Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lots of Books

So compared to last month's reading drought, I went reading crazy this month. 10 books! I pretty much enjoyed them all too, which is kind of surprising- I didn't rate any below 3 stars. I also was on like a summer/Nantucket book kick too, so yea, half of the books are summer themed.

Unveiled: Tamar
4 stars

From the author's website:

In the first of five novels on the women of the Bible, Rivers draws on the Bible’s brief mention of Tamar to create a tribute to  hope. Tamar is sold as a child to be the bride of Judah’s oldest son, Er. When  Er dies, Tamar believes that he was struck down by God for pride and arrogance.  According to custom, she is given Onan, one of Er’s brothers, as husband to  beget a son in Er’s memory. When Onan refuses her rights, he too falls dead. The  third brother, Shelah, is deemed too young to be a husband, but when Judah  promises Tamar a child when the boy grows up, she lives on hope for years. When  she realizes that Judah has no intention of keeping his promise, she dresses as  a temple prostitute and seduces him. After being threatened with death because  of her disgraceful pregnancy, Tamar forces Judah to honor his promise. In  return, she bears twin sons, Zerah and Perez, a forefather of Jesus. The  different mores and customs of Tamar’s time take some adjustment for a modern  mindset, but a glimpse into what might have happened is worth the effort. 

What I thought: I thought it was super interesting to learn more about what Tamar's, a briefly mentioned woman in the Bible, life may have been like. I feel so blessed to have grown up in the time period we live in now, versus back when Tamar was alive- how awful it must have been to be married off so young to such an awful person!

Nancy Thayer's Island Girls
3.5 stars

From the author's website:

Charming ladies’ man Rory Randall dies with one last trick up his sleeve: His will includes a calculating clause mandating a summer-long reunion for his daughters, all from different marriages—that is, if they hope to inherit his posh Nantucket house. Relations among the three sisters are sour thanks to long-festering jealousies, resentments, and misunderstandings. Arden, a successful television host in Boston, hasn’t been back to the island since her teenage years, when accusations of serious misbehavior led to her banishment. College professor Meg hopes to use her summer to finish a literary biography and avoid an amorous colleague. And secretive Jenny, an IT specialist, faces troubling questions about her identity while longing for her sisters’ acceptance.

To their surprise, the three young women find their newfound sisterhood easier to trust than the men who show up to complicate their lives. And if that weren’t problematic enough, their mothers descend on the island. When yet another visitor drops by the house with shocking news, the past comes screaming back with a vengeance. Having all the women from his life under his seaside roof—and overseeing the subsequent drama of that perfect storm—Rory Randall might just be enjoying a hearty laugh from above.

What I thought: This was a cute, easy summer read, like a lot of Nancy Thayer's books. The affection the women show for Rory is a bit ridiculous I think, because he sounds like a major jerk and philanderer to me, so that was kind of weird, and so was how immature the sisters often acted. Plus the characters aren't super well-developed, but what else can you expect from a summery beach read? 

3 stars

From the author's website:

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

What I thought: This book was definitely a page-turner, but it was so super creepy and seemingly unrealistic that if you have a sensitive stomach I'd tell you to avoid it. The grisly descriptions are a bit much, and it's just hard for me to believe that so many people could be involved in something so awful (I'm trying hard here not to give anything away). So... read at your own risk. 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
3 stars

From the publisher's website:

Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible tackles gender, class, courtship, and family as Curtis Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today.

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . 

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

What I thought: This was a kind of cute book but it's really hard to compare it to the real Pride & Prejudice. The writing cannot even be compared to Jane Austen's but I'm not even sure that's what the author was aiming at. The last chapter of the book was just so.. weird? wrong? that I wanted to throw it across the room. And the spiders, why did that even need to be a thing? I read the book quickly and it was somewhat enjoyable but if you are an Austen purist I'd say skip it. 

Nantucket Sisters
4 stars

From the author's website:

When they meet as girls on a beach in Nantucket, Maggie Drew and Emma Hudson become fast friends—though Emma’s well-heeled mother would prefer that she associate with the upscale daughters of bankers and statesmen rather than the child of a local seamstress. But the two lively, imaginative girls nevertheless spend many golden summers together building castles in the sand, creating magical worlds of their own, and forging grand plans for their future.

Even as Emma falls for Maggie’s brother, Ben, and the young women’s paths diverge, the duo remain close friends. Then the unthinkable happens: a lifelong friendship is pushed to its breaking point with the appearance of the handsome, charismatic, charming, and incredibly sexy Wall Street trader Cameron Chadwick—upending both of their lives.

