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Posts tagged “book review

Book Reviews: Secrets, Sadness + Self-Help

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The Husband’s Secret: I’ve been on the wait list at the library for this book for months. I was SO excited when I finally got it and then I read it … and it was a letdown. I was a big fan of her book Big Little Lies, which I’ve reviewed previously. This one was similar in that it had some twists and was easy to read; however, the plot just didn’t immediately interest me like the other book. I guess I like gossipy PTA Mom dramas better than deep-seeded family secrets dramas.
Grade: B+

Belzhar: And speaking of letdowns … again, this is another book I’ve been waiting for and have read from this author previously. Her book The Interestings made my 2013 list of favorite books last year. (Seriously, go read it.) This one was fairly interesting, but too YA for me and I hated the ending. The plot is good enough, but then once you get into it, it looses its luster. I also didn’t feel a strong enough attachment to the characters to really care what happened.
Grade: B-

Allegiant: And speaking of endings I disliked … I’ve been putting off reading this book for a while now. I read the first two books in the Divergent series and LOVED them, but had heard this one was not a good ending to the series. I honestly wish I just hadn’t read it. The author tried too hard to complicate things when it could have ended simpler and happier. It brought me out of the fantasy world from the first two books and into reality for this one – in a series you should either be all in or all out. I literally had tears streaming down my face at the end of the book and not in a good way.
Grade: C

Boundaries: We’re reading this book with our community group and it has been terrific. Even if “self-help” and “Christian” books usually turn you off, this has some great principles and discussion topics. I really think this book is best read with a group, but would be great as a personal read as well. There’s so much great information about boundaries at work, boundaries in marriage, boundaries with self and more. Our group could easily focus on one chapter a month vs. our two chapters a week. It gave me a new perspective and has forced action out of the book, exactly what the author would want.
Grade: A

Book Reviews: Vacation Reads + A New Series

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Mercury in Retrograde: This is one of those random library books you just pick up and check out even though you don’t know much about it. I took it on vacation as an easy read and read it in 2 days. But that’s pretty much all it is – an easy, lighthearted read. It’s about three girls lives turning upside down (due to mercury in retrograde, obviously) and as their paths cross they learn from each other and turn it all around.

Wild: This was next on the vacation book list and it was quite the opposite from my first read. If you enjoy nature, you need to read it. If you enjoy adventure and soul searching, you need to read it. If you enjoy good books, you need to read it!! A woman hiking a 1,100 miles in a journey of self-discovery – sounds a little boring, huh? Not even close. I felt so connected to the main character by the end that I could feel her tears in my eyes. This is officially on my list of top 10 favorite books of all time.

The Vacationers: Oh, The Vacationers. I’ve had you on my reading list for months now. I put you on hold at the library and was SO excited to see it was finally my turn to read you. And sadly, you really disappointed me. You had a myriad of characters that could have had so much depth, but didn’t. Your plot barely seemed to inch along. I considered dropping you several times, but decided to finish. Did you pay off those magazine reviews that sang your praises?

Divergent: Okay, I know I’m like a year behind on this trend, but I’m so glad I finally caught on. I’m not saying this is a tremendously well-written, deep novel (like Wild), but for a young adult series it’s so engaging. I was literally obsessing over the next time I could read because all I wanted to do was finish the book. I also read Insurgent, the second book in the series, and really enjoyed it. However, I fear the third will be similar to Hunger Games, a disappointing end to a fantastic series.

Next books on the list: The Happiness Project, Allegiant, Dear Daughter

xo xo

Book Reviews: From Gossip Girl to South Africa

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 5.47.11 PMReconstructing Amelia – Remember when I wrote about wanting to read this book last time? Gossip Girl meets Gone Girl – and it did not disappoint. Though it didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat quite as much as Gone Girl and it wasn’t nearly as chic & conniving as Gossip Girl, it was somewhere happily in the middle and kept me thoroughly entertained.
Grade: A-

Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse – One TwentySomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood – Fact about me: If I’m not completely engaged in a book, I won’t finish it. I just feel like it’s such a waste of my time if I’m not really enjoying what I’m reading.  All that to say, I did not finish this book. Maybe I had too high of hopes, thinking it was going to be the next Mindy Kaling or Tina Fey book (both of which I adored). It does have some similarities and I definitely could relate to some of it, but it was too long-winded with not quite enough wit to keep me reading. If you’re interested, stick with her blog: The Frenemy, but save your time with the book. {Though I did blog about her Advice for TwentySomethings, Post-College, which you should read}
Grade: N/A*

Soul Detox – I’m reading this book with a group of women at work and so far it has been amazing. The book examines the toxins that assault us daily including: toxic influences, toxic emotions, and toxic behaviors. It really forces you to dig deep and examine the toxins you personally deal with, how to deal with them and how to remain clean, pure and focused on God. Our group has had great conversation so far around the book and I’m looking forward to continuing it.
Grade: N/A*

The Power of One – This is next on my list and I hope to start it soon. Husband actually got this book as a gift for his birthday, but I’m stealing it while he’s reading Game of Thrones. In 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams–which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice where he will learn the power of words, the power to transform lives, and the power of one. I love inspirational stories and I have a heart for South Africa, so I’m pretty excited. Review to come next time.

