Thursday, February 27, 2014

ARC Review Be Safe I Love You Cara Hoffman

Be Safe I Love YouBe Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lauren Clay is an Army Sergeant returning home from Iraq. Despite experiencing trauma while deployed Lauren is able to rush through her our processing and return home to her father and brother just in time for Christmas. Lauren also reunites with her ex-boyfriend, Shane, best friend Holly and her former music teacher. It is evident from the beginning that Lauren has changed but it takes a crisis to realize just how changed she is.

Lauren had a tough up bringing, her mother abandoned her and her brother Danny as young children and her father was bedridden due to depression. Lauren was the provider, cook and parent forcing her to grow up quickly and learn to hide her emotions. Her relationship with her brother was unique and real. His letters to her while she was in Iraq were great and a nice addition to the book, it brought their relationship to life.

I was bothered by her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Shane, from the first moments we meet him through the end. I have a feeling their relationship was always dysfunctional. I didn't quite get the inclusion of Shane's uncles in the story, I found them an unnecessary distraction and I couldn't really figure out who was who or if it mattered. I liked Lauren and Holly's relationship, it seemed to be the least strained and Lauren was most like her old self when with Holly.

I had several big issues with the novel however, first how the author tried to make the story a thriller/mystery by leaving out some information and teasing us with little bits of information. Secondly, there were some off little side stories, such as Shane's uncles, their intelligence and failure to leave the neighborhood. Finally, I found the jumping around in time to be distracting and hard to follow.

I didn't like ending, it felt rushed and any problems were solved to conveniently. I really disliked how we learned about Lauren's experience in Iraq and wish the author would have explored that more as well as her connection to Daryl. There were also details that were not cleaned up, such as hints that Lauren spent time in jail or that she could face charges for her conduct in Iraq. These things could have been explored more so we had a better sense of how and why Lauren had become who she was.

As a former female Army sergeant there were parts of this novel I strongly identified with, that felt very real. While I never deployed to Iraq, I have some sense of what it is like to try and transition between military life and civilian life. However, I think Lauren's transition could have been more fully explored.

I received a copy of the novel from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Review of: The Wind is Not a River Brian Payton

The Wind Is Not a RiverThe Wind Is Not a River by Brian Payton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was interested in this book because of my lack of knowledge regarding the World War II battles on the Aleutian Islands, the only battle to be fought on American soil. The book disappointed though, I didn't learn as much as I hoped, the characters were not compelling and the love story fell flat.
It took me a while to get into this book, I struggled to connect with the story, to figure out exactly what was going on. I am glad I stuck it out and finished, the book was enjoyable and it has inspired me to learn more about the Aleutian Islands during World War II.

John Easley is a journalist covering the Japanese take over of the Aleutian Islands until all journalists are kicked out. After the death of his brother he feels compelled to return, leaving his wife with little information about where he is going. Helen Easley, a young wife, is desperate to find her husband, leaving her ill father to join a USO traveling troop and travel to Alaska to try and get any information possible about her husband.

The best part of this novel was Easley's and Karl's struggle for survival on an Aleutian island occupied by the Japanese. Their relationship, team work and self discoveries were this novels finest parts. It was thrilling as the pair, and later Easley alone, snuck around the Japanese, even moving through the enemy camp.

Helen's story was less compelling and to0 convenient. Her ability to join a USO traveling entertainment troop and get to Alaska and to find all the right connections to her husband was a little unbelievable. I didn't feel her stress of being abandoned by her husband for three months with out word of his location and didn't feel like the two were really in love.

The ending and the resolution of John and Helen's journeys was also too convenient and again didn't reflect the love between them or what they had endured. This book was enjoyable and had some great moments, I would recommend for any one looking for a novel about the lesser known aspects of World War II.

I received a free copy of this novel from Goodreads first reads in exchange for a fair review.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars, My Introduction to Young Adult Novels

One of my New Years book resolutions was to try new genres, to experience a variety of books.  I very rarely read young adult, almost never.  I have a few on my to-be-read list, such as,

But for my first young adult novel in a very long time I chose The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I am not going to write a review of this book because so many have been written already, and doubt I would add anything new to the conversation.  I rated the book four out of five stars on Goodreads.  I liked it, I cried like a baby and I would recommend it to others. 

