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Friday, December 2, 2016

Review: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

Title: All Fall Down
Author: Jennifer Weiner 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: June 2014
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "Allison Weiss got her happy ending--a handsome husband, an adorable little girl, a job she loves, and a big house in the suburbs. But when she's in the pediatrician's office with her daughter and a magazine flips open to a quiz about addiction, she starts to wonder whether her use of prescription pills is becoming a problem. On the one hand, it's just medication, the stuff her doctors give her. Is a Percocet at the end of a hard day really different from a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class...or if your husband ignores you?

Back in the car, after the appointment, with her daughter safely buckled behind her, Allison performs the familiar ritual, opening the Altoid tin in her purse and slipping a chalky white oval underneath her tongue. The pill unties her knotted muscles, erases the grime and ugliness of the city, soothes her as the frets about her looking-good life: that her husband's becoming distant, that her daughter is acting out, that her father's early Alzheimer's is worsening and her mother is barely managing to cope. She tells herself that the pills let her make it through her days...but what if her every-increasing drug use, a habit that's becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?"

My Two Cents:

"All Fall Down" is the story of Allison, a woman who on the surface seems like she has it all. She has a seemingly nice husband, an adorable daughter, a nice house and good friends. She's hiding that she's addicted to prescription drugs. This is a pretty serious topic and definitely one that I think needs to be discussed of lot more especially with what's going on and our country currently.

I love the way that Jennifer Weiner is able to take a serious topic like addiction and give it a face through Allison. I think from the outside it can be difficult to understand how addiction happens and why people are susceptible to facingaddiction. Allison shows that even if your life looks perfect, you can be hiding a lot of secrets. The book goes through how Allison hides her addiction and how she spirals out of control. It happens in such a way that you don't really see that it's coming. Sometimes fiction is the best way to access difficult issues. This book definitely shows that!

I was pulling for Allison throughout the book. You see how difficult it is to even diagnose that you have a problem. Hopefully by talking about this issue, more and more people will be able to get the help that they need. Jennifer Weiner is my go-to when I want smart stories with a lot of heart. This book felt a little more serious than some of her other books, which I think comes from the subject matter. Again, I think it's so important for books to tackle really difficult subjects. You're in good hands with Weiner.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Giveaway: The Summer that Melted Everything!

Welcome, December! If you're anything like me, you're probably still doing your Christmas shopping and what better gift for anyone than a book? To help you with your shopping, I'm giving away a copy of "The Summer that Melted Everything" (U.S. only, please). This book was one of my faves this year!

Want to win? Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and I will randomly choose one winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: Duty to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan

Title: Duty to the Crown
Author: Aimie K. Runyan
Format: ARC
Publisher: Kensington
Publish Date: October 25, 2016
Source: Author

What's the Story?:

From "In 1667, an invisible wall separates settlers in New France from their Huron neighbors. Yet whether in the fledgling city of Quebec or within one of the native tribes, every woman’s fate depends on the man she chooses—or is obligated—to marry.

Although Claudine Deschamps and Gabrielle Giroux both live within the settlement, their prospects are very different. French-born Claudine has followed her older sister across the Atlantic hoping to attract a wealthy husband through her beauty and connections. Gabrielle, orphan daughter of the town drunkard, is forced into a loveless union by a cruel law that requires her to marry by her sixteenth birthday. And Manon Lefebvre, born in the Huron village and later adopted by settlers, has faced the prejudices of both societies and is convinced she can no longer be accepted in either. Drawn into unexpected friendship through their loves, losses, and dreams of home and family, all three women will have to call on their bravery and resilience to succeed in this new world…"

My Two Cents:

"Duty to the Crown" is the second book in the "Daughters of New France" series by Aimie K. Runyan. The colony of New France is a little more established when the book opens up but still feels like a new frontier for many of its residents. I loved the first book in this series and was anxious to get back to Runyan's New France, still a very new setting for me and one that I really loved seeing through this book. Although New France is no longer new to the main characters in this book, it still makes for a fascinating setting where even a place that the characters think they know well can totally change their lives.

While characters from the first book appear, this book largely focuses on the next generation of women in New France. There is Claudine, the sister of Nicole from the first book who wants to find her husband. Gabrielle is a young woman that is forced into a loveless and abusive marriage and will have to rely on herself in order to make her situation better. Then there is Manon, a young woman who walks the line between the settlers and the natives, two groups who don't get along all the time. Through each of these characters, the author explores what it was like to live in New France during this time period. Each of the stories are interesting in their own way and I appreciated getting so many different perspectives. I loved how the author was able to create really different voices for each of the characters.

The world building and historical detail in this book are fantastic and I loved being immersed in the world of the characters. Settlement life is not glamorous and readers get many doses of reality throughout the book. I appreciated that the author did not shy away from the realities of settlement life even if it was difficult to read some parts of the book after becoming attached to some of the characters. Overall, this was a great follow up to the first book!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

TLC Book Tours: The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Fate of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Format: ARC
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: November 29, 2016 (Today!)
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins 

What's the Story?:

From "
The thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Tearling trilogy.

