Friday, September 28, 2018

#FaithRaiderReads: To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Like everyone else on the internet these days I have been (somewhat) obsessed with Jenny Han's YA novel To All The Boys I've Loved Before.

Confession: when my daughter said she was watching the movie on Netflix I gave her a hard time. But then I decided to watch it on my phone one late night when I couldn't sleep and... I was hooked. I watched it again with my 16 & 13 year old girls and I Am In Love with this story.

I love the character of Lara Jean - I love her bedroom. I love the scrapbook paper on her walls. I love that when she cleans her room her dad stands in the doorway and knows that something is really really wrong. That is so me too.

see more pictures here

I love that the book was even better. Not in ever way. But in most of the ways that count. The book reminded me of Little Women, if the book had only covered one year when Laurie was feeling conflicted between Jo and Amy. I have always been someone who roots for the underdog - I've always wished that Bella ended up with Jacob, that Laurie ended up with Jo - maybe it is the part of me that thinks every love story should end like Anne of Green Gables and every Anne should end up with their Gilbert. I felt conflicted about Lara Jean's crushes on Peter and Josh. To be honet I was rooting for Josh. I liked Peter just not for Lara Jean. I felt Josh was under-represented in the movie, but in the book they are more evenly matched, which was highly satisfying to me.

I do want to say though that I thought the Netflix adaptation was really good. There were moments in the book that I'm glad weren't in the movie, and scenes from the movie that I missed in the book. I was also happy that I had the image of Kitty from the move (and Odd Squad!) in my head while I read the book.

I finished the book in just a couple of days, around the edges of my life, waiting for my grocery order, in car line and after the kids went to bed, during a week that was just rough for me. It was a nice escape from my own emotions and reminded me why I enjoy reading light fiction so much. I requested the next book in the trilogy from the library.

As a mom - I'd recommend this for high school age girls and up. There is some discussion of teen sex, parties & drinking. I thought it was very well done, but because of this content I wouldn't recommend it for middle school age readers.

If you read this - what did you think? If you liked this too, what similar titles would you recommend?

Friday, August 31, 2018

FaithRaiderReads - The Queen of Hearts

One of my goals for this summer is to read & review as many of the books from Anne Bogel's Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide.

Anne Bogel's synopsis on her reading guide is as follows:
If you picked this book up because of the cover, I wouldn't blame you a bit. Zadie and Emma have been best friends since med school; now they're practicing physicians in Charlotte. But when an old colleague comes to town, he stirs up long-buried secrets from the past. This story hinges on love and medicine gone wrong, but it’s the female friendships that really shine. The setting hooked me because it's set alternately in Charlotte, where I spent some time last fall, and Louisville, where I've lived for years. If you love Gray's Anatomy, this belongs on your TBR. Publication date: February 13. 
Here is my review:

First of all, we really do need to talk about the cover. I love book cover design. I know, you might not guess it from the cover of my book, which I did myself in photoshop. However, in my mind, this is the cover that started a huge wave of copy-cat designs. You can find the title in a bed or wreath of flowers on at least half a dozen titles released this year. This one is the first and best of them all - it is super detailed and simply gorgeous.

Next, we need to talk about the characters in this book because ultimately that is the thing that endeared me to the book right away. Zadie's preschool-aged daughter Delaney was at the very top of my list of favorite characters. Obviously based on the author's youngest daughter, she is the most precious little person I have ever read in a novel. The cute little things that she says and her adorable mannerisms will stick with me for awhile. Emma's husband Wyatt was also a very vibrant, unique character. Graham was also one of my favorite characters. Some of the characters seemed rather flat and generic - all the other kids in the book were more of a blur in the background,  their med-school friends were pretty cliche, Zadie's husband Drew felt like a placeholder character to me.

The story is told in alternating points of view between Emma & Zadie, alternating between past and present. To be honest, I struggled to distinguish between the voices of Emma & Zadie,  their characters were unique but their voices were not. I loved the character of Zadie wholeheartedly. She is a beautifully flawed character with a big, soft heart.  I also thought Emma's character was beautiful. She is complicated and yet relatable. Her struggle with anxiety and her striving to maintain an image of perfection resonated with me.

The plot revolves around Emma & Zadie's friendship, in the past as third-year medical students during their trauma rotation at a teaching hospital and in the present. They both experience major professional losses and lean on each other to get through them. There is also a romantic relationship with one of the resident chief's named Nick (or Dr. X). It is a huge part of the overall story and while most of this part of the story I did not like I was, in general, happy with how it all ended.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but with some reservations which I'll explain below. I agree with Anne's assessment - if you like Gray's Anatomy (and shows in that genre) you'll love this novel. However, if you don't like Gray's Anatomy, you may want to pass.

Everything under this heading contains spoilers. I've tried to keep them to a minimum, but they help understand why I said I enjoyed this book, but with reservations.

Sexuality throughout: for me, personally this was an overly-sexual story. You could have told the same story without that many scenes. A couple of the scenes are really sweet, but most are not and there is one scene of forcefulness which was a character development moment but I skipped over the scene and did not like that it was in the book. However, the scenes weren't overly graphic. If there weren't so many of them I would have been okay.

