Thursday, August 28, 2014

[Review] Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry



Jolene Perry
Stronger Than You Know
[YA contemporary]

You can buy it here:
Stronger Than You Know (Amazon hardcover)

FTC: I received an eARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary (via Netgalley):
After police intervention, fifteen-year-old Joy has finally escaped the trailer where she once lived with her mother and survived years of confinement and abuse. Now living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in a comfortable house, she’s sure she’ll never belong. Wracked by panic attacks, afraid to talk to anyone at her new school, Joy’s got a whole list of reasons why she’s crazy. With immense courage, Joy finds friends and grows closer to her new family. But just when hope is taking hold, she learns she must testify in her mother’s trial. Can she face her old life without losing her way in the new one? Will she ever truly belong in a world that seems too normal to be real?

My thoughts:
This was the most heartbreaking, super emotional book I have read in a while! Joy was taken from her mother after years of every kind of abuse you can imagine, after being locked in their home and not being alowed to get out. When the police get her out, she ends up living with her aunt's and her family. I loved everything about the book! Joy slowly learned to trust people again, to feel comfortable around them and to be confident.

I first heard about the book online and a few people mentioned that they felt there was not much happening apart from her healing and dealing with what happened to her. While I see what they are saying, I have to disagree. Her healing and dealing with what happened is important. Everything else would have distracted from the story. Her healing was slow, but I felt the author did a great job of making Joy's transition seem normal, yet it did not drag out.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Joy was such a strong girl. She was brave and she survived so much. I just want to hug her long and tell her what a wonderful person she is. The same goes for her Aunt Diana and Uncle Rob. They took her in and treated her like she was their daughter. They were worried about her, they took care of her and did everything in their power to give her a happy life. They fought for her when Joy could not do it herself. Jolene Perry even portrayed Joy's cousins in a very realistic way. They were close to each other and - being teens - did not always understand why things were so different for Joy, so they acted inconsiderate at times, even rude. Nonetheless, they changed when they learned more. And that leads me to Justin and Daisy. These two are the best friends you can imagine. I loved how they both drew out different aspects of Joy.

It broke my heart to slowly understand what all Joy had to endure for the first fifteen years of her life, but what really, really moved me and brought tears to my eyes over and over again was how strong Joy was. She found joy in her life and learned how to trust people after all that had happened to her. Joy is easily one of my all-time favorite YA characters ever!

Rating:
5/5


Monday, August 18, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? (August 18, 2014)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Last Week

Last week I was hit with a bad case of a back ache. It is so bad I can barely lift and carry the baby - pardon me, the toddler! Unfortunately, it was really bad starting on Thursday, so due to a holiday I could not see a doctor until today. This really messed with my plans. I did not get much reading done or much work for university.



Nonetheless, I read Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth for my paper and I read a good chunk of Some Boys by Patty Blount. I am still undecided about this last book. I do not know what to think, but I still have a good part to go, so I will just wait and see.

I also posted a few blog posts last week. For one, there was last week's Monday post and my Top 10 Tuesday post on books I have but am now uncertain whether or not I should read them. I also reviewed Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher and Golden by Jessi Kirby. The latter has a special place in my heart, so if you want to know more about the backstory with me and this particular book, check out the blog post! (And leave me a comment - do you have any books with a special story?)

Reading right now



As I mentioned earlier, I am reading Patty Blount's Some Boys right now. I do not yet know what to think of the book, but I cannot wait to finish it, so this should be a good sign. I am also still working on books for my paper. I'm getting really tired of saying that! I wanted to hand in the paper last week, but alas, the baby needed Mommy time, so he got just that. Luckily, there are a few more weeks until the official due date for the paper!

New In

I did not acquire any new books last week, I think the "haul" from last week's blog post was enough for a bit.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

[Review] Golden by Jessi Kirby



Jessi Kirby
Golden
[Contemporary YA]

You can buy it here:
Golden (Amazon hardcover)
Golden (Amazon paperback)
Golden (Amazon e-book)

FTC: I bought this myself.

