Review: The Same but Different by Serena Clarke

20140619-115113-42673974.jpg
The beautiful thing about book titles is that they seem to mean one thing at first, and then you finish the book and realize they could mean a whole bunch of other things.

Cady and Shelby are twins – the same but different, yeah? There’s a death in the family and they decide to travel from the UK to the US… and join a flash mob thingy called Flashpoint. While they’re there, they look for their biological dad, and run into two women also named Cady and Shelby -the same but different, again! And by the end of their US adventure, Cady and Shelby grow and develop and peel away layers until they themselves are different… yet the same.

I thought this book would be straight up romance or chick lit, but it was really much more. There was suspense, adventure, family drama, more family drama, and yep, some romance. It was refreshing to read such a well-rounded story, kind of along the lines of a Nora Roberts novel. I’m used to so much straightforward chick lit romance that I forget how satisfying a good, substantial story can be. A big Thank You to Serena Clarke for reminding me. 🙂

–Calliope

buy THE SAME BUT DIFFERENT

Review: Echo Boy by Matt Haig

echoboyWhat does it mean to be human? Is it merely to be made up of flesh and bone? Is it the structure of our DNA? Is having a soul what makes us human? Or is it more than that? Perhaps it is our actions? No matter how you answer, there is some way that one can dispute your answer. Isn’t an evil person human? Do they have the correct DNA? Aren’t they made up of flesh and bone? A stone cold killer can be classified as human, although their actions might say otherwise….

Here we have the future. A world where continents can be visited within seconds…even the moon within hours. Boundaries between places that we know now are smaller and less apparent. It is a world that is now made easier by the help of Echoes. More or less computers made of flesh and bone that are there to look like humans….perform as humans….teach humans….do the work of humans….look after the young of humans….protect the humans….but to never, ever, be human. They are highly intelligent. They excel at whatever they are programmed to do….but they will never have the emotional capacity that humans possess.

Or can they?

Here we can have a look at the path that we are currently heading down….One where we (the human race) are able to jump into a pod and be transported to our love ones in a blink of an eye. One where we communicate more by machines than by touch. One where we can learn everything we *need* to know without ever really leaving our homes. Ones that although the boundaries of the past seem nonexistent, they are in fact even greater….

You might wonder what I mean by that….but look at your grandparents. How hard would it had been for them to facetime with someone in another country? How many friends did they talk to daily from foreign countries?

Now stop and think….makes you think that we’ve come a long way, eh? But wait……those same grandparents….did they spend hours a day locked inside their houses? Glued to their phones? Worried about the latest technology? Or did they truly interact with others? Did they learn about life virtually or by reality? How are you and the younger generation learning such things today?

It really gives you something to think about, doesn’t it?

Now back to what makes us human…..

This novel will give you much to ponder here….

Some of the humans portrayed have no real value of other human life….They are not thoughtful of other humans…..some of them, really, have no idea how to even interact with other humans…..

So when we isolate ourself from other humans….at some point do we lose some of that which makes us human? At one point does this happen?

So if we have no value of other human lives, does that make us less human? Again, at what point does this happen?

Finally, is it possible for *something* not fully human….something made of flesh and bones….something with some DNA…..something supposedly *without* a soul….something made in a lab….programmed….but made with love and hope and devotion……a machine that cares about the value of human life…..a machine that does not seek to isolate itself……to become human? Again, at what point does this happen?

Matt Haig, might not have written the best literary work of all time here….but hey ho….how many people can? However, what he has done is given us much to think about……and much to be watchful of…..

This book was left with an ending that can no doubt be picked up and continued on with further novels….I hope we get at a least one more…..

I really enjoyed this novel, as I have Haig’s other works…..I’m sure you won’t be disappointed…go on then….go see what the future has in store for you and I……..buy the book…..

Until next time….

Urania xx

Review copy provided by Netgalley for an honest review….

Currently available to buy in the UK Echo Boy by Matt Haig

This happened.

chicago 023

This past weekend, was probably the highlight of my book life, so far. If it gets any better, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to handle it.

Saturday night was a book signing for my favorite author, Colleen Hoover, and combined with a concert with Griffin Peterson. For those who don’t know Griffin wrote the music for Colleen’s recent book, Maybe Someday.

To say I was excited was the understatement of the year. I mean seriously, I was driving my family crazy with how excited I was. I was so nervous that I was going to pass out at some point. I felt bad for my poor hubby. I apologized to him, in advance. Who know what was going to happen with me.

Hubby and I arrived Friday and spent the day sightseeing. Which I’m kinda glad we did, since I met up with some friends on Saturday and never saw him til almost midnight.

So let me tell you how this crazy day started out. I must warn you, it’s not my finest moment. But at least I didn’t scream, ok?

