Before I Blogged I Read: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

 

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

 Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: September 2008
Genre: Literary Adult Fiction

What it’s About:

Nice year old Oskar is precocious, bright an inventor and someone who definitely sees the world with a different lens. Oskar has also just lost his father who was killed during 9/11. After his death, he finds a key that was his father’s and he is certain that finding what it goes to will solve some sort of mystery and will maybe help his mother in her grief. He sets off to find what the key belongs to and how it relates to his father and meets people all across the city. Other chapters are letters telling another story that gives a bigger picture to the members of Oskar’s family.

THOUGHTS:

1. THIS IS ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS & I FELT ALL THE THINGS READING IT:  This was the book that got me back into reading in general (you should check out my reading history to get an overview) after not having read much in high school and college. It was one of those books that was the most all-consuming experiences that I hadn’t felt in a LONG time when I did read books here and there. I DEVOURED IT. I lived it. I bawled. I belly-laughed. My heart tore and twisted in ways in the way that only a special book can do to you. I’m honestly afraid to reread it for the reason I explain here. I mean, I got a lot of other people to read and love it but a close friend of mine read it and was like, “that was the most pretentious boring book I’ve ever read.” DAGGER TO THE HEART I TELL YOU. But, for me, this book was everything and more.

2. Oskar will be one of the most memorable characters ever. Oskar is just one of the best characters that always makes my heart flip flop when I think of him. Precocious and honest and funny. I just adore him and my heart broke for him as he tried to solve this puzzle. I loved the way he saw the world. I loved his phrases and made-up words. I will still always use the term “heavy boots” for how I’m feeling some days.

3. Some of my all time favorite passages and quotes come from this book:  The way that Jonathan Safran Foer conveys even the simplest of things just really resonated with me and I dog-earred so many pages. I read the funny bits out loud to Will. The emotions and the little truths just really hit me. I really loved this author’s writing style and read his other book, Everything Is Illuminated, and enjoyed that too though less than this one.

Favorite Quotes:

 

“I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can’t tell fast enough, the ears that aren’t big enough, the eyes that can’t take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.” ”

 

“We need enormous pockets, pockets big enough for our families and our friends, and even the people who aren’t on our lists, people we’ve never met but still want to protect. We need pockets for boroughs and for cities, a pocket that could hold the universe.”

 

“Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time. My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future.”

 “It was one of the best days of my life, a day during which I lived my life and didn’t think about my life at all.”

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought!

More reading:

Before I Blogged I Read: Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
Before  I Blogged I Read: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Before I Blogged I Read: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Book Talk: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book Talk: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins ReidAfter I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher/Year: Washington Square Press- July 1, 2014
Genres: Adult Contemporary, Adult Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Other Books From Author: Forever, Interrupted

 
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Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

 

A1

Lauren and Ryan have been together since they were in college. Now, many years into their marriage, it’s all fallen apart. In an attempt to figure out what to do next, they decide to take a year off from their marriage — no communication at all — in the hopes that spending some time apart they would fall back in love again or figure out what their future is. They both end up on a journey of self-discovery and that year questions what they think about love and marriage and their ideas of it.

a2Should I wake Will up to talk about this book now or wait until morning?! (I chose waiting because he might receive all my THOUGHTS better if I don’t wake him up). Also, CRAP it’s 1:30 in the morning and I have to be up early!!

a4Oh my soul. OH MY HEART. OH MY THIS BOOK. This is a must for anybody who is married for sure but even if you aren’t married it’s a great story and there is so much to glean from it regarding relationships — especially romantic ones. Estelle and Hannah both raved about this book and THEY WERE 100% RIGHT. It’s freaking amazing. No seriously.

