Sunday, May 3, 2020

April wrap-up: still inside!

April is over. How did that happen? It felt like March slogged on forever. And April felt incredibly short. Perhaps I'm getting used to quarantining? I do go outside but only for groceries or laundry. Trips outside almost feel like a vacation -- except for, you know, the face mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer.

In the before times, I loved to read. I read on the way to work, at lunch, and on my way home from work. But now I work in my apartment. When the workday is done, and even on the weekends, I find it so hard to concentrate on reading. I usually end up scrolling through social media or, my favorite palate cleanser, watch Grace & Frankie on Netflix.

Reading has taken a bit of a back seat during the past several weeks. Even though I still find myself buying books online. But I did slightly better in April than in March. I read two books, Winter by Marissa Meyer and The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang.

Winter is the fourth and final book in the Lunar Chronicles series. I read the first book about four years ago, but I didn't return to this series again until late 2018/early 2019. Each book got longer and longer. Winter is 800 PAGES -- many of them, in my opinion, could have been cut. The series has the time-honored YA trope of the chosen one, in this case Cinder -- a half-human cyborg. She has to save Earth and the planet Lunar from an evil queen. Most of the time she came off strong, but once that romance angle came in her character was totally ruined for me. She spends much of the series taking command of situations but when she meets the handsome prince, Kai, she turns to mush. I don't mind romance in books, I just hate forced romance. And a lot of the romantic moments in this series felt forced. Series rating as a whole: Give it a try.

Moving on, this was my second attempt at reading The Poppy War. The first time around, I made it about 250 pages before I gave up. I hit a boring/slow part and I just didn't feel like continuing. This time, I was determined to finish. And that was a good decision. The action does pick back up. What's the premise? A peasant girl rises to the challenge, making it into an elite military academy. She discovers she has the power to raise the gods. When war breaks out, will she use this power for good or evil? The beginning of this book is very engaging, but it slogs a bit in the middle. But once I got past that, I enjoyed the book -- so much so that I ordered book 2 before I finished book 1. Rating: Superb.

I don't know what May will hold, but here's to good health and happy reading!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

March wrap-up: quarantine edition!

It's been awhile! Life at the beginning of March was VERY different. For starters, I was still going to work everyday. Then, by the second week of March I started working from home -- which has been challenging and at times frustrating. My internet connection drops frequently, large files slow my computer, and. . .I don't have that separation between work and home. In the "before" times, when I left the office I left work at work. Now that I'm working from home, it's hard to maintain those boundaries.

But now I have a little break from work, I've been furloughed for two weeks. Considering the current climate, I know how fortunate I am to still have a job.

For these two weeks, I had grand visions of doing lots of reading and working on a jigsaw puzzle. However, it's just as hard to find a jigsaw puzzle as it is to get toilet paper! In-store, the shelves where puzzles would normally be are COMPLETELY EMPTY. Online it's just as bad, Amazon is sold-out, is sold-out (of the good 1,000 piece puzzles), and if you try to buy direct from the manufacturer it could take until June to receive one. So for now I'm going to focus on reading.

Reading-wise, I hope April will be better than March. I only finished one book in March, The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. When March began, I was distracted by the news. Consuming every bit of news and it was depressing -- so much that I didn't feel like reading. I had to put a stop to that. Now, I only watch the news once a day. It's refreshing to not watch the news all the time. :)

I'm doing my best to read more and watch junk TV.

So let's talk about the one book I read in March. The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is the sequel to The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. Well. . .this was a big letdown. The first book was refreshing, lighthearted fun.  Henry "Monty" Montague took center stage in book one, and he was a crass, fun, emotional, and engaging character. He wasn't afraid to be himself, including loving another man. In the second book, Monty's sister, Felicity, is the main focus. I wanted to like the second book, but I felt like absolutely nothing happened. Four hundred-plus pages and I was bored.

