Archives For 5 stars

lucidLucid by Adrienne Stoltz & Ron Bass

Release Date: October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 343 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Source: purchased from Chapters
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult, Romance

The Blurb
What if you could dream your way into a different life? What if you could choose to live that life forever?

Sloane and Maggie have never met. Sloane is a straight-A student with a big and loving family. Maggie lives a glamorously independent life as an up-and-coming actress in New York. The two girls couldn’t be more different–except for one thing. They share a secret that they can’t tell a soul. At night, they dream that they’re each other.

The deeper they’re pulled into the promise of their own lives, the more their worlds begin to blur dangerously together. Before long, Sloane and Maggie can no longer tell which life is real and which is just a dream. They realize that eventually they will have to choose one life to wake up to, or risk spiraling into insanity. But that means giving up one world, one love, and one self, forever.

This is a dazzling debut that will steal readers’ hearts.

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My Thoughts

Maggie and Sloane are two girls living completely different lives who, when they fall asleep, dream of the other person’s day. This concept is never fully explained, but talked about often from each girls perspective. Both girls are going through similar things at the same time – Maggie has lost her father, while Sloane lost her best friend. Suddenly both girls meet THE BOY and both are drawn into love triangles that neither of them see but is apparent to everyone else around them. I loved both of the girls for their completely separate identities and found the supporting characters to be really likeable, if not loveable (I loved Maggie’s little sister, Jude) and well developed.

It was thoroughly engrossing right up until the end, when it got even better. The end was fast-paced and confusing (for both the girls and the reader) but in a good way, I felt the confusion built up the anticipation. And then it was over. Just like that. Which girl won in the end, who was real and who was imaginary? Even though many questions are left unanswered, the book was chilling and real at the same time – it made me wonder if there are people out there right now just like this. It was written honestly, as if these were real girls with real stories. There were holes but the whole read was completely entertaining for me. This is one of those books that I will be thinking about for a long, long time. But then again, I’m the type of person that LOVES it when a book blows my mind at the very end and I’m sitting there wondering what the heck just happened.

My Rating: 5 stars

loveanthonyLove Anthony by Lisa Genova

Release Date: September 25, 2012
Format: Audiobook, 9h 11m
Narrated By: Debra Messing
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Source: purchased from Audible.com

The Blurb

From the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Left Neglected, comes a heartfelt novel about an accidental friendship that gives a grieving mother a priceless gift: the ability to understand the thoughts of her eight-year-old autistic son and make sense of his brief life.

Two women, each cast adrift by unforseen events in their lives, meet by accident on a Nantucket beach and are drawn into a friendship.

Olivia is a young mother whose eight-year-old severely autistic son has recently died. Her marriage badly frayed by years of stress, she comes to the island in a trial separation to try and make sense of the tragedy of her Anthony’s short life.

Beth, a stay-at-home mother of three, is also recently separated after discovering her husband’s long-term infidelity. In an attempt to recapture a sense of her pre-married life, she rekindles her passion for writing, determined to find her own voice again. But surprisingly, as she does so, Beth also find herself channeling the voice of an unknown boy, exuberant in his perceptions of the world around him if autistic in his expression—a voice she can share with Olivia—(is it Anthony?)—that brings comfort and meaning to them both.

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My Thoughts

This was a beautiful story. I instantly loved both Beth and Olivia’s characters and felt fully connected with both of them for different reasons. I could feel both of these women as if they were sitting in the seat next to me. Their stories are told separately through most of the book, in alternating chapters, but they do run into eachother at times. Beth’s perfect family is falling apart when she learns that her husband is having an affair. Olivia’s run to Nantucket to get away from her husband and mourn the loss of her son.  Olivia’s backstory is heartbreaking – as I learned about Anthony and how it affected both her and her marriage, I wanted to reach out and hug her. I loved the way that the author worked Beth’s novel into the book – once she started writing, chapters (or parts of chapters) were from Beth’s book, and it was the most beautiful part of the whole novel. Beth writes from an autistic boy’s point-of-view, explaining what is going on inside his head. I actually believe that this is probably the closest anyone has ever gotten to explaining what it’s like to be living with autism. I’ve only had small dealings with autism, but from what I’ve watched in movies, read in books, and observed in real life, I think that this book has hit the mark about what it’s like being a parent of an autistic child and what just may be going on inside that child’s head. Lisa Genova did an excellent job writing an intricate story about such a delicate matter – this book has become one of my favorite books.

As this was an audiobook, I wanted to mention that Debra Messing did a great job in narrating. At first I had a hard time with her voice because she spoke softly and at points when either Beth or Olivia would mutter, so would Messing, and I wouldn’t be able to hear. Either I got used to it, or she started speaking louder and clearer as the book went on. She put just the right amount of emotion into the characters, just the right inflections so you knew who was speaking without the “Beth said”, “Jimmy said” that other books maintain throughout.