1. As a married lady, this book resonated with me in more depth than I could have imagined: It was a lot like Landline by Rainbow Rowell in the way it made me think about marriage and relationships but this one affected me even more so to be honest. Will and I have been happily married for two years this month and this book made me want to vow to never stop talking, never let apathy lead the way and resentment to build and SO MANY OTHER THINGS because this story broke my heart in ways and I don’t want my marriage to ever get to the point this one did. There were little things that were in this book that scared the hell out of me because some of them I could see happening to us if I’m being honest. The beginnings of things that don’t look like a big deal but ARE.  I’d recommend this to everyone but ESPECIALLY YOU MARRIED PEOPLE. It was Thinking Book for sure and I am so thankful for it.

2. From page 1 I was just captured by this story: We know from the start that they are in a bad place so it’s super bittersweet when we get the story of them falling in love. Despite that, I loved learning how they met, their engagement and then life as newlyweds and then we get these chapters of these small cracks in the foundation and then each little section gets progressively sadder and worse with their relationship. I could FEEL the resentment and the anger there. And then we get into the present where they are deciding to separate from each other for a year. I found myself furiously reading because I HAD TO KNOW how it would turn out. I enjoyed watching what Lauren was learning in her year away from him and I just was so nervous to see what would happen at the end of the year. They both learned a lot about themselves/their marriage but would they be able to fix it? I HAD TO KNOW.

3. This book made me WEEP multiple times: There were just so many things about this story that made me emotional — especially the ending. But watching them leave each other, witnessing the sad moments and the loneliness, the doubt, the realizations of where things went wrong. It all just killed me and there were these perfectly written moments that just stirred up something in my heart so forcefully. And when the ending came…I was just a mess. It was just so unflinchingly honest and poignant that my heart couldn’t handle it.

4. I’m so used to reading books about people FALLING IN LOVE that it was refreshing to read something different: Sure, we see the beginnings of their love story but then we start to see this unraveling of it. And I liked that I really didn’t KNOW if they were going to get back together in the end. To watch how hard sometimes you have to work at love was just really refreshing because like the tagline says, “falling in love is the easy part.” And I honestly was glued to this unraveling but then this year of self love and reflecting on the marriage and the love for each other.

 

a6RATING-beyondloved

factors+ plot, characters, FEELINGS, how it made me think
- NADA

Re-readability: YES!!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I got this out from the library and I REALLY want a copy for myself now!

a5readers of contemporary adult fiction, people who like reading about messy love, people who liked or were interested in Rainbow Rowell’s Landine, married folk because it’s super relatable (even if it you AREN’T married it’s great)

a8I highly recommend After I Do and I can’t wait to pick up Taylor Jenkins Reid’s debut novel next. I loved this story and how I connected to it and the characters. It was definitely a book I NEEDED to read and hit me right in the heart with how it dealt with the complicated nature of love and marriage. As I approach my 2 year marriage anniversary, this was just the right book for me at the right time.

 

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After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
* If you haven’t read it, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
* DID YOU WEEP AT THE ENDING IF YOU READ THIS BOOK??
* Married ladies, did this one hit ya right in the feels?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

Book Talk: Little Mercies by Heather GudenkaufLittle Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher/Year: Harlequin- June 2014
Genres: Adult Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden, One Breath Away,

 
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

A1
Ellen is a social worker and an advocate for children who has seen some PRETTY awful things — neglect, abuse and just pure evil. She finds herself fulfilled in protecting these children and tries to balance her career with her husband and children. On a day where her attention is elsewhere she finds herself on the other side of her job as her daughter’s life is in jeopardy and her role as a mother could be shaken up. At the same time, a little girl named Jenny finds her way into Ellen’s life. Jenny’s on her own because of some decisions her father made and she isn’t sure she wants to go home…at least not without finding out what she came for.

a2This would make a great book club book! (It even prompted this post!)

a41. I love how this took a issue that has been in the news and humanized it: I don’t want to say what the THING is because I want you to be as surprised as I was with how the events unfolded. I’ll just say it’s something that has been in the news and I’ve seen heated debates over. It’s easy to say these statements about the situation but as you read the story you find yourself sympathetic (at least I did) to the main character because I know it’s something that could happen to me easily. It’s those split second moments that change things and I felt the gravity of her situation. I found it was good to read this one because I am SO quick to judge when I see things.  Would be SUCH a good book for book club!

