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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Something Borrowed | Emily Giffin

Something Borrowed is a love story about Rachel, who falls in love with her best friend’s fiancé, Dex. They begin a complicated (and secret) love affair. Which woman will Dex choose? For a more complete summary, you can go here.

I think we’ve all had a friend like Darcy at some point in our lives. She’s the friend that we love to hate—or perhaps we hate that we love her? She’s the friend who is super outgoing and everyone seems to love, but you end up being the dirty rag that she uses and throws away when it’s convenient. She’s the friend that you try to pull away from, but your history together keeps pulling you back in. While  reading this, I kept rolling my eyes at Darcy, but I realized that I have had friends like that too, and sometimes it is easier to just put up with them than to be on their hit-list. Then it gets complicated because Rachel falls for Darcy’s fiancé. She’s in a love-hate relationship with Darcy, so maybe this is the excuse she needs to get out of a toxic friendship? In this story, I was torn because I was partly hoping that it would be about how friendship should always come before a man, but I also hated Darcy, so I was kind of hoping for her to get a little bit of karma. 

I also have issues with books abut affairs. I wanted to shake Rachel because her new relationship with Dex seems all perfect and wonderful because it’s new. She’s naive if she thinks that they will never have any problems. 

Overall, this is a good, light read. I read it while on vacation on the beach, and it is perfect for that exact setting. Nobody wants to read a depressing or deep book while relaxing on the beach! 

If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

 ****   4/5 Stars

If you like books like this, you should also check out these books:

Tuck Everlasting | Natalie Babbitt

Tuck Everlasting is a fantasy novel about a young girl that meets a family that seems to never age. She quickly feels a connection with the Tucks and learns more about life than she ever expected. For a more complete summary, you can go here.

I recently bought a copy of this book for 25 cents from a garage sale since I remember reading and loving it as a kid. Woah…this book is a whole lot deeper than I remember. I always thought it was a cool story about a family that could live forever, but really it is about life and death. It explores eternal life and whether it would actually be good to live forever. And if you do live forever, would you do something worth taking up the extra space in this world? If everyone lived forever, what would become of Earth? My favorite quote is, “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.” This is one of those books that is pretty short, but will change the way you think about life forever. 

The only thing that kind of weirded me out was the hinted romance between an eleven year old and a seventeen year old. Nothing happens between them, but it was weird to me that there was even a hint of something more than friendship with them. In the movie version, I think the age gap is much closer between the two.

I remember the book ending the opposite way that it actually does. I started to get mad while I was reading, thinking, “That can’t be the way that this ends! That’s not right at all…” But I was pleasantly surprised that I was just remembering incorrectly. Phew!

If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

 *****   5/5 Stars

If you like books like this, you should also check out these books:

 A Wrinkle in Time


The Hobbit             

The Nightmare Affair

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Choice | Nicholas Sparks

The Choice is a love story about an adventure-seeker, Travis, and his new (and taken) next-door neighbor, Gabby. Gabby tries to stay away, but she gets pulled in when she has to rely on her small town vet…Travis. For a more complete summary, you can go here.

I feel like people either love or hate Nicholas Sparks’s books. Before you read them, you need to know what you’re getting into. They are all super sappy love stories (verging on the edge of cheesy), with a super horrific twist that may leave the readers heartbroken. With The Choice, it is no different. If you acknowledge that going into the book, then it is really enjoyable. I actually kept thinking to myself while reading this book, “Wow, this is so nice and happy. When does something terrible happen?”

There’s a reason why almost all of Sparks’s books turn into movies: they are very heavily dialogued. That makes it super easy for screenwriters to transfer it into a script. It also makes you feel like you really know the characters. 

This wasn’t my favorite Sparks book, but it was definitely better than The Best of Me. My two favorites are still The Lucky One and Safe Haven. It was a quick read and I found it enjoyable. I do have some issues with books that have whirlwind romances, but I didn’t mind it too much in this story. I was actually surprised with what “The Choice” was referring to, so I was pleased to be taken off guard. 

If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

****   4/5 Stars

If you like books like this, you should also check out these books:

The Rosie Project 

Belong to Me

Monday, May 18, 2015

Panic | Lauren Oliver

Panic is a young adult novel about a secret competition for graduating seniors in a small town. The winner gets to take a pot of about $67,000. The only catch is that the challenges are life-threatening and illegal. For a more complete summary, you can go here.

I actually have no complaints about this book, which is rare. Usually I find at least one thing that could be improved upon. I’ll admit that when I first started reading this book, it reminded me of The Hunger Games or Scorpio Races—two books about teens competing in deadly challenges. However, Panic ended up being a book that holds its own. 

My favorite part about this book was how it incorporates panic. There is a strong fear of death, which everyone faces, during the competitions. The fear in the challenges is real, but it is also man-made. They could back out of the situation at any point—of course that means that they won’t win the money, but it is always an option. Then there is also panic that comes from real life situations—violence, drugs, disabilities, poverty—that can be easily washed away. Every person involved in the game of Panic also experiences some sort of real life panic which inspires their desperation to compete. 

I really loved this book. It was entertaining, not super predictable, and a book that I couldn’t put down. Many people categorize this as a dystopian novel, but it is more contemporary. And it is comprised of events that could actually happen in present day, so it’s not fantasy as some people have assumed. I would recommend it to anyone who loves stories that have a lot of action combined with a deeper message. 

