Stacking the Shelves #3

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STSmall_thumb[2]Stacking The Shelves is about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.  The original webpage is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews (http://www.tyngasreviews.com/).

It’s been a while since I posted a Stacking the Shelves post (over a month). It’s no secret that I’ve been a little disenchanted with some of the books I’ve picked up recently but after getting some recommendations from friends I’m hoping this lot proves more interesting and satisfying.  I think I may need to have a marathon reading session – I have added quite a bit to my TBR pile.

butternutlakegracelingthinkingwomenkissdeceptionlionfeedspainterheavensalicegardenspells

Up at Butternut Lake by Mary McNear – I think I chose this one because it isn’t challenging. It’s described as “the first in a homey, feel-good series”.  I’ve read so many duds lately that I was looking for a simple, basic story.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore – I tried to read this one a while back and gave up on it.  I decided to download it and give it another try.

The Thinking Women’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker.  I downloaded this one on a recommendation from Deborah Harkness (one of my favorite authors).  People magazine described the heroine as an American Hermione Granger who never got an invitation to Hogwarts.  It intrigued me enough to give it a try.

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson – This is the fantasy story of a young princess who is supposed to have a magical gift but doesn’t.  She flees an arranged marriage on her wedding day.  She is pursued by two men – one is the jilted prince and the other is an assassin hired to kill her.

When the Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith – This book takes place in Africa, and it’s the beginning book in a series.  It has a little bit of everything – romance, adventure, war, intrigue, betrayal and family saga.

Painter of the Heavens by Bart Stewart – This is another novel with a little bit of everything.  It involves a woman who’s drawn into a bizarre fraud scheme when she begins dating an eccentric man.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – I hope I have better luck with this one than I did with Moriarty’s Big Little Lies.  I have to read this one – it’s the next selection for my book club.  This novel is about a woman who’s bumped her head and has lost ten years of her life.

and last but not least -

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – This is the story of the Waverly sisters.  Each of the sisters has a magical ability.

Happy reading, everyone!

Donna Reads: Three Disappointments (for me)

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ifistayFIRST REVIEW – IF I STAY by Gayle Forman – I will preface my review by saying I understand that I am not the intended audience for this book. I am no longer a “young” adult.  I do read a lot of YA books, and I did read this one.  Lately I have been sorely disappointed in the genre, and I am wondering if it’s time for me to stop reading YA.  This novel was another one that just didn’t work for me. I felt let down by the author who made the parents into hip caricatures of what real parents should have been.  I did research on the author, thinking perhaps she was young and maybe childless herself, but she’s not.  She’s 44 and has 2 daughters.  I’m not sure what she was thinking when she wrote the so-called adults in this book, but I think she was way off the mark.

In If I Stay by Gayle Forman we meet Mia Hall.  Mia is a 17 year old serious student who plays the cello. She’s a little awkward and doesn’t have many friends. Mia lives in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon) where it rains all the time.  Is this starting to sound familiar to you?  Mia has a boyfriend who plays in a rock band.  He’s hip and handsome, and she can’t understand why he’d be interested in her. Someone online likened Mia to Bella Swan, and the novels do have their similarities – we just have musicians instead of vampires. Twilight came out in 2005; this book came out in 2009 so it is possible this book borrows a little bit from Twilight.

On a rare snowy day school is closed and Mia and her Mom, Dad and brother go for a car ride.  There is a horrific accident and Mia’s parents are killed instantly.  For most of the book we are left wondering about Mia’s brother’s fate.  Mia herself lies in a coma but is having an out of body experience and can’t decide whether she wants to live or die.

This is a difficult book to review.  It’s difficult because I can’t say too much without giving away the ending.  There were a number of things I did not like about this book (besides Mia’s parents).  I did not like that most of the story is told in flashbacks.  It kept going off on tangents and giving backstory, and I just wanted it to get on with the present.  Mia is lying unresponsive in ICU.  Her spirit (?) is walking around, observing and trying to interact with others, but no one can sense that she is there.  I find it confusing that if I’m being asked to believe that people’s spirits or essences can walk about like that that Mia doesn’t bump into someone else in the same in-between (“should I live” or “should I die”) state – especially in an ICU.  I also had a hard time buying into the Mia-Adam relationship.  They were too different.  Music was their only common thread.  She hates his world and his performances and is uncomfortable even watching him perform.  He willingly sits through endless recitals and performances for her.  He is the more giving of the two. As I’ve already stated, I hated her parents.  Even hip/cool parents wouldn’t let a 17 year old daughter’s boyfriend do sleep-overs at their house.  I cringed when I read that she “hogged the covers”.  Really?  She’s a minor.  What the heck is up with her parents?  I found it disturbing that her parents would condone that type of behavior and welcome this guy into their home with open arms and think he is just groovy-great because Mia’s Daddy also used to be in a punk band.  Yippee-skippy.  I was not impressed.

