Great Reads

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Publish Date:
06/02/15
Author:
Emily St. John Mandel
Started:
2/3/19
Finished:
2/5/19
Pages:
333
Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary:

A National Book Award Finalist
A PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist 


Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.

Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.

My Review:

I read this with a bunch of people on Instagram for a buddy read and was excited. I’ve had this book on my shelf for quite a long time so I was really excited to join in and read the book. I’m usually not a fan of dystopian novels. I don’t really like them and am usually quite bored with them. This was very different. I enjoyed every moment of reading. I didn’t even have to finish the book until the end of the month and I had finished it before we even had our first discussion scheduled.

I really loved how characters connected throughout the story. I was always interested to see what was going to go on no matter who was being followed in the story or when it was taking place. The book was very thought-provoking and eerie imagining what the world would really be like had any of this ever happened. I was also shocked to think about how the media and pop culture really influences our lives more than I realized. The characters reference pop culture so much and it’s really something that defines their eras. It was interesting to see.

The only thing I wanted more of was more of an explanation for some of the characters at the end. It was overall tied nicely at the end but I still had some questions that I would have liked to get answers for. I also would love to see more of these characters.

Great Reads

The Havana Game by John Lutz

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Publish Date:
10/02/18
Author:
John Lutz
Started:
2/13/19
Finished:
2/19/19
Pages:
320
Rating:⭐⭐

Thank you to Netgalley, John Lutz, and Pinnacle Books for providinig a copy of The Havana Game in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Goodreads Summary:

“LUTZ OFFERS UP A HEART-POUNDING ROLLER COASTER OF A TALE.”
–Jeffery Deaver

ROGUE WARS

With the U.S. seemingly linked to a terrorist bombing in a Baltic nation and a Russian troop buildup just over the border, the covert Gray Outfit sends Thomas Laker to untangle the mess. But after a second attack leaves him out in the cold, Laker’s on his own.

Five thousand miles away in Miami, Laker’s partner and NSA codebreaker Ava North is investigating the murder of a fellow agent. When tracks lead to a Cuban-American billionaire in bed with the Jersey Mob, Ava’s superiors want her to lay off. Not a chance. Though oceans apart, Laker and Ava discover their separate missions are tied to one explosive plot. The only way out is to breach all protocol and play by their own rules . . .

JOHN LUTZ IS . . .

A MAJOR TALENT.” —John Lescroart

“AMONG THE BEST.” — San Diego Union 

“IN RARE FORM.”New York Times Book Review 

Includes bonus story!
My Review:

At first, I was really enjoying the book but it became too technical and wordy and I began zoning out while reading. I felt like there was so much information going on and it didn’t connect as smoothly as it should. Laker and Ava’s story promised to connect but it took most of the book for those connections to happen and even when they did, they were still murky for me. I still was confused as to how it was all connected and was also confused about how either Ava or Laker stumbled upon the intelligence needed to figure this out. It just felt a little incomplete for me and it could be because I started to slowly lack interest and in doing so may have missed some important parts that I needed.

I think however that this book had a ton of potential and seemed like it coudl have been super fun and interesting. Like I mentioned, I truly was enjoying it at first. I’m not sure that I won’t pick up a different Lutz book regardless of the low review. It seems like it could have been really awesome and as a second in the series, I’m assuming his other works could be pretty decent.

Great Reads

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo

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Publish Date:
10/02/18
Author:
Alyssa Palombo
Started:
2/8/19
Finished:
2/13/19
Pages:
418
Rating:⭐⭐

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s for my free eARC for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Goodreads Summary:

When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo’s The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won’t erase.

My Review:

I don’t want to bash it because it definitely wasn’t the worst, but it was unnecessarily long!! Finally when I reached 46% I was thinking, “omg when will this pick up?” as well as “this is not what I was thinking”. I was under the impression that this would be a more eerie read but it read more like a never-ending, repetitive, romance novel about Katrina and Ichabod. I knew that this would be a factor in the story but how many times do I have to hear Katrina talk about Ichabod asking for her hand in marriage? How many times must we learn that she loathes having to hide their relationship? I mean, come on! I get it already and I’m getting bored with it. Still, I decided to finish because I wanted to get to the eerie creepy portions of the read and just when it felt like it was happening, it would be snatched away just as quickly. I honestly also kept reading because I usually despise the Romance genre and I figured I would try some in the month of February and this just happened to sneak up as one without me realizing! I did like how the author tied Palombo into being an important speaker and the reasoning for her retelling was interesting.

