Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jumping on the bandwagon. February Book Review

I'm not gonna lie about this.  I have a reading problem.  Ok, it's more like several problems, but let me explain.

1.  I enjoy reading.
2.  I feel like I can't find the time to do it, so I read while I'm on the elliptical at the gym (which we've discussed before), which sometimes is my sole motivation to go to the gym.
3.  I have so many books I'd like to read.
4.  Reading takes up so much time.
5.  Reading keeps me up at night (this is accurate because when I'm reading really good books, I want to know what happens and then I have these dreams about the books I'm reading and woah).

THEN.. I discovered that a whole lot of the bloggers I already read do these book reviews/suggestions...  THEN I realized it was a linkup.  I knew I was screwed.  At first, I was totally fangirling all the review posts.. but now I've decided to just drink the damn kool-aid already and do my own post so I can join the linkup (not that anyone is surprised in the least).  Seriously though, I read through those posts with GoodReads open in the next tab so I can just immediately add things to my "Want to Read" shelf.  Soooo many books!

So yeah.. Not only do I want to read all the books that people are saying are so awesome, I want to blog about all the books I've been reading.  Granted, I'm a few days late this month, but next month, I'll do better (I hope).  BANDWAGON JOINED!!  WOO!!

Life According to Steph

What have I conquered read this past month since 2015 started?
Lets have a looksie (in order of date completed, yay Goodreads!).

Rating scale:

1/5 - Hated it, didn't finish.
2/5 - Tolerated it on principle to finish.
3/5 - Eh, didn't love it, didn't hate it.  Had some good parts/kept me interested/finished it on principle.
4/5 - I liked it.
5/5 - I LURVED it and I'd read it again.

Girl, Stolen by April Henry 2/5
I struggled with this book.  Probably because it's YA and very much aimed towards teen girls with angst.  All the elements of mystery were there to get me interested and it was an easy read, so I just kept going knowing I'd burn through it quickly.  Once we finally got to the pivotal part of the book, I was hooked and had to know what happened.

TL;DR: YA, easy read, not my favorite.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks 3/5 (until the end, then 2/5)
On Veteran's Day, Mr. Scrooge and I went to Books-A-Million while we were passing time before our dinner reservation.  I ended up buying a few clearance books and this was one.  I'd been talking a lot of shit about Nick Sparks and his writing formula (NC setting + tragic life event + couple that gets together despite difficulties = happy ending).  I figured since I hadn't read any Nick Sparks in years, I'd give him another shot.  .....Yeah, about that.

Of course this book follows his formula.  Of course, I was drawn in because North Carolina and this mystery woman with 2 names is all mysterious and I want to know what her back story is, then there's abuse and I'm all up in arms and then there's the guy (Prince Charming, of course) and his problems.  Predicable spoiler: They end up together.  Surprise, Nick Sparks, surprise.

Actually, there was a surprise at the end.  I HATED IT.  It was ridiculous and I'm not going to ruin it for you if you haven't read it and/or want to, just know.. it was a copout of trying to "change" the formula he always uses and it flopped.  I think it also probably went with what everyone else was writing about the year that it was published, but I can't be sure about that hunch.  I had tolerated, and even enjoyed, the cheesy romance of the formula until Sparks through in that twist at the end.  I wanted to throw the damn book against the wall.  Just let me have my cheesy ending and the end. 

TL;DR:  Nick Sparks formula + surprise twist at the end = me wanting to catch this book on fire with my eyeballs.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd 5/5
I loved this book.  I love when life just works without explanation, because it hits home with me.  Also, they mentioned the city I currently live in, as the book is based in South Carolina, and I just squealed with glee.  I stopped reading and pointed it out to Mr. Scrooge who just looked at me like I had 3 heads because who gets excited about something like that?  Me, duh.  Technically, I live outside of Charleston, but let's just say I live in Charleston, it's just easier, mmkay?

Additionally, I love books set in the south because when authors write in a Southern dialect, my heart swoons and my brain sighs with relief because I use some of those words in real life (don't judge me).  I was kinda scared that it was a mother-daughter relationship type book, but it wasn't really, kinda, ish.  It makes sense when you read it.  Finally, I love over-arching themes that come full circle.  The bees are always there.  Its perfect.

TL; DR: If you love books set in the South and don't mind some civil rights struggles/themes while reading about a teenage girl who does some crazy stuff, this is a book for you.

