Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Saint Anything

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Pub. Date: May 5, 2015

Goodreads says, "Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident? Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time. The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans."
My summer just doesn't feel right unless I read a Sarah Dessen novel, so I am thrilled she has a new one coming out this May. I can't wait to get it in my beach bag. This cover is very different than some of her others, but I really like the change.  What do you guys think? 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read in 2014 and Blogoversary Giveaway Part III

Guys, it is so, so, so hard for me to pick my favorite books I read in 2014.  I narrowed it down and I also included some books that I read this year that are older and don't have the 2014 publication date, but they are just.that.good.  I also shared my favorite quote from each book, because some of these books have such awesome lines. 

Also, to celebrate my 5th Blogoversary, my final giveaway will be for one of these awesome books of your choice, including my runner-up list. This is an international giveaway, just be sure Book Depository ships to your location and please follow my giveaway rules. The deadline is January 3rd. Good luck!

Let me know what you think of my favorite books of 2014:

1.  Looking for Alaska by John Green -
“Thomas Edison's last words were 'It's very beautiful over there'. I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful.” 

2.  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - 
Ye werena the first lass I kissed," he said softly. "But I swear you'll be the last.”

3.  Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg -
“Silence fell between us. This was a common occurrence whenever we’re alone. When you’re comfortable with someone, you don’t need to always fill the void with noise. I liked it when we would just be.” 

4.  Open Road Summer by Emory Lord - 
“His eyes are somewhere between gray and blue, and his hair is somewhere between brown and blond, and I am somewhere between hostile and attracted.” 

5.  To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han -
"Margot doesn't see the point in wondering.  This is our life; there's no use in asking what if.  No one could ever give you the answers. I try, I really do, but it's hard for me to accept this way of thinking. I'm always wondering about the what-ifs, about the road not taken." 

6.  Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan - 
“Come dance with me," he says, taking my hand, and someday I'll explain to him that I already am.”

7.  Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi - 
"Words, I think, are such unpredictable creatures. No gun, no sword, no army or king will ever be more powerful than a sentence. Swords may cut and kill, but words will stab and stay, burying themselves in our bones to become corpses we carry into the future, all the time digging and failing to rip their skeletons from our flesh.” 

8.  Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - 
"There's no story,' I say. 'I saw you one day, and I just knew.” 

9.  The Kennedy Wives by Amber Hunt and David Batcher - 
"She would see her name become an indelible part of American history. In that stifling bedroom in North Boston, shy, pretty, sweet-natured Josie could not know it, but her daughter would see wonders." (about Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy).  

10.  Blythewood by Carol Goodman - 
"Farbrente maydlakh," she said, fingering a lock of my chestnut hair, a far less dramatic shade of red than Tillie's own.  "He meant both of us, bubbelah, because of our hair. It means 'fiery girls.'"

Runners-Up: Compulsion by Martina Boone, Crown of Embers by Rae Carson, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Undone by Cat Clarke, and Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare.

What do you think of my list? What books were your favorites this year Let me know in the comments below.  This meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: The Kennedy Wives by Amber Hunt and David Batcher

Pages: 296
Genre: Adult Biography
Pub. Date: December 2, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "The Kennedy wives saw history up close—made history in some cases. They knew wealth and privilege but we are bonded to them by loss which are our losses too. The Kennedy women—fierce, intelligent, and very private—belong to us. Not because of their glamour, but because of their grief and misfortunes.  THE KENNEDY WIVES takes an unflinching look at the women who married into the Kennedy family and their distinct roles. Rose, the matriarch; Ethel, the athlete; Jackie, the icon; Joan, the fragile beauty; and Vicki, the redeemer. In reality, each woman was complex and multifaceted. As Kennedy wives, they were bonded through characteristics and experiences unique to the Camelot family. The Kennedy Wives is an exploration of these women that will offer what no other book or film created thus far has: a thoughtful analysis of what drew the Kennedy men to these iconic women, and what the women endured in exchange for their acceptance into the Camelot clan."
Is there a more intriguing American family than the Kennedy family? I don't think so; the Kennedys steal the show. The Kennedy Wives focuses on five Kennedy women and how their lives have been shaped by becoming apart of this famous clan. First, there's Rose Kennedy, the matriarch of the Kennedy family. Next is Ethel Kennedy, Robert Kennedy's wife. Of course, the authors focus on Jackie Kennedy, the famous wife of John F. Kennedy, and lastly, there's Joan Kennedy and Vicki Kennedy, both wives of Ted Kennedy. Authors Amber Hunt and David Batcher did a wonderful job bringing to life each woman's tale of the many ups and downs that come with the territory of being a Kennedy. Each woman's story was fascinating in its own right and I was thoroughly captivated by every heart-wrenching detail.