Hubs and I went downstairs, to get directions to a store we wanted, and I happen to turn my head and I see HER!!! Now any normal person would be cool. But I, however, am not normal. So what do I do?? I hit my hubby and whisper, “Dear!! Dear, it’s her!! It’s Colleen Hoover!!” Poor guy, just rolls his eyes and is like, “Ok?? She’s a person like you and me. Go say hello.” Duh!! That makes sense!!

So I tap on her shoulder and she turns, smile and says, “Hi, Jenn!” and HUGS ME!!!! She knew who I was!!! AND I didn’t scream or faint. I think I deserve a gold star for that. I knew she was busy, so I didn’t ask for a pic or anything. I didn’t wanna be one of those kind of people. I figured I’d see her in the evening.

A few hours later, after seeing her a few more times, I was chatting with some friends that I finally got to meet, and guess who walks out of the elevator?? You guessed it. And guess who finally got up the nerve to ask for a picture??

chicago 010

So my day is complete now. I can go home a happy girl. But it doesn’t end there. Oh no. I’m a part of many book groups, secret and not so secret. So when this signing/concert was scheduled, I was thrilled to be able to meet a few, that I’ve only chatted on FB with. It felt like going home. It was wild!! Going to dinner and joking around with them, felt like I’ve know them all my life, instead of only a few months. I’m the one in the front left.

chicago 035

THEN the concert. WOW!! Griffin and his band were awesome!! We were in the front row and I couldn’t sit still. I was too excited. I mean look at this face!!

chicago 078

Griffin had his dad there also. It was so cool to see him up on stage with his dad. They did a great job. This video isn’t the best, but what do you expect from me?? 🙂

Since I already have all of her books signed, I grabbed a few for friends and a couple shirts for me. And everything is signed by Colleen and the guys in the band, including Griffin’s dad!

10262163_766866290019841_2772794483984653112_n

Here are few more of the things that happened.

10296591_766620480044422_583516785510087798_n

Yeah, I did this too. I claim temporary insanity.
10420231_766870016686135_2583782430645194407_n

10441277_765654776807659_9030100511112262215_n

10419621_766872520019218_7003463777091973876_n

There were over 300 people there. It was wild to see so many fans of both of them. They all signed books and things and took the time to snap pictures with everyone. I was so much fun waiting in line, chatting with the other fans. What was even more amazing, was that even though we were last, and the signing lasted three hours, all of them were still smiling and very friendly. It was great to see that. We’re their fans and they wanted to make us happy. And believe me, we left very happy. 🙂

~Melpomene

Buy the book, Maybe Someday

Buy the album, Maybe Someday

Review: That Night by Chevy Stevens

20140319-213038.jpgWhere to start with this one? Let me begin by saying that all passionate readers have that select group of favorite authors whose newest release is an eagerly anticipated, must-read. Chevy Stevens is one of those authors for me. Anytime she puts out a new story, I just know it’s going to be a good one. This newest selection did not disappoint.

Our protagonist is Toni, a young woman who is being released from prison after a long stint served for the murder of her teenage sister. Everyone, even Toni’s parents, were eventually convinced that she and boyfriend Ryan did indeed murder Nicole. Now seventeen years later, Toni is trying to get her life back on track and find some sense of normalcy, albeit a completely different kind of normal from the one she knew before her incarceration. However, the past has other plans. Enemies and secrets from the past begin to show their ugly heads, threatening to send Toni back to prison. Her only chance to save herself is to find out who is really responsible for her sister’s death.

I enjoyed this story and as a result finished it in a matter of a couple of days. It’s a great honor to read and review this work before it hits the stands. Chevy Stevens has been a favorite author of mine since I discovered Still Missing a few years ago. I will say that this story lacked some of the intensity of her previous stories. It wasn’t as pulse-pounding and page-turning as her earlier works. But, you really can’t go wrong when you pick one of her books off the shelf. You can always rely on a good, compelling story with intriguing characters. Add this one to your list, especially if you’ve enjoyed her other stories!

~Thalia

Buy it Now: That Night

Review: Just One Thing by Holly Jacobs

20140612-122043-44443951.jpg Loss is powerful. So powerful that sometimes people lose themselves because they are so distraught from the grief of losing someone else. In Just One Thing, Lexie didn’t function as her normal self anymore. She created a shell of a person in order to get through her days. Bartender Sam did the same thing.

And because they couldn’t crack their shells, to all at once release their authentic selves, they did it one thing at a time. Lexie and Sam exchanged one statement, one feeling, one story each week, until they formed a friendship– a real, honest, trusting friendship.

