Book Review: The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The book that… I have been anticipating for a long time.

This book was mostly a cover buy because it is such a gorgeous book. I had never heard of this book but it sounded interesting so I picked it up. However, it has sat on my shelf for over 4 years. I have thought about picking it up so many times but just never did. My sister decided that I needed to read it already so she put in on the list of 12 books that I am reading this year. I decided to pick it for my June read which I actually read in July because I was extremely busy in June and didn’t get to it.

I ended up giving this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Synopsis: Tom Cole, the grandson of a legendary local hero, has inherited an uncanny knack for reading the Niagara River’s whims and performing daring feats of rescue at the mighty falls. And like the tumultuous meeting of the cataract’s waters with the rocks below, a chance encounter between Tom and 17-year-old Bess Heath has an explosive effect. When they first meet on a trolley platform, Bess immediately recognizes the chemistry between them, and the feeling is mutual.

But the hopes of young love are constrained by the 1915 conventions of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Tom’s working-class pedigree doesn’t suit Bess’s family, despite their recent fall from grace. Sacked from his position at a hydroelectric power company, Bess’s father has taken to drink, forcing her mother to take in sewing for the society women who were once her peers. Bess pitches in as she pines for Tom, but at her young age, she’s unable to fully realize how drastically her world is about to change.

I loved the setting of this book! I had never before read a book set near Niagara Falls and after reading this book, I want to go and visit. The setting was so vivid, it was almost a character on its own and was the perfect backdrop for this story. There was also a hint of magic realism in the writing and the setting which I adored!

The characters in this book, especially the main character were well-developed and I found myself attached to Bess and her story. There was a lot of family drama in this book which made me a little hesitant as sometimes that can come across a bit ridiculous and often turns me off to a book. However, the drama in this book was executed very well and never went to far, but felt realistic and made me want to find out what was going to happen next.

This book has very compelling characters and an addicting plot. I found that I was often thinking about what was going to happen next even when I was not reading it. There were parts of it that were a bit predictable but a few reveals really caught me off guard. The book was a bit slow for the first half but the last half was very compelling and I had a hard time putting it down.

I thought that some of the writing in this book seemed liked a fact dump. I could tell the author had done a lot of research in order to prepare for the book but some of the information seemed like it was in there to show how historically accurate the author was trying to be rather than actually adding to the plot. It was also a bit heavy on the descriptions at times but for some reason, it seemed to fit with the hot summer weather I was having while reading it. I think it is a good summer read as it begins in summer and summers are great for a fictional vacation to Niagara Falls.

I would highly recommend this book to people who like historical fiction and someone who enjoys very character-driven books.

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You can buy the book here and I will receive a small commission.

Series Review: The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin

The series that….had many ups and downs.

Synopsis:

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.

Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death’s threshold to restore the balance.

I read this trilogy a couple of months back and thought that it was worth a review. This was a series I had never heard of before but I picked up the first book at a thrift store because it seemed interesting. A year or two later and I found the third book and decided to jump in. I had a lot of thoughts about each of the books in the series but just mentioned the highlights down below.
The Wizard of Earthsea
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.
This first book was pretty slow moving for the majority of the book. However, this world building and character building really helped me get sucked into the world for the next books. The ending of this book was very fast-paced and intense and I flew through the final third of it. Even with the slow build, I ended up giving it 5 stars because the introduction to the world combined with the fantastic ending really sold me.
The Tombs of Atuan
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.
This book was by far my favorite of all three. It is the shortest in the trilogy and probably the most exciting and intriguing. I loved how it started completely away from everything we read about in the first book and I had no idea how it would connect until much later. It creates a brand new setting in an already familiar world which was awesome. From start to finish, I did not want to put this one down.
The Farthest Shore
I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads.
I liked this one but there was some thing missing in it. I found myself often confused during this book and just wasn’t that into the story. The ending was pretty good though and I did in fact have to wipe away a tear or two at the ending. While, it was definitely my least favorite book in the series, I did think it brought the trilogy to a good end so I think everyone should at least give it a try.