2. I couldn’t put it down at all: I had to know how it was going to turn out for both storylines. I was reading it furiously at the pool. There’s enough drama and tense situation that it’s easy to get caught up in. Ellen is being looked at like the very parents SHE has to investigate in her job as a social worker and I honestly loved seeing her perception of her clients change in some ways as she navigates the same system they have.

3. It was SUCH an emotional book: You know those books where you can just FEEL that punched in the gut feeling the character does? That was me with Ellen. I really felt for her and it was AGONIZING emotionally to see how everything played out for her. And then, the other story with Jenny, really got me too. I loved the interactions between Jenny and Ellen’s mom and I just felt those warm and fuzzies. There’s just a lot of emotional family related things going on in this book and they struck a chord with me. I think also it was emotional to me because you watch Ellen have to endure all this and it’s the biggest wakeup call of her life…and sometimes it’s sad that we don’t get that wakeup call until something serious happens.

4. While I enjoyed it, I found it to be pretty predictable and some things were of the “isn’t THAT convenient” variety: I wouldn’t say the fact that it was pretty predictable put a damper on how much I enjoyed the novel but I didn’t feel like it surprised me at all. It was more the heavy coincidences that put a little bit of a damper on it — the stories tied together a little TOO neatly and full circle for my personal taste. A little contrived in a sense?

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+ plot, enjoyability, emotional connection, well written, how absorbed I was
- little predictable, some situations feeling contrived/too convenient

Re-readability: Probably not!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No, sadly because it wasn’t a favorite or one I’d reread, but I’d recommend it as a book club read?

a5people looking for a good book club book, people who like fiction that take relevant topics from the media and humanize it, people who generally like women’s fiction,

a8I found myself absorbed with this one at the pool! It takes a story that always breaks my heart from the news and really adds this human element to it where things aren’t always so black and white. You’ll feel yourself conflicted and challenged to shift your snap judgments or at least that’s what happened to me. This book was a read that gripped me from the moment the LIFE CHANGING MOMENT happened and didn’t let go until I knew the conclusion.

 

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a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
* If you haven’t read it, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
*Have you read any other Heather Gudenkauf books? I have another one of hers that I’m excited to start!
* How did you feel about Ellen and what happened? Do you think it was the right call in the end?
* On a personal note, did you relate to her with how easy it is to get caught up in life and not pay attention? I’ve never had something like that but I’m a person who is very much like Ellen in the beginning of this book.


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Book Talk: The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Publisher/Year: Simon and SchusterGenres: Adult Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Other Books From Author: It's his debut!

 
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Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

A1Don Tillman has never really considered marriage. He’s got his whole routine/life down to the minute and he enjoys his life as a genetics professor. He keeps his socializing to a few friends and doesn’t really date. Until somebody he cares about makes a comment about him being a good husband one day. Considering this as a possibility for his life, he goes about trying to decide if finding a wife is possible…in the most scientific way of course. He comes up with The Wife Project in which he creates very specific questions based on the qualities for a wife that would be most compatible for him which his no easy task considering how particular he is. And then Rosie shows up in his life….Rosie who fails this quiz with flying colors. Rosie who needs his help to find her biological father.

a2I LOVE YOU, DON TILLMAN!

a4Firstly, thank you SO much to the thoughtful and lovely Jen for sending this to me! I had been wanting to buy this one for a while especially because the cover is so beauteous.

1. Don Tillman is an AWESOME and memorable main character and reminded me of Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory: I was reading it and found myself snickering a lot — he’s really scientific and smart, very literal and just…very Sheldon Cooper like. I read a few lines to Will and said, “who does this sound like?” and he agreed…Sheldon Cooper. (Seriously, couldn’t you see Sheldon coming up with a scientific quiz for a potential wife?). He’s got his routine and his preciseness and he comes together to be this dynamically quirky, loveable character even in his most frustrating moments. It’s quite clear that he has Asperger’s or something similar (he reminded me so much of a boy I used to nanny who had Asperger’s) and it was fascinating to be in his brain especially because he wasn’t really aware that he had Asperger’s..just that some things came differently to him than others. Definitely not your usual character and I loved it! (Someone  on Twitter said he reminds them of Sherlock and I agree too!)