Just One Year by Gayle Forman 4.5/5
After reading Just One Day, I couldn't sleep NOT knowing what happened.  AND I wanted to find out if Forman is a formula writer like Sparks.  Having already read If I Stay and Where She Went, I was worried because this was a 2 book "series" so I knew the potential was high.  The books had similarities, but were not the same, so I was relieved.  Possible spoiler alert: I got my happy ending.

I like that Forman gives you the 1st person POV of both primary characters.  It's a personal preference, probably because I like knowing how people operate.  Despite the YA aspects of the book, which were strong in Just One Day, they weren't overbearing so my loathing of teenage angst didn't distract me from the book (which happens when the angst is at Twilight levels).

TL;DR: Less YA feeling than Just One Day, I wanted to know if they get together or not, which made it difficult to sleep, because I NEED ANSWERS!  Suspenseful, slightly cheesy.. right up my alley.

Something Like Magic: On Remembering How To Be Alive by Brian Andreas 5/5 (completely biased)
I own all the StoryPeople books.  So when this one came out a few months ago, I honestly thought I had pre-ordered it because I wanted the special vellum that came with pre-orders.  Apparently I didn't actually ever order it because my book never came (or my order was lost, but probably I didn't order it since last spring was kinda crazy).  Since I discovered this issue in October, I added it to my Amazon Wishlist since Christmas and my birthday were coming.  Gentle Readers, the wait has been difficult.  SOOOO difficult not to just buy it myself.  Teh MD Roomies didn't disappoint me though and they got it for me for my bday since they're the best.

If you're new to StoryPeople, you have to look past first impressions.  Yes, the drawings are bad.  Yes, the stories are usually 10-20 words.  But those stories speak to the heart.  Something Like Magic is very lovey-dovey, which I've missed from Andreas in the last few years.  It's really more of a feel good book for me because it helps give me perspective of things bigger than me.

TL;DR: I waited for this book for a very long time and I love it.  Check out the StoryPeople website before you make this commitment.  I'm not sure if it comes in an e-reader format.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple 2-2.5/5
This is the cyber book club book and it was one of the first books loaded on Teh Flamin' Kindle.  I wanted to enjoy it way more than I did.  The other problem was that I was expecting it to keep going after it ended because Teh Flamin' Kindle doesn't calculate pages left the way I expected it to.  Meaning, the ending snuck up on me.  That's the thing about ereaders, you can't FEEL how many pages you have left.  #firstworldproblems

Honestly, this wasn't my favorite.  I was torn between hating the mom and wanting to like her.  Actually, that's how I felt about all the characters.  I wanted to like them, but they were all so ...themselves, that I struggled.

Also, I just keep telling myself the daughter is 13ish years old since she's graduating 8th grade or something like that and it just seems like too much.  Maybe I have that incorrect, but that still doesn't change the fact that I questioned the premise.

TL;DR: It wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but not the best.  It invoked too much reader-self-conflict whether I liked the characters or not and when I made the commitment, I changed my mind.  I wasn't sure what I was supposed to think.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes 5/5
I loved this book.  Seriously, it was causing me to loose sleep because I just wanted to know what happened to Sophie.  You start out during WW1 and then go to present day and something about a painting during WW2.  I was all the confused until I finally figured out the connection then I couldn't stop.  I seriously stayed up late on a week night to finish this book because I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep knowing I was so close to the end.  My only struggle with this book was that the beginning felt tedious and slow and I was ready to move on.  It took me a significant portion of the present day section before I wanted to finally get back to the WW1 time period.  I'm not overly fond of war time settings, but this one wasn't bad since it didn't over take the book.

Not to sound insensitive, but war is sad and we get it.  Living the day to day life of German occupied France?  Cue the Jeopardy music.  I felt the same way when I read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Hasseni when he discussed war time in Afghanistan.  It's sad and horrible, more often than not.

I found this book from several other bloggers on their monthly reviews within the past few months.  After reading Me Before You by Moyes, I was happy to read another one of her books.  After reading 2 of Moyes books, now I'm glad I already downloaded all her other books.

TL;DR: Read this book if you like a happy ending and good writing and like putting together the pieces that link different characters.


  1. I also read the book linkup posts with my goodreads open. There's always good stuff out there to add!

    I adored The Secret Life of Bees. I wish she wrote more.

  2. You've got several books that I intend to read (The Girl You Left Behind, The Secret Lives of Bees, Just One Day, and Just One Year). I always have SO many books I want to read, and yes...this link-up only makes me find more :)


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