Month: January 2018

Review: The Wife Between Us


The Wife Between Us

Read between the lies.

One of the best things about joining Bookstagram last year was getting new book recommendations. I discovered that I love suspense novels, and I’ve read more of them than ever before. When Book of the Month club offered The Wife Between Us as a choice for December, I added it to my box so fast. In addition, it’s the January pick for the Salt Water Reads book club! The Wife Between Us is suspenseful, twisty, and a definite page-turner, but I was a bit disappointed in parts of it.

So this is where I would usually put a description of the plot. But truly, any description of plot for this book would ruin it! It’s that twisty! So I will just say this. There is a wife. There is an ex-wife. There is a husband. And none of them are what they seem.

I’m so sorry to do that to you! But if you read this book, you’ll understand. The book felt suspenseful by the end of chapter 1, which is always a good sign. One of the premises is that the ex-wife might be a bit crazy, and I kept wondering if she was actually crazy or if her ex-husband was gaslighting her. (If you haven’t seen the 1944 film Gaslight, you should watch it immediately. It would be a great companion watch with this book.)

The first twist (there are many) is interesting, but it made me a little concerned about where it would go from there. The second big twist in the novel was . . . something I didn’t see coming, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I think if the authors had somehow tied it into the first half of the novel a bit more I would have been ok with it, but I ended up feeling a bit played, and a bit weird about wanting to keep reading. (But I did, because I needed to know what happened.) And just to be clear for those who have read it or who do read it: it’s not the subject matter I have a problem with in that big twist, it’s the way it was presented. Just a personal preference issue!

I realize this review is a bit vague, but I really don’t want to spoil the book for anyone. I’ll leave it at this: If you like suspense novels with major twists that you may or may not see coming, absolutely read The Wife Between Us. I really loved the first half, and was disappointed with the second half, but I’m glad that I read it. And honestly, all of this just gives me more to talk about when we discuss it over at Salt Water Reads!

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review: One True Loves


One True Loves

I am finishing up dinner with my family and my fiancé when my husband calls.

When I discovered Taylor Jenkins Reid in June, after reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (My review of that book HERE), I knew she would be one of my favorite authors. I regretted not having read her books sooner, but was also excited because I knew there were four other books I could look forward to reading. One True Loves (apparently I’m working backwards by publication date) is very different from Evelyn Hugo, but only in subject matter. The writing, humanity, and Reid’s ability to break my heart are all there in abundance.

Emma Blair, a 20-something free spirit, marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. On their first anniversary, Jesse goes missing in a helicopter crash while on a filming job and is presumed dead. Devastated, Emma moves back home, takes over the family bookstore, and finds love in another high school friend, Sam. Now in her 30s, Emma is stable, in love again, and has put aside her previous free-spirited life. Until Jesse is found, alive, and determined to get Emma back after surviving for many years with the thought of returning to her. Emma must decide which of her true loves is the one for her, and which version of herself is the true one.

This is women’s fictions/chick lit/popular fiction/whatever you want to call it done so, so right. If you just read the back of the book, you might be under the impression that this is a light, fluffy read. It is most definitely not. Yes, it’s a love story, but it’s really about how people change over the years, and grow up . . . and sometimes apart. Reid isn’t afraid of putting her characters through the ringer, and in doing so she acknowledges how painful life can be sometimes, but also how beautiful it can become after difficult decisions.

The characters felt like real people to me, and I was nervous for them. I loved how they all actually talked to each other too. In so many books, no one tells anyone else how they’re feeling, they just think it so that only the reader knows. These characters are straightforward with each other, and there’s real emotion there because of it. It felt like watching a real life play out. Kind of like those episodes of Parenthood that were so real I was certain that I was spying on a real family.

If you enjoy women’s fiction with a lot of heart that makes you think Taylor Jenkins Reid is THE author to read. One True Loves isn’t just another love triangle story where a pretty girl has to choose between two guys who love her. This is much deeper, and addresses who we are in the past, present, and future, and how that affects the people closest to us. This book broke my heart in the best way, and I’m so glad I read it. I’m here for whatever story Reid wants to tell.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

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Review: Snow & Rose


Snow & Rose

Thank you so much to Random House Children’s Books and Allison Judd for the free copy of this book! All opinions are my own!

Snow and Rose didn’t know they were living in a fairy tale. People never do . . .

The last few years have been great for fractured fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. I am a huge fan of all of those, and actual fairy tales. Emily Winfield Martin’s Snow & Rose is a retelling of the Grimm fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red, a fairy tale I did read as a child but that most people haven’t heard of. Winfield Martin twists the old fairy tale into a wonderful new one, with beautiful illustrations to boot.

In the original tale, Snow White and Rose Red (not the Snow White of dwarf and evil queen fame) are sisters who live with their widowed mother in the woods. One winter night they find a bear at their door. They take care of it all winter, and when it disappears in the summer, the sisters run away to look for it. There is an encounter with an evil dwarf, and the bear ends up killing up. In doing so, the spell put on him is broken and he is revealed to a prince. Snow White marries the prince and Rose Red marries his brother.

This retelling is a bit different.

The sisters are still there, and they live with their mother deep in the woods, but they are not at all convinced that their father has died. When the bear they have been taking care of disappears, the two sisters go after him to try and keep the woodsman from killing him. With a healthy dose of magic, enchantment, and help from a friend, Snow White and Rose Red discover who the bear really is, and their lives are changed forever.