So will I keep reading young adult?  Yes, I really can't wait for Leonard Peacock, just don't ask me to read Twilight!  So what young adult novels have you loved and what would you recommend?

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Historical Fiction at its Best, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Burial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Burial Rites is historical fiction at its best. The way the author intermingled historical documents, real people and places with the fictional story was masterful and spellbinding. The characters Kent imagined were perfectly imperfect people, multidimensional people who struggled with their situations, trying to do what was best for them and others. As Margret stated, “no one is all bad.”
Kent’s knowledge of Iceland and its history was evident throughout the book, her painstaking research into Iceland during the early 1800s was very much appreciated and I enjoyed the bits of everyday life, lamb slaughter, meat preservation, haymaking etc. This gave the novel a depth and realism it would have lacked without such detail.
Agnes is the most fully realized and central character of the novel, she was the last person executed in Iceland during the early 1800s, despite her conviction of murder, she is a sympathetic character. I often found myself hoping she would get an appeal, or that her story would end differently. You can’t help but root for her! Agnes grew up as a pauper, shuffling from foster family to foster family, enduing great hardship, loss, cruelty and loneliness. When she meets Natan, she thinks she has finally found someone who sees her and loves her. I wanted Agnes to see Natan for who he was before it was too late, but her infatuation blinds her to the truth.
This book is close to flawless. A few characters are stereotypical, such as Bjorn Blondal and to some degree Reverend Toti, but the character of Agnes was so well done I was able to overlook these characters. And, I really liked Reverend Toti and his approach to Agnes, sure it helped drive the story but he care and compassion for her was so real and so necessary.
I did struggle with the start of the novel, learning the Icelandic names and placing characters, but once I overcame those initial struggles I could not put the book down. The ending was very poignant; I finished it with tears streaming down my face.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

January in Review and a Giveaway!

Did any one else feel like January was the longest month ever? I have been trying to be optimistic about winter, having several motto's to get me though the long sunless sub-zero days. "It can't get much worse", really it can't, once it is about 20 below it doesn't matter what the temperature is, so really can't get much worse! "It is bound to get better soon", this is really optimistic thinking unless you consider late March soon.

This is my first monthly recap, I have been intending to recap each month, however, just haven't got it done. I guess you could consider it a blogging New Years Resolution! My intention is to recap what I read and reviewed, keep you up to date on my New Years Book Resolutions and look back on any fun happenings that month. I also am working on some changes to update this blog, I do have a neat new signature! Don't be alarmed if you see big changes.

I kicked off the New Year with my birthday, woot woot! I always take a personal day on my birthday. as a little gift to myself, so I slept in, rode horse, went shopping, had drinks with friends and the finale was dinner and cake with my husband. It was the best day!
Other highlights include cheering on friends at the Winter Challenge horse shows, way less stressful that competing. Trying two new restaurants in town and learning that I definitely do not like lamb, on the upside I had room for creme brule!
We celebrated a belated Christmas with my in-laws, nieces and nephews, which was fun and chaos all rolled into one! And I got the most fabulous insulated winter riding boots, if any of you are riders and are tired of cold toes or bulky winter boots jammed into your stirrups try the Ariat Brossard winter tall boot. Seriously, the best piece of winter riding apparel I own. I got mine from Schneider's Tack cause they had the best price!

And now, the books I read this month, beginning with my favorite and ending with my least favorite

*After I Am Gone  Laura Lippman
*The Bear: A Novel   Claire Cameron
*Rome Sweet Home
*The Weight of Blood Laura McHugh
*Cover of Snow  Jenny Milchman 
*The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating   Carole Radziwell

New Years Book Resolutions
*6 out of 40 books read      34 to go! 
*Home Sweet Rome - book outside of my typical genre

And Now for a GIVEAWAY

Enter for a chance to win an ARC copy of Laura Lippman's  After I am Gone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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