2017 Book #87 – First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

51ssKKGyVGLTitle: First Frost
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Date finished: 10/15/17
Genre: Fiction, magical realism
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Pages in book: 291
Stand alone or series: Seems to be a sequel to Garden Spells
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Two magical sisters.
One cranky apple tree.

It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly.  As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree…and the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies.  Though her handcrafted confections — rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds — are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby — a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before.  And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells, lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen’s enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (October). This book has been on my “to read” list for a long time, one of the girl sin my Mom’s quilt guild has been recommending this author to me for years and with my reading schedule in recent years I haven’t had time to pick it up. I’m so glad that someone picked it for book club though and I got to read it this month! This book tells the story of the Waverly women, each of whom have some sort of special ability. Sydney is really good with hair, Claire is good with food and Bay knows where things belong. But knowing where things belong doesn’t help a teenage girl trying to find her way through high school. Nor does it help Bay navigate her suddenly emotional relationship with her mother. This book tells the story of the Waverly women leading up to the First Frost, when the apple tree in the back suddenly blooms. There was so much interesting about this book and I loved the magical realism and how seamlessly the author tied it into the story and made it seem real. This book reminded me a lot of The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert and The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee. I would definitely read more by this author in the future!

The bottom line: This book was very good, I love magical realism and this author did a great job of it. I can’t wait to read more by this author and I would recommend giving this one a read!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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2017 Book #81 – Every Boy’s Got One by Meg Cabot

31z6jE0DtYLThis book was a re-read for me as part of the Terryville Public Library‘s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group. This book was the (my) pick for September. I had originally thought about changing my pick to something more discussion worthy but we’d been reading a lot of heavier stuff so far this year so I thought some levity might help brighten our spirits. I’m not going to re-post my normal review since I’ve technically already reviewed the book on the blog here. I will say though that I did not enjoy it quite as much as I remember, probably partially due to rushing through to finish for book club and also it felt a bit wordier than last time. Still would recommend though, love her writing.

2017 Book #70 – The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

51an6r+508L._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Girl With All the Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey
Date finished: 8/20/17
Genre: Fiction, dystopian, zombie
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Pages in book: 403
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: I think I bought this during one of my Book Outlet spending sprees last year

Blurb from the cover:

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (August). This book has been on my “to read” list for a little while now so I was glad that someone else in the group picked it. However, I was (somehow) unaware that it was a book about zombies. I’m all for a good dystopian novel but zombies aren’t usually my thing. That being said, I thought this book was pretty good. I honestly didn’t expect to like it after about the first 50 pages but Melanie’s character is so human-like (despite her being a zombie) that I ended up liking the book. There were a lot of interesting pieces of this book, including the creative approach to the zombie infection and how it was developed through the course of the book. I didn’t expect to like this book nearly as much as I did, I would actually recommend giving it a try!

The bottom line: This book was pretty good, better than I expected it to be. Zombie stories aren’t usually appealing to me but I would recommend giving this one a try.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #53 – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

51-EYAYN0oLTitle: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Date finished: 6/26/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasty
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Pages in book: 512
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: I bought this on vacation a couple summers ago!

Blurb from the cover:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (June). This was actually my pick, I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile and I always hear so many great things about it! I’m glad that I picked it for discussion, it was a really interesting book with some great characters and an engaging plot line. I think my main issue was that there was a lot going on in my family life the last couple weeks and so I kept having to pick it up and put it down and I couldn’t concentrate well on the story, so I found it hard to get through. I think it was more of a personal issue though and less of an issue with the book itself. I still really liked the story though. The author did an amazing job of really transporting the reader into the story. I would definitely recommend!

The bottom line: This book was pretty good. I liked a lot about the book but it was also pretty long and some parts were a tad dry for me. I would definitely recommend it though. There was great imagery and descriptive language and a good plot line.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #45 – The Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler

51RzRwlEwRL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Mediterranean Caper
Author: Clive Cussler
Date finished: 5/14/17
Genre: Fiction, military
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: July 16, 2013 (40th Anniversary reprint)
Pages in book: 220
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Dirk Pitt Adventure series
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

On a quiet Greek island, a U.S. air force base has come under attack—by a World War I fighter plane . . . a famous yellow Albatros supposedly lost at sea in 1918.
Now it is up to Dirk Pitt, Al Giordino, and the rest of the NUMA team to root out the elusive truth behind the incident—and find out how it’s connected to mysterious acts of sabotage against a scientific expedition, an international smuggling ring, and a dark-haired beauty with some dangerous secrets.  The search for answers will lead Pitt from a lavish island villa, to a moving freighter eerily empty of crew, to a massive underwater cavern housing the heart of a criminal operation that is larger and more elaborate than he ever could have imagined . . . a lucrative operation that its mastermind would kill to protect.
With its fearless and dashing hero, high-stakes action, and non-stop excitement, The Mediterranean Caper is classic Dirk Pitt . . . and classic Cussler.

My rating:  1.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (May). This was a military adventure type novel, supposedly in the same vein as an Indiana Jones type novel. Dirk Pitt is called out to a Greek island with his friend Giordino to help with a problem that’s come up. Along the way, through a series of events that could only be arranged by fate, Pitt gets involved in a larger issue: major drug deals and a dastardly villain who is the very definition of evil.
Overall this was not my favorite book. The hero was so cocky and arrogant, I hated it. And it didn’t make any sense how he kept figuring out the scheme/story behind every twist and turn, I couldn’t understand how Pitt seemed to be this all-knowing character. I mean yes he was smart but it was ridiculous how much he knew about each facet of other people’s plans just by guessing. And I think part of the reason I didn’t love this book was because it was written so long ago there were certain things that just were cringe-worthy. In the first 40 pages of the book, Pitt meets a beautiful but sad woman on the beach, backhands her, and then has sex with her all within like a page and it was just so ridiculously unrealistic. So overall not my favorite but I can where it would appeal to certain readers.

