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Rainy Day Ramblings by Rainydayramblings - 1h ago

Alright folks, time for a reality check. July is nearing its completion, that means only one more full month of summer to come. I hope you have time to squeeze a last minute vacation. If that isn't possible, then consider a weekend staycation at home. All you need is a stack of good books, some delicious food and snacks, a few cold drinks and you are all set Hopefully, it isn't too hot where you live so you can sneak outside and enjoy some summer reading in the sun. Either way, make sure you make time to relax and enjoy a book or two. I have some suggestions if you are on the hunt for the perfect summertime read. Here are all the upcoming highlights from next week's batch of new releases. Let's see what goodies await us! (Click on covers for details). 

Forecast July 21st-27th

 

What do you like this week?

 

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From the award-winning author of The Lake of Dead Languages comes a chilling new psychological thriller about a professor accused of killing her favorite student in a hit-and-run accident.

Nan Lewis—a creative writing professor at a state university in upstate New York—is driving home from a faculty holiday party after finding out she’s been denied tenure. On her way, she hits a deer, but when she gets out of her car to look for it, the deer is nowhere to be found. Eager to get home and out of the oncoming snowstorm, Nan is forced to leave her car at the bottom of her snowy driveway to wait out the longest night of the year—and the lowest point of her life…

The next morning, Nan is woken up by a police officer at her door with terrible news—one of her students, Leia Dawson, was killed in a hit-and-run on River Road the night before. And because of the damage to her car, Nan is a suspect. In the days following the accident, Nan finds herself shunned by the same community that rallied around her when her own daughter was killed in an eerily similar accident six years prior. When Nan begins finding disturbing tokens that recall the death of Nan’s own daughter, Nan suspects that the two accidents are connected.

As she begins to dig further, she discovers that everyone around her, including Leia, is hiding secrets. But can she uncover them, clear her name, and figure out who really killed Leia before her reputation is destroyed for good?
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 19th 2016 by Touchstone
Source: Library

 

Four stars: A suspenseful and exciting thriller that will keep you guessing to the end. 

Nan grips the steering wheel tighter. The road is icy and it is pitch dark. She knows she should be driving slower on these icy roads, but tonight she just doesn't care anymore. Nan found out at a colleague's holiday party that she was denied tenure. This is just one more big stumble in Nan's life. She has been living in a fog, going through the motions since her daughter died a  few years ago. As she rounds a curve on River Road, something darts out in front of her. Nan is going to fast to stop, she slams on the brakes but she still hits what she believes to be a deer. After a few moments, Nan gathers her wits and goes out into the woods to search for the deer, but she doesn't find anything. Tired and a bit drunk, she falls asleep in the woods. Luckily, she wakes before freezing to death. She finally makes it home where she chases the bad day away with another drink before passing out. The next morning, she is startled awake by a policeman knocking on her door. It turns out, Leia Dawson, one of Nan's students, was found dead, run over on River Road. Did Nan hit a deer or Leia that night?

What I Liked:

  • River Road is a riveting, suspenseful thriller that had me guessing up until the final pages. This is a book with an interesting mystery, suspense, twists and turns and a surprising finish. If you want a good, solid thriller, this is one to try. 
  • Nan Lewis, the main character is one of those characters that I couldn't quite grasp. On one hand, she is sympathetic as she has endured great grief and heartache, but then on the other, she appears to be a closet alcoholic. So I wasn't sure as to whether she was a reliable narrator or not. I liked that she kept me guessing and that I was constantly changing my mind, and in the end, I was glad that my impressions of her were correct. 
  • The mystery is well done. When one of the college's most beloved students is run down and left dead on the road on a cold winter night, everyone is quick to point fingers. I liked that there were many suspects, and lots of different motives. It got to the point, where I had no idea who committed the crime, and then even when it seems the killer is unmasked, there were still doubts. This is a book thick with suspense and lots of red herrings, all leading up to a shocking revelation. Even though I guessed who the culprit was early on, I was still surprised as I couldn't guess the motive. This is one reveal that you likely won't see coming. 
  • There is a bit of romance, and I thought it was done just right. I liked that it was subtle, slow building and that it never overtook the story. Instead it was a nice side story.
  • The ending draws to a satisfying close. Everything is done up, no lingering questions. I was pleased with the way it played out. A great stand alone. 

