Review: Emmy & Oliver

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Goodreads Summary:

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

It took me a lot longer to pick up this book than it should have. I saw it floating around my goodreads reviewers pages and the blogosphere, but like others I was deterred by the cover that makes this seem like it’s just going to be a cheesy teen romance. How wrong I was!

This book it so moving and sweet. Both Emmy and Oliver are thrown into new lives when Oliver is kidnapped, and they never really face the ramifications of the event until Oliver returns. Even then, the only people they are able to confide in are each other.

I loved the relationship between Emmy and Oliver, it wasn’t overwhelmed by their romantic feelings for each other one bit. With the aid of periodic flashbacks it’s clear that these two would have always been connected as deeply no matter what, and that their relationship would have eventually evolved to something more romantic anyway. Furthermore, it’s clear that Emmy never lost her connection to Oliver, who after some stumbling finds his way back to it as well.

Watching them deal with trying to grow up under the oppressive thumbs of their parents was so interesting and something every teenager can relate to. I also really enjoyed that while Emmy was keeping things from her parents, it was clear that they had a good relationship – too many books have teens and parents not getting along. I also really enjoyed watching the dynamic between Emmy, Drew, and Caroline (I hate it when people shorten my name – though when I lived in England they called me Caro because as Emmy states, they thought three syllables was just too much). They were what was left when Oliver left, and seeing them trying to figure out how to react to having him back in their lives was interesting. And the fight between Emmy and Caroline about Oliver brought back some memories for me too.

I think that was what made this book so amazing. It reminded me of that period in my life when I was dealing with growing up, trying to figure out who I was in the world outside of my family, and dealing with new love and old friends.

Anyway, this book was fantastic. It was a really fast read as well, I read it in one evening. I feel like this will be a go-to book for me whenever I need a pick me up. Emmy and Oliver are just so mature and connected and it’s so touching.

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Life is Crazy Right Now

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Next week I will write!

If I don’t, call me on it.

Right now things are quieting down, but last week was ridiculous. I was cleaning, I was working late, I was getting the house in the early stages of being ready to get packed out and cleaned. And the husband was doing all the Army side of things and both of us were falling asleep by about 8 every night. Then I thought it was a good idea to run back and forth on the right angle balance beam at the track and try and break my ankle, so that was fun.

Without working my plan is to balance the rest of the time here with writing and getting ready to move. I think it’s doable, especially when we are packed out and I’m just sitting in a hotel waiting to fly out.

I definitely need it, and I certainly miss it.

ARC Review: Circling the Sun

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ThankYou Paula McLain and Net Galley for this free ARC to review

Goodreads Summary:

Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Paris Wife, takes readers into the glamorous and decadent circle of British expats living in Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun tells the story of the beautiful young horse trainer, adventurer, and aviator Beryl Markham, from her childhood in British East Africa to her relationship with hunter Denys Finch Hatton and rivalry with Out of Africa author Karen Blixen—a notorious love triangle that changed the course of Beryl’s life.

There really is nothing wrong with the book, it’s well written and vivid. I just don’t like the protagonist. Her morals seem askew to me but not in a blatant way, she’s selfish and immature, and lacks any sense of compromise.I think I also may be a bit biased based on the fact that I read and fell in love with Out of Africa long before I read this so I don’t necessarily like some of the “weakness” Beryl perceives in Karen Blixen.

I really just didn’t like Beryl. I understand she had a different and somewhat difficult childhood, but she seems so immature and foolish the entire time. She doesn’t seem to learn from her mistakes and she takes what she has for granted.

All the pioneering she did – becoming the first licensed female trainer in the British Empire and eventually her piloting – she finds both large amounts of pride and a nonchalance in it, which I found infuriating, especially when she then looks down on other strong women because they still tie themselves to men. And for someone who complains about men so much she sure chases after quite a few of them.

Overall I don’t think I really liked this book that much. However, that was not by fault of the author by any means, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Coming This Week: July 27

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Giveaway-Winner

First, let me announce the winner for the hardback copy of Hold Me Like a Breath! Congrats to Mystic Misha! I’ve sent you an e-mail but if you haven’t gotten it, let me know.

Now to regular business, this week for book discussions look for:

Wednesday I will try and talk about writing, or my lack there of. Life has been crazy lately, I’ll find something that is entertaing though. I am hoping after this week I will get some time in my day for writing again, as it’s my last week at work!

Review: Fall of Giants

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Goodreads Summary:

This is an epic of love, hatred, war and revolution. This is a huge novel that follows five families through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women.

It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family, is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to emigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, “Fall Of Giants” moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty.

Historical Fiction was my genre until I college, where I really didn’t read much because of studying and reading for class and having a social life. Grad school didn’t help either because I was so tired of reading history for class that I didn’t want to use my unwind/relax time to read more history – it’s pretty much impossible for me not to analyze things and find connections to later issues and/or present day situations. Also, I read The Hunger Games in the few months between undergrad and grad school, which kicked off my obsession with dystopians, sic-fi, and fantasy.

Anyway! I have recently been starting to read more HF and non-fiction. Well, my mom has been telling me to read The Pillars of the Earth forever, so I decided to go ahead and start my Ken Follett experiance with The Century series since when I was doing my degrees I focused on 20th Century history. Well, I really enjoyed FoG, it was so interesting and so well done! I can’t wait to read tPotE because everyone says it’s even better.

I don’t know all that much about WWI, and I feel like a lot of people are in the same boat. In school we always focused on WWII, and glanced over WWI. I knew it started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and that everyone got pulled into it because of the system of alliances, and that Germany was the main “bad guy.” Well like most historical events, it was so much more complicated! Follett did an amazing job at representing the different class, social, and political perspectives of the nations at war. Especially through Walter, our German intelligence agent, we are able to see all the little pieces that pulled all of these nations into The Great War, and how hard social forces fought against the aristocracy and monarchical bodies in entering the conflict.

Also, the historian in me, can’t help but point out that the treaty of Versailles totally went against the 14 points Wilson laid out in the league of nations and the harsh reparations and need for a scapegoat acted as a catalyst to WWII. Follett outlines all this as well, but when I read it I was just like “Yeah! They were all so stupid! How did they not see this coming?”

Ultimately, the various dynamics between the diverse characters was incredibly done and so interesting. I thought the tapestry of the war and the various social upheavals was done smoothly and was intriguing without getting weighed down by too much political or military talk. I can’t wait to continue the series, though I am going to take a break between books as these are long and take some brain power.

Hold Me Like A Breath Giveaway

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I know I said I would talk about my writing today, I promise, next week.

Instead, I thought today would be a good time to remind everyone that Friday is the last day to enter my giveaway to win a copy of Hold me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt! So don’t me shy, enter below for you’re chance to get a free book, because who doesn’t love those!

Goodreads Summary:

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can’t protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family’s line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

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Review: Magonia

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Goodreads Summary:

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. 

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

 

I’m still kind of unsure how I feel about this book. The writing was fantastic, I absolutely loved it. I loved how flawed all of the characters were. I loved Jason.

But . . .

I couldn’t find it in me to really love Aza. She was interesting, but I never really felt invested in her, or her story. I don’t know what it was that was holding me back. I mean the story is so unique, there is this other race living in the sky! She can sing nature into whatever shape she desires, she was literally drowning in the thick air of the ground. I mean who has read something like this before?

Maybe I felt like the story was trying to hard to give a message about the current state of the earth, and our byproducts effects on it. Whatever it was though, there was just something about this book that kept me from moving to the like to love stage. We’ll see if there are following books and if I continue the series.