Tag Archives: books

Book Review: The Fifth Wave series, by Rick Yancey

Does anyone else love YA literature, even when they’re (kinda far?) out of that age bracket? I know that it’s supposed to be for people younger than me, but I almost always find the reads quick, easy, and quite fascinating. Dystopian novels in particular can be favorites of mine, and Hunger Games is at the top of my list. I have a particular affinity for series (as I mentioned here) since they go on a little longer than a couple hundred pages. And so, much of the YA lit is right up my alley. Everyone loves a good story that doesn’t end too quickly.

I have read Hunger Games too many times to count, and have also read the Maze Runner series and loved it. I first heard about the Fifth Wave series from another mother/writer friend, who was loved it for the same reasons I love it: only so much brain power can be attached to the books I’m reading at the moment (can you say three kids?), so the more attachment I form to the story, and the simpler the difficulty, the better.

The Fifth Wave and the subsequent two books were a refreshing break from the non-fiction I had been reading. They immediately caught my attention, however initially confusing it was that every few chapters, the first person tense switched characters. I wasn’t too keen on the “alien invasion” idea, but the books had a magnificent twist that not only was unexpected, but a little relieving for my stuffy, “there’s no way that’s real” perspective.

The first main character Cassie has a charge to keep her younger brother safe in a world turned upside down, and she finds friends and help in the strangest of situations. It could be pretty violent at times – much of the story was taking place in an army boot camp of sorts, but the soldiers were all children. Nonetheless, I enjoyed finding out how all the stories had woven together by the end, and the final twist had me in tears.

If you need a read that won’t go by too quickly, but will hold your attention, this series is a good one for you! I downloaded it on my Kindle, and it was special pricing when I downloaded all three of the books at once. If you read it, or have read it in the past, let me know! I’d love to pick your brain about a few things!

Book Review: A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House

I borrowed this book from my aunt, who has spent about half her life living in Kentucky, near where Silas House lives. She had bought the book originally because he was a local author, and I saw it on her bookshelf the last time I was at her house. She let me borrow it, and I read it in basically one day, on the road trip back home. I couldn’t put it down!

A Parchment of Leaves is set in the mountains of Kentucky, portraying the life of a Cherokee woman named Vine Sullivan, her family, her community, and her accidental love triangle. It’s a captivating saga from start to finish, written in first person straight from Vine’s heart and mind. I enjoyed reading a bit about Cherokee culture, about what women did during the first world war while most of the men were away, and about how a group of small town women were able to fend for themselves in a time that most women weren’t able to do so.

If you’re local to the southeast, if you like literature based around the WWI time period, or if you like a sweet and captivating story with a few surprises along the way, you’ll love this book. There were several times that I thought I could predict what was about to happen, but I was wrong – and I like to be taken off guard! It’s boring if I know every single thing that’s about to happen. I absolutely recommend this book as a great summer read! If you do read it, let me know so that we can chat about it!

Book Review: Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan

 

If you’re a woman or a parent or you just enjoy funny books, drop what you’re doing and buy this book right now. Bunmi Laditan is witty and hilarious, snarky and sweet as she writes a novel about a new mom who tries to impress her potential mom friends. It’s a sure way to laugh out loud in a coffee shop and make people think you’re nuts.

New mom Ashley joins a “boot camp” led by her mom idol, and proceeds to botch everything – and we find out about her little one, her hubby, and her mother-in-law along the way. She struggles just like all of us have struggled with aspects of motherhood, SAHM life, or just trying to be a domestic goddess in a Pinterest world. It makes you feel better about yourself, while also falling in love with Bunmi’s quick humor.

I found out about Confessions of a Domestic Failure because I’ve been a long-time follower of Bunmi on her Facebook page, and I’m always impressed with how she blends her humor, a little satire, and a lot of feel-goodery all in one post. She’s got a one-in-a-million style, and I love that about her. I downloaded the book to my Kindle right when it came out, and finished it within a week – and mind you, that was a busy week, not a vacation where I could just read and read. I put it down only because I had to! I urge you to get this book, because I giggled and cried and would love to chat with you about it when you read it!

Every Time I Finish a Book.

Summertime always feels like a good time to read. I wonder if Barnes and Noble sees a boost in their sales during the summer? I don’t necessarily have more time to read, being as I still have three kids and still do my jobs, etc, but I just want to read more. It feels right. I picture my teenage self, laying by the pool and reading all afternoon, or staying up late into the night, just to finish the novel I’d been plowing through. Which, by the way, I did just last weekend. I stayed up late until I finally finished the Fifth Wave series. Was super tired. Was totally worth it.

The more I’ve read in the past month, the more I have been mourning the end of the stories. I think that may be why I love a good series so much… it goes on for a little longer. Even though a single book is over, I know the story will continue for another book or two. But when it isn’t a series, and I only get a couple hundred pages of a story, I’m sad at the end. I don’t want to leave the story behind, or let the characters go. It feels like I’m losing friends like they’re moving away and I know I won’t see them again.

That might be why I read my favorite series over and over again. For instance, I’ve read the Harry Potter books countless times. Remember teenage me, staying up late to finish a book? That was every single time a new Harry Potter book came out. In preparation for the book to come out, I would reread all the other books, trying to glean little details that might be mentioned in the next installment. Then when the movies started coming out, I started to read the books in preparation for the movies, too. It was a whole thing – and I know those fellow Potterheads are just nodding and smiling right along with me. But I won’t just stop reading because it’s sad when it’s over. I just love that feeling.

