Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Look Back - 2016 Look Ahead

When looking back on my reading of 2015 I read a total of 32 books.  It is not the most books I have read in a year, but a significant more than I read in 2014.  My goal for the new year is going to read 60 books, which is 5 books per month.  I think this is a reasonable goal and my blog will help me to keep on track.

I read a large amount more young adult fiction this year that I have previously and really enjoyed those books. I want to open up to more genres these year and hope to do so with my 2016 compiled book list based off of some lists I found on Goodreads!

My goals for 2016 are going to be:
  • Read 60 Books
  • Read Books off my 2016 Challenge Page
  • Read at least 5 books of 1001 Books to Read Before I Die
  • Keep my blog updated with as many book reviews as possible
  • Stay on top of my favorite authors and new releases. 
  • Expand my blog following and many new topics to follow! 

I hope everyone has a safe and healthy New Year! I can't wait to see what 2016 brings!! 

Woman with a Secret - Sophie Hannah (Book Review)

I decided to give Sophie Hannah another chance and I am so glad that I did.  I could not put down Women with a Secret.  You need to read the entire book to figure out what is exactly going on.  Not all of the details add up in the beginning or in the middle to the entire picture.  The reader is getting bits and pieces of smaller stories that in the start of the book you would never know interconnect. 

In this book it follows Nicki Clements who is a housewife with two children and loving husband.  It also follows a murder of a columnist who constantly had different opinions from popular belief.  In the beginning you can tell that Nicki is hiding something from a lot of people and maybe even deluding herself into thinking her lies are the truth.  Nicki appears to be having an affair, but looks can be somewhat deceiving.  As the book goes on you learn exactly who Nicki was talking to through the computer and met once.  Although I would argue maybe we don't know who Nicki met that one time.  As the entire book makes you question what do you actually know.

Damon Blundy who took the opposite of popular opinion and put it in his columns was murdered at his home while his devoted wife was downstairs.   The police question the wife, but she seems not to be a main suspect.  Hannah, Damon's wife, has one question for the cops and that is who was her husband actually in love with because it couldn't have been her.  Once Hannah explains herself I can see what she is saying about her husband being to devoted and to caring to quickly.

During the book I thought I put together who murdered Damon Blundy and who Nicki was supposedly corresponding with online, but I was totally wrong.  The author gives the reader so many options that it  is hard to pick just one since several people had motivates in the book.  The suspense keeps going til the last few chapters.   The character development that Sophie has given the reader keeps you wanting to know more about each person involved in the book.

I guess my one complaint was the last chapter I felt was sort of self explanatory and I would like to have known more about what happened to Nicki's crazy family instead.  I feel like as a reader I want to know if she ever confronts her parents or her so called best friend Melissa.  As the reader I got so much depth into the youth that Nicki had and avoids I wanted to see where that was going at the end of the book.

This is a book I would suggest reading when you have time to sit down and finish it quickly.  It is a can't put down type of book not one you can easily read a few pages or chapters in each night.  If you love suspense and guessing the ending this book is for you. 

Great Quote:
"I know better than anyone that sometimes a possibility is enough to keep a person going, even if it never becomes a reality."

My rating 4/5
Publisher HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN 9780062388261
Length 374
Format hardback

Monday, December 28, 2015

Divergent - Veronica Roth (Book Review)

I had watched the movie Divergent first before reading the book to see if it was something that I could focus on and keep my attention.  I try really hard to read the books before the movie since typically the books are hundred times better than the movie.  I have only seen the first movie and now read the first book.

For me this book was a little challenging to get into since I saw the movie and knew what was going to happen.  I am hoping for the next book it is easier for me to get into since I don't know what is going to happen in the ending.  The book gives a short amount of background about how this new society was formed in the book, but keeps going with the small details.  The author adds more and more to the societies and their build-ups throughout the book to allow the reader to see the bigger picture of how the society is broken now.

I love how the author follows Beatrice's life from the simple child routine to choosing a new fraction and leaving her family.  The author really develops the character so you can feel her emotions of being a child and growing into an adult.  Beatrice who becomes Tris learns so much in the first few days of being away from home about how different relationships develop and what a true friendship means.   Tris is constantly evolving throughout the book and facing each new challenge with more and more knowledge behind her.

