Wednesday, April 22, 2015

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

After I Do

My rating: 7/10 (Enjoyable)

Lauren and Ryan have been together for eleven and a half years.  Over the years their relationship went from an amazing love and respect for each other to a dull and resentful marriage.  The reader enters the story at it's peak of resentment and then we are taken back to the beginning of the relationship.  We learn bits and pieces of how their love has evolved and came to where it is today, to the point of no return.  Lauren and Ryan decide to live a year apart, with no contact.  Anything goes, in one year they will revisit their marriage in the hopes of being able to find their way back to each other and save their marriage.

I have to admit when I first picked this book up I was annoyed by the premise.  Being a newlywed, I can't imagine not loving my husband to the ends of the earth.  But I've also been divorced so I know how a marriage can go downhill and resentful fast.  I never got the feeling that Lauren and Ryan were so bad that they couldn't work it out if they wanted to they just didn't want to in my eyes.  Taking a year off from your marriage where "ANYTHING" goes, just seemed absurd to me.  There is no way that this could end well, and I didn't see the point.  However, once Lauren got into the swing of her "single" life and being her own person I started to really enjoy the story.  I enjoyed her evolution into finding herself and learning what she really wanted for herself and in a relationship.  I enjoyed her bonding with her family.  There were a few times when I wondering about Ryan and why we weren't getting his full experience as well but that was few and far between.

When Lauren starts reading Ryan's draft emails, I assumed that he was drafting these this in the hopes that she would read them and that it would be their way of communicating and it turns out it was.  It was a clever way for the author to get us to hear Ryan's side of things.  However; this brought me so many questions in the end.  I wonder how this experiment would have been different if Lauren didn't read Ryan's draft email.  If she didn't know he was dating or what he was feeling, would she have acted and felt differently?  She had some strong reactions to some that forced her to see their relationship differently and she made decisions sometimes on those email.  What if she never knew, would she have evolved differently then she had? If she didn't know he still missed her and loved her in the end, would she have realized how much she missed him?  If he wrote the opposite, would she have continued down her path of moving on? It just seemed that some of her evolution was dependent upon his email... but she loved him and so why shouldn't his feelings and actions affect her?

By the end, I found myself tearing up in some spots.  I thought it was a great ending.... While at first I didn't find it very believable, I ended up being completely taken by the story of Lauren and Ryan and I truly enjoyed their love story.  I found myself loving Lauren's Grandmom and agreed with most of what she had to say.

I hope that my husband and I never go through anything like this, but in all honesty, I feel like I've learned something from this book that I hope I keep with me.

Anything is possible if you just try.... and give it everything you got.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Two Truths and a Lie by Ashley Stoyanoff

Two Truths and a Lie (PRG Investigations, #1)

Two Truths and a Lie by Ashley Stoyanoff
My rating: 7/10 stars (enjoyable), 3.5/5 rounded to 4 on Goodreads/Shelfari

A well written romantic suspense manages to have it all and more....

1) A sexy, strong, alpha male lead who gets to be the hero.
2) A storyline that has mystery, intrigue and danger.
3) complex characters with troubled pasts
4) a great supporting cast
5) a good woman who needs saving
6) sexual tension that you can cut with a knife

... To name a few.

When you find a good one, there really is nothing better for me.

Two truths and a lie by Ashley Stoyanoff has all of this.  Elena is on the run from her "fiancĂ©" cop boyfriend.  In hiding, She has been missing for a year now and ready to stop running.  She wants her life in New York back and her family back, but she needs help.  A helpful friend she met along the way has lead her to Jason, a man with a team, who can help anyone in a jam.  Their first meeting doesn't go so well, but soon Jason and his team prove their worth and are dead set on getting Elena her life back.

At first I felt the relationship between Elena and Jason moved way too fast in the beginning, for a woman who is on the run from a bad relationship.  However, Jason quickly grew on me and so did their connection.  The story held my attention and kept me wanted to read on.

I really enjoyed this book, and want to read more of this series.... Immediately.

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Friday, April 03, 2015

AngelFall by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)Angelfall by Susan Ee
My rating: 5 of 10 stars, C+ - Above Average

Series: Penryn & the End of Days Series (Book 1)

There are Angels here on Earth and they aren't here for good of man.  As the book starts it's been six weeks since the Angel's have been on earth and wreaking all kinds of havoc.  Penryn, her wheel-chair bound sister, Paige, and their paranoid mother are just trying to survive in this new world.  When they come upon an Angel fight and Penryn steps in where she doesn't belong, Paige gets kidnapped.  The Angel left behind broken and maimed is called Raffe.  As he heals, Penryn tries to get information about where Paige is.  Penryn is determined to do anything to get her sister back, even going into the Lion's den, the Angel "Aerie".  Since both Raffe and Penryn need to get to the aerie for different reasons, they form a pact and over time form a bond that will help them through quite a few trials and experiences along the way.

I think Susan Ee did a really good job with the this YA Apocalyptic story, the end didn't provide as many answers and I would have liked but it does make me want to read the next in the series.  I enjoyed Penryn and Raffe's relationship, however I felt a huge age gap between them.  The book doesn't say how old either of them are, so it could be just my view on them.  I believe there is more to Penryn's schizophrenic mother then we got to see in this book, and I'm curious to find out more.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

RubyRuby by Cynthia Bond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Deep Breath) Where to begin??!?? This is one of the best yet one of the most horrific novels I've ever read. If it were not for the brilliant poetic writing of the author, I am not sure I would have been able to get passed all the abuse/rape/horrific acts in this book. It is full of such tragedy and horror that it should be noted as a warning when diving in, however; it's a story that screams to be read and heard if you can give it a chance to get through the tough scenes.