Struggling with the difficult choices they have made and the secrets they have kept, Maggie and Emma find the road to love and fulfillment is full of bumps and twists, as well as entirely unexpected and quite wonderful turns of the heart. They also learn that while true love may be rare, a true friendship is rarer still.

What I thought: I really enjoyed this book that trailed the girls through childhood and into adulthood. The twist with Chadwick is kind of silly, but this is just a cute summer read, plain and simple as that. 

BAREFOOT
4.5 stars

From the author's website:

Three women arrive at the local airport, observed by Josh, a Nantucket native home from college for the summer.

Burdened with small children, unwieldy straw hats, and some obvious emotional issues, the women--two sisters and one friend--make their way to the sisters' tiny cottage, inherited from an aunt. They're all trying to escape from something: Melanie, after seven failed in-vitro attempts, learned her husband was having an affair, and then discovered she's pregnant; Brenda embarked on a passionate affair with an older student that got her fired from her prestigious job as a professor in New York; and her sister Vicki, mother to two small boys, has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Soon Josh is part of the chaotic household, acting as babysitter, confidant, and, eventually, lover.

What I thought: I loved this book. It was a super easy read but it kept my interest and I really think that Elin Hilderbrand is the superior of the "Nantucket genre" authors- her characters are more developed and her writing is just better than Nancy Thayer's, though I do like them both, 

A SUMMER AFFAIR
5 stars

From the author's website:

Claire Danner Crispin, mother of four young children and nationally renowned glassblower, bites off more than she can chew when she agrees to co-chair the Nantucket's Children Summer Gala.

Claire is asked to chair the benefit, in part, because she is the former high school sweetheart of rock star Max West. Max agrees to play the gala and it looks like smooth sailing for Claire-until she promises a "museum-quality" piece of glass for the auction, offers her best friend the catering job, goes nose-to-nose with her Manhattan socialite co-chair, and begins a "good-hearted" affair with the charity's Executive Director, Lockhart Dixon.

Hearts break and emotions are pushed to the limit in this riveting story of one woman's attempt to deal with loves past and present, family, business, and high-powered social pressures. Elin Hilderbrand's unique understanding of the joys and longings that animate women's lives will make this her newest summer bestseller.

What I thought: Oh I couldn't put this book down! Elin Hilderbrand did a great job of putting you in Claire's shoes and it actually made me anxious at times! Definitely recommend. 

??????????????????
4.5 stars

From the author's website:

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end…

What I thought: I would have given this book 5 stars too if there wasn't just a small part of the ending that I didn't like/thought was unnecessary. Either way, it was really good and I highly recommend it. I read the entire book on a Sunday afternoon- I couldn't put it down!

After I Do
5 stars

From the publisher's website:

When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.

What I thought: I highly, highly recommend this book. It was awesome. I felt connected to Lauren and I loved the ending and I really don't have any complaints about this book at all!

THE MATCHMAKER
3 stars

From the author's website:

48-year-old Nantucketer Dabney Kimball Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. Some call her ability mystical, while others - like her husband, celebrated economist John Boxmiller Beech, and her daughter, Agnes, who is clearly engaged to the wrong man - call it meddlesome, but there's no arguing with her results: With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Dabney has never been wrong about romance. 

Never, that is, except in the case of herself and Clendenin Hughes, the green-eyed boy who took her heart with him long ago when he left the island to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Now, after spending 27 years on the other side of the world, Clen is back on Nantucket, and Dabney has never felt so confused, or so alive. 

But when tragedy threatens her own second chance, Dabney must face the choices she's made and share painful secrets with her family. Determined to make use of her gift before it's too late, she sets out to find perfect matches for those she loves most. The Matchmaker is a heartbreaking story about losing and finding love, even as you're running out of time.

What I thought: This was my least favorite Elin Hilderbrand book that I've read. I don't really think Dabney had as many redeeming qualities as all the other characters thought she had, and I really didn't like Clen at all. The characters just weren't likeable enough for me, but that still didn't keep me from flying through the book in less than two days. 

Life According to Steph
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Confessions


On Friday night Brian and I stopped to a new store nearby called At Home. It's the coolest store and we spent over an hour just browsing. I reallyyyyy wanted this awesome backyard umbrella, so that night we decided to join our neighborhood yard sale that was happening the next morning, We scoured the house and threw together a bunch of junk we didn't want anymore. We ended up making $134, went back to the store that night armed with a 10% off coupon, and got the 9.5ft umbrella, a 40lb stand (it is sooo windy around here), and a small table for $133.53. Talk about perfect! So in less than 24 hours from when we saw it, we made the money and got it, I don't mess around when I want something! We don't have much of our outdoor furniture out yet because it's been too cold, but we couldn't resist putting up the umbrella and little end table and bringing out our lounge chairs even though it was 40 degrees.


