The Library Book Book Review

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Title: The Library Book

Author: Susan Orlean

Publish Date: October 16th, 2018

Reading Format: Audio book

Summary:

The Library Book is a Nonfiction book about the fire that happened at the Los Angeles Library in the late 1980s. It tracks the day of the fire, the accused arsonist, and how the Los Angeles Library system works in modern day.

Review:

Nonfiction is usually a hard genre for me to tackle. If I do read Nonfiction it is normally one that is strictly historical. While there is history in The Library Book about the fire most of what Susan Orlean focuses on in her book is how the city of Los Angeles runs their library system. As a fellow reader I did find this part interesting because I got to see an in depth look of how a library functions.

I did listen to this on audio which made the experience of reading it easier. I typically can become quite bored with the overload of information over time. Susan Orlean did a good job of looking at the arson and also questioning if the fire that destroyed the Los Angeles library should have been considered an arson in the first place. This kept my interest going and while it did lag in some places I did want to finish it.

After reading The Library Book I think that I am now more willing to read more books in this genre. Though I’ll admit they will more than likely be in the audio book format going forward.

Rating:

3 out of 5

Happy Reading,

Meghan

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TBR Thursday: Mary Poppins

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The movie Mary Poppins was a childhood favorite. When they made the sequel late last year I was over the moon about it. Emily Blunt was wonderful and Mary Poppins Returns was just as enchanting as the first movie. Since seeing the second movie I have been curious to read the books written by P.L. Travers. I’m hoping the books will be as magical as the movies!

Have you read Mary Poppins or had them read to you as a kid? I would love to know what you thought about them in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Save the Date Book Review

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Title: Save the Date

Author: Morgan Matson

Publish Date: June 5th, 2018

Reading Format: Hardback

Summary:

Charlie is the youngest of 5 kids. Her mom is a famous comic strip writer and illustrator who is currently about to end her famous comic based off of the family’s life. And her older sister Linnie is getting married at the family home they all grew up in before their parents sell it. Let’s just say the few days leading up the the wedding isn’t as smooth sailing as the Grant family would like it to be, and Charlie is there in the middle of all of it.

Review:

Before I get into my review completely let me start off by saying something a little about myself that will be beneficial to understand my feelings about Save the Date. I am an only child. The only siblings I have are two stepsisters but I by no means do I understand what living in a large family is like. With all that now out of the way, let’s get into it.

Charlie Grant is about to graduate from high school and head to college in the fall. But before her school year wraps up, Linnie, the oldest daughter of the Grant children, is about to get married. She has decided to marry her long time boyfriend in the backyard of the house she grew up in before their parents sell it. This means that all the other siblings, including an estranged brother, and many relatives and friends are all headed to the Grant household for the weekend. As you can imagine all sorts of problems spring up along the way.

One of the biggest hang ups that Charlie has through out the book is that she doesn’t know how to move forward in life. She is stuck in the past and the only thing she is focused on all weekend is that the family will all be together again under one roof. To her it is about recreating how everything use to be and trying to prevent some of the biggest changes coming her way. Such as, her parents choosing to sell the home she has only ever known and her mother ending the comic strip about the families life. She is also internally torn about college. Charlie has technically chosen to stay at home and attend the local college her dad teaches at, even though she has been accepted to may other schools around the country including Northwestern University in Chicago.

While the story line about the wedding is how the book is marketed, the larger story line, or rather the real story line, is about the Grants. Charlie is a little immature for my taste, but she did grow on me by the end of the book. I loved Bill (aka Billiam, not his real name just something one of the characters call him) he seems like the nerdy male lead that has been missing in some of the books I’ve been reading lately. The book very much reminds me of Father of the Bride. So if you like that movie then Save the Date would be a book I would suggest you check out. It would also make a great book to add to your summer reading list.

Rating:

3 out of 5

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Lady Midnight Book Review

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“You belong where you’re loved.” 
― Cassandra Clare, Lady Midnight

Title: Lady Midnight

Author: Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices

Publish Date: March 8th, 2016

Reading Format: Audiobook

Summary:

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Review:

At this point I’m all in when it comes to the world of the Shadowhunters and everything Cassandra Clare wants to give us. I’ll probably read every book she publishes, but I’m not so sure that The Dark Artifices series is my favorite. It might actually be my least favorite of the three series so far, however, it was still a 4 star read for me. This is obviously because Cassandra’s writing is quite good. She makes a world unlike any other and her characters will make you fall madly in love with them (aka Jim Carstairs). With all of that said Emma and Julian are a too tragic for me personally. Both are orphaned and carry a heavy weight of losing their parents in such violent ways. Julian is forced to live with the guilt of how his parents died (I won’t spoil how if you haven’t read The Immortal Instrument series yet) and become the unofficial father to his four younger siblings.