The author covers several different larger topics, but one that I keep going back to consider is the thoughts on how a society can have a moral code that was originally developed to live by and slowly and slowly this evolves and changes.  As you can see for the Dauntless society it has strayed from being the brave protectors to a society that worships silence of bad actions and bravery of suicide.   The author keeps mentioning how the fraction/society has evolved into more of a negative view from what these original society set out to do.  This allows the reader to easily see how an entire fraction can be manipulated into killing since it has strayed to far away from the idea of being protectors.  

The book also touches on the importance of growing up.  Beatrice alludes to the idea that her parents kept her sheltered from what was really going on in the world.  I feel this adds to her character because once she starts to piece things together she is able to see they kept it from her because not everything is actually good in society.  Growing up keeping a child sheltered is one approach the parenting, but than when a child is let out into the world you need to have them gather all these new perspectives and follow the moral code you instilled upon them as a child.

I would suggest reading this anytime of the year, whenever you have some time because once you have finished the first book you will want to start reading the second to see what is going to happen.

My Rating 3/5
Author website http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/
Publisher Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN 9780062024022
Length 482
Format Hardback

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Let It Snow -- John Green, Lauren Myracle, Maureen Johnson (Book Review)

The story follows three independent mini stories that all interconnected in the ending.  Each author writes with their typical style so it is a interesting read.  The romance in all three independent books adds up to a cute story and fast read that you are not going to want to put down. I got this book from the library as one of my holiday reads.  I didn't not anticipate it to be a can't put down, but I do love the authors who wrote this book so I shouldn't have expected anything less.

The book begins with Jubilee whose parents who got placed into jail after a freak holiday shopping issue.  She than gets on a train going to her grandparents in Florida that gets stuck in the snow outside Grace town.  This is the biggest snow storm ever, which is present throughout the rest of the book.  Jubilee meets Stuart at the Waffle House after she gets off the stuck train. Stuart takes her home and she learns more about herself in that short time than she ever knew, which leads to a new romance.  This story has a very happy ending and some unexpected drama along the way.  Stuart's mom is one of the best characters in the book all she wants is for her son to be happy and sometimes as a younger adult you forget that your parents are looking out for your well being. 

During the train ride there are fourteen cheerleaders who also get off and go to the Waffle House, along with Jeb.   In the second story it follows a group of three friends on there journey to get to the cheerleaders in the Waffle House with Twister.  On the way to the Waffle House they get into a car accident due to the snow banks and race out other people to bring the Twister.  Along, the way though the story takes a twist with two of the characters starting to realize they have feelings for each other.  This I feel is something that does happen with friendships while growing up that feelings start to change as you grow older, which makes the story all to possible.   

The last story follows Jeb's recent girlfriend Addie's emotions from there breakout.   Addie learns from her friends that she might be to self absorbed, which actually caused the breakup.  Addie goes through a quick learning about life and the character development is unreal for her.  I felt that I got such a blunt look at her in the beginning that I needed to know what happened.  All the main characters end up being in the last story together, which gives it a very happy holiday ending.

One of my favorite parts is how the books connect together.  Each author picks a tiny detail that was mentioned in the previous books and expands upon it to make the reader feel they are in one larger story.  The different writing styles of each author also keeps the story moving since it is really like three short stories all rolled into one.  The story feels complete at the ending and ties up all lose ends to make it the perfect romance. 

The book has a broad look at the holidays based on being in a relationship, looking for a relationship, family, and friendships.   Everyone needs someone during the holidays to get thru this time.  

It is the perfect holiday read! It keeps your mind off the stress of the holidays and let's you get lost in a cute romance.  This is the perfect read over the winter time curled up in front of the fire.

Here are a few cute quotes I love in the book:
"The expression is: a boy's best friend is his mother. It's not: a boy's best pimp is his mother.  It is that way for a reason."

"But than again (and here is one of my main complaints about human consciousness): once you think a thought, it is extremely difficult to unthink it."

My Rating 4/5
Author website http://johngreenbooks.com, http://www.laurenmyracle.com,
http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com
Publisher Speak
ISBN 9780142414996
Length 352
Format Paperback

Saturday, December 26, 2015

We Were Liars -- E. Lockhart. (Book Review)



Reading and a snack! 