2. The Rosie Project managed to pull off hilarious and heartfelt really well: I laughed quite a bit during this book. It’s FUNNY. Like really funny. But it’s also really worms its way into your heart. It’s heartbreaking to watch Don struggle with things that come second nature to me — things like love. He doesn’t think with his heart and so he sees things very black or white — until Rosie comes around and stirs things up. It was so heartwarming, in addition to how heartbreaking some moments were to read as he struggles, because Don Tillman simultaneously wants to change and yet doesn’t at the same time. He just wants to be capable of love but isn’t sure he is.

3. The Rosie Project isn’t your typical love story and I love that: I read A LOT of love stories and I love ones that aren’t typically. Don hasn’t really dated and, to be honest, he isn’t sure he is capable of loving. He’s so stuck in his ways and he knows  that social interactions are much more difficult for him that he’s pretty much written off romance. With some prodding and a statement from someone he cares about, he suddenly begins to wonder if he is in fact capable of love and being a husband one day. I loved how his own love story unfolded — with all its messiness and unconventional bits. It was so wonderful and it became one of my favorite romances ever without being super romantic or in the obvious way. Love is not easy for him and it doesn’t come naturally so watching him navigate it just gives me the warm and fuzzies because you cannot HELP but root for him! Plus the Rosie/Don banter is A+!!

4. I loved watching Don see himself in new ways because of The Wife Project: He thinks he isn’t capable of change really and I loved watching him decide if he SHOULD change just so he could be a suitable husband or someone worthy of Rosie. As the book progresses you really watch Don start to see himself and the world in new ways and I LOVED THAT. His observations and his reflections were just great in regards to himself as a person and as someone with love to give.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ characters, enjoyability, great writing, plot
- Honestly nothing.

Re-readability: Possibly in a few years I may want to!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have one! It’s beauteous. Definitely a keeper on the shelf!

a5People who love a good love story that isn’t typical, adult fiction readers who like literary but not pretentious literary sorts of books, people who like charming and funny books, people who like Sheldon Cooper/Sherlock-esque characters (if that makes sense..but a little less annoying than Sheldon can be..AND I SAY THIS AS SOMEONE WHO LOVES SHELDON).

a8The Rosie Project was a book that made me laugh, warmed my heart and just completely swept me up in Don’s unique love story. I can see why the masses have fallen in love with Don and Rosie and all the great characters in this novel. What a fantastic, character-driven book and I can’t WAIT for The Rosie Effect!

 

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a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
* If you haven’t read it, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
* Did you find a similarity at all to Sheldon Cooper or was that just me?? I kept reading everything in his voice and had to stop so I wouldn’t just picture Sheldon haha
* If you’ve read it, how would you feel about it becoming a movie/who would you cast?? And how excited are you for book 2?? Any hopes or predictions for The Rosie Effect?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt | Book Review

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt | Book ReviewTell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Publisher/Year: Random House- June 2012
Genres: Adult Contemporary, Adult Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Other Books From Author: None, this was her debut. WHY CAN'T SHE HAVE MORE BOOKS OUT!?
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book synopsis Fourteen year old June’s uncle Finn, her best friend and the only person who gets her, passes away from an illness that her parents are hush hush about and seem ashamed of. As she tries to grapple with the loss of the one person that means everything to her she finds a stranger reaching out to her — a stranger who knows Finn almost as well as she did..maybe even more so. June reluctantly spends time with him and together they try to heal from their mutual loss.

good books to read

Oh, this book! My heart. Do you ever read a book and feel like the weight of the world is just sitting on your heart the whole time? One of my favorite expressions to describe how I feel, from one of my all time favorite books, is as having “heavy boots.” Tell The Wolves I’m Home was excellent and completely made me feel a whole array of emotions.  Thank you, Margot, for letting me borrow it and pushing it on me!