Summary (via Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

My thoughts:
Now, this book has a history with me. I started reading it when I was about 8 months pregnant and finished it shortly before the boy turned one year old (now 2 weeks ago). Yes, it took me that long to finish it. But this does not mean I did not like it or that it is a slow read or anything. Mostly, I did not manage to finish it before giving birth because the last few weeks were peppered with lastminute tasks (like - moving, getting settled and sleeping) and I also just could not focus on anything. I would bring the book with me for routine checkups and that was about all the time I had to read. After the boy was born, I did not have the time to properly sit down and read for a good part of his first year. He loves having people around and he can be very insisting. So, to make it short, I did not get to read much after he was born and when about a month before his birthday I had some time alone, I brought Golden back out to finally finish it and find out what happened to the town's golden couple along with Parker.

This novel was (and still is) food for thought in my opinion. The theme here is making choices yourself and facing them. Parker is a good girl who always does what her mother tells her to do. Her life is completely directed by her mother, and any thoughts and ideas she may have about her future are instantly shot down. When she starts investigating the disappearence of Julianna and Shane, she slowly learns to make her own decisions and stand up for them in order to live life and not just be a passenger on the trip. I really loved how Parker grew as the story progressed.

The mystery behind the disappearance was really interesting as we learn more about the secondary characters and naturally about Julianna and Shane. I loved how Jessi Kirby wrapped it all up in the end. We may not know everything that happens after Parker figures out the mystery behind the disappearance, but I as the reader know enough to have my own thoughts and ideas.

If you like a mystery and a main character that really grows throughout the story, you will find gold with this book! (The pun is a coincidence, sorry if you don't like them ;) )

Rating:
4/5


Thursday, August 14, 2014

[Review] Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher



Annabel Pitcher
Ketchup Clouds
[YA contemporary]

You can buy it here:
Ketchup Clouds (Amazon hardcover)

FTC: I bought this myself.

Summary:
Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row in this second novel from the author of the bestselling debut, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.

Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret—a dark and terrible secret that she can't confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.

Full of heartache yet humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can—in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal.

My thoughts:
Sadly, this book fell flat for me. I fell in love with the cover and the blurb sounded like this would be an intriguing story, however, it just did not work for me. There is so much going on, from Zoe's letters to the deathrow inmate confessing she murdered a boy and her feelings of guilt to Zoe's family's problems, to Zoe's love problems and more family problems and secrets and illness. It was really overwhelming and I felt as if none of it was presented to the full extent.

While I usually enjoy letter-style narration, in this case it bothered me. I never got a feeling I could relate to or connect with any of the characters. The idea of writing a series of confessional letters to a deathrow inmate seemed so good, but for me, in the end, it did not work out simply because Zoe writes those letters on the premises that she committed a crime similar to that of the inmate, Mr. Harris, when the facts show something different. I understand that she feels guilty and has no one to talk to about her guilt and her feelings, but I read the book waiting for her crime to be revealed only to experience this letdown (it was not a crime committed or anywhere near a crime).

The two biggest letdowns for me were the actual "murder" and the epilogue, which in my opinion did not much for the book. It was set in another country, and while it was told from one of the main characters' POV, I still fail to see the reason behind this epilogue.

This being said, I think the story would probably appeal to many other readers. Taking into account my backstory - being a 30 year old mom and having studied a few semesters of law - I think this just was not a book for me. I kept waiting for the crime and I just do not see it, I went into this book expecting one thing and came out getting something completely different.

Rating:
2/5


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[Top 10 Tuesday] To read or not to read?



Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Today's topic is: Top 10 books I'm not sure I want to read anymore - after buying them - you may or may not know this, but for me, I read reviews and then often buy books based off of that without waiting a bit and thinking. Unfortunately, this happens to me ten books rather frequently. Now, I will showcase ten such books here - and maybe you can tell me whether I should still read them?