The book is about a young girl named Cadence Sinclair Easton who comes from an old-money family that owns their own private island off of Cape Cod.  The extended family gathers each summer staying at various houses on the island.  Cadence has been inseparable from her cousins Johnny and Mirren and friend of the family Gat for years.  They call themselves the four “Liars”.   During the fifteenth summer a mysterious injury happened to Cadence, which keeps her off the island for one year in Europe with her father.  The book takes you back and forth thru present day and the past of the four “Liars”.  Cadence is suffering from debilitating migraines and using a large amount of painkillers to help her, which leaves her in a haze to figure out what happened the fifteenth summer.   During the time back on the island the reader is left to believe that Cadence is hanging out with the “Liars” at one of the houses that seems to have been abounded by the family members.  


During the book Cadence works on piecing together what happened that summer by reflecting back on what lead to the incident.  The author builds up the suspense throughout the book by giving short side stories and leaving mystery into why the “Liars” in present day Cadence mind aren’t really doing much. 

The story also tells about Cadence falling in love with Gat.  The issues that arise from this love story is that she is not sure if he has a girlfriend or not in the beginning and he is also not of the same race as her.  Cadence grandfather who is the patriarch of the family does not believe in mixing races and tensions rise between them.   In my mind this also touches on the topic of race and generation issues, as Cadence doesn’t see the big deal while her grandfather does.   


The author takes the reader through a wild journey of the past and present that is easy to follow for the reader.  Cadence begins to remember bits and pieces of the fifteenth summer, which was the summer after her grandmother died and the aunts where fighting constantly.   The “Liars” only wanted to be together and have the same summer that they had in previous years.  The book touches on a hard topic of family member loss, especially of a grandmother.  In this day and age the topic no one talks about much is that you never know a person’s true colors until a larger sum of money is involved is 100% accurate in this book.  The aunts begin fighting over every little thing in the house worth any money, which is causing stress on several characters/family members. 


The book touches on the importance of family during a traumatic event as well.   Cadence parents who were divorced both stepped up to try and help her come to terms with what happened during that summer.  Cadence cannot accept reality so the additional family members also help by acting as if things are somewhat normal while she is back on the island trying to find out what happened. 


I didn’t see the ending coming while reading the book, you could feel it leading up to a big event happening, but with the moving back and forth between present and past it was hard to see exactly what was around the corner.  This is a very fast read and a book I couldn’t put down.  I needed to know what exactly happened that summer.  I would suggest reading this book if you need a complete brain shut down as once you start reading it will be very difficult to concentrate on anything else.

My rating 4/5
Author website http://www.emilylockhart.com/
Publisher Delacorte Press
ISBN 9780385741262
Length 240
Format hardback



Thursday, December 24, 2015

Grey -- E L James (Book Review)

Let me begin by saying I have read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy a long time ago and sort of forgot this book had come out over the summer.  I found it randomly on the return shelf at the library and thought I need to read this ASAP.  I finished it in a few days, which is typical of all the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy that I previously read I find these books easy to get sucked in.   E L James writes this novel in the exact same style and writing pattern as the trilogy so if you don't like that style this is not the book for you. 

The story follows Christian Grey's point of view of Anastasia and his relationship. The book mirrors Fifty Shades of Grey only and just begins to touch on the second book in the last few pages.  Christian Grey had a rough upbringing in life so he has a hard time in different relationships and Anastasia confuses him from the very first time they meet.   I think one of the highlights of this book is that it gives you a different perspective of the relationship between Christian and Anastasia, Christian and his family, Christian and his staff, and most importantly Christian and his mother.  I don't think it gets a different perspective on the relationship between Christian and Elena since it was so wrong you see nothing else except Christian trying to sell it as right for the time  being, which I truly think be believes after reading this book. 

In first book of the series E L James touches slightly on Christian's rough upbringing, but going into details of the nightmares puts a whole new perspective on the way he was raised.  The nightmares that Christian has when alone are very scary and vivid for a 27 year old to be remembering when he was only 4 when this happened.  It touches on a big issue of how a child is raised and brought into this world doesn't always have to be how they end up.  In this book you can see Christian's attitude and feelings change when Anastasia comes into his life.  He seems calmer to family and staff; which is a new side of him to many.

Seeing the new side of Christian makes me want to reread Fifty Shades of Grey to see what I must have missed in the first book now seeing both sides.  Christian is evolving with Anastasia and the darkness that he feels is not always controlling him any more.  I believe that you also get to see the strength of Anastasia more from Christian's point of view than of her own.  