And The Not So Much:

  • This is a little personal niggle, but I found that there were parts of the book that seemed a bit repetitive. For example, there are mentions over and over about Nan's drinking. It got a little frustrating. I am guessing the author used it as a way to make Nan less credible, and I appreciated that, but I got tired of the constant references to alcoholic. There were some other parts that also felt repetitive. 
  • Even though I liked the subtle romance, I wished that it hadn't felt so one sided. 
  • At the end, I was a bit curious to know what happened to Troy and Hannah. 
  • I was also curious about Nan's ex husband, Evan. Where did he go after they split? Did he remain in contact with Nan at all? 

River Road is a suspenseful and exciting thriller with plenty of twists and turns and suspects. I liked the mystery and I enjoyed unraveling the clues leading to the killer. The ending was perfect, all the questions answered. A good, solid stand alone. 

I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review. 

 

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From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers comes her much-anticipated new novel about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds.
For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now fifteen, and Luna, six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay.
But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life.
Navigating this new terrain is challenging for Letty, especially as Luna desperately misses her grandparents and Alex, who is falling in love with a classmate, is unwilling to give his mother a chance. Letty comes up with a plan to help the family escape the dangerous neighborhood and heartbreaking injustice that have marked their lives, but one wrong move could jeopardize everything she’s worked for and her family’s fragile hopes for the future.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh blends gorgeous prose with compelling themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and the American Dream in a powerful and prescient story about family.
Kindle Edition, 310 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Ballantine Books 
Source: Publisher

 

 

Three and a half stars: A book about finding new paths and overcoming the past. 

Alex is unsettled when he wakes to find that he has been left alone with his six year old sister. His mother and grandmother are on their way to Mexico to retrieve their grandfather. At fifteen, Alex is smart and dependable, but it still a big burden to bear. Letty, Alex's mother, has never been responsible, and she left the active rearing of her children to her parents. Now due to unforeseen circumstances, Letty finds herself headed home, forced to deal with the burdens of her children alone. Will Letty become the parent her children need or will she let the mistakes of her past resurface?

What I Liked:

  • We Never Asked For Wings is a book that explores a range of topics from illegal immigration, bullying, complicated relationships and new beginnings. I liked all that this book touched upon, and I was especially surprised by the theme on illegal immigration. This is a story that starts out with a bit of drama and angst, but thankfully, it settles into something that is positive and hopeful. This is a book perfect for those who enjoy books about change and starting over. 
  • At the heart of the story is Letty. She isn't the most likable character, as she certainly has plenty of flaws, and she has made some terrible mistakes. Letty has no idea how to be a mother because her own mother allowed her to drink and avoid the responsibility of rearing her own children. The only thing Letty had to do was get a job to help support the family, while her parents did everything else. Once Letty is left alone with her children, things change. I was surprised by Letty's transformation. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I liked what I saw. Instead of giving up, Letty buckles down and does what she can to make it work. It is a difficult journey, and she trips and falls plenty, but through it all, she finds her path, and she manages to do what is right for her kids. I ended up liking Letty and I liked her transformation.  
  • This book is full of relationships. It covers the sometimes strained relationships between a mother and her children, it also explores failed romances and the beginnings of new romances. My favorite was the awkward relationship between a father and a son who are meeting for the first time. I appreciated that all the relationships felt genuine, and I liked the strong focus on family. 
  • There are some interesting secondary story lines, one that features birds and migrations patterns, and the use of bird feathers in art. I was fascinated by all the bird references, I had no idea a feather could be so useful. I also liked all the scientific portions related to the birds.
  • Another theme that the author takes on is illegal immigration. I appreciated that there are no political agendas or opinions on the matter. Instead, the author presents another side to the issue, one that will open eyes and make you rethink illegal immigration.
  • The ending, though rather abrupt, resolved most of the issues in the book. There are still hurdles to overcome, but things seem to be on the right path for the characters. 

