Review: Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Looking for the perfect beach read this summer? Well look no further. This latest offering from Jennifer Weiner is just the thing for lounging with your toes in the sand. Actually, that’s exactly where I started it and finished it two days later. It was that good!

Bethie and Jo, Jo and Bethie. Sisters. Such a complicated word full of implications. Their lives have not been easy, and their relationship has not been ideal. But they’ve always been there for each other through a multitude of tragedies and dramas.

Over the course of their lifetimes, their paths crisscross back and forth between what they dreamed for themselves and what reality gives them. Each sister finds herself at odds with what she’d imagined for her life. There are struggles with sexuality, childhood traumas, family deaths, difficult and overbearing parents, lost loves, and so much more.

This book is so much. It’s a reflection on changing times as we begin in 1950’s era Detroit and end in the year 2016. Society changes, both a lot and not so very much at the same time. It’s a tale of family, whatever that may be. I found myself pulled in from the very first page. When the journey came to an end, I was at a loss. Definitely five stars!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Mrs. Everything

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Review: The Memory of Butterflies by Grace Greene

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I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  I sometimes get behind in my book reviews.  And then when it’s time to write those reviews, a sufficient amount of time has passed that my memory is a bit hazy on some of the finer details.  Surely that never happens to anyone else, right?  Such is the case with this book by Grace Greene.  Several months have gone by since I finished it.  Several months in which many other books were read.  I’m not going to try to bluff my way through a detailed review.  I’m just going to say that I absolutely loved this story.  It’s full of family love and heartbreak, secrets revealed and still hidden.  It tugs at your heartstrings.  So read it.  And don’t wait as long as I did to review it!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Memory of Butterflies

Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

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What can I say about Jodi Picoult?  Her stories have moved me in ways few others have been able to.  From the stories of families lost to love found, she gets me every time.  For some reason this one had slipped by me until recently.  And that’s a shame, because it’s one of her best to date.

Jenna is a child without a mother, and also very much without a father.  Her mom disappeared years ago after a tragic accident (or not?) at the family’s elephant sanctuary.  And her dad, for all intents and purposes, is lost to her as well as he wastes away in a mental institution.  Even though she has the love of her grandmother, she just can’t come to terms with the fact that her mom is not in her life.  Is it because she doesn’t want to be or because she can’t?  So Jenna enlists the help of a washed-up psychic along with the detective from the decade old case.  With their help, can she finally figure out what happened all those years ago?

Playing a central role in the story are the elephants.  Not just the physicalness of them, but of the similarities between their emotions and the emotions of humans.  So very different, but so very much alike.  For anyone who thinks these animals don’t feel, don’t love, don’t grieve,  I dare you to make that argument after reading this book.

This book is about so many things.  It’s about a child without a mother, a missing person, an unsolved mystery, and of course, the elephants.  It’s a cliffhanger until the very end.  And just in case you think you’ve figured it out before the last chapter, you’re wrong…

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Leaving Time

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

mebeforeThis is another prime example of why I don’t read book descriptions. If I had read this book’s description I doubt if I would have given it a chance…If I had done that I would have missed out on this fantastic novel.

Yes, I won’t lie…it is sad….I would even say it is somewhat predictable. I knew long before the reader was *told* what was going on. I also knew how it would end. However, I will say that unlike a “Nicolas Spark” (yes, I am about to be negative about NS, get over it) I did not feel like the ending was done just to jerk on the readers emotional chain. I don’t feel like it was done for shock value. I feel it was done to keep the book honest.

It doesn’t really matter if you agree with the choices the characters made for their future (without giving massive spoilers here it is very difficult to discuss this novel)…the point of the novel is that it is ultimately the character’s own choice. No matter how much we love someone. No matter how much we want to do the right thing….at the end of the day we have to love those in our lives enough to let them make their own choices, even if we disagree with them with every fiber of our being.

Moyes does a fabulous job of pointing this out. Of, hopefully, making the reader aware that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge the actions of others. That we should never ever say what is right for another person.

I think much of the public think that the choices discussed in this novel are *easy* choices…or an *easy* way out of a terrible situation. After reading this novel I’m pretty sure it’s obvious that this just isn’t the case. Bravery and selflessness is shown by all the characters in this novel. Yes, it is something they are all struggling with….but at the end of the day they all put away their own desires to support an unbearable end…

I had my own personal beliefs about issues discussed in this book before I read it. I still have the same outlook after reading it. Bottom line….you have no idea of the struggles people go though, even those that are closet to you and ones that you love. You have no right to press your viewpoints on to someone else. You have no right to tell someone what they must do, even if you do so with the very best intentions….As humans we have a basic obligation to respect each other’s wishes and to not pass judgement on something we don’t have a clue about. No one knows how they would act in a situation until they are actually in THAT situation. You can tell yourself a million times that “I would never make that choice”, but until you’re forced to do so you really can’t be sure….

Yea…yea….yea….I know this is a rubbish review and you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about….so stop reading it already and go out and read the damn book whydon’tcha?

Until next time….
Urania xx

Buy it now Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Review – Winter of the World by Ken Follett.

