Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Five (14)

Happy Friday! Sometimes I like to talk about what I am currently into that is not necessarily book related. Here's what I have been up to/thinking about/enjoying lately. Let me know what you think! 

1.  My Birthday - That's right! Today is my birthday. I hope it involves some wine, some cake and some quality time with my favorite people. I've been going through some health stuff lately and it has really put a damper on my birthday, but whenever I am down, I always turn to books. Are you surprised? ha. I find solace in reading about the Kennedys, specifically Jackie, because is there a more resilient person out there? If you think you have bad luck, then you should read what this family has been through.  I also love to refer back to my favorite Mary Oliver poems. She just gets me. 

(This is last year's image - new one coming soon!)
2.  Summer Kickoff - Guys, this is my THING. I live for this. I can't wait.  What books are you excited to put in your beach bag this year? Can you believe it will be my 5th year doing this?

3. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - The cover came out! Do you guys like it? I happen to love it.

4.  Mr. Selfridge - Season three starts this Sunday. Yay! Anyone else going to be watching? 

5. Mad Men - Get your Vodka Gimlets ready, because Mad Men returns April 5th. This is another one of my favorite shows. I can't believe this is the last season. I hope that the ending works...I have high hopes, so fingers crossed! 

Happy Friday and thanks for visiting!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Book Review: A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe

Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: March 10, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Emmaline Nelson and her sister Birdie grow up in the hard, cold rural Lutheran world of strict parents, strict milking times, and strict morals. Marriage is preordained, the groom practically predestined. Though it’s 1958, southern Minnesota did not see changing roles for women on the horizon. Caught in a time bubble between a world war and the ferment of the 1960’s, Emmy doesn’t see that she has any say in her life, any choices at all. Only when Emmy’s fiancé shows his true colors and forces himself on her does she find the courage to act—falling instead for a forbidden Catholic boy, a boy whose family seems warm and encouraging after the sere Nelson farm life. Not only moving to town and breaking free from her engagement but getting a job on the local newspaper begins to open Emmy’s eyes. She discovers that the KKK is not only active in the Midwest but that her family is involved, and her sense of the firm rules she grew up under—and their effect—changes completely.  Amy Scheibe's A Fireproof Home for the Bride has the charm of detail that will drop readers into its time and place: the home economics class lecture on cuts of meat, the group date to the diner, the small-town movie theater popcorn for a penny. It also has a love story—the wrong love giving way to the right—and most of all the pull of a great main character whose self-discovery sweeps the plot forward."
Emmy Nelson, an eighteen year old girl from Minnesota, has her life planned out by her parents and she has no say in her own life. It's 1958, and her parents rule her world; in fact, they have plans to marry her off to Ambrose Brann, a family friend, whom she has known her whole life.  This would be all well and good, except Emmy's family has recently moved to a town and she realizes there is so much more to life than being a farmer's wife.  One teacher in particular has inspired her to reach higher and she realizes that not everyone lives the way she does with smothering parents and oppressive rules. As Emmy's horizons expand, she is able to go on her first date, go to a party and even get her first job at the switchboard for her local newspaper.  Also, as Emmy's learns more about herself and life, she then remembers at the end of this she is to marry Ambrose. Ambrose was an ok guy when they were kids, but now he is a much older man that has strange notions. Not only is he extremely conservative, he is sexist, racist, and violent at times. Emmy wants more for her life, more than Ambrose and his farm, but what can she do? How will she get out of this cage her parents created? A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe is an entertaining glimpse into rural conservative life in the late 1950s as well as a captivating coming of age tale.  I was on the edge of my seat with worry for Emmy and was desperate for her to spread her wings and fly far away from it all.

I really loved Emmy in A Fireproof Home for the Bride. She was sweet girl who worked hard and was academically very smart, so in turn, she started to realize there was more to life than what her parents initially presented to her. She lived in a very, very religious world, so she rarely got to experience what teenagers should experience. It was really kind of sad, but once she started to branch out more, I was really happy for her. In fact, she meets someone new that catches her eye to the point where she realizes she has absolutely no future with Ambrose.

Speaking of Ambrose, he was such a villain in A Fireproof Home for the Bride. Ugh. I couldn't stand him. I had enough of his sexism, racism, his comments about Catholics, his violence and his inappropriate behavior towards women. I don't want to give too much away, but he made my blood run cold.   I wanted Emmy to get away from him and fast.

