Monday, June 30, 2014

It's Monday, June 30th! What are you reading?

Welcome to another Monday...this is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.

Last week was a productive reading week! In a marathon reading night I finished All the Light We Cannot See (my review is here). I also finished not only Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as well!

Now I'm reading a book I received from NetGalley, called Aloha Also Means Goodbye.  In addition, I also plan on starting Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire this week. I'm making great progress on my summer reading project and loving the HP series so far!!

Recently Finished:
Currently Reading:
What are you reading this week?
Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

All the Light We Cannot See

Title: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
544 pages, published May 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Library

I've had my eye on this one since I first started reading the ARC reviews. Historical fiction, WW2, set in France...all elements that I would love in a book. After reading five star review after five star review, I was excited to read this book.

Marie Laure, blind since age six, lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History where he works as a master locksmith. To help Marie Laure, her father builds a model of their neighborhood so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate her way. When the Germans occupy Paris, they must flee to Saint Malo, in northern France on the Brittany coast to live with Marie Laure's uncle. In Germany, an orphan boy named Werner and his sister Jutta become enchanted with a radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios that earns him a place at an elite military academy. Werner is sent throughout Europe and finally into Saint Malo, where he crosses paths with Marie Laure.

Perhaps it's because I read so many outstanding reviews that I did not love this book. Maybe my expectations were too high. Regardless, I liked this book, but did not love it.  Let me start by saying what I did love about it--the writing. Doerr's writing is exquisite.  Its beautiful, eloquent, and flows perfectly. I also loved Marie Laure and really felt for her. What Doerr did well in this book was to  help the reader understand the world from Marie Laure's perspective--through all the other senses except sight.

I'll admit this book was a slow read for me. I had trouble really getting invested in it until about the last 200-150 pages. What tripped me up was the short chapters and the time frames jumping back and forth. The chapters were no longer than 4-5 pages, most of them only 2-3 pages, and then it would change perspectives again. This didn't work for me.  The years jumped back and forth a lot--I found myself turning back to see what year it was again.  Both these elements, combined with the 500+ page length,  made this a slow read for me.  The plot itself was good, but I don't feel it needed to be as long as it was.

Despite the aspects of the book I didn't like, I still recommend this book, especially if you love historical fiction and WW2. Doerr's beautiful writing helps make up for the book's drawbacks, and Marie Laure is a character you can't help but fall in love with.

Overall rating for "All the Light We Cannot See": B

Happy Reading!

Life of a Blogger: Favorite Sports Teams

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme hosted by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat. It is a weekly feature with a different non book related topic each week so you can get to know me better! The topic changes weekly.

After seeing Brandie's  post and learning about this meme, I was super excited to write my post on this topic! I LOVE watching sports! My favorite is football, but  I'll watch pretty much any sport (with the exception of boxing/fighting). A great date night for my hubby and I is to to to Buffalo Wild Wings and watch whatever games are on. I grew up watching Indy Car racing with my Dad. Sunday mornings meant watching the race while eating pancakes!

I'm also a huge figure skating fan!! I took lessons for quite a few years when I was younger, and love watching it. My favorite skaters of all time are Tara Lipinski and Brian Boitano!

Since Oregon doesn't have an NFL team, my favorite NFL teams are the Broncos and the Seahawks!

I get to travel for work, and I got to travel to Denver a few years back (and take my husband with me!) We made it a priority to stop by the stadium and take a tour! We'd LOVE to go back someday for a game!
We have been lucky enough to go to a Seahawks game though!

For college football, I'm a  big Oregon State Beavers fan! My husband and I love going to the games! GO BEAVS!

I'm also super into Fantasy Football (my husband and I run our own league). Every Sunday during the season, you will find me on the couch, watching as many games as I can, and probably yelling at the TV (and reading during commercials).
Is it football season YET??
What are some of your favorite teams?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Harry Potter Through The Eyes of a First Time Reader: Part 2

Less than a week after finishing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I finished the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! This is the second post in my "Harry Potter Through the Eyes of a First Time Reader" series! In each part of the series I will provide a review and commentary on each Harry Potter book. Don't worry--I know some of you haven't read it, so just like all my reviews, there will be no spoilers here!

Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: J.K. Rowling
342 pages, published June 1999
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Amazon Prime Kindle Borrowing Library

In this second installment of the series, Harry is anxious for summer with the Dursley's to end so he can get back to Hogwarts. Before he leaves, he gets a warning from a strange creature named Dobby, who says disaster will strike if Harry returns to Hogwarts. And strike it does--something, or someone is turning students into stone. Everyone at Hogwarts suspects Harry, and he is determined to solve the mystery and find out just where--and what--the Chamber of Secrets is.

So here's the deal: when I finished the first book, I liked it, but didn't love it, as I said in my review. The second book was a completely different story. I loved it. I loved getting to know the characters more and seeing their confidence in their second year compared to their first year.  Hermione has officially become my favorite character.  This is why:

"Because that's what Hermione does," said Ron, shrugging. "When in doubt, go to the library."

I couldn't agree more, Hermione!

I was impressed with the element of suspense--the book kept me guessing right up until the end with plenty of twists and turns. The imagery created during the ending scenes was amazing! The only thing I could do without: the spiders.  Just reading that part made me convinced bugs were crawling on me! But I loved the rest!

I love Rowling's writing style. It flows well, it keeps you engaged, and these books are a perfect read for a relaxing summer afternoon. This one was hard to put down!  I am looking forward to more of this series, and I am almost certain that using this series for my summer project was an excellent decision! I'll end this post with another favorite quote from the book, said by Dumbledore, which I'm feeling summarizes the theme of the book, and perhaps the entire series:

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

Overall rating for HP #2: A

Happy Reading!

Waiting on Wednesday: All We Had

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.  The event spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.

This week, I am excited for the release of:

All We Had
by Annie Weatherwax
Release Date: August 5, 2014
 272 pages
Genre: Fiction

From GoodReads:
A poignant and fierce debut novel about the relationship between a teenage daughter and her struggling single mother—from a powerful new voice in fiction.

For Ruthie Carmichael and her mother Rita, life has never been stable. Jobs are hard to find, men come and go. But when a set of unexpected circumstances strands them in Fat River, a small rural town in upstate New York, life takes a turn. Fat River becomes the first place they call home. The modest economic security they gain gives them peace and space for friends. The people of Fat River—Hank and Dotty Hanson, the elderly owners of the local hardware store being driven out of business by the new Walmart; Mel, the flawed, but kindhearted owner of the town diner where Rita finds work; and the cross-dressing Peter Pam, the novel’s voice of warmth and reason—become family. Into this quirky utopia comes Vick Ward, a smooth-talking broker who entices Rita with a subprime mortgage and urges her to buy the ramshackle house she and her daughter have been renting.

Tough and quick-witted, thirteen-year-old Ruthie—whose sardonic voice and plain-spoken observations infuse All We Had with disarming honesty and humor—never minded her hardscrabble existence as long as her mother was by her side. Through it all, the two have always been the center of one another’s lives. But when financial crisis hits, their luck takes a different turn.

All We Had offers an unflinching look at the devastating choices a mother must make to survive and is an achingly funny, heart wrenching tale about love and loss, told with humor and razor sharp vision.

Yet another debut novel I'm excited to read! The themes and style of the book seem just like one that I would love!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Anna and the French Kiss

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
372 pages, published December 2010
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Library

I've had my eye on this book for quite awhile. The cover drew me to the book initially--I love all things French! I also can't resist a great YA read. So when I read lots of great reviews of this one, I knew I had to read it!

Anna's parents decide to send her to boarding school in Paris for her senior year in high school. At first, Anna is disappointed to leave her friends and life behind in Atlanta. Then she meets Etienne St. Clair--a charming, smart, and gorgeous student with an English accent. Only downside: he has  girlfriend. As Anna adjusts to her new life in Paris, will romance blossom between her and St. Clair? Will she finally get that first "French Kiss"?

