Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book Review: Wake by Anna Hope

Wake by Anna Hope

Completed: February 21, 2014
Length: 304 Pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:
A brilliant debut for readers of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, in which three women must deal with the aftershocks of WWI and its impact on the men in their lives—a son, a brother and a lover. Their tragic connection is slowly revealed as the book unfolds.
Wake: 1) Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep 2) Ritual for the dead 3) Consequence or aftermath.
Hettie, a dance instructress at the Palais, lives at home with her mother and her brother, mute and lost after his return from the war. One night, at work, she meets a wealthy, educated man and has reason to think he is as smitten with her as she is with him. Still there is something distracted about him, something she cannot reach...Evelyn works at the Pensions Exchange through which thousands of men have claimed benefits from wounds or debilitating distress. Embittered by her own loss, more and more estranged from her posh parents, she looks for solace in her adored brother who has not been the same since he returned from the front...Ada is beset by visions of her son on every street, convinced he is still alive. Helpless, her loving husband of 25 years has withdrawn from her. Then one day a young man appears at her door with notions to peddle, like hundreds of out of work veterans. But when he shows signs of being seriously disturbed—she recognizes the symptoms of "shell shock"—and utters the name of her son she is jolted to the core...
The lives of these three women are braided together, their stories gathering tremendous power as the ties that bind them become clear, and the body of the unknown soldier moves closer and closer to its final resting place.
Fiction or Non-Fiction? Genre?: Historical Fiction.

What Lead You to Pick-up This Book?: hm... I think I saw it on a list of books out in 2014 and thought it sounded good. It was on Netgalley, so I grabbed a copy.

Summarize the Plot: This book takes place over 5 days. WWI is over, but the men and women of this novel are still dealing with things in their own way. The novel follows three women over these five days: Hettie, Evelyn, and Ada. Hettie is a dance instructor at a local dance club. She is one of the women that men pay to dance with. She is still living at home with her mother and her emotionally-disturbed brother. One night she meets a wealthy man and takes a shine to him. She thinks that he likes her as much, but things are not always as they seem. Then there is Evelyn. She is wealthy, but chooses to live in a flat and work for the war department at the Pension Exchange. She is dealing with her own loss from the war and trying to deal with her brother who is dealing with different demons in different ways. Lastly, there is Ada. She has not taken the loss of her son well and her husband has grown distant from her. Then a young man shows up at her door and sets everything back in motion for her. The three characters wind up with unknown connections to each other, but they are also connected by the moving of an unknown soldiers body as it moves towards its final resting place.

What Did You Like Most About This Book?: I really liked that the book took place after the war. It still illuminates the tragic events, but it also shows what it is like for the people afterwards. The war may be over, but there are still many things to deal with. It is a very humanizing story. Plus, it is about the women who don't always get as much attention in the overall picture of war. It doesn't just show them, though. They interact with men and we get to see their sides of things, too.

What Did You Like the Least?: There is a question that specifically pertains to my problem with this book, so I will mention it there. Otherwise, I quite enjoyed this book and have no major complaints.

What Did You Think of the Writing Style?: This is a debut novel, but all ready Anna Hope is a fantastic author. I was drawn in right away and found that I was eager to turn the pages and find out what happened next. I actually was having e-reader issues when I first started this book and read the first half or so on my computer. I didn't mind at all. I really look forward to seeing where her writing takes her next.

What Did You Think of the Main Character?: As I mentioned above, the book follows Hettie, Evelyn, and Ada. I have to say that I enjoyed them all. In many ways they have grown up very differently and had very different experiences during the war, but on the other hand they are very much the same. The war touches everyone and makes complete strangers similar to one anther. It does turn out that there are connecting lines between the characters, but that isn't entirely apparent in the beginning and doesn't always mean the characters themselves are even aware of it. I enjoyed learning about all three of them and seeing things from their points of view.

What Did You Think of the Ending?: *ahem* I finished this book in February. It has taken me this long to review the book... I still remember the book very clearly considering it has been so long. I would even go to say that it might have been one of my top reads of the year... And then the ending happened. I was reading an e-galley and thought maybe there was something wrong with it. I finally got definite confirmation today that there was nothing at all wrong. What do I even say? I hated the ending. I glanced around Goodreads, though, and no one said anything about it... I am not sure if I would have liked it better if I didn't think it was some sort of error?