I read this as a buddy read with a friend without ever knowing what it was about, and if I had - I probably would have said no - so thank you Annette.

If you can get through all the horrific scenes in this book you are rewarded with such fabulous story telling, wonderful character development, and an imagery that reminds me of the best poetry. This is truly an amazing story of Survival and Love, not just by Ruby and Ephram but the town and each of the towns people. This novel has a way of unraveling everything you thought about being "crazy", by reading this novel you can imagine how someone could be driven to such madness and how different people cope with their tragedies.

This is a bit of a spoiler but I don't think that it's a surprise, because a story of such haunting horrors needs this... The ending of this book was such a pleasure to unveil, the happiest ending you could expect from such a novel, simple..... Hope. Such a small word, simple idea - yet so hard for some to maintain through their lives and experiences.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"You know how men do. Nasty ring it's bell and they come running like it's suppertime in hell. Devil got him a firm foothold in Liberty. I know. I seen it firsthand what conjure can do. [...] I'm on a firstname basis with the Devil, so I know how his mind be working, always looking out for another sinner to season his brew." ~ Celia

"God love simple, but so do the Devil. Cuz simple ain't got the kind of mind to withstand temptation" ~ Celia

"Then Ruby searched the dark of her own body and found a hiding place thick in the branches of the chinaberry. It held her safe, the leaves full, always green, the sky all stars and crickets. There were sounds above her, horrible sounds, so she pulled herself closer and prayed to the tree. The tree answered, and she saw her hand turned to bark, broken mahogany ridges, her fingers tiny living twigs, with golden beads dangling from them. Her torso melted into the trunk and her toes lay safe underground. The sky shook over her head but Ruby was now the tree. She stood there safe and waited for the storm to pass."

"I'm most interested in the woman you have yet to be." ~ Ephram

"If you brave enough to live it, the least I can do is listen." ~ Ephram

I rated this book 11/10 (A+) Phenomenal! This one is going on my keeper shelf, it's definitely a favorite.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Secret DaughterSecret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kavita and Jasu, Have given birth to her second little girl in a village in India. Given how her first girl child was taken away abruptly by her husband, Kavita has secretly taken the baby to an orphanage in Mumbai where she can have a life and a future, and not suffer the same fate as her first daughter.

Krishnan and Somer, married and living in San Francisco have tried for years to have a baby, after a few miscarriages they decide to adopt a 1-yr old child from India.

In Secret Daughter, we follow the lives of these two couples and the mutual child they share, Asha, as she grows up and goes in search of her heritage. I truly enjoyed this story. I enjoyed following both couples, their lives and relationships and I absolutely loved the ending. It was a great ending to a fabulous book.

This is Gowda's debut novel and I look forward to reading more from her.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For me this was not a book about dying but about living. Hazel is a 16-year old girl living with a form of lung cancer, she has a terminal diagnosis but for now she is living and forced to attend a weekly cancer support group by her parents. This support group is where her life takes a turn and she meets Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor. As I was reading this book, I felt like I was watching real life unfold for the characters and instead of reading, I was watching. Watching Hazel and Augustus bloom, seeing life in their eyes. I was able to picture the characters and events in my mind and almost felt like I was eavesdropping into someone's life. The only character that annoyed me was Van Houten, but he was written that way so you can't fault him for that. This book for me was just shy of perfect, I can't really put my finger on why though.

I am looking forward to seeing the movie and see how they compare.

My favorite Quote: "We all want to be remembered [...] to leave a mark [...] The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous mini mall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, "They'll remember me now," but (a) they don't remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your mini mall becomes a lesion."

I rated this 4.5/5 Stars (A-) but rounded down on Goodreads rating scale to 4.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Making Marriage Work by Lynn Toler

Making Marriage Work: New Rules for an Old InstitutionMaking Marriage Work: New Rules for an Old Institution by Lynn Toler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a newlywed with an amazing husband... who thinks - way too much! But in most cases, this is a really good thing. Because he is so concerned that we have the best marriage possible that he has us reading all types of marriage counseling books together. We are talking and getting to know each other on a deeper level and this is a good thing.

So far we've dabbled in a few other books but this by far is THE BEST BOOK for couples who are about to get married, newly married, or even married for many many years. It covers the gambit and it really opens up your mind to catching difficulties in a marriage before they even become issues.

This books helps you reflect within yourself to help you see how maybe you are perceived by the other person and how you can help them deal with you, and vice versa.

I plan to read every book by Lynn Toler that is available. Whether it's related to marriage or not, she is one wise woman and I really enjoyed reading this book and the discussions that have begun with my husband, but also the journey I took in self reflection while reading this book.

I've rated this book 10/10 Stars - Excellent!

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Friday, January 09, 2015

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

The DressmakerThe Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tess was a maid/seamstress in England and needed a fresh start. She managed to find her way on the Titanic and come into the employment of renowned fashion designer, Lady Duff Gordon. This story tells of the experience being on the Titanic as it goes down and then Tess in the weeks following the tragedy in New York City.

I liked the titanic elements and the historical truths of names, places, and events related to the titanic. I do not know much about the historical truths so I am not too worried about the history being 100% accurate. The real feel was there for me enough to not need to fact check.

I was very interested in how this story would play out. I was not thrilled with the writing or the story as I was reading but I continued to read on because I was interested to know how it would end for Tess. So the book definitely kept my interest. However, I found myself at the end feeling disappointed that there wasn't more of an ending. It was just too open ended for me. If someone were to tell me there is a sequel, then I'd say OK! and I'd be curious enough to read the next book.

Ultimately, I gave this book a C+ (5/10 rating)

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