I absolutely adored this book. It made my heart happy.  I loved Anna's character. Young, naïve, innocent, and a typical over-analyzing teenager. Perkins wrote her character so well--it took me right back to my teenage years with those same kinds of feelings.  I loved Anna's character development--I enjoyed the journey with her as she explored a new place, learned a new language, met new friends,  discovered a first love, and became an independent young adult.

The story drew me in from the beginning. I took two years of French in high school and two in college, and was fortunate enough to travel to France in 1999.I was immediately drawn to the stories of Paris, Anna's adventures in learning French,  and her fears of saying the wrong thing in another language. One part in the novel I loved was when  St. Clair too Anna to the Notre Dame Cathedral.  In front of the cathedral is "point zero" in Paris. It's the center of Paris and the center for how all the districts (called arrondissements). It is customary to stand on this point and make a wish, which is exactly what St. Clair has Anna do. It made me remember doing the same thing back in 1999!

If you're looking for a charming and well crafted YA novel, I highly recommend this book.

In short: Lire ce livre!

Overall rating for "Anna and the French Kiss": A

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's Monday, June 23, What Are You Reading?

Welcome to another Monday...this is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.

Over the last week I did manage to get a lot of reading done! I finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (read my review here), and read a YA novel I'd been waiting for at the library, Anna and the French Kiss (review posted tomorrow!).

Currently, I am still working my way through All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I'm about 250 pages in now and I'll be honest, I'm dragging my way through it. The writing is beautiful, but I just haven't gotten sucked into the story. I also started Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets last week, and am SO close to finishing it!

What are you reading this week? Hope you have a great week of reading! Yay for Summer!
Recently Finished:

Currently Reading:
Happy Reading!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Christmas in July Book Swap!

I'm super excited to be participating in a book swap this summer! It's the Christmas in July Book Swap, and it's hosted by The Book Monsters.  Here's the info from the swap, from the host's sign up post:

Swap Details:

Send at least 1 book and something else fun for your partner that they would like.  The package must include a book from their wishlist. If you want to send them a second, that is at your discretion.

  • Sign-Ups Start:  Monday, June 16th at 12AM
  • Sign-Ups End: Monday, June 30th at 12AM
  • First Post MUST be Posted by: Tuesday, July 1st at 12AM
  • Partners assigned: Wednesday, July 2nd
  • Packages Shipped: Friday, July 18th & Saturday July 19th
  • Show-Off Linky Opens: Wednesday, July 23rd
  • Show-Off Linky Closes: Friday, August 1st
Interested in signing up too? The sign up link is Here! Can't wait to send and receive some book mail :)
Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Harry Potter Through The Eyes of A First Time Reader: Part 1

Even though I'm a voracious reader, I somehow made it to age 30 (almost 31) without reading Harry Potter.  I have received my fair share of "You HAVEN'T read Harry Potter??" comments,  along with strange looks of surprise. But it's true--I haven't read them. I don't really have a good reason as to why, other than they just never sparked my interest.  I remember hearing about when each book and movie came out, and watching the obsessive fans and wondering if it was really worth the hype.   I even watched movies 1 and 2, and felt them to be extremely overrated.  Now, I know to Never Judge a Book By Its Movie. After watching it, I knew the book would clearly be better, because books are ALWAYS better. But my disappointment in the movie just didn't motivate me enough to read it.

However, I have countless friends who are avid readers who love the series, including my close friend and "sister" in Seattle. For the last few years I always had planned on reading it someday, mainly out of curiosity to see what the hype was about. Once I started my blog, I came into contact with even MORE readers who loved the series, and as I was creating my Bookish Bucket List, I knew reading the HP series had to be in it. As a result, my Harry Potter summer reading project began! Here are my comments on the first book! (FYI: no spoilers here--I realize there are those who haven't read the series either!!)

Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Author: J.K. Rowling
309 pages, first published 1997
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Amazon Prime Kindle Borrowing Library

In this first book in the series we meet Harry, who has had a miserable life growing up with the Durley's, whom he has been living with since his parents were killed when he was a baby. Everything changes when a letter arrives and Harry learns he is a wizard. He then begins his journey at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he finds new friends, magic around every corner, aerial sports and a greater destiny that's been awaiting him his entire life.  I was sucked into this story immediately by Rowling's charming and witty writing style, loveable characters, and entertaining story.  I'm not obsessed with the series yet, but I'm definitely intrigued. I am  quickly realizing I may have to eat my "this is overrated" words. I loved Rowling's creativity--it made the book so fun to read (a three headed dog named Fluffy?!).  But I must admit I found myself wondering "There are SIX more books of this?" frequently during the first one.  Even so, I am excited to continue on in the series!
Rating for HP #1: A-

Is there a popular series you've been putting off reading for one reason or another?

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.  The event spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.

This week, I am excited for the release of:

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing
By Mira Jacob
Release Date: July 1, 2014
512 pages
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

From GoodReads:

When brain surgeon Thomas Eapen decides to cut short a visit to his mother's home in India in 1979, he sets into motion a series of events that will forever haunt him and his wife, Kamala; their intellectually precocious son, Akhil; and their watchful daughter, Amina. Now, twenty years later, in the heat of a New Mexican summer, Thomas has begun having bizarre conversations with his dead relatives and it's up to Amina-a photographer in the midst of her own career crisis-to figure out what is really going on. But getting to the truth is far harder than it seems. From Thomas's unwillingness to talk, to Kamala's Born Again convictions, to run-ins with a hospital staff that seems to know much more than they let on, Amina finds herself at the center of a mystery so thick with disasters that to make any headway at all, she has to unravel the family's painful past.

The title is what drew me to this one, and once I read the synopsis I knew it was one I had to add to my TBR list. This is the author's debut novel and has gotten a lot of positive reviews, so I am excited to read this one!

What book are you waiting on the release of?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Summer TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR List!

I have lots of great books I want to read this summer, so here they are in no particular order:

1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: This is my summer project, and #18 on my Bookish Bucket List! I'm in the middle of the first one and enjoying it so far.

2. A Wedding in Provence by Ellen Sussman: a previous Waiting on Wednesday, I recently received this ARC from Netgalley!

3. Landline by Rainbow Rowell: Duh. If you've been reading my blog, you know my RR obsession :)

4. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: Excited to read this one...still on the library hold list!

5. Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover: My friend Brandie and Brandie is a Book Junkie said in last week's Top Ten Tuesday that this was her favorite read so far in 2014. AND her list included not one but two Rainbow Rowell books. She also shares my RR obsession.  So if this one is ahead of RR books, I MUST read it :)

6. Honolulu by Alan Brennert: It's already on my bookshelf. It needs to be read!!

7. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: I love YA and all things French!

8. The Bridge from Me To You by Lisa Schroeder: again, because I love YA!

9. What I Remember Most by Cathy Lamb: I really enjoy her books, and she's from Oregon like me!

10. The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand: I love this author! See my post about her from last week!

What books are on your TBR list this summer?

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Glass Kitchen

Title: The Glass Kitchen
Author: Linda Francis Lee
384 pages, publishing date June 17, 2014
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: NetGalley

Note: I received this ARC from NetGalley. This is my honest review.

From Good Reads:
Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan . . . and never cook again. But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream. The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchen—like an island—can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book.  What I liked most about it was the "magical" notion of food for Portia.  She would get this "vision" of food or a meal,  and it would relate to her life or those around her in some way. Though that level of "knowing" doesn't exist in real life, I like how the author showed the emotional and physical benefits of a good meal shared with friends and family.  Throughout the book, she kept having visions of a specific meal, and I loved seeing how it all tied together in the end.  The book was hard to put down and an entertaining read.

My favorite character in the book was Ariel.  Having recently lost her mom in a car crash,  she had a myriad of different emotions and feelings she was dealing with.  Her character was so real and had so much depth.  I really rooted for her throughout the book.

Overall this was an enjoyable, fun read that's perfect for summer! I liked that it was unpredictable at times--hard to find in women's fiction. It was well written, quirky, heartwarming, and real.