I am glad I don't rate books because I am not sure what I would even give this one... A great rating for the book and then a separate rating with the ending? It has been a couple months and I still have no idea what to think.

So, recommended, but with a warning...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Things (That Aren't Books) That I'd Like To Own

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

I used this topic as an excuse to browse Etsy! 

From The Pendant Emporium.

From Me: Designs by Melanie.

From Coryographies.

From Pixiesdance. (I am planning to get an infinity scarf... I just don't know what one! This Alice in Wonderland one is just cool, but maybe I prefer something less-busy... Any shop suggestions are welcomed!)

From Paperface Studios.

From Haase Handcraft. (They have other fun designs!)

From On Display Graphix. (I am tempted to order this right now!)

Same store. I could buy many things from this store...

From Blackbird Studio.

From myBookmark. (All the designs here are fun!)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review: The Time Traveler's Boyfriend by Annabelle Costa

The Time Traveler's Boyfriend by Annabelle Costa

Completed: April 14, 2014
Length: 183 Pages
Claudia’s geeky boyfriend Adam has just invented a time machine.
No, really—he has. She doesn't believe it either until Adam provides her with definitive proof that he does, in fact, have a functioning time travel device sitting in the living room of his Manhattan brownstone.
But instead of getting ready to accept the Nobel Prize, Adam has very different plans for his groundbreaking invention. He wants Claudia to use the machine to travel back in time and stop the accident that landed him in a wheelchair over a decade ago, and prevent the trajectory of events that he believes ruined his life.
When Claudia reluctantly agrees to become the first human time traveler, she knows she’s making a big gamble. If she succeeds, she could have the happy ending with commitment-phobic Adam that she’s always dreamed of. But if she fails, it could mean the end of the universe as she knows it.
Fiction or Non-Fiction? Genre?: I guess this is almost science-fiction... And romance... Definitely fiction.

What Lead You to Pick Up This Book?: I read it as part of a TLC Book Tour.

Summarize the Plot: Well, there is a girl and a guy. Claudia is a school teacher and Adam is a computer programmer and inventor. He is in a wheelchair because of an accident that leaves him paralysed from the waist down. They are in their 30's and Claudia is feeling her time slipping away. She is ready to settle down and have a baby. Adam keeps putting on the brakes and blaming it on a relationship from his past. Then, Adam invents a time machine and asks Claudia to go back in time to try and stop the cab that hit him from succeeding. That's when Claudia takes the risk of being the first time traveler. You will have to read the book to see what happens!

What Did You Like Most About This Book?: First of all... I was worried I wouldn't like it at all. It is just another book in my attempt to branch out with my reading. And, you know what, while I wouldn't call it my favourite read of the year, I did find it a fun read. I liked Claudia most of the time. I thought the time-travelling angle was different. I liked that I didn't find myself groaning at the silliness. And, it was a book with real people. Claudia was just an average person and Adam was average other than being in a wheelchair... And inventing a time machine... I mentioned the other day that I get tired of everything being so perfect...

What Did You Like The Least?: Let's see... I sometimes didn't like the dialogue. It didn't flow or something. It was just in the beginning of the book, so I must have got used to it as I read it. I also found things were unnecessarily repeated over and over again. I wish those moments were used to add more to the story than to reiterate something we know all ready. I am sure if I didn't go into this book expecting a fun read, I would dislike a lot more.

What Did You Think of the Writing Style?: Not perfect, but not terrible either. It is just something that will get better with practice. I finished the book, so it couldn't have bothered me that much.

What Did You Think of the Main Character?: I mentioned above that I mostly liked Claudia, but there were times where I didn't. I think the only reason I reached the end of the book and liked her is because she goes back in time and encounters her younger self. Her younger self is much, much worse. I think a lot of it was that all Claudia seemed to be thinking about is her size, getting married, and having kids. It's really what the whole book is focused around. I couldn't help wishing she had some deeper thoughts.

What Did You Think of the Ending?: A bit predictable, but satisfactory. I don't think I would have liked it if the book ended any other way. I wouldn't expect the book to end any other way.

Bottom line, if you are looking for a cutesy, science-fiction-like, romance story... Give this a try! It won't knock your socks off, but you will have fun reading it!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Book Review: Trinity Stones (The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, Book 1) by L.G. O'Connor

Trinity Stones (The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, Book 1) by L.G.