In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has transformed from a gawky teenager into a powerful monarch. As she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, the headstrong, visionary leader has also transformed her realm. In her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies—including the evil Red Queen, her fiercest rival, who has set her armies against the Tear.

To protect her people from a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable—she gave herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy—and named the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign, imprisoned in Mortmesne.

Now, as the suspenseful endgame begins, the fate of Queen Kelsea—and the Tearling itself—will finally be revealed."

My Two Cents:

What a ride! "The Fate of the Tearling" is the conclusion to the Queen of the Tearling trilogy. I have really enjoyed this trilogy and was torn between wanting to see how the author ended the trilogy as the books have taken so many interesting turns and not wanting to get to the end because I was enjoying the ride so much. This book will thrill followers of the trilogy and I found it utterly satisfying!

First things first, you NEED to read the first two books in the series in order to understand this book and get the most out of it you can. The world building in this book is as great as the other books but gets even more intricate in this book. We understand more about what Kelsea is up against and how she has to grow and change in order to meet the challenges in her world. We also get to understand more about how her world came to be. I can't say very much without giving parts of the other books away but the explanation of the past was fascinating to me and I loved the way the author explained why Kelsea's world is the way that it is.

The characters in the book are great. I continued to be enthralled with the way Kelsea has changed since the first book. This is the book where she really comes into her own! The secondary characters are fantastic as well. I was especially interested in the parts of the book with the Red Queen. Her story takes some interesting turns throughout the book that kept me engaged.

Now, there was a lot going on in this series and I had some trepidation surrounding whether or not the author was able to neatly tie up the various story strands throughout the book. I am happy to report that she is able to do it. The very ending felt slightly rushed to me but still worked just fine overall.

This whole series is an exciting ride and this last book is a great capstone!


Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Crown
Publish Date: February 11, 2014
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. 

But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive."

My Two Cents:

"The Martian" is a fantastic science fiction book about a mission to Mars that goes awry. Mark becomes one of the first people to walk on Mars and now he thinks he'll be the first person to die on Mars. After freak accident has his crew leaving the planet and thinking that he's dead, they quickly find out that Mark may not really be dead. 

Filled with a lot of humor, this is a great book that will appeal to more than just traditional science-fiction lovers. One of the best things about this book is the voices that the author creates for the characters. The book starts out with Mark's voice and Mark is absolutely hilarious. He seems like somebody that I would definitely get along with. He has sort of a funny way of looking at his plight and I think that it shows how humor can get you through some very difficult times. I loved following his story. We get to see the NASA scientists as well and it was interesting to see how they try to figure out what happened to Mark and what he what they can possibly do in order to save him. 

The book is well-written and I love a good survivor story. This book is a little bit different because it talks about survival on Mars but it is a survivor story nonetheless. Overall, this book is incredibly entertaining. It would make for a great intro to sci-fi for those that don't read sci-fi at all or very often!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Review: Ten Years Later by Lisa Marie Latino

Title: Ten Years Later
Author: Lisa Marie Latino 
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Long Shot Publishing
Publish Date: October 4, 2016
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "When New Jersey-based sports radio producer Carla D'Agostino receives a save-the-date for her ten-year high school reunion, she is thrown into a tailspin. She is miserably single, living at home with her old-school Italian-American family, and miles away from her dream job as a sports talk radio host. She voices her discontent to her closest friends, the stunning Andrea, cheerful Katie, and playboy Dante, and they encourage Carla to stand up and fight for the life she wants. Inspired by their words, Carla sets her plans in motion. She enlists the help of a personal trainer, tapes a sports commentary demo with Dante for her unconventional WSPS boss Dan, and gets back into the dating game for the first time since her heart was broken by her first love. But the universe has different ideas for Carla than she has for herself, and she suffers setback after setback: Dan gives the afternoon host position to a Los Angeles import, and, worse yet, offers Dante a gig, which he accepts, much to Carla s hurt and dismay. More determined than ever, Carla continues to throw herself at life with gusto, and a series of surprises, both good and bad, lead her straight into the arms of a love that never really left."

My Two Cents:

"Ten Years Later" is the story of Carla, a 27 year old staring down the barrel of her ten year high school reunion and she's wondering what her life has amounted to and how she can show her face when it seems like all of her classmates seem to be so much further ahead her in life. So she makes a plan to turn her life around and to finally get what she has always dreamed of and her plan goes awry and hilarity ensues.

This is a very funny story about trying to figure out where you're going and how you can get there. Carla is a great character. She's funny and she's imperfect in a way that seems real. She seems to be going through some sort of quarter life crisis in this book, which I think a lot of people can find some commonality with. Throughout the book, we get to see her grow and change throughout the book. She starts out not being sure how to get what she wants and we see how she becomes more assertive throughout the book. It's a great transformation to watch!

The writing of the book was addictive for the most part. I loved following Carla to see where she goes. The book is pretty hefty and I think there were definitely parts that could have been streamlined to make the book move along a little bit more. That being said, overall, this is a great story with a dash of romance and a healthy helping of heart.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, American friends! May your day be filled with friends, family, food, and lots and lots of books!
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