Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont: Review

Among the Ten Thousand Things Among Ten Thousand Things

This is a beautiful novel about love, life that ruins love, family, and what’s leftover when life is done. This new release is definitely worth your time, even though there aren’t a whole lot of reviews on it yet. I got an early copy from NetGalley – but early by about two days. So, in my typical fashion, I used my accumulating Audible credits to pick it up because I was loving it, but my new medications have my sleep messed up. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the book – even when I shed a tear or two. The book, broken into four parts, tells the story in an interesting way. The first part sets up the falling apart of the family. The short, second part, gives the reader a fast glimpse into the end of the family’s lives. How people die. How the kids grow up. Things you don’t expect in the middle of the novel. The third part of the novel, finishes telling how the wife, husband, and two kids get to part two. Mostly told from the point of view of the wife, it’s an beautiful, heart-wrenching look at the thoughts of a woman who has been betrayed and how she decides what she is going to do with that betrayal. While Among the Ten Thousand Things is not a light summer read, it is a beautiful, poignant novel. I don’t know if other readers will appreciate this part like I did, but Simon, the 15 year old son, is a wonderful representation of a teenage boy. He reminded me so much of my moody, angry, teenage brother with a bad attitude! It made me laugh a lot. The novel reminded me of the humanity in all of us. Parents are people. Kids see more than we know. And kids turn into adults who will perpetuate the cycle. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. All opinions are my own.

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Why You Should Read Pretty Baby: A Book Review


Pretty Baby Book Review
Pretty Baby Book Review: Seriously, Sarah?

I was eager to read Pretty Baby, since I had so thoroughly enjoyed Kubica’s first novel, The Good Girl.

The story begins with a charitable mother of woman, who lives in the heart of Chicago and works at a non-profit. On the public transportation system there, she notices a homeless teenage girl holding a baby. Both the girl and the baby are not properly dressed for the cool, spring weather. The charitable woman, Heidi, runs into the teenager two more times in a short time span.

All the while, the reader is privy to the thoughts of Heidi, the homeless teenager, Heidi’s husband, and even Heidi’s teenage daughter. The narration style lends itself to the slow unfolding of secrets or lets the reader see misunderstandings that the characters don’t see. My favorite part, though, is that not all of the storytelling is chronological. There is one character who is occasionally retelling her story to someone else, in the future, when hindsight is 20/20.

Who Should Try Pretty Baby?

People who enjoyed the twists, turns, and unpredictability of Kubica’s first thriller, The Good Girl.

If you haven’t read The Good Girl, but have liked any of the popular thrillers, Pretty Baby will be a definite winner for you.

If you want to try a thriller that isn’t too gory or scary, you can also start here.

Pretty Baby has a little something for everyone who enjoys anything about interesting storytelling or psychological thrillers.

I particularly enjoyed Kubica’s examination of the mind. Two characters went through what most people would consider to be an unrecoverable hells, but each reacted in a completely opposite ways, in my opinion. I’m interested to read what other people think!

You will be able to pick up a copy on July 28! Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads “Want To Read” List, so you’ll get the email notification!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of this novel, Pretty Baby, for a book review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Don’t forget that you can add me as a friend on Goodreads, if you have the time!

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Somebody I Used to Know Review


Somebody I Used to Know
Somebody I Used to Know

Somebody I Used to Know is a mystery novel by David Bell. The main character, Nick, has been haunted for 20 years by the death of his college girlfriend. Even through his marriage, his wife says that he was still in love with Marissa, the girlfriend who died in a fire. So, as a divorced middle-aged man, Nick keeps busy working for the under-dog and playing basketball with his friends.

He lives a life of the status-quo, so to speak, until a young woman who has a strong resemblance to his long-dead girlfriend shows up in the grocery store of his small town. When he approaches her, she drops her groceries and runs. The rest of the novel unfolds as Nick, with the help of another college friend, who kind of disappears halfway through the novel, start to unwind the tangled web of the past.

As I read the novel, I thought it was a great start for a first novel. I thought that the author had a really good shot at going somewhere with his writing, if he kept on writing. I was shocked when I reached the end and read at the bottom of his biography that he was the author of several other novels. To be honest, his writing wasn’t what I expect from a seasoned author.