The book still has many sex scenes that I feel are not described in as much depth as the first book, but will keep you blushing.  The hardest sell for me on this book is the short amount of time that Anastasia and Christian have known each other and how quick they have become so close.  This was a hard sell for me on the first book as well, the author makes it seem very feasible and works well with the book, but I guess that is the point that you lose perspective of reality while reading a book. 

If I was just starting out with E L James I would read Fifty Shades of Grey first and than follow up with Grey before moving onto book two.   I would suggest having plenty of free time since you can easily get sucked into these books with the fast paced writing and the need to know what happens.  Leaving the dreams of Christian as bits and pieces until the very end of the book keeps the reader on edge and you want to know what happened to his mother. 


My rating: 4/5
Author website: http://www.eljamesauthor.com/
Publisher: Vintage Books 
ISBN 9781101946343
Length 559
Format paperback

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Importance of a Book Spine to Me


I am very guilty of picking a book based by the spine. If the font looks inticing or the colors I am most likely to pick the book up from the shelf and start reading the back to see if it grabs my interest.  This method of picking a book is not the most ideal as you never know when you are going to find a book that you struggle to get through, but you also never know when you will find your favorite book that you can’t put down.   

One of the books that I picked up because the book spine at the library  is The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum.  It instantly became my favorite book I could not put it down.  It was a time in my life where this book spoke to me and took my full attention. I read it twice before I could even really sit down and think the book through.  I don’t think I would have ever found it without just randomly picking it up off the library shelf.  

After picking a book by the spine I will read the back cover to see if this book can keep my attention for even a short preview.  If the short synopsis of a book can keep me attention I will start reading it immediately.  If the short synopsis doesn’t keep my attention I know there is no hope of me finishing the book so why start it when there are so many books I want to read.I always finish a book even if it takes me forever so sometimes I do find a ud, but sometimes I find long lost treasures and great books that transform the way you look at life.  Also, I am big at not reading or googling a random book I have picked up from the shelf, sometimes you need to keep an open mind to read the book.  Keeping an open mind lets you experience it for yourself and not be influenced by others.  I will read reviews after I finish a book to see if there is something I missed or not considered.   I want my opinion of a book to be my own so when I recommend a read to my friends or family it is my honest opinion with no influence by others.    

Another plus of finding a hidden gem is with all the resources available online you can easily search that book and find other recommendations that match the feel of the book you just feel in love with.

So if you are not sure what to read next go to your local library look at the spines of the books and pick the one that speaks to you the most.  You never know if you will find the book that is perfect for this moment in your life or your favorite book ever!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tricky Twenty-Two -- Janet Evanovich (Book Review)

I am a huge fan of Janet Evanovich, I feel her books are quick reads that allow you to completely take your mind off of life.  I have read almost all of the books that she has ever written so I typically read her books as they are released.
Tricky Twenty-Two is the 22 book in the Stephanie Plum series. The series follows Stephanie Plum a bounty hunter who works for her cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds office.  Stephanie always has Lulu by her side and Connie doing the office work.  Also, she has a love interest Joe Morelli who is her on/off again boyfriend and Ranger who is like her teacher and protector.  Stephanie’s grandmother is typically featured in her books as well.   

In this book it follows Stephanie looking for a college student Ken Globovic (AKA Gobbles) who apparently attacked the dean and skipped bail.   Stephanie interviews a few frat brother, his girlfriend, the frat advisor and dean to try and locate Ken.  Stephanie is unlucky in finding him at first, but then gets lucky when he was eating at a local restaurant.  She loses him, but now knows he is close by.  Stephanie and Lulu always wind up in trouble during the books, which leads to the comedy in Janet Evanovich’s writing.  In this book the frat keeps playing pranks on the girls while they go question them and Stephanie losses a car to geese.  Every book has Stephanie losing a car except Big Blue that thing can never get a scratch on it.

During the book there are a few side stories as always.  For example Stephanie is also helping out Ranger by protecting Doug Linken wife at the funeral home.  Doug Linken does end up being killed in the book and Stephanie is on the hunt to solve the murder mystery along the way.   

