The Truth about Emily Bronte: Solsbury Hill by Susan M Wyler Book Review

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Solsbury Hill

By: Susan M Wyler

Read by: Kate Reading

Released: April, 2014 by Blackstone Audio

Length: Seven Hours and 40 minutes

Genre: Fiction– Gothic

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: audible.com

What do you do when you find you boyfriend with another woman? You answer your phone and fly to England to visit a dying relative you barely know. There, your life really begins. And, there, you meet the ghost of Emily Bronte and the secrets of your family begin to reveal itself.

 

Eleanor Sutton Abbott’s life is about to change. When she finds her fiance with another woman, she doesn’t know what to do. Then she receives a sudden phone call from her estranged Aunt’s partner to come visit her in England because she was very sick. Devastated by her fiance, she decides to fly to England without a real plan. There, her life changes. She meets Meadowscarp MacLeod, a Scot who her aunt raised from birth.  He quickly ignites something inside her; as well as the mysterious woman she keeps seeing– the ghost of Emily Bronte. Wuthering Heights lies in the background of this modern Gothic novel, as Eleanor searches for Emily’s hidden letters to ease her pain over choosing her brother over the love of her life Robert. Soon Eleanor discovers her own family secrets, one involving Emily herself.

Listening to this book on audio was great. The voices the narrator did were fantastic. I loved hearing her change from narrator to characters.  The novel itself was alluring and drew me in immediately. Although I was a little misled; I thought it was going to be a retelling of Wuthering Heights. However, I loved the novel regardless. The mysterious connection between her and Emily Bronte was great. It was fascinating, drew me in, and was creative. I secretly wished it was true. It brought out a new side to Emily Bronte.

Meadowscarp (Mead) was my favorite character. I liked how he was looking for his Catherine. I liked everything about him, really. Eleanor was also a very strong character. I loved all the characters, minus the cheating Miles who I always yelled out.

This book got me involved. I would be vocal at most parts. Especially when Miles would appear. I would highly recommend this novel. Especially if you have any love towards or fascination with Emily Bronte. Although I prefer Charlotte, I enjoyed ghost Emily’s arc. The revelations, too. Oh my!

This is one of my must read summer books. A great choice. It didn’t take me long to get into and finish the book. Only two or three days. I hope you pick it up!

Happy reading!

And the Bird Says Coo: Dr.Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

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Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets

By: Evan Roskos

Released: March, 2013 by Harcourt Brace and Company

Length: 320 Pages

Genre: YA realistic contemporary-mental illness: anxiety, depression, cutting

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: Gift

 

James Whitman may not be Walt Whitman, but wishes he was. It’s better than being 16, living with a Brute and a Banshee for parents; as well as having your older sister kicked out of the house for a reason not so clear, Then there’s the depression and anxiety; plus, a pigeon for a therapist. Yes, being Walt may be better, but then this novel wouldn’t be so heartbreaking and funny; or touching and true to life.

Sixteen year old James Whitman is struggling. His older sister just got kicked out by his parents, the Brute and the Banshee. He doesn’t have many friends. His depression and anxiety is getting worse; his therapist Dr. Bird can only say so much. He’s determined to get his sister back into school after she was expelled for a reason unknown to him; and, back under the same roof. The truth he discovers is not what he expected at all. His sister was struggling much worse than he ever knew. When asked by his crush, the adorable Beth, to search for his sister’s final submission to the literary magazine, he finds out something disturbing– his sister was a cutter. Her piece had become more private and focused on her cutting with pieces of razor blades attached.

This new information, and a budding friendship with Beth, takes James on a new journey of self-discovery and what is truly going on in his life that he has ignored. It is at times heart breaking, other times funny, endearing, and sometimes sweet and inspiring. It’s a touching story about growing up and about family; being there for them and what it means to be a family.

I loved this story. I have wanted to read this book since it came out last year, but never got around to it. I’m glad I finally did. Here’s my plug. For the Nook (that’s what I have. I’m anti-kindle) it is $1.99. It is worth it. A quick read, it really affected me. There was raw honesty, great character development, the plot was entertaining and engaging, and it leaves you satisfied. I highly recommend it. It didn’t feel just like another YA book. It was very realistic; and, I think even adults would benefit from reading it. You get a sense of how hard High School can be, the effects and causes of self-mutilation (all which is very real in the book), and the reality that teens can get depression and anxiety. Some people brush it off as just puberty, but it’s real. Roskos does a nice job not being too clinical about it or bashing us in the head with it. It was all done very nicely. There is also a lot of poetry by Whitman which was really good. I enjoyed reading poems of his that I didn’t know. Overall, I believe it’s a book that should be read. Especially by teens. But, it’s just so universal, I think. And, who wants to miss out reading sessions between a pigeon therapist and James?