Overall, if you are a fan of fantasy and don’t mind some slower paced parts, I would recommend this series to you. It has everything a good fantasy series needs along with some really amazing characters. And it is considered a great and classic fantasy series. There is another book that was added to this trilogy which I may or may not pick up someday, as well.

Have any of you ever read this trilogy? Let me know what you thought of it down below. Also, let me know what some of your favorite fantasy series or books are. I am always looking for a new fantasy world to get swept up in.

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You can buy this trilogy here and I will receive a small commission.

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The book that….may have gotten me into science fiction.

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads because it was amazing!

This book was super good. I was reading it during a very busy time during school so it got sort of broken up for me. I think I would recommend that if you are going to read it, read it during a time when you can fly through it. It is a very fast-paced read and I ended up finishing the last 150 pages of it in one day when I thought I would only read about 50 pages or so. I just had to see how it ended.

I loved the main character’s snark and jokester personality. However, I felt that there were times in which I would have expected him to be freaking out a bit more. Not all of the things that happened in the book seemed completely plausible but most of the book was very believable,

When I was reading, I loved everything that was happening on Mars. However, I felt that the parts that took place on earth were much less interesting. There were times when it added to the tension so I understand why the author put them in there but I tended to want to get back to the Mars portions because they were so engrossing.

The writing in this book was not phenomenal, however, it didn’t hinder my reading of the book and this is a debut book which is understandable. I did think the author did an amazing job making the science-y parts of the books very accessible for those who don’t know a lot about the sciences being discussed.

I think this would be a great book for someone who is looking into reading sci-fi but doesn’t know where to start or is intimidated by it. I am not a sci-fi reader myself but quickly got pulled in to this book. I think it is a great place to start in that genre.

If you have read it, please let me know your thoughts down below. I would love to hear your opinion.

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Book Review: Cannonbridge by Jonathan Barnes

The book that…perplexed me.

I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley. I ended up giving it 3 stars on Goodreads. This book will be released on February 10, 2015.

The beginning of this book was a bit confusing yet extremely intriguing. About 30 pages in, I was very invested in it and although I wasn’t quite sure if I understood everything that was happening, I was enjoying the story. As I read, though, this excitement flagged quite a bit. There was a lag in the story around the middle of the book that lasted for a while because I felt like I did not know what the characters were doing and where they were going. By the end of the book, I was extremely confused. I don’t want to ruin the ending for anyone so I won’t say any more but it was a little flat for me.

This book takes place in two different time periods, modern day and late 1900sI thought that the author did a great job of tailoring the writing style to the time period. When I was reading the parts of the book that took place in the past, It felt like I was reading something that was written in the past which enhanced my reading experience.

I love the references in this book to famous authors such as Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, and the Bronte sisters. I just thought that this added a really fun element to the book. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. However, there was something in the way it was written or in the way plot unfolded that kept me from being completely sucked into the story. I felt like the author didn’t really flesh out the ending of the book and it left me more confused than anything.

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Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The book that……I can’t believe I waited so long to read!

I am not posting a synopsis on here because I went into this book completely blind and I thought it really added to the story. However, if you wold like to read what it is about, you can read the synopsis here.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I had this book sitting on my shelf for almost 2 years. I think I had had it on my Goodreads TBR even before that. I always looked at it thinking I should read it. I don’t know why but I just kept putting it off. Finally I picked it up and I was hooked about 5 pages in. This quickly has become one of my top 5 reads of 2014. The writing is absolutely beautiful and the story is just so intriguing that you will want to keep reading just one more chapter way past your bedtime. I was not expecting this book to be as creepy as it turned out to be and I loved that eery feel that it kept throughout the book.

I absolutely loved the pacing in this book. It revealed new information relatively slowly but always gave you just enough to keep you reading furiously to find out what would turn up next. There was a little bit of a lull in the middle but I wanted to see hwo it would end so badly that I just kind of flew through that part. I also loved the vibrant characters in this book. There are a lot of characters but I felt that Diane did a great job giving them personality and really got the reader involved in their lives.