The time period is really portrayed well in A Fireproof Home for the Bride. Scheibe did a great job showing how sheltered Emmy's existence was with her parents and juxtaposed it to life outside of her parent's grasp. It's 1958, so there's a lot of racial tension, issues with women's rights, and much more. Even the KKK plays a role in this story, so it's much more than a story of a girl who wants to get out of an engagement.  Emmy had high hopes for herself and wants to work at the newspaper. She doesn't want to be someone's puppet, including her parents.

My one issue with this book is all the various plot points. Sometimes it was tough to tie them all together. The beginning was a tad slow, but then the second half moves at lightning speed. There's even a murder mystery plot line in the last half of the book, but nonetheless, I found Emmy's story entertaining.

What is great about A Fireproof Home for the Bride is the fact that it has great cross-over appeal since the main character is eighteen years old and it is essentially a coming-of-age story.  Even though Emmy deals with very adult issues, I think older teenagers could appreciate this glimpse into what life might have been like in a rural and religious neighborhood in the fifties. It would no doubt make them appreciate the life they have now. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light

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

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus
Pub. Date: October 6, 2015

Goodreads says, "A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws. Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel. Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on the right track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can't shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth. When Summer's behavior manage to alienate everyone, even Moony, she's forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that'll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel. "
Ok, so I know this one sounds like another young adult read with a love triangle, but seriously. Paris. I can't say no. Also, it sounds a little bit darker than what I was expecting. What do you guys think? 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books From My Childhood That I Want to Revisit

This week's Top Ten Tuesday, focuses on books from childhood. Here are some of my favorites that I wouldn't mind revisiting. 

1. The Babysitter's Club by Ann M. Martin - I think this was the first contemporary series that I became hooked on, like every other girl growing up in the 80s/90s.  

2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - I fell in love with this series hard. I then became obsessed with the TV show. Two words for you: Gilbert Blythe. YES! I also still hate Josie Pye. 

3. Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Clearly - Who doesn't love Ramona Quimby?

4. Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal - I went through a Sweet Valley High phase. I was obsessed with the books and I even had the board game (no one every wanted to be Enid!)

5. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen - This is the first survial story that I loved. 

6. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney - This is the first mystery that really hooked me.  

7. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein- I still have my copy! This is the first book of poetry that didn't make me roll my eyes.

8. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander - Lloyd Alexander is the reason why I still love fantasy today. 

9.  Where's Waldo by Martin Handford - I still have my copy of this book. My son now likes to find Waldo!

10.  Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish - I remember loving these books when I first learned to read. 

What books would you love to revisit from your childhood? Have you read any of my favorites? Let me know what you think. This meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan

Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Fiction/Romance
Pub. Date: February 24, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads says, "It's been a summer of firsts for Emily Donovan. From becoming a stand-in mom to her niece Lizzie to arriving on Puffin Island, her life has become virtually unrecognizable. Between desperately safeguarding Lizzie and her overwhelming fear of the ocean—which surrounds her everywhere she goes!—Emily has lost count of the number of "just breathe" pep talks she's given herself. And that's before charismatic local yacht club owner Ryan Cooper kisses her…  Ryan knows all about secrets. And it's clear that newcomer Emily—with her haunted eyes and the little girl she won't let out of her sight—is hiding from something besides the crazy chemistry between them. So Ryan decides he's going to make it his personal mission to help her unwind and enjoy the sparks! But can Puffin Island work its magic on Emily and get her to take the biggest leap of trust of all—putting her heart in someone else's hands?"
Emily Donovan seems to have it all. She's got an amazing job in Manhattan, she has a boyfriend, and two very good girlfriends. This all changes though when she finds out her estranged half sister, who happens to be a movie star, died in a tragic accident. She has left her six-year old daughter, Juliet, to her, which absolutely doesn't make sense since they haven't spoken in years. But there's nothing Emily can do about it now.  The paparazzi are ruthless and Emily realizes she needs to take Juliet somewhere off the beaten path and with the help of her best friend, Brittany, she stays at her inherited house on Puffin Island, where they used to summer as college friends. This sounds like a perfect solution, except for the fact that Emily has a serious fear of the water.  To make matters worse, everyone on Puffin Island is curious as to why she is staying at Castaway Cottage and who exactly they are.  Brittany sends over her friend, Ryan, to check on them, but it's unsettling to Emily as he is asking too many questions; plus, there's the fact that she is attracted to him. One thing is for sure, Emily and Juliet's stay on Puffin Island will change them both for the better. First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan is a happy romance with a gorgeous beachside setting; this book is essential spring break reading.

