Book Excerpts: Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

*****Then Came You

” . . . All I’d wanted was for someone to be happy for me — happy with me, straight up happy, not happy with questions, or happy with reservations, or happy but confused, or not happy at all . . . and there was no one in my life, including my husband, who fit the bill. . . .”

Been there, felt this.  (Rarely to include my husband, but yes, it has happened – though more often when I hit a place like this, he’s the only one who Does feel (whatever, doesn’t always have to be happy – sometimes indignant, sometimes just plain mad) for me.

Again, we have a book with only one lonely little quote.  This one I did finish, but I didn’t think it rose to the level of Jennifer Weiner’s other books.  I could see where it was going about halfway through, and it could have been lovely, but somehow it felt somewhat disjointed to me.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Excerpts: P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

*****P.S. I Love You

” . . . She had felt relief, . . . She felt relieved to have known him, to love him and to be loved by him, . . .”

Strange, an odd way to put it, to be sure.  And yet, it makes sense to me, it speaks to me.

” He was the drill sergeant of his own body, screaming at and punishing himself every time he lapsed into human mode.  But he did it to himself, and the sad thing was that he thought he was better off than everyone else for it.”

I sometimes resemble that remark, find myself falling into that trap.  It seems somewhere vacillating between virtuous and arrogant, but it’s really not very self-loving.

“Days went by when she felt so happy and content and confident that her life would be OK, and then as quickly as the feeling came it would disappear again, and she would feel her sadness setting in once more.”

Been there, felt that – more than once – and having nothing to do with losing a loved one.  I’ve seen (and will likely continue to see) this one step forward-two steps back pattern in my continued post-cancer life.

“Deep down, she knew it was normal to feel like this, she didn’t particularly think she was losing her mind.  She knew that people said that one day she would be happy again and that this feeling would just be a distant memory.  It was getting to that day that was the hard part.”

Losing a loved one – dealing with cancer: potato – potahto.

” . . . she cried for herself with big, thick, heaving sobs that hurt her ribs whenever she tried to catch her breath.”

Okay, this one I do remember from grieving someone I love certainly (and maybe a time or two of cancer self-pity too).

This is another book that I, unfortunately, couldn’t finish.  In this case, however, it is because I saw the movie before reading the book, loved the movie (it actually makes my short list of movies I like to have on for company if I’m puttering around my house), but significant changes were made in the screenplay vs. the original book, which just no longer did the deal for me.  Hence, I grabbed a few quotes (above) and moved on with my life.  🙂

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Read by Kevin Collins

Beautiful Creatures

From Goodreads.com:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything….

My Thoughts on the Matter:

Possible Spoiler Alert!

First, this is an audiobook, so I “listened to” it rather than “read” it.  With audiobooks, the narrator can often make or break a book.  In this case the narrator is fantastic, so good job choosing him.

Speaking of ‘him,’ I hit the end of this book in the middle of my commute one day and wasn’t sure I had the next one in the series downloaded and ready to go.  Consequently, I ended up listening to the first part of an interview with the authors that was tacked on to the end of the audiobook.

The first thing the interviewer focused on was the fact that, unlike much of YA these days, our book is written from a boy’s point of view instead of a girl’s point of view.  This point of the interview caught my attention, because it was something that had not occurred to me once during my “listen” of the book.  I say this as a compliment to the authors.  This was done so well that I Did Not notice it as being out of the norm, and it Did Not interfere with the story drawing me in, which it most certainly did.

Also, the authors have written a very smart book, bringing new and clever language to the age-old themes of good vs. evil and human vs. non-human (or not-entirely-human).  I love the names they give to categories of creatures.  They’re creative and make sense at the same time.

The story takes you where you want it to go, sometimes, and skillfully exposes new information along the way, keeping the reader interested without straying from the realm of (created) possibility.  It seemed to me one plot line in the book could only end one way, but it didn’t – I totally didn’t see this end coming, and it beautifully leads into the rest of the series.

I have to tell you when I hit the end of this book in the middle of my commute and realized I’d not downloaded the next one so I could go directly to it “without passing ‘go’,” so to speak, I was Pissed!  That’s how much it sucked me in…highly recommended!

This book has been reviewed for the 2013 Audio Book Challenge (and added to its page).  It is owned by me, was acquired from Audible.com, and cost $4.95.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Review: Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

From Goodreads.com:

Michelle Sanderson may appear to be a strong, independent woman, but on the inside, she’s still the wounded girl who fled home years ago. A young army vet, Michelle returns to the quaint Blackberry Island Inn to claim her inheritance and recover from the perils of war. Instead, she finds the owner’s suite occupied by the last person she wants to see.

Carly Williams and Michelle were once inseparable, until a shocking betrayal destroyed their friendship. And now Carly is implicated in the financial disaster lurking behind the inn’s cheerful veneer.

