We finally made it to Friday! Grab a cup of coffee (or two), and let’s talk about some books.
I was determined the past couple months to get back on track with my reading challenge – 50 books by the end of 2016. That probably doesn’t seem like a lot to some, but I’ve read more in this year than I have since I was a kid. So, I feel pretty good about it. I only had one doozy the past couple months, but the rest are books that held my interest from beginning to end.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman – 4 stars
As suspected, this book lived up to my expectations. I struggled through the first 20 to 30% of the book when it goes into detail about the scenery and land that the lighthouse sits on. After that, I was hooked. It really is an interesting story of how forgiveness can play a powerful role in our lives. Everyone involved in this tragic incident had to forgive the other in some way just so it was possible to move on and live some semblance of a normal, sane life. I also have since seen the movie, and Tom and Isabel’s story plays out even more romantically on screen than I imagined in the book.
A Night in with Audrey Hepburn by Lucy Holliday – 3 stars
BookBub recommended this one for fans of Sophie Kinsella. I definitely understand the comparison, and the premise of the book was so cute. What girl wouldn’t love to have Audrey Hepburn magically appear in their apartment and help them through some of life’s most difficult adolescent problems? Unfortunately, the book missed the mark with the family dynamic. One minute Libby and her sister hate each other, and the next they’re sticking up or defending one another. I also wasn’t too happy with the choice of love interest and how that ended up, but that’s just personal bias. The story is cute enough, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to read it.
The Ivy Lessons by Susanna Quinn – 1 star
Oh gosh, I’m actually pretty embarrassed to admit that I downloaded and read this book in the first place. Thanks, BookBub for always sucking me in! Long story short, this book is terrible. There’s no other way to say it. I’m obviously down with cheesy and contemporary romances, but I just felt like crap the entire time I read this. This is a book that I imagine junior high-age girls checking out from the library and feeling scandalous for doing so. That’s all I really have to say on this one.
Fate’s Love by L.A. Cotton – 4 stars
For being a pretty typical teenage romance, I enjoyed this story more than I thought I would. I found the main character, Olivia, someone easy to relate to. She always is focused on the future, making sure she does everything right and is the “good girl.” That obviously only works for so long since you can miss out on a lot with that attitude. I enjoyed the progression of how everyone grew up in this book and became the person that they were supposed to be.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – 4 stars
Thanks to the recommendation of my brother, both Ryan and I read this at the same time. That was so fun! We hardly ever read the same stuff, so I loved being able to discuss it together when we both were at the same part in the story. I loved the concept of this book, and I enjoyed all the pop culture references. I was worried that it was going to be too science fiction for my taste, but it’s not like that at all. It was interesting to compare the virtual reality in the book to the current reality that we live in, always being connected to technology and social media. I did knock off a star because I felt like the ending was a bit rushed. All of a sudden, everything was happening at once and then bam – it was over. The world is safe and great again. Yeah, I think not. This is Steven Spielberg’s next film, so I can’t wait to see how they adapt it for the big screen.
A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard – 4 stars
Back in July, Diane Sawyer conducted a new 20/20 interview with Jaycee Dugard about her life now and that re-sparked my interest in this story. I always was nervous to read this book for obvious reasons, but it isn’t difficult to read at all. You have to keep in mind that Jaycee was taken when she was 11 years old, and it’s apparent throughout these pages that she doesn’t 100% understand what her captor is doing to her. She even explains at one point that all she knew sex to be was when her Barbie and Ken Doll laid next to each other. There were moments while reading that I questioned why she didn’t make a run for it – she was left alone on a couple occasions, and they even took her out in public fairly often – but I also can’t even fathom living in that kind of fear. She obviously did what she had to do to survive. This was an interesting read, and I have her new book on hold at the library.
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – 4 stars
Sophie Kinsella is one of my favorite authors (with the exception of the Shopaholic series – I never much got into those). So it’s no surprise that I loved this book. I thought she did a great job of dealing with a pretty serious subject with humor and love. The only reason I gave it four stars is because 1. I was sick of hearing about the brother and his beloved computer game. I don’t understand why that had to be such a critical part of the story. And, 2. I wish it would have been better laid out what exactly happened to Audrey. I gathered that she was severely bullied at her old school, but that was so bad that she had to leave and couldn’t make eye contact anymore? Nonetheless, I loved the book and I highly recommend it.
Caught Up in Us by Lauren Blakely – 3 stars
I pretty much only gave this one the rating that I did because I enjoyed the business-side of the story. The main character, Kat, has a flourishing jewelry line that I loved the story of how it came to be. Otherwise, the story had a lot of gaps that left me wanting more. I wish there was more about the summer that Kat and Bryan – her old brother’s then-best friend – fell in love and managed to keep it a secret from everyone. There only was a few pages about this, and next thing I know she’s visiting him in New York and they break up. What?! The story definitely wasn’t terrible, and the ending was cute enough. I just thought there could’ve been more substance.
Breaking Up with Barrett by Katy Regnery – 4 stars
This was a ridiculous cheesy romance, and I loved it. It reminded me of Maid for Love (review here) in that it was a predictable Cinderella-story of sorts. Think Sabrina (the original with Audrey Hepburn, not the horrible remake with Harrison Ford) meets Pretty Woman. Obviously, the writing is nothing to write home about and the story has its flaws, but I don’t care. I don’t want to say too much and give it away, so just read this if you want a quick, feel-good love story.
Remember When by T. Torrest – 3 stars
This is probably more like 3.5 stars. I enjoyed the light-hearted, humorous tone that this book took, especially in reference to the 80s styles and trends. However, the story line was a little repetitive and somewhat all over the place at times. I wanted to know more about why Layla’s mom left, or to learn more about Trip’s parents – particularly his alcoholic father and how that affected Trip and his decisions/actions. I get that the author was trying to keep the main focus about Layla’s and Trip’s friendship-to-lovers status, but I felt left hanging when the serious stuff was thrown in there with no resolution. And, the ending was unfulfilling since the author wants you to read the sequel. I probably won’t bother.
The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss by Anderson Cooper & Gloria Vanderbilt – 5 stars
I don’t read a lot of nonfiction or memoir-style books, but I’m so glad that I took a chance on this one. I’ve always been a fan of Anderson Cooper – he’s why I became interested in majoring in journalism in college – and I only knew that his mom was rich. She is SO much more than that. Her life has been filled with more tragedies and traumas than you can imagine, but she also led a rather fascinating life. The amount of name-dropping in this book is insane! But, beyond that, I loved that the whole concept of this book was a way for a son to ask his mother questions and learn her backstory before she’s not here anymore and it’s too late (she’s now 92, I believe). The conversational tone – the book is comprised of a series of emails that they wrote to one another – made it fly by and not seem like a traditional memoir at all.
Final recommendations: Anderson Cooper’s and Gloria Vanderbilt’s book is a must-read. I also wouldn’t pass up Breaking Up with Barrett, Ready Player One and The Light Between Oceans. Skip The Ivy Lessons at all costs.
What books have you read lately? Anything good I should add to my reading list?