Happy reading!

Maybe isn’t Always Positive: The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson Book Review

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The Opposite of Maybe

By: Maddie Dawson

Released: April 8th, 2014 by Broadway Books

Length: 400 Pages

Genre: Women’s Literature

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via Netgalley

 

This is what happens when you settle: your boyfriend of over fifteen years decides to move the both of you across country to start up a museum full of teacups with a guy he met most, leaving behind your 88 year old grandmother- you sprain your foot, have a mini-break down and stay with her, then find out your pregnant after you both decided from day one to never have kids. Throw in a hot gardener/housekeeper and you have a novel about second choices and chances worth the reader’s while.

After fifteen years together, and no ring in sight, Rosie and Jonathon have lived a life together that perfectly suited them–until he gets a call to help start a teacup museum in California that prompts an impromptu proposal at a diner. But, when they wedding plans go sour, and Jonathon has to cancel, Rosie begins to awaken from her fifteen years of comfortable slumber. From there, after a fight and calling off the move, Jonathon continues his journey to California without her as she moves back in with her eighty-eight year old, accident prone Grandmother who has conveniently forgotten to tell her about the handsome, younger new help she has hired.

Tony is also at a difficult stage in is life. He just found out his wife and mother to his child is a lesbian; and, is now living with his best friend’s wife. The new lover won’t allow Tony to see his son very often, forcing him to sneak around to see him and hide in his car.

It is Tony who first suggests forty-four year old “I can’t get pregnant, I’m too old” Rosie is pregnant. She said that line a couple of times. But, surprise, she gets pregnant anyway! As Jonathon was always anti-kids, Tony becomes the one really there for her. Could he be more…

I read this book in one afternoon it was that good. I just couldn’t put it down. Every chance I got that day, my nose was in that book. All the characters were great. Jonathon was approximately boring and self-centered. Rosie’s grandmother Soapie was fantastic. She had wit, brains, and attitude. I loved her; and wished, at times, she was my Grandmother. Tony had a scene that melted my heart. I cried, I really really did. I read his speech twice and cried. It was realistic, meaningful, and not forced at all. He was possibly my favorite character. Rosie was great, too. I liked how she grew on her own. Once she got rid of Jonathon, she became a better person.

This was just an overall great book. There aren’t many bad things, if any, to say about the book. I loved them all. Rosie had snark that I loved. The characters were developed well. The plot moved along nicely. I would recommend this book as a nice afternoon beach read. You will get sucked in almost immediately. I know I did. It is one of those books you get a lot out of, but don’t need to put much energy into. It really is a great, quick fun read. I hope you give it a chance.

Happy reading!

 

A Great End to a Great Series: Emerald Green (Ruby Red, #3) by Kerstin Gier Book Review

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Emerald Green (Ruby Red, #3)

By: Kerstin Gier Narrated by Marisa Calin

Released: October, 2013 by Macmillian Audio

Length: Audio 12 Hours and 42 Minutes

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: purchased via audible.com

 

We’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard…oh wait wrong book. We’re off to see a made up Count to close the Circle of Twelve so illnesses can be cured. Or, are we?

Two weeks ago, Gwen’s perfect cousin Charlotte was the Ruby, the Raven, the last time traveler of a circle of twelve–a secret society based on two families of time travelers. But, Charlotte wasn’t the Ruby. It was Gwen, whose  real day of birth was a secret, among other things, creating an uproar. Now, with a little bit of training, a demon ghost friend, and her best friend Leslie, Gwen isn’t so bad at time traveling. But, the mysteries are piling up. The pressure is building to close the Circle of Twelve. And, Lucy and Paul, two time travelers on the run with the original chronograph that allows all time travels to go to specific places in time, are still a sore subject. Gwen is starting to find out what they know–why the circle shouldn’t close. And, it’s big.

Then, there’s hot and cold Gideon. I love You/ I don’t love you. With his feelings constantly in flux, Gwen spends the time not crying with her grandfather discovering more secrets, and getting closer to the truth. Thankfully, Gideon makes an honest man of himself and is upfront. Now, time to save the day you two–together, preferably.

Gier’s final book in her YA fantasy trilogy was excellent. I loved every twist, turn, revelation, and final reveal. I was stunned at the end at who someone really was. The surprises were great. Listening to it on audio made me feel more there with all the action.  Marisa Calin, who has narrated the whole series, was a joy to listen to again. This was a great finale. Everything I would want to happen, happened. I was right about one of my hunches (and, I love being right!). There were intriguing turn of events I didn’t see coming. I think this was truly the best in the series. It was truly the strongest send of a third and final book could be.