Characters, like the main character’s college friend, come and go with little explanation. There is little to no character development of anyone other than the main character. And finally, while the ending makes sense logically, it doesn’t make sense realistically. The motives assigned to the perpetrators were a bit far-fetched in my opinion, which is why I thought the author was new and would tighten his plotlines in the future.

While I don’t regret reading this novel, I don’t recommend rushing out to read it immediately.

You can pick up a copy of Somebody I Used to Know when it publishes on July 7, 2015.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of Somebody I Used to Know for review. All opinions are entirely my own.

Don’t forget that you can add me as a friend on Goodreads so I can steal ideas on what to read next–or see your ratings, so I know what to stay away from!

 

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How to Achieve the Ultimate Humblebrag

Living Well Spending Less Review

living well spending less review

Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup is essentially twelve tips on how to live “The Good Life.” Soukup, who is a blogger turned author, begins be redefining what “The Good Life” is, biblicaly speaking. She shares her own story about how redefining what a good life was transformed her worldview, which she thinks that it can for you, too.

I had high hopes for this book. The reviews (not that I read them in detail) have seemed positive, and I like the idea of simplifying life. My husband and I have been donating boxes of “stuff” left and right, plus trying not to accumulate any more possessions that aren’t food. Watching my entire family exchange gifts at Christmas was funny because it was all coffee, beer, and candy. I kid you not.

Soukup uses the introduction to beat the dead horse of jealousy created by social media. There is plenty of praise on the internet for her transparency in the book, as she admits to falling into the trap of becoming envious of other people who share photos of their fabulous vacations on Instagram. But like we all already know, people only post flattering things. I’m not including a picture of me in my sweatpants typing this review, obviously.

All twelve “secrets” appear to be derived from her own experiences and then broken down into practical steps to help you achieve the goals or tips. I say “appear” because I couldn’t finish this book. I managed to skim through the first 50% of the book, but I just wasn’t interested enough to finish.

Soukup relies heavily on scripture and famous quotations to fill the pages. While I appreciate that she has drawn inspiration from the Bible and wise people to create her secrets, I just don’t have a fondness for inspirational quotations. It probably goes back to my freshman year of college when my randomly selected roommate plastered doodles of inspirational quotations all over our dorm room, so I put up a poster of Jack Bauer in retaliation.

Her secrets are practical, if you share her worldview. As a newly married, chronically ill, 26 year old with no plans to have children or a career anymore, the book is not very applicable to my life situation. Having to leave my job, redefine my own life goals, and having my financial resources already pillaged, it was kind of salt in the wound to read about her dropping out of law school because it didn’t make her as happy as she thought it would.

She writes about out of control budgets, while making sure to mention that her husband insisted that they paid for their home renovations in cash, so she didn’t do into debt. She mentions her two year hospitalization at McLean Psychiatric Hospital, which put her law school dreams on hold. What she doesn’t mention is that the hospital, famous for treating Sylvia Plath, James Taylor, and Ray Charles, as well as Susanna Kaysen, whose memoir about her stay was turned into a major film, Girl, Interrupted, costs 51% more per day than the average psychiatric hospital. Soukup writes about the power of creating habits, but when she shares about how her simple habits were broken during a vacation, it isn’t just any vacation, it’s “a trip of a lifetime.” It was a 29 day cross country trip that she had been talking about with her husband for a long time. How many people can take of 29 days of work? Every anecdote in the book is quick lesson for readers in the art of humblebragging. There is nothing average about Soukop, her life, or her circumstances. It is like someone quoting scripture about taking care of widows and orphans at the beginning of a book, but then writing about how to show hospitality through a perfectly decorated house with a picturesque view and serving guests exotic dishes. If you want to talk about your perfect house and the fancy foods that you enjoy cooking, do it. Don’t disguise it under the guise of showing the love of Christ.

She advises you to find your sweet spot and what inspires you, but I know what those are for me–they are just not physically possible. Again, she writes about setting long term goals with practical steps on achieving them. However, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get out of bed tomorrow, so… you get the point.

I was also annoyed at her drawing on on so many “inspirational” stories about well known and famous people who came from humble beginnings, worked hard, and achieved great things. One, we all already know those stories. They’re, well, famous. Two, those stories were just filler to make what could have been a self published eBook into a “real book.”

