Friday, December 2, 2016

Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Pages: 369
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: December 31, 2012
Publisher: Viking
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: One Plus One
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads says, "They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .  Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.  Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.  A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?"

Louisa Clark is your average girl-next-door. She has a steady boyfriend, lives at home with her parents, and never really leaves her local English village. When her job at the cafe comes to an end due to its closure, Louisa looks for a new job and finds one as a caretaker.  She must assist Will Traynor, a former successful businessman who is now confined to a wheelchair after a horrific accident.  Will used to be a financial wizard, an adventurer, a world traveler, and pretty much a larger than life sort of person.  Now he is devastatingly stuck in his wheelchair and must rely on other people to do just about everything for him.  Because of this, he is pretty angry and morose; he pushes people away, including his family. Enter Louisa, who is pretty much the opposite. She's vivacious, bubbly, chatty, and her clothing is wildly eccentric.  Can Louisa pull Will out his depression or is it too late?  Or will Will be the one to change Louisa's life forever?  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is the kind of book that resonates with you long after you finish it. You think a lot about the characters and the story when you aren't reading it and it makes you feel many different emotions.

I loved the character of Louisa in Me Before You. She's just the kind of character that I really gravitate towards and find very interesting.  Although at times her home situation (her sister!) and her boyfriend really frustrated me, it didn't stop me from truly caring about her.  Once she started to explore her possibilities and truly live a little, thanks to Will's influence, I loved her journey even more.

Oh, Will. He's seriously one of the best characters ever. Moyes does such a great job creating such a multi-faceted character and one that truly tugs on your heartstrings. I think I liked him more than I liked Louisa, if that is even possible! I was feeling every last emotion right along side of him - his frustration, his sadness, his deep despair, his joy, his jealousy...every last one.

I loved the unconventional romance Moyes depicted in Me Before You. You sort of know where things are going with the romance, but it's the slow burn and their friendship that truly captured my heart. I wanted Will and Louisa to ride off into the sunset together, but things are really complicated for Will. It made me think about the things we do for the people we love and at what costs.

Everyone and their mother recommended Me Before You to me, so I am glad that I found time to read it this year. If you have put it off, because you weren't so sure about it due to all the hype, there's nothing to worry about. Me Before You doesn't disappoint, but it will break your heart slowly and deliciously as only the best books do.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November Confessions

As things pick up with the holidays, I am finding less and less time to read, especially with all of these awesome TV shows on Netflix.  Hello, I am looking at you The Crown and Gilmore Girls Revival!  I didn't get around to reading a lot, but the two adult novels I read were outstanding! I'm so glad I finally got around to reading Me Before You. It was definitely worth all the hype and I look forward to watching the movie next!

I can't believe that it's now December. I have this bad feeling that the holiday season is going to fly by quickly. I better start savoring every moment now!

Books Read in November:

1.  Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer (YA Sci-fi) - 4 out of 5 stars
2.  Victoria by Daisy Goodwin (Adult Historical Fiction) - 4 out of 5 stars
3.  The Girl in the Picture by Alexandra Monir (YA Mystery/Paranormal) - 3.5 out of 5 stars
4.  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (Adult Fiction) - 4.5 out of 5 stars (Review to come!)
5.  Heartless by Marissa Meyer (YA Fantasy) - 3.5 out of 5 stars (Review to come!)

1.  Favorite Book:  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - All the feels!

2.  Biggest SurpriseVictoria by Daisy Goodwin - I loved learning more about Victoria as a young queen and I am so excited for the TV show coming to PBS this January.

3.  Biggest Disappointment: I am sure I am in the minority here, but Heartless wasn't as great as I had hoped. I loved Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series, but I just wasn't feeling this novel. I didn't feel the chemistry between Catherine and her love interest and since I am not a big Alice in Wonderland fan, I really wasn't all that interested. Don't get me wrong. It was entertaining and I am glad I read it, but I wasn't in love. Not like I was with Meyer's Cinder.

4.  Favorite Post from November:  Book Review: Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
5.  Favorite Part of November:   My little guy's first Thanksgiving... It was a quiet one, but I was so happy to spend extra time with my little family. My preschooler and I loved baking for the holiday together and we made six mini pies and one large pumpkin. It was a blast!