Even though I'm so sad that all the spring finales are on (and umm they cancelled Nashville and The Family, lame!!), I am so excited for The Bachelorette and Mistresses, and eventually in June, Pretty Little Liars to come back! Apparently my life revolves around TV?


I still feel so sad that our wedding is over. It was 7 months ago yesterday and I can't believe time has flown so fast! It's like, when you're planning the wedding everyone is so excited and involved and then as soon as it's over, it's like you're chopped liver and people have moved on to other exciting things. We probably won't get that much attention again until we have a baby in 4-5 years! Now I sound selfish, geez. these confessions are bringing out all my best sides today haha


Speaking of weddings. I have been being lazy and not really taking off my rings when I shower and stuff lately, and it's been so cold out (bonus confession- I love the cold weather!) that now I have like super dry skin under my rings and in between the fingers near where my ring was. I'm not wearing my rings right now until I can get it under control with the hydro-cortisone and Cerave cream, but I keep looking at my hands and having mini panic attacks until I remember why they're not on my finger.


I think I have a Tarte makeup obsession. I hope they have another 30% off sale soon so I can get the color correcting palette and maybe the rainforest of the sea aquacealer.

More Coffee Less Talky

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Four Things About Me

Kelli totally said we could steal this, so I did! Basically, it's lots of things about me in groups of 4, except when I couldn't follow the rules and changed the numbers.


Four names I go by
1. Jessica
2. Jess
3. Jesse (don't even try it though, only Brian calls me this)
4. PJ (again, only Brian calls me this and it's very rare)

Four things I hate
1. All of these kinds of people
2. Really bad stomachaches
3. The USPS- don't even get me started with how awful our mail service is
4. Mushrooms

Four Five places I have worked
1. Limited Too- in high school
2. Starbucks- the third busiest one in the world, we had like 15 people working per shift
3. Nursing home- as an activities assistant in the Alzheimer's unit when I was in college
4. Two different restaurants- as a server in college
5. Two different law firms- as a clerk/intern during and then an attorney after law school

Four things I love to watch
1. My doggies
2. Orioles games at Camden Yards
3. Gilmore Girls
4. Grey's Anatomy

Four Three (or thirty) places I have been
1. The Bahamas
2. Dominican Republic
3. 28 states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania (where I live), Delaware, Maryland (where I grew up), Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio

Four things I love to eat
1. Pizza
2. Jolly Ranchers
3. Veggies and dip
4. Nachos at Os games

Four things I love to drink
1. Ginger Ale
2. Moscow Mules
3. Frozen Drinks
4. Gatorade

Four things I cannot live without
1. Mascara
2. Brian
3. My dogs
4. My phone

Four things I am looking forward to
1. Going up the lake soon- not that we will swim or boat of course because until at the least the 4th of July it's much too cold, but it's still super fun to just go up there to hang and 4-wheel and stuff
2. Being done with physical therapy- I actually had my last session today, but I will probably need another surgery this year, boo, and I need to continue exercises at home of course
3. Memorial Day weekend
4. Two other lake vacations this summer!

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

April Books

I am waiting on a couple books I have on hold from my library on Overdrive, and I didn't want to start on any other books because my luck always is that all my books come ready all at once and then I run out of time to read them, so that's why I only read two books this month!

Packaging
4 stars

From the publisher's website:

Dynah Carey knew where her life was headed. Engaged to a wonderful man, the daughter of doting parents, a faithful child of God, she has it all. Then the unthinkable happens: Dynah’s perfect life is irrevocably changed by a rape that results in an unwanted pregnancy. Her family is torn apart and her seemingly rock-solid faith is pushed to the limits as she faces the most momentous choice of her life: to embrace or to end the life within her. This is ultimately a tale of three women, as Dynah’s plight forces both her mother and her grandmother to face the choices they made. Written with balance and compassion, The Atonement Child brings a new perspective to the most controversial topic of our times.

What I thought: I really liked this book. It didn't really push a view one way or the other, as a lot of people in the book pushed for Dynah to have an abortion, but others pushed for her not to for religious reasons. I am not going to get into my views on abortion here on this blog, but I think this was a very interesting read about a religious main character who is pregnant because she was raped, and the pressures she faces from various people about the huge decision she has to make. 