I loved hearing their “one things.” It’s rough to climb out of grief. It’s painful to trust someone again. Telling a friend one thing and being able to hold back the rest makes the climbing easier. It makes telling the NEXT thing easier. I totally sympathized with Lexie’s loss and grief and feeling of emptiness. And I knew she’d feel fulfilled again once she shed her shell.

I read for fun, you know, so I appreciated the wit, the poignancy, and the romance in Just One Thing. The story was about lifting up, healing, overcoming.

Lexie and Sam’s love story may have started out slowly and reluctantly, but when they healed enough to open up fully, they loved deeply and joyfully. Sigh. Dreamy, right? The whole book is dreamy. Deep and joyful love… that’s a happily-ever-after all day long.

-Calliope

buy JUST ONE THING

Review and Signed GIVEAWAY!!! If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

01if I remember reading this book two years ago and being positively devastated. I remember my family members walking in wondering why I was sobbing, but I was too consumed in my emotions to even speak. After I finished it, I thought to myself, “This would be a great movie.” So when I found out that they were making it into a movie, I was thrilled! The thought of reliving Mia’s past and her decision to stay or go, gives me chills. I can’t wait to cry!!

One snowy morning, Mia goes for a drive with her family and next thing you know her life has changed and she must decide whether or not to stay or go.

The book shows glimpses of her past, in order for her to choose. We see her loving family, her boyfriend, Adam, and what leads up to the hardest decision she’ll ever have to make. What would you do?? What would you choose??

Would you stay??

I have read this book three times, and every time I am overwhelmed with emotions. Watching her loved ones fall apart and keep each other together. Watching some tell her it’s okay to go, while others beg her to stay. Whew!!

“There are like twenty people in that waiting room right now. Some of them are related to you. Some of them are not. But we’re all your family.”

You still have a family.”

*wipes eyes*

~Melpomene

Buy If I Stay

10359045_763386420367828_2048054754345904072_o

Watch this trailer, and if you’ve never read this book, go and get it right now. You NEED to read it before the movie comes out, in August.

Review: Huckleberry Summer by Jennifer Beckstrand

20140612-125512-46512637.jpg Aahhh, young love! The tension, the fun, the sighing when you re-live a good date, the well-intentioned interference of the matchmaking grandparents…. Yeah.

Anna and Felty were successful in the match of their grandson Moses, and now they’ve moved on to shy Lily and brazen Aden. Beckstrand totally cracked me up with Lily blushing all the time, Aden the bad boy trying to be good, Felty and Anna bantering and giving sidelong glances. She writes likeable characters and strong dialogue. The story is meaty enough to sink into, but easy enough that I could read without working at it.

Aden and Lily’s love story was charming and believable. I liked how Aden kept persisting, even when Lily’s dad rejected him over and over again. The best part was when Lily used the strength of Aden’s love for her to stand up for herself. Brava, Lily!

I’ve fallen in love with these contemporary Amish young adults and their search for fun, friendship, and godly love. Bring on Book Three!

-Calliope

Read my review of book one, Huckleberry Hill.

buy HUCKLEBERRY SUMMER

Review: China Dolls by Lisa See

ChinaOh. My. Great. Goodness….and breathe….

Lisa See has really outdone herself with this one. I’m not at sure if she shouldn’t just put up her pen and call it a day…..this book was just so wonderful! I seriously wonder how she can ever top it….Most people if asked what this book was about would automatic reply with it’s about some Chinese and Japanese girls in San Francisco at the time leading up to, during and after WWII….But it’s not. To me, that’s the whole point. This is a story about 3 Americans from Chinese and Japanese descent. These ladies are every bit as American as any one else born and raised in the USA. Although your ancestry might help shape you, it does not define you. This is also the story of how people are judged and sometimes defined by their looks. This is the story of a great friendship. One that is true to life….but only if we are lucky. Yes, perhaps there will be parts that make you mad and wonder how anyone could call someone like that a friend, but this book broke my heart. It made me….no….it DEMANDED that I set my judgements aside….to leave them at the door and try to view the situation from someone else’s eyes. It made me seriously try to put myself in that time period. To imagine what it was like around me. The paranoia. The resentment. The sense of survival. Trying to maintain trust whilst everyone around you is pointing fingers. It reminds me that for some, trying to make peace with what you know, what is expected of you, what you want, and your own past…well, sometimes these things will never be reconciled. Sometimes the battles we fight in silence, within ourselves….well they are the bravest….and often the ones that are never celebrated.

When will any of us be judged solely on their own merits? By only their own actions? I know that’s a Pollyanna view and an unrealistic desire….but why? Why must we judge on the colour of skin? On our family? On our ancestors? On our Country? On all of the very things that we are powerless to change? Yet, the things within our power….those are the last things to come to be judged by…..