The worst part is that Diane Setterfield only has one other book! She also wrote Bellman & Black which sounds just as good as The Thirteenth Tale. I wanted to get it from my library right away but I think I will wait a bit so as to have one of her books to read in a couple months.

I would recommend The Thirteenth Tale to fans of Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier or to anyone who likes gothic mystery novels.

Have you read this book or have you finished a book recently? What did you think about it? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Book Review Mash-Up

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I absolutely loved this book. The story is just so comfy and cozy without being too simple. The characters had depth and I found myself falling quickly in love with all of them. I think that Rainbow’s writing is beautiful and easy to read all at the same time which can be really hard to do. I would suggest that if you are look for a book that is a fast read or a good story about college, love, and family, this is the book for you.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself–and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

I honestly couldn’t finish this one 😦 I think that this book has a lot of untapped potential. I think that the author is trying to write a book about a lot of hard-hitting issues when really it is about a bunch of girls in pretty dresses. The main character, America, drove me absolutely crazy. One minute she is terrified of leaving the airport and then the next she is signing autographs like a lifelong celebrity. She seemed to think that she was worse than every other person even though she had a boyfriend who loved her, an amazing singing voice and everyone including the prince thought she was gorgeous and wonderful. I thought that the world building in the book was weak and I felt like it was modern day America instead of a futuristic dystopian society. I wanted to enjoy this book but I honestly couldn’t do it.

 

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

This book was not a good one. I gave it one star on Goodreads. I absolutely loved the idea and premise of the story but I feel like it fell flat only a little way into it. The notebook dares just got sort of mediocre and Dash and Lily’s obsession over one another through this notebook just didn’t make sense to me. The story, about 100 pages in, changed completely and it was like reading a really horrible romantic comedy in book form that was neither romantic nor funny. I also felt that the writing was a bit wordy and just plain hard to read. Again, I really tried to enjoy this book but it just didn’t do anything for me.

 

Sorry about the negative reviews in this but I really want to add my honest thoughts about the books I read. Here’s to hoping I read more books like Fangirl in the near future!

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Book Review: The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers

The book that….touched my heart.

I adore this story! I devoured it in two days and loved every minute of it. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Synopsis: Two women, centuries apart, are joined through a tattered journal as they contend with God, husbands, and even themselves . . . until they fall into the arms of the One who loves them unconditionally. Sierra Madrid’s life has just been turned upside down when she discovers the handcrafted quilt and journal of her ancestor Mary Kathryn McMurray, a young woman who was uprooted from her home only to endure harsh conditions on the Oregon Trail. Though the women are separated by time and circumstance, Sierra discovers that many of the issues they face are remarkably similar. By following Mary Kathryn’s example, Sierra learns to surrender to God’s sovereignty and unconditional love.

Going into this book, I knew that I would like it but I was not expecting me to love it quite as much as I did. Francine Rivers is one of my favorite authors of all time and I know that pretty much everything she writes will be good. However, I am not a huge fan of contemporary books and so I was a little apprehensive about this one knowing that a big portion of this book was going to be contemporary.

About 20 pages in, I was completely hooked. I came to care so much for the characters in this story that I cried and couldn’t rest until I read the book in its entirety. The writing from the two different time periods had such distinction that made the characters seem even more real. The writing is so seamless and effortless that it just flows and I found myself flying through this book.

I  loved the fact that though the two women had similar struggles, their stories were also very different. I have read other books where there are two stories taking place in two time periods but often they are so similar that it feels like you are reading the same story twice. This book was not that way at all. Both women had things in common and other things that set them apart.

Usually I can find something that I would like to change in a book but to be completely honest, it was wonderful just the way it is.

I think this is a great read for anyone who likes books centered around marriage and family or for someone who is looking to get into stories that talk about that subject.

I would also like to mention that Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is on my list of my top 10 favorite books of all time (quite possibly my favorite book of all time). If you have not read it, I suggest you do. It has forever changed my outlook on love and marriage. Very powerful. I feel like nothing I could say about this book would do it justice so I just ask that you check it out and give it a try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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