And The Not So Much:

  • The romance was frustrating. At first, it appears that Letty is moving forward and establishing a healthy new romantic relationship, and then her past rears up. I admit, I was extremely conflicted throughout as I wavered back and forth as to whom Letty should be with. I didn't like that the romance took a back seat during the final portion of the book. It is left hanging, and then Letty suddenly makes her decision in the last chapter. I didn't like the hurried feel. I would have liked for a bit more development with the romance. 
  • The book ends abruptly and open ended. I didn't like that so many things were left hanging, especially the big issue that arises during the last section. I wanted to know what happened to Carmen and her daughter. 
  • I also didn't like the way things ended with Wes and Alex. What were Wes' plans for the future? How was he going to maintain his relationship with his son. 

We Never Asked for Wings is a good read that explores numerous types of relationships and issues. This is a book about finding a new set of wings and flying in a new direction. I liked the characters, the themes and the story. The two things that held this book back were the underdeveloped romance and an abrupt, open ending. Still I liked the themes and the story, so I can recommend this to readers who enjoy adult contemporary fiction. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review. 

 

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Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post here on Rainy Day Ramblings where I discuss a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.

This week is all about the road trip:

 Road Trip: What are some of your favorite road trip books?

I was kind of surprised when I sat down to write this post. I thought I had read more road trip books, but when I looked up my recent reads, there weren't very many in there. I do love a good road trip book, so I am hoping you all can recommend one or two for me to read over the summer. Here are a few road trip books that I would recommend:

The Wedding Pearls by Carolyn Brown
I love road trip books, and this has to be one of the best road trip books ever. Imagine six people stuffed into a vintage Cadillac touring the state of Texas. It has mayhem, snark, romance and all kinds of interesting stops, from yard sales to steakhouses. If you enjoy road trip books, this is one you have to read. I especially loved the two feisty old gals. 

In Honor by Jessi Kirby
This is a road trip for a young girl who recently lost her brother in Afghanistan. When she opens his last letter and finds two tickets to a concert in California, she knows she has to go. A last minute passenger, Rusty, her brother’s best friend, adds to the trip. The two used to be friends, then they weren’t, but along the way, they meet interesting people, have some amazing experiences and they learn a thing or two about love, grief and friendship. Loved the scenery in this one. 

Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welsh
This is a road trip across Ireland in a broken down car. This is also a book that focuses on friendship and family instead of romance. I loved that I got to tour Ireland, and I enjoyed seeing a brother and sister work out their differences along the way. 

The Body Novella by Stephen King:
This isn't exactly a traditional road trip book as a car isn't involved but it is a walking trip so I had to include it. For those of you who haven't seen the epic movie Stand By Me, this is the novella the movie was based on. The story is about four twelve year old boys the weekend before the start of middle school. The hear about a dead body in the woods and decide to hike to see the body. It is a story about growing up, friendship and more. It is still one of my all time favorites. Read the book, see the movie!

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison:
I Iove The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison. Book Eight, Pale Demon, was one of my all time favorite books in the series. Rachel ends up going on a road trip with her nemesis,Trent, along with Jenks the pixie. What follows is plenty of mayhem, an encounter with some psycho witches, a visit with a few deranged demons and more. This is the book where things begin to shift between Rachel and Trent. Loved it!

These are a few of my recent favorite road trip books. Now tell me yours.

Next week's TMST:

Fun Post: Share interesting things about yourself.

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From a bright new talent comes this debut novel about a young woman who travels for the first time to her mother’s hometown, and gets sucked into the mystery that changed her family forever

Mattie Wallace has really screwed up this time. Broke and knocked up, she’s got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags, and nowhere to go. Try as she might, Mattie can no longer deny that she really is turning into her mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn’t make. 