I wanted this book to keep going. I wanted to hear more from Anthony’s point of view. I literally wanted to be friends with these two women. After reading this book and her debut novel, Still Alice, I’ve officially put Lisa Genova on my list of favorite authors.

My Rating: 5 stars

The Blurb

Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective… but there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

Since its publication, Stephen Chbosky’s haunting debut novel has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, grown into a cult phenomenon with over a million copies in print, and inspired a major motion picture.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

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My Thoughts

I listened to this one as an audiobook, I’m not sure if that’s what made me absolutely love the book or if it was the writing. Probably a mixture of both. But, I’m going to review the audio version, because…well, it’s what I “read”. 😉

At first I didn’t know what was going on – since I didn’t have the book in front of me, I didn’t realize that it was written entirely in letters. So the first letter had me completely confused. Then I got into it. I think if I was reading it, I would have gotten bored because nothing ever really happens, it’s just this boy going on about his life and all these little random things. But when it’s being read to you, by a narrator that does it *just so*, Charlie is endearing and lovable, and I just wanted to hug him.

The book is set in the 1991/92 school year and follows Charlie’s first year of high school. He’s a very sensitive boy (he cried, a lot), and pretty clueless (as any 15-year-old can be). The things he goes through and the decisions he makes are laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreaking at the same time. There are several “adult” themes in this book – sex, drugs, sexual orientation, rape/molestation, among others.

The ending reveals a shock that I didn’t see coming – even though I’d read quasi-spoilers that had mentioned it, I’d forgotten them because I was so engrossed in the narration of the book.

To me, this book is a heartwarming story of a young boy coming into his own, a must-read for everyone! (But I really recommend the audiobook version…)

My Rating: 5 stars

The Blurb

Falling in love can feel like poetry. Or it can feel like a slam to the heart.

Colleen Hoover’s romantic, emotion-packed debut novel unforgettably captures all the magic and confusion of first love, as two young people forge an unlikely bond before discovering that fate has other plans for them.

Following the unexpected death of her father, eighteen-year-old Layken becomes the rock for both her mother and younger brother. She appears resilient and tenacious, but inside, she’s losing hope. Then she meets her new neighbor Will, a handsome twenty-one-year-old whose mere presence leaves her flustered and whose passion for poetry slams thrills her.

Not long after a heart-stopping first date during which each recognizes something profound and familiar in the other, they are slammed to the core when a shocking discovery brings their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together and the forces that tear them apart. Only through the poetry they share are they able to speak the truth that is in their hearts and imagine a future where love is cause for celebration, not regret.

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My Thoughts

I was sucked in from the very first page. To be honest, I was quite excited to read this one, for whatever reason the blurb really spoke to me and I *knew* that I needed to read it. It was a very quick read, mostly because once I started, I didn’t want to put it down.

It started off strong, with great character development (for what it’s worth, I love the names in this book, especially Layken). I was immediately drawn to Layken and her family, I felt bad for her situation. I was drawn in with her ups and downs when it came to Will.

And then. The half-way point of the book happened. And I was a goner. My emotions were flying one way and then flipping the other within PAGES. It was an emotional roller coaster. But all in a good way…I felt every little thing that Layken felt (well, almost).

As an added bonus is the little bits of slam poetry that we’re treated to as “written by” a few of the characters in the book: Will, Layken, and Eddie. I loved this unique way to give us an insight into the characters and how they felt and why they felt that way.

This book is a treat in itself and a must-read. I can’t WAIT to read the next in the series (Point of Retreat), and am already anxious for the third book to be written and released!

My Rating: 5 stars

The Blurb

The next book in the number-one internationally bestselling franchise.

In this follow-up to The Book of Awesome, Neil Pasricha looks at even more of the little things that make us smile every day.

Neil Pasricha is back with a collection of hundreds more awesome things from the website, as well as never-before-seen extraordinary moments that deserve celebration:

Entries include:

– When your windshield wipers match the beat of the song you’re listening to
– Letting go of the gas pump perfectly so you end on a round number
– When a baby falls asleep on you

Because couldn’t we all use a little more AWESOME?

My Thoughts

Following in the footsteps of The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things, this book is a laugh-out-loud pick-me-up kind of book. It’s excellent when you’re having a rough day and just need something to remind you of little things out there that are AWESOME!

I love the way Pasricha writes about each of these awesome things – he creates a whole scene or story about that one little thing. He makes a big to-do about it. The very last awesome thing in this book isn’t really so awesome, but explains where he came from when starting the blog and then moving on to putting it together into books. Even his acknowledgements were amusing!

Honestly, I think that everyone should have both of these books in their library or on their coffeetable, so it’s there on days when you need it. Pasricha has inspired me to think about the little things in life and smile a little bit more, even on my cloudy days.

So thank you, Neil Pasricha, for being AWESOME!

My Rating: 5 stars