Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Traveling With Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story (review)

Traveling With Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter StoryTraveling With Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Judging from other reviews I've read, Traveling With Pomegranates isn't for everyone. Don't jump into the book thinking it's a travel memoir. That isn't to say that one doesn't experience beautiful temples in Greece, or sights in France. Travel is important to the story, but it isn't at the heart of the book.
Traveling With Pomegranates is a mother-daughter read. It explores the bond between women and the bond between mother and child, especially when child becomes adult. Sue Monk Kidd provokes deep reflection and discussion. This isn't a memoir to be read in one sitting at the beach. While I flipped pages quickly, I took in every word. I absorbed Kidd's words and Taylor's.
Aside from being a memoir focused on the mother-daughter relationship, it also focuses on self-discovery. At the start of the memoir, each author is facing their own separate crisis. Ann Kidd Taylor admits to falling into depression, and the book catalogs her journey out of despair. Not only could I relate to each woman, I found myself healing through the novel. While this novel might not be for everyone, I do recommend it to writers, mother, daughters, and women alike.


View all my reviews

~Jess

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet (review)

The Secret Diary of Lizzie BennetThe Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Kate Rorick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have never read Pride&Prejudice. I know! It's a travesty! I've watched movies and spin-offs; I've diligently devoured every episode of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries... yet I haven't read Austen's classic. Fortunately, aside from having never read the actual novel (I know I need to read it, I'm on it!), I am very familiar with the story and I LOVE it.
I have always related to Elizabeth Bennet, but I feel like I could even further relate to modern Lizzie Bennet, the heroine of the popular webseries. While I loved watching the miniseries on youtube, I enjoyed getting to know the inner-workings of Lizzie's mind in her diary. This book allowed the reader to go behind the scenes of the show, and become even more up to date with the workings of the Bennet family. I admit, I was very worried that this book wouldn't live up to the show, but I found it only added to it. The character's voices were strong and it proved to be a quality summer read. Still, I would recommend the book first to those who watched the show, and to those of you who haven't- get on it!! Fans will be pleased with the outcome of this novel, and should remember to look forward to Lydia's Diary which will be coming out in the future!



View all my reviews

~Jess

Monday, March 10, 2014

Is it possible to stop loving reading?

Had anyone asked me this question a year ago I would have said no. Reading is what I did in high school. It was my identity. I was the girl who brought a new book to school every day. I was the girl who would read after finishing problems in Calculus. I was a librarian. I was a reader. On top of that, I was a blogger. I blogged, I reviewed, I shared my opinions. It's what I loved to do, and it's what gave me purpose. Funny how college seemed to change all that.

See, college is different from high school. It's intimidating and it's expensive. If you are a college student, I am sure you have heard the saying "make the most of your education" various times throughout the year. Unlike high school, one goes into debt for college. Therefore instead of reading in my Calculus class, I am now paying attention to every second of class. Not because I enjoy Calculus (ew), but because I am paying for it.

Another unfortunate reality of college is how time-consuming it is. Sure, you only have class once, twice or maybe three times a week, but the homework you get for that class takes a good 2-3 hours in and of itself. When I am not doing homework I am at a club/e-board meeting. If I am too exhausted, I am likely lying in bed half-sleeping while watching yet another television series on Netflix (so far I have finished Once Upon a Time, New Girl and Dance Academy, and I am halfway through The Vampire Diaries). Truthfully, I don't have the energy anymore.

I also haven't really connected with any good books lately. Everything new I come across holds my attention for a day or two before I put it down without picking it up again. I don't have the time or stamina to read an "okay" book anymore. I was alright with reading many "okay" books back in the day, simply so I could fill the blog with enough reviews a week. Now, however, I don't have the patience to do that. 

Still I guess the moral of this story is that I still don't want to give up the blog. It was such a big part of my life these past for years, I am not ready to let it go, but things have changed and I have changed. I may continue to blog, but I won't be reviewing 3-4 books a week. I will be lucky to finish a book a week. There will be days I don't post. There will be days I don't read. But I will share my thoughts about books I love; books I want to share with the world. Because that's what I want my blog to be. 
~Jess

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Secret Letters (review)

Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin's ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits-and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective-to save her cousin's reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way.
Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this gripping novel, now in paperback, heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in young adult literature.
Originality- 16/20
Enjoyment- 15/20
Ending- 16/20
Cover- 19/20
Characters- 15/20
Total Grade- 81/100

 Grade- B
                                                                         
Teen

I love Sherlock Holmes. He is my favorite fictional detective hands down. When I saw the cover and read the synopsis for Secret Letters, I knew I would have to get my hands on it.

Nora is an intriguing main character. She feels out of place in her Victorian society. Instead of learning to be a lady, she yearns to don disguises and put her powers of deduction to the test. She wants to be the next great detective like her "could-be" biological father, Sherlock Holmes. Unfortunately, I do not love Nora like I love her "father." While her deductions are impressive, the novel consists of her constant, desperate struggle to prove herself. Her voice is very young and immature. Secret Letters has a great story and a great mystery in it, but I would have liked to see a different main character. If a character truly is Sherlock's daughter, I want to see that in the character aside from her deductions. 

Secret Letters is a good YA mystery with an interesting plot. It just lacks interesting characters (Peter Cartwright aside). I think fans of mystery will enjoy this book; however, if you are reading it solely for the Sherlock Holmes aspect, you might find it lacking.
~Jess

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Between Shades of Gray (review)

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously-and at great risk-documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
Originality- 17/20
Enjoyment- 17/20
Ending- 19/20
Cover- 16/20
Characters- 18/20
Total Grade- 87/100

 Grade- B
                                                                         
Teen

A few years ago, there was immense hype surrounding Between Shades of Gray. I'll admit that I am very touch-or-go with historical fiction. I either really enjoy the story, or I can't connect to it. Luckily, Between Shades of Gray swept me away.

Between Shades of Gray isn't a light read. It wouldn't describe it even as a happy read. It is an emotional roller coaster from page one. Today when we think of strong heroines in YA lit, the names Clary, Katniss, and Calla tend to come to mind. I would argue that Lina's name should be up there as well. She loses all normalcy in her life; her home, her family and even her health. Her battle to survive is a wild one, and it was a real one! This is historical fiction and it is appalling that real people were forced to endure experiences just like Lina's. I think that's what makes this book seem so dark, deep and depressing. Sepetys is telling a true story. Such sadness and misery actually happened.

Between Shades of Gray is not a book you pick up to read on the side. It is demanding and it is slightly heartbreaking. This book demands your attention and brings you on a terrifying journey. Let it sweep you away as it did me.
~Jess