Oliver Loving, Stefan Merrill Block

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Title: Oliver Loving

Author: Stefan Merrill Block

Pages: 400

Genre:  drama, literary fiction.

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publication Date: January 16th, 2018

Summary:

(Courtesy of Goodreads)

One warm, West Texas November night, a shy boy named Oliver Loving joins his classmates at Bliss County Day School’s annual dance, hoping for a glimpse of the object of his unrequited affections, an enigmatic Junior named Rebekkah Sterling. But as the music plays, a troubled young man sneaks in through the school’s back door. The dire choices this man makes that evening —and the unspoken story he carries— will tear the town of Bliss, Texas apart.

Nearly ten years later, Oliver Loving still lies wordless and paralyzed at Crockett State Assisted Care Facility, the fate of his mind unclear. Orbiting the still point of Oliver’s hospital bed is a family transformed: Oliver’s mother, Eve, who keeps desperate vigil; Oliver’s brother, Charlie, who has fled for New York City only to discover he cannot escape the gravity of his shattered family; Oliver’s father, Jed, who tries to erase his memories with bourbon. And then there is Rebekkah Sterling, Oliver’s teenage love, who left Texas long ago and still refuses to speak about her own part in that tragic night. When a new medical test promises a key to unlock Oliver’s trapped mind, the town’s unanswered questions resurface with new urgency, as Oliver’s doctors and his family fight for a way for Oliver to finally communicate — and so also to tell the truth of what really happened that fateful night.

A moving meditation on the transformative power of grief and love, a slyly affectionate look at the idiosyncrasies of family, and an emotionally-charged page-turner, Oliver Loving is an extraordinarily original novel that ventures into the unknowable and returns with the most fundamental truths.

My thoughts:

Full disclosure, I didn’t finish this book.  Actually, I didn’t even get through half of it.  While I loved the idea of it (the blurb was amazing!) the writing style was too scattered.  It went from one POV to another and while they were all labeled and each one had a different voice, it was hard to keep up between timelines.  Also, the author was really verbose… like J.R.R. Tolkien verbose.

Now, this book is getting some really stellar reviews.  I honestly think this is one of those books you either love or hate.  Sadly I hated it, but if I had forced myself to keep going maybe- MAYBE- it would redeem itself.  I just don’t have the time nor the inclination at this time.  For me this is a two star book.  normal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there is some violence and I don’t know what else because I gave up.  I cannot in good conscious give it a number.

I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Flatiron Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.

The book comes out on 1-16-2018, has anyone read it?  Thoughts?

Link to book:

Amazon

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Take Me With You, Andrea Gibson

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Title: Take me with you

Author: Andrea Gibson

Pages: 193

Genre: Poetry/ Sayings, LGBTQ

Is this part of a series?  No

Publication Date:  January 23rd, 2018

Summary:

Accompanied by illustrations by Sarah J. Coleman Gibson had given us a small collection of poems that vary in theme from: politics, love, gender, family, forgiveness and sexuality.  Gibson is an American poet and considers themselves to be gender neutral.  A lot of her feelings toward gender and the socially approved “norm” come through in her poetry.

My thoughts:

I really liked these poems.  they felt fresh and real, an insight into an intriguing soul.  I actually wish I could add a few of the poems just to show what I mean, but as I was given an advanced copy I need to wait until it is published incase something changes.  I will tell you that as soon as the last poem was read I went on line and bought the paper copy of the book.  Amazon will deliver it on or near the 23rd.

Many have likened Gibson to Rupi Kaur, and I guess I can see why, but I felt like it had a different flavor.  Sassy, sometimes (but not often) bitter, hopeful, loving and honest; these are poems I will want access to again and again.  Please don’t get me wrong, I liked Kaur’s work… but I think it left me feeling more drained than Gibson’s did.  For me this was a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, these poems do delve into sexuality and have some coarse language.  I would give it a seven.  While I think it is alright for older teens (17 and above), I would not give this to my niece just yet.  Parental Guidance

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.  first to read

The book comes out 1-23-2018.  Who else is waiting for their copy?

Link to book:

Amazon

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Weekly Wrap-Up! January 1st-7th…. Also known as why I cannot be trusted at animal adoption sites.

Personal life:

Ever since my other cat, Captain Jack, died of old age I have been trying to impress upon my husband the need for another cat.  He would not hear of it- we are both mildly allergic though with meds we’re fine, Sassy Britches has a hard time getting along with another cat (she came to accept that Jack wasn’t leaving, but was only kind to him toward the end of his life)… and the fact that the previous owners declawed Sassy completely making it hard for her to do much to defend herself.  He had valid points, but I wanted another cat.