Overall rating for "The Glass Kitchen": A

Happy Reading!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.

This weekend  I finished The Glass Kitchen, which I received an ARC of from NetGalley. I really enjoyed it, and will be posting my review soon! I also started All The Light We Cannot See this weekend, which has started out slow for me. I like it so far though! 

Also this weekend for a lighter read I FINALLY started #18 on my Bookish Bucket the Harry Potter books! That's right, I have yet to read them. I saw movies #1 and 2, wasn't impressed, and felt HP was overrated. I'm about a third of the way through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  and I will have to eat my words, my friends! This book is charming, witty, and an addicting read! I will be doing some sort of "Harry Potter through the eyes of a first time reader" blog series this summer for your entertainment!  I KNOW I have some book blogger friends out there that also haven't read HP...I'm not alone!

Have a good reading week, my friends!
Recently Finished:

Currently Reading:


Happy Reading!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Blue Bistro

A couple weeks ago, I featured Elin Hilderbrand's new release The Matchmaker, as my Waiting on Wednesday. Just yesterday, this article Hilderbrand wrote was posted on the Huffingon Post's website. The Matchmaker features a character dealing with cancer.  Ironically and sadly, Hilderbrand was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and is scheduled to have a double mastectomy today, just three days after her book release. My mother in law battled breast cancer so I know first hand how horrible this disease can be.

I have always loved Hilderbrand's books.  They're a perfect relaxing afternoon read, or summer beach read! I haven't been able to read The Matchmaker yet, but in support of Hilderbrand today, I am posting a short review of one of her other books I enjoyed--The Blue Bistro!

Title: The Blue Bistro
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
384 pages, published May 2006
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Bought for myself

Adrienne Dealy has spent her career working for hotels in exotic locations. After being dumped and left flat broke from her ex-boyfriend, she decides to spend the summer in Nantucket. Though she has no restaurant experience, Thatcher Smith, owner of Natucket's most popular new restaurant for the wealthy, offers her a job for The Blue Bistro's final season. But there are some unanswered questions--why is such a successful restaurant closing its doors? What is going on with Thatcher and Fiona, The Blue Bistro's head chef?

This book involved three things I love--the coast, food, and romance! I started this book before leaving for my Hawaii vacation last December, and finished it on the trip. (In fact, that's what I'm reading in my facebook and twitter profile pictures!). This was a fun read--a well written story, interesting and likeable characters, all with a bit of romance thrown in. I also enjoyed the restaurant setting (even if it did make me hungry!). If you're looking for a feel good beach read, this book is for you!

Overall rating for "The Blue Bistro': A-

Sending positive thoughts toward this author today!

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Title: Attachments
Author: Rainbow Rowell
336 pages, published April 2011
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Borrowed from Library

As most of you know, I'm a huge Rainbow Rowell fan. I've read  and reviewed Eleanor and Park, and Fangirl, and couldn't wait to read her 2011 novel, Attachments!

Beth Freemont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder spend their downtime at work at the local newspaper emailing each other. They know their email is being monitored, but they still continue to send each other hilarious emails discussing every aspect of their lives. Lincoln O'Neill is the "internet security" officer whose job is to monitor (aka read) the emails. He comes across Beth and Jennifer's emails and is so intrigued he can't bring himself to turn them in. Soon enough, he realizes he's falling for Beth...and needs to figure out how to introduce himself in a way that doesn't make him appear like the creepy guy that reads her emails.

While Eleanor and Park and Fangirl are both YA reads, Attachments is a charming contemporary novel for the adult audience. The format alternates chapters--one chapter will be Beth and Jennifer's email exchanges, and the next chapter will be from Lincoln's point of view. The alternating perspectives kept thing fresh and fast moving--if the whole book was e-mail conversations it may have gotten it bit monotonous.  The email exchanges were hilarious and witty, and the writing was quirky and fun, like Rowell's other novels.

