Sunday, March 24, 2019

Stacking the Shelves (94)



Book Review: Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
Can't Wait Wednesday: The Islanders
Audio Book Review: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante




I'll be sharing my thoughts this week on That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron.  I didn't know much about Winston Churchill's unconventional mother, so her story was very interesting to me! 





Dark Tribute by Iris Johansen - Thanks to St. Martin's
The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore - Thanks to William Morrow




The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni - Thanks to Thomas & Mercer
Mine by Courtney Cole - Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley


Have you read any of these books? 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, March 21, 2019

Book Review: Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Pages: 351
Genre: MG Fantasy
Pub. Date: June 7, 2006
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite.  Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken -- Seth is a bit too curious and reckless for his own good -- powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world, Kendra and Seth must find the courage to do what they fear most."


Seth and Kendra are visiting their grandparents for three weeks during the summer while their parents go on an adults-only vacation.  Except their grandparents aren't your usual sort of grandparents. They live in a large house surrounded by a gate in rural Connecticut and own a lot of land. As time goes on, Seth and Kendra come to find that their grandparents are the caregivers of Fablehaven, a secret refuge for magical creatures.  Looks like their summer just got a little more interesting!  With a ton of mythical creatures like fairies, witches, imps and more surrounding their gates what could go wrong? Brandon Mull's middle grade debut, Fablehaven, is a fun romp through a fantastical world filled with lots of mythical creatures. Fans of Harry Potter as well as The Hobbit will enjoy this book the most.

Seth and Kendra are foils of each other in Fablehaven.  Kendra, the older sister, is cautious and thinks things through whereas Seth is rebellious and pushes boundaries.  Seth makes some seriously bad decisions in this book, but I realize that it was necessary to get the plot going.  He wanders off in the woods (which is forbidden!) and that's when he encounters his first magical creature. He also tries to catch a fairy, which ends up being a disaster, so needless to say, it was one thing after another for poor Seth.  Kendra is the older sister that often tries to help him get out of his messes, but I was happy to see her grow up a bit this summer, gain some confidence, and some courage on her own.

I loved that Mull made Seth and Kendra's grandparents very important characters in Fablehaven. It's not often we see strong relationship with grandparents in MG or YA literature, so this was a nice touch.  I loved how Seth and Kendra got to know them, the secrets surrounding Fablehaven, and so much more.

Mull created such a cool little world in Fablehaven. I loved the grandparent's old house, the large attic room, the surrounding estate, and the mysterious woods by their house.  Mull did a great job with world building. He also did an excellent job bringing all these mythical creatures to life. The Midsummer Eve scene, where the various ghouls, fairies, and other unmentionables are out for the night was downright spooky. When I was reading it aloud to my son, even I got a little freaked out!

There were some overly wordy parts as Mull's writing style does take a while to get used to.  To be honest, it read like a YA novel more times than not and it was a little darker than I expected; nonetheless, my son and I thoroughly enjoyed the start to the Fablehaven series. We are both hooked and can't wait to pick up book two. I love that I have found a series that I can read-aloud to my son and enjoy just as much as he can!


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Islanders

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore
Pub. Date: June 11, 2019



Goodreads says, "J. Courtney Sullivan’s Maine meets the works of Elin Hilderbrand in this delicious summer read involving three strangers, one island, and a season packed with unexpected romance, well-meaning lies, and damaging secrets.   Anthony Puckett was a rising literary star. The son of an uber-famous thriller writer, Anthony’s debut novel spent two years on the bestseller list and won the adoration of critics. But something went very wrong with his second work. Now Anthony’s borrowing an old college’s friend’s crumbling beach house on Block Island in the hopes that solitude will help him get back to the person he used to be.  Joy Sousa owns and runs Block Island’s beloved whoopie pie cafĂ©. She came to this quiet space eleven years ago, newly divorced and with a young daughter, and built a life for them here. To her customers and friends, Joy is a model of independence, hard-working and happy. And mostly she is. But this summer she’s thrown off balance. A food truck from a famous New York City brand is roving around the island, selling goodies—and threatening her business.  Lu Trusdale is spending the summer on her in-laws’ dime, living on Block Island with her two young sons while her surgeon husband commutes to the mainland hospital. When Lu’s second son was born, she and her husband made a deal: he’d work and she’d quit her corporate law job to stay home with the boys. But a few years ago, Lu quietly began working on a private project that has becoming increasingly demanding on her time. Torn between her work and home, she’s beginning to question that deal she made.  Over the twelve short weeks of summer, these three strangers will meet and grow close, will share secrets and bury lies. And as the promise of June turns into the chilly nights of August, the truth will come out, forcing each of them to decide what they value most, and what they are willing to give up to keep it."

Oh, this sounds like a juicy beach read! I definitely want to throw this one into my beach bag this summer. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Audio Book Review: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrente

Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date:  September 25, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Source: Personal copy
My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars




Goodreads says, "A modern masterpiece from one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante's inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists."