The bottom line: This book was not my favorite, it just didn’t capture my interest. The hero’s character didn’t appeal to me personally but I am sure this book would appeal to some.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #33 – Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

51Glh2DZSAL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Running With Scissors
Author: Augusten Burroughs
Date finished: 4/15/17
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: July 10, 2002
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead-ringer for Santa and a lunatic in the bargain. Suddenly, at age twelve, Augusten Burroughs found himself living in a dilapidated Victorian in perfect squalor. The doctor’s bizarre family, a few patients, and a pedophile living in the backyard shed completed the tableau. Here, there were no rules, there was no school. The Christmas tree stayed up until summer, and Valium was eaten like Pez. And when things got dull, there was always the vintage electroshock therapy machine under the stairs….
Running with Scissors is at turns foul and harrowing, compelling and maniacally funny. But above all, it chronicles an ordinary boy’s survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

My rating:  1.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (April). I think this book was an exception to the rule because we usually read fiction but it seems that this month we’re reading non-fiction. This book tells the story of a boy named Augusten, who lives with his alcoholic father and mentally ill mother. After his parents divorce though, Augusten lives for a period of time with his mother’s psychiatrist, who to be honest didn’t seem all that sane himself. The only thing I can say about the plot of this book is that Augusten goes through what can only be described as disturbing, and sometimes horrific, experiences throughout his childhood. And while he seems to always survive “unscathed,” the damage that results from these experiences is evident to the reader.
Overall I really just didn’t like this book, mainly I think because its almost the exact opposite of my “usual” type of book. I like fiction books with happy endings and this book was a traumatizing description of a poor young man’s childhood that didn’t seem to have any other purpose in the tale other than shocking the reader. The sex scenes (of a thirteen year old boy) are extremely graphic, some of which were detailed rape descriptions. I felt dirty after reading the book. For me this was an unnecessary look into the mind of a deeply traumatized and disturbed youth. If that’s the kind of book you like then I would recommend trying this one but overall I can’t see how there was enough actual plot/content to make this a good read for even the most open-minded of readers.

The bottom line: This book was not one that I personally would recommend. I think its absolutely awful that this is a true story and that someone actually experienced this.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #17 – The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

510KMAZR9FL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Surgeon
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Date finished: 3/15/17
Genre: Fiction, mystery, thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 21, 2001
Pages in book: 356
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Rizzoli & Isles series
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

In her most masterful novel of medical suspense, New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen creates a villain of unforgettable evil–and the one woman who can catch him before he kills again.
He slips into their homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, unaware of the horrors they soon will endure. The precision of the killer’s methods suggests he is a deranged man of medicine, propelling the Boston newspapers and the frightened public to name him “The Surgeon.”
The cops’ only clue rests with another surgeon, the victim of a nearly identical crime. Two years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and killed her attacker before he could complete his assault. Now she hides her fears of intimacy behind a cool and elegant exterior and a well-earned reputation as a top trauma surgeon.
Cordell’s careful facade is about to crack as this new killer recreates, with chilling accuracy, the details of Cordell’s own ordeal. With every new murder he seems to be taunting her, cutting ever closer, from her hospital to her home. Her only comfort comes from Thomas Moore, the detective assigned to the case. But even Moore cannot protect Cordell from a brilliant hunter who somehow understands–and savors–the secret fears of every woman he kills.
Filled with the authentic detail that is the trademark of this doctor turned author . . . and peopled with rich and complex characters–from the ER to the squad room to the city morgue–here is a thriller of unprecedented depth and suspense. Exposing the shocking link between those who kill and cure, punish and protect, The Surgeon is Tess Gerritsen’s most exciting accomplishment yet.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (March). This book tells the story of a homicide case under investigation in Boston, MA. Some crazy person is running around murdering women and cutting out their uteruses, and Detective Moore and Rizzoli is one of the people assigned to the case. Through their research, Moore and his team come to discover that this exact MO was also unique to a string of murders in Savannah, GA. And the only person to survive that murderer is now living in Boston. Rizzoli feels outnumbered as a woman on the force and feel like she has a lot to prove, so she’s determined to solve this case and put a win in her column, whatever it takes.
Overall I didn’t especially like this book. I thought Rizzoli was a total jerk and didn’t like her character at all. I felt like she was just whining the whole book and her surliness was way past tolerable. I’m all for the underdog but she put herself and her whole team in danger repeatedly. She kept complaining how she was better than everyone else but didn’t get the recognition because she was a woman but to be honest she didn’t seem all that better than everyone else to me. I didn’t understand how one character could be so insecure and so full of themselves at the same time. Also the conversations and other interactions between the characters seemed stilted and forced to me. The tension in this book, which I would have expected to be high due to the sick and twisted nature of the killer, just wasn’t there for me and I found it hard to work up any kind of emotion towards the plot. The mystery itself was good, if somewhat predictable. I enjoyed the plot twists though and found myself somewhat engaged in that piece of the story at least. If you like detective shows or novels then this book might work for you but it just feel flat for me.

The bottom line: I didn’t care for this book very much. The mystery plot line was alright but I hated Rizzoli as a character and the conversations and interaction between the characters was pretty stilted. I have heard this is a popular series but I personally didn’t enjoy this one.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page