4 stars

From the author's website:

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before – before Dara kissed Parker, before Nick lost him as her best friend, before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred.

Now the two sisters, who used to be so close, aren’t speaking. In an instant, Nick lost everything and is determined to use the summer to get it all back.

But Dara has other plans. When she vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl has vanished, too—nine-year-old Elizabeth Snow—and as Nick pursues her sister, she becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances may be linked.

In this edgy and compelling novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

What I thought: This was definitely a YA book and a very easy read, but it kept my attention and I finished it in a day. The ending was definitely surprising and a bit unbelievable, but that seems to be the way a lot of books are heading because of the shock factor. Either way, I didn't see it coming and I like when that happens. 

Life According to Steph
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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pet Peeves

On Tuesday I talked about all the things I'm loving lately, and so today I thought it was only right to talk about all the things I'm not loving, aka my pet peeves. Plus, I wanted to rant a little so it's only appropriate.


People who whip out in front of you while you're driving and then proceed to go like 5 mph. You were so quick to pull out there, but then you go all slow? Not cool, people, not cool. Also, texting and driving, that's really not cool.


People who brag about how perfect their lives and diet are and how they never even have to take an Advil. Well la-di-da for you, must be nice to feel great everyday and not need medicine. These jerks put people down who need medicine for their health issues and act like maybe if they had a better lifestyle or used essential oils exclusively or whatever, they wouldn't have those problems. Not everyone can live in that fantasy land.


People who think their jobs are so much more important than everyone else's and share memes all the time about how much more noble their profession is than others. I get that some jobs are much more risky than others, and those are not the jobs I'm talking about (partially because those people aren't bragging about how noble they are), I'm talking about the people who act like their job makes the entire world go 'round, when in reality, every single job is important, from the doctors and nurses in the hospital to the custodian who keeps it clean and the social workers to help people to the lawyers who defend (or in the event of a terrible mistake, bring) the malpractice suits or put the criminals in jail, to the cashier at the grocery store to the stock people in the back, to the engineers who help with lights and bridges, to the police who keep the roads safe, to the construction workers..... etc. you get the picture, every single job is necessary to keep society running the way we are accustomed. #endrant #youiskind #youissmart #youisimportant


People who constantly put down lawyers. These people are often the same ones from above, but who ya gunna call if you need to probate a family member's estate or you're wrongly accused of a crime or someone injures you badly in a car accident, or need to buy a house, among a million other reasons? Lawyers get a disproportionate amount of flak from society and it's completely unwarranted.


People who never, ever respond to blog comments. Rude. (ahh I love Bon Qui Qui by the way)


People who give up their pets when they have a baby. C'mon, you know it's so, so wrong. Don't get a pet if you don't see it as a family member.


People who think they have angel kids but in reality they are just plain bad. I know that every parent thinks they have the cutest, best kids, but those terrible, awful kids at the store who are knocking down displays on purpose and hitting people and mommy smiles and just thinks it's so cute? It's not cute. It's also not cute when people think their evil teens are perfect.


People who are constantly claiming on Facebook that they are going to unfriend such and such group of people because of their political choices. Oh stop, it's not a one party system and people are entitled to their opinions and if you want to unfriend someone, just do it and stop announcing it, no one cares.


People who take an event and make it all about themselves. You know these people: "why is your *insert-event-here* outside, it may be cold, hot, windy, rainy, etc." or the ones who raise a huge stink because their kids aren't invited to your wedding. Everything isn't about you.

Okay so looking back at it, all of these pet peeves are actually people who get on my nerves, or "people peeves" as you will, haha. What people peeves do you have?

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Loving Lately

Sooo it's been awhile yet again since I've blogged, but I think that's just how it's going to be: I'll blog when I'm inspired, and apparently I must be inspired this week because I've got 3 posts coming at ya over the next week. I've done this kind of post a few times over the past almost 3 years and since I love reading about the stuff people love, I assume other people do, too. So here are a bunch of things I've been loving lately, besides the fact that I'm getting my first pedicure in over 6 months today, woop woop #footandanklesurgeryproblems Oh and these are not affiliate links or anything, I just really like this stuff.


Tarte confidence creamy powder foundation. You guys already know I love Tarte. I mean, I have their BB primer, palette, mascara (the gifted Amazonian clay smart mascara is my longtime favorite, and I also like the lights, camera, flashes mascara), concealer, bronzer, etc. etc. and I really like them all. I got this foundation when Tarte was having their 30% off sale kind of recently, and I love the stuff. It's definitely my favorite powder foundation I've ever used. I will definitely repurchase this. I also got the Tarte water foundation during the sale, and I like that a lot too, especially because my skin is still drier since it's chilly here.