It’s an adult fiction novel but the narrator is 14 years old and I found this just to be a most beautiful and heartbreaking coming of age story set in the 1980’s. There were so many things about this book that I loved that I feel like I can’t even begin to tell you about it all — the characters, the writing, this weighty grief that June has to work through and so many other little aspects of the plot.

Watching June deal with the grief of losing her Uncle Finn was so emotional because it was just all so complicated within the family and the public perception of Finn because of how he died! Finn died of AIDs and it’s back in the 80’s so everything is very hush hush and not as much public knowledge about it. Her and Finn were so close and June’s feelings towards him are kind of complicated and intense. Then she meets Finn’s boyfriend Toby, whom her parents kept a secret from her because they blame him for Finn dying, and from Toby she learns even more about her Uncle Finn — to the point where she feels like she didn’t even really know him in some ways and she hates having to had shared him with someone. I loved learning about Finn through June but also through Toby and Finn really became such a real character to me. I could feel the love just emanating from them.

While June and Toby’s friendship was one of my favorite parts of this novel, I also really loved the relationship between June and her sister even though I wanted to kick her sister in the face so many times. I love complicated sisterly relationships and this one was a thread throughout the story I was fascinated by.

It’s honestly just so hard to explain what I thought about this novel. It was just brilliant, touching and got me all choked up. I loved it! It’s a quieter novel but it moves along at a good pace and hooks you with the compelling characters and their dynamics.

book reviewsI loved Tell The Wolves I’m Home. It was just one of those really touching, complicated stories that broke my heart but also mended it in ways. I think it could be a good novel for YA readers who also like adult fiction — good crossover material! This book left a searing impression on my heart and I won’t soon forget it.

short book reviewTell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

 

for-fans-of-bookadult fiction, character driven books, coming of age stories, family dynamics + secrets, stories about grief, books that make your heart explode

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Save The Date: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

To learn more about why I started doing this Save The Date feature and how it differs from my reviews — go here!

 

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* Release date according to Goodreads

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Pre-Order It | Add It To Goodreads


What Landline by Rainbow Rowell Is About:

Georgie + Neal’s marriage has been off for some time and she knows it has been. It’s not an issue of not loving each other but between jobs and kids and all somehow it just has gotten a little lost. When they are a few days out from leaving for Omaha for Christmas, Georgie has a huge work opportunity arise and she has to stay in LA for it. She assumes they’ll all just stay home but is surprised when Neal decides he and the kids are still going. Scared of what this implies, Georgie wonders if it has all fallen apart for good and if/how she can fix it….until she’s given an opportunity to talk to Neal in the past.

Why You Should Be Saving The Date for Landline by Rainbow Rowell:

1. Rainbow Rowell continues her trend of being able to write poignantly and candidly about all sorts of love: Every book of hers I’ve read (all but Attachments) just perfectly captures some intricacy of love in different stages/forms and all the beautiful messiness that comes with it. I loved that, while this was partly a story about a love going wrong, it’s also a story about falling back in love and remembering the first time you fell in love with that person as well…especially in the face of maybe losing it all. She makes love just come alive and feel true.

2. GOD HER WRITING: I just love how Rainbow Rowell writes and Landline is no exception. I love her dialogue. The insertion of some humor. How it makes me feel. And these beautiful sentences that just make you stop in your tracks. I even read a passage to Will and I NEVERRRR read him things from what I’m reading.

3. Lots of thinking re: my own marriage and really any relationship that’s important: It’s easy to be complacent and take people for granted. To not try harder to keep your love ignited and fall into bad habits. I’m early on in my marriage and things are wonderful but this was such a raw and honest portrayal of how one day you could wake up and be in a place you don’t want to be in your marriage because little by little you let it slip away.

