Photo Review – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

by Gail Honeyman

SummaryNo one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

Sometimes the hip new contemporaries, especially celebrity book club picks, aren’t really my thing, but I really enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine!

It’s difficult to review because I feel like I knew very little about what to expect going in. It was unexpectedly funny and unexpectedly sad. I couldn’t put it down and I couldn’t really tell if I would ever like Eleanor, but I enjoyed her story nonetheless. It was moving without being heavy handed and I think I liked that the best. I definitely recommend this one!

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Star 4

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Photo Review – Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

by Robert C. O’Brien

Summary: Some extraordinary rats come to the aid of a mouse family in this Newbery Medal Award-winning classic by notable children’s author Robert C. O’Brien.

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I read this for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge as a childhood classic I’ve never read. I’m not sure how this classic escaped my notice considering how much I loved animal books as a kid, but I’m so glad this book was recommended to me by a friend and I had a legitimate excuse to read it. Sometimes that’s my favorite part of the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge since it “forces” me to read books I would otherwise let sit on my shelf for years.

This was a wonderful story about Mrs. Frisby and the rats who helped her when she wasn’t sure what else she would do. The sci-fi/otherworldly element to the story was awesome and intriguing to read about even as an adult. I enjoyed the book a lot more than I expected to and I can see why it’s a favorite for so many readers!

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Star 4

Photo Review – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

by Jenny Han

SummaryTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Source:  I borrowed a Kindle copy from my local library

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Review:

After finding out that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was coming out on Netflix as a movie, I decided it was time to finally read the book. I was in the mood for a fun romantic comedy and that’s exactly what I got. The book wasn’t absolutely amazing or particularly well written, but it was fun, quirky, and such a feel-good story that I couldn’t help but rate it highly.

The main character found herself in a bit of a situation when her “love letters” disappeared from inside her hat box and were mailed to her previous crushes, none of whom knew she had a crush on them at any point. It was a cheesy romantic story with the lesson of learning to speak up and put yourself out there and not live on the sidelines of life and I enjoyed reading it.

I definitely recommend it if you’re in the mood for something light.

(I also watched the movie and it’s super cute, too.)

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Star 4

 

Photo Review – The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

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The Silver Linings Playbook

By Matthew Quick

SummaryImagine your life is a film directed by God–a rom-com, obviously, complete with happily-ever-after ending. Before the credits roll, there will, of course, be tears, tantrums, and misunderstandings, but you know you’ll get there in the end.

Welcome to Pat’s world. It’s a world of silver linings and true love but also a world where God makes movies and Kenny G. lurks in your attic, and when Pat inadvertently befriends the tragic Tiffany, he begins to question whether or not he might just have gotten the genre wrong.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Review:

I had fairly low expectations based on the reviews and the fact that most people seemed disappointed by the book. Maybe that had something to do with my overall opinion, but I enjoyed the book a lot more than I thought I would.

I still prefer the movie, I think, but I appreciated Pat’s narration and I liked that, as the reader, I was more inside of his head than I was in the movie. I don’t think I truly understood his character until I opened the book. It was all from Pat’s POV and he saw things a bit differently. I could tell that he was interpreting things incorrectly in the book, but I understood his motivations a bit more. In the movie, I didn’t quite grasp what was “wrong” with him. I feel that, while I would pick the movie over the book, I didn’t feel that the book was bad or repetitive. It was the same story told in a different way.

I read this for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge as a book made into a movie that I’ve already seen,

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Star 4

Photo Review – Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

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Manhattan Beach

by Jennifer Egan

SummaryThe daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad.

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.

Source: I borrowed a digital copy from my local library

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Review:

Manhattan Beach was well written with an interesting plot, but it did not feel like I was reading one cohesive story. It was more like a few seemingly unrelated plot lines, as if I was reading a collection of short stories. I enjoyed those stories, but none of them came together in any way that made me feel satisfied by the overall direction. Instead, I found myself staring at the page count, wondering what the point of all of this was.