Suicide - it wrecked me. One of the characters commits suicide and I was sad about it for days. I felt like the suicide was just a plot point, and while I don't think the author was intentionally being callous or disrespectful I am really really sensitive about how suicide is portrayed in fiction. If you're going to write about it you have a huge weight of responsibility to bear in how you write about it. Romanticising suicide is not responsible.

So those are my thoughts about Queen of Hearts - if you read it I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

#FaithRaiderReads: Sarah Addison Allen

So, like I mentioned we have a new puppy and since we got her I have turned into a total scatter brain. She's a great puppy overall but she feels a little bit like the straw the broke the camel's back and send me from mildly overwhelmed into full-on crazy mom mode.

our new puppy Bonny

Anyway I'd been meaning to write more book recommendations but hadn't really gotten around to it. I think I was wanting to recommend a perfect book. But then a friend asked for a book recommendation and I remembered why I write these posts! I could write a blog-post-long text message responding to a text like that!! So here is another installment in (fiction) books I recommend.

Today I'm writing about all of the Sarah Addison Allen books I've read so far. Because her books are each a really fun, lighthearted read. I'm going to write about them in  approximately the same order I read them in.

my baby with two of his siblings at the Library!!

It was something my friend Corinne posted about on her Instagram and I thought I'd try. I read it in about 24 hours and immediately handed it to my daughter who read it in under 12. It is like the cotton candy of literature in the best of ways. It feels light and sweet and cozy with a twinge of magic around the edges. 

The story is about Bay, a teenager with the magical ability to know where everything belongs, including people. She works with her aunt who works magic into her cooking and barely gets along with her mother, who is a wizard of sorts with her scissors and comb down at the beauty salon. Bay knows that one of the popular boys at school belongs with her but they are not permitted to hang out together, so Bay kind of longs after him from a distance. There's also a con man and a candy store and a Halloween party and a magical tree. It is about the mystery of their mother's disappearance, and about the healing of hurting hearts. It is all really lovely and less whackadoodle that it sounds in this synopsis. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Follows the story of Bay's mom & aunt when they were younger. I didn't enjoy it as much as First Frost, it is a bit cliche and more violent and has an abusive character. I'd call this closer to a PG-13 read. I thought that since I loved the characters in First Frost I would enjoy this story but I honestly didn't. 

I didn't love it as much as First Frost but I didn't dislike it as much as Garden Spells. It is about a young girl goes to live with the grandfather she didn't know existed until the death of her (single) mother. The main character walks into a town full of mysteries and secrets, where she starts to fall in love with the boy who has a Big Secret. She also has magical wallpaper that changes patterns by itself, so there's that. But it is a lovely story about love in many forms. 

preggo belly last summer when I read this book

This is one of my favorite books by Sarah Addison Allen but it is also the most cray-cray. It is about a magical alligator who lives at the lost lake. That part of the story is kind of unbelievable but the rest of the story makes up for it. It's about a woman (and her daughter) after the death of her husband. They've been living under the thumb of her mother in-law, but they decide to spend a week or so with her aunt before they move in with her. The place wakes her up, she helps her aunt, who is thinking about selling her property to the Big Bad Developer. It's about the other people who have been living there or coming every year for the last twenty years, the attractive handyman who is helping the aunt get things fixed up. It is such a beautiful story and I loved reading it, mostly in the bathtub while I was pregnant with my youngest.

This is a sweeping southern story, crossing about a hundred years, it's about the mystery of a big old house that is being renovated into a grand hotel, about the family that used to live there and the family that is renovating it and all of their family secrets. And of course a little romance is blossoming!

The Sugar Queen
I didn't finish this one - I had a ton of books checked out from the Library all at the same time, it is basically about a girl who is crazy for sugar and has a stash of sweets in her closet, or something like that. I didn't get into it. I guess I couldn't connect with the main character quickly enough. It seemed like a nice enough story and I'm sure I'll check it out of the library again at some time. 

All of these are (unless otherwise stated) pretty PG as far as violence and language, maybe stepping closer to a mild PG-13 in the romance department. If you are looking for a light fiction read any of these would be good. Let me know if you read any of these and what you think!

At some point this later year or early next I want to start sending a monthly email. I'm not 100% sure what it will be yet - maybe some kind of an online book club type thing? Definitely with book recommendations and helpful/interesting links. If you're interested sign up here. I plan to send out my first email this weekend - just to try things out - so sign up today. (You can unsubscribe at any time) To those of you who have already signed up I just wanted to say thank you! It makes me really happy that your trust me with access to your inbox. Look for something from me soon.

Friday, June 17, 2016


We have been really busy with our new dog Bonnie. I named her after the character in Toy Story 3. They are both so friendly, sweet and cheerful. She's been a terrific addition to the family. Kids need a dog, some dogs need kids and Bonnie I think is one of them. She loves the constant attention and company. She is still a puppy but has been really easy to train so far!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Faith Raider Reads: The Fault in Our Stars

I am more myself when I have a book to read. And there will always be a tiny part of me that has gotten stuck at 17. I love reading, sharing books I've enjoyed and reading books that my friends have enjoyed. I had another book in mind to recommend to you today but that one is going to have to wait because I just finished watching the DVD of "The Fault in Our Stars" again and it has me re-living the experience of reading the book by John Green, so I couldn't help myself but to share it with you. The movie version is about as close as you get when it comes to transforming a book into a movie.