So, what was your favorite book you read this month? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving and a Giveaway!

To all those who celebrate, Happy Thanksgiving! This year has been a C-R-A-Z-Y one, but there is still so much to be thankful for! For starters, I am thankful for you guys and for all the comments, support, and friendships I have made over the years.  To show my appreciation, I am hosting a giveaway for one book of your choice from the list below.  

This giveaway is open to US readers only (sorry International friends...I will have a giveaway for you guys before the end of the year!) and the deadline is November 30th.  Please refer to my giveaway rules and good luck!

Double Eclipse by Melissa de la Cruz

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
The Matchmaker's Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken
Between Worlds by Skip Brittenham
Sea Spell by Jennifer Donnelly
Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner
ARC of Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
ARC of The Amateurs by Sara Shepard
ARC of The Girl in the Picture by Alexandra Monir

I'll be taking a brief break to spend time with my family and eat copious amounts of pumpkin desserts.  I'll be back soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Thanksgiving,

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Am Thankful For

This Top Ten Tuesday focuses on characters we are most thankful for. Here are my some of favorites:

1.  Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."

2.  Belly from Summer series by Jenny Han - “For me, it was almost like winter didn’t count. Summer was what mattered. My whole life was measured in summers.” 

3.  Jamie Fraser from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - “When the day shall come that we do part," he said softly, and turned to look at me, "if my last words are not 'I love you'-ye'll ken it was because I didna have time.” 

4.  Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins - "No one will forget me. Not my look, not my name. Katniss. The girl who was on fire."

5.  Hermione Granger from Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling  -  "Books! And cleverness! There are more important things! — Friendship! And Bravery!"

6.  Elizabeth Woodville from the Cousins' War series by Philippa Gregory - “The law is what powerful men say it shall be.”

7.  Scarlet O'Hara from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell -  "If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill as God as my witness I'll never be hungry again."

8.  Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - “It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” 

9.  Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen - 
You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” 

10.  Claire Fraser from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - “I stood still, vision blurring, and in that moment, I heard my heart break. It was a small, clean sound, like the snapping of a flower's stem.” 

What characters are you thankful for?  Let me know in the comments below.  This meme is hosted by  The Broke and The Bookish.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review: The Girl in the Picture by Alexandra Monir

Pages: 272
Genre: YA Mystery/Paranormal
Pub. Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Timeless and Suspicion
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Nicole Morgan has been labeled many things — the geeky music girl, the shy sidekick to Miss Popularity, and the girl with the scar. Now only one name haunts her through the halls of Oyster Bay Prep.  The Girl in the Picture.  After high school heartthrob Chace Porter is found dead in the woods near the school, the police are in search of the girl whose picture with Chace is the only clue found amongst his personal belongings. A girl who no one knew was even close to Chace–and whose dormmate, Lana Rivera, was Chace's girlfriend.  Nicole is that girl and now she's the primary suspect in his murder.  But what really happened that night? Were Nicole and Chace dating behind Lana’s back; were he and Lana over? Could either of them have killed him?  Told in alternating points of view, that of our suspect, Nicole Morgan, and her former best friend and roommate, Lana Rivera, readers will piece together the story of a starcrossed love, a fractured friendship–and what really happened the night Chace was killed. From Alexandra Monir, author of the popular time-travel novel Timeless, comes a gripping mystery and a poignant romance in one thrilling read."

Nicole Morgan and Lana Rivera are polar opposites, but end up rooming with one another at their elite boarding school called Oyster Bay.  Nicole is a very talented musician and is at Oyster Bay on scholarship.  Lana, on the other hand, is just your average student with no special "talents" other than the fact that her mother is a Congresswoman.  Enter Chase Porter a gorgeous soccer player that's new to Oyster Bay.  Lana's mother has encouraged her daughter to get close to him as his father is in politics as well. Of course they hit it off and Lana realizes she actually likes him.  Tragedy strikes when Chase is found dead in the woods and he has a picture on him that may provide the police with some leads.  Who is in the picture? Nicole, Lana's nerdy roommate, and no one can figure out why he would have that picture.  Now Nicole is a suspect in Chase's murder, but there's no way she did it. Right?  Who was out to get Chase? Alexandra Monir's The Girl in the Picture is an interesting YA mystery that held my attention despite my issues with it.