Last week during the cold snap Warren discovered that mice had found their way in and lost his ever-loving mind he was so mad.  He talked to me about the possibility of getting a “mouser”.  All I heard was “second cat or small dog” because let’s be honest- you don’t know if your animal is going to get the job done.  Oh, there are character traits to look for, or breeds that are supposed to be better at it; but in the end each animal is different.  Once they are home, he isn’t going to let them go and I know it.  He told me not to go crazy, and that we were going to take our time and decide…. but I knew I had to strike while the iron was hot.  We had been arguing this point for like three years after all.  And so I went to the SPCA and my local PetSmart and fell in love with no less than five animals- four cats and a dog.  Then I made him choose between them because I just couldn’t.  Here were the contenders:

Russia was a big girl with a sweet and tender disposition that immediately wanted pets, and seemed very laid back.  I had high hopes that she would be patient with Sassy, but wasn’t sure she’d be a mouser like Warren wanted.  Also, I wanted to change her name to Vasya after the main character in The Bear and the Nightingale.

I also liked Sprinkle Toes who was gorgeous, funny, rambunctious and curious.  All signs pointed to being a good mouser, but would she be good for Sassy?

On my second visit to PetSmart, this time with Warren, the cat area was closed for cleaning so we just looked from the outside.  Spooky escaped her cage, slid under the cages Mission-Impossible-style and proceeded to play with the attendant by popping out at different stages.  Well, another of the cats still locked up was unimpressed.  Every time Spooky popped her head out under Edith’s cage, she would be swiped at and shoved back down.  Spooky took this in stride, neither yelling nor retaliating in any way but continuing her game.  All signs point to a good mouser, but also a superb disposition toward other cats.  Also, she made Warren laugh.

I can’t even say why I loved Calie.  She had been rescued from a hoarding situation and was terrified the first day I met her.  She stayed in the back of the cage with the largest, most shell shocked eyes and my heart melted for her.  Surely this was a cat that needed a quiet home and lots of love.  The second time a few days later she was coming forward for pets and seemed more relaxed though still skittish around noises.  A mouser, this one was not.  But she was sweet and I couldn’t see her causing Sassy grief.

Then there was the dog of the bunch.  Ramen Noodle has a rat terrier head on a really big body.  He looks goofy, and he knows it- seems to revel in it.  Both times I went to look at dogs at the SPCA the others were going nuts, barking and jumping, and there was this boy sitting pretty with the biggest shit-eating grin on his face.  He looked at me, I looked at him… and it was magic.  I loved this dog.  He was well behaved and hadn’t seemed interested in pestering cats according to his papers.  A dog, though, without a fenced in yard, means three walks a day.  And a pooper scooper or bags.  Ugh…..

So, five amazing adoptees and only the funds/ permission for one.  What’s a girl to do?  Why, force her husband to make the hard choices of coarse!  After each one, he decided on…. *drum roll*…

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Spooky!  (nickname: Boo)  I got her several toys that she loves and we made her a safe room for Friday and Saturday so that the cats could get accustomed to the idea of one another before meeting.  By Saturday night, though, Spooky was tired of being alone and wanted to explore.  We had been coming in lots to spend time with her, but she wanted more.  We decided to introduce them.  Spooky did well…. Sassy flipped out.  She started hissing and probably cursing at Spooky in cat.  Spooky took it in stride and continued to explore between bouts of petting.  This morning we let her back out of the safe room.  Sassy is still mad, but Spooky is giving her space and showing the sweet temperament that made me feel secure in the fact that she wouldn’t be starting stuff.  We will continue to monitor the girls, but I think we’re good.  Sassy’s just stubborn and a little rude.  lol.

So that’s me for the week, what’s up with you?

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A Land of Permanent Goodbyes, Atia Abawi

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Title: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes

Author: Atia Abawi

Pages:  288

Genre:  Realistic fiction, YA, Contemporary fiction

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish Date:  January 23rd, 2018

Summary:

Destiny takes us through war torn Syria and other countries as one family tries to make a life in the midst of destruction.  After loosing his home, mother, grandmother, and several siblings to a bomb; Tareq understands that it’s time to leave Syria.  His father takes him and his sister Susan to the relative safety of his brother’s home.  What they find is a city under Daesh (Isis) control.  The city is in ruins and the citizens terrified.  Tareq and his cousin actually see a beheading.  When Daesh starts looking closely at the boys it is decided that they have to leave immediately.