I loved this book, and it would make a beautiful gift for someone who loves fairy tales or magical stories. Aside from the story itself being wonderful, the book is absolutely beautiful. Winfield Martin’s illustrations are gorgeous and the cover would look amazing on any bookshelf. While this is a children’s book (probably age 9 or 10 and up), I enjoyed it very much. It’s a beautiful fairy tale to disappear into for a few hours. I love how the author re-imagined this story and made it more modern, with strength and family as a prize, not a princely husband.

Snow & Rose is a lovely, entertaining book with a strong message about family, loyalty, and what it means to never give up on someone.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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What My Kids Are Reading: January 5, 2018


Fallingwater: The Building of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Masterpiece    Most People                Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia

Well, it’s a new year, and with that comes…well, really more of the same when it comes to reading with my kids! I don’t have any specific goals for their reading, just that they keep doing it. I saw a great idea from Mom of Wild Things, and I’m going to try it this year for myself. She keeps a notebook and writes down every book she and her kids read together. I love this idea because we read A LOT, and I’m interested to see, at the end of the year, just how much we really do read together. The list may be getting shorter since we’re reading longer chapter books now, but I’m certain the number was well into the hundreds when I would read them a bunch of picture book every day!

Since we are still on Christmas break, we’ve been doing a lot of reading together, so this week I’m sharing two books we read together and one book that my kids keep out all the time and constantly reference.

I can’t wait to see what you read with your kids in 2018 too!

What We’re Reading Together

Fallingwater: The Building of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Masterpiece
Thank you to the Kid Lit Exchange for the review copy of this book! I’ll start off by saying that we absolutely loved Fallingwater. It’s a picture book retelling of how Frank Lloyd Wright built one of his most famous houses, named Fallingwater. It’s simply written, but engaging enough that my 9-year-old was super interested and asked if we could buy our own copy to read again. I learned a lot too! Wright built this house on top of a waterfall, and the engineering that went into it is amazing. We watched a couple of short videos online about the house right after reading the book, and it made us all want to learn even more! Even if you think your kid wouldn’t be interested in architecture (I didn’t think mine would be), I highly recommend this book! They loved that it was about a real person and that the possibility of visiting that house is available. (Which also made me wonder why kids are so much more interested in non-fiction than adults…)

Most People
I learned about this book from Kate over at The Loud Library Lady, and it is a wonderful book. Most People is about how most people in the world are good, and even though there are some not so nice people out there, the good far outweighs the bad. It also briefly touches on how sometimes people who do bad things can change. (This is illustrated by showing a little boy stealing an apple on one page and apologizing on the next.) If your kids are asking a lot of questions about why some people do bad things, or they’ve seen something scary in the news, this is the perfect book to explain that a little bit, and to open discussions about people in the world and how you can do good things.

The Book My Kids Are Obsessed With

Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia
My 9-year-old bought this at the school book fair before Christmas, and he and my 6-year-old read it every day. Every. Day. And this book is not playing around when it calls itself an encyclopedia. Whatever you want to know about Star Wars, down to the furniture used throughout, is pictured and described in detail. My kids are obsessed with it, and they both love to read it and then show me exactly which laser blaster thing each character uses and why. If you have a Star Wars fan in your house, this makes a wonderful gift! (If it’s an encyclopedia it’s educational, right??)

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2018 Reading Goals

I don’t often set goals, but when I do, they’re unrealistic.

It’s the time of year when everyone likes to set goals for the new year, and I’m no different. I’ve loved reading about other people’s goals, both for their personal lives and for their reading lives, and it’s made me think even harder about what I want my own goals to be.

As other people do, I often set grand, unrealistic goals for the year, and then feel the huge weight of disappointment when I am unable to reach even a fraction of them. I want this year to be different. I do have some goals, and working towards things is important to me, but this year I want my goals to be relaxed. More general in nature. Eat more veggies, move more, stress less, read books. Today I want to talk about my reading goals for 2018.

I read a lot of books in 2017. 70, plus all of the books I read to my kids, including 4.5 Harry Potter books. I LOVE that I read that much, but I would really like to be a bit more deliberate in my reading choices in 2018. I am participating in the Unreadshelf Project on Instagram, which entails making an effort to read the books that have been languishing, unread, on my shelves for years. And instead of setting a number of books that I want to read (that just sounds stressful), I’m instead choosing 12 categories of books that I want to try and read this year. In an effort to be more intentional about my reading, but not forceful, I want to plan 2-4 books each month, and leave the rest to whatever I feel like reading. These planned books could include books from my unread shelf, from my categories (listed below), Advanced Reader Copies, or any other book that I want to make sure to read.

Some of these categories I will have no problem hitting. (I’m reading a suspense novel now, and there are several historical fiction books I’m planning to read.) Others are categories that I want to try more of (science fiction and poetry/verse), so I’m challenging myself to read at least 1 book in each of those categories. I also want to read more diverse books, and I have the Diverse Books Club to help with that. (You should join if you haven’t already!) And just to be clear, these are very basic reading categories that are personal goals for me. (Modern Mrs. Darcy has an awesome reading challenge with fun categories-I’m planning on incorporating mine into hers as well.)

Do you set yearly reading goals or challenges? I’m hoping to have a document to share by the end of next week in case you want to join in with me, or just create your own categories! Let me know what you hope to read in 2018 and how you want to challenge your reading life.

Reading Categories for 2018

  • Non-fiction
  • Historical fiction
  • Science fiction
  • Suspense
  • Memoir
  • Humor
  • Fantasy
  • Literary fiction
  • Personal development
  • Poetry/verse
  • Seasonal
  • Classic literature
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