Thursday, February 4, 2016

What I'm Reading

Before you continue reading this post about me reading books and supplying you with my brilliant thoughts on said books, you must know one thing: I am very hard on books when it comes to critiquing, recommending, and rating. Very seldom do I give books a full 5 stars. Looking back on some of my favorite 4-star books, I find myself thinking, maybe this should be a 5? But then I talk it over with myself, argue a bit, and decide, no, it's definitely a 4 1/2-star book. The following three books are perfect examples of this serious struggle.

Let's start with the book I most recently finished, Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, which is a 2012 Printz Winner (best literature for young adults) and 2012 Morris Winner (best author debut). I added this book to my TBR list years ago when it was talked about everywhere. Finally, I got around to it. A quick summary: seventeen-year-old Cullen Witter lives in small, quiet, boring Lily, Arkansas. Nothing ever happens, except the summer before his senior year his cousin dies from a drug overdose, an extinct woodpecker has decided to resurrect itself, and Cullen's younger brother, Gabriel, goes missing. Meanwhile, a young missionary in Africa has lost his faith and has no idea what to do next. Eventually, these two stories surprisingly intertwine, creating a brilliant piece of literature.

Oh, do I have mixed emotions and THOUGHTS about this YA novel! Honestly, I'm still processing it, and need to have a chat with my co-worker to discuss some things. I did like that it made me think, and I stopped reading to do a bit of research on the religious aspect of the book (which is a sub-sub-plot, per se, but being a Christian and all, I could not just let it go by without fact checking, and finding sources, and it made me look at the movie Noah differently, which I strongly disliked...but, I digress). I liked it, the way the different stories came together, the writing style (how effortlessly easy and right it feels), the simple and complex thoughts of a seventeen-year-old, and the ending! GAH! Oh, my thoughts! Oh, my brain! I want it to be happy, yet I get annoyed when everything ends happily, wrapped up in a pretty bow. The world isn't always good with a happily-ever-after, so sometimes, dagum it(!), books don't have to be either! There are so many thoughts and expressions and things I want to say but I can't because I don't want to spoil anything because I know you will want to read this book. You must read this book, if only so we can discuss. <--- this is probably a 5-star rating reaction.

Another book I couldn't put down was our current book club read, The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister. One of the many groups I belong to on Good Reads was reading this. It was recomended to fans of The Night Circus (one of my great book loves) and Water for Elephants (not a fan). As I've said numerous times before, anything compared to my beloved Erin Morgenstern is immediately added to my TBR list. The Magician's Lie is set around the turn of 20th century, following the Amazing Arden, "the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden’s husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear." (Good Reads) Yet, when questioned by the police officer, Arden finally gets to tell her story, her whole story. Is she really guilty?
With that being said, this is definitely more Water for Elephants than The Night Circus which disappointed me, slightly. Once I realized that, I found I enjoyed this magical story. I enjoyed the historical setting for the main event, the details placed me there--everything visualized easily. It was fast-paced, but not so much that the reader felt like he/she missed out on anything. I liked the POV shifts of the storytelling. Although, from paying attention, I assumed--correctly--the ending halfway through, but I still found myself caught up in the magician's tale. I wish there would have been more from Virgil and Clyde, yet I was satisfied because it was all about Arden, always had been, just as it should. I liked this much more than Water for Elephants. I think this tale would make a decent movie. (FYI, I did like the movie adaptation of Water for Elephants...this is rare.)

And my third couldn't-put-down-until-I-finished-it title is the latest from Denis Hunter, Falling Like Snowflakes. To summarize, Eden is on the run to protect her son, the only witness of a horrible crime. Her car breaks down in Summer Harbor, Main (introduced in Hunter's previous book), where she meets hunky, hero Beau--a former sheriff's deputy turned Christmas tree farm owner. There's chemistry, denial, past issues, chemistry, love, love, love.... I'm sure you can imagine. One of my guilty Christian romances. Buuuttttt, I cannot put down her books....gahhhhhhhhhh! The only reason this isn't a 5-star rating is because I am married to a sheriff's deputy, and I know a little bit about the profession, and some things seemed inaccurate throughout the book (or delayed, like the former sheriff's deputy shouldn't have taken so long to pursue, style of investigation, etc.) It bothered me a bit, and when I mentioned it to my hubby he concurred. <---this is why I'm so hard on ratings. I let the little things bother me. Ugh.

For a fun bonus title, I'm suggesting  The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, & Other Homemade Adventures mhkhjkjk
.....this book had a lovely-- and cozy-- layout. and she owns a corgi!! immediately a 5-star rating! ;)

I really think I'd enjoy perusing this book often and need to add it to my birthday list. I love the idea of making a "to-do" list by month/season, with little emphasis on holidays and more focus on getting in touch with yourself, relationships, and true enjoyment of life.

Annnnnd my DO NOT READ! book selection is After You. You know, the book after the brilliant, everyone-can't-stop-talking-about Me Before You. Yes, I am 100% serious right now. Poor Jojo Moyes. This is exactly what happens when you write a sequel to a book because fans demand it, or need to know what happens to the characters. Noooo! Never, never do that! This book was a devastating disappointment. This was fan-fiction, and it felt like fan-fiction. It felt forced. I felt duped. If you have read the first one, I promise you, you need to stop there. Be completely satisfied, emotionally drained, and happy you finished a well-written (and, yes, a 5-star rated!) book. A loved book, and just wonder about the characters. There's no need to know. It's not worth knowing. I didn't abandoned the book because I felt I owed it to Moyes to finish. Me Before You was just so fantastic.

Please, share your thoughts in the comments below if you have read any of these, or if you have a suggested book.

With Love and God Bless,

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