Benefit boi-ing full coverage concealer. I totally had forgotten about this concealer because I lost it in the bottom of one of my bags like awhile ago, but I recently found it and am so glad I did (I should probably get a new one...). I really like this concealer for under eyes and for dabbing on spots. I still use my Tarte maracuja creaseless concealer and Mary Kay concealer depending on the day, but I think the boi-ing is my favorite usually. Plus it has the best name ever, because it reminds me of one of my favorite movies ever, Troop Beverly Hills (watch this 12 second video to see what I'm talking about, bahaha).

take a deep breath eye

Philosophy take a deep breath eye cream. This is my new favorite eye cream. I have super sensitive skin and eyes and this doesn't burn at all! That's a winner in my book. Has anyone used the take a deep breath moisturizer? I'm tempted to try it because of how much I like this eye cream. 


S'ip by S'well Stainless Steel Water Bottle. I have the dachshund one (duh) but they have lots of cool prints and they're easy to find at Target and it really keeps drinks COLD for a long time. Totally worth the money. I use it all day, everyday. 

Kate Spade New York Small Square Studs

Kate Spade glitter square studs. I wear these all the time. They come in all different colors and though the multicolored glitter are the only pair I own right now, I totally want more. They look so much prettier in real life, and I think they are reasonably priced too, especially when Kate Spade has a 25 % off sale and you can get the gold glitter pair for your sister as a graduation present! I also love my Mrs. pair, they're adorable. 


LulaRoe. I've mentioned this before, but yea, I really like this company. I have 3 pairs of leggings, 3 classic tees, and a maxi skirt. It's all so soft, especially the leggings, and is sold by independent distributors who either sell in Facebook groups or pop-up shops. They only make a limited amount of each pattern, and some are really funky, so that's fun. 


Ivory Ella tees. These tees are cute, super soft and comfy, and the company donates 10% of their net profits to Save the Elephants and other causes. Seriously, get some. They also sell some other stuff, so check it out! 

Well that's all the stuff I can think of right now that I've been loving lately. Oh and moscow mules, but I think I'm like 2+ years late to that train. But seriously, they are so refreshing! What having you been loving lately?

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

March Books

So apparently I haven't been reading all that much, since I only read 3 books in all of March. Anyway, I can't wait to see what everyone has been reading lately! I have a few books on my waiting list on OverDrive, so hopefully I get to read those soon!

on-the-island-bn
4 stars

From the author's website:

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

What I thought: Ok I know, this book sounds creepy. But it's somehow not. I think the last sentence of the description just makes it sound weird. I could barely put it down, I needed to know what happened next, and I kept putting myself in Anna's position and trying to imagine how it'd feel to know I may be stuck on a deserted island forever. It's a quick and easy read and I recommend it.

The Things We Keep
3 stars

From the publisher's website:

Anna Forster is only thirty-eight years old, but her mind is slowly slipping away from her. Armed only with her keen wit and sharp-eyed determination, she knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. But Anna has a secret: she does not plan on staying. She also knows there's just one another resident who is her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

Eve Bennett, suddenly thrust into the role of single mother to her bright and vivacious seven-year-old daugher, finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke, she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them. Eve has her own secrets, and her own desperate circumstances that raise the stakes even higher.

With huge heart, humor, and a compassionate understanding of human nature, Sally Hepworth delivers a page-turning novel about the power of love to grow and endure even when faced with the most devastating of obstacles. You won’t forget this book.

What I thought: Well, another book with a main character named Anna, but it's completely different. I liked this book generally, but it was kind of confusing and the story just wasn't as good as I expected. Plus, I don't know what "humor" the description is talking about. ***I definitely think that the book Still Alice by Lisa Genova is a much better early dementia/early Alzheimer's read because it seemed more realistic, gave more character development and background, and was just better writing overall. So yea, I'd say skip this book and read Still Alice, since I'd give that 5 stars (I read it like a year ago before I started doing these posts).***

4 stars

From the author's website:

“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re 16.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
“I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”

Set over one school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. 

What I thought: This book was really cute, about two teenagers with completely different home lives who fall in love under difficult circumstances. The only reason I took off a star was because the ending wasn't very clear/definite, and I like crystal clear endings to the books I read. #highmaintenance

Life According to Steph
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