Lady Midnight is a heavy book. I’ve already read the second book in the series so I know it only gets heavier down the road. Though I would expect no less from the author. Tragedy is her forte.

At the moment I have not completed the series. I think I’m going to need to take a little time before I jump into Queen of Darkness.

Rating:

4 out of 5

Do you read Cassandra Clare’s books? Which was your favorite series?

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Crazy Rich Asians Book Review

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“You love your children so much, you do everything to try to protect them, and they don’t even appreciate it.” 
― Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians

Title: Crazy Rich Asians

Author: Kevin Kwan

Series: Crazy Rich Asians

Publish Date: June 11th, 2013

Reading Format: Audiobook

Summary:

Rachel’s life with Nick seems pretty normal until she agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with him and his family. She is unprepared for the world Nick comes from and the extravagant life his family lives.

Review:

I have yet to watch the movie for Crazy Rich Asians. I wanted to see it the moment it came out, but for some reason I have it in my head that I needed to read the book first. At the moment I’m glad I’ve read Crazy Rich Asians first, although I haven’t seen the movie yet so the feeling may be short lived. I think the main reason that I’m glad I read it is that this book is so much more than a girl who discovers her boyfriend’s life is different than she knew it to be. Crazy Rich Asians is about family. About it dynamics and the relationship between parents and their children.

I think my biggest take away is that I don’t know that I would necessarily paint Eleanor (Nick’s mother) as the antagonist of the book. She does some wrong things certainly, but the reasoning isn’t as black and white as it may seem. Nick is after all her only child and she has existed in the Crazy Rich Asian world a lot longer than her son or his girlfriend ever has. Eleanor understands the pressures associated with it and I think that is what clouds her judgement about Nick and Rachel the most. She is only trying to protect her son and make sure he has an amazing life ahead of him. If anything Eleanor ‘s flaws are what is most displayed in this novel, but I would not describe her as an evil villain by any means.

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Have you read Crazy Rich Asians? Did you like it? Or do you plan on reading it? Please let me know in the comments.

Happy Reading,

Meghan

March 2019 Wrap Up

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I originally thought I hadn’t managed to read that much this month, but I would say that 4 books isn’t that bad. Reading Ms. Marvel created a first time experience for me as this was my first comic book. I loved it! Kamala is certainly going down as my new favorite super hero.

I was also able to reread Anne of Green Gables. This is my all time favorite book and I always love revisiting Anne and her world every few years. I hope to go through the entire series that L.M. Montgomery created later this year.

The Heartbreakers was a spontaneous pick in March. I was scrolling through Scribd (the Netflix of ebooks and audiobooks) one day looking for something to read and this caught my eye. My guilty pleasure reads are mindless teen romances. The Heartbreakers fit the bill and was the fastest read for March.

I listened to Five Feet Apart on audio and liked it. I mostly listened to it because it was released as a movie this past month and decided to give it a try. Five Feet Apart is only 5 hours long on audio and I was able to listen to it in an afternoon while I did a few other things.

Comment below what you read in March. What was your favorite and what was your least favorite?

Happy Reading,

Meghan

My Reading Goals for 2019

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a lovely New Year’s Eve and have enjoyed your time with family and friends over this past holiday season. I personally have to work today. Booo! But I thought I would share my 5 goals for my reading life in 2019.

First I would like to achieve my forever goal of reading 50 books in one year. I’ve never gotten beyond 41 in the past 3 years I have done the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I hope to at least get as closely as possible and have been collecting as many books and audio books as I can over the past several weeks.

My second goal is to read from my shelves more, both physically and from my Kindle shelf. I own many books like anyone else does that runs a book blog, but I’m not good at reading what I already own. I like to call it the “Oooh something shiny” problem, where I pick a book I already own only to immediately replace it with a book I find in a store. Thus, something shiny. It’s a costly habit I would very much like to break.

