June 23, 2014

My Letter To Fear: Essays on Life, Love and the Search For Prince Charming by Patricia Steffy

Over the course of two years, Steffy conducted interviews with the fabulous women around her and their equally fantastic friends. She put no restrictions on age, or ethnicity. They just needed to be willing to answer some questions. Steffy asked them about expectations they had for their lives when they were very young versus their current realities as adults. She asked them to tell her the best things about themselves (a question which was surprisingly difficult for people to answer) and the worst things. Those answers— the funny, the sad, and the hysterical—and her own experiences became the basis for these essays. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was funny at times, it was a bit emotional at times, and there were some essays that were just too easy to identify with. There is something for everyone mixed in the pages of this book.

The writing was fun and flowed well, there was never a point where I was bored and felt like I needed to put it down. But, I also feel like you should spread out the reading of the book over time so you can take in some of the essays and really think about them. It makes the book more enjoyable than reading it all at once at a rushed pace which results in forgetting everything you have read.

Each essay is pretty short, spanning only about 2-3 pages in length. It is the perfect office book. When you need a quick break from work to re-gather your thoughts (or sanity…) it is easy to pick up and read one or two, then put back down for later.

I think Patricia Steffy really got the feel for how a lot of women think and feel at various points in their life. That’s what makes this book so relatable and familiar.
It was a fun read.

5/5 Stars

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June 22, 2014

Blackout (Darkness Trilogy, #1) by Madeleine Henry

Blackout almost reminded me of the hunger games a little bit, except the point of the competition was to find true love, and in turn give your family electricity.

In 2015, Earth was hit with a solar flare that knocked out all of the electricity on the planet. The United States was able to bring enough scientists together to get some electricity back, but they could not power the whole country, only a part of it. This created the Dark Zone.
Families were left here to fend for themselves in the darkness with no power.

When Star and Phoenix’s families hear about a trade-off of sending a child to America in exchange for power, they both agree to go. They don’t know what they are in for on the other side, but they want the best for their families.

Little do they know, they are in the fight for their lives. Are they only battling for power? Or is there much more at stake?

The characters were generally likable and the writing was done really well. It was a very intriguing story, which made it hard to put down. It seemed as though the reader is always learning something new.

Phoenix was a bit too whiney for me. Every time something happened involving star, I imagined him throwing a hissy fit like a little child. It seemed like he was too caught up in his emotions and it was crippling his chances of survival.
Even though Star was a big part of the story, she didn’t make as many appearances and didn’t really seem relevant in them. She mostly lived in the story through Phoenix’s thoughts.

Overall, I enjoy the idea of the story. I liked the supporting characters more than I liked Phoenix. I can’t wait to see what happens next. It left off on such a cliffhanger!
This looks to be a really promising book series.

4/5 Stars

June 11, 2014

By the Sea by Katherine McIntyre

Most children have an imaginary friend. They hang around for a few years, and then they disappear as the child moves on to different things.

Megan is different, she was so close with her imaginary friend Niall that he followed her for years, but he would only meet her by the sea.

When the restaurant where she works hires a new waiter, Megan feels as though she is seeing a ghost. He IS Niall. He looks exactly like him. But, that can’t be real. His name is Mason.

This seems like a charming innocent love story between a now-grown woman and her imaginary friend.

When she figured out the real reason he had to leave her, I couldn’t help bust burst out laughing. He is a seal that can transform into a human, but before having the choice to live on land or in the water, he must spend seven years in the sea. That is why he had to leave her as a child.

He cannot return to the sea because someone had stolen his pelt that allows him to transform back into a seal. Upon discovering that it was some sort of demon that had stolen it, Megan’s life is put in danger as the demon attacks her.
Niall comes to her rescue and she must try to find his pelt before it is too late.

Katherine’s writing style was good enough to keep me interested. It was written at a quick pace and didn’t seem to fall off, but after hitting the midway part of the book, the story just took a strange turn and lost me.

2/5 Stars

June 10, 2014

Home Fires by Judith Kirscht

What do you do when everything you thought you knew about your life comes crashing down around you?
Faced with finding out the truth about her husband’s affairs, Myra must decide what to do about her home life.

She struggles with the option of breaking up their home with the possibility of it having a hard affect on her two children, or facing the reality of being a used wife with a relationship that is beyond repair.

When Derek’s mother comes over to basically tell Myra to just deal with it because it is a fact of life for wives of professors, I could feel my jaw hitting the floor. She wasn’t only excusing his behavior by saying it was just something that happens, but she wanted Myra to see past it because, otherwise, it would ruin his career.

I know talks like this must happen a lot, but I just couldn’t believe it when I read it. I could definitely feel Myra’s confusion and disappointment with what she was hearing.

She decides to let him stick around until her oldest child goes away to college in the fall. She figures it won’t hit the family as hard that way. Little does she know, she is only adding fuel to the fire and everything will get worse from there.

Lies. Deception. Secrets.
Will their family ever return to normal?

This book has very harsh subject matters. It deals with divorce, pedophilia, and molestation within a family. Some scenes are very disturbing but respectfully written. In the hands of the wrong writer, that could turn out very badly. Judith Kirscht did a great job with her writing and handling of such damaging topics.