Single mother Carly has weathered rumors, lies and secrets for a lifetime, and is finally starting to move forward with love and life. But if the Blackberry Island Inn goes under, Carly and her daughter will go with it.

To save their livelihoods, Carly and Michelle will undertake a turbulent truce. It’ll take more than a successful season to move beyond their devastating past, but with a little luck and a beautiful summer, they may just rediscover the friendship of a lifetime.

My Thoughts on the Matter:

I read this book today.  Yes, in one day.  Overall I found it a nice, light, quick read.

Ms. Mallery skillfully takes the plot where I wanted it to go, with a few surprises along the way.  This is a book of a woman finding her way back to herself, to who she was but as she’s also been shaped by her life so far, along with those around her who affect and are affected by her journey.  Helping things along are some misconceptions that get cleared up, some moments of characters temporarily letting down their defensive walls, and the book ends up with plenty of happy endings to go around.

I found it interesting (and worth bookmarking to try even) that Ms. Mallery employs a method of including extra value in her book that I first saw used by Debbie Macomber (who has used both cooking and knitting recipes), by putting a couple of recipes that feature prominently in the story into the back of the book.  I may actually make her version of chicken salad and see what I think.

If you’re looking for some very well-done escapism with a deeper meaning if you’re in the frame of mind to see it, I definitely recommend this book.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Review: Winter Sparrow by Estevan Vega

Winter Sparrow

From Goodreads.com:

“I’ll grow wings all by myself.”

Mary is a young artist about to enter a new chapter in her life. After years of waiting and searching, she has finally found true love. She’s also just discovered that her fiancé Joshua has inherited his father’s rundown countryside mansion. To add to the rising pressure, her wedding day is so close she can practically hear the music. All she has to do is accept what the future holds. Accept…and be happy.

But something’s missing.

As the seasons change, her doubts turn to fears, and her fears become reality. Through struggle and loss, the love she once possessed for Joshua transforms into contempt. When Mary is confronted with a magical escape, the life she has and the life she dreams of will collide, awakening a mysterious change within. But no choice comes without cost, and each one will draw her closer to the truth.

At times both beautiful and haunting, Winter Sparrow dares you to step into a world where eternity is a moment and every breath is a second chance. The fantasy begins….

My Thoughts on the Matter:

What strikes me right away, within the first couple of pages, in fact, is the elegance of the writing, how each sentence is packed with substantial information, drawing me in even before I really know what the book is about, and yet sending my mind spinning, trying to anticipate what’s coming next and excited to keep reading to see if I’m right or if I’ll be surprised.

And unfortunately, right after I jotted this down, things went south for me with this book.  I did finish it but I didn’t like it.

First, I found Mary to be a touch too neurotic, which made me think she and Joshua would not have gotten together in the first place.  Then I found Joshua a little manipulative and controlling.

I did like the middle a bit, where there seemed to be some magic at play.

And then it ended, abruptly, nastily and disjointedly.

I just can’t recommend this one, at all.

This book has been reviewed for the following Reading Challenges (and added to their respective pages).  It is owned by me, was acquired from Amazon.com (Kindle edition), and cost $0.00:

Monthly Key Word Challenge 2013
– 2013 Why Buy the Cow Reading Challenge
– 2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge  (Ghosts)
2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge (Romantic Suspense)

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – January 14, 2013

It's Monday What Are You Reading

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at Book Journey.

*****

Analog (dead tree version), at home:

Girl in the Glass

From Goodreads:

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?

So I’m reading this at home, but it’s been sitting for a few days.  It may or may not make it.  We’ll see.

*****

Digital (on my Kindle), anywhere I want:

The Queen Gene

From Goodreads:

Lucy’s friends have always told her how lucky she is to have a mother like Anjoli. But as much as Lucy adores her theater-savvy, melodramatic mom…well, some relationships just work better at a distance, even if Anjoli still calls ten times a day to say, “Darling, I’m in crisis!” Lucy’s got crises enough of her own, including trying to keep her marriage hot with a two-year-old underfoot, babysitting the artists in residence at her Berkshires artists’ colony, resisting her attraction to a drop-dead-sexy man, and trying to rid her 100-year-old home of ghosts. Lucy’s about ready to start living her life on her own terms, and mother-daughter relations will never be the same again…

*****

Digital (Audiobook) through the iphone, in the car:

Long Gone

From Goodreads:

After a layoff and months of struggling, Alice Humphrey finally lands her dream job managing a new art gallery in Manhattan’s trendy Meatpacking District.

According to Drew Campbell, the well-suited corporate representative who hires her, the gallery is a passion project for its anonymous, wealthy, and eccentric owner. Drew assures Alice that the owner will be hands off, allowing her to run the gallery on her own. Her friends think it sounds too good to be true, but Alice sees a perfect opportunity to make a name for herself beyond the shadow of her famous father, an award-winning and controversial film maker.

