book reviews | jan & feb 2015

Photo Feb 21, 6 02 07 PM

Before I start with my actual entry, I just wanted to say here that I gave up my personal Facebook for Lent (woohoo!) and it is going swimmingly. :)  I still pop-on here and there because I have two business pages to run. Before I left, I started with “Everyone’s Lenten journey is unique” and then explained how I was *not* de-activating my account (it would totally mess up GRMP and GMD) and that certain things, i.e. this Blog, my Goodreads, etc. would still automatically post. That does NOT mean I am using FB. I actually went and deleted the apps from my phone and iPad because I was wasting sooooo much time checking them all day. It was totally mindless too. I would be sitting in the car, waiting for my oldest to come out from school and check FB. I would be in the Target check out line and check FB. Out to eat? Check-in via FB. It has been a pretty freeing past 6 1/2 days. :)

Anyway, I am just re-iterating what part of my Lenten journey is because some people see stuff automatically post to my wall and are all “Ah ha! You couldn’t stay away!” Um no. Please read my entire “Farewell until Easter” Facebook message before further commenting. :P

Moving along…

It is no secret that I love to read. I also love to play around on Goodreads looking for my next book, checking out which books are highly rated by my friends, reading dozens upon dozens of reviews and writing my own as well.  Here are my book reviews for books read so far in 2015.  **No spoilers ahead!** If you’d like to leave your thoughts in the comments, by all means!

(You can click all book titles to check them out for yourself at Amazon).

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

5 / 5

Gina Rae Miller Photography Landline Rainbow Rowell

(My rating may be a tad higher here than most, but I just really fell in love with the idea of this story).

Gina Rae Miller Photography Landline Rainbow Rowell

1) I really, really like Rainbow Rowell.

2) I am absolutely giving a book about a magic phone 5 stars. =P

I loved all of the characters. I thought they were engaging and well-written.  This book leaves you happy & hopeful and really contemplating your own marriage at the end (this is billed as adult fiction, not YA, fyi).  I felt like I was left with a fresh, new jolt of wanting to work harder.

This book left me teary-eyed mid-way through. I was easily whisked back into the past when I started dating my husband and I too, was wishing I had a nifty yellow landline phone to call him on.  ;) Sometimes, don’t you just want to be a fly on the wall of your old life? I know I do. <3

Note: I did a combo book read / audio book and I really enjoyed the narrator’s voice (Rebecca Lowman).  She was very easy to listen to.

p.s. Landline inspired my latest manicure.

Gina Rae Miller Photography Landline Rainbow Rowell Manicure

 

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The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy

4.5 / 5

Gina Rae Miller Photography The Baker's Daughter Book Review

Let me just start out by saying that I simply do not understand the 1 and 2-star reviews that appear toward the top of the Goodreads reviews.  Cannot comprehend. This book was wonderful.

I seem to really, really enjoy books that center around WWII.  I think a lot of it has to do with not enjoying history at all while in school, and finding it fascinating now.  I am older, can appreciate more, and have always done better learning things when I want to learn them, not when someone tells me to. {stubborn}

My favorite parts were the ones set in 1940s Garmisch, Germany as opposed to present-day Texas, but even they worked nicely. You will fall in love with Elsie.

The descriptions here are extremely well thought and colorful, so much so that the bäckerei comes to life and you can almost smell the fresh breads and pastries.  You are treated to delicious-sounding German recipes at the end of the book too, which was a pleasant surprise.

Gina Rae Miller Photography The Baker's Daughter Book Review

p.s. The ending was perfect. <3

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Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

4 / 5

Dash-and-Lilys-Book-of-Dares-cover

Nerdy love. Very sweet. I did a combo read / audiobook and really enjoyed both of the narrator’s voices. This was a quick, light read packed with both memorable & witty quotes. One of my favorites:

“The important people in our lives leave imprints. They may stay or go in the physical realm, but they are always there in your heart, because they helped form your heart. There’s no getting over that.”

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The End Of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

4 / 5

End of Your Life Book Club

This is the story of a grown man and his dying mother, and the book club they form (membership: 2) and continue as she battles pancreatic cancer.

