Jan 26, 2015

Anna and the French Kiss

I have heard and been told so many times to read a book by Stephanie Perkins. I thought okay this book does sound really cute. Yet, I never started it. I bought it and it sat on my shelf for a year or two. Now that I've finally read it I understand why so many people love the story and they way Stephanie Perkins writes.


 Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?


Anna's father sends her to a boarding school in France. Sounds fun right? Not to Anna. She barely knows any French, doesn't want to leave the boy she likes, her best friend or her little brother behind. Her thoughts on France change the longer she is there and the more she gets to know St. Clair.

It took me minutes to get engrossed in this story. Right away I loved Anna and her voice. She's quirky and funny. She's intelligent and loyal. It was very easy for me to relate to Anna. Like her I have a love for movies. I could understand her love for writing reviews on the films she see's. What else I could really understand was her anxiety about not knowing how to speak french. I would have been just as nervous as her.

Etienne St. Clair was everything and well, everything. Very much like with Anna I adored him instantly. They are both the type of characters that you simply can't help but love. St. Clair was an interesting character. He's funny, charming, handsome, thoughtful and yet he has issues of his own. These issues cause drama that make you groan because you want to see him happy.

I didn't realize how much I would love having a book set in France. The way that Stephanie Perkins writes made it feel like you were there with Anna and her group of friends. It made me want to get on a plane and find this boarding school and attend it. Of course St. Clair was a big part of this desire but the French setting just added to it.

Anna and the French Kiss is a fun and adorable book. But after the first half things go from being light to being a bit more serious. Don't get me wrong there are still those moments of heartfelt giggles, but things change. I loved the transition and how Stephanie Perkins was able to keep the heart of the story still there in spite of the drama.

I'm giving Anna and the French Kiss 4.5 out of 5 birds! I really enjoyed this book. I'm a little disappointed in myself for not reading it sooner yet at the same time I'm not. Now I don't have to wait to read the next one, which I plan on doing right away! I would recommend this book to anyone. It was such a good read.


   



Jan 16, 2015

The Killing Woods

Lately I've been buying books I have little to no knowledge about. And lately these are the books that have been quite good. The Killing Woods was nothing I expected but it kept me thinking and constantly second guessing my judgment on certain characters.


 Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary, the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.

Emily's father has been accused of murdering Ashlee Parker. He walks out of the woods with her dead body and his sanity not quite there. What are people supposed to think? But Emily insists her father is innocent and that she doesn't have murderers blood in her own veins.

At first I was not sure if I would like this book. The opening chapters which switch from Emily's to Damon's point of view had me confused. Then again what has happened is even confusing for these characters. Once I got past those two chapters I started to follow and understand what was happening. This book was very much like a movie. Things aren't revealed but if you play close attention to the detail that is given you can find clues that make you put two and two together.

Emily is very confused. She's dealing with so much shit on her plate that you can't blame the girl for being so distraught about everything. Though this book is written in first person I felt very distant from Emily. This did not make me like her character any less but at the same time it made it so I didn't feel any connection with her. I liked her and I thought it was brave how she never really gave up hope on her father despite everything pointing towards him being the killer.

Damon was an interesting character. What I loved most about the way he was written was it felt like I was genuinely reading from a male perspective. His voice was so distinct and well written. He's messed up and gutted over what happened to his girlfriend. He can't remember a thing and this whole book he fights with his mind trying to remember what happened.

The suspense in this book is there through every chapter. If you are looking for a romance keep looking because this book has very little. A part of me loved that aspect of this book because why would two characters get romantic when they are both trying to figure out what the hell happened? Everything about this book felt very realistic and well planned.

Every time I thought I had things figured out in this book something would shift or cause me to second guess myself. It would make me want to read faster to see what had actually happened that night. The game they play is so odd but strangely fascinating.

I enjoyed this book but there were certain things that will keep me from giving it a higher rating. The Killing Woods is getting 3 out of 5 birds! Great book that keeps you on your toes! Can be hard to connect to characters, but at the same time it's part of the way this story is told. I feel like perhaps we aren't meant to connect until the very end when everything falls into place. I'd recommend this one for sure.









Jan 13, 2015

Say What You Will

I didn't realize when I started Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern yesterday morning that I would be so engrossed with the story that I would finish it all in one day. It has a been a long time since I've done that. Way too long. This book was something amazing, so amazing.


 Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.


Amy was born with cerebral palsy which means she can't talk without a voice box, drools a bit to much and can't walk without the assistance of her walker. Matthew is in denial about the issues that plague his daily life and it isn't until he becomes Amy's aid that he finally starts to deal with the battle in his own mind.

From page one I was hooked by this book and the story Amy and Matthew had to tell. I had no idea when I picked up this book just how amazing the story inside of it would be. There's something unique about this book. It has nothing to do with the fact that Amy is disabled, but by the honesty and raw way this book is written. Cammie McGovern takes Matthew's OCD and she puts you in his head. She makes you understand how hard it can be to live with it. She shows you that even those who may not be able to speak words verbally have the most to say.