I would truly recommend this series. I was never disappointed. There were never any parts I wanted to really skip. The characters were all amusing, well developed and crafted. The time traveling was interesting and fun. The mysteries were intriguing and kept my attention the whole time. This is definitely a good series to start. I normally don’t finish series. I get bored with them so easily. This one, I just couldn’t help but finish it. I’m so happy I did. I am completely satisfied. I hope you consider this series. It’s a very quick read. It is even more fun to listen to because Calin does fantastic voices. Give Ruby Red a try and fall in love with Emerald Green like I did. You won’t regret it.

Nora Ephron would be pleased: What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin Book Review

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What Nora Knew

By: Linda Yellin

Released January 21, 2014 by Gallery Books

Length: 336 Pages

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

One Assignment to write about love, channeling Nora Ephron. One cynic journalist. One love-enthused crime writer who kills all his main character’s girlfriends.  One story Nora Ephron would give her stamp of approval

 

Molly Hallberg is a thirty-nine year old cynic, but don’t tell her that. Divorced from a high powered divorce lawyer, Molly knows she hasn’t found “the one”. Instead, she is dating Russel, the chiropractor. Russell is stable, a pragmatist, and lacks romance. Molly feels settled. When she is assigned to write about soul mates in the tone of Nora Ephron, Molly knows she is the last person who should be assigned the article; and the truth is, she was the last choice. When she tries to create a romantic dinner for Russell, it fizzles. They settle into each other, both knowing neither are the romantic types, but that’s OK.

Cue You’ve Got Mail. During Memorial Day weekend at the Hamptons, Molly meets her match in fellow writer Cameron Duncan. A famous crime writer, Cameron kills off every girlfriend in his Mike Bing novels; while still managing to make every woman reader swoon. Molly doesn’t believe he’s sincere as he says Sleepless in Seattle his one of his favorite films. Like Joe Fox, Cameron Duncan starts to appear everywhere, infuriating Molly; but slowly waking her up in the perfect Nora Ephron way. 

Does the article turn out great? Does she even write it? Well, you’ll just have to read the book because there may be some predictable surprises. I could definitely see this book being adapted to film. It’s a great homage to Nora Ephron, but it’s the characters that are so great. Molly is so much like Kathleen from You’ve Got Mail. The cynicism is spot on. The references to the movies. The way the plot moves; even the slight character growth. I read this book surprisingly in one day. I laughed a lot. And, I admit, cried at two spots. Cameron Duncan was a great character. And, so was Dr. Russell. How boring and simple. There is a scene in the book, a realization between Molly and Russell that I think many couples who have felt stagnant in their relationship can relate to. It is a very relatable book that truly reads like a romantic comedy movie. I will see it in theaters if it gets adapted into film. I hope it does. It would be a pity if it didn’t. The material is all there.

If you are a fan of romantic comedies; or, looking for a light, fun read this book is it. Spring is near. Summer, too. It’d be a great beach read. Yellin really nails the romance aspect. What it’s like to feel stuck in a relationship, in life. To meet that one person who drives you crazy.  To be closed then open. I hope you give this book a once over. It’s worth a read. 

Searching for an unusual stone: Stones by Polly Johnson Book Review

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Stones

By Polly Johnson

Released December, 2013 by Harper Collins UK Digital 

Length: 300 pages

Genre: YA realistic-alcoholism, coming of age

Rating: four stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Coo is like every sixteen year old girl- her friend is a drunken tramp she found by the sea

Corrine “Coo” at just sixteen has already lost her older brother, Sam to alcoholism. Sam wasn’t a fun drunk. He wasn’t the life of the party. On the contrary. He scared her all the time. The story starts off with him abusing her; yet, it turns out he’s been dead for almost a year. He often stole money from her parents, things from her bedroom like a chess set, and was extremely violent towards everyone in the house; but, no one would say anything. Coo’s parents would never stop Sam, just give him money and support his addiction. Almost a year later, and Coo s telling her story: meeting a boy she tries to let in, Joe, who doesn’t let her in, then meeting a mysterious drunken tramp named Banks who becomes the main character in her life. She can’t seem to figure him out or let him go. He reminds her so much of Sam. Although she won’t admit it, she wants to save him; have him be her new Sam although she will stand by her hatred for her older brother by eight years.

The chapters start off with a little random tidbit, or quote that mostly relates to the chapter. Some of them made me smile. There was the definition of a tramp, mince pie, a meaningful quote, and some funny Coo commentaries. There is something so deep and raw in every sentence and thought that is written.  Take the title for example- stones. The “tramp” Banks tells Coo that if she ever has a question all she has to do is stick her hand out for a pebble and if she finds a special, different pebble then she found the right answer. And, that in Heaven there is a new stone waiting for everyone. There is something about those two things that stick with me. The imagery and symbolism. 