Completed: April, 2014
Length: 366 Pages
Anxiety-ridden New York investment banker, Cara Collins, has little to smile about on her twenty-seventh birthday between a hostile work environment and her impossible romantic situation with her longtime friend and first love, Dr. Kai Solomon. But before the day ends, she learns she has inherited $50 million—a windfall that must remain secret or risk the lives of those close to her.
As Cara unravels the truth surrounding her inheritance, she makes a startling discovery: angels walk among the living, and they’re getting ready to engage in a battle that will determine the future of the human race. In the midst of these revelations, she meets mysterious and sophisticated Simon Young, who offers her the promise of romance for the first time since Kai—but when Kai and his daughter are kidnapped by dark forces, Cara must choose: accept her place in a 2,000-year-old prophecy foretold in the Trinity Stones as the First of the Twelve who will lead the final battle between good and evil . . . or risk losing everything she holds dear.

One of the reasons that I enjoy doing book tours is because it gives me a chance to hear about books I may not have heard about otherwise. I also enjoy getting out of my comfort zone a bit. I was originally interested in this book because of the fantasy elements. I was a little unsure about the religion and romance. I read books that include both, but they are not something I look for in my normal reading. While essentially a very different book, I was mostly intrigued because this series reminds me of the things I loved about the Gardella Vampire Chronicles by Colleen Gleason. That's another series that was largely out of my comfort zone... (I had to enter the romance section of the bookstore even!) It was worth it, though, and has helped make me take chances with other books.

So, on to the book... First of all, I am a sucker for books with a strong female lead. Cara Collins is only 27 and is about to have her life changed entirely. And, we get a taste of that right from the very beginning. I appreciated that we are an audience to Cara's future before she even knows things are about to happen. We don't know everything, we will learn as she does, but it was enough of a teaser to get me interested in the story. Cara is really well. Her life has been turned upside down, but O'Connor managed to write her with the right mixture of kick-ass heroine and 'what the hell did I sign up for'. I sometimes find the character is too ready to accept their fate, which can sometimes seem unbelievable. Or, go in the other direction so much that they just annoy me. It is important to have a mixture to make the store work for me.

Then, there are all the religious connections to the book. I have to admit, I really liked how they were handled. That was a relief because if I wasn't, this would have been a very wasted book for me. And, really, any time you attempt to tackle such a subject you are taking a huge risk if you ask me. Anyway, O'Connor takes the typical religious stories and expertly weaves in Cara's story. I actually found it all really interesting. Sometimes stories about the battle between good and evil can be a bit silly, but this read more like a history lesson. As a big fan of history I was delighted to see how everything unfolded.

And, well, the romance is there. I didn't hate it... Sometimes I admit I groaned a bit. (Mostly in the beginning when meeting all the characters...) I liked Kai. There is one scene where he is dressed in a polo shirt and slacks and just looked like an average person. The rest of the men in the book mostly had 'amazing' bodies, appearances, blah blah. The women, too. I kind of get tired of a guy meeting a girl and liking her immediately and vice-versa. It's all based on appearance and it grates on my nerves. It could have been a lot worse, though. There were just a few scenes that bugged me. I won't go into detail because I know it is mostly me and other people like those kinds of scenes. No point in ruining it for anyway with my grumbling.

Other things to mention... I love Chloe. She's a dog. I am a sucker for animals in books.... I can't help it! And, she is such a great character all on her own! (The fact that we are in the process of hopefully getting a dog probably contributed!) I liked that Chloe played the right amount of a roll in the book... Is it sad that in many ways she was my favourite character? Don't mind me... I haven't had a dog in years and I am a tad bit excited about dogs in general at the moment!

Back to the book... Overall, I found it to be a page-turner. Any problems I had with it were minor. One other thing I will mention is that there is a lot of information dumped on you in this book... It might have been nice to have a bit more of a story, but it will definitely set up the rest of the series, so I understand it was necessary.

I recommend this book and look forward to the rest of this series. I am glad I took a chance on it!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Sorry For the Silence...

We got a new kitty! His name is Finnegan. We brought him home on Sunday. He is still getting used to us and Casey has no idea what to think. Hopefully he will be a good addition to our household.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Confessions: I Don't Delete Email

This may seem really random, but last night I accidentally hit the 'end' key on my keyboard while checking my email. My email goes back to 2005! And, honestly, the email might even be older than that... I might have actually used to delete things! I go through stages where I think I should clean it out, but it is not hurting anything and I have other things to do. I delete junk and such when I receive it, but that means I hypothetically have every comment ever left on my blog, for example. So, if blogging becomes obsolete I still have a taste of my blog saved in my very old email.