Amy is something truly remarkable. I can't even begin to say why I love Amy or how inspiring she was while reading this book. She is inspiring, strong, funny, honest, and most of all she's flawed in ways that she accepts and doesn't try or want to change. She's accepted the life she was given. She doesn't let it hold her back. She challenges herself in ways that I admired. 

I loved the dynamic between Amy and her mother. Amy has been sheltered her whole life and as she becomes friends with her aids from school, people her age, she stands up and makes choices of her own. I didn't like the way her mother treated her in the beginning or Matthew for that matter, but by the close of the book you come to realize why she is so worried to let her daughter grow up despite it being clear she is capable of so much. 

Matthew, again I am struggling with words. He is amazing in different ways from Amy. He's battling his own mind throughout this book. He won't accept what Amy see's right away. He's got OCD and it's holding him back. I couldn't get over how honest he was, the way he looked at life. There hasn't ever been a male character written like Matthew. He is one of those characters that despite how many books you read you will always remember this one and love.

The friendship between Matthew and Amy was a big part of what made this book so fantastic. Reading about them, the way their friendship bloomed and grew with each page made me turn the pages faster. I keep using words like beautiful and amazing, but it's true whether it be about the friendship they share or them as individual characters. 

This book is written beautifully. My review couldn't ever sum up how amazing this book is. I could talk and talk about how I couldn't stop reading this book. How I laughed and it made me ponder what it must be like to have something to battle with like OCD. I won't because all I have to say is read this book. Cherish the story it is telling. Fall in love with Amy and Matthew the way I did.

Say What You Will is getting 5 out of 5 birds from me! It is my favorite book of 2015 so far and it's set some high standards for more books to come. This is the type of book I would recommend daily to anyone asking what to read. I look forward to reading another book by this author!


 


Jan 12, 2015

The 100

I've been aware of The 100 series for a while. I can remember when it was optioned for a show before it even came out. For some reason I never got around to reading the book right away but I instantly got sucked into the TV show. Though they are very different from each other they are both equally awesome in different ways.


In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.


Earth hasn't been liveable for many years, it's toxic and radiation soaked. But there is only so much time they have up in space and they send down 100 young criminals to see if they can make a life on earth again.

I was surprised by how well I fell into all the different perspective's in this book. Sometimes that doesn't always work, but the way Kass Morgan wrote each character was awesome. Whether it be Wells or Glass every single one had a unique and distinct voice. Of the four major characters Clarke and Bellamy we're my favorite, Glass being a close runner up. I didn't like Wells much at all. I felt he was way to focused on winning Clarke back. If I'm honest he was a bit obsessive and you learn just all he did to be on this mission. Makes you want to scold him for being so foolish.

Clarke is strong and she has a maturity to her that makes her capable to run things. I really loved getting the snippets into her past and why she was sentenced into confinement. I would definitely have a hatred towards Well's like Clarke. He betrayed her trust and though he thought he was being helpful he set things into a spinning spiral that only continued to go down the drain.

Bellamy right from the bat was intriguing to me. I love his character in the TV show and though there are some similarities they are very separate from each other. I loved how he seems like a real hard ass but really he's sweet and selfless. Everything he's done has been for his sister. He's got a sense of humor that made me smile more than once.

I wasn't expecting Glass's story and the way it played out but it was refreshing to have a connect still up on the ship. I instantly fell in love with Glass and Luke's love story. They are so sweet. I'm nervous how things are going to turn out for them in the next book.

Kass Morgan did an awesome job creating this story and it's characters. She leaves things with a cliffhanger that makes you want the second book right away. I'm giving The 100 4.5 out of 5 birds! I loved this book and read it fairly quickly. I can't wait to see how the relationships in this book further develop--Bellarke shipper right here!--and what's going to happen with that cliffhanger.



Jan 9, 2015

The Winter Guest

There are books you know nothing about. Don't know who the author is, never heard a thing about it but you happen to stumble upon it. The Winter Guest was one of those books. I was drawn in by the cover and after reading the back I had a curiosity about the story. I had no idea going in how much I would love the story Pam Jenoff created during such a sad time in hisory.


 Life is a constant struggle for the eighteen-year-old Nowak twins as they raise their three younger siblings in rural Poland under the shadow of the Nazi occupation. The constant threat of arrest has made everyone in their village a spy, and turned neighbor against neighbor. Though rugged, independent Helena and pretty, gentle Ruth couldn't be more different, they are staunch allies in protecting their family from the threats the war brings closer to their doorstep with each passing day.

Then Helena discovers an American paratrooper stranded outside their small mountain village, wounded, but alive. Risking the safety of herself and her family, she hides Sam—a Jew—but Helena's concern for the American grows into something much deeper. Defying the perils that render a future together all but impossible, Sam and Helena make plans for the family to flee. But Helena is forced to contend with the jealousy her choices have sparked in Ruth, culminating in a singular act of betrayal that endangers them all—and setting in motion a chain of events that will reverberate across continents and decades.