They made it into Turkey, legally, but the two cousins were separated from Fayed (the father) and Susan.  When things start going badly in Turkey, Tareq decides to try leaving for Germany with Susan while Musa remains behind.  Fayed will come later.  The trip is treacherous and not all his companions make it.  Once there, they make new friends and find some much needed support, but also closed borders and unhelpful governments.  Where will their new home be, and will they ever be accepted?  One friend told him, look for the helpers, and he tries.  Tareq knows that he should be grateful he still has his life, and some family.  He wants to be grateful- he has made a promise to be.  This is a story of life, death, love, war, pain and hope.

My thoughts:

Though this seems like a shorter novel to my way of thinking, it packs quite a punch.  I was excited by the idea of Destiny being my narrator as it’s something a bit unique.  It reminded me a bit of how Death walked us through The Book Thief.  Destiny was an interesting character in of themselves.  I liked their phrasing, and that they allowed some of their own thoughts and feelings in.  The characters- especially Tareq, were moving and I immediately found myself enthralled by their world and the plight.  Full of almost poetic descriptions and characters that will haunt you, this is a must have.

I will say that it took a while to read.  The material gets very heavy- we are after all talking about war refugees here.  There were many times that I had to set the book aside for lighter fare.  I still wouldn’t have missed this book.  Awabi, through both Destiny and other characters, makes sure that we see the refugee crisis for what it is- a crisis.  We are forced to put a face to the masses and listen to their hopes and fears; as well as to get a small inkling of what they may have already been through.  When you’ve sobbed for Tareq’s family it is impossible to ignore the fact that these are just people.  They have the same hopes and desires we all do- safety, security, warmth…. who can say they aren’t worthy, that we can’t give them this as a country?  For me, this is a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there was some language but mostly there was violence.  A lot of violence.  Simply for the magnitude of violence, and the pain it caused me personally to read it, I have to give it a five.  I am still buying it for my niece.

Parental Guidance

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.  first to read

The book comes out on 1-23-18.  Is it on your radar?

Link to book:

Amazon

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Let’s just say this is an overdue wrap-up!

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Personal life:

The holidays got super crazy and  I couldn’t keep up here.  I am so sorry guys!  The O’hana descended on Mo. in mass and we just had a ball.  We saw the Christmas light display that a church in Carthage does every year (Grandma loves this), went bowling, and Surprised my sister with an early birthday on Christmas.  We all drove down in Dad’s party bus (seats 15- I think he got it at an auction), gave her the TV everyone went together into and saw a movie.  Bentonville has a superb theater!  The plush chairs recline, there was more than enough leg room and not a sticky spot or speck of trash.  I was seriously impressed!  We went to see Downsizing…. which I have to say I was less impressed with.  My sister thought it was going to be hilarious- it wasn’t.  My cousin hoped it would be more of a commentary on how we need to be better on our planet- yeah… no.  It had it’s funny moments, and interesting moments…. but mostly it was just okay.

We did Secret Santa and (keep it clean) Dirty Santa on Christmas Eve.  I got a pair of plumeria earrings. My Secret Santa couldn’t make it, so my sweet husband ordered two books for me in hardback- The Speaker by Traci Chee which I haven’t read yet, and my favorite book of the year: Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore.  I love that book and would revisit chapters every time I went to the library.  Due to space constraints and my inability to give up books easily I have to be very selective in what I get a hardcopy of but I knew I wanted this one.  When my niece was down we had what my sister jokingly refers to as second Christmas where we gave each other all the gifts we didn’t want to do at the big celebration.  Warren got a PS 4 from the family and has already ordered Rock Band, his favorite game.  I got a new shirt (above) and a good winter coat.  My sister Mei and her husband Scott surprised me with a used copy of The Illustration of Life written by two of my favorite Animators for Disney.  I love the older works, the animation and care of detail.  Apparently it used to belong to Scott’s uncle before he passed.  I am honored.  I actually cried- not only is this an indulgence I would never buy myself, but it belonged to someone he cared about.  I feel like used books have a history and this one was is in spectacular condition.

Bookish Life:

I read several Sofie Ryan books in preparation for my eARC of The Fast and the Furriest coming out soon.  I am also reading a book called A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi.  It is fantastic, but very hard hitting and I have to take breaks.  I love it though!

So that’s it for me, what’s up with you?

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Telling Tails, Sofie Ryan

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Title: Telling Tails

Author: Sofie Ryan

Pages: 304

Genre: cozy mystery

Is this part of a series?  Yes.  This is book four of the Second Chance Cat Mysteries.

