Top Ten Books I’ve Read in 2014 so Far

ImageBurial Rites – Hannah Kent
Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.
ImageThe Humans – Matt Haig
The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable novel about alien abduction, mathematics and that most interesting subject of all: ourselves.

ImageThrone of Glass – Sarah j. Maas
In the dark filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen year-old-girl is serving a life sentence. However, young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament.

ImageGrave Mercy – Robin LaFevers
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the Gods of old. Here she learns that the God of Death himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts – and a violent destiny.

ImageLost Lake – Sarah Addison Allen
Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it’s the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal.
ImageSea of Shadows – Kelley Armstrong
In the forest of the Dead, where the empires worse criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

ImageThe Program – Suzanne Young
Sloane knows better than to cry infront of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in the program, the only proven course of treatment.
ImageScarlet – Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #2)
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison – even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealths most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Beniot’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother of the grave danger she has lived in her whole life.
ImageCress – Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #3)
In the third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Throne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who has only ever had her netscreens as company.

ImageWhat Happened to Goodbye – Sarah Dessen
Since her parents’ bitter divorce, Mclean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move – four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mothers new family, Mclean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva, but now for the first time, Mclean discovers the desire to stay in the same place and just be herself.

Book Review: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1)Image
Rob Thomas, Jennifer Graham
P.I. Mystery, Crime fiction
Published: March 25th, 2014
5/5

 

                Ten years after graduating highschool in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back and in the land of sun, sand, crime and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.
                Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

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                Not going to lie to any of you, but I was extremely excited that Veronica Mars was turning into a novel series in fact I’m still extremely excited about it.
                Veronica Mars was an important character to me when I was younger, she was fierce independent, strong and didn’t require saving from some guy every five minutes. She was very inspirational to me when I was younger. Not to mention I thought it was pretty cool that she got to do so many ‘interesting’ things and when I was older I hoped I would be like her in high school too, which for obvious reasons didn’t happen and for more obvious reasons I’m very thankful.
                The novel takes place shortly after where the movie wrapped up. What was really enjoyable to me about this was that though minor plot points were spoiled in the book the major plot points of the movie were not discussed in too much detail. I had read the book before I had seen the movie and was very pleased to find that it did not ruin the movie for me at all and neither the movie nor the book really ruin the original plot line of the TV show either which is pretty amazing when you think about it.
                I thought they did a great job of transferring Veronica Mars from the screen to the pages of a book. They managed to keep her sarcastic, biting humour alive and fresh, and her character matched perfectly which the other medias.
                The progression of the plot was done well, I didn’t find myself getting bored and the story didn’t drag needlessly on. It’s very short, and sweet and written in the typical Veronica Mars style of crime solving. I didn’t find the story predictable or annoying which is great and sometimes a little hard to do when you’re writing a story based on crime.
                There were a few things about the novel that I didn’t like however. I felt pretty sad that Veronica Mars was still stuck in Neptune California, I had always imagined her moving on and being involved in the FBI as a criminal profiler or some kind of government investigator because she seemed to have such an obvious knack for her. I also was pretty put off by the arrival of her mother into the story, I’m not her biggest fan and I continue to still not like her or want her in Veronica’s life because I truly believe she is one of the most selfish characters in this series.
                The cover of the book also kind of makes me sad, it’s really simple and really, painfully boring. I don’t mind the font but the picture and word placement makes no sense to me and comes across as awkward. Plus I really, really dislike that shade of yellow.
                Over all really happy to see this series continue on and I am very excited to read book two when it comes out.
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Book Review: The Humans

The HumansImage
Matt Haig
Science Fiction
Published: July 2nd, 2013
5/5

                The bestselling, award-winning author of The Radleys is back with what may be his best, funniest, and most devastating dark comedy yet. When an extraterrestrial visitor arrives on Earth, his frist impressions of the human species are less than positive. Taking the form of Professor Andrew Martin, a prominent mathematician at Cambridge University, the visitor is eager to complete the gruesome task assigned him and hurry back home to the utopian world of his own planet, where everyone enjoys immortality and infinite knowledge
                He is disgusted by the way humans look, what they eat, and their capacity for murder and war, and he is equally baffled by the concepts of love and family. But as time goes on, he starts to realize there may be more to this weird species than he had been led to believe. Disguised as martin, he drinks wine, reads poetry, and develops an ear for rock music and a taste for peanut butter. Slowly, unexpectedly, he forges bonds with Martin’s family and in picking up the pieces of the professor’s shattered personal life, he begins to see hope and beauty in the humans’ imperfections and to question the mission that brought him there.
                Praised by The New York Times as a ‘novelist of great seriousness and talent,’ Matt Haig delivers an unlikely story about human nature and the joy found in the messiness of life on earth. The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable tale that playfully and movingly explores the ultimate subject – ourselves.