Emily is pretty down and out when she arrives on Puffin Island. She lost her boyfriend, her job, and her life in Manhattan, all to take care of Juliet. They are constantly on the watch for paparazzi and journalists to the point where Emily has Juliet go by her middle name Elizabeth or Lizzy.  They are sort of living undercover, until Ryan, a local guy and Brittany's friend, sort of breaks them both out of their shells. At first he is just doing Brittany a favor by checking in on Emily, but the more he gets to know Emily, the more he is intrigued by her, even if she is a single mom, which is something that used to be an deal breaker for him. 

Emily definitely needs some help in First Time in Forever. Her childhood experiences have made her pretty much an ice-queen and she doesn't trust easily. To top it off, she doesn't want to raise Lizzy because she feels she isn't a fit mother. So she is constantly nervous around the child and unsure.  She won't even let them go play on the beach due to her major fear of the water.  The only person that can sort of get her out of this funk is actually Ryan. He helps her start living again and healing many of the emotional scars and baggage that she has been carrying around for years.  But don't get me wrong, Ryan has some secrets as well.

I thought there were some many cliche moments in First Time in Forever. You know the ones. The ones that always show up in romance novels, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the book. Also, I felt the story was very predictable; however, sometimes we need a book that's rainbows and butterflies, right? 

First Time in Forever is like a luxurious long day at the beach with nothing to do but relax, drink a tropical concoction and catch some rays. Plus, the setting of Puffin Island will have you longing for a weekend at your favorite beach town. If you are looking for something light, indulgent and happy to read while on spring break, look no further.  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Stacking the Shelves and Giveaway Winners (72)


The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan - Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley
The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis - Thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley
First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan - Thanks to Harlequin
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen - Thanks to Viking and NetGalley
Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan - Thanks to Dutton and NetGalley

  • The winner of The Pembrooke Park giveaway can be found on Julie Klassen's website. Congrats to all the winners!  
  • The winner of Lauren Oliver's The Vanishing Girls is Kim K. Congrats! I hope you enjoy the book!

So what do you guys think? Have you read any of these books or are they on your TBR list? Let me know! This meme is hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews.

Friday, March 20, 2015

It's Not You, It's Me (9)

"It's not you, it's me."  Some books just don't work for me, whereas other readers may have really enjoyed them.  This feature will be showcasing books that I never finished or reviewed; you know…...the dreaded DNF.

Ruth's Journey by Donald McCaig 
Goodreads says, "Her story began with a miracle.” On the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue, an island consumed by the flames of revolution, a senseless attack leaves only one survivor—an infant girl. She falls into the hands of two French émigrés, Henri and Solange Fournier, who take the beautiful child they call Ruth to the bustling American city of Savannah. What follows is the sweeping tale of Ruth’s life as shaped by her strong-willed mistress and other larger-than-life personalities she encounters in the South: Jehu Glen, a free black man with whom Ruth falls madly in love; the shabbily genteel family that first hires Ruth as Mammy; Solange’s daughter Ellen and the rough Irishman, Gerald O’Hara, whom Ellen chooses to marry; the Butler family of Charleston and their shocking connection to Mammy Ruth; and finally Scarlett O’Hara—the irrepressible Southern belle Mammy raises from birth. As we witness the difficult coming of age felt by three generations of women, gifted storyteller Donald McCaig reveals a portrait of Mammy that is both nuanced and poignant, at once a proud woman and a captive, and a strict disciplinarian who has never experienced freedom herself. But despite the cruelties of a world that has decreed her a slave, Mammy endures, a rock in the river of time. She loves with a ferocity that would astonish those around her if they knew it. And she holds tight even to those who have been lost in the ravages of her days.
My Thoughts:
Mammy from Gone with the Wind is one of my favorite characters. Who doesn't love Mammy? So when I saw that this book was her story, I thought for sure I would love it. I got about 20% into it and realized it just lacked that something special for me.  I wanted to love it, but we weren't a match. 

Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark 

Goodreads says, "Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak. Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a few months later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite her to Taco Bell. To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins."

My Thoughts:
This book has had some pretty decent reviews, but I couldn't finish it. I wasn't connecting with the teenagers in the book and they felt a little too quirky for my taste. I also wasn't in the mood for anymore books that focus on death. I have read my fair share this winter, so I knew that I needed to put this book aside.

Have you guys read these books? Have you DNF any books recently? What makes you not able to finish a book? Let me know your thoughts. 

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