My third goal could seem counter productive to my second one (depending entirely on how you view it), however, I hope to concentrate more on what is on my TBR list already. Now I do tend to add more and more books nearly everyday to it, but the beauty of using something like Goodreads is I can sort my TBR from oldest to newest. Therefore, whatever I place on my list 5 years ago can show up first rather than the three new books I placed there this morning. It should help me to cross off items from my TBR and make more room for new ones.

I want to expand on the genres I read from. If you read my last post, My Top 10 Reads of 2018, then you’ll know that 2018 was the year of the Middle Grade novels. The genre I have chosen for this year is Biographies and Memoirs. I don’t read much nonfiction in general, other than the occasional historical book; but mostly I like my fiction novels because I like to escape when I read. I hope to find some pleasure in reading about other people’s lives and will continue to read them for years to come.

My last goal for 2019 is to find my perfect reading spot. Right now I read in two places, my bed on evenings and weekends and at my desk at work on my lunch break. I would love to have a place perfect for me that feels peaceful with as little distraction as possible. As it stands now, I’m constantly diverted from reading either by my iPad, TV, or the sounds of the office during my lunch hour. I’d even enjoy reading outside more, but it is January and Georgia is at the moment experience consistently rainy weather. So being outside will probably me more reserved for Spring and the later half of Fall.

That is my reading goals for the new year. I’d love to know if you have any, so please share in the comments below!

Happy Reading,

Meghan

My Dear Hamilton: Book Review

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“I was someone before I met Alexander Hamilton. Not someone famous or important or with a learned philosophical understanding of all that was at stake in our revolution. Not a warrior or a philosopher or statesman. But I was a patriot.” –Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, My Dear Hamilton

Title: My Dear Hamilton

Authors:  Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publish Date:  April 3rd, 2018

Reading Format: Paperback

Summary:

 My Dear Hamilton follows the life of Eliza Hamilton.  The book is a fictional biographical look at one of America’s founding Mothers and wife of Alexander Hamilton.

Review:

 I was highly anticipating this book when I saw that it was coming out in the Spring of this year.  I actually wasn’t waiting in anticipation because of the whole Hamilton craze that is happening right now, but rather because I loved the authors first book together America’s First Daughter.  And I’ll just go ahead and say that My Dear Hamilton did not disappoint.

The book is all told from Eliza’s perspective and it begins during the American revolution, and before she meets her husband Alexander Hamilton, and moves through the different stages of her life up to her later years.  Before I read this book there wasn’t a whole lot I knew about Eliza Hamilton other than who her famous husband was.  My Dear Hamilton changed all that for me.  Even though this is a fictional book, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie did such a wonderful job with their research. The novel entwines the tragic and beautiful parts of Eliza and Alexander’s love story quite well.  And delves into them as both a couple and individuals so that Eliza shines throughout the story rather than being diminished to the background of Alexander’s life,  which is why I chose the quote from the book above.  During each of my reviews I try to use a quote under the cover of the book to showcase the story.  Kind of like a small highlight to lure you into the book review.  This particular quote stood out to me more than the others I have chosen in the past and I think that is in large part to the fact that Eliza Hamilton as a character has stood out to me the most this year in my reading.  She was a profound woman who existed in a time that history likes to write out, so I’m grateful that My Dear Hamilton tries to rectify that by not only making Eliza the main character but also by taking the time to research her and the other women during the Revolution.

I highly recommend reading My Dear Hamilton as well as their other book America’s First Daughter.

Rating:  4 out of 5 Stars

 

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Caraval: Book Review

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“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

Title:  Caraval

Series: Caraval Series

Author:  Stephanie Garber

Publish Date:  January 31, 2017

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Reading Format:  E-book

Publisher’s Summary:

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Review:

I was almost certain that I might not come across a book this year that I would truly enjoy, but Caraval may have saved the day!

Caraval has been on my want-to-read list ever since it came out last year and I’ve almost bought it a dozen times while in Books-a-Million, but for some reason would decide to go with something else.  However, Amazon came through (or I suppose the publishers of the book did) when it was a Kindle daily deal sometime back in January or February.  I immediately bought it and couldn’t wait to start reading because I knew by reading the description of the story that Caraval was just going to be a book I would love.

