Friday, July 23, 2021

Well Now That Was Kind of Surprising!

 

TITLE: People We Meet on Vacation
AUTHOR: Emily Henry
PUBLISHER: Berkley Books
PUBLISHING DATE: May 11, 2021
PAGES: 364   
SOURCE: Library

FROM GOODREADS: 

Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love. Poppy and Alex. 
Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together. 
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since. 
Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees. 
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

MY THOUGHTS: I loved Beach Read when I read it so I knew I had to give Henry's latest book a try.  I am so happy I did!  Poppy and Alex met in college but learned they grew up relatively close to one another.  They are both very different people but for some reason, their friendship works and even though Alex goes on to attend graduate school and become a teacher, and Poppy drops out of college and gets a job writing for a traveling magazine, every summer they meet up to go on vacation together.  As they get older, their trips become more extravagant, in part due to Poppy's work and company stipend.  Yet two years ago something happened and the two haven't spoken since.  Questioning her life direction and missing her friendship desperately, Poppy reaches out to Alex via text.  They slowly start communicating again so Poppy seizes the chance to go on one last vacation together.  Except this time around, she hopes it not only mends their friendship, but that it enables her to tell him how she really feels.

This is the second time I have been surprised by Henry.  I went into both books expecting a lighthearted chick-lit book, but I got a novel that was so much deeper. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with chick-lit.  While I found Poppy somewhat annoying, as the book progressed, I could see how Alex and her became such good friends.  And it doesn't hurt that she loves dogs, despite not owning one, and she has a brother named Prince because her mother was a huge fan.  And Alex was an oddball of sorts but he had a fairly tragic childhood and I enjoyed slowly learning what made him tick.

The book is told in present day interspersed with chapters discussing vacations that took place years ago.  This technique really worked for me and it isn't until near the end when the reader learns what really happened on that last vacation.  I loved all of the characters in the book from Poppy's energetic social media crazed friend, to Alex's brother and his fiancee.  

If you are looking for a summer romance that also has great character development and interesting family dynamics, then please give the book a chance.  Come on, everyone else seems to be reading it this summer so I'm here to say go ahead and jump on that hype wagon too!

RATING: 5 PAWS



Thursday, July 22, 2021

2 Bloggers 1 Series - Siege & Storm

 

Back in April Stormi and I started the Shadow & Bone Trilogy. We both wanted to read the books before watching the Netflix series.  Well, it took us a few months, but we finally picked up Siege and Storm.  I can honestly say I thought Stormi was more excited to read it than I was, but I managed to finish first.  However, I don't think either of us had a good time.  So read on to see my thoughts and then hop over to Stormi's  at Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My! to see what she thought.

TITLE: Siege and Storm
AUTHOR:  Leigh Bardugo
PUBLISHER: Henry Holt & Co.
PUBLISHING DATE: June 4, 2013
PAGES: 448
SOURCE: Own Library

FROM GOODREADS: 

Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner—hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long. 
The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army. 
But as the truth of Alina's destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice—and only she can face the oncoming storm.

MY THOUGHTS:  So I personally think the synopsis should start out "Soldier. Summoner. Saint.  SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE." And that ladies and gentlemen sets the tone for the rest of my review.  Alina and Mal have escaped The Darkling but it doesn't last long.  Soon they find themselves on a ship with someone hired to bring her home.  However, he may have some ulterior motives.  And he also may just be the best character in the series.  Oh and I have to mention, once again Alina and Mal are hunting down some rare mythical creature so they can kill it so Alina will have even stronger powers.  Can you say ego-maniac?  

So if you haven't guessed it, I really didn't enjoy this read.  I truly believe there was little action until about the last 30 pages and that's sad even for a middle book.  Alina grates nerves that haven't been this raw since Bella and Edward and it may be an unpopular opinion, but I don't blame Mal for some of the things he does as he is only reacting to how Alina acts and treats people.

So what did I like about this book?  One word - Nikolai.  He was the saving grace.  He will be the reason I manage to slog my way through book #3 so I can put this series behind me so I can pick up Six of Crows.  I've heard that duology is better.  I will also add that after reading Siege and Storm, I believe I probably should have given Shadow and Bone 2/5 because I did like this book a tad better - as I said, Nikolai.  

RATING: 3 Paws




Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Can't Wait Wednesday (322)

 

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight highly anticipated books.  It is based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme which used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.





