Weekly Wrap-up! November 7th-14th

Personal life:

Well guys, I am a lazy bum and it is too darn cold to walk outside (plus I rediscovered my arch-nemesis the French fry), so my weight loss has plateaued at 190 pounds- 46 pounds down from April.  I need to go to the gym more, drink more water, etc.  It also would not hurt to eat less overall calories- not by much but a bit.  The main thing I am learning, though, is all joking aside I like the way I look now.  I am still trying to loose slowly for better health, but if my BMI goes down as it has been and I don’t loose many more calories, I am still thrilled.  I just want to be healthier, that was the whole reason I started trying to loose.  I will admit most days I don’t feel like I have any more energy, but I am happier and I know I am healthier.

Bookish life:

As you know, I recently read The Newcomers: Helen Thorpe , and I loved it.  My hardcover copy came in today (Yup, on the release day, thanks Amazon)!  I am so excited!  This is absolutely one of the most necessary books of the year, for me anyway.  I also got Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NG, but need to wait to read it until I catch up a bit on my ARC’s.

Lastly, I had been on a waiting list for  This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel- of course it would come when I have two books due next Tuesday!!!!  I am about a third of the way through, and I adore it so much.  The book is due back on Saturday though, so there’s no way I am finishing it now.  I have ordered it from Amazon (hardcopy so Mom can read it).  This book is very dear to me because I have someone in my immediate circle that is transgender- he’s known for as long as he could talk.  I have watched the family struggle to understand, the fights with school boards- this was after all twenty years ago and they were not as progressive then, the desire to understand…. and the absolute confusion from those around them- friends and family members alike.  He got the inner support he needed, and I feel like he’s really well adjusted and happy.  We should all be allowed to be who we really are, you know, at our core.  I don’t talk about it much because it isn’t my story to tell and I want to respect his privacy, but this book made me think back on his journey a lot.  I think it’s going to be a really important piece for me.

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

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Haven, Mary Lindsey

ThAVENspolier alertTitle: Haven

Author: Mary Lindsey

Pages: 371

Genre: paranormal, romance.

Is this part of a series?  No.

Published:  November 7th, 2017

 

Summary:

Spending all his life moving from shelter to shelter with his drug addict mother, Rain is as tough as they come- and knows all about survival.  When he is shipped off to New Wurzburg to live with an aunt he never knew he had, his whole life is thrown into disarray.  While it isn’t the skinheads or gangs he’s used to, there is still something going on in the small town- and it revolves around the strongest, most beautiful girl he’s ever met.

Freddie Burkhart is different than any other girl he’s ever met- in so many ways.  As he grows closer to her, he finds that she and everyone he cares about might be in danger.  Can he protect his new family and find a safe haven?

My thoughts:

I know the summary’s a bit vague but I didn’t want to give too much away.  I will say that this book is being likened to Twilight- which other than the paranormal aspect- I don’t really see.  Rain in no Bella- he is strong, opinionated, courageous and wicked smart.  And Freddie is no Edward- save the fact that she wants to protect those she loves.

There were some great characters, and I really liked the dynamics between them.  The plot was interesting , and I felt the book as a whole was well done.  On the other hand, this was an overtly sexual book for one labeled as YA… I have to admit, I don’t care for that as a rule.  Too many books for teens glorify the sexual act, making it not just “cool” but necessary as a part of growth- like you should be doing it at this time.  I just don’t think that is necessary.  For me that drops this down to a four star book.  Four Stars

On the adult content scale, as I said above there is a lot of sexual content, that along with language and violence gives this one a seven.  I would not give this to my niece.  mature audience.

I was lucky enough the receive an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Entangled Publishing.   My thanks.

The book is out now, have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

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The Newcomers: Helen Thorpe

the newcomersspolier alertTitle: The Newcomers- Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom

Author: Helen Thorpe

Pages: 416

Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish date?  11-14-17

Summary:

In Denver Colorado there is a special group of classes, ELA classes, given to the kids of new refugees.   Teens from all over the world, newly resettled into America from across the globe, come together to learn English, and get caught up in school- some of which have been out for some time.  Thorpe joined the class for a year, getting to know the teachers and students while also researching what each of these families went through before coming to America, and what they dealt with after.  This book takes place in 2015, around the time that Trump started his campaigning in earnest.  While families from Vietnam, Somalia, the DRC, El Salvador and many other areas were trying to acclimate to a very different life and learning how to move through a new society, racism is beginning to run rampant.  Students are worried- both the refugees and regular students.  It brings to light what each family went through, and how hard they work to become self reliant.

It also begs the question- what are we going to do?  Are we, as a country going to accept refugees- truly accept these people and work to help them?  Or do we close our boarders and our hearts?  Can we even make such a decision without knowing what they are going through- not just what they had to go through in their lives, but the trouble they have once here- learning English, getting jobs, racism and misunderstandings?

