Review: Seas (Wendy Darling #2)

Book Title: Seas (Wendy Darling #2)

Book Author: Colleen Oakes

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Published: September 20, 2016

Synopsis: “Wendy Darling: Seas finds Wendy and Michael aboard the dreaded Sudden Night, a dangerous behemoth sailed by the infamous Captain Hook and his bloodthirsty crew. In this exotic world of mermaids, spies, and pirate feuds, Wendy finds herself struggling to keep her family above the waves. Hunted by the twisted boy who once stole her heart and struggling to survive in the whimsical Neverland sea, returning home to London now seems like a distant dream—and the betrayals have just begun.

Will Wendy find shelter with Peter’s greatest enemy, or is she a pawn in a much darker game—one that could forever alter not only her family’s future but also the soul of Neverland itself?

Colleen Oakes’ twisted re-telling of Peter Pan continues in this adventurous sequel to the first installment.  While the first book in the series was good, I definitely prefer this follow-up.  Seas was much more exciting and the plot line seemed to move along much more smoothly.  The story picks up exactly where the last left off: With Wendy Darling and her brother Michael being taken on to Captain Hook’s ship after escaping from the sadistic Peter Pan.  Wendy and Hook become unlikely allies in the fight against Peter Pan, and they each begin to share with each other their knowledge of Pan in the hopes that they can eventually find a way to defeat him and escape Neverland.

One of my favorite things about Oakes’ books are the wonderfully detailed descriptions that she paints with her words.  I could see Neverland…I could felt as though I could sense the rocking of the pirate ship, feel the pearlescent sands of Port Duette under my feet, and there were even moments when my heart pounded with suspense.  As I mentioned before, I felt that this installment had much more action than its predecessor, and I enjoyed watching Wendy develop into a strong woman willing to do whatever it takes to protect her brothers and herself, and to find their way back home.

Like its predecessor, this book ends with…not really a cliffhanger, but a surprising turn that will leave you wanting more!  I can’t wait for the last book in the trilogy to be released later this year!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

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Review: Sit, Stay, Love

Book Title: Sit, Stay, Love: A Novel for Dog Lovers

Book Author: Dana Mentink

Book Rating: ☆☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)

Published: April 1, 2016

Synopsis: “Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work schoolteacher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you’re ready for a lesson in love…Tippy style.

Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother’s elderly dog, Tippy, he’s quick to call on a pet-sitting service.

Gina isn’t thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can’t abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.

As Gina travels through Cal’s world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too…

Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a family together.

Cal Crawford is a successful and well-known professional baseball player; he’s a rough-around-the-edges type of guy with a past, and who doesn’t let people into his life easily.  When his mother passes way, he inherits her elderly dog named Tippy.  Cal is definitely not a dog person, but he just can’t seem to let go of the little dog, holding on to her as a last connection to his mother.  Because of his career and his lack of patience, he hires a dog sitter to help him care for Tippy.

Gina is the exactly opposite of Cal in every way: She is warm, friendly, aspiring teacher who knows nothing about sports, and is absolutely a dog lover.  When Gina is hired by Cal to care for Tippy, their relationship starts as just a mere tolerance for one another.  Later, as they bond over Tippy, their relationship blooms into a sweet romance.  They both help bring out the best in the other, with Cal providing Gina stability and comfort, and Gina helping Cal to open up and experience the blessings that God provides.

This isn’t a book that I normally would have picked out for myself, but I was drawn in by the sweet dog on the cover.  If you are looking for a breezy story with a lot of heart and clean romance, you should give this one a try!  There are some minor issues with the plot, and it took me a while to warm up to this quirky story, but it was an enjoyable read. Overall, this is a fun and sweet Christian romance novel.  This would make a quick beach read for the summer, and yes…it is a perfect story for any dog lover!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Review: Bowie on Bowie

Book Title: Bowie on Bowie

Book Author: Sean Egan (Editor)

Book Rating: ☆☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)

Published: May 1, 2015

Synopsis: “Bowie on Bowie presents some of the best interviews Bowie has granted in his near five-decade career. Each interview traces a new step in his unique journey, successively freezing him in time as young novelty hit-maker, hairy hippie, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke, plastic soul man, fragile Germanic exile, godfather of the New Romantics, eighties sellout, Tin Machinist, and, finally, permanently, artistically reborn beloved elder statesman of challenging popular music. In all of these iterations he is remarkably articulate. He is also preternaturally polite—almost every interviewer remarks upon his charm.”