I did not like much about this book.  It was relatively short, but it felt to me that it took forever to end.  I wanted to skip to the end to see how it was going to come out.  Mia would go into another jaunt through the past, and I would just want her to decide whether to live or die and get on with it already.  I kept going because I hoped it would get better.  I downloaded the sequel – Where She Went.  It’s written from Adam’s point of view.  I can tell already that Adam is no longer as likable as he was in the first book.  He’s turned into a whiny, self-obsessed mess like Mia was in the first book.  I don’t believe I’ll be reading anything else by Ms. Forman if I manage to finish the second book.

whereshewentSECOND REVIEW – WHERE SHE WENT by Gayle Forman -

I read the beginning and the end. I wasn’t interested enough to read the middle. 

This book continues on with the If I Stay story.  It’s told from Adam’s viewpoint, and we have to struggle through his grief, sorrow and self-pity.

It does have a happy ending, but I wasn’t interested in staying with Adam who’s turned into a pill-popping mess of a person.  He’s finally gotten what he wanted in terms of his music career, but he implodes and can barely get through each day.  I got tired of him real fast and put the book down. I didn’t care if his ending was happy or not.

biglittleliesTHIRD REVIEW – BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty -

Here’s the second book I gave up on this weekend.  In Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty we meet a whole bunch of people that I cared very little about.  There was no one character in the story who stood out or was interesting enough to follow.

The book follows a group of kindergarten parents.  There’s been a murder committed at the beginning of the book, but Ms. Moriarty decides not to share the victim’s name with her readers.  The story is told in flashbacks and in snippets of police  interviews with the various parents. As I found with the two Gayle Forman books above, unraveling a tale through flashbacks doesn’t really appeal to me.  I made it to page 82 in this one, skipped to the end and figured out who had died and who did it and then put the book aside.

I read somewhere that this book was supposed to be humorous. I guess I missed those parts. Ho-hum.

Summer Slump

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Curmudgeon is defined as a bad-tempered or surly person. Humpf. Could I be turning into one? I think it’s a summer slump myself. I’ve been a bit bored the past few weeks. I haven’t felt much like blogging so I’ve only done it in fits and starts – rather than post a bunch of crabby-natured posts. I don’t want to become “that” person.

crabbyI’ve noticed my crabbiness recently in my book reviews. I don’t like much of anything that I’ve read lately. I think the problem may be age-related. I used to read and thoroughly enjoy YA books. It hasn’t slipped my attention that I’m not “young” anymore. I can’t relate to a lot of what’s going on with the protagonists in these books. They end up irritating the crap out of me. So maybe it’s time to give up YA altogether, and that’s a big step for me. So where do I go from there? I don’t mind a mystery, but some of those are awfully silly or simple in tone. I don’t care for thrillers or horror stories. I don’t want to be frightened when I read. I don’t want to read about rapists or serial killers. I read for escapism. If I want to read about death and tragedy, I’ll read a newspaper. A romance is one thing, but some of them read like porn. When did they become so graphic? I believe they call that genre Mommy-porn. I’m not a prude, but I think leaving something to the imagination once in a while is nice, too. I am part of a small book group, and I am hoping my fellow group members will help me explore and find new things to read.

ifistayI’ve begun to explore the whole Twitter thing. I know what Twitter is, but I’ve never really understood the value or the purpose. I have felt bad because I stopped blogging on my squirrel blog. I wondered whether Twitter might be a way to pick that back up again. If you use Twitter, search for Squirrels. There are several Twitter sites devoted to or run by squirrels! I printed out a batch of helpful guides and how-to articles for Twitter beginners, and I’ve been testing the waters so to speak. It’s different. It’s also easy to tweet as the squirrel – she can bend common sayings into squirrel-isms or she can comment on the weather, things in the yard or others’ tweets. It’s also such a short format that it’s a challenge to come up with something that fits. You don’t have to be profound either. One squirrel tweets things like “dig dig dig dig” – just things that squirrels do. Maybe it’s the novelty – but right now it’s fun to talk to other kooks like me who love squirrels.

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As summer winds down, I’ll continue to look for new and novel things to try out and maybe that will help to lift my bored mood. Just because I’m no longer a YA doesn’t mean I can’t learn and try new things.

Images courtesy of Pinterest and Goodreads

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