My thoughts:

I loved this book, but it broke me.  These are teens- children really- who have had their lives threatened.  Some had to hide from soldiers- or witnessed car bombs in their own neighborhood.  Some were born in refugee camps- one family went through the process of trying to get accepted for ten years.  We are talking about a 22 step vetting process in some instances.  So many of us, myself included, feel like we are knowledgeable about these issues- but I knew nothing about what these families went through- and very little about what help is available to refugees when they get here.  While the families stories were painful, and hard to handle; I found myself taking my time and pushing through.  I loved this book.  For me, this is a definite five star.  Five Stars

The adult content scale is hard to be objective about here.  There is so much violence, so much pain, talk of (the threat of ) rape and death…. I would not feel comfortable giving this book to a teen.  Also, you have to think about the fact that in 2015, many of the refugees written about were teens- would I be ready for Juliet to read about someone her own age going through all this?  I don’t think I could, unless there was a lot of discussion time afterward.  I have to give this one an eight.  mature audience.

I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Scribner Publishing for the price of an honest review.  Many thanks- I loved it so much that I preordered a hard-copy from Amazon and will receive it Tuesday.

The book comes out 11-14-17…. I cannot stress the importance of this book at this time, when refugees are so numerous, and their acceptance into new countries so uncertain.

Link to book:

Amazon

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The Secret Mother, Shalini Boland

The secret motherspolier alertTitle:  The Secret Mother

Author: Shalini Boland

Pages:  241

Genre: mystery, thriller

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish date:  November 9th, 2017

Summary:

“Are you my Mummy?”

Tessa Markham hears these words from the little boy in her kitchen.  Thing is, she isn’t anyone’s mom…. not anymore.  Her family life detonated long ago and she has been trying to pull the pieces together.  So who is this little boy?  How did he get there?  And why does he think she’s his new mummy?  Under suspicion of abduction, Tessa must prove her innocence when even her ex husband doesn’t believe her?

My thoughts:

I loved this story.  It pulls you in from the start with Tessa and her fears, pains and insecurities.  The characters are fantastic, though I had some issues with Ben, the boss/love interest.  I understand that he likes her and wants to believe her…. but to just swallow everything whole?  I think she could tell him she killed people and he’d drive a company van to help her move bodies.  It just seemed a tad unbelievable to me.

There were times where I thought I knew where this was going, but I was never quite sure and the story kept me guessing.  It’s definitely an interesting premise, and one that was well done.  For me, this is a four star book (and another Christmas gift idea for a friend).  Four Stars

On the adult content scale, there is some language, light violence and light sexual content, though nothing over the top.  I give it a five.  Parental Guidance

I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.   I was given no other form of incentive to review this book, and received no incentive to give a biased review.  My thanks.

The book comes out Thursday 11-09-17.

Link to book:

Amazon

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Lies Jane Austen Told Me, Julie Wright

lies jane austen told mespolier alertTitle: Lies Jane Austen Told Me

Author: Julie Wright

Pages: 320

Genre: Contemporary romance

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish Date: November 7th, 2017

Summary:

Since she was little Emma has loved Pride and Prejudice and has regarded  Austen as the romantic expert.  The issue?  With this admiration comes huge expectations- such that are never met.  Could her guru be leading her astray?  Was it possibly time for the hardest breakup of her life- with Jane?  When boyfriend Blake invites her to the family home she expects meeting the parents, an engagement and all the trappings of happy ever after.  Instead she shows up late, having told him she had to work, only to find not family but one woman, Trish, enjoying a fish dinner with Emma’s guy.  While Blake swears it is innocent, Emma’s having none of it.

Caught leaving the home on foot, Emma is stopped and offered a ride by Blake’s brother Lucas.  A ride to her destination is derailed and she sees more of Lucas’ personal life than is normal for a first meeting, but whatever.  It isn’t like they will ever meet again.  Except, they do, when Lucas is hired to consult for her company’s expansion.  Forced to work side by side with this man, she finds more and more to admire in him.  He on the other hand, is determined to get her and Blake back together because he loves his brother.  When sparks fly between these two, it’s complicated.  When a misunderstanding gets between the two, it could be the death of their connection.  Do these two really stand a chance? Could this be Emma’s happy ever after?

My thoughts:

I loved these characters with their loyalties and idiosyncrasies.  Emma, still traumatized a bit from her mother leaving them long ago, finds it hard to be in relationships.  She gives too much to work a lot of the times even though she wants the committed, forever relationship.  Meeting Lucas is eye opening as he blows down every idea she ever had about him and his family, laying her prejudices bare and setting them aside.  I loved him as a character, but there were times where I was also angry with these two. So often things were overwrought- they assumed and never discussed forcing misconceptions like we were…. well, like we were in an Austen romantic drama.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it and found it perfectly written for the style of book that it is.  I give it four stars.  Four Stars

My thanks to Netgalley and Shadow Mountain publishing for allowing me an eARC of this book.  I have not been given any form of monetary compensation and the views in this review are wholly my own.

On the adult content scale, there was some mild language and talk of drug addiction, but that is it.  It was more about their emotional relationship than anything physical making it my favorite type of sweet romance.  At worst I would give it a three.  General.svg

The book comes out tomorrow!  Be ready!

