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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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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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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Mini Reviews- Second Chance Cat Mysteries, Sofie Ryan

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Titles: Buy a Whisker, A Whisker of Trouble

Author: Sofie Ryan

Pages:336, 343

Genre: Cozy Mysteries

Are these part of a series?  Yes, these are books two and three of The Second Chance Cat Mysteries.

Release dates: April 7th, 2015; February 2nd, 2016

Summary:

In Buy a Whisker we revisit Sarah and her Grandmother’s friends in North Harbor.  There is a developer in town that wants to develop the waterfront, thus bringing in more tourists.  The town is divided on this, and Sarah is caught in the middle of two friends.  There is one person in town, though, that is firmly against the development- Lilly will not sell her bakery, and the construction cannot begin without it.  When she is found dead there is an uproar, and Liz- who had been strongly for the development to the point of trying to sway Lilly, becomes a suspect.  Though Sarah does what she can to keep the girls out of trouble, Charlottes Angels are on the case to clear their friend and find the true killer.

In A Whisker of Trouble Sarah and gang have been hired to go through Edison Hall’s home after his death.  An unequaled packrat, he had collections of everything from magazines to Spam.  It’s a big job, but they might find some good stuff to buy for the shop… and Edison’s sister is a friend.  When Elvis, Sarah’s cat, finds a body in the kitchen things get complicated.  A man that was hired to look at Hall’s wine collection (which Edison had hoped would be an inheritance for his son, but turned out to be worthless) is found dead and it’s up to the Angels to find the killer, and the people that have been swindling seniors!

My thoughts:

I am going to do this for both books at once.  I love these stories, but I have to admit I still like the Magical Cat series by Ryan better.  Sarah and company are great characters- sweet, charming and easy to love with just enough sass and kookiness to keep things lively.  Elvis is definitely an interesting character and really makes the books.  I liked the character development in the books as relationships move forward.  I do have to admit I was surprised by how hard the Angels are pushing Nicholas as a love interest for Sarah when I far prefer Mac, but I am biased.  Let’s face it, Mac’s intelligent, sweet, charming, and can fix anything.  This is a dream guy for me.  I like that the Angels are making a name for themselves, and that hacker extraordinaire Mr. P. actually got his detective license.  These are just fun, fantastic reads that fly by.  I adore them and cannot wait for the next book (coming out early next year- I actually got an advanced copy from First to Read).  I like how the characters interact with one another- the teen is kind and respectful, and the elderly don’t talk down to her.  There is a lot of love and kindness that makes me really happy.  I also like that there is no swearing really, and that while there are some jokes there’s no sexual content.  That makes this a perfect series for younger readers that are interested in more adult mysteries.  My niece, for instance, is fifteen now and I think she’d love these.  For me, these are five star books.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there is some violence but nothing over the top.  I give a two at most.  General.svg

The books are out!  Have you read them?  What did you think?

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Wonder, R. J. Palacio

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Title: Wonder

Author: R. J. Palacio

Pages: 316

Genre:  Young Adult/ Children’s fiction

Is this book part of a series?  While it is technically a stand alone novel it has several companion pieces, I guess we could call them: Auggie and Me (Three Wonder Stories), 365 Days of Wonder, We’re All Wonders, and the choose kind journal that allows you to go through writing prompts geared toward helping the writer find ways to be kind every day.  And, of coarse, there’s a movie in theatres now!

Published:  February 14th, 2012.

Summary Courtesy of Goodreads:

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

My thoughts:

So, I waffled about whether or not to read this book for years- literally.  I have this hang up about reading what I consider children’s books…. I still do of coarse, but it takes longer for me to convince myself it’s okay.  I am, after all, an adult.  I feel like I should be reading larger books, or at the very least books with a more grueling vocabulary.  The truth of the matter, though, is that there are a ton of books for young readers out there now that weren’t out when I was a kid- or I never knew about them.  Why should I miss out just because I’m old?

Then, of course, there are books that should have no age restrictions.  Books where the message is so necessary to everyday life and development that it ought to be required reading for all.  Wonder is one of those books.   Following Auggie through his days, and then the other narrators, I was quickly reminded how much just a little kindness and understanding can mean…. and how often it can be lacking these days.  We live in a world of anger, bullying, hurt and hatred; and we need a bit of softness… a little kindness.  I loved the characters so much.  I cried for them, and celebrated accomplishments.  This was just so beautifully written, I couldn’t put it down.  I want to be more like Summer, who fist came up to Auggie out of kindness but was able to see him- the nice and funny kid that’s just awesome.  I liked that she didn’t allow what other’s thought to sway her as to whom to hang out with- this is a big thing in middle school when peer pressure abounds and everyone wants to be accepted.  She showed a kindness and loyalty that I admire.  For me, this is a five star book plus one for creativity.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating star-709689_960_720

On the adult content scale, there is some very minor language and miniscule violence.  It barely registers as a one really.  General.svg

The book is has been out for ages.  I want to get it for basically every kid I know and add the journal as well.  Have you read it?  What are your thoughts?

Link to book:

Amazon

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