I don't even like my email address any more. I outgrew it ages ago, but I keep it because of the old sentimentality. I know that if I start using a new address, this one will go quiet and get deleted after a while. And then I will lose stuff! Like right now, I searched for 'Dewey'. For those that don't remember her, she is the inspiration behind things like the 24-Hour Read-a-thon and passed away a few years ago. In my search I found old comments and emails. (Including an email from when I volunteered as a cheerleader for the very first Read-a-thon. See? Memories!) (I totally just got distracted reading those old comments and emails...)

I think one of the fun things about having emails going back so long is that is my entire blogging history. That means that I have friendships documented as they started. (With a couple exceptions of people I knew before blogging.) If I get really sentimental I can trace back first review copies, old emails from authors, etc. And then there are all the emails from old friends mixed in. It kind of represents my life for the last 9 years.

Now, none of this is why I originally didn't delete emails. It just sort of happened... And, now I am kind of glad that I was lazy about it! (It's probably a lot that I love getting letters which this is just a new version of doing. I safe my letters, so why not save my emails!)

What are your thoughts on emails?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Book Review: Alice Will by Ashley Chappell

Alice Will (Dream of Chaos, Book 1) by Ashley Chappell

Completed: April 2, 2014
Length: 297 Pages
With her leaky powers and premature smiting problem, fourteen year-old Trotter was still just trying to get the hang of the demi-godding business when the apocalypse began. In a world where the gods have withdrawn from humanity, leaving mortals bitter toward magic, she finds herself torn between the human and the goddess in her. When the world begins to fade away and she becomes the prime suspect, her search to determine the cause and prove her innocence ends up revolving around a mysterious little girl named Alice. Then she discovers that not all of the gods had been as distant as they seemed...
Now, with everyone against her and the gods fighting amongst themselves, Trotter is on her own to save her world and stop a spiteful god from using Alice to destroy everything.

Fiction or Non-Fiction? Genre? Young Adult Fantasy. Mythological.

What Lead You to Pick up This Book? I am reviewing this book as part of a TLC Book Tour.

Summarize the Plot: We have two young girls: Trotter and Alice. Trotter is aware of who she is and knows that she has special powers. Alice is an orphan, being treated badly, who is growing into abilities she didn't know she had. Trotter is told that she holds the ability to stop some violence that is moving into the world. But, Alice's youth and innocence are making things even more difficult for the world. There is a war coming and it has interesting players. This book also has a talking cat named Prowler that serves as Trotter's companion.

What Did You Like Most About This Book? There were a few things... First of all, I really like talking cats in books. I know it is silly and drives some people crazy, but think it is fun and Prowler definitely added comedic relief. Then, I really liked the mythology in this book. It was a bit rushed in the sense I wish I knew more, but it was still a creative idea. And, as always, I enjoy books where women save the world without help from men. Just saying!

What Did You Like The Least? In the interest of full-disclosure, there were a bunch of typos in this book. Just words that should be other words basically. Sometimes it wasn't a big deal, but other times it sort of jolted you out of the story. I really don't have any major to say against the book, but it did take me a while to get into it. There were a few inconsistencies... Nothing major, but just little things that I didn't really either believe should be part of the narrative or didn't fit with the world she has created.

What Did You Think of the Writing Style? I always seem to answer this question in earlier questions... Basically what I said above... Bit hard to get into and needed a little more editing.

What Did You Think of the Main Character? I will talk about Trotter and Alice in this question. While this book is essentially about Alice, Trotter is the recurring character for the series. Alice is almost 7, an orphan, and rather naive about the world. When she discovers that she has amazing powers, she sets out to create a world that will make her happy. The problem is she has seen so little of the world and experienced so few things. This makes her limited in her creativity. She is a cute kid, though, and just wants to be happy and have people love her. Then there is Trotter. It is less of a secret to her about who she is and she is 14. This makes her less naive and innocent than Alice. Not entirely, though, because she is still just a kid. That's where Prowler, the cat, comes in. He keeps her balanced. Trotter is the one that we will see grow in Chappell's series, so it will be interesting to see where she is headed. Alice and Trotter may seem different, but they have a lot of similar characteristics and made for readable characters most of the time.