4. She just keeps proving she can write anything: This is her 2nd adult book and 4th book total and everything of hers I read is so wonderfully different and I never know what to expect with her but each time I fall in love in my own way with the book and the characters. They are the books that linger for me and keep me up at night.

5. She makes this THING work: There’s an element to this book, how Georgie communicates with him in the past, that COULD be super corny and she just makes it WORK. So well. Never felt corny.

 

Who Should Save The Date: Rainbow Rowell fans, people who also read adult fiction, people who like love stories that are a bit messy but beautiful

 

A Sneak Peek: “You don’t know when you are twenty-three. You don’t know what it really means to crawl into someone else’s life and stay there. You can’t see all the ways you’re going to get tangled, how you’re going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten — in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems” (this is taken from the advanced copy and could be subject to change)

Be on the lookout for my FULL review closer to the release date where I will flesh out my thoughts a little more!

 

Have you read this one? Are you excited for it?? Putting it on your TBR list? What’s your favorite Rainbow Rowell book thus far if you’ve read her?

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie | Book Review

20130709-165427.jpgBook Title/Author: Arranged by Catherine McKenzie
Publisher/Year
: William Morrow 2012
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance – “Chick Lit/Romantic Comedy”
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Spin, Forgotten, Hidden

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I got this out from the library!

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Blythe is by all means a successful — she’s in her early 30’s, she’s got a great job as a columnist for a magazine, she’s working on a deal for her book and she’s got a great social circle. The only thing she is missing is that special someone to share her life with. She’s had her share of bad relationships and the latest one ended in her leaving him because he cheated. On her way to start her new life alone she comes across a business card for what appears to be a dating service for when she decides she may be up for dating again. Anne hits rock bottom when her best friend gets engaged and she feels like she is going to be forever alone so she decides to call the dating service and see what happens. What Anne finds is that it is actually a very exclusive service that isn’t there to get you a date but rather to find you a husband — it’s an arranged marriage service that comes with a hefty price tag. She thinks it is absurd at first but after a lot of thought and research she decides to give it a go and soon she’s on her way to Mexico to meet and marry her husband.

I read Arranged by Catherine McKenzie on the beach and it was SUCH a perfect beach read. I originally had her novel Spin as a pick on my Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag list but it came into the library too late so I picked this one up since it was available! It was so FUN and such a deliciously good page turner and I enjoyed every single page!

Arranged is told in 3 parts and I don’t even know which one is my favorite. Part 1 is learning about Anne’s love life and her finding out about this whole process and agreeing to it. I was certainly plenty intrigued about the whole service and how it works though I, like Anne, was very skeptical. Part 2 is Mexico which was equally, if not more,  compelling as she meets her husband. As a reader, I was so eager to see if there would be chemistry between them and how awkward it would be. Part 3 is life AFTER the resort and that is where it gets to be even more of a juicier page-turner.

It was easy for me to feel for Anne. Sure, I met Will when I was 21 but pretty much all my friends were in serious relationships and I was just bouncing around so I always felt like an old maid. I know lots of people in Anne’s position — she’s in her early 30’s, doesn’t have a serious relationship and all her friends are getting married and having kids. It’s hard to feel like you are stuck in a whole other universe while all your friends are “moving on.” I felt that when we were the only unmarried couple in our group. I could feel Anne’s desire for what her friends had — true love — and I love how this story was so honest & funny about the things we do to find love. While most of us probably have not considered  arranged marriages, we’ve all done something or ignored something in our quest for love.

The writing was very accessible and straightforward which was perfect for a beach read and had characters that were easy to relate to but not in an obvious way. I was taken off guard by something that happened in Part 3 (I didn’t read the summary of this book closely) but after that I found that it remained pretty predictable to what I expect like how it is when I’m watching a romantic comedy and I didn’t mind that. I rooted for Anne the whole way through to find her true love and her story, while unconventional, was something I could relate to and loved watching unravel.