I think this book had the potential to be so much more. It lacked the creepiness vibe that I was searching for. I also had a hard time feeling sympathy towards Katrina which I think was necessary to enjoy the book. I believe others may really enjoy the read but going into it, it is important to realize the genre of “historical fiction” is a little light and it was much more of a romance that I just did not enjoy. The more I thought about the potential and my reading experience, the less I enjoyed it. It could be for someone else. Just not for me.

Great Reads

Giveaway! Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

This giveaway is hosted on my instagram here! It closes tonight but I thought I’d let anyone on WordPress get a chance if you didn’t see it on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

So I promised I would do a giveaway when I hit 1,000 followers so here it is! ❤️ This is a giveaway for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine! I haven’t read it yet either and have a copy to read if you want a buddy to read it with! ❤️How to enter: 1. Be following me! (@littleteacherbigappetite) and do not follow to unfollow. Seriously, how rude! 2. Like this post. 3. Tag three friends who you think would like this giveaway too! (This can be done up to three times for three total entries!) 4. Get an additional entry if you share in your stories (don’t forget to tag me!) 5. Must be 18 years or older to win ❤️ This is US only this time! This giveaway is not associated with anyone other than myself. Entires will be accepted until February 21 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. A winner will be drawn on February 22. ❤️ -Shahna

A post shared by ᔕᕼᗩᕼᑎᗩ | 𝕀 𝔼𝕒𝕥 𝕒𝕟𝕕 ℝ𝕖𝕒𝕕 𝕋𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕘𝕤 (@littleteacherbigappetite) on

I will also be holding a buddy read via instagram for the book in March. You don’t have to enter the giveaway to be included so if you’ve been waiting to read and would like to read it next month with myself and a few bookstagrammers, just let me know!

Great Reads

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

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Publish Date: 7/17/18
Author:
Colleen Hoover 
Started: 
2/08/19
Finished:
2/10/19
Pages: 
306
Rating:
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary:
Colleen Hoover delivers a tour de force novel about a troubled marriage and the one old forgotten promise that might be able to save it.

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

My Review:
Disclaimer: Romance is really my least favorite genre. I’m not a very romantic person in real life and I really have to be in a mood to dive into a romance novel. I have picked up some popular romances throughout my year but rarely get around to them. I picked up this for February because I know everyone really praises Colleen Hoover. I felt like it would be a good romantic read that seemed promising. I really did like the read more than I thought I would! I however had to take a star off because I thought that the chapters marked as “Then” became a little redundent. I was getting a little annoyed with how flippin’ perfect Graham was. And even when we found out his actual flaws, he still seemed too perfect. I know this is romance but I wish things were a little more realistic. I also had little issues with Quinn. I was getting annoyed with how annoyed she was with her mother. Quinn and Ava paint their mother so much worse than she seemed in the story when we did get something from her. It didn’t see like it was matching up all that correctly. I can see how their mother would be annoying but I feel like she was painted so horribly and she wasn’t even a fundemental part of the story to be honest.

I did like that this covered infertility. It is a topic that I think is underrepresented in literature and this did a really great job. Watching Quinn’s suffering was understandable and I really felt for her and found her feelings extremely valid as I have witnessed some of my friends go through this and know how rough it can be for them.

Overall, for my first Hoover, I was impressed and I did enjoy it. I will definitely be diving into some other Hoover novels in the near future. I already have two waiting on my shelf and will be looking forward to getting some more.

Great Reads

No Exit by Taylor Adams

no exit

 

 

 

 

Publish Date: 1/15/19
Author:
Taylor Adams
Started:
2/06/19
Finished:
1/07/19
Pages: 
336
Rating:
⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary:

A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

With exquisitely controlled pacing, Taylor Adams diabolically ratchets up the tension with every page. Full of terrifying twists and hairpin turns, No Exit will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you breathless.

My Review:

I was so happy to be sent this book to read. A sorority sister of mine was accepted into a program where she gets 15 copies of books to be read in a book club. This was the choice that we decided on for this month. I was happy to be involved I honestly whipped through the book and I was really enjoying it until the end. It felt super unfinished to me. I had so many questions about characters like Lily, Kenny, and even Darby and Jay. I felt like there was so much going on within all of the chapters and the abrupt ending left me wanting more or at least explanations for so many things.

