet?). It was a fascinating tale about a girl who is a forger. She uses a type of magic to change objects, animals and even people into something different. She is tasked with saving the Emperor.

I thought this new type of magic was really interesting and different from anything I have read before. This is why I love his books so much. They are so unique.

He is so great at developing characters rich in detail and history. People you genuinely care about and want to know more about. It did not take me long to get drawn into the story and I wanted her to succeed just as much as she was determined to do the impossible.

This story made me want to move Elantris higher up on my to be read list. If you enjoy fantasy but have not read one of Brandon Sanderson's books yet, you should really give this one a try. Even if you don't read fantasy much, I think you will find his style of writing enthralling.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Between Shades of Gray


Between Shades of Gray
By Ruta Sepetys

So I'm going to just get this out there right from the start... This book is exactly why I love historical fiction so much. History is just so fascinating, especially when it is in such a well written story such as this one. I think books like this are the perfect way to introduce people to subjects, not often talked about but need to be told. Because it is in a fictional setting, it is more approachable then a historical text book and it makes you feel more. You get to see and feel what the people in these situations really went through. I think that is what makes this story just so touching. My heart broke for the characters in this book and it makes me even sadder that this is based on real events. Events that I don't think have been talked about nearly enough.

This story takes place in Lithuania and Russia during the time of WWII. It follows a teenage girl and her family as they are deported, by Stalin's secret police, from their homes in Lithuania and sent to work in Labor camps in Siberia. It is as brutal as it sounds. I know that people talk about how evil Stalin and communism was but I'm not sure we truly understand just how horrible the things he did were. When we talk about WWII we tend to focus on the Nazis and the Holocaust because that was so horrific  but after reading this book it is clear that Stalin did things just as horrific. 100,000's died during his cleansing of the Baltic Region. It was surprising to me just how similar some of the situations these people were put in were to what the Jews went through in Germany. Maybe we don't talk about this much ( I don't remember learning anything about this in school) because during the war Russia was our allies. Or maybe it's because we just didn't learn about it until recently. They were so well hidden from the rest of the world. Even after they were finally freed 12 plus years later, they were considered criminals and forbidden to speak about it or risk going back. I think people are still gathering knowledge about these crimes against the Baltic people. But what ever the reason may be for this not being talked about much, their story needs to be told and this book did a great job of telling that story.

I loved how she put little flash backs through out the book about what their life was like before they were deported.  It was such a contrast to the current situation they were in and it really helped to highlight just how drastically their lives had changed. There were so many interesting characters in this book, all with different life situations.  I think that it helped show the different types of trials that this group of people faced. I was really touched by this book. It was one of those stories that brought me to tears because I felt so deeply for the characters. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about Lithuania and Russian history.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Heartless


Heartless
By Marissa Meyer

I was so excited to read this book, written by the same author who gave us the Lunar Chronicles. I loved that series so much and a book based in Wonderland seemed like a really fun idea. This story takes place before Alice's visit and introduces you to many of the beloved characters history. I always like a good back story. Who doesn't want to learn more about what made a person who they are? This was a fun story with plenty of whimsy and nonsense that you would expect in a story which takes place in Lewis Carroll's Wonderland.

This was not my favorite of her books though and I actually struggled a little bit to get through it. I should probably make a little confession before I continue. I am not a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland. I'm not particularly fond of the cartoon or the book. It's not that I disliked the book or anything, it's just not a book I would list as a favorite or even choose to reread. So now that that's out there, it shouldn't be shocking that I felt the same way about this book. The story was entertaining and the plot interesting but I just didn't love it.

A few positives about this book: I loved that she stayed true to the original feel of wonderland. I really did feel like I was in the same world created by Lewis Carroll. There were a couple characters that I particular loved, The Cheshire cat and Jest. They were perfect for this story.

My negatives: I found the main character to be frustrating. She was constantly going on about her big dreams and how she would do anything to make them happen but she spends most of the book just trying to avoid things. She was just so passive aggressive it was frustrating. Second, the ending was just so depressing. I mean I knew it was about the Queen of Hearts, based on the title, but it was so sad. I'm just not a huge fan of sad ending I guess.

So there it is. I thought this was a creative story and I enjoyed the book, I just didn't love it like I thought I would.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fairest


Fairest
By Marissa Meyer

This is a prequel to the Lunar Chronicles and gives some background about Levana, the wicked ruler of the moon. I loved the Lunar Chronicles and this story did not disappoint. Her story is interesting and it made me think that Cinder would have turned out a lot differently, if she had been raised on the moon with her family, instead of being sent to Earth. Levana is a very selfess, cruel person and her up bring certainly helped to mold her into the monster she became. Did that make me sympathic towards her, not really. If anything it helped cement in my mind just how evil she truly was. If you want a peak into the person behind the veil, you should definitely give this story a read.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Luvsome Dog Food

I received some Luvsome samples to try for my Dog. Lana is seriously the best dog ever. She is so patient with the kids. Always does what she's told. And is always there for me when I need a cuddle! It is so important to me that she gets a healthy, well balanced diet. We plan on having her around for a long time. She is almost 10 years old so keeping her healthy and full of energy is even more important. 

She didn't love the toy that came in the package. I think it is too hard for her. She prefers soft toys. She has really enjoyed the food and gets super excited when ever it's time to feed her. It was so easy to switch her over to this food. Her coat looks good and she had no digestive issues with this diet. Other then it did seem to make her a little more gassy then usual. That seems to be dissipating the longer she has been on the Luvsome food. 

As you can see even the treats are filled with good ingredients and this has provided a good balanced diet for Lana. Funny thing about the treats though, she will only take them from me, not the kids. I have no idea why. She happily gobbles them up when I give them to her but of one of the kids tried she walks away. Strange..,