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

Bonnie


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).