Yes, I won’t say that parts of this book didn’t just break my heart. That it didn’t depress me. It did. However, these characters were so rich to me. I fell in love with so many of them. I understood so many of them. I admired so many of them. I could sympathize with so many of them….even the ones I was angry with. By the way Lisa See presented them to me, well, even though I knew they were unyielding in their actions, even though I was angry and upset by this….I understood why they were that way….even if I didn’t agree or like it. However, the main characters of this book….wow…just wow….I can’t imagine going through what any one of them endured. Let alone coming out like they did. The courage they displayed. At their tenaciousness. How easy would it have been for any one of them to just throw in the towel and to despair at life. How easy it would be to just look at the actions of others and to toss them aside and never give them another thought….instead of looking at only actions, each one found it within themselves to try to understand the reason for the actions…Some would argue that this makes them too soft-hearted and gullible. I disagree. It is, in fact, much harder to set aside our own feelings and try to understand another’s…..

We should all be so lucky to have people around us like this….

No one ever does something without a reason…..nothing ever happens just “out of the blue”. Our past does define our future…..This doesn’t forgive anyone of any wrong doing…..but if we are to be judged by circumstances that are completely out of our control, shouldn’t we at least be forgiven for those within our control that we try to set right?

Read this book. Please. But leave your preconceived ideas of “china dolls” at the door. For me, this was not a novel about some night club dancers. That couldn’t be further from the truth….

I realise that my review might not convey how much I loved this book….

Let me set the record straight….right here….right now….

I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book…..I already miss Grace, Ruby, Helen and Eddie…..because they are no longer in my current read, I will gladly just keep them in my heart and hope they continue to encourage me to look deeper….

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now China Dolls by Lisa See

Review: The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story, by R.J.Palacio

01won Choose kind.

I decided to take a break from the romance books I’ve been reading lately. So I was searching Amazon and cam across this little book. I was pleasantly surprised to see it. I had no idea this was coming! But if you haven’t read Wonder, please stop and go do that first. I’ll wait………

Done? Good. Wasn’t it beautiful?? I read it last year and then made me kids read it. I personally think every child should read it. Bullying is a very real thing. No matter what it’s about- looks, color, speech, whatever- bullying is a very real issue and should be stopped.

This little book, is from Julian’s point of view. He was the lead bully. We never knew what he was thinking., We only saw his actions. Now, I know some people think, “He’s just in 5th grade.” “It’s what boys do.” “He’s only playing around.” Well, it’s not right. Teasing and joking is WAY different than bullying.

Julian had so much going on, behind the scenes, I honestly felt bad for him. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to throttle him, while he was being mean, but after reading this book, I get it. I got him. I understood why he acted the way he did. I understood the fears that he felt. I understood the confusion that was swarming around him.

I highly recommend this little extra chapter, after you’ve read Wonder. If you are dealing with bullying, this may give you a bit of insight as to why kids do the things they do. We may not agree with them, but we will have a better understanding of them.

~Melpomene

Buy The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story (Kindle Single)

Buy Wonder

Preorder 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts

Review: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

20140531-184956-67796453.jpgHow close to slipping over the edge is the average wife and mother? Everything looks nice and pretty on the outside, but can we truly ever know what’s going on in someone’s head? Work responsibilities, carpool duties, housekeeping, grocery shopping, household budgeting…these are all things that many women find themselves juggling. And they seem to do it all without batting an eye.

Allison Weiss is that woman. She’s a successful writer/Internet blogger whose name is steadily climbing the ladder of success. She has a beautiful, sprawling house in the suburbs. And she has a handsome husband who she adores as well as a precocious daughter. But she also harbors a secret. She gets by with some help from a friend in a little bottle. What started out as a legitimate excuse for a strained back has now worked its way into an everyday occurence. As her life becomes increasingly hectic, her prescription drug use escalates. Dad recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, mom lost without him, hubby becoming closer and closer to his “work wife”, daughter Ellie continuing to be a difficult five year old…these are all things that send her running back to her doctors time and again for a new prescription. When that fails to work,she discovers a world of online drug dealing. What once was a few pills a day habit eventually turns into twenty plus pills a day. It takes a near tragedy to bring Allison to her senses. But even then, the road to recovery is not an easy one.

This was an outstanding book for me. The author expertly explores the subject of prescription drug abuse in a highly believable manner. It’s easy to see how an average, run of the mill mom would spiral out of control. So many demands are placed on parents these days, with moms being held accountable most of the time. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure to live the perfect life and to keep up appearances to outsiders. The story also serves as a warning, without being preachy, for those who might find themselves at the edge of that precipice. This was my first full-length novel by Jennifer Weiner, but it definitely won’t be my last. Grab this one and stick it in your bag for the beach!

~Thalia

Buy it Now: All Fall Down: A Novel