Twin sisters living in Poland are stuck in a world dictated and torn apart by the Nazi. Ruth and Helena may be twins but they are completely different and when Helena finds herself stumbling upon an American solider their lives change instantly.

I had very different and conflicted feelings about Helena and Ruth--mostly my conflicted feelings were about Ruth and not Helena. I typically have a hard time with third person. I have always found it hard to connect to the characters. For this book that wasn't the case and it had a lot to do with how Pam Jenoff wrote. It didn't take me long to fall into Helena's narration.  I felt like I could understand Helena and her need for something to change in her life. If I had to live the life she was living I know a part of me would desire the same things Helena did. I mostly definitely would not have been as strong as she was.

Of the two sisters Ruth was my least favorite, but by the end of the book I found myself realizing I didn't really dislike Ruth as much as I thought I did. At first my feelings towards Ruth were not so cool. I felt she was selfish, a bit annoying, and unkind towards Helena. Helena had her own moments of being selfish it wasn't all on Ruth. There was just something about Ruth that oozed jealousy which she was. As the chapters progressed I started to understand Ruth a little bit better and by the end I was sad by how everything turned out for her and Helena. Ruth was strong in a different way from Helena. She held the family together in different ways that I was blind to at first.

The core of this story is family and what is most important during a time of war and grief. Despite Sam being a foreigner he plays a big role in this families life. He brings Helena the excitement she always sought along with something she never expected. But most of all he brings a little bit of chaos and an enlightenment the family needed to survive. I loved Sam and felt he brought a spark to this story. He was so selfless and caring and optimistic when the life they are living is anything but.

While reading this book I had the sense of doom as each chapter went by. It never went away until I finally read the end. This story ends in an unexpected way--at least for me. I was expecting complete and utter sadness after reading this book. Trust me you feel that bittersweet sadness with the final chapters. It makes you glad to have not lived during a time when you could be killed simply for the blood in your veins.

The Winter Guest was nothing I expected it would be. It was beautifully written and makes you ponder why such a thing happened in our history. I loved, loved, loved this book which is why it's getting 4.5 out of 5 birds from me! Read it and you will cherish what you have and your family more. Such a beautiful story!




Jan 5, 2015

Outlander

Outlander was one of those books that I had no knowledge of until seeing the Stazs original series. I was hooked and knew I had to read the book. It took me way, way to long to finish this book. Granted it's a long book but it's a good one let me tell you. Had I had the time to really sit and read it through and through I would have finished it months ago.


 The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life . . . and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire . . . and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.


Claire lives in the year 1945 until she's transported to Scotland 1743. She finds herself thrust into a life surrounded by Scots who don't trust her and think her a spy. I really loved Claire. She has a stubborn, determined, spitfire personality that stuns the Scottish warriors she winds up with. In their time no woman she speak the way she speaks. Damned if Claire cares. She's gonna curse and she's gonna put a man in his place when he needs it. Not once does her character shake. Even when she is put in some scary situations she manages to keep her wits about and get through it.

Jamie Fraser wow, wow wow. I don't know what to say about him honestly other than possibly hot-damn. Like wow. I need me a Scot. Jamie is in a lot of ways amazing but he's also damn stubborn and some of his way of going about things are odd because of the time this is set. I really loved his sense of humor and the way he and Claire would interact with each other.

This is a really big book. It would take a lengthy review to talk about everything that occurred in this book and not to mention a lot of tip toeing so nothing is spoiled. Despite the book being a good six hundred pages long it never felt like it needed to end soon or risk becoming a snooze. Even the stuff that didn't have much happening was entertaining. In fact some of my favorite bit in this book is when nothing crazy is happening and they are back where Jamie grew up. I loved the dynamic throughout that section.

There are a lot of characters in this book way to many to mention. Aside from the main two, Jamie's sister and her husband we're my absolute favorite. I adored them to know end. I can't say to much about them without risk of spoiling some things but they deserved a mention.

Diana Gabaldon writes in a very descriptive fashion. It makes it so every little thing from Jamie's eye color to the Scotland landscaping is easy to conjure an image in your mind. Though I've watched what has been released of the first season before reading this book, it in no way hindered my love of the book. In fact it was only better because of how closely the show follows the book.

The way Outlander ended has me eager to read the next book, yet content to not read it right away. I loved how it ended. Especially after everything that happened to them I felt it was good they had a certain something to look forward to. 

Outlander gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me. The only reason it doesn't get a full five stars is because of some things that happen to Jamie towards the end of the book that made me uncomfortable. In some ways her descriptive writing made that stuff almost a little to easy to visualize. Other than that this book was fantastic. I would recommend everyone read it and watch the show! Both are so good.