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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mother and Girls Reading

Mother Reading with Two Girls by Lee Lufkin Kaula born 1865 in Erie (Pennsylvania), USA died 1957


Friday, October 23, 2015

The Girl on the Train...Review

About the book:
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

As is often the case with a popular mainstream novel, my opinion is going to be in the minority, but I did not love this story and am reminded, yet again, why I don't pick up thrillers very often.

The story alternates between the three first-person narratives of Rachel, the ex-wife; Anna, the new wife; and Megan, the neighbor. Rachel is a depressed alcoholic, obsessed with Megan who lives on the street where she used to live and where her ex-husband still lives with Anna his mistress-turned-wife and their baby.

This novel is a compelling train wreck. It's dreary and negative. There is no hope, no sunshine and nothing to make me care about any of these people. It is a promising debut and there are psychological aspects that show potential, but the Hitchhockian feel is about the only thing this novel has going for it.

I will confess that the rumors of who might be starring in the film adaptation of this novel are what motivated me to pick it up. And this is one of the rare times where I hope the film is better than the book.

Excessive profanity, non-explicit adultery.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow. You can learn more about Paula Hawkins here. You can purchase your own copy here.

For a different opinion and perspective check out the reviews from some of my blog friends: A Literary Vacation, Layered Pages.

Read 10/15

* *
2/5 Stars

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Before We Go...Film Review

About the film:
Before We Go, the directorial debut of Chris Evans, follows the journey of two strangers stuck in New York City for the night. Starting as convenient acquaintances, the two soon grow into each other's most trusted confidants when a night of unexpected adventure forces them to confront their fears and take control of their lives.

I am not one to normally write movie reviews. But, I adored Before We Go. I haven't seen all of Chris Evans' films and I haven't loved every one that I have watched. Trust me when I tell you to skip London, but watch Snowpiercer. It will frak with your mind, and I could only watch it once because it affected me so much. But it's absolutely amazing and devastating at the same time.

I have enjoyed the two films I saw that Alice Eve was in: The Decoy Bride and Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Before We Go was quite simply, a delight. It is so refreshing to watch a truly romantic movie that doesn't rely on sex to sell it. Instead, the film relied on a sweet, sincere intimacy because the chemistry between Nick and Brooke was so believable. I enjoy dialogue-centric films and this one was perfect in that sense. Discussion and conversations; explanations and confession; friendship and a hint at falling in love.

Well worth the instant video purchase, this is one I've watched several times. I can't pick a favorite scene as there is something in nearly every one that I liked: the hotel scene was beautifully intimate as they shared some of their most honest thoughts and the pay phone scenes were funny with the last one being especially poignant.

It's a fantastic debut film for a first-time director and I think Chris Evans has a terrific eye for scene setting. I look forward to more from him as a director.

Spoiler alert: the ending is appropriate to the story, but does leave you craving more. I'm dying to know what Nick wrote on the back of the card!!

I purchased my copy from Amazon and just wanted to share how much I liked it. You can get your own copy here.

5/5 Stars

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Plain Change...Review

About the book:
Amanda Beiler could never have imagined the course her life would take when she happened to meet Alejandro Diaz. After catching the eye of the Cuban superstar, she hesitantly decides to leave her small Amish community in order to save it from the relentless attention of the paparazzi. Away from her close-knit family and the familiar rituals of her faith for the first time, Amanda goes on tour with the famous singer, and as she begins to see the world under Alejandro’s care, she starts to appreciate life beyond the boundaries of home. Meanwhile, Alejandro is changing, too, and remembering what it feels like to be with someone who wants him despite—not because of—his celebrity.

As their connection grows stronger and their differences shrink, Amanda will have to make a difficult choice: Return to her old life among the Plain, or stay in the limelight with the man she loves?

In book 2 of the Plain Fame series, Amanda Beiler is forced to leave her Amish community because the invasive press attention. Being on tour with Alejandro and married to him opens up her world to a new and unfamiliar perspective. Amanda appreciates much of it, but also misses her home and family and the more simple ways of life.

The cultural differences are intense and are heightened by Amanda's flashbacks to life and experiences back home. When her father becomes ill and she returns home to help them, those differences are even more extreme.

I felt like Amanda abandoned her plainness very easily. There were times too where I felt like Alejandro was not respectful of her. He took away her choices and forced her into the spotlight and into his lifestyle, regardless of what she wanted or what she was comfortable with. The idea that celebrities don't have any control over their own lives is misleading.

The story has a sensuality to it that is not often found in Amish or Christian novels and it was refreshing and appreciated rather than tawdry or improper. Like the first one, I enjoyed the story and was compelled to finish it. And, like the previous book, this one doesn't have a resolved ending and instead you must read the third one to find out what happens with Amanda and Alejandro.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Sarah Price here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/15

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, October 19, 2015

Plain Fame...Review

About the book:
While traveling through Manhattan on the way back to her Amish community, young Amanda Beiler is struck by a limousine. The limo’s passenger, Cuban-born superstar Alejandro Diaz, takes responsibility for her injuries and vows to oversee her recovery. Leaving the fame circuit behind, Alejandro returns Amanda to her family in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

Desperate for a break from the stress of the spotlight, the famous singer offers to stay on the family farm for a week to help—an offer guardedly accepted by the deeply religious kin who surround and protect Amanda. As different as they are, she and Alejandro find that a genuine friendship begins to blossom, along with the realization that it might be something more. But if the paparazzi get wind of the superstar’s whereabouts, will they threaten the peace of the faithful community for a sensational story? And in the glare of an unwelcome spotlight, and with the unexpected feelings between them, can this couple build a lasting bridge between their vastly different worlds?

I enjoy Amish books but I wasn't familiar with Sarah Price as an author prior to reading Amish Fame. The premise of the book is certainly different: a famous musician falling for an Amish girl. If you accept a willful suspension of disbelief, then the story is plausible.

The culture clash was dramatic and extreme. I liked the story. I liked Amanda and Alejandro. I have never understood the Amish way of shunning and I never will and the idea that Amanda's parents practically encouraged her to leave because the press was hounding their community was a little far-fetched for me.  Still the story has its heartwarming parts and was compelling enough that I was anxious to finish it.

The story is written with an unresolved ending and you must read the next one in the series to find any closure. This is a serious pet peeve of mine, but something I am finding all too common in these days of digital publishing.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Sarah Price here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/15

* * *
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

London Tides...Review

About the book:
Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and mentor in the field, Grace is shaken.

She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace ... only for her to choose career over him. Will life’s tides bring them back together ... or tear them apart for good this time?

Grace chose her career over her boyfriend and went off to photograph war.  Ian went to work and never forgot her. After the tragic death of her mentor, Grace finds her way back to London and her path crosses Ian's. Still in love, they wonder if they can overcome past choices and experiences and find happiness together.

I enjoyed reading Ian's story after meeting him in Five Days in Skye. I liked Grace and her experiences in the Middle East were compelling. As with many romance novels, I found myself frustrated at the assumptions made and the lack of communciation, but I found myself cheering these two on anyway.

A quick enjoyable read. This is a sequel to Five Days in Skye and is second in the MacDonald Family Trilogy, and while the story can stand alone, read the first one!

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book, You can learn ,ore about Carla Laureano here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/15

* * * *
4/5 Stars