There are two quotes I actually added on goodreads.com that I loved so much and couldn’t believe no one else added them: 

 

“Right now he’s like the ocean at night- you know it’s there, but even though the lights are coming on you can’t see it and all you know of it is washing sound somewhere sighing in the back room of a house when they think no one is listening.”

and

“How is it that time can be elastic? Sometimes years seem to go by while you’re looking the other way, and sometimes-when you most long for it to pass-life-times can stretch from a few hours”  

Johnson is a talented writer.  That being said, she did an excellent job of depicting what it is like to be an alcoholic, living with an alcoholic, and the aftermath of it all. I think this was a great story in every way. I really would recommend this, although it is not for everyone. I do sometimes give recommendations lightly because I am a very open minded reader. Some of the parts in this novel is graphic. In my opinion, at least. It is very true to the disease. And, the disease is ugly. There is abuse. Sexual, albeit a tiny bit, and physical. It is not a long book, but it took it’s emotional toll on me. And, it may on you. I don’t want that to deter you though. I do think this is an important topic, and a topic that isn’t looked at much from this perspective, point of view, and format.  

I hope you consider reading this book. Like I said about John Green’s Paper Towns, this is one book where I can see it being a benefit for kids to be required to reading it in schools. So many kids drink early on in high school. Coo’s brother was only twenty-three when he died. It’s just an important lesson. Plus, homelessness is a HUGE issue in this novel as well. Something I have also been passionate as a child about. This is one of those universal life lessons books that, if taught, could make a difference, I think. Johnson writes so well I can’t see it not making even a little impact. Alas, I am not a teacher and don’t intend on becoming one.

 

Happy reading!

Searching for the Stain: Just One Year (Just One Day, #2) by Gayle Forman Book Review

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Just One Year (Just One Day, #2)

Gayle Forman

Released October, 2013 by Dutton’s Children

Length: 323 pages

Genre: YA realistic fiction/romance

Rating: 4 Stars

Acquired: purchased on audible.com

 

Willem de Ruiter has been stained. And now it’s his turn to speak and remember just one day.

Just One Year starts off in Paris when Willem leaves Allyson sleeping. Where, in Just One Day, you don’t know where he went or why, you begin in the hospital with Willem as he suffered a concussion and can’t remember much of anything–especially Lulu/Allyson. He is desperate to remember, piecing together that he left someone. Throughout the novel are pieces, pieces he remembers, what he wished he did differently, and pieces of conversations he wished they had. Pieces of the love he shared with her, it’s all there. His feelings are at times raw, heart-wrenching, and slightly scattered brained.

Where in Just One Day you read about Allyson’s struggles to adjust, then her search for him, his starts sooner than hers did, in a way. I was especially happy when he went to Mexico, but missed her. You learned more about his past, including the story of how his parents meant, the affects it had on him, and the affects and similarities it has with his “story” with Lulu.

Of course the adventure was there. There were comedic parts, especially when certain things went wrong. He lived his life without Allyson, but she never “left him” in the sense he carried her with him. Although in the beginning he gets a new girlfriend (no spoiler alert, it’s in the first 50 pages) he starts to change.

Willem’s tagline, or concept really, on life is accidents.

“Accidents. It’s all about the accidents.”

There is some truth to that, even truth that reflects in my life.

“Sometimes the wind blows you places you weren’t expecting: sometimes it blows you away from those places, too.”

From Mexico, to India, back to Amsterdam, the wind blows Willem to different places that all remind him of one thing, or person: Lulu/Allyson. One of my favorite quotes about her is

“It was just one day and it’s been just one year. But maybe one day is enough. Maybe one hour is enough. Maybe time has nothing at all to do with it”

Maybe all it takes is just one day to fall in love. Forman might be after something there. Even when you fall in love with some, start to love them, even if it happens over time there is a particular instant where you know; you know that was when love hit. In that moment, on that day.

 

I would highly recommend this book. Especially if you read he first. I never read Where She Went by Forman, although I read If I stay and loved it. This was a first read for me of hers where the narrator was a male; and, where events overlapped, but not completely identical. I listened to it on audio, so it took a little longer for me to finish. I do think if I read it, I might have liked it more; the narrator’s voice on the audio took a little to get used to. I still think this is a good book to swoon to because the few swoony moments there are really are swoon-worthy. And Willem is so insightful. Really a majority of the people he meets are. There are plenty of quotes I bookmarked on goodreads. Thank you Forman for a good, sweet conclusion and fun adventure.

“Loving someone is such an inherently dangerous act. And yet, love, that’s where safety lives.”

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