Published:  January 3rd, 2017

Summary:

Sarah’s back with Elvis and Charlotte’s Angels (her grandmother’s friends; this is the name they gave their detective agency that works out of Second Chance Shop).  Rose, making an unapproved delivery to a house, stumbles upon what looks like a dead body being moved.  Before she can be sure she’s hit on the head and wakes up a few houses down being cared for by a large black lab.  What happened?  And where’s the body?

There seems to be no sign of anything untoward and the police think that maybe this was a stroke.   Leesa has proof on her cell that her husband was planning to leave her, and empty bank accounts.  Seems like case closed, right?  But Rose knows what she saw and she is far from feeble- the Angels will figure this out.    With a few false starts and a lot of laughs, we follow the ladies and their compatriot Mr. P.  through the twists and turns of investigating a murder that may never have happened.

My thoughts:

The more I read this series the more I realize that this is just what I need.  Sweet, well developed characters, and good clean fun.  The characters love each other, even those that are at times overprotective.  The series isn’t overly sexualized and there isn’t a lot of foul language like in other mystery genres- nor gore for shock’s sake.  These are just really great, clean reads that are fantastic palate cleansers for after I finish a harsher book- or any time really.

Nick is still being stubborn about the whole detective agency thing- let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be thrilled with one of my elderly relatives getting caught up in murder investigations either.  When he hears about everything that happened to his mom’s friend, he immediately wants her to go to the hospital and get every test imaginable done.    No body, no sign of struggle… just an old woman he cares about on the ground outside.  Sarah’s worried too, but she knows better than to push.  She stays close to the girls and tries as always to lessen danger.  I love her for that.  I love that these characters try to hard to support one another even when they firmly believe they’re off their rockers.    Sarah and Nick’s relationship is still going slower than a sloth in a marathon race- it hasn’t really even started.  There have been a kiss or two…. but that’s it.  Even she is starting to wonder why she isn’t more serious.  I have hopes for our other contender (team Mac all the way!).  There haven’t been any real overtures, but I know these guys are perfect for one another.  For me, this is a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there really isn’t any.  Some violence (this is a murder mystery after all) but mild.  I would definitely give this series to my niece without qualm.  I give it a two tops.  General.svg

The book is out!  Catch up so that you are ready for the next book coming out early 2018!

Link to book:

Amazon

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The Wedding Date, Jasmine Guillory

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Title: The Wedding Date

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Pages: 320

Genre: romantic comedy

Is this part of a series?  While this is the author’s debut novel, I would not say no to a book surrounding some of the support characters here…. but nothing is being said yet.

Release Date: January 30th, 2018

Summary:

Sometimes the most surprising moments can change your life.  Dreading a weekend of wedding festivities where the bride is his ex and the groom one of his best friends, Drew is cursing his luck.  He doesn’t even have a date!!!  Getting stuck in the hotel elevator is the last thing he needs right now…. or is it?

Alexa is bringing champagne and snacks to her sister’s hotel room to celebrate Olivia’s promotion. Hard working and driven, she doesn’t have time for dating and things.  When the elevator taking her to Olivia looses power, she meets a guy that makes her stand up and pay attention.  As the two get to know each other over cheese and crackers Alexa finds herself agreeing to a really crazy idea.  She is going to go to the wedding with Drew, posing as his girlfriend.  She knows he doesn’t do relationships- they talked about it.  So what’s wrong with a fun weekend with a hot guy?

At the end of the weekend the two can’t seem to let go.  Text messages and weekend trips to see one another keep them together…. but together how?  Alexa doesn’t know and she’s afraid to ask.  Drew seems like the best guy in the world, but she knows he doesn’t do relationships…. so what are they doing?   A misunderstanding becomes the blowup that could break them.  Can Drew find a way to get over his hang ups and keep Alexa- and does he even want to?

My thoughts:

I loved this book.  It dealt with some racial issues- Alexa being African
American and Drew… well, not…. but it didn’t linger on this issue and I felt like it was handled respectfully.  I loved these characters and their support characters.  Maddie and Carlos were especially great and I wouldn’t mind a new book centering on either of them.  The story was engaging and well written, if a bit cliché at times.  As with every good romance there were several times where I wanted to shake either character.  For me, this shows that I can invest myself in this book and that’s a good thing.  It was a charming, fast paced read with great characters and interesting plot.  I give it a four.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there was language and sexual content- not mild but not too terribly explicit.  I would give it a five.  mature audience.

I received an eARK from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.  first to read

The book comes out 01/30/2018, I recommend it for those who like romantic comedies.

Link to book:

Amazon

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