I related so well to this book. I didn't relate to one character specifically, but more to the book as a whole.  I worked on the school newspaper all throughout high school and part of college, so I totally related to that aspect of the book. I also loved the 90's references and remember the Y2K non-disaster. I may or may not send emails to my best friend in order to survive as slow workday.  I loved Lincoln's nerdy IT guy personality (perhaps because I'm married to a nerdy IT guy).

I loved the ending in this book. I loved the ending more in Attachments than either of her other books.  Rainbow Rowell's debut novel is fantastic.  I still feel that Eleanor and Park is my favorite, but Attachments is a close second!

Bottom line: You can't go wrong with a Rainbow Rowell novel!

Overall rating for "Attachments": A

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Landline

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.  The event spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.

This week, I am excited for the release of:

by Rainbow Rowell
Release date: July 8, 2014
320 pages
Genre: Contemporary Adult Fiction

From Good Reads:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.  When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?  Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

OK, so I know this one is a bit cliché for WOW because EVERYONE is eagerly awaiting this one.  Butt as of Monday, I've now read all of Rowell's books, and I am completely in love with each one of them. I adore her writing style. It's quirky, witty, and entertaining.  Her characters are so real and easy to relate to, and so charming. I can't get enough!!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Library Story

Today's topic for the Library Books Read-A-Thon is "My Library Story." Such a fun topic, as I have loved libraries all my life! This event is hosted by  Rachael @ Rachael Turns Pages.

My love affair with books began as soon as I was old enough to look through them, according to my mom. When I would get books as gifts for Christmas or my birthday or whatnot, my mom said I would immediately stop and page through the books once I opened them. I wouldn't care if there were more gifts to open--I was all about the books. Still am, really :)

I don't vividly remember getting my first library card, but I know I was young! I remember Mom taking me to the library quite frequently. Also my mom read to me every night--I specifically remember reading all the Little House on the Prairie books together. I also remember the library at my elementary school. Wednesdays were Library Day, and they were my favorite day of the week!

My favorite thing about my elementary school library was a yearly activity called Battle of the Books.  The organization selects a number of appropriate books for your grade level (in my school at the time it was for grades 4-6, that was back when 6th grade was at the elementary schools). You read all the books, get into teams of four students, and "battle" in the form of trivia questions about the books.  In my school we did a tournament of all the teams, playoffs, and eventually, a team would be the top team in the school. Then you would "battle" against the top team in the other elementary schools in town.  20 years later, the Battle of the Books is still going on in my home school district!

Throughout middle school and high school, I was involved in journalism classes and still loved reading and writing.  In high school and college it became more difficult to read for fun due to school work and other activities but I had no problem diving back into reading after graduating college. Since then I probably go to the library once a week or at the very least every other week. Libraries instantly relax me.

What's your library story? Anyone else participate in Battle of the Books?

Happy Reading!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I've Read So Far This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year!

I have a reading goal of 70 books for 2014...and have already made it through 39! Excited to have an even larger goal next year. Needless to say, I have some great books to pick from for this topic! Here we go:

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (my review): Definitely my favorite book read in 2014, and definitely my favorite YA read.

2. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert (my review): I finished this one January it barely snuck in for counting for this top ten! I think this is one of my most favorite historical fiction novels EVER, and tied with E & P for my favorite in 2014.

3. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (my review): I normally don't get into memoirs/autobiographies, but I LOVED this one!

4. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (my review): I've now read all of Flynn's novels, and loved this one, though I think Gone Girl is my favorite!

5. The One and Only by Emily Giffin (my review):  As I said in my review, I'm a huge Emily Giffin fan, and this one only increased my love for her books!

6. Divergent, by Veronica Roth: my favorite of the three Divergent books!

7Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Literally JUST finished this one. LOVED it. Her books are fantastic! Honorable Mention: Fangirl, also by Rowell (my review). I think Attachments just edged out Fangirl for me, but I love all her books!

8. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: Can't wait to see the movie!

9. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: fantastic writing and Oscar is such a great character!

10. The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O'Neal (my review): a great book to add to your summer read list if you haven't read it yet!

What are some of your favorites you've read this year?

