Oliver Loving, Stefan Merrill Block

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

new signature

 

Advertisements

Mini Reviews- Second Chance Cat Mysteries, Sofie Ryan

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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?

new signature

 

Wonder, R. J. Palacio

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

new signature

 

Everything Here is Beautiful, Mira T. Lee

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Title: Everything Here is Beautiful

Author: Mira T. Lee

Pages: 368

Genre: family life, contemporary fiction, mental health

Publish Date: January 16th, 2018

 

Summary:

   In the end what is owed family?  How far is it, before loyalty becomes interference?  Two very different sisters, Miranda and Lucia, make their way through life after the death of their mother.  Responsible, over-protective Miranda knows she has to look after Lucia who has been diagnosed with a slew of maladies including schizophrenia.   Lucia is free spirited, impulsive, and inquisitive; constantly searching for that beautiful life that will give her perfection and finally silence the “serpents” in her head.

Time and again the two butt heads as Lucia jumps head first into crazy situations, and Miranda tries to protect her from the aftermath.  Each woman tries to find love and their way in life, while trying to protect their relationship.  Love, anger, illness and loyalty.  This is a book of emotions and beautiful descriptions.

My thoughts:

I loved and hated this book in turn.  I wanted to shake each sister, to yell and scream.  The characters were so real to me, so beautifully flawed.  The description from place to place drew me around the world following Lucia.  I loved how the characters interacted to one another, and being allowed to truly see both sides.  I felt deeply for Lucia, even though I rarely agreed with her decision making.  More than anything, the nearly magical descriptions of people and places through Lucia’s eyes kept me turning pages far past my bed time.  The way she saw things and people was unique and beautiful- when she was well everything was beautiful- truly.  The highs and lows, roller coasters of the mentally ill, intrigued me.  My favorite character was probably Yonah with his enormous heart and constant love of Lucia, whether she deserved it or not.  I thought it was very well done, the way you had several different points of views, and the transition between each narrative.    For me, this was a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating
On the adult content scale, there was sexual content, and language.  It could, at times get a little explicit, so I have to give it a seven.  mature audience.

I received this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.

The book comes out January 16th, 2018.  Is it on your TBR list?

Link to book:

Amazon

new signature

Match Made in Manhattan, Amanda Stauffer

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Title: Match Made In Manhattan

Author: Amanda Stauffer

Pages: 320

Genre: chick lit, romantic comedy

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish date: January 23rd, 2018

Summary:

Leaving a several year relationship, serial monogamist Alison doesn’t know how to jump into the modern dating world.  She knows she can’t keep dating people she’s known forever, as with her last relationship- Dave, friend-turned-lover.  Biting the bullet, she starts her internet dating experience with Match.com.  What follows is a year of first dates-turned-buds, undercover agents, folk-singer-turned-investment banker, and a nearly perfect psychiatrist with a huge….dog.  Pithy conversations, the “pants speech” and hazmat suits…. who knew dating was so hard?

My thoughts:

I loved Alison, and I felt for her right away.  In her relationships, there had always been a basic knowledge of one another and a closeness from the get-go.   That’s what she wants, and she doesn’t want a physical relationship before having a real, committed emotional attachment.  Understandable, but not really in line with most of the on-line daters.  She meets some great guys….. but not a lot that seem right for her.  On the plus side, she has made some great friends and had some great drinks.  I adored the premise of this story and found it fast paced and often hilarious.  I found myself rooting for certain guys ( I have to admit to an absolute love of Older Luke, dog and all).  In the end I was saddened by the ending a bit, but I can’t see it going any other way.  For me, this book had nearly everything.  It was fun and funny, flirty and a bit adventurous, but also serious at times and always sweet.  I was just a teeny bit disappointed by the ending.  It is still a five star book for me.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, I give it a four.  There is some sexual content, though mild.  Also language.  Nothing major.General.svg

I was lucky enough to get an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks!  pro_reader_120

The book comes out 1-23-18 and ought to be on everyone’s radar.

Link to book:

Amazon

new signature

Hardcore Twenty-Four, Janet Evanovich

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Title: Hardcore Twenty-Four

Author: Janet Evanovich, read by Lorelei King

Duration: 6 hours and 8 minutes

Genre: mystery, humor

Is this part of a series?  Yes, book twenty-four of the Stephanie Plum books.