Ultimately Arranged was the fun, breezy romantic comedy I had hoped it would be for a beach read but I was really impressed with the smart and honest insights into the ups and downs of finding someone to love and loving– desire, loneliness, being vulnerable, trusting after you’ve been hurt, etc. It satisfied the need for a romantic page-turner filled with some laughs but also tackled the subject of marriage and love in an insightful and honest manner. It was a very unique and unconventional love story and I enjoyed it so much! Definitely recommend if you are looking for a fun romantic comedy or a good beach read!

 

Arranged-Catherine-McKenzie


Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Did you like it, dislike it or feeling mixed about it? Did you see THE BIG THING coming? I just didn’t (but I also didn’t read the summary). Have you read any of her other books?? Which one should I read next? I have Spin from the library now so I’ll probably start there!

 

Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Book Title/Author: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
Publisher/Year
:  Plume 2012
Genre: Mystery/historical fiction – Adult Fiction
Series
: No
Other Books From Author: The Violets of March, The Bungalow

Amazon| Goodreads | Sarah Jio’s website |

I checked this out from my wonderful library. LIBRARIES ARE COOL, y’all!

 

 

 

Told in alternating perspectives, Blackberry Winter tells the story of two woman, decades apart, but whose stories become intertwined when a freak weather phenomenon in May, a blackberry winter, unearths an unsolved kidnapping from the 1930s. Vera Ray is a single mother who is struggling to pay rent with her low paying job as a maid at a ritzy hotel. With no way to pay for childcare, she tucks her three year old son in bed to work the night shift, only to return home to discover that there has been a freak snowstorm and Daniel has gone missing with only his favorite teddy bear left behind. Almost 80 years later, Claire, a reporter and wife in the midst of a failing marriage, wakes up to Seattle covered in snow and her boss wanting a great feature connecting the blackberry winter of today to the one in 1933. Claire finds the story of the missing child that went unsolved and sets out to find out what happened as Vera’s story becomes personal to her — even more so than she’d ever realized.

I really, really loved Blackberry Winter! It was a captivating story that and has made me a huge Sarah Jio fan with just one book. The way the two women’s stories were intertwined and told in alternating chapters really worked for me as I learned more about each women & their life in smaller pieces — which really piled on the suspense! I was so invested in both Vera & Claire’s stories that I’d finish one chapter and be all, “Oh man! I don’t want to switch perspectives” but then immediately be absorbed in the other woman’s story.I loved learning about Vera’s back story and how she became a single mother (umm rather swoony and then completely heartbreaking) while simultaneously learning more about what happened to her and Daniel through Claire’s investigation. That storyline REALLY got to me and Sarah Jio knows how to deliver bits of answers in a way that you can’t help but hastily read because you really care so much about what happened.

I was afraid I wasn’t going to really connect with Claire with the nature of the fact that so much of what she does in the book is help us learn more about Vera and Daniel but Sarah Jio really made her into a character I loved as she had so many of her own heartbreaking issues to deal with that really drew her to this story. While obviously her investigation about Vera was the shining storyline, I thought that Claire’s marital issues and the unfortunate accident that happened in their life was really interesting and I loved the healing that went on throughout the story in different ways. The only thing that I will say is that sometimes I thought things were a little bit too much of a coincidence but not in a way that really detracted from the story at all. But besides that, this book was fantastic & I’ll be reading all of her books!

 

Blackberry Winter was the perfect blend of mystery and historical fiction, laced with romance, and a serious page-turner. The  pieces of the mystery were revealed in that way that just makes on ravenous and the two intertwined stories were heartbreaking and beautiful. Truly a moving story that will leave you a bit misty-eyed while reading about Vera’s story — both through the back story & Claire’s investigation. Sarah Jio has just such smooth & exquisite writing — the unraveling of the mystery, the scenes that make your heart ache, the amazing characterization & more — it was just all so deftly and wonderfully written. Even if you typically don’t read adult fiction, I’d recommend still checking this one out!

 

You May Also Like: Kate MortonLucinda Riley, The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rassmussen (it has that some sort of amazingly revealed mystery without being an overly “mystery” book — great characters, stories that make a mark on your heart, etc). 