*didn’t finish book

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I’m headed off to Dallas for a few days for work {and a little play}. See you in a few! xo

You might also enjoy: “I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”, Mindy, Facebook + The Dinner

“I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

I seem to go through hobby phases. Sometimes it’s binge-watching a TV show. Sometimes it’s blogging. Sometimes it’s baking. But sometimes it’s reading, and that’s where I’m currently landing. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but it seems its one of those practices that if you don’t keep up consistently you can’t seem to find time for it. Well, when we went on our media blackout for two weeks a lot of free time opened up for reading, and I caught the bug again. I previously shared about the books I was reading in my post Mindy, Facebook + The Dinner.

Now, I’ll share my most current reads. (Though I’m dangerously tipping into the binge-watching phase as I’ve discovered my new Summer show: Greek – all 4 seasons of which are on Netflix.)

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The Interestings – When I tried to describe this book to Husband he said it sounded like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Which it kind of is, a grown-up version at least, but with more depth and wit. It follows a group of friends from summer camp into middle-age, sharing relatable accounts of their relationships, careers and everything in between. I identified with the musings of how relationships change over the years and enjoyed the unique perspective from the various characters.
Grade: A

The Best of Us  Need an easy book to read on vacation? This is it. Similar to Emily Giffin or Jennifer Weiner books, this follows a group of old friends on a seemingly picture-perfect vacation, but when a hurricane hits it brings out all the secrets. Quick and effortless, by the end this read will have you wishing for a drink in your hand and sand between your toes.
Grade: B+

The Great Gatsby – Somehow I got throughout high school without having to read this classic. While I originally regretted not having read it sooner, I think I appreciate it now more than I would have then. The artistic writing, the extravagant parties, the brilliant characters – I’m only halfway through, but so far I’m in love and I can’t wait to see the movie. (P.S. The soundtrack to the movie is incredible.)
Grade: B+

Reconstructing Amelia – After I finish The Great Gatsby, this is next on my list. As I was doing my Saturday morning read of Entertainment Weekly this book caught my eye on their 10 Perfect Summer Reads list. Why? Opening review line – “Gossip Girl meets Gone Girl.” (One of my favorite shows and one of my favorite books.) Could this get any more perfect for me??

What are your summer reads? xo xo

You might also enjoy: The Book List

Book Reviews: Mindy, Facebook + The Dinner

Today and the next two days in NWA are cold, rainy and grey. Bleh. (Where are the WARM + SUNNY April showers??) All I want to do is curl up in sweats with a big cup of coffee, Bon Iver floating through the apartment and a book that could enrapture me for days. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen. However, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in such a situation, below are a few recommendations.

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) – I’ve already talked once on my blog about how much I love Mindy Kaling. Seriously, she’s the best. If I was still unsure about her as I started reading her book, I was hooked by page 5. In her intro she’s answering questions about the book and her last question/answer is “What else should you know about me? (1) There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it. (2) I would like to be friends with Beyonce Knowles.” AMEN and AMEN! (Also, the dress code for her funeral is to be: chic devastated. Can we just be best friends now?)
Grade: A+

Lean In – Quite opposite from Mindy’s book, I decided to read this book after a co-worker told me about.If you’ve been following the media, you know there is SO much controversy surrounding this book, and I honestly don’t understand why. It was practical, honest and smart. In every single chapter I could relate to something she was saying. No matter what you believe about Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) or criticisms you’ve heard about this book, if it inspires more women to LEAN IN and take control of their careers as it did for me, that’s all that really matters.
Grade: A

The Dinner – I’m only about halfway through this book, but so far it’s brilliant. There is one setting – the dinner table at a restaurant. There is one family – the Lohmanns. There are a lot of topics of conversation, but only one secret underlying it all and underneath every bite of humor, you’re trying to figure out what it is.
Grade: B+

Furious Love – This is next on my list when I finish The Dinner. I’ve always been drawn to Old Hollywood – Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, James Dean and the stars of this novel – Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Their love is known as one of the most passionate of all time. They were married and divorced twice and though he was remarried at the time of his death, Liz said she believed they would have been married for a third and final time. Passion, glamour, betrayal, wealth – what more could one need in a novel??

xo xo

fall weather + good reads

Day 2 of the 30-day challenge: Today I’m thankful for B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L weather. J’adore!


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I’m also thankful for good reads. The first of which my mother told me repeatedly to read, but I kept putting it off because in all honesty I thought it sounded kind of hokey. When I finally started it, I flew through it in 4 days – The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

Oh my goodness this is a must-read. The tale is a beautiful portrait of an orphan’s life and how flowers and the language behind them drove her well-being and ultimate happiness.Who even knew flowers had meanings?? I laughed, I cried, I wanted to read it again.

My current read is Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. Though I’m only 50 pages in, it’s already a fun, easy read about a quirky mother and her family.

Now I’m off to end my Monday with the two things I’m thankful for today – sitting on our porch, book in hand.