Everything is perfect until the morning Alice arrives at work to find the gallery gone–the space stripped bare as if it had never existed–and Drew Campbell’s dead body on the floor. Overnight, Alice’s dream job has vanished, and she finds herself at the center of police attention with nothing to prove her innocence. The phone number Drew gave her links back to a disposable phone.

The artist whose work she displayed doesn’t seem to exist. And the dead man she claims is Drew has been identified as someone else.

When police discover ties between the gallery and a missing girl, Alice knows she’s been set up. Now she has to prove it–a dangerous search for answers that will entangle her in a dark, high-tech criminal conspiracy and force her to unearth long-hidden secrets involving her own family . . . secrets that could cost Alice her life.

Waiting in the wings (i.e., bought at Audible.com and living on my iPhone) is the rest of the Caster Chronicles series:

–  Beautiful Darkness
Dream Dark
Beautiful Chaos
Beautiful Redemption

Ya, I was gonna go straight from #1 on down the series.  But I got into the car this morning and realized I hadn’t downloaded it anywhere – not to the Music App on the iPhone Nor into the Audible App, and without wi-fi that just takes too damn long and sometimes just won’t happen at all.  So, I’m listening to “Long Gone” instead, and will get back to the Caster Chronicles after that.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – January 7, 2013

It's Monday What Are You Reading

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at Book Journey.

*****

Analog (dead tree version), at home:

The Marriage Plot

From Goodreads:

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes—the charismatic and intense Leonard Bankhead, and her old friend the mystically inclined Mitchell Grammaticus. As all three of them face life in the real world they will have to reevaluate everything they have learned. Jeffrey Eugenides creates a new kind of contemporary love story in “his most powerful novel yet” (Newsweek).

So I loved Middlesex by the same author.  Mom was reading this for her book group.  I figured since I loved one, I’d love the other.  I’m about 80 pages in to this one and I keep putting it down.  I’ve found some passages I’ve highlighted (see upcoming Book Excerpts post containing same), but I think this one’s going on the Abandoned Shelf.  We’ll see if you ever see a review of this one (this will be the review of it unless I finish it).

*****

Analog (dead tree version), also at home:

Girl in the Glass

From Goodreads:

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?

*****

Digital (on my Kindle), anywhere I want:

Reinventing Mona

From Goodreads:

What’s new? Me, for starters…

It all began when my job offered me a buy-out package. That’s when the realization hit: I’m young, I’m rich (thanks to a hefty inheritance), and I’m boring. Not “needs a little zip” boring, either. More like “mustard stain on a Sears tweed couch” drab. French’s in a squeeze bottle, that’s me. But suddenly I have Grey Poupon aspirations! Things are gonna change-starting now…

Building a better mantrap…

First things first: Exercise. Carrot juice. Straight hair. Whiter teeth. Clothes that fit (I have breasts? Who knew?) But wait-there’s more. Life’s kicked me around a bit, and I’ve been nursing my wounds for too long. I’m finally ready to take a chance on love with the perfect guy. He’s handsome. He’s smart. He’s reliable. He’s my CPA. Problem is, I’m clueless about winning him over. It’s time to call in an expert. It’s time to call in The Dog.

Down, boy.

Mike “The Dog” Dougherty is a man’s man. A guy’s guy. Okay, he’s a chauvinist pig, and his sty is “The Dog House,” a testosterone-charged column in Maximum for Him magazine. On one hand, I abhor all he stands for. On the other hand, who better to coach me? So here I am. Learning the complex unspoken language of the American male (Talk, bad. Sex, good.); trying exciting new things (Stripping lessons are empowering. Really.); falling for Mike. Uh oh. But the Mike I’m getting to know is different from The Dog. And the Mona I’m becoming isn’t quite who I expected, either.

This whole makeover scheme is getting crazier by the minute. But “crazy” beats “boring”…right?

So far, this is a light, easy read – it was a Kindle freebie, so it’s the first one I’ll review for the “Why Buy The Cow Reading Challenge?”  It immediately (even before I downloaded it, let alone started reading it – just from reading a plot synopsis) struck me as a take-off on The Ugly Truth, which, for me, is a nice light, keep-you-company-while-doing -chores-around-the-house kinda movie, and I thought handled the expected boy-and-girl-opposites-find-each-other elements pretty well.  We’ll see how the book does on that score.

*****

Digital (Audiobook) through the iphone, in the car:

Beautiful Creatures

From Goodreads:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Waiting in the wings (i.e., bought at Audible.com and living on my iPhone) is the rest of the series:

–  Beautiful Darkness
Dream Dark
Beautiful Chaos
Beautiful Redemption

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.