FROM GOODREADS: In this dark and twisty feminist historical thriller, a teenage girl starts a new life as a grave robber but quickly becomes entangled in a murderer's plans.

Soon after her best friend Kitty mysteriously dies, orphaned seventeen-year-old Molly Green is sent away to live with her "aunt." With no relations that she knows of, Molly assumes she has been sold as free domestic labor for the price of an extra donation in the church orphanage's coffers. Such a thing is not unheard of. There are only so many options for an unmarried girl in 1850s Philadelphia. Only, when Molly arrives, she discovers her aunt is very much real, exceedingly wealthy, and with secrets of her own. Secrets and wealth she intends to share--for a price.

Molly's estranged aunt Ava, has built her empire by robbing graves and selling the corpses to medical students who need bodies to practice surgical procedures. And she wants Molly to help her procure the corpses. As Molly learns her aunt's trade in the dead of night and explores the mansion by day, she is both horrified and deeply intrigued by the anatomy lessons held at the old church on her aunt's property. Enigmatic Doctor LaSalle's lessons are a heady mixture of knowledge and power and Molly has never wanted anything more than to join his male-only group of students. But the cost of inclusion is steep and with a murderer loose in the city, the pursuit of power and opportunity becomes a deadly dance.

WHY I CAN'T WAIT:  I love the cover and the whole grave robbing aspect has me super curious!  It may be a great October read!

CASSIUS'S PICK:



FROM GOODREADS: Laika is a Cold Dog, a stray pup fighting for her life on the streets of Moscow. Then, one winter night, she is plucked from her alley to become a starflyer, a dog trained to travel into space. Distrustful of people, Laika tries to do everything she can to escape. That is, until she meets Nina.

Nina is a Cold Girl, lonely and full of questions. Her best friend has moved to America in a rush, leaving Nina to face the school bullies all by herself. Plus, her father’s work as a scientist in the Soviet Space Program grows more secretive by the day.

When the two meet in her father’s laboratory, their growing bond slowly warms the chill that has settled in each other’s hearts. As the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union grows fierce, Laika and Nina uncover shocking secrets and hard truths that will test their friendship. How will they find the courage to chase their dreams all the way to the stars?

Based on an incredible true story, Carnegie Medal nominee and New York Times–bestselling author Megan Shepherd crafts a harrowing, propulsive girl-and-her-dog tale that will linger in your heart long after the last page. 

WHY CASS CAN'T WAIT:  I told Mom I thought it would be fun to go to space.  She told me it didn't end well for Laika.  Am I wrong to hope this one has a different ending?

WHAT BOOKS CAN'T YOU WAIT FOR THIS WEEK???

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Read in 24 Hours

 

The top 10 weekly meme used to be hosted by The Broke and the Bookish they  handed over the reins to That Artsy Reader Girl who can be found HERE.  Each week she will focus on lists which cover various topics related to books and reading.

This week's topic is "Books I Read in One Sitting."  I modified that to ones I've read in 24 hours.  With work, family and demanding pets, one sitting is pretty hard these days.




I usually find romance books quick reads and this one was great!  5/5


This was a wonderful horror book which I don't think gets enough love.  I can't wait to read the author's newest one in August.  5/5


I know people have mixed feelings on this one but for the most part, it worked for me.  4/5


Do I really need to mention anything else about this one?  I rave about it all the time.  5/5


Pretty much all of the Virgin River books I've read so far have been enjoyable, quick reads.  5/5


This cozy mystery was awesome and I can't wait for the sequel which comes out soon.  5/5


I adored both books in this series and with a combo of narrative and comics, it was a really quick read.  5/5


Gotta love Bunnicula!  5/5


This was definitely a one-sitting read and a must for whoever has had a beloved dog drive them mad at times.  4/5


I think thrillers tend to go pretty fast and with this one having a wintry, snowed-in setting, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.  4/5

So there you have it?  Did any of these books make your list?







Thursday, July 15, 2021

2 Bloggers 1 Series - A Virgin River Christmas

 

So at least Stormi and I are still finding joy in the Virgin River series.  We've skipped around here and there to add some other series reads in but we always seem to come back to this one.  Since #4 has a Christmas theme, we thought it would be perfect for July.  So read on to see how much I loved this one and then hop over to Stormi's  at Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My! to see what she thought as well.