I read it in about two days (because, life) I dried my eyes and handed it to my oldest daughter, Beth who was in 7th grade at the time. She read it in less than 12 hours. We went to go see the movie together a few months later when it came out in theaters.

I have been known to shed a tear or two while I read (especially during my last pregnancy) but with this book I wept. It was so touching and so tragic. 

This is a perfect type book to take on a long car ride. I imagine it might make a good poolside book (I have six kids, I know nothing of luxurious poolside reading, but I do have an imagination, and in my imagination this seems really nice).  I dare you to take more than 24 hours to read it. 

In case you have been living under a rock somewhere for the last couple of years I'll give you a brief synopsis of the story - Hazel Grace has stage four cancer, her treatment is working and for now she's pretty stable but he feels like she is a grenade, about to go off, and that it is her duty to reduce the casualties. However that become difficult when she meets Augustus Waters at cancer patient support group. He believes in living a big life, one to be remembered and he refuses to let Hazel keep him away. 

Their love story is ordinary - text messages about their favorite books and supporting their friend as he looses his eyesight. Their love story is also extraordinary- visiting Amsterdam and touring the Anne Frank house. Their love story is tender and tragic and surprising. It reminded me of what it felt like to be in love when I was 17.

Content: Because offensive content is one of the things I am most worried about when I pick up a book, one of the things I want to do in these reviews is give an honest opinion/rating of the content. I'd call this a solid PG-13 there are f-bombs and other curse words throughout but not used heavily. Considering that these are modern, non-religious teenagers (with cancer!) facing life and death situations I felt like the language was appropriate. Not everyone will agree/appreciate that, so - fair warning. There are also teenagers talking about sexuality, making out, virginity and lack of it, and a scene where the main characters sleep together but the scene is not explicit or graphic. I was comfortable with my girls, who are advanced readers in middle school, reading it. But we talk pretty openly about all of the things that were in the book. Overall I felt like it was a good portrayal of modern teenagers and I really enjoyed the characters & story. Is it a piece of amazing literature? No. Is it a sweet piece of YA fiction? In my opinion, definitely yes. 

At some point this later year or early next I want to start sending a monthly email. I'm not 100% sure what it will be yet - maybe some kind of an online book club type thing? Definitely with book recommendations and helpful/interesting links. If you're interested sign up here. (You can unsubscribe at any time). 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#FaithRaiderReads - Alan Bradley

I feel most like myself when I have a good book to read. I grew up going to the Library every week, and have been an avid reader for most of my life. However it's become more difficult to find my next book. I don't want to read anything and everything and I get frustrated when I pick up a novel from the new adult fiction table and it's just not at all something Inwant to be putting into my mind. 

So one of my goals for this blog is to have a weekly post with one book, or maybe two or three that are similar, that I enjoyed reading. I post about this on my Instagram using the hashtag #faithrphotogreads but I don't always write much of a review/description and that's what I want most from a recommendation. So here we go:

I requested this book from my library because it was recommended on Jen Hatmaker's blog - so I thought it was worth a try. It so was. I was totally engrossed. I wanted to become a super-reader or skip to the end or something because I just could not stand waiting to find out what happened!

It's about the most precocious little girl who is trying to solve the mystery of the man who she found dead in her garden. She is a character that is so vibrant and quirky. 

For a content rating I'd give it a PG. It's a strait-up murder mystery so there's that but there's not a lot of violence (just one scary scene!), lust or bad language. Because of the subject of the book I would not recommend this for older children. My oldest daughter (an advanced reader in 8th grade) read one of the books in this series but didn't enjoy it. But if you're looking for something good and clean yet clever and engaging I would give this one a try.

At some point this later year or early next I want to start sending a monthly email. I'm not 100% sure what it will be yet - maybe some kind of an online book club type thing? Definitely with book recommendations and helpful/interesting links. If you're interested sign up here. (You can unsubscribe at any time). 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Hey! Thanks for stopping by. I will be posting here soon. I'll be writing about novels that I'm reading and sharing fiction samples. If you'd like to read these posts please subscribe to my blog in the widget in the sidebar (if you're on mobile go to the bottom of the page and tap "view web version" and you'll see it).  And if you have a blog please please please let me know about it. I'd love to follow you!

About me: I'm a momma to six kiddos ages (currently) fourteen to eight months. I just started homeschooling my youngest couple of kids (turns out that is so much harder than I thought it would be!) I've been scribbling stories in notebooks and tapping them out in front of computer screens since I learned how to (barely) spell. I've been writing a blog since blogging became a thing - it's my outlet, the more stressed out I am the more I blog. This is my first attempt at a blog centered around fiction reading and writing so if you have any wisdom to share please do leave a comment, send me an email or leave a message for me on social media. You can connect with me on goodreads to see what I've been reading and to share what I should read next.