1) Black Hole by Charles Burns - I bought this one at the beginning of the graphic novel craziness. I read Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis books, Maus, and a couple others, but this one (along with Jeff Smith's Bone is still on my shelves, unread.

2) Stray by Rachel Vincent (and the two following books in the series - I love those kind of books, but for some reason, I never got around to reading them and now I'm very uncertain about them.

3) The Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells - I remember seeing this book on so many blogs and I loved the reviews, but I still haven't read it. I don't know if it is still my kind of book?

4) One Day by David Nicholls - I know people have been raving about this one, and when I bought it I was sure I would love it - but so far, nothing enticed me to actually read it.

5) The Bookaholic's Guide to Book Blogs by Rebecca Gilleron & Catheryn Kilgarriff - I bought this when it was first published (years ago!), and I'm pretty sure the majority of the information in this non-fiction book about book blogs is outdated already. Now, why do I still keep it? And should I read it anyhow?

6) The Hate List by Jennifer Brown - Another on of those hyped books I bought as soon as I could. And then, it sat, and sat, and sat. I remember why I wanted to read it, the theme just intrigues me so much! But I don't know what is keeping me from reading it. Should I put it all the way on the top of my reading stack?

7) Graceling by Kristin Cashore - I know, I can't believe it either! I still have not read that one! And I don't even know why.

8) Matched by Allie Condie - Another "I know!" right there!

9) The Mockingbirds and When You Were Here by Dais Whitney - Yes, I managed to buy two books by the same author without reading a single one of them. And now, I don't know what to do with them.

10) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver - To be honest, I would have to search for a review to remember why I bought this one. That doesn't sound good, huh?

Now, should I read those books? Which books and why? Please help me out!

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? (August 11, 2014)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Last Week

After my Monday reading post I did not get to post at all the entire week. Somehow, the week just flew by and I barely managed to work on the term paper I have to hand in soon, let alone write blog posts. However, after posting the #FF Friday post, I managed to get one more review in on Saturday. I finally wrote down my thoughts and feelings on The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke!

Last week I finished two books. One is an audiobook I had been listening to since April: Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher. I will give you my thoughts on this one later this week.



The other book I finished was Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry. I will review this gem later this month, but let me tell you already, you might want to keep your eyes open for this one to show up in book stores!



I also read a few books for my paper, but those were more theoretical in nature, so I will not bore you with the titles and (rather boring) covers. One book you might want to look into, however, if you want to learn a bit about Canadian Literature: Margaret Atwood's Survival!



Reading right now



I started reading In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins. I haven't read one of her books in a while, and I realize how much I missed her writing style and her feel good stories.

I am also reading more books off my assorted stack for my paper.

New In

Well, I fell off the bandwaggon a bit with the semi-self-imposed book buying ban. However, I am already working my way through those books. I received all those books from the publishers via Netgalley.



I received In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins, which I am already reading. And then, there is Jilted by Rachael Johns.



I also received both The Opposite of Love by Sarah Lynn Scheerger and Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry. I already finished the latter, as you have seen, and a review is forthcoming.



Also new on my e-reader are Course of Action: The Rescue by Lindsay McKenna & Merline Lovelace. This book contains two stories, and I have not yet read much about them. I remember enjoying a few of Merline Lovelace's previous romance novels, so I had to get my hands on this one. Margo Howard's Eat, Drink and Remarry is a memoir of sorts and the blurb sounded too funny!



And the last book I received this past week was Some Boys by Patty Blount.

What about you? What have you read this past week and did you get any new books?


Saturday, August 09, 2014

[Review] The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke



Cassandra Rose Clarke
The Assassin's Curse
[YA fantasy]

You can buy it here:
The Assassin's Curse (Amazon paperback)

FTC: I received an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary (via Netgalley):
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. And when Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn't really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together. To break the curse, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks-all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic, and the growing romantic tension between them.