The book is a very quick read, but I felt it come up short in the typical Janet Evanovich comedy.  During her books I typically will laugh out loud several times due to the ridiculous situations Stephanie gets herself in.  In Tricky Twenty-Two Stephanie is slightly more serious about the job and far few side stories with the comedy appear.   The side story of providing protection for Doug Linken ends up being part of the main story.   Overall I feel the book has more mystery in it and I didn’t really see the two stories intersecting at the beginning, but it really tied the book together.  

Also, Stephanie's mom is always a side character in the books and has been known to be cooking, ironing, and drinking.  I feel when she went out to lunch with Stephanie this is the first time we see the mother in a different light I really liked adding her in with more of a main character instead of someone who is portrayed the same way every book as a mother who worries about her child and irons to release the tension.   I loved the ending of the book that involved Stephanie's mom it really added to her character.

*Frustrated Reader* At this point I feel that Stephanie needs to make up her mind about Morelli and Ranger.  I know at the end it looks like Morelli will be her main choice and it does appear that way in the end of several of the books, but I want them to get married to move in together or something at this point.  The flip flopping was funny for awhile, but now it is kind of crazy at this point.  If Stephanie keeps ending up sleeping in bed with Ranger there is no hope for the Morelli/Stephanie romance in my mind and it will remain this way for the rest of the series.

I suggest starting from the beginning of the Stephanie Plum series if you want quick reads that take your mind off of everything.  They are really fast paced and pretty funny.  I can typically not put them down! Also, I feel this is a take on the go book where you can just pick it up and read it anywhere.  Please note that Janet Evanovich does give small details in the beginning of each book so technically you wouldn't have to read all of them to know what is going on, but it is totally worth it!

My rating 4/5
Author website http://www.evanovich.com/
Publisher Bantam
ISBN 9780345542960
Length 292
Format hardback


Strong Looks Better Naked -- Khloe Kardashian (Book Review)


To start I have only seen a few episodes of KUWTK, I do know a little about the Kardashian's through social media or just word of mouth of friends.  I saw this book on the just returned shelf at the library and decided to give it a try.  I like to read biographies since they typically give a different perspective of someone’s life that you might have never considered.  I had no preconceived notions when reading this book so I had a very open mind.

The book follows Khloe through a life transformation of changing her habits to include fitness/exercise as a form of making herself a better person.  There are a few chapters that touch on her fitness routine, eating healthy, setting goals for yourself, and changing your attitude.  I felt the book was very repetitive there were a few themes that stood out such as fitness routine helping to make you a better person.  She constantly refers back to if at different points in the book.   At the end she slightly touches on changing your attitude or how you approach a situation and mentions almost every time that is something she is working on.   I admire someone who can see their flaws and are consciously trying to work on them.

Khloe does not include a lot of details about her life that the press has not really touched on.  She also mentions she tries to keep personal details to herself a lot, which explains why the book to me is more of an outline with a few personal stories that mostly touch on experiences with friends/family.

This is a very quick read and doesn’t really expand into Khloe’s life that much.  It is more of an outline on how to begin to change your life by making one change for example exercise in her case and how that expanded to making additional reflections or changed in her life.   I would read this if you are at a place in your life where you need an uplift.  It has some uplifting points and relationship advice mixed in towards the end that are key.  Also, if you are planning on starting a new fitness routine it has some great tips.  I loved the recipes that are included in the book.  

The book also offers some quotes that I love:
“At first on focused on my physical body to distract myself from thinking about the things that were causing me real pain.  But as my body got stronger, there was an unexpected side effect: My mind became clearer.”  -- I love this quote because sometimes it is hard to face a problem or issue head-on and you need to get a clear mind before you can actually handle exactly what is going on in your life.  Getting a clear mind is not always easy and everyone needs to find their own outlet to get to the clear mind.
“Small changes and small steps can transform your life.” - I completely agree it is not a one step process that has to be accomplished all at once, that small changes everyday can help you to transform your life at the end of the day.
“Life is about moving forward.”  - I feel this is one of the major themes of the book that life is about moving forward, that getting stuck dwelling in the past doesn’t help you to get where you want to go.

My rating 3/5
Publisher Regan Arts
ISBN 9781942872481
Length 220

Format hardback

{Blog Tour} Can't Miss Christmas - Miranda Liasson (Spotlight & Giveaway)

When a children’s book author’s only chance to get home for Christmas lies in a road trip with her sexy ex-husband anything can happen, nau...