Soukup speaks from both sides of her mouth, so to speak, in the book. On one hand, she tells readers to pray for God to change their desires, yet she relies heavily on stories about friends or famous people who are “self-made.” They were either inspired by the brevity of life to work hard and pay their way through school, so they could make more money. Or they wrote lists of goals and worked hard to achieve and surpass them. Does Soukup want us to live a more simple life of contentment by praying for a contented heart or buckle up and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps? It is confusing.

Maybe this book is aimed at women, specifically mothers, who have it all and don’t want to feel guilty about it. She takes the readers on a little guilt trip with a list of all the things we have that most people don’t, like water to drink, a place to sleep, and the ability to read. But then her tips are about creating a cleaning schedule for your family, so you can organize all of the stuff that you aren’t even supposed to want anymore.

The next time I need a big dose of hypocrisy, I will make sure to finish this book.

Disclosure: Netgalley provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest Living Well Spending Less review.

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Lizzy and Jane Review


Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay
Lizzy and Jane Review #JaneAusten #PrideAndPrejudice #BookRecs #KatherineReay

Lizzy & Jane are sisters who live on opposite sides of the country. Lizzy is a single, self-sufficient chef at a trendy restaurant in New York city, while her older sister, by eight years, is a social media consultant with her own small business and mother battling breast cancer in Seattle. Lizzy took care of her mother, who died of cancer, when Lizzy was 18. Jane, who left home at 18, eight years earlier, was living on the other side of the world while their mother was dying.

Lizzy holds a grudge against Jane for never returning home during their mother’s illness, yet she does take a break from her restaurant for a short visit to see her father and temporarily take care of her sister, who has the same type of cancer that their mother had. The story unfolds as Lizzy and Jane, who were in fact named after the famous Jane Austen characters, learn more about themselves, each other, and family.

I was so excited to do a Lizzy and Jane review because I am a huge Jane Austen fan. I have only recently started reading books that are inspired by her work. My first experience was bad, but I really enjoyed this novel! At first, I kept looking for parallels between Pride & Prejudice, due to the name of the novel. In fact, there was a character that I kept hoping would not turn out to be a Mr. Wickham. The characters’ personalities did draw some inspiration from the original Lizzy and Jane, but overall, these character are their own people, so to speak. I became emotionally invested in the characters. By the end of the novel, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up late into the night to finish it.

The most interesting aspect of the novel, for me, was the connections between emotions, relationships, and food. Since Lizzy is a chef, the author draws upon many, many food references from Austen’s novel, as well as other well known works. I think I learned a lot about cooking and creating flavors through this novel, which was an unexpected surprise! At first, the Austen references felt a little heavy handed, but I definitely preferred the references to other novels that try to mimic Austen novels.

I highly, highly recommend this book to all Jane Austen fans.

I loved this book so much that I can’t wait to go back and read Reay’s first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley.

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a complimentary copy of Lizzy & Jane to review.

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This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

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The Luminaries

As I will write later, I have recently committed to being more purposeful in reading good books. While the definition of “good” is subjective, I wanted to read more than a few easy-reading Young Adult novels each year.

Eleanor Catton-The Luminaries

I just finished Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries. The book won the 2013 Man Book Prize. I’ve read a few of the short listed books from last year, but I put this one off because of the length (over 800 pages). I ordered the book and diligently tried to read it. Honestly, I did. I don’t know if it was because it was awkward to hold or the denseness of the material, but it was hard to get past th first few chapters of the book. Therefore, I used one of my two January Audible credits to get the novel. At over 30 hours, I listened at 3 times the speed. I listened a lot while resting during a terrible cold!

The novel is a wonderful tale of murder, blackmail, and intrigue in New Zealand, during the 1850’s. I’ve never read a novel set in that time and location, so it took me a few chapters to adjust to the customs of the characters. The novel is not told in a linear fashion, nor is it told chronologically. Additionally, I learned a lot about early medicine, trade, and the shipping industry!

An interesting feature of the novel is how each chapter is associated with astrological signs. Additionally, each chapter has a brief preview, almost like a mini-book jacket, which lets the reader know what to expect during the chapter. Since I was listening to the book, via Audible, I felt like I was listening to an old radio broadcast!

Once I finished the story, the twists and tales made the book worth the read, but it was a lot of work! As the pieces fit together at the end, I was glad that I invested the time in the story, but I do not know why it won the Man Booker Award over other novels, like The Lowland.

Rating:

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