Link to book:

Amazon

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Weekly Wrap-up! October 29th-November 6th

Personal life:

Warren and me, wedding photo

Tomorrow it will be nine years since I married the love of my life.  He drives me crazy sometimes, but he is the best partner I can ever imagine and I love how he takes care of me and my family.  I love this picture of us from that day.

This week, he and Sassy Britches have been locked in a battle of wills over her sharing her food dish with a mouse.  My Sassy is a lover not a fighter, unless you are another cat.  She saw nothing wrong with eating out of a dish at the same time as her new friend.  Warren disagreed and took her food dish.  He set it out through out the day (starting with it on a table but Sassy refused to eat there and he had to relent after a day of trying), and tried to make her eat when he wanted.  She was used to dry food always at the ready and was not having it.  The first night I came home and she ran at me screaming- you could almost hear it:  “Mom, do you know what that lunatic did?  Fix this!”  After a few days and a few skirmishes that Sassy won hands down, there was a throne made out of empty litter boxes ( yeah, we’re a mess- I told the hubs to do something with those-i.e. toss them…. he decided to make her a throne which I found her sitting on the second night.  The fourth morning Sassy began her last and most effective salvo.  She apparently cornered the mouse, slapped it to death (no claws and not great teeth), chewed it a bit so there was evidence of her handiwork, and left it at Warren’s desk.  Score one for the cat!  She now has her food.  I am both proud and disgusted.  Lol…. this is my life.

Bookish life:

I am two books behind on my reviews at the moment, having read Lies Jane Austen Told Me and The Secret Mother and then getting sucked into the world of Newcomers.  I am going to do LJATM today, but otherwise want to devote myself to the book I am reading as it is due for release next week.  I really ought to have given  myself with this book depicting the lives of several refugees in a school in Colorado…. it’s pretty heavy stuff.  I am already considering if this is a “to-share” book or audible, I am less than half through, but it is brilliant.

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

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Times where the first page clinched it for me.

If I live to be three hundred I will probably still have books I want to read and haven’t gotten to.  I have over a thousand eBooks and a well loved two book shelves that I am particularly picky about because of space constraints.  Still, there are thousands of books that I want to read- or would if I knew about them- and more coming out all the time.  You have the classics that you swear you’ll get through eventually and your just-for-fun books.  You have the books that make you weep, and the books that make you think.  How is a gal with limited time and even more limited funds supposed to pick one?   I will admit there are times where the cover has been so breathe-taking, so compelling, that I could not resist.  Then there’s the times when the blurb won the day- looking at the description on Goodreads or Amazon, I could not resist.  Other times I will be on the fence forever, poring over book reviews and Litsy, waffling on the merits of a book, until I read the first page.

That’s what I want to talk about today- times where the first page swayed me in favor of the book.  Some of these were read-for-reviews I was skeptical of, and some are books that I kept telling myself that I did not need…. and yet they won.  I am going to put the cover, lines, and link to my reviews below for each of these gems.

  1. Reincarnation Blues, Michael Poore:

reincarnation bluesFlorida Keys: 2017

This is a story about a wise man named Milo.

It begins the day he got eaten by a shark…..’

Wait… what?  I had to read this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Turtles All the Way Down, John Green:

turtles all the way down‘At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekdays were spent at a publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis called White River High School where I was required to eat lunch at a particular time between 12:47 and 1:14 pm by forces so much larger than myself  I couldn’t even begin to identify them…’

     And now I knew that my narrator and tour guide for this ride was a bit OCD, nutty and oddly hilarious.  Hot damn, I’m in! 

Oh, I had told myself all the normal things a bibliophile does.  I already spent too much on books, it isn’t really in the budget.  I can borrow it at the library if I just wait for the 58 people in line in front of me to be done (this, by the way is no exaggeration, but my place in line when I tried to put the eBook on hold before it came out).  I already had books, etc.  Then I perused the book isle at work- usually safe as they never have any of the can’t-live-without books…. and there it was- fairly cheap and signed no less!  I opened to the first page and was nearly late coming back from my 15 minute break!  I rationalized the purchase as this obviously being a “to-share” book and I would need a hard copy eventually- can’t share eBooks or Audible.  I was right- it’s fantastic, and it’s loaned out with at least two people waiting their turn.

3.   The Hidden Oracle, Rick Riordan

the hidden oracle‘My name is Apollo.  I used to be a god.  In my four thousand six hundred and twelve years, I have done many things.  I inflicted a plague on the Greeks that besieged Troy.  I blessed Babe Ruth with three home runs in game four of the 1926 world series.  I visited my wrath upon Britney Spears at the 2007 MTV  Video Music Awards.

   But in all my immortal life, I never before crash landed in a dumpster.’

I waffled on this series forever- let’s face it, Apollo is not my favorite character and I could not see this being on of my have-to-have series.  And yet I read that in a Walmart and started grinning.  Why not?  The next book was the same for me and if I don’t know if I want to continue next year, the first page will no doubt bring me back again.  I do, after all, love Riordan’s writing style and world building.

 

  This is just a few of the books where page one made all the difference.  Are there books like this for you?  What are your favorite starters?

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