I feel like this book is aiming to please an older crowd of chick-lit readers. It has a very sophisticated and intelligent air to it.
I would label is as a summer read for sure. It isn’t too demanding and has a very light feel to it. Its rough subject matters give it a bit of a darker tone though.

The talking animals that she was drawing throughout the story were a little weird. I didn’t really understand why that part was necessary to the story other than to give her an escape from her real life. If anything, I wouldn’t have included them, but they are there so I dealt with them.

4/5 Stars

Memorable Quote: “Silence is wonderful, isn’t it? Erases ugly truths.”

Read ahead for spoilers!

June 4, 2014

9 Incarnate by Gary Starta

9 Incarnate is the sequel to Demon Inhibitions.

Agent Caitlin Diggs is back and still adjusting to her new life in the parallel universe. She is posing as her alternate self because this universe’s Caitlin Diggs died trying to protect her. It is a weird concept for her to grasp at first, but she is learning.

When the President of the United States is mysteriously murdered, Caitlin and Briana must go to work to figure out if it was a demon who committed the crime. Armed with paranormal powers and Briana’s ability to cast spells, they handle the paranormal side of FBI investigations.

They feel like they may be getting clues, when suddenly, the whole demon population on the planet suddenly disappears.
Now, this is the alternate universe that Caitlin is in, so demons are as common as humans.

When strange orbs enter Earth and begin trying to communicate with the population, Caitlin and her crew at the FBI begin to theorize that they may be dealing with ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses.
This intrigues Caitlin more than usual because she is so constantly referred to as the goddess Isis.

When the Ennead actually make it to Earth, their motives come into question. Are they here to help humanity, or are they here to take over. Battling the investigation into the President’s death as well as trying to figure out why gods and goddesses are reappearing on Earth, Agent Diggs has no lack of action in her life.

With a character as well written and likeable as Caitlin Diggs, I feel fans of any genre would be able to get into this book.
The rest of the characters are also great supporting characters. They are all pretty likable in their own ways and have strong character arcs. They are well-written, and I don’t feel like any character was paid less attention to

The writing makes for a nice reading pace. It flows together nicely and has a nice balance of dialogue.

The first half was really fast-paced and was easy to read. There was so much happening that it was just too hard to put down.
As the novel progressed, it did start to slow down a bit. It was full of action, but I felt that it could have been compressed to get to the point a little quicker.

There may have been too many references to gods and goddesses for me to really fully enjoy it. But, that is the plot of the story, so I had to accept it and push through it. Being a genre I normally don’t dive into very often could have been part of the reason why I felt it was slow in some areas.

3.5/5 Stars

June 2, 2014

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Camille’s skin tells the story of her troubled past.
Riddled with words that she carved into her skin, they tell the story of a girl trying to get through the pain of her teenage years in the only way she knew how.

After a stay in the hospital, Camille became a reporter for a paper in Chicago.
When a story about a child murderer calls her back to her home in Wind Gap, she doesn’t know how she will be able to face going back there.

Wind Gap houses her past, her dead sister, and her addiction to carving words into her skin using knives from the kitchen. Everywhere she turns, there is a memory; whether it be an old face or an old hangout. Nothing has changed.

What has changed is the fact that there are innocent girls being murdered in their town, and nobody knows who is behind it.

As Camille tries to get her story and figure out what is going on in Wind Gap, she has to face all of her old demons . . . and her new ones. Her mother is as shut off and disapproving as ever. Her sister tries to be the golden child, but has a wild side that ends up with a night of drinking and doing drugs with Camille. Being attracted to a cop and playing a game of cat and mouse trying to get information and a statement from him.
Nothing is easy down in Wind Gap. There are too many secrets.

This was a really deep and dark book. Between dealing with mental illnesses and murder, there was no room for any bright storyline, and that it what makes it stand out to me. Gillian Flynn didn’t try to fluff up the story at all because these are very real problems that people face. It made the book very real and more interesting.

The twist at the end was really interesting to me. I am not sure if figuring out who the murderer is was supposed to be a twist, or a confirmation of readers’ beliefs. I had it narrowed down to two people mid-way through the novel, and both of them ended up being caught and prosecuted for different crimes. So, it wasn’t really a twist to me, but it didn’t have to be. It was good to finally know what happened and who did it.
That being said, the reveal of the murderer was really creepy. The explanation of where the teeth went and how the crimes went down was really disturbing.

I was sort of disappointed with how Camille ended up at the end of the book. I was hoping that she would come out of Wind Gap stronger than ever and leave her past behind. She couldn’t do that and ended up reverting back to her old ways. I don’t necessarily always want books to have a happy ending, but I was really rooting for her.

5/5 Beautifully written. Really intriguing story.

I haven’t been able to get the image of a crazy lady in all white taking a girl into the woods since I read that section in the book. That will probably be the thing that sticks with me the most. It gave me chills.

Memorable Quote: “Sometimes I think illness sits inside every woman, waiting for the right moment to bloom.”