I have to admit that there are sections in this book that made me cringe. Adams is no stranger to some intense imagry and cringeworthy metaphors. It almost reminded me of Stephen King’s Misery, especially a particular character that I shall not spoil and name if you have not read it! I just really was wishing for so much more from this book. I feel like I expect more from thrillers since I read so many of them. It’s possible if thrillers are not your usual genre to pick up, this may be more of an enjoyable read for you. I don’t want to say that I hated it because as I said, I at first really enjoyed it. I just wish there was so much more depth to this one.

Great Reads

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

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Publish Date: 10/30/18
Author:
Tatiana De Rosnay
Started: 1/29/19
Finished:
1/31/19
Pages:  
229
Rating:
⭐⭐.5

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for sending me a copy of The Rain Watcher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Summary:

The first new novel in four years from the beloved superstar author of Sarah’s Key, a heartbreaking and uplifting story of family secrets and devastating disaster, in the tradition of THE NEST.

The Rain Watcher is a powerful family drama set in Paris as the Malegarde family gathers to celebrate the father’s 70th birthday. Their hidden fears and secrets are slowly unraveled as the City of Light undergoes a stunning natural disaster. Seen through the eyes of charismatic photographer Linden Malegarde, the youngest son, all members of the family will have to fight to keep their unity against tragic circumstances.

In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, De Rosnay demonstrates all of her writer’s skills both as an incredible storyteller but also as a soul seeker.

My Review:

I never read Rosnay’s bestseller Sarah’s Key but have it on my shelf. I’ve heard wonderful things about it but still have to get to it. Late on Tuesday night, I had finished a book with only three days left of the month. I wanted to pick a book in my Kindle that I had neglected reading and was short with the possibility of finishing it for the month. I picked up one (that shall not be named) and read a little bit and did not like it. I then found this one sitting in my que to read that was pretty short. I looked at the reviews and was a little surprised how low the ratings were. I also read the description in which this was compared to The Nest which I thoroughly disliked. I still decided to give it a shot.

At first I really liked it. I was enjoying it thoroughly but then it just fell short for me. I finished the book wondering what the point was and was upset with where it went. There could have been so much more closure that the author just dismissed. It honestly just felt unfinished for me.  I also struggled with the characters. All in all, I wish they were more dynamic and more worthy of remembering in all honesty.

Great Reads

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Publish Date:
9/1/2000
Author:
Laurie Halse Anderson
Started:
2/1/19
Finished:
2/2/19
Pages:
252
Rating:
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary:

It’s late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn’t get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family’s coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie’s concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family’s small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie’s struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight—the fight to stay alive.

My Review:

There were three four reasons why I was intrigued with reading this.
1. I really like historical fiction.
2. This is set in Philadelphia (I work in Philadelphia)
3. Most of my students have already read this.
4. I am reading Station Eleven this month and wanted to see if I could draw any comparisons.

With those four reasons, I’m glad that I read it. I really didn’t even know that Philadelphia had such a severe outbreak of yellow fever back in the 1700’s. Reading this gave me the chills because I was familiar with so many of the streets and places that were brought up. I can envision these places today and it’s horrific imagining them plagued with yellow fever and bodies. I was even super disgruntled to learn that the burial dumping ground is one of Philadelphia’s most famous tourist park.

I enjoyed the read and felt like it was super informative. I enjoyed watching Mattie as such a dynamic character.  This is a great read full of inspiration, strength, and character and it is a wonderful YA novel.

Great Reads

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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Publish Date:12/30/06
Author:
Gillian Flynn
Started:
1/06/19
Finished:
 1/09/19
Pages: 
254
Rating:
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary:

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.
 

My Review:

I read both Gone Girl and Dark Places. I wasn’t a major fan of Gone Girl but remembered realy enjoying Dark Places. It was much darker and hard to swallow just like this one.  I read this as part of a buddy read and I wanted to wait for all of our discussions to post this. I devoured this book and finished it before my first 7 chapters were due lol.

Sharp Objects is cringe-worthy. I had major issues with Camille as a person. This added to all of the cringe-worthy materials. Her mental issues were not my issue but her other decisions throughout the book angered me. As an adult, I felt like Camille was awful. However, with the lack of good childhood, I beleieve that Camille may have never been able to truly mature and grow up. Her actions throughout the book multiple times were so disgusting to me that I had a hard time connecting with her as the main character. However, this may have been purposeful by Flynn because every single aspect of this book should be disliked by the reader.