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about this story. I listened to the audiobook and I will say, I did not care for the narrator’s voice at all (when he voiced the mother, it was almost laughable). But as the chapters drew on, I found myself enjoying it more and more.

As for the “book club” itself, I had hardly read any of the selections, so the content of the specific book choices did nothing for me. I didn’t really retain any distinct info on these books (books within a book, if you will). That is besides the point because book title aside, this is not a story about book club selections at the core. Rather, this is a lovely tribute from one son to his dying mother.

I’ll add, I am in no rush to ‘go’. =P But if I had a choice and could choose to die with creativity, respect, my family close by, surrounded by love, well, I’d choose to live out my remaining days exactly as Mary Anne Schwalbe had.

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I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

3.5 / 5

ill-give-you-the-sun

This book was cute enough. It is the story between a twin brother & sister and it waffles back and forth between ages 13 and 16.  As children, they were very close and then a series of events happen and they drift very far apart.  By telling us the story in two voices between two different time periods, we get to hear each side of the story and see how each sibling dealt with the hand given to them and why they were so very angry at the other.

It was good, but it doesn’t earn a spot on my favorites shelf.  There were some parts I didn’t care for, mainly the mother’s storyline. Parts of this book were sad, and parts were happy. Would I recommend it to a friend? Eh.

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The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

3.5 / 5

the-girl-on-the-train-paula-hawkins Gina Rae Miller

Well, boo. I was seriously expecting something great from The Girl On The Train. The synopsis drew me right in and I immediately requested a copy from my e-library. A “Hitchcockian thriller?” I’m in!

I enjoyed the fast-pace of the story and plowed right through chapter after chapter told in three different voices (I won’t go into character specifics. You can read the many reviews on Goodreads that have already done that).

I updated my Goodreads status around page 200 saying that I still hadn’t figured out the twist. I was excited by this! Suspense novels are amongst some of my favorites. I couldn’t see the twist coming? This was going to be epic.

Until…

…the twist was revealed and I was like:

HUH copy

Seriously? I didn’t find anything “twisty” about it. Ugh.  I was so let down. Correct me if I am wrong but this entire book is a whodunit. Up until the end, we don’t know who committed the crime which is what makes it fun. So the twist wasn’t anything Earth-shattering or remarkable. “Whodunit” could have been exactly who it was… we just didn’t get there yet. By the time the big reveal happened, I was so ready for the whole thing to just be over already.

Darn. Maybe I did see the twist coming after all, and just tried really hard to make this book a 5-star masterpiece instead. I hoped for more. I ended on a flat, disappointing note.

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Us by David Nicholls

2.8 / 5

US (10/28/14) By David Nicholls

Yep. Under 3 stars and right on my “didn’t finish” shelf. What can I say? There was nothing likeable about any of these characters.

This is the story of Douglas: a dry, science-y kind of nerd (if anything, he was the most likeable (and I use that term loosely). I did not read a good chunk of this book though so I can’t speak for his character development as a whole) and Connie: artist, wild child, free spirit, etc. They are married 20 years and their grown son Albie is leaving for college (such a brat. A rude one at that. Did not like his character whatsoever). Connie wakes Douglas up at 4am one random night with a “Surprise! I think our marriage is over!”  Ooooo-kayyyy.

Now the story is told is very teeny tiny chapters that waffle back and forth between their courtship and present day, when they embark upon their last family trip through Europe. One final “Hurrah!” if you will.

I just found this story sad and depressing. I fully embrace my cheesiness in enjoying the happy endings. I don’t willingly embrace depressed and sad. I certainly am not going to continue to subject myself to it when I read for fun. What’s the point?

I did something I never, ever do: I skipped ahead to the last chapter. I just had to see how the story wrapped-up.  And I was *so* annoyed! The outcome (I won’t give anything away) is, to use the same basic word: SAD. Ugh. Dismal. Melancholy. Blue. I couldn’t relate to this story and hope I never, ever will.

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If you enjoyed these book reviews, leave me a comment here. I’ll do another post when I have a fresh batch of books read!

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