TITLE:  A Virgin River Christmas (Virgin River #4)
AUTHOR: Robyn Carr
PUBLISHER: MIRA
PUBLISHING DATE: October 28, 2008
PAGES: 320
SOURCE: Library


FROM GOODREADS: 

Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him. 
Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby’s shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah four years ago, then disappeared as soon as their unit arrived stateside. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered. 
Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River and finds a man as wounded emotionally as Bobby was physically. But she is not easily scared off. As Marcie pushes her way into his rugged and reclusive life, she discovers a sweet but damaged soul beneath a rough exterior. 
Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young widow who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.

MY THOUGHTS: Just when I thought I couldn't enjoy this series even more, along comes another installment with some new characters as well as some of our favorites.  It's Christmastime in Virgin River and Mel and Paige are busy decorating a town tree in honor of the people who have been in the armed services.  Marcie has recently lost her husband and seeking some closure, she ends up on Virgin River searching for the man who saved his life.  She finally locates Ian who is living on a remote mountain all alone.  Marcie forces herself upon him looking for some answers and we end up with a sort of a hate to love trope.

Marcie was so diligent and feisty that I liked her right from the start.  And Ian?  He stars off as a grumpy old bear, hair and all, and ends up being more of a teddy bear.  I had so much fun with their interaction and Marcie adjusting to Ian's rustic way of life.  And it nice seeing Ian come out of his cave.  

This installment was a tad shorter than the previous ones so I read it extremely quickly.  It was just enough Christmas to not be annoying (at least for a July read).  It was nice to see some new people introduced but still have some of the same old favorites.  My only complaint is that there just wasn't enough Preacher but that's okay, season 3 has started on Netflix so I'm happy. 

And just a side note, the Netflix show while similar is also really different and much more drama-filled so I'm finding it actually like two separate entities.  Double the fun!

RATING: 5 PAWS



Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Books Titles That Are Questions

 

The top 10 weekly meme used to be hosted by The Broke and the Bookish they  handed over the reins to That Artsy Reader Girl who can be found HERE.  Each week she will focus on lists which cover various topics related to books and reading.

This week's topic is book titles that ask a question. I already know I'll struggle with this one so let's see if I can at least get 5!



This was fun but it did not meet my expectations.  3/5


Honestly I don't even remember reading this one but it looks like something I'd pick up even today.  3/5



I really enjoyed this one but don't think the sequel ever came out.  4/5
(oops, I'm wrong.  2 more books were released)

So okay.  I give up.  I went back 10 years in my reading history and only came up with 3!  I can't wait to see how everyone else does.  I feel like I just failed a test :)

Monday, July 5, 2021

Random Things Tours - The Lost Girls

 


TITLE: The Lost Girls
AUTHOR: Heather Young
PUBLISHER: Verve Books
PUBLISHING DATE: 2021
PAGES: 341
SOURCE: ARC


FROM GOODREADS: 

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child. 
Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine. 
For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935. 
Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

MY THOUGHTS:  The Lost Girls is a perfect novel to get wrapped up in a joyfully read the day away.  I read it in a short amount of time because I had to see where the story ended.  Justine inherits a lake house from her great aunt.  She takes her children and moves there there hoping to escape her current predicament.  Soon, her youngest daughter becomes obsessed with learning all she can about a disappearance of a young relative years and years ago.  

This book incorporates current day (1999) with the past, which is told through a notebook written 60 years ago.  I really felt badly for the women in this family and in fact, all of them, in some ways, were also lost.  The book is relatively slow-paced but the story is strong and the setting of the dilapidated old lake house becomes a character of its own.  

If you love slow burn novels and endings that pack a punch, then this is the book for you.  It's a wonderful way to spend a rainy weekend as its the perfect backdrop for an entertaining tale about generations of women I won't likely forget anytime soon.

RATING: 4 PAWS




ABOUT THE AUTHORHEATHER YOUNG is the author of two novels. Her debut, The Lost Girls, won the Strand Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for an Edgar Award. The Distant Dead has also been nominated for the 2021 Edgar Award for Best Novel. A former antitrust and intellectual property litigator, she traded the legal world for the literary one and earned her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars in 2011. She lives in Mill Valley, California, where she writes, bikes, hikes, and reads books by other people that she wishes she’d written.