12959233What a tour de force! So far, I’ve spent around 2000 pages, and countless hours inside the world that Ken Follett has created for his Century Trilogy. I’ve just finished Winter of the World – book two of the Century Trilogy, and all I can say is wow!
Continuing on from where book one left us, Winter of the World explores the lives of our favourite characters, as well as their offspring. Just like in book one, we are treated to a snapshot of these characters daily interactions against some of the major occurrences of the 20th century. As we know, Follett is an expert at covering huge events, with a huge amount characters, in a way that doesn’t leave the reader confused or exasperated. Setting his story mainly within WWII, and masterfully managing to show all the different perspectives that helped to shape this period, Follett allows us to see life – both from the view of everyday citizens and government officials – unfold, and indeed the consequences that occur from the smallest action, to the biggest action.
I’m not going to lie to you: When reading a book of this magnitude, page length and content matter included, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. You get so invested in Follett’s world, that you begin to forget your own world, and then when you get sucked back into reality, it can be hard to get back into the alternate reality. I had to take a break for a week or two, but after that, I got straight back into it and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Sequels are usually nowhere near as good as their predecessor; however, in this case, I actually enjoyed it slightly more. I think it was more to do with the time period rather than the actual writing or story, so do not let that put you off starting this trilogy. All in all, this is another 5 star result from Follett, and I cannot wait to get stuck into the final book!
~ Pegasus.
Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy

Review: Golden State by Michelle Richmond

goldenstate***Sneak Peek Review! “Golden State” will be released on February 4, 2014***

I picked up a book years ago that was entitled “The Year of The Fog”. I devoured it in hours. I absolutely loved it. I rushed out, purchased multiple copies and sent them out in the mail to the only readers I knew at the time. I then proceeded to read her other works. Sadly, that’s been over 7 years ago! I’ve never forgotten how much I enjoyed TYotF and I often browse looking for a new release from Richmond. I joined up for her newsletter via her website and heard very little. Then FINALLY!!! I got an email that said she had a new book coming out! I quickly checked my ARC websites and saw the book in both NetGalley and Edelweiss….I quickly applied to both sites to snag my copy…and surprisingly enough I was approved by both websites. I can’t remember being so excited about a book for a while now.

It wasn’t soon that I was completely worn out from hooting and hollering and dancing around the house from all of my excitement. Suddenly, as I sat down to catch my breath, I was dejected. I had waited so long for this book to be written, now it was here…what if I hate it? What if the love I felt for TYotF was just a fluke? What if I am so disappointed in this novel that it even takes away from my previous feelings of obsession to getting to my next Michelle Richmond read? What if the writing is so awful that I start to doubt what I felt in the past? I was torn….to start the book or to stare at its cover for a time and just imagine what might be between the covers?

Heck!!!!!!! You guys know me, RIGHT???????? I ripped into this baby so fast!!!!! I couldn’t wait to start it! Was I disappointed? Heck no!!!!!! It’s a Michelle Richmond novel! I absolutely loved it from start to finish!

I think I might have loved it even a bit more than TYotF….

This novel is a day in the life of Doctor Julie Walker. Of course, it’s no ordinary day. California is in the midst of a game changing election day. Her sister needs her help pronto. Her Jeep is broken into. And two men in her life are not where she needs them to be. And this ladies and gentlemen is only the beginning….

Now let me forthright and honest here for just a moment….I wish there was a bit more to the ending…that Richmond had taken it just a little bit further…I wanted to see just a smidgen more of the side story of the novel (and for sake of spoilers, that’s all I will say on that subject)

Also, it needs pointed out that Richmond has a unique writing style. She doesn’t blurt out the plots. They are just there…yes, you sort of know what they are, but at the same time, you’re not 100% sure. All the while, Richmond drops bread crumbs along the trail and confirms her story or throws in a small twist that has you wondering….

At the same time, she jumps back and forth. It can be frustrating if you want things laid out in a straight path to follow. One moment, the main character is in the present, the next second she is 3 hours earlier or a decade earlier. The only way you have to follow is to simply LISTEN to thoughts of the main character. Soon enough, if you just relax, you can follow along just fine.

I was sitting there after I finished the book, pondering it all (did I mention I LOVED the book?) and I realised, really, think about it, isn’t that how we really are? We jump from the present to what we had for breakfast this morning…and then a moment later a song, or a smell, or for some reason we don’t even know, think back to a time in our past. To a memory. Pondering how we got to this place in time. Memories are a great tool. They help us live our current lives and they help shape our futures as well. Memories are not just something that we leave behind and forget. We never know when they are going to hit us.

I think that is why I love Richmond so much. She has a way of writing that I really feel like I can connect with the character. I am there with them, confronting the memories. Dealing with their guilt. Or their anger. Or their confusion. I am there feeling them realise their imperfections. Accepting their blame. I am the one trying to find forgiveness. I am the one who is trying to change for the better. I can’t recommend this book enough. I really can’t. I won’t say that it’s a perfect format for writing. I won’t say this is a literary gem that will challenge all the writings throughout time. But I will say, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT YOU HOLD HOLY, DO NOT MAKE ME WAIT ANOTHER 7 YEARS FOR THE NEXT BOOK, MICHELLE RICHMOND!!!!

Bwhahahahahahaahahahaha….go get this book!!!! As fast as you can! Still not convinced? Maybe a few quotes will do for you…

I understand how families become estranged, not by design, but by embarrassment. You come to a point when so much time has passed that it seems impossible to make the first move.

We tend to see life as a continuum, Julie, but really, it’s a series of phases, generating a series of different selves. You leave one life behind and start another. And each time, a different version of yourself emerges.

I guess I’m just stuck on the idea that there’s this monumental machine, and we’re all part of it. Most of the time, we don’t even stop to think about how it works. We just go about our business, doing our part, trusting that everyone else will do their part, and the machine will keep functioning. But all it takes is for someone to come along who isn’t thinking straight, some who’s not paying attention, or worse, hell-bent on self-destruction and everything turns to shit.

Go on then! Buy the book!!!!

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now Golden State

ARC provided by NetGalley and Edelweiss for an honest review.