What’s a Soulmate?

We’re not necessarily “snowed in” this weekend but I’m definitely enjoying staying cozied up with some good books while it’s cold outside. Seriously, this is my kind of reading weather. I love to stay snuggled up in the blankets with a book and a cup of coffee (or cocoa in this case).

What’s a Soulmate? has been on my TBR list for quite some time. It fell to the wayside as I got caught up with other books. But I finally got to read it!

51ucjvlvw-lMeet Libby Carmichael, a seventeen-year-old girl whose only focus is making clothes, getting prepared for college, and listening to whatever drama her best friend Beth has going on. Her world is filled with blacks and whites. There is no color. Until one day, she meets her Soulmate and her entire universe explodes in vibrancy.

Andrew McCormack has had a bad day. Being detained for assaulting a police officer tends to do that to a person. But then he sees Libby, and the drab juvenile detention center becomes the most colorful part of his world. But how do you have a relationship with your Soulmate when there is perpetually a barrier between you?

I was thoroughly excited to read this story. The concept is phenomenal and not something I’d seen or heard of before. To live in a world devoid of color until you meet your Soulmate is an interesting theory. Lindsey Ouimet does a wonderful job of fleshing out that theory and making a reader crave the relationship between our two main characters. There is intrigue, mystery, and of course romance in every page. However, I found myself getting rather bored with the story and wanting to just skim through to the next interesting part. I felt like bits of it dragged and I lost interest more than once.

Overall, I believe What’s a Soulmate? is a great read for any teen and something you won’t see on every shelf in every bookstore.

Lullaby Road

IMG_1630I have never read any of James Anderson’s novels. But I was sent Lullaby Road for review and was a little disconcerted finding out that it was a sequel. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to follow the story having nothing to go on from the previous book. However, that worry was unfounded.

Lullaby Road stands well on its own. Following Ben Jones in his truck along highway 117 in Utah made for some interesting adventures. The desert can do some strange things to a person’s mind as we are shown time and time again. Ben himself even has to contend with what the desert has made of him. From the very beginning we are thrown into a strange situation. Ben has stopped by his transport station to pick up a load but also winds up taking a child and a dog that won’t leave its side. As he struggles to make his run with the child, the dog, and his neighbor’s infant, he must also solve a major mystery and a web of lies that has entwined most of the small towns linked by his truck route.

James Anderson has a way of pulling the reader into the story and making them comfortable. Like a warm bed on a cold winter morning, Lullaby Road was hard to get out of. While I wasn’t particularly happy with the ending, I can’t help but applaud Anderson’s ability to weave a tale of intrigue, suspense, and sarcasm.

I was given this book from Blogging for Books for review.

Futura: a novella

21jVaTxwrHL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Paris. The future. Things have changed. Technology has advanced. Nature has receded. Except in Paris, where they have managed to integrate both nature and technology to create a haven for all.

In Jordan Phillips’ fiction novella, we explore Paris as it could be in the future. There middle class is now successful and known as Basics. You are not required to work. In fact, cooking has even become a hobby as AI units known as the Invisibles take care of pretty much everything humans may need.

In the midst of all this technology, Ruby yearns for a baby. But after a failed relationship, how is she to get what she wants? Sure, the Invisibles can help but she prefers a bit of nostalgia in this. As Ruby wrestles with being happy in her life and wanting a little one to love, we see her day-to-day interactions in this new Paris.

While I enjoyed Phillips’ story, I was left disappointed. I wanted more. I wanted to see more of Paris in the new era, more of how things had changed. I feel Phillips simply skimmed the surface of this world she has created. I hope she one day decides to flesh this story out so we can go deeper into Futura.

The Bear and The Nightingale

25489134._UY1000_SS1000_This book has intrigued me for quite some time. I’ve heard some good things about it and was excited to finally add it to my list.

Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale is the first book in the Winternight Trilogy. The Bear and The Nightingale is set in Russia, where winters are hard and household demons run rampant. Vasilisa is the last born of her mother, and just like her mother she carries magic in her blood. She can see and speak with the wood spirits, the river goddess and even the vazila in the horsestables. But her stepmother is a Christian woman who fears the old gods and tries to bring her husband’s lands under a Christian rule. But in doing so, she puts everyone in danger. It’s up to Vasya to save her people and discover who she really is with the help of an unlikely alliance.

Arden weaves a tale of literary beauty and fantasy. While each character has about four different names, which can make it a bit difficult to keep track of them all, the story itself is beautifully written. Perfect for a winter read. I easily fell in love with the characters and the flow of the story had me staying up way past bedtime in order to finish another chapter. I highly recommend picking up The Bear and The Nightingale and I’m excited to read the second installment of the Winternight Trilogy.

Time’s a Thief

512g7Rgn-sL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_B.G. Firmani’s Time’s a Thief takes place in 1980s New York, and early 2000s New York. We follow Francesca “Chess” Varani through her years at Barnard. Coincidentally also where Firmani attended. Immediately we meet Kendra Marr-Lowenstein, a wild child from a high class family.  Chess is instantly taken with Kendra and her crazy ways. Throughout Firmani’s novel, we follow the ups and downs of Chess and Kendra’s friendship as well as just how deeply Chess finds herself in the Marr-Lowenstein family and the number they do on her.