If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

 *****   5/5 Stars

Also check out my Q & A session with Lauren Oliver!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Hobbit | J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit is the high fantasy prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It follows an unlikely hero, Bilbo Baggins, on his journey through Middle Earth with many dwarves and a wizard. For a more complete summary, you can go here.

Books like this are difficult for me to review. It is a highly recognized novel, as well as a huge film franchise. I have seen all three of the Lord of the Rings movies (but haven’t read the books), and I have seen the first two of the three Hobbit movies. At first I couldn’t believe that a relatively small novel could possibly be made into three movies that are each about three hours long. But, wow, there are a ton of adventures crammed into one book. Pretty much everything in the book make it into the movies, but there are many things that were added to the movies—perhaps to mesh better with the already existing LOTR trilogy and to add more action. There are also several characters that were added to the movies. 

I’ll admit that it took me a pretty long time to finish The Hobbit. I really enjoyed the book, but I found myself getting distracted by other, newer titles. After reading this book, I did an in-depth analysis of Middle Earth for my Folklore and Fantasy class, because I love high-fantasy novels (novels in which an entire world is created by the author). Tolkien’s creation is especially interesting because it includes the history of the world as well as a map of how the world actually looks. 

I did notice that it was strange how small of a section of the book encompassed The Battle of Five Armies since it is the premise of the whole third film. However,  I am grateful that I didn’t have to read 200 pages of battle sequences. 

One of the main motifs in fantasy novels is the hero’s journey. I enjoyed seeing Bilbo transform from a reluctant participant to the hero of the group. To be honest, most of the dwarves seemed rather stupid and seemed to rely too heavily on Bilbo’s knowledge. 

This is a classic novel that everyone should read at some point. It’s a book that I could imagine parents reading aloud to their children. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

 ****   4/5 Stars

If you like books like this, you should also check out these books:

The Room | Jonas Karlsson

The Room is a satirical novel about office life with a psychological twist—Bjorn enters a room in his office building that no one else can see. He believes his coworkers are conspiring against him and they all can actually see the room too. For a more complete summary, you can go here.

This is one of those books that I feel that I just don’t get. It has a ton of amazing reviews saying that it is insightful and funny. I didn’t get that impression. At all. It was not funny at all. If it was a satire, the tone just wasn’t right. It reminded me of how the movie “Office Space” takes a funny outlook on office jobs, but this book missed the mark. 

The main character, Bjorn, was arrogant and delusional. He thought he was the best at everything. He probably would be diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome if he was a real person. I didn’t like him as a character. Actually, I didn’t like or feel any attachment to any of the characters. Even though the book was written in Bjorn’s perspective, I didn’t feel like I really even knew him as a person. 

Then there’s the whole element of the mysterious room that only Bjorn can see. I understand that it is supposed to be a commentary on personal space and privacy in a workplace, but it still didn’t resonate with me. I was happy when this book ended, but it still left a lot to be desired and left me scratching my head. 

The good thing about this book was that the chapters were only a few pages or less, so it was a very quick read. My favorite part of the book was this quote, “It was a calm, factual crying. Good crying. Water cleansing the tubes, rather like clearing a gutter of leaves and pine needles. A way to get rid of negative energy and make room for something better. It was as if I could feel all the improper thoughts flying away, and new ones taking their place. Better ones. A fresh start.” That quote, and the fact that it was a quick read were the only reasons why I gave this book two stars instead of one. I would not recommend it to anyone to read. 

If you are still interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

 **   2/5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

If you like books like this, you should also check out these books:

The Double Bind


The Shore 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Fifty Shades Freed | EL James

Fifty Shades Freed is the third book in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. It is about a wealthy businessman, Christian, who is very controlling in all aspects of his life, especially when it comes to women. In this book, Christian and Anastasia start to understand what it will take to be married and start a future together. For a more complete summary, you can go here.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to even review this book because its, well, embarrassing. I gave into the hype about the Fifty Shades books and I have a compulsive need to finish a trilogy. I also kept reading because I wanted to know why Christian is so messed up (hint: you don’t find out until page 505 of the third book…ugh). I also made this mistake of reading a series that my sister-in-law gave me, Crossfire, in between reading the Fifty Shades books. I kept forgetting which event happened in which series because they were so similar. Eerily similar. They seemed to be basically the same series with slightly different events. 

While reading this book, I found myself rolling my eyes countless times and skipping whole sections of the book. Why do we need almost 600 pages of the same thing happening over and over and over again. They are madly in love. They have sex. They have an explosive argument about nothing. They have sex. Repeat. This is the definition of an unhealthy relationship. Putting aside all the BDSM (which is each person’s prerogative and I will not judge about that), this relationship is completely unhealthy. There is no content or happy in it. Their relationship is always either full of euphoria or anger—no in between. It makes me sad because I know some people who desire a relationship like this. People cannot compare their relationships to one in a book. 

With all that said…it is an entertaining book. I would have preferred it to be about a third of the length. (I mean do we really need all the long winded descriptions of cutting hair and cooking food?) And even when serious events were happening, I didn’t feel any real emotions. It all seemed like a cheesy soap opera. I understand why this trilogy is so popular (ehem, it starts with “S” and ends with “X”), but the writing is definitely not top quality, so don’t expect a great piece of literature with this one. 

If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

 **   2/5 Stars