Monday, August 18, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After (review)

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book.
Seriously, this book!
I was skeptical when it came to this long-awaited third novel by Stephanie Perkins. I read the first chapter online and wasn't sure how I would like Isla. Compared to Anna or Lola, she didn't seem as sure of herself. Instead of being strong, she was shy. I thought her obsessive crush on Josh (previously seen in Anna and the French Kiss) was juvenile. I didn't think I would enjoy this story.
I was so wrong.
The author disclaimed a year ago that she had been fighting depression while writing this book. I thought that the depression would negatively influence her writing. I worried I too might become depressed, whereas I have looked to her other books for a glimpse of sunlight. Well, it's true, Isla's book was very different from Anna's or Lola's. There was unspoken tension. There was agonizing heartbreak. This novel made me feel so many emotions over the past couple of days: anger, sadness, loss, joy.
And Isla?
She might not be as strong as Anna or Lola, but she is an amazing character. In fact, I think she might be the most realistic character Perkins has yet penned. Isla is shy, but she is observant. She gives people chances and she forgives. She loves people wholeheartedly... everyone except herself.
While I like to think I am a strong individual, I struggle with my own perception of myself. Who exactly am I? What do I want from life? What do I want to do with it? Isla is faced with similar, fearful questions and over the novel starts the process of coming to terms with them. While she might not have planned out her future like Anna or be steadfast in who she is like Lola, Isla is strong in her own way.
Finally, I loved this book. I don't know if it is my favorite, but then again I do not think I have a favorite book by Perkins. They are all amazing and real in their own right. Anna, St. Clair, Lola, Cricket, Isla, and Josh are real characters and when Perkins tells the story, it is easy to fall head over heels in love with them. The author made me believe in true love, just when I began to doubt it.
I can only hope the author will continue to write in the future, because she will always have an audience in me.


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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.


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~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!



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~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