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Library Books Read-a-thon: Goals

This week is the Library Books Read-A-Thon, hosted by Rachael @ Rachael Turns Pages! I'm excited to participate in another reading challenge, especially since the theme is to promote libraries!

Here are some of my goals for the week:

1. Finish Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
2. Start All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
3. Start the Harry Potter series
4. Go to the library and ask about their Adult Summer Reading Program

The good thing about reading the Harry Potter series now (after literally EVERYONE has already read it but me) is that the books are easily available at the library. In addition, I have Amazon Prime (I can read a large selection of books for free on my Kindle) and the HP series is included in this. So that's good!

Have you gotten any good books from the library lately? I encourage you to visit your local library this week and check out some books!

Happy Reading!

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. The goal is to "muse" on one of the following prompts:

*Describe one of your reading Habits
*Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else and why you chose that/those book(s)
*What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
*Tell us what you're reading right now--what you think of it so far; why you chose it; why you are (or aren't) enjoying it
*Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
*Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want tor ramble on about something else pertaining to books--let's hear it, then!

Currently I'm participating in two reading challenges--The Summer Library Challenge (June and July) and the Library Books Read-a-thon (this week). So that will keep me busy this week! I'm currently reading Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (which I picked up from my local library). I've read Eleanor and Park and Fangirl (both of which I LOVED) so I couldn't wait to get my hands on Attachments. I'm about 100 pages in so far and am loving it. I love Rowell's quirky writing style, and I really relate to the characters in her books.  Excited to finish Attachments this week.  On deck to read is All the Light We Cannot See by Antony Doerr (also from the library). I'm also (finally) planning on starting the Harry Potter series soon--it's my summer project!

Now for some general rambling (not totally book related, but...I want to write about it anyway!) :

This is definitely one of those Mondays where I feel like I need a weekend to recover from my weekend! Normally I spend A LOT of time reading during the weekends--but this weekend I got to do something else I really enjoy--photography! In addition to reading and book reviews, I also do a bit of photography on the side with my husband.  We own Refractions Studio and photograph families, seniors, weddings, etc.  This past weekend we  got the privilege to photograph the wedding of two of our very close friends! It was an absolutely perfect day for them--gorgeous weather, beautiful venue, and a fantastic celebration of love with friends and family. My heart is filled with joy for these two and it was so special to photography their big day! Some previews of their photos are on our Facebook page.

What are you musing about this Monday? I'm excited to get back to reading this week!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Thirteenth Tale

Title: The Thirteenth Tale
Author: Diane Setterfield
406 pages, published September 2006
Genre: Fiction, Gothic, Mystery, fantasy
Source: I purchased this book myself

I finished this book during the Bout of Books challenge!
Margaret Lea is a biographer who returns to her apartment above her father's bookshop one evening. On the stairs to her apartment, she finds a handwritten letter from one of Britain's most loved novelists, Vida Winter. Winter is seriously ill and wants to tell her life story before she dies--and wants Margaret to be the one to write it. Having never read Winter's novels, Margaret reads her father's copy of Winter's Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation, only to discover it contains just twelve stories. Interested, Margaret agrees to meet with Vida, and learns her dark family secrets of her childhood.  Both Margaret and Vida are forced to confront their troubled past.

One of the main reasons I liked this book was because it was a book about books and writing--clearly something I enjoy. I loved this quote, taken from a part in the book where Margaret is exploring Vida Winter's personal library:

"What better way to get to know someone than through their choice and treatment of books?"

I don't normally read a lot of Gothic and fantasy books, and perhaps that's why I didn't fall in love with the book in quite the same way many others did. However, I did enjoy the story, and it was beautifully written in a way that kept me guessing until the very end.  I enjoyed the characters, and  the "ghost story" feel to the book.

Overall, I liked this book but didn't LOVE it like I'd been expecting. I don't regret reading it, but I'm not jumping up and down about it either. After all the great reviews I'd heard from friends and seen online, I just felt a little underwhelmed.  However, if you love a good gothic mystery, you'll probably love this book!