My thoughts:
Whew! I was updating my Goodreads status infrequently with this book because - and I quote from the status updates "I'm flying through this book like the world ends tomorrow & knowing the end might save us". This statement (about 70% in the story) is a very accurate description of my reading style with this book and of my feelings.

First, let me say, the cover is a dream! I love it so much, it was the main reason for why I requested it. The story involving a female pirate, an assassin, wizards and magic just added to the positive feeling I had going into it already. And this book just gave me everything. Not just the cover, but the story as well, lived up to my positive feeling and I can only say I am thrilled. I cannot wait to read more about Ananna and Naji (the assassin in the title). Their story is wonderfully written and absolutely riveting. Ananna is a wonderful, strong character who would not obey her parents and marry a boy she just met, so she ran away and ended up being stuck with Naji, an assassin who attempted to kill her. And this is where the action begins!

Cassandra Rose Clark managed to put me under a spell with her writing and her characters. The story did not just flow, it raced and before I knew it, I was on the last pages - and completely in awe, but also upset that I would have to leave Ananna and Naji. This being said, the second book in this series, The Pirate's Wish is already out, so if you start reading the series now, you will not end up in a bind like I did when I finished The Assassin's Curse. And if that is not enough, there are two short stories or novellas out as well: The Witch's Betrayal and The Automaton's Treasure.

Rating:
4/5


Friday, August 08, 2014

[#FF Friday - Feature and Follow!] Social Media Favorites?





Welcome to my blog! I have decided to participate in #FF Friday again. This is a weekly feature hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read designed to connect bloggers.

This week's question is:What is your favorite social network and leave us a link so we can join you!

Now, while I'm both on Twitter (as @stackednpainted) and on Instagram (also as @stackednpainted), I cannot really make up my mind. I love being able to share pictures I take on the go as well as short notes and messages.


Monday, August 04, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? (August 4, 2014)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Last Week

Here we go again! Last week was one heck of a busy crazy mess. First, we celebrated my baby boy's first birthday, meaning he no longer is a baby. I was sad and gloomy all week long, because he is growing up so fast! It feels like I came home from the hospital maybe a month or two ago, yet we celebrated his first birthday. What happened with all those months in between?! Looking at the pictures we have taken in the past year. He has changed so much already and he learned so much! He has been walking on one hand for weeks now (he first started walking with the help of two fingers of any adult available when he was 9.5 months old) and now he is transitioning once again to walking on his own - at least whenever he is distracted by something he wants to get to.

The day after that, we celebrated my Dad's birthday. So once again, we had family over and we all ate - and ate and ate!

The rest of the week was spent working on university stuff and very little reading for fun (none, actually, if you think The Inimitable Jeeves should not count as fun, because I have also been reading it for university - but I love it, so I'll count it!). But: I finished this book and I can only continue to praise and recommend it!



Reading right now



I am still re-reading Dubliners by James Joyce. I hope to finish it this month, but the month is short, so we'll see.

New In

Nothing!


Monday, July 28, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? (July 28, 2014)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Last Week

I was so busy with my paper and dealing with a sick baby, I didn't read much last week. I managed to get to university for a meeting with a lecturer on said paper, and as I ran into another lecturer, I managed to get another few questions off my list of "questions to ask my lecturers".

However, I wrote two blog posts aside from last weeks It's Monday! What are you reading?: For one, I wrote a Top 10 Tuesday post on book characters I'd want with me on a deserted island. And then, I wrote a review on a wonderful book with themes such as family, growing up, love and college: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando - I highly recommend it!

Reading right now



I am still re-reading Dubliners by James Joyce. I hope to finish it this month, but the month is short, so we'll see.



Also, I am reading another collection of short stories - this one by P.G. Wodehouse: The Inimitable Jeeves. I will definitely be taking that one with me when I head out again the next time (probably tomorrow).

New In

Nothing! I did not read much, so I did not browse books either. For once, I was able to stick to my semi-rule of "no reading, no buying".


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