Published:  November 14th, 2017

Summary:

Stephanie is back at it as New Jersey’s most inept bonds agent.  She has one guy, but agrees to watch over his snake in return until he gets back…. bad bargain.  As if Trenton isn’t weird enough, Grandma Masser is doing the on line dating thing, and bodies are turning up sans heads.  Finding the heads just adds more questions because in each one something is missing…. BRAINS!  Does Trenton have Zombie issues?  Stephanie doesn’t have time for this!  Then there’s her possibly-committed relationship with Morelli, her attraction to Ranger, and a blond hunk that keeps slipping into her bed….

My thoughts:

I tell my self every time that I am done with this series.  It’s all too far fetched and crazy… but I can’t say no.  Evanovich is my guilty pleasure- especially, it seems, if I can listen to it.  King does a great job with the characters and the craziness kept me laughing.  These books are a great time, so long as you don’t try to take them seriously.  You can’t.  They are fun, fanciful, hilarious sometimes- smut.   Seriously, these are the tabloids of novels- and thank God for that because sometimes I just need a good time.  Please understand, I am not putting these books down…. rather accepting them for the fun fluff they are.  You won’t find characters in committed, secure relationships with goals toward the future.  You aren’t really going to see professional growth.  In twenty four books I haven’t really seen a lot of personal growth either- or not as much as there ought to be.  Instead you have great characters, killer dialogue, and insane scenarios that might include a 50 pound python, countless raccoons, a gender-fluid protester-for-hire, and gnomes.  I am glad I bought it!  Four stars.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there is language, violence, and sexual content.  I give it a six.  mature audience.

The book is out!  Have you read it?  What are your thoughts?

Link to book:

Amazon

new signature

 

 

This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Title: This Is How It Always Is

Author: Laurie Frankel

Pages:  336

Genre:  Fiction, LBGT

Is this part of a series?  No.

Published: January 24th, 2017

Summary from Goodreads:

This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

My thoughts:

I loved this book.  I especially liked that the author made it a work of fiction instead of using her own transgender child- it isn’t her story to tell as she says.  Because she has experienced a lot of the feelings in this book first hand, I feel like she was able to make it more believable and connect more deeply.  She knows how she felt, how her family felt, and how the world might react.  This is at it’s depth a plea for love and understanding.  Anyone with a transgender child- or really any child that is “different” in any way- knows the awful fear…. will they be understood?  What’s the best way to keep them safe?  How far is too far?  And, most terrifying, how can I explain to them that they could be vulnerable to attack for just being them?

As they went through the decisions that Poppy’s life demanded I was really pleased by how they made decisions and laid out paths to follow.  Do they take hormone blockers?  Talk to the (at this time ten year old) child about surgery?  Tell the neighbors and school officials- who needs to know, and how do you explain?  Why is there anything to explain?  As far as Poppy’s concerned she’s a girl.  And she has a penis.  The penis is an after thought for her, as it should be.  All she wants- all any child wants- is to be accepted.  To be loved and have friends.  When everyone finds out about Poppy, it nearly broke me.  Yes, maybe it was wrong to not tell people; but they had a right to protect their child and Poppy had a right to show the world who she was deep down.  Do your outer shells mean so much?  I never believed they should.

Some people believe it goes against God… I believe the opposite.  God created the body and the soul, the heart… the spirit.  If one does not match the other three- if it doesn’t follow your truth- then why not change it?  You respect God by learning to love yourself.  You respect God by living the happiest, most blessed life you can and hurting the least amount of people in the process.  Who does it hurt, really, to be who you are?  No one.  But forcing yourself into a box because of who society says you must be?  That brings on a type of pain I can’t imagine.  I mean, I am seriously tearing up just imagining a life like that.  I want a world where people are not tolerated- what a terrible word!  I want a world where everyone is celebrated.  Where we can be who we really are without fear.  Where it won’t matter what I look like, but how I behave.  This book and others like it will pave the way to understanding.  Understanding will pave the way to acceptance.  Acceptance will pave the way, someday, to a world of love.  For me, this is a five star book and I will treasure it forever.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

As far as the adult content scale goes, there’s some language and violence but it is fairly mild.  I give it a two.  General.svg

The book is out.  Have you read it?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Link to book:

Amazon

new signature