Overall rating for "The Thirteenth Tale": B

Are there any books you've eagerly anticipated reading but didn't feel excited about once you read it?

Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Opposite of Maybe

Title: The Opposite of Maybe
Author: Maddie Dawson
400 pages, published April 2014
Genre: Women's Fiction

Note: I received this book for free from the publisher’s Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Rosie and Jonathan have been together for 15 years when Jonathan decides he wants them to move across the country together. Things suddenly fall apart and Rosie moves in with her elderly  grandmother, Soapie, who helped raise her since she was a little girl. She also shares the house with Soapie's caregiver, Tony. Then Rosie, who is 44, realizes she's pregnant. In addition to feeling completely unprepared (as children were never in her and Jonathan's plans) she feels she may be falling in love with Tony, who has his own set of life complications. Through her pregnancy and caring for her ailing grandmother, Rosie learns that perhaps life's twists and turns happen exactly the way they are meant to be.

It took me a few chapters to get really invested in this book--I didn't like Jonathan's character at all, and I didn't like him and Rosie together because he clearly didn't really love her. But once she moved back to Soapie's I was hooked and could hardly put the book down.  Despite the fact that I'm younger and not pregnant, I still really related to Rosie.  I know the stress and emotions that come with caring for an ailing relative. I felt Rosie's character was really well developed, multi dimensional, and real.  I rooted for her throughout the book, and enjoyed her journey throughout her pregnancy. I felt Tony was a great character, and really helped Rosie on her journey of self discovery.  Near the end of the book, Tony says:

"I've been thinking about something. What if everything is unfolding exactly as it's supposed to?"

I feel this is the theme of a book in addition to something I believe is true in life, so I related to this part of the book well and found it believable. I loved the ending, and was very  pleased with how much I ended up liking the book at the end compared to my feelings at the beginning.

What drew me into this book initially was the cover--and I was a bit confused as I didn't feel the cover reflected the content of the book.  I still enjoyed the book regardless. Maddie Dawson's previous novel, The Stuff That Never Happened, has a similarly styled cover, so perhaps it was intentional.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. What are some books that started out slow for you but you ended up enjoying in the end?

Happy Reading!

Love Letters: A Rose Harbor Novel

Title: Love Letters
Author: Debbie Macomber
320 pages, release date August 12, 2014
Genre: Women's Fiction

Note: I won this Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) in a GoodReads giveaway. This is my honest review.

Love Letters is the third book in the Rose Harbor series, and I loved it just as much as the first two (link to my review)! The book returns to Rose Harbor in at the peak of summer, a busy season for the Inn. Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have been spending a lot of time working on projects for the Inn, and Jo Marie considers him a close friend.  A new group of  guests visit the Inn for the weekend. The first is Ellie Reynolds, who is taking a leap of faith to meet someone named Tom, a man she's been corresponding with via phone and online for months but hasn't met in person yet.  Ellie's made the trip despite not having her mother's approval and is anxious to prove she's right about Tom.  Maggie and Roy Porter are visiting the Inn for their first vacation alone since their children were born, and are hoping to repair their broken marriage. Maggie discovers a secret that could potentially tear them apart. For each of the characters in this novel, including Jo Marie, love letters hold a special purpose in changing their futures and keeping their hearts open to love.

This was another great book in the Rose Harbor Inn series! I think it was my favorite of the three because I felt it was the least predictable. Though I had a pretty good idea of how things would tie together and wrap up, there were a few twists and turns I didn't totally expect. This novel sucked me in from the beginning and I could barely put the book down.  I really enjoyed how Macomber tied the theme of love letters together throughout all of the character's stories--I think it is the reason I liked this book the best of the three so far.

This is a nice relaxing read that I would definitely recommend to any fan of Macomber or this genre.  It's light, heartwarming, and well written.  The characters are very real and easy to relate to, and you'll find yourself rooting for them to succeed right from the very first chapter.  Macomber also left the ending wide open for another book--I am definitely looking forward to reading more in this series!

Overall rating for "Love Letters": A-

Happy Reading!