A few women stood out to me in this biography. First, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was utterly captivating. I can't stress this enough. I had never read much about her and I am so glad Hunt and Batcher included her in The Kennedy Wives as her life was so, so fascinating.  I loved learning more about how she ran her household, how she dealt with her husband's affairs, and how she raised her children. Everything from her discussion topics at the dinner table, her round-robin style of letter writing to the children, her commitment to stay fit, her campaigning for her son's till old age, her commitment to Catholicism, and her strong, innate drive were all inspirational to me. Her family was received at the British royal court and learning more about that was also eye-opening. Rose Kennedy lived to be 104 years old and outlived four of her nine children. Her life was better than fiction in some spots and you couldn't pry my hands off this biography when I was reading her portion.

Another standout for me was Ethel Skakel Kennedy in The Kennedy Wives. I always knew her as the boyish, strong athlete of the family that didn't give a second thought to playing touch football with the guys and getting muddy, but there's so much more to her than that. She's gutsy, she's fun, and she had eleven children. Can you imagine? And one of her children was born after Robert Kennedy was assassinated! I loved reading about her eccentric childhood and learning more about her.

Of course, reading about Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, a favorite of mine, is always intriguing and inspirational. She dealt with so much and handled it with such grace. Between her fertility issues, her husband's affairs, and the pressures of being the youngest first lady of the United States, one can't deny the incredible story of Jackie Kennedy.

While I don't find Joan or Vicki's stories to be as captivating as Rose, Ethel or Jackie's, I still couldn't get over how much the members of the Kennedy family endured. The heartache, the trials and tribulations, and the extreme wealth all seemed fictional at times. Joan Bennett Kennedy dealt with alcoholism and the upsetting fact that two of their children had cancer. Ted's second wife, Vicki Reggie Kennedy is a lawyer and is highly educated. She did a lot to help Ted Kennedy and cared for him through his brain cancer.  All in all, Joan and Vicky definitely had their ups and downs as well in The Kennedy Wives.

One thing that really stood out to me was the fact that each woman dealt with death and hard times, but it never stopped them from picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and moving on with courage.  I was completely dumfounded when I started thinking about how many Kennedy lives were taken whether it be from an airplane accident, illness, or violence. When you start adding it up, it was astounding. My heart broke with every family member lost and despite their successes and great wealth, it seemed like there was a dark cloud hanging over their heads.

Nonetheless, I absolutely loved The Kennedy Wives. Reading about their lives was a gentle reminder to live courageously and never give up.  If you are fascinated by these important people in history and want to learn more about the women behind the men, I highly recommend The Kennedy Wives. It would be the perfect holiday gift. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

5th Blogoversary Giveaway: Part II

Guys, I am giving away some extra books I have on my shelves in honor of my 5th Blogoversary.  There are books here for everyone: adult historical fiction, middle grade, and of course, young adult fiction. This giveaway is open to US readers only and there will be three winners. First place will pick three books of his/her choice from the list and second place will pick two and third place will pick one.  The deadline is December 27th and please refer to my giveaway rules.

Here are the books up for grabs:
1.  ARC of Frozen (Heart of Dread #1) by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston  
2.  ARC of Stolen (Heart of Dread #2) by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston
3.  ARC of Since Last Summer (Rules of Summer #2) by Joanna Philbin
4.  Suspicion by Alexandra Monir (hardcover)
5.  The Fires of Calderon by Lindsay Cummings (hardcover)
6.  Long Live the King by Fay Weldon (paperback)
7.  Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick (hardcover)
8.  The Swap by Megan Shull (hardcover)

Don't forget to enter my international giveaway as well!  Good luck and Happy Holidays!

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Friday, December 12, 2014

5th Blogoversary International Giveaway

Guys, I am both simultaneously shocked and proud when I tell you I have been blogging here for five years. Five years! I can't believe I have stuck with it for so long, but when you are doing what you love, it doesn't seem like work at all, right?

I started this blog five years ago for professional development and I am so glad I stuck with it. I could go down the list of how many posts I have had and all my stats, but I think that is beside the point. What I really want to do is thank each and everyone of you for reading, commenting, and sharing in my love of books. It is you guys who make this all worthwhile and for that I thank you!