I took off a star only because I figured the ending out before it was given. I really like endings that still surprise me. Still, with me figuring it out, it did not keep me from reading and wanting to read more. This book was so super disturbing. I can’t even put it into words. Another redeeming factor is that although this book is disturbing, it isn’t unbelievable. All of the happenings could actually happen (even if we definitely do not want them to!). QUICK UPDATE BEFORE I EVEN PUBLISH THIS:  So I wrote this, and then had my buddy-read discussion and my buddies actually said quite the opposite regarding realism and they felt like it was rather unbelievable. I have to say something on that in which I have been pondering over a bit. This may be a cultural thing and it’s super negative on my part. My buddies who read this with me were from the UK where as I am from the USA. I believed that this could actually happen. It may be because I read too many thrillers lol, but it could also be because we are really losing a sense of care here in America. So many things have been happening not only recently but I feel like since the early 2000’s (can I say post 9/11?) that we as Americans are really losing faith in humanity. I was in middle school during 9/11 and I grew up so much differently than my parents. My students today are growing up so much different than I have. We are forever walking on eggshells and expecting the worse to happen. Where we have mothers killing babies, strangers poisoning candy, there are just so many things that we experience that the resolution to this story didn’t seem so farfetched to me. We also see things on the news that are horrific (about 98% of it). Can our culture be skewing our perception of realism here in the US? I don’t know, this is just a thought.

On lighter less thought-provoking terms, this was definitely face-paced and a worthy read! This is another one of those books that describing any more than the summary itself could be detrimental and could contain spoilers for any of the readers. I am late to the party so many of you have probably read this but if not, definitely get your hands on this one!

Great Reads

The Only Woman in the Room – by Marie Benedict

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Publish Date: 01/08/19
Author:
Marie Benedict
Started:
1/26/19
Finished:
1/29/19
Pages: 272

Rating:
⭐⭐⭐⭐

I want to thank Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for a copy of this to read and review. All opinions are my own.

Goodreads Summary:

She was beautiful. She was a genius. Could the world handle both? A powerful, illuminating novel about Hedy Lamarr. 

Hedy Kiesler is lucky. Her beauty leads to a starring role in a controversial film and marriage to a powerful Austrian arms dealer, allowing her to evade Nazi persecution despite her Jewish heritage. But Hedy is also intelligent. At lavish Vienna dinner parties, she overhears the Third Reich’s plans. One night in 1937, desperate to escape her controlling husband and the rise of the Nazis, she disguises herself and flees her husband’s castle.

She lands in Hollywood, where she becomes Hedy Lamarr, screen star. But Hedy is keeping a secret even more shocking than her Jewish heritage: she is a scientist. She has an idea that might help the country and that might ease her guilt for escaping alone — if anyone will listen to her. A powerful novel based on the incredible true story of the glamour icon and scientist whose groundbreaking invention revolutionized modern communication, The Only Woman in the Room is a masterpiece.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this read. I had to take off a star though for one reason. This is a historical fiction novel and I felt like it lacked in some of the history needed to help make more sense of what was going in during the first part of the book. I always find myself googling and looking into things that historical fiction but I found that I did not know enough about Pre-war Austria to really understand what was going on automatically. I felt like the book could have had a little more explanation as to what was going on to make it more understandable for people. I have to say, I’m not ignorant in WWII matters at all but I guess I was more ignorant in the Austrian pre-war happenings beforehand.

I did a bit of research on Hedy herself while reading and noticed how many divorces she went through! In the novel, it discusses some of her ever-changing relatioships with men and some of her mariages. I can’t help but to comment on it. It’s ironic on my behalf as I just finished VanderbiltA Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbiltsbefore this read and it was all about marrying into money to succeed in life or to fix an issue which is exactly what we see Hedy doing. Although their issues vary greatly and I sympathize with Hedy’s first mariage decision quite a bit more due to the circumstances, I can’t help to think how different the times were. Like girls, stop marrying for anything other than love. Is this so hard to understand? And Hedy, did you not learn your lesson the first time?!

The story was awesome but it ended rather abruptly. I felt like there could have been so much more substance in the final section of the book. I finished and literally stopped and said to myself, “wait, it’s done? There is nothing more?” It felt incomplete to me and for that as well as the lack of important historical information, I took one star. HOWEVER, I actually really enjoyed the read! I was intrigued the entire time and really felt for Hedy and how different her life could have been during our more understand (yet still not equal) world regarding females.

I think it’s a great book to read still and I even jotted down a few page numbers for my students to read to help understand some WWII and Nazi-era  issues.