It's Naples after WWII and the town is under a transformation.  Two young girls, Elena and Lila, find friendship amongst all the chaos of their poor neighborhood.  Lila is the smartest girl in school and pushes Elena in various ways, especially with her school work.  An education is the best way to get out of the confines of the neighborhood.  Their neighborhood is ruled by only the wealthiest while everyone else basically struggles to get by.  Lila is different though. She is not only smart, she is bold and challenges Elena to be more, to do more, and say more.  They have plans to write a novel together and leave Naples behind.  All that changes though when Elena goes onto middle school and Lila, even though she is more than capable enough to thrive at school, goes onto work as her parents don't want to spend more money on her education.  Elena's horizons instantly broaden and although Lila's have done the opposite, Elena still feels drawn to Lila.  Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend is an excellent and absorbing depiction of female friendships as well as a neighborhood and the social dynamics in Naples in the '50s.  

I loved the character of Elena in My Brilliant Friend. Following her struggles in elementary school, her friendship with Lila, and then her continuing her education was really compelling. It's not that a lot happens to Elena, but I could appreciate her coming-of-age tale.  I also appreciated Elena's struggle with adolescence. I think many young adults could relate to her feelings of being inadequate, her disgust at pimples, her weight, etc, especially in comparison to Lila, who becomes the beauty of the neighborhood. But Elena always have one thing over Lila: her schooling.

Speaking of Lila, her father owns the shoe store in town and once Lila's dreams of furthering her education go up in smoke, she makes plans with her brother for becoming successful shoemakers on their own. But they must keep this from their father initially.  During adolescence, Lila attracts attention from many of the wealthier members of her neighborhood, and Elena can't help but feel left behind and in her wake, especially when the Solaras start noticing her as they are the wealthiest family in town.

Ferrante's depiction of female friendship, the competition, and the highs and lows are all so accurate and moving in My Brilliant Friend.  I was completely absorbed in Elena and Lila's tale and was desperate to know what would happen to the girls. My Brilliant Friend also highlights the social injustice for the time period as they lived in such a sexist society.  As a woman, I found so much of it hard to swallow.  Lila, who is the most brilliant student at her school, can't even continue her education due to her father.  Her father was holding her back and it truly made it hard for Lila to leave the neighborhood and make something of herself. 

The neighborhood of Naples in the '50s was also very interesting in My Brilliant Friend. The poor versus the wealthy and the desire for power was depicted well in the novel.  The neighborhood and the different dynamics between the families was utterly captivating. Each family was trying to climb the various rungs on the ladder of success with always the Solara brothers at the top.  It didn't help that the Solaras are the bullies of the neighborhood, especially if they don't like you. 

The narrator of My Brilliant Friend is Hilary Huber and I found her to be just adequate.  I think I would have appreciated someone that had an Italian background or even someone who spoke with an Italian accent as that would have added to the atmosphere of the novel and made the story that much more vibrant.

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed My Brilliant Friend. I can see why so many critics raved about and I look forward to continuing with The Neapolitan Novels to find out what happens to Elena, Lila and their neighborhood.   I am also excited to check out the show on HBO, which is based on this book. Did you see My Brilliant Friend on HBO or read this book? Let me know in the comments below. 


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Stacking the Shelves and Giveaway Winners (93)


Can't Wait Wednesday: The Rest of the Story
Book Review: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid




I'm sharing my thoughts on My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, which many people consider it a modern classic. I throughly enjoyed listening to this audio book and I can't wait to check out the HBO show based on this book.





  

The Binding by Bridget Collins - Thanks to William Morrow
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves - Thanks to She Speaks Up and St. Martin's




 

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins - Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley
Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy - Thanks to LibraryThing and William Morrow





Dark Tribute by Iris Johansen - Thanks to St. Martin's
The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais  - Thanks to Blink YA




Congrats to the following winners:  My Blogovesrary Giveaway Winners are Vivien and Angela.  The winner of The Girls in the Picture giveaway goes to Cassandra



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


Happy St. Patrick's Day,


Friday, March 15, 2019

Books Set in Ireland

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I am sharing my favorite books set in Ireland. It's definitely one of my favorite places to read about and to visit. Here are a few books that I have featured here on the blog with Irish settings.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Me at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Books Set in Ireland:



Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin





 The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore 
Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch



Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd
Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron



  
Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts



Other Books Set In Ireland:



The Shadows by Megan Chance
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
See Me by Wendy Higgins
Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill
One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

So, what are some of your favorite novels that are set in Ireland? Let me know in the comments below! 


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Rest of the Story


Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
Pub. Date: June 4, 2019



Goodreads says, "Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.  Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.  When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.  Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.  For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?"

Sarah Dessen has a new novel coming out this summer!!!!!!!!!! You guys know she is one of my favorite authors of all time and it just isn't summer without a Sarah Dessen novel. I love that this one takes place during the summer at a lake resort.  This bookworm is super happy. What do you guys think of her latest novel?

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