When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance left by a grandmother she’s never met, she jumps at this one last chance to turn things around. Leaving the Florida Panhandle, she drives eight hundred miles to her mother’s birthplace—the tiny town of Gandy, Oklahoma. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery—a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town thirty-five years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back. But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother, and it happened here. The harder Mattie digs for answers, the more obstacles she encounters. Giving up, however, isn’t an option. Uncovering what started her mother’s downward spiral might be the only way to stop her own.
Hilarious, gripping, and unexpectedly wise, The Art of Crash Landing is a poignant novel from an assured new voice. 
Paperback, 416 pages
Published: September 8th 2015 by Harper Paperbacks
Source: Publisher

 


Three and a half stars: A funny and sage tale about a woman, whose life is a mess, who seeks the truth about her mother's past.  

Matty jumps the fence and lands on her feet. That is cool, right? One positive thing for her since she threw everything she owns into six garbage bags after another fight with her boyfriend. Now she is seeking refuge with her stepfather. Queeg graciously takes her in, again, but Matty soon realizes that she has worn out her welcome. At thirty, Matty's life is a train wreck. She can't hold down a job, she has had her struggles with alcohol and a string of bad boyfriends, and now she is knocked up and down and out. Queeg tells Matty that lawyers have been looking for her. It turns out, Matty's grandma, whom she never met, recently passed away, leaving her house to Matty. Matty makes a spur of the moment decision to drive from the Florida Panhandle to Oklahoma. Once in Oklahoma, Matty is confronted with her mother's mysterious past. What happened to her mother? What changed a bright and happy teenager to a broken and down woman? 

What I Liked:

  • The Art of Crash Landing isn't normally the type of book I reach for, yet once I started reading this one, I couldn't put it down. Matty's life is an absolute mess, and in all honesty, I struggled to relate to her as she makes one bad decision after another, and she always shoots her mouth off. Yet, the more I read, the more I liked Matty. She may have been a walking disaster, but she had a lot of spunk and she was hilarious. In the end, I was pleased with her growth. If you like realistic and funny contemporary literature, this is one to try.  This book is also a tale of loss, and it features an interesting mystery. 
  • What made this book shine for me was the humor. Matty certainly has a unique sense of humor, and she constantly made me laugh. Her snark was terrific. I also liked the antics and humor of Tawny, the goth teenager. Tawny pulls some interesting pranks, and she has some colorful names that I won't soon forget. I found myself smiling and snickering out loud at the humor in this book. Definitely worth reading for the snark and sass.
  • As I mentioned, Matty isn't the easiest character to like. I found her hard to connect with since she is extremely irresponsible. She arrives in Oklahoma practically penniless with a broken down car. She is also pregnant. So you can see she is a walking disaster. Even when kind strangers reached out and helped her, she manages to screw it up with her antics and smart mouth. However, she did grow on me and she does redeem herself. What keep me engaged with her was her humor. She delivers some laugh out loud one liners. As she works to unravel the mystery of her mother's past, Matty starts to grow up a bit. By the end, she is in a better place. She still makes mistakes, but I have hope for her. Even though I would have liked to see more transformation, I appreciated that the author kept it real. Baby steps..... I had hope that Matty would finally get it right. 
  • The cast of secondary characters is strong and engaging. Matty's stepfather, Queeg, is a gem. He is a kind hearted, giving and generous guy that you can't help but love. The folk in Gandy, are quite the blend. There is Fritter, the officious and efficient, elderly librarian who has been battling the arrival of mysterious poo in the library. Howdy as Matty calls him, is Matty's lawyer. He is in a wheel chair, working to overcome the mistakes of his past. He is big hearted and an all around nice guy. JJ's Matty's next door neighbor is an enigma. Sometimes he is charming, and other times a pain in the ass. Tawny, the rebellious, goth teen, was the perfect sidekick for Matty. She made me laugh. I loved this eclectic cast of characters, and I liked that I never knew what was coming next from them. 
  • There is an interesting mystery that surrounds Matty's mother. She was a lovely, happy teenager, who had a bright and wonderful future, and then she mysteriously vanished from town, never to return.  No one in town knew why she left, and Matty herself has no idea what happened to change her mother from the happy teenager, into a depressed and broken woman. Matty begins to dig for answers, and the more she digs, the more she faces a dead end. I was intrigued by the mystery of Matty's mother, and I was surprised when the truth was revealed. I didn't see that coming. 
  • The ending closes out Matty's story a few months down the line with a nice Epilogue. I appreciated seeing how far she had come, and I liked that I wasn't left with a bunch of questions. 