To share in my blogoversary excitement, I am hosting an international giveaway for one winner to spend up to $20 dollars on books of his/her choice from the Book Depository. Please make sure your Book Depository ships to your location.  The deadline is December 27th and please refer to my giveaway rules.

Keep your eye out for more blogovesary giveaways coming up this weekend!  Thanks again for following Confessions of a Book Addict and Happy Holidays!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Book Review: Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Pages: 870
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 7, 2001
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: Outlander (#1), Dragonfly in Amber (#2)
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her... and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.  Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her...the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland... and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love."
Claire Randall thought the love of her life, Jamie Fraser, was dead at the battle of Culloden, like most of his comrades.  However, she finds out through some research that he actually isn't dead and somehow survived. Now that she has this life-altering information, she wants to travel back in time through the stones to be reunited with him, but there are so many unknowns. Will he still be unmarried and want to see her? What about their daughter? Even though she is a grown woman now, can Claire really leave her behind? With Frank dead and her job on hold, now is Claire's chance; plus, her daughter knows the truth now.  What Claire Fraser finds when she travels back is an edge-of-your-seat adventure and love story. Gabaldon definitely weaves her magic in Voyager, the third book of the Outlander series, and fans will be pleased.

What I love so much about Claire is the fact that she is a modern woman living in a time when women weren't so independent. She is now a doctor and raised her daughter well.  Frank has died, so now is her time to travel back to Jamie once she finds out he is indeed alive.  Of course leaving it all behind after so many years is tough, especially for the simple fact that she has no clue what she is in for when she goes through the stones, but I love her courage in Voyager.  Once she does go back, she is faced with many obstacles and hardships, but faces them all with her usual courage and determination. Simply put, she is one of my favorite heroines.

Readers get more of a glimpse into Jamie's life in Voyager. I liked that Gabaldon gave us a heads up as to what has been going on with Jamie while separated from Claire. In usual Jamie fashion, I can't say I entirely agree with his every move and decision, but nonetheless, I still am still a huge fan of him.  Jamie finds himself in more than one uncomfortable situation, but the fact of the matter is, he has never stopped loving Claire.

Oh, the adventure in Voyager!! The other books in the series have a lot of adventure in them, but I feel like there were a lot of instances of major adventure and travel in Voyager. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story, but some situations weren't as believable for me as they were in Outlander. They seemed a bit too coincidental, but nonetheless, I was still completely absorbed in this story.

And I feel like since Gabaldon's books are so lengthy, that inevitably there will be slow spots and I feel like this was true in Voyager as well. Sometimes Gabaldon can get overly descriptive and wordy, but that is really my only major issue with this series. 

All in all, I am LOVING the Outlander series and I can't wait to continue with book four, Drums of Autumn. Things are really starting to heat up and I wonder how on earth Gabaldon can keep it up, but she is such a master storyteller, I have no doubt she will keep me entertained for many books to come.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Other Daughter

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig
Pub. Date: June 2, 2015

Goodreads says, "Raised by her widowed mother in genteel poverty in an isolated English village, for the past six years Rachel Woodley has been working in France as a nursery governess. When her mother unexpectedly dies, she returns to England to clear out the cottage, and finds a scrapbook full of cuttings from London society pages—all pictures of her supposedly deceased father, very much alive. He's an earl, socially prominent, with another daughter who is living a charmed life: a debutante, much photographed, and engaged to a rising Tory MP. Rachel's cousin confirms the horrible truth: her father is alive, with a legitimate, acknowledged family. Which makes Rachel...not legitimate. Everything she thought she knew about herself and her past—even her very name—is a lie. Still reeling from the death of her mother, and furious at this betrayal, Rachel enters into an uneasy alliance with a mysterious man-about-town, who promises her access to her father. With his help, Rachel sets herself up in London under a new identity and insinuates herself into the party-going crowd of Bright Young Things, with a steely determination to unveil her father's perfidy and bring his—and her half-sister's—charmed world crashing down. Very soon, however, Rachel faces two unexpected snags: she finds she genuinely likes her half-sister, Olivia, whose situation isn't as simple it appears; and that Rachel herself might just be falling for her sister's fiancĂ©."
How fabulous does this book sound? I love complicated revenge stories and this one seems to fit the bill; plus, the setting of London and the "party-going crowd of Bright Young Things" sounds like something I'd enjoy.  I really enjoyed Willig's other historical novel, The Ashford Affair, so I immediately added this one to my TBR list. What do you guys think?

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