What Did You Think of the Ending? Well, it wasn't a cliffhanger, so it had that going for it. It might have been a bit too perfect, but maybe I am used to books having lots of lose ends in this world of constant series. Frankly, with a few interesting revelations, the ending was not amazing. It wasn't terrible either. It was just the ending.

Recommended, but with a few reservations!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Looking Back on March...

So, I lost my reading and blogging mojo in March. I only read 4 books! Craziness... It was a bit slow at the beginning of the month, but I think it really fizzled when I didn't wind up reading all that much while I was away in Florida. Then, we came back to sort of nice weather where we played with cameras... And then we got winter back. I haven't even been listening to audiobooks because the treadmill, where I listen mainly, hasn't been calling to me. (I am determined to fix that this month!)

Anyway, April is a new month and I am determined to get back on track. I have a bunch of blog tours this month that I am excited about, for example. And then there are the few books I have bought recently... And audiobooks... And the Once Upon a Time challenge... And the books I bought in December/January that are waiting for me to get around to. And potential read-alongs... April could be an awesome month of reading if I just let myself relax.

I am kind of obsessed with projects and am always trying to find new ways to spice things up. I thought April was going to be Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred but we have real hardwood in our living room, where the TV is, and even with sneakers on my feet and ankles are killing me after only about 10 mins in. I don't want to hurt myself, so I wind up taking a bit of a break and going on the treadmill instead. This is the first time I have done something like this in the new house. Another moment where I think we need a second television... I will figure something out. I am sure even the 10 mins is better than nothing, right? It is just something to do until the weather gets to be outside-worthy.

Hopefully April will be better weather and reading-wise! What's new with everyone that managed to read this entire post?

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: "Gateway" Books/Authors In My Reading Journey

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke & The Bookish

1. Colleen Gleason and The Rest Falls Away was the first time I ever stepped into the romance section of the bookstore! 

2. Marjane Satrapi and Persepolis started me reading graphic novels.

3. Bill Willingham and Fables cemented my love and obsession with graphic novels.

4. Patricia Briggs and Moon Called was when I started reading paranormal fantasy. She is one of the few series I started back then I still looking forward to a new book from!

5. Libba Bray and A Great and Terrible Beauty was the moment when I decided that young adult books have gotten way better than the ones I used to read when I actually was a young adult!

6. Marion Zimmer Bradley and The Mists of Avalon was the moment where I realized just how much I loved fantasy novels.

7. Madeleine L'Engle and A Wrinkle in Time was the moment when I started reading science-fiction more.

8. Jo Walton and What Makes This Book so Great has greatly influenced my reading so far this year!!

9. Bryan Peterson and Understanding Exposure has lead to not only collecting all of Bryan Peterson's books; but signing up for his newsletter, and branching out to other photography books.  

10. Svetlana Chmakova and Dramacon was one of the first times I tried manga because I discovered it was manageable and not always insane amounts of books!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Once Upon a Time VIII

A rare picture of me... 
Okay... I need spring. My car is still not shovelled out from Wednesday... I am just hoping it will melt! It took forever to just get to one car... I am not reading or blogging. I am just in a 'cabin fever' slump. A lot of it is that for a week we were able to go OUTSIDE and not freeze to death... And now it is cold and yucky and supposed to snow again this weekend. I am so done! This is also affecting audiobooks because I look at my treadmill... And then I look outside... And then I kind of walk off and do something else.... It is really hard to go back to a treadmill after walking outside. And, it was mild when we first got back so we were continuing it... I managed to not get depressed in February, but I think it is hitting me this month! I was more optimistic about the weather following Florida than has actually happened.

But, one 'spring' activity is the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge. It is the 8th year that Carl has hosted this challenge. Normally I would have signed up by now, but I think I am generally in a better mood and feel 'spring-like' in March. It is usually a way better month than February. Mother Nature has gone wacko this year. Anyway, I do want to participate and hopefully I can kick off this slump soon. This means I should sign up!

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

Stories are not just limited to the printed page. Many entertaining, moving, profound or simply fun stories are told in the realm of television and film. To participate in this quest simply let us know about the films and/or television shows that you feel fit into the definitions of fantasy, fairy tales, folklore or mythology that you are enjoying during the challenge.
1. Frozen (March 26, 2014)

I usually post my 'pool' of possibilities separately. I will hopefully manage that tomorrow.