It was a story about a family dealing with the hardship of having a handicapped child. It was a story about the mafia. It was a story about the working in World War II as a woman. It was a story about becoming the first commercial woman diver. It was a story about the relationship between a mafia man and a young woman. It was a story about a missing father. It was a story about accepting loss and moving on.

I feel like all of the threads could’ve come together, but they didn’t really. Not in any real way that left me feeling satisfied. I think I would’ve put up with it more had the book been half the size. There were dozens of pointless scenes that did not add to any of the various stories in the book.

I feel the same way mostly about Manhattan Beach as I did The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Beautifully written, utterly pointless.

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Star 3

Photo Review – The Iron Flower (The Black Witch Chronicles #2) by Laurie Forest

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The Iron Flower (The Black Witch Chronicles #2)

by Laurie Forest

SummaryElloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.

With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a darkness inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.

Source: I preordered a hardcover

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Review:

I really liked the first book, The Black Witch, and was eager to read the sequel. It was awesome and very well done. Elloren was a much more likable character than she was in book 1 and she very publicly stood for what she believed in at the moments where it truly mattered. It took her forever to get there, but it was worth the wait, I think.

The story was full of action, politics that got even scarier than they were in the first book, magic, choices, and even some romance.

I have to say, the ending left me a little sad that I have to wait another year for the next book because it dropped some pretty hefty revelations, but I enjoyed the book quite a bit. I was also glad the naive but-I-don’t-have-any-magic thing finally came to an end as she DOES get to discover she has magical abilities in this installment! (Finally!)

I know I rated book 1 5 stars, but I did that mainly because I liked the book and felt that it was getting some pretty unfair 1 star reviews because people didn’t open their minds to the possibility that the author was trying to make a VALID POINT about prejudice and was building the blocks. I highly recommend this series so far for that point because the author does it well and it’s shocking. I added the star in order to help contribute to offsetting the overall average on Goodreads. The readers who have enjoyed the series or at least given it a chance have been pretty kind to the reviews for the 2nd book so I’m only rating it 4 stars because that’s closer to how I feel. It’s not without flaws and the writing isn’t super spectacular or anything, so it’s 4 star YA.

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Star 4

Photo Review – Rose Madder by Stephen King

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Rose Madder

by Stephen King

SummaryThe #1 national bestseller about a woman who escapes an abusive marriage is “one of Stephen King’s most engrossing horror novels. Relentlessly paced and brilliantly orchestrated…fueled by an air of danger immediate and overwhelming” (Publishers Weekly).

“What woke her up was a single drop of blood, no larger than a dime.”

After surviving fourteen years of hell in a violently abusive marriage, Rosie Daniels finally summons the courage to flee for her life. But leaving her husband, Norman, for a new city and a new start is a very daunting prospect. It’s hard for Rosie not to keep looking over her shoulder, and with good reason—Norman’s a police officer with the instincts of a predator, a force of relentless terror and savagery…a man almost mythic in his monstrosity. He’s very good at finding people, even if he is losing his mind. Rosie’s only hope for salvation may lie in a far more dangerous place, where she must become her own myth and the woman she never knew she could be….

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

Someday, I’ll finally complete what seems like a never ending Stephen King to read pile. I picked this up at the store when I realized I hadn’t yet read it or owned it. I didn’t know anything going in, which I sometimes enjoy because then I have no expectations.

Rose Madder was a completely engrossing tale about an abused woman who decided to leave her husband one day. Her husband was a police officer and she was terrified of him finding her.

In a lot of ways, the plot is kind of similar to Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks, but it’s much more horrifying and it ends a bit differently. Rosie was terrified of her husband, but eventually, with help from people she met in her new town, she was able to grow and flourish into an independent woman.

I loved the book because it was real life horror combined with an element of fantasy. It was incredibly well told considering the author has likely never been a battered woman, but I felt that Rose’s story was authentic and chilling.

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Star 4