Book Review: The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

A couple of weeks ago, my family went down to my in-laws’ lake house, about an hour from our home. I packed some reading, you know, in case naps went as scheduled and I ended up in the sunshine with a drink in my hand. And what do you know? I did. But I was NOT in the mood for any of the reading I had packed. It was mostly non-fiction, which I’m not opposed to, generally. But they were all a little heavy in nature, and I was feeling a little more lighthearted on our mini-vacation.

Sometimes I need a beach read. Here’s my definition of “beach read”: not difficult to read, totally enveloping, can’t put it down, captivating story, and no real-life application. I’m not reading a “beach read” so that I can apply it to my life or think about it for the rest of the week. I’m reading one so that I can dissolve into another world, another story besides my own, and lose track for a few moments (or two days, as it was with this one). So naturally, I perused my mother-in-law’s bookshelf, and spotted a Nicholas Sparks book I hadn’t read. You probably already know that he’s famous for his “beach reads” and The Longest Ride is no exception!

Because I’ve read a lot of his books, I knew that when the book began by alternating between two seemingly unrelated stories, we’d find them intertwined by the end. But even I was a little taken aback by how the stories came together at the end. I enjoyed the little surprise – especially since so many love stories follow a formula that’s fairly easy to predict. As an art history buff, I especially appreciated his nod to abstract expressionism and modernism throughout the story. And if that wasn’t enough to make me love it, one of the stories was also set right around where I live. Crazy!

Loves old and new were explored through the two “separate” stories, and I enjoyed the character exploration in each, as well as the varying points of view. It’s a creative way of the book being “third person omniscient”. If you’re looking for an easy read, full of feelings and a little historical enjoyment (without being a period piece), then you’ll love The Longest Ride. Channel your inner teen girl and you won’t be able to put it down.

Podcasts

Recently, I’ve started listening to some podcasts. I know, I know; I’m a several months (years?) late to that party. With young children constantly around me, it’s sometimes hard to listen to spoken word (you know, something that I actually need to pay attention to if I want to comprehend what’s happening), and that’s most of the reason I’m late to the podcast-listening idea. I can’t just turn one on when I get in the car because I usually have several people communicating wth me at once. I don’t need another voice added to the fray. But I’ve really enjoyed getting recommendations from friends about what podcasts are making them think, which ones are encouraging them, or even affecting heart change. So naturally, I’ve started putting in my headphones a little more often, and, you know, crying while I mow the lawn or fold the laundry. It’s almost like reading a book, but I can work on something else while I’m doing it.podcast

It been so interesting to me how God has ordained things in my life, right down to which podcasts I’m listening to. Ever think He doesn’t influence the small things in your life? Just look for connections between your struggles and an innocent book or podcast suggestion made by a friend. I know He is wooing me through different ways every single day, pursuing me by letting me hear from Him even in the oddest of places.

That all being said, I’ll tell you about these podcasts I’m checking out. I started with The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She brings another person (often one of her friends) onto her show and they talk about real life and I have LOVED it. It’s often a faith-based writer or speaker and I can get choked up just hearing them have real conversation about their lives. It’s so fun listening in on a conversation that feels like it would’ve happened the same way, even if they weren’t recording. After I blasted through several episodes of Jamie’s show, I got turned onto That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs. She has similar guests and conversations, but she has a cool perspective, too. Basically what I’ve realized is that these two hosts are writers, they have writers on their shows frequently, and I am totally inundated with books I want to buy/read because of it. And these aren’t usually novels that I can get on my Kindle and just blast through in a few days because they’re easy reads. These are the sort of life-changing books that I want to dig into. I want to have my own paper copy because I like underlining and circling and reading them again and again. For instance, I’ve already ordered Annie’s Let’s All Be Brave and one of her guests’ (John Mark Comer) books called Garden City. I want to hear the Lord speaking to me, I want to learn about Him and others’ experiences with Him and His goodness. Wouldn’t you?

Now don’t think I’m all crazy – I don’t necessarily think that God ordained these people to say things that are meant just for me. But I do think that there is knowledge we can glean from hearing about others’ journeys. I think we can hear from God when hearing someone else talk, teach, preach. I think we are more in tune to His voice than we think, but we often don’t give Him the credit when He speaks to us through the words of others.

Do you have any podcasts that you think I’d like? Please comment with them! I’m LOVING listening to them!!

Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold, by Margaret Atwood

hag seed
Image of the book cover found on Google.

I must admit, when I caught sight of this book on the shelf at the library, I snagged it without even reading the cover, simply because I knew I had read Margaret Atwood before and loved it. So I began Hag-Seed without really knowing what I was getting into.

The book is a part of Hogarth Shakespeare, a project I actually hadn’t heard of before. It aims to see Shakespeare’s works retold by acclaimed modern novelists. The Tempest is the story being retold here, and to be honest, it’s a play I’m not familiar with, but Atwood summarizes it at the end of the book.

The premise of Hag-Seed is that a washed-up play director with a reputation for pushing boundaries gets screwed out of his job by a colleague. He has an epic meltdown, sets his sights on revenge, and then moves to a new town to start over, teaching literacy through theatre (read: Shakespeare) at a local prison. He takes Shakespeare’s plays, and adapts them for his rag-tag group of convicts, letting them take some artistic license, of course. Together they do costumes, set design, and even film the production at the end of the class to be viewed by the other inmates. Of course, the play being done when we are a part of the story is The Tempest. The director is definitely a little bit bonkers, obsessed with his former life and bringing his eccentricities with him to his new one, but it makes for an interesting read to see how everything comes together at the end.

I wouldn’t call it an easy beach read, but I would definitely say it’s worth a try! The beginning dragged a little for me, so don’t put it down when you realize the story doesn’t truly start till a few chapters in. Find it at your local library, and give Hogarth Shakespeare a try! I’d like to find another book from the project, and give it a try, too.