And The Not So Much:

  • What held this one back a bit for me was I struggled so hard with Matty. She isn't easy to like. She runs from the problems in her life, and I didn't like the way she treated those who reached out to help her. Matty is a taker and a user. She is a train wreck and her life is a disaster zone. She makes it hard to like her with her constant bad behavior and poor decisions. 
  • The other thing that made this book falter for me was that it was depressing. The reader spends a lot of time dealing with Matty's mess of a life, and then you are given flashbacks into Matty's past, where you learn about her mother's illness and death. Thankfully, there is a lot of humor, that made it bearable, but this is certainly a book for those who like watching characters overcome challenging and depressing pasts. 
  • I was left wanting to still know more about Matty's mother. I understood why she ran away, but I was left wondering if she ever spoke to her own mother again? I also wanted to know way more about the grandmother. I still felt like there was more to the story that wasn't told.

The Art of Crash Landing isn't a book I normally pick up, but I am certainly glad I took a chance on this one. Even though the overall story is sad and Matty is a hard character to like, I appreciated the story, the character growth and most of all the humor. This is Ms. DeCarlo's first book, and I can say that she is a talented, new voice, and I would be open to reading her future works. If you want a contemporary story about loss, growth and new beginnings, try this book. 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.

 

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Rainy Day Ramblings by Rainydayramblings - 1w ago

Here we are nearly to the middle mark of July and of summer. Are you enjoying all the summer has to offer? We have been incredibly busy here in Oregon, and will be for a little while longer. I will be looking forward to some quiet days reading and relaxing. I hope to grab few books. What about you, do you need a good book to read? Let's see what will be available next week. Here are the highlights. (Click on covers for details). 

Forecast July 14th-20th

 

What do you want to read this week?

 

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It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
Audiobook, 6 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Penguin Group USA, Inc 
Source: Library

 

Three and a half stars: Another poignant, moving and emotional journey.

Adam hates the crowds, the photographers and the endless journalists seeking an interview. His band is bigger than ever, and Adam can't go anywhere without being recognized. Yet his fame, fortune and success has done nothing to cure the heartache that has burrowed in his soul. It has been three years since that fateful day when Mia lost almost everything. Adam stayed by her side, watching and helping her to recover. With determination and strength, Mia was ready to leave for Juilliard in the Fall. She boarded the plane and never came back. For a time, Adam and Mia kept in touch via phone calls and emails, but then Mia inexplicably severed the connection, leaving Adam feeling hurt, betrayed and simmering with anger. Now three years later, Adam meets Mia again. Can the two bury the past and find hope for the future?

What I Liked:

  • This was my fourth book by Gayle Forman, and I admit, I have a bit of an addiction when it comes to her writing. Ms. Forman has a gift for making you feel. Not to mention her writing is lovely and rich. I can only tell you, you must read something by this author to experience the joy of her writing for yourself. 
  • If I Stay was a powerful and emotional journey that was about loss, love and relationships. Where She Went is a bit of a departure as it is darker. This is a story about grief, loss, anger and finally hope for the future. It wasn't an easy journey being in Adam's head as he is so bitter and resentful. He hates everything, including himself. It is easy to understand why Adam has fallen to this low place once you uncover what happened to him after Mia's accident. I struggled a bit with his story as I didn't connect with him as I had with Mia. Still once it was said and done, it ended up being a moving and emotional journey that I appreciate in the end, and I especially appreciated Adam's growth. 
  • Music once again plays an important role in this book. The first book was all about Mia and her cello, while this story focuses on Adam and his band. I liked seeing Adam begin to find himself after wallowing in bitterness and anger for months through music. He begins to write songs, pouring all of his emotions into his music. Eventually, his songs turn Adam and his band into mega stars. I love the strong focus on music, and how it ultimately saves both Adam and Mia. The moment when they come together again through music is beautiful and so perfect. 
  • I was pleasantly surprised when I reached the end to find that it concluded without a cliffhanger. After reading, Just One Day, Just One Year and If I Stay, I was fully expecting to be left frustrated at the the end with a lack of conclusion. Yes, this book is still open ended, but it ends in a good place, giving the reader hope. I didn't feel cheated this time, and I was, for the most part, pleased with the conclusion. 
  • I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Dan Bittner. Bittner also narrates The Wovles of Mercy Falls as Cole. I was already a big fan of Bittner before this, and he impressed me once again with this book. He nailed the emotions, and he made Adam come to life. I absolutely recommend this on audiobook.