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Did you guess how they were tied together? Have you read either of Sarah Jio’s other novels?  Which one should I tackle next?

Review: I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

*Originally posted 6/25 (my 2nd review ever!) on my blog but didn’t migrate over in my WP switch*

Oh, Ed Kennedy. I feel your pain sometimes. Ordinary, no talents, no expertise, no grand accomplishments. Everyone around you is doing great things and you just remain stagnant. All the days run together and become unable to be distinguished from one another.

I don’t really know what expectations I had for this book. I had LOVED The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It was moving, felt honest, and unique. I guess I think maybe my only expectation for this book was to be moved.

The general storyline was intriguing enough. Our ordinary “hero” Ed finds himself smack dab in the middle of a bank robbery along with a couple of his smartass friends. After this incident he finds his world rocked when a mysterious playing card shows up at his door with 3 names and addresses on them. And there begins his journey as “the messenger”..

As the messenger, his life intersects with strangers and familiar people alike that he must figure out what message he needs to deliver each particular person. Some of his messages are quite easy to figure out while others even put him in danger. And meanwhile the question still remains– who the mysterious person is that is behind the cards?

Zusack manages to deliver a moving story that becomes the ultimate message, in my opinion, for humanity. I feel like sometimes I need a good reminder that anyone, no matter how ordinary you are, can do something good to help someone and that it is just a matter of having the confidence in yourself to do so. I love thinking about how interconnected we all really are.

I loved the development of Ed throughout the story. It gave me great joy seeing the confidence he gained with each message and I loved how he handled every lesson from each person that he touched. I also found the cast of characters that he interacted to be dimensional as well and I could picture them in my head and see different scenes play out.

In all, I really enjoyed it. Did I love it as much as The Book Thief? Absolutely not. But they are totally different books which I just think is a testament to how incredibly powerful Zusak can make every story whether it’s about a girl during the Holocaust or an ordinary joe like myself.

Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream

Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream is set up by chapters which count down the last 30 days of Clementine’s life as she plans and prepares for her suicide. Each chapter chronicles her day as she goes about her business to prepare and plan for her impending departure – things as mundane as cleaning out her refrigerator to finding a new owner for her rambunctious cat and making contact with her estranged father. Along the way there is drama, unearthing of secrets and quite a few things that could derail her plan. Mostly it’s hilarious, despite you’d think the tone would be with a book about suicide, but it’s also a little heartbreaking when you learn more about Clementine’s life. You just want to save her.

It’s a strange experience reading this book. As you are reading you become, like her, more and more at peace with her decision so to speak. I wouldn’t say I was rooting her on in her suicide but you find yourself almost accepting of it in the strangest way and you keep reading on swiftly to see if she actually goes through with it. I have to applaud the author for writing in such a way that you take on that resignation and feeling of peace that Clementine has in her decision.

Clementine herself was such a strange and interesting character! She’s snarky, a free spirited artist, quite ballsy & altogether just memorable. I felt as though some of her reckless actions and interesting decision making really mirrored her commitment to going through with her suicide. Why care about what you eat when you aren’t going to be alive in a few weeks? One night stands…not a problem when you don’t have to worry about the repercussions.

There were a few things that prevented this book from being stellar or awesome. Sometimes some of the descriptions of the mundane things…were just TOO mundane and I’d find myself skipping over a half of page to get to a part where she’s being hilarious in her observations or something. My other problem came with the ending. I’m not going to say much but it was not really satisfying to me. I can’t explain it without giving things away…but I just felt very underwhelmed.

Final Thought: Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream was a good read! It wasn’t a favorite by any means but it was refreshing and I’m glad I received a copy of it from the publisher. It was such an interesting read being inside the head of a character who has made peace with herself and her decision to commit suicide. It’s comical read, despite the subject matter, and I found myself giggling quite a lot. I couldn’t put it down until I found out whether or not she went through with it! Recommended for lovers of contemporary women’s fiction who want something refreshing and unique!

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