While Time’s a Thief was easy to fall into and very easy to read, I found myself annoyed with the incessant lists of poets, composers, and literaries that seemed to add nothing to the story other than to flaunt Firmani’s knowledge. Beyond that, the novel read like a stream of consciousness writing. Very Bohemian and Kerouac-esque. I didn’t love the book but I didn’t hate it. I won’t give anything away but the ending seemed very bland to me as if nothing had actually happened through the entire story.

Still, if you’re looking for a novel to kill the time then Time’s a Thief is a good choice. As Firmani’s first novel it could use some work.

I received a copy of Time’s a Thief from NetGalley for review.

Long Black Veil

31214015This review was a long time coming. It took me a bit to get through this book but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan tells the story of a group of friends who are connected by a haunting experience that changes them forever. There are a plethora of characters to follow who each have their own story. It was difficult for me to keep track of them all as the chapter jump between characters as well as time and location. I never fully fell in love with any of them. Because of this and the story jumping around so much, I quickly lost interest and would have to take long breaks from the book.

Boylan’s quite creative in her story and I think the concept is brilliant but it was poorly executed. The ending seemed rushed and thrown together. All in all, there was too much going on in the short 290 pages.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for review.

The Thirteenth Tale

81KOIdTwCVLWhen I picked up The Thirteenth Tale, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The blurb on the back doesn’t give much for a reader to go on which I suppose adds to the mystery of the book itself. I’d never read any of Diane Setterfield’s work and was curious as to her writing style and storytelling abilities. Honestly, I’m so glad that this is the first of her books that I picked up.

The Thirteenth Tale is an intriguing novel of twins. We’re introduced to Margaret Lea, a young woman who works in her father’s antique bookshop as well as being an amateur biographer. One day she is contacted by the elusive Vida Winter, the world’s most prolific storyteller. Miss Winter has also never told her true story to anyone. But suddenly, she’s decided to tell everything to Margaret. As her story unfolds, Margaret finds that amidst the mystery of this author, they have something in common.

Setterfield manages to create a web of intrigue among all of the characters. She picks at your brain and carries you through this mystery until the very end. All in all, a very unique story and one I would highly recommend, especially to book lovers.

This Too Shall Pass

41q362Ic4QL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Have you ever wondered how your life would change once your parents are gone? For daughters, when their mom passes away we lose more than a parent, we lose a friend as well. This Too Shall Pass explores a daughter’s grief as she handles her mother’s passing with the help of some odd characters.

Milena Busquets attempts to tell a story of romance, grief, and laughter. However, she falls short. In this small book, just over 130 pages, she drags on and on about Blanquita’s grief. I had a hard time getting through this book and didn’t enjoy it. There were far too many characters with their own problems to keep track of. While her writing style is commendable, there wasn’t much to enjoy about the story itself. I could not feel Blanquita’s grief or her loss of control as she dealt with the death of her mother. It was hard to get attached to any of the characters in this story.

That being said, if you’re looking for a short book to grab and read, This Too Shall Pass may be the book for you. Just be sure you have the gumption to push through and finish it.

The Shack

ShackoverAs I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been big on reading Christian-based books. Not even just Christian but religious books in general. The fiction ones come off too cheesy most of the time and the non-fiction ones are just too dry. So when my mother begged me to read The Shack, I was a little reluctant. I’d heard quite a bit about the book especially now that there is a movie on it and it hadn’t really struck my fancy. But I thoroughly enjoy discussing books with my mom, so I gave it a shot.

I have never read a more emotionally exhausting book. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. I’ve never had a book break me apart and put me back together in new ways. It was exhilarating and saddening all at the same time.

The Shack tells the story of Mackenzie “Mack” Allen Phillips and his “Great Sadness”. Three years earlier, he took his kids camping for a weekend. The day they are to leave, his youngest daughter goes missing and can’t be found. Mack carries this sadness with him for years, his children suffer from the loss of their sister, and his wife is just trying to keep the family together. Until one day, Mack receives a note in the mailbox signed by “Papa”, the name his wife calls God, asking him to go back to where his sadness all began. Is this some cruel trick played by a neighbor? Or is God really asking Mack to face his past?

Ultimately, Mack decides to go back to the shack and find what awaits him there. By doing so, Mack opens himself up to a healing like no other and a learning experience many will never believe.

William P. Young writes a marvelous tale of sadness, anger, forgiveness, and finding out what love really means. The Shack forces you to reexamine your relationship with God, whether you have one or not, and question all the things you thought you knew about religion. I can’t recommend this book enough, but fair warning, be sure you have plenty of tissues handy.

Eleanor

Bookshot_Spine_MedHave you ever read H.P. Lovecraft? You know how his books like to toy with your mind? I always find I get “brain cringes” when I read his books because I feel like someone has taken my mind and played with it. I love that feeling, but at the same time I don’t.

Jason Gurley’s Eleanor reminds me quite a bit of Lovecraft’s work, however, less creepy. In Eleanor, we’re introduced to a multitude of characters, all deeply connected in one way or another. Eleanor is a young mother who abandons her daughter and husband on a stormy night. Years later, her daughter, Agnes, has a family of her own. On another stormy day, tragedy strikes and tears the family apart. Now her daughter, Eleanor, must find a way to put her family back together if they’re ever to have a chance at happiness.

Gurley manages to take a tale and twist it into something completely different. Eleanor is unlike anything you’ve read before. Simultaneously dealing with teenagedom, family tragedy, depression, and fantasy, Eleanor is a book you won’t want to put down. With hints of mystery and saving a family, Eleanor begs the question: what if you could push a reset button? What lengths would you go to in order to bring happiness back to your family?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.