And The Not So Much:

  • I know I am among the dissenting voices, but I struggled a bit with this read. I had a hard time connecting with Adam. I think it was because I didn't enjoy watching his downward spiral, and I didn't like his anger and bitterness. I understood where his was coming from, but I didn't care for the negativity. I much preferred the more hopeful and loving tone of If I Stay. In the end, I was glad I went on this journey with Adam as I was pleased with his growth and I liked how it turned out. I just am disappointed that I wasn't swept away.
  • I didn't experience all the feels that many other reviewers are bubbling about. Again, it is a case of it's me not the book. I felt that book lacked a bit of something, and I was sad that I didn't have a better experience. Again I think it was because of the negative tone that is present for most of the book. 
  • I was excited when Mia finally made her appearance, but then I was put off by her as she pretended like nothing was wrong, and she refused to open up. I actually wanted to slap her. Finally, she peels off her phony facade, but until that point, I had no patience for her. 

Where She Went was a good book, but it lacked a bit of something for me. I was disappointed that this book had a darker tone, and that I didn't connect with Adam as I had Mia. Still, I was pleased with the character growth, the journey and the ending. I was happy that the book concludes in a nice hopeful spot, no cliffhangers or nagging questions. All in all, I am glad I experienced this duology. Ms. Forman is an author I will continue to read as I am in awe of her talent. 

 

I borrowed this book from the library. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

  

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The critically acclaimed, bestselling novel from Gayle Forman, author of Where She Went, Just One Day, and Just One Year. 

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time. 
Audiobook
Published April 21st 2009 by Listening Library
Source: Library

 
 
 

 

Four and a half stars: An emotional and compelling read that will have you contemplating life, love, relationships and loss. 

Mia is seventeen years old. As a senior in high school, she has her whole life ahead of her. She is a gifted cellist with a wonderful family and an amazing boyfriend. One snowy morning in Oregon, her whole world comes crashing down, and for the next twenty four hours, Mia is forced to reexamine her life and make a heart wrenching decision as she decides whether she will stay or will she go? 

What I Liked:

  • Last year, I discovered the amazing writing of Gayle Forman. I know I am a latecomer to her books, but better late than never. If I Stay was a compelling and emotional read, that surprised me. I was expecting this to be the typical YA dramatic, heart tugging read, and instead I had entirely different experience. This is a lovely book about life, love and the friendships and relationships formed along the way. It isn't melancholy or gut wrenching, instead the book has a hopeful tone, and I liked that it is about examining all the good things life has to offer. 
  • What makes this book shine is the characters and the complexities of the relationships. As Mia reflects on her life, she recalls tender moments with her parents, her brother and grandparents. Some are sweet and funny, while others are hopeful, and a few are a bit sad, but that is life. The formation of her friendship with Kim was one of my favorite parts of the book. The romance between Adam and Mia took awhile to take root and grow on me, but I appreciated that the author took time to explore the depth and complications of a romantic relationship. There are plenty of romantic moments, and then there are those times when the couple struggled. Most of all, I appreciated that this was a true to life story. It doesn't read in a cohesive story line, instead it is