And I was right. This was exactly the type of story I like.  It’s fantasy with romance and a magical world to get lost in, which are all prefect elements to books I love to read.  I will admit though that the beginning was a little slow for me, however that isn’t very uncommon in fantasy novels because world building is apart of the genre and that usually takes up some of the plot.  It was easy to get over though because once the main characters were in Caraval the story really began to take off and I couldn’t put it down. T

There is so much mystery surrounding the game of Caraval and it’s creator, Legend, that as the reader you seem to get lost in this magical place as much as Scarlett does.  And I think this makes her as the narrator of the story  a great idea because you see Caraval through all of Scarlett’s first time experiences with the game.

Also the imagery that came to my mind while reading the book showed to myself at least how much I liked Stephanie Garber’s writing.  She brings Caraval’s world to life well by her descriptions of the places and people Scarlett meets while in the game. I didn’t feel overwhelmed at anytime by the magic in the story or the world building either, but I could tell while reading the book that there was so much more to explore in this world in future books.

Which I’m super excited for the next book in the series that I already pre-ordered.  When I finished the book and knew I had to pre-order the next one, that was the best way for me to tell I really liked Caraval.  Plus I don’t have to wait that long, as it comes out the end of this month. Yay!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

At Water’s Edge: Book Review

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“In all its beautiful, tragic fragility, there was still life.”
― Sara GruenAt the Water’s Edge

Title: At Water’s Edge

Author:  Sara Gruen

Publish Date:  March 31, 2015

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Reading Format:  Paperback

Summary:

Maddie is married to Ellis, who comes from a very wealthy family.  Maddie and Ellis financially depend upon Ellis’ parents until Ellis drunkenly embarrasses his father at a New Year’s Eve party and finds himself and his wife cutoff from the family fortune.  Determined to defy his father, Ellis decides to do the one thing his dad could not which is to find the Loch Ness monster.

With the help of their best friend Hank, Maddie and Ellis set out to Scotland in 1943 to find the monster.

Review:

If you place any book in Scotland I’ll probably read it, especially a Historical Fiction novel.  At Water’s Edge has both those elements and was an easy purchase to make.  Finding the time to read it was a whole other story as it only took two years to finally pick the book up after I had bought it.

My first impression when I had finished reading At Water’s Edge, was the author Sara Gruen does not have a fondness for husbands.  This might be a slight spoiler to the novel, but Ellis is anything but a good husband (or person for that matter).  And I make that comment because she also wrote Water for Elephants and the husband in that book was also an awful person.  Though I’ll confess I haven’t read Water for Elephants, but I have committed the cardinal sin of seeing the movie without reading the book and in the movie the husband is a horrible person. So with that assessment I can conclude husbands in Sara Gruen novels equal not good people.

After making that assessment (and small tangent), I found that At Water’s Edge was entertaining but not overall satisfying.  3/4 of the book is mostly build up to the climax of the story and then it quickly wraps up everything, which left me feeling a bit confused and as though I had been cheated out of the plot line. Sort of.  Though I suppose it was set up that way because you are following along with Maddie and she is really naive and then suddenly enlightened by the end.  Which is how I felt as the story unfolded.

The story line is also a little odd and I’m not just talking about the fact that three rather wealthy Americans decided to hunt for the Lock Ness monster, but that they would be allowed to go to Scotland while a giant war is happening in the first place.  At Water’s Edge is set in 1943, so literally smack dab in the middle of World War II, and they manage to be allowed to cross the Atlantic to go to Scotland.  Call be crazy, but wealthy or not, there is no way any private citizens were permitted to travel to Europe during this time. Let alone be willing to do it. Though *gasp* I could be wrong.

There is also the fact that Ellis and Hank aren’t serving in the military during this time because Ellis is colorblind and Hank is flat footed.  Both men claim to be ashamed of the fact they can’t serve and are embarrassed by those who shame them for it.  So logically why not go to the front lines of the war, obviously they’ll be super supportive of you….Oh wait! They aren’t.  I just feel as though the author wanted the drama of the War but the story would have been better suited for about 10 years after, or it just should have been a World War II focused book.

Honestly At Water’s Edge was not really what I expected.  It is one of the better books I have read this year so far, but that isn’t really saying much because I have truly read some duds this year.  The writing as a whole was pretty good and I like Sara Gruen’s writing, I just wasn’t fond of some of the plot holes that show up along the way.  I think if you are looking for a book set in Scotland there are so many others you could choose from, so maybe pass on this one if you have another book in mind.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Happy Reading,

Meghan