So here's looking to April! Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

My take on: Darling Rose Gold

Rose Gold Watts has been poisoned all her life, literally and figuratively. Her mother, Patty, led Rose Gold to believe that she was born sick. There was never a moment when Rose Gold was healthy. Patty took her to doctor after doctor, consented to countless medical procedures – including a feeding tube, all the while playing the dutiful mother. She’s comforted Rose Gold after a tough surgery, cleaned up after her, dressed her, and bathed her. Friends and neighbors help by offering their support. Through it all, Patty is always a devoted mother, doing anything and everything to cure her daughter.

But what if it was all a lie? What if Patty was making Rose Gold sick? Why would a mother do such a thing? How does Rose Gold even begin to recover? I was intrigued by all of those questions posed in Darling Rose Gold, a debut novel by Stephanie Wrobel.

The first eighteen years of Rose Gold’s life were controlled by Patty. With her mother now in prison, Rose Gold is experiencing the freedom she was once denied by her mother. She looks at foods, technology, makeup, clothing, movies, and just the world in general with wide eyes. Everything is a new taste. A new experience. Why did her mother try to keep the world from her? Not everything in the world is bad. Despite being deeply self-conscious about her physical appearance, Rose Gold puts herself out in the world. Not everything turns out the way she wants it. She works a dead end job at a retail store. She meets her online boyfriend, but is quickly disappointed. Her father, whom Patty said was dead, reunites with Rose Gold – but even that relationship quickly fractures.

Freedom is great but life hasn’t gotten much better for Rose Gold. Why? Do all roads lead back to Patty? Rose Gold starts to visit her mother in prison. She wants to know why Patty poisoned her. But will she get the answers she wants?

Five years pass and it’s time for Patty to get out of prison. Rose Gold, now a mother herself to baby Adam, wants to put the past behind her. Or so she says (hint hint). It defies logic that Rose Gold would take in the one person who damaged her life. But Rose Gold lets Patty live in her home. But does Rose Gold have an ulterior motive? She’s no longer a little girl that Patty can control. Maybe it's time for revenge? However, Patty is certain she can get the upper hand again, and maybe even assert authority over Rose Gold’s life like she once did.

I was definitely hooked by this story. Rose Gold and Patty are complicated and unlikable characters. Yes, Rose Gold was also a bad character. In the beginning, Rose Gold was sympathetic because her childhood and trust in the world was so badly damaged. Once free, every little setback or slight rejection became a reason for Rose Gold to go to the extreme. But I guess that was a deliberate choice by the author. Patty was a horrible person, from beginning to end. For Patty it’s all about power and who she can control, who she can manipulate. It all made for an engaging and compulsive read.

Rating: OMG!!!

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Berkley) in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

February wrap-up!

A little late, but it's time for another wrap-up! What did I read in the month of February?

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson: A book with a bookish theme, is every booklover's dream! And it's based on real-life events? Women who were basically traveling librarians, bringing books to communities and people who were starving for them. And the main character has a genetic condition that makes her skin blue?! There was no much to like....however all the good things can be outweighed by a lackluster ending!!!! To me the ending was very abrupt, which made me downgrade my opinions of this book. Rating: Give it a try

The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin: In a nutshell this read like a plot from the TV show Grey's Anatomy, which isn't a bad thing. It was just a bit melodramatic. (Review in that handy link in the book title. :) Rating: Give it a try

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel: Well this one was
definitely a page-turner! A daughter long-abused by her mother decides to turn the tables! I won't say more because my full review will be posted later this month, except add this one to your TBR!  Rating: O.M.G.!!!

What's on tap for March: I'm giving The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang a second chance. I read half of this book in the summer of 2018. The first half of
the book is brilliant, and I still see that reading that part again. I just have trepidation about getting through the second half, which is where I lost interest in the story. But I'm making a promise to get through the whole book and write a post about the experience. Very rarely do I go back to a book that I quit. Only once have I liked a book that I gave a second chance to, The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, and I hope to have that experience again! Happy reading!

Monday, February 24, 2020

My take on: The Antidote for Everything

I liken The Antidote for Everything, by Kimmery Martin, to a very long, intense episode of the TV show Grey’s Anatomy! The backdrop for the book is a small-town clinic/hospital, where a lot of people, especially management, are a bit too rigid, nosy, and small-minded. Those who go against the grain tend to be the fun ones, but also the ones who get labelled as “troublemakers.”