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The Humans was a delightful surprise for me. I had not heard much discussion about the book in the community that I’m involved with online but I found the synopsis intriguing. An Alien takes over the body of a mathematics professor that has just solved the most important Mathematical question to humanity to date. He is expected to destroy all evidence and halt the advancement of humanity. However, along the way he begins to develop a sort of infatuation with humanity and strives to discover what exactly it means to be ‘human.’
               I thought that the character development of the unnamed Alien was fascinating and refreshing. I really enjoyed seeing him grow and to begin to question what he thought he knew. Despite the advancement of his society the primitive nature of human emotions stumped him and the social queues often left him quite confused.
                The humans is extremely funny and entertaining, the chapters are very short and that makes it really easy to read in short bursts. The story also gets quite dark at times, and I felt that helped counteract the unrealistic nature of some of the scenes.
                Overall this was an insightful, touching and completely original story. I’m extremely happy I took a chance with a book that I had not heard much about and I am greatly looking forward to reading more books written by Matt Haig.
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Book Review: Burial Rites

Burial RitesImage
Hannah Kent
Historical Fiction based on true events
Published: September 10th 2013
5/5

                Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.
                Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Toti, a priest Anges has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’ death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.
                Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

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                Burial Rites is based on the true life account of Agnes Magnusdottir the last person executed in Iceland on January 12th, 1830. She, and man named Friorik Sigurosson where charged for the murder of Nathan Ketilsson, and Petur Jonsson that took place on March 14th, 1828. They were executed by beheading.
                This was a fascinating and beautifully told story. Burial Rites is one of the best tales I’ve read in a few years. It is one of those novels that leave a mark on your soul; the story will linger with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
                The writing was beautiful; I found myself becoming immersed in the language and haunting thoughts of Anges as she awaited her fate. I found her relatable; my heart was broken for her most of the story. I wished the book would end differently; despite knowing that it was based on a factual event.
                Anges was a great lead character. I really enjoyed reading about her life from childhood up until she ended up on the farm. By the end of the book I felt like I knew her personally, but not in a way that I found myself overwhelmed by information in regards to the development of the plot.
                I also ended up liking the family at the farm by the end of the book. It was beautiful to see them all come together. The courage and strength the lent Anges in the end was unfathomable in it’s greatness. Despite the coldness and perhaps even hatred they all felt towards her in the beginning, it was so lovely to see some of them turn around and offer her pity, understanding and compassion in the end.
                Overall I thought the book was well written and developed and though we don’t know how the actual events took place it was interesting to read one possible side to the story. I greatly recommend this book to my blog readers, I don’t think you’d regret it!
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Book Review: Lost Lake

Lost LakeImage
Sarah Addison Allen
Fiction, Contemporary
Published: January 21st, 2014
5/5

 

                Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it’s the perfect place for newly widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming.
                Kate doesn’t believe in dreams anymore, her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake’s owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake’s magic is gone.
                As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages – and her heart – back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again and sometimes you never even knew they were lost… until they are found.
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                I feel like I had to wait a million years to read “Lost Lake”, I had pre-ordered it but had also pre-ordered another book at the same time and they made me wait until they released the second book before they’d send me Lost Lake, which was unfair, considering they sent them separately. Not understanding why it had to be that way, but “Lost Lake” was definitely worth the wait at either rate.
                “Lost Lake” is the first book that Sarah Addison Allen had released since her diagnosis of Breast cancer in 2011, I’m happy to report that she has since beaten cancer and is currently in remission, which means that she’s (I’m assuming) happily writing again. When I heard that she was releasing a new novel I was over the moon excited and “Lost Lake” was well worth the wait.
                Sarah Addison Allen writes contemporary novels infused with magic, good food and strong family ties. “Lost Lake” has all of her staple elements and she pulls it off brilliantly. I loved hearing about the wet, humid, hot summer of Suley Georgia. I was able to imagine the whole setting without a hitch, the old dusty, faded cabins, Aunt Eby, the lakes mysteriously imaginary alligator, the hanging lanterns and I was able to even smell the delicious meals that were cooked by Lisette; a troubled young woman that Eby and her husband had met on their honeymoon in Paris.
                This book was over abundant in delightful, eccentric characters. I wish they all had their own books just so I could learn more about them. Never have I read a book with so many fulfilling, engaging, and fantastic side characters. I was enthralled with all their stories, all their backgrounds and the glimpses we were given into each of their lives.
                I loved how everyone came together in the end, and that even characters that didn’t seem like they were invested as much as others helped pull everything together and create a fantastic ending, to a fantastic novel.
                There is just something about Sarah Addison Allen’s books that resonate with me, they fill my heart full of hope and promise and we live in a world where there isn’t enough of that. Her books are perfect to curl up with and read all afternoon.
                I think if I had any issues with “Lost Lake” it would have been the length. It was really short in my opinion and I felt a little cheated. As though I wasn’t able to spend enough time at Lost Lake and I felt as though I missed out because of that. She’s never written very long novels, but Lost Lake felt shorter than all her others and part of me wonders if that’s because there was such an amazing cast of characters. I just wanted to know so much more about all of them, and spend more time with each of them.
                However, my expectations were met and exceeded and I’m already eagerly anticipating her next novels. In the mean time I am planning on re-reading some of her other novels… and I’ve re-read all of them 2-3 times.Image