I can't say I was overly invested in either Nicole or Lana in The Girl in the Picture.  They both got on my nerves, especially Lana. She is your typical privileged mean girl who probably only got into the school thanks to her mother's connections and/or donations.  Nicole is your typical quiet girl "from the other side of the tracks." She is always in Lana's shadow and she does makes some poor choices that put her in many unfavorable circumstances.  Both Lana and Nicole feel like caricatures at times and they aren't really fleshed out.  Nonetheless, I wanted to understand Nicole's connection to Chase and how their relationship formed.

In The Girl in the Picture alternates the points of view each chapter, which gives the readers various characters' perspectives. This definitely provided me with a more complete story as its unfolded and I became more invested in finding out who killed Chase and why.  It's hard to come by an engaging YA mystery and this one definitely held my attention despite its flaws. The mystery surrounding Chase was definitely my favorite aspect of the story.

My one major issue with The Girl in the Picture were some paranormal elements that Monir threw into the story unexpectedly. I am not sure these elements were necessarily needed and at times they were confusing.

So, if you are a fan of YA mysteries that will keep you guessing and enjoy murder who-dun-it tales with a touch of paranormal, check out The Girl in the Picture this fall.  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sunday Post (12)

Waiting on Wednesday: I See London, I See France 

I'll only be posting one review next week and it's for The Girl in the Picture by Alexandra Monir. It's an entertaining YA mystery, so if that's your thing, keep your eye out for my review. I'll also be sharing my favorite literary characters for whom I am most thankful for as a fun Thanksgiving post and then I'll be taking a short blog break to celebrate the holiday with my family.  But you know what that means when I return? It will be the most wonderful time of the year! (except for summertime, of course!) 

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerhill - Thanks to HMH Books
The Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle  - Thanks to Blink


The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner - Thanks to Little, Brown and Co and NetGalley
City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson - Thanks to Putnam

Heartless by Marissa Meyer 

Congrats to the following winner. I hope you enjoy your book! 

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang - Molly W.

Have you read any of these books or are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts! Thanks for visiting! This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Pages: 560
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Pub. Date: February 4, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Library
Other Books By Author: Cinder and Scarlet
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "In this third book in Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.  Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she's being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she's just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.  When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she'd ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has." 

Thanks to Queen Levana, Cress is stuck on a satellite acting as the Queen's spy and technology guru. For years, she has lived on her own, but has always dreamed of visiting Earth and being away from the tight grasp the Queen has on her.  She has been in contact with Cinder secretly and Cinder and company attempts to rescue Cress, but things don't go as planned. Cress ends up on Earth with Carswell Thorne, who she happens to have a crush on and to complicate matters further, Scarlet has been kidnapped.  Meanwhile, there is the looming marriage of Emperor Kai and Levana, which they can't let happen.  But what about who Cinder truly is? It's time for Cinder to take control and save the world.

Cress is an interesting character and one that I immediately warmed up to. Meyer does such a great job of presenting a fairy tale retelling with each new novel in The Lunar Chronicles series, while also bringing something new to the table.  Cress, who is reminiscent of Rapunzel, truly tugged on my heartstrings, especially as we learn more about her back story in Cress.

Fans of Cinder won't be disappointed by this series as Meyer spends a lot of time focusing on her quest, but there isn't as much focus on Scarlet and Wolf in Cress as I hoped for.  On the other hand, I was pleased that Thorne plays a major role in Cress as I love his character. His charisma is still oozing in this novel and his witty comments are just as strong in this book as the other books in the series.

There's a lot of action in Cress, which kept me engaged with the plot, which is a tough task as this this is such a lengthy tome.  I think Meyer could have condensed it a bit, but nonetheless, I was still really into the story and flipping the pages quickly.  I can't wait to read Winter, the final book in the series; however,  I am sad to see such a fantastic series come to a close.

If you are looking for a YA series that is fresh, filled with adventure, and based on some of your very favorite fairy tales, but with a sci-fi twist, you should check out The Lunar Chronicles series. My only regret is that I didn't start it sooner!

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