Doctors Georgia Brown and Jonah Tsukada are the fun ones. They are also best friends. Without any close family members to count on, Jonah is the most important person in Georgia’s life. And the same is true for Jonah. They love and support each other through it all: long days at work, bad days at work, rough relationships, or whenever they need a shoulder to cry on.

As Georgia heads overseas for a conference, Jonah receives some startling news. His job and potentially his reputation are at risk. The hospital no longer wants to treat transgender patients, or anyone in the LGBTQ community for that matter. Doctors who don’t go along with this policy will be fired, and Jonah is the first up on the firing squad. As a gay man, refusing to care for members of his own community is too much for Jonah to take. He intends to fight the hospital, and Georgia intends to be right there with him. She feels guilty for being away when her friend needs her the most, despite Jonah telling her not to. More so because she might have just met the man of her dreams, the handsome Mark. Even Jonah knows a relationship is just the thing Georgia needs!!

Be honest doesn’t this sound like a plot line from Grey’s Anatomy!

Nursing a budding relationship proves to be a blessing and a curse for Georgia. Mark is attractive, attentive, kind, and most important of all a good listener. He listens to her anguish over Jonah’s situation and isn’t the least bit put off by her devotion to her friend. 

It’s admirable how much Georgia and Jonah care about each other. But is there a line? Georgia and Jonah are willing to go the extra mile to help him keep his job, but at what costs? Both put a plan into action that has deep repercussions. And at the end of the day, will it be worth it?

Many times as I was reading this book I thought: what is the endgame? Where is this book going? What is the point? I realize sometimes I approach each book like I’m reading a thriller. Like, get to the juicy part! Where’s the action? It’s a hard habit to break. I really just need to read the book and enjoy. I did enjoy this book, once I understood its meaning: friendship. In my opinion, this book is about the power of friendship. It can make you do almost anything, even blind you to what’s right and what’s wrong. But in the end, it’s friendship that can save your life!

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Berkley) in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, February 2, 2020

January wrap-up!

Good-bye January and hello February!

As you might have noticed I didn't post any reviews for January. That was a deliberate choice. Sometimes after finishing a book, I just don't feel like writing a review. I don't want to force myself to write something because it won't be good if I do. I'm not saying I won't ever review a book again (I do have one planned for later this month and for next month), but I'm definitely tapering off. I think shifting to more wrap-ups vs. reviews works for me. With that being said, what did I read in January?

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: The glitz, the glamour, and love of the 1940s. the glitz, the glamour, and love shaped the life of one young woman throughout her entire life. Rating: O.M.G. !!

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt: Awwwww. The title of this book is so fitting. A wide-eyed teenager thinks she's in love with her teacher, but she can't she how that love has blinded her. Blinded her to how it impacted her family. Blinded to how her childhood is forever damaged. Will she final "see" before it's too late? Rating: Superb
Cress by Marissa Meyer: This series has potential but boy does it always seem to fall flat at the end. I read the first book, Cinder, about three and a half years ago. But I didn't pickup this series again until last year. The third book, Scarlet, was ok and the fourth book, Cress, was equally as average. All of the books are just a setup for book four, which I'm currently reading. Maybe this is normal for book series? I don't know. In a nutshell, Cinder is a half-human/half-cyborg mechanic, whose destiny is to be the true leader of the Lunar society. Each book is a re-telling of a classic fairy tale. Again sounds promising, but it falls into the tropes that so often plague young adult books. What are those: the chosen one, unnecessary romances, strong heroines who suddenly melt when a cute boy comes around. We'll see what book four, Winter, brings but I don't have high hopes. Rating: Give it a try

It just occurred to me that every book I read in January started with the letter "C"!! Not intentional, just a coincidence. Happy reading!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Beginner's reading journal

Happy New Year!

One of my many resolutions was to give bullet journaling a try. The journal I really, really, really wanted was sold out. This particular journal had all the spreads done and planned out. But it was not meant to be. Instead I went for a blank journal and bedazzled it myself. For now, I'm just starting with a few spreads. Here's what they look like!!