Book Review: Plain Truth

Plain TruthImage
Jodie Picoult
Fiction, Crime
Published: November 1st, 2004
4/5

                The small town of Paradise, Pennsylvania, is a jewel in Lancaster country – known for its picture-postcard landscapes and bucolic lifestyle, but that peace is shattered by the discovery of a dead infant in the barn of a Amish farmer.
                A police investigation quickly leads to two startling disclosures: The newborn’s mother is an unmarried Amish woman, eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher and the infant did not die of natural causes. Although Katie denies the medical proof that she gave birth to the child, circumstantial evidence leads to her arrest for the murder of her own baby.
                One hundred miles away, Philadelphia defense attorney Ellie Hathaway has achieved an enviable, high-profile career, but her latest court victory has set the sands shifting beneath her. Single at thirty-nine and unsatisfied in her relationship, Ellie doesn’t look back when she turns down her chance to make partner and takes off for an open ended stay at her great-aunts home in Paradise.
                Fate brings her to Katie Fisher, Suddenly, Ellie sees the chance to defend a client that truly needs her, not just one who can afford her. But taking on this case challenges Ellie in more ways than one. She finds herself not only in a clash of wills with a client who does not want to be defended but also in a clash of cultures with a people whose channels of justice are markedly different from her own.
                Immersing herself in Katie Fisher’s life – and in a world founded on faith, humility, duty, and honesty – Ellie begins to understand the pressures and sacrifices of those who live plain. As she peels away the layers of fact and fantasy, Ellie calls on an old friend for guidance. Now, just as this man from Ellie’s past renters her life, she must uncover the truth about a complex case, a tragic loss, the bonds of love – and her own deepest fears and desires.
                Moving seamlessly from psychological drama to courtroom suspense, Plain truth is a triumph of contemporary storytelling.
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                Plain Truth is a thought provoking and intriguing read. Vastly original the ending will surprise you and you’ll either enjoy the deceptive plot twist or you’ll hate it. Fast paced and filled with colorful characters, Plain truth will grab your attention until the very last page and the very last sentence. The amount that Jodi Picoult must have put into studying the Amish culture had to have been enormous because everything fit together so seamlessly and seemed extremely believable. However, as she isn’t Amish I can only imagine that it was not completely correct.
                I really enjoy how Jodi Picoult takes cliché’s and twits them, giving them a new spin. You can almost guarantee that what you think is happening isn’t the truth. I really, really, love that about her writing, and Plain Truth doesn’t fail to deliver on my favorite aspect of Jodi Picoult’s writing.
                You can’t help but feeling for poor Katie Fisher, and the very real, and very ‘English’ problem that’s she has found herself faced with. You spend most of the book wondering what the heck is going on with her. She seems dazed and confused most of the book, spending time talking to a dead sibling and wondering alone in the night time often. She has her heart smashed open and is betrayed brutally by the last person you’d expect.
                Often times I found Ellie a little annoying, I did not enjoy her side romance at all and found it was a needless addition to the plot. However, like with most movies, most books need to have a romantic sub-plot line. It gives us something to root for.
                Thought the storyline shifted easily between the court-room and the dramatic events taking place outside in the main progressive part of the story line. Blended great and didn’t feel like an abrupt change.
                Really looking forward to reading my way through all of her books, and discovering different ways to look at things.

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Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep

Before I go to SleepImage
S.J. Watson
Adult, Crime thriller
published: June 14th, 2011
3/4

 

                Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man.
                She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle-aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.
                But it’s a phone call from Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities – tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life – and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?
                Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past and the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems.
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                I’m not going to lie, I was one of those people who went into this book fearful it was going to be some strange re-write of fifty first dates because in all honestly it sounds a lot like fifty first dates. Before I go to Sleep however, is most assuredly NOT anything like fifty first dates and I kind of wish it was.
                “Before I Go to Sleep” was crazy, a whole big train of crazy. It was tantalizing and deliciously creepy. I honestly sat down on a beautiful sunny afternoon and devoured it. It’s a very easy read for the most part. The chapters mainly consist of her waking up and starting fresh again, which did drag on a big and did become quite daunting.
                There were a few aspects of the book that I didn’t enjoy and I think that it was mostly because this story was drawn out and in the end that made things rather predictable. In my opinion this would have made an awesome short story.
                I can give S.J. Watson big props for writing an original story however, at least it was to me. I’ve never read anything quite like it. The effort that was put into Christine’s life story was pretty intense. The Lies, the deception, the twists and turns were all fantastic and great, however there were a few moments that gave away the ending.
                Despite not having enjoyed this book a lot, it was a good read and I mostly enjoyed it. I don’t think it’s a book I’d ever read again, but if you like Crime Thrillers with an original story like I believe “Before I Go to Sleep.” Would make a great addition to your collection.Image