I originally received this book from the publisher via Netgalley well over a year ago, and unfortunately put off reading it for far too long.  It wasn’t until David Bowie passed away at the beginning of the year that I picked it up, and I’ve been reading these interviews off and on ever since.

Each interview provides readers with a look into who David Bowie was as both an artist and a person, and the articles span several decades–from 1969 to 2003 to be exact.  Most of Bowie’s most famous interviews are included, in particular the interview he conducted with Melody Maker in 1972 where he stated that he was gay.  It was quite fascinating to read about him over such a vast about of time and through all of his musical personas.  Overall, as a huge David Bowie fan, I found this collection pretty enjoyable.  But do I think you should purchase this book?  Well, maybe.

There aren’t any new or never before read interviews, and I don’t think it would be difficult to find most (if not all) of these articles on-line.  I think that my biggest complaint is that the book has no photographs.  I feel that a least a few photos throughout would have been a nice touch and broken up some of the text well. The editor does include some background and insights as to preface to each interview to help put them into context, which some readers may appreciate. Mostly I think this would be a nice addition to a fan’s memorabilia collection, and my 3-star rating has more to do with the originality of the book rather than a lack of interest as a fan and/or reader.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Review: Me Before You

Book Title: Me Before You

Book Author: Jojo Moyes

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Published: January 5, 2012

Synopsis: “Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.”

WARNING: This review contains spoilers!  I usually try to avoid spoiling the plot of the books that I review, but it was going to be impossible for me to completely express my thoughts on this one without giving anything away.

Despite my high rating, I do have conflicting feelings about this book. I think most people know what this story is about, and I’m not going to get into an ethical debate over patient assisted suicide on this blog.  I will say that I am actually glad that I knew how the book ended before I began reading it.  I think if I hadn’t known, I might have been a lot more angry.  And yet, despite knowing it wouldn’t be the case, I kept hoping that Louisa would be able to change Will’s mind, that Will would see that his life really and truly was still worth living.

This book wasn’t really on my “I need to read that” radar until I saw the movie trailer a few months back. It looked like a really unique take on a typical contemporary romance and I was interested in seeing it in theaters. I wanted to be sure to read the book first, though.  I wasn’t really sure if I would enjoy it or not, most people have categorized this book as “chick lit”, but it was so much more than that.  I was deeply moved by this story, and the characters stayed with me even when I wasn’t actively reading the book.

Despite how the book ended, I loved watching the relationship between Will and Lou unfold from her being the caregiver to his grumpy self, to them developing a genuine friendship and trust and bringing out the best in one another, to finally falling in love.  The ending chapters broke my heart, I felt as though I could feel Lou’s pain.  I wanted so desperately to comfort her in some small way; that is truly how invested in the story I was, and how well the author developed these character.

I am glad that there is a sequel (I started it pretty much immediately after I closed Me Before You for the last time), although I have heard mixed reviews for it.  I am just not ready to let the character of Lou go yet.

Review: The Girls

Book Title: The Girls

Book Author: Emma Cline

Book Rating: ☆☆ (2 out of 5 stars)

Published: June 14, 2016

Synopsis: Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction—and an indelible portrait of girls, and of the women they become.”

I feel like there must be something wrong with me. I keep hearing such wonderful things about this debut novel, and I was completely underwhelmed. The Girls is filled with prose that just screams “I am Literary!!! Look at all of these pretty words!” And while I love descriptive writing that draws you into a story, there is such thing as overkill. I am also a little irritated by the comparisons of this novel to The Virgin Suicides. I love The Virgin Suicides and can see the parallels about growing up in a world that is not always kind to teenage girls, but The Girls is just not as engaging and not nearly as well-written.

The story begins with an aging woman named Evie, who we quickly learn was part of a cult during her early teenage years. I think the author intends for readers to be shocked by this fact that this unremarkable woman has such a sordid past. After the first chapter, the book flashes back to the year 1969, and describes how Evie went from being a typical 14 year old girl to a member of one of the most infamous cults in history. Unfortunately, the story just seemed to drag on and on. Of course we need background on our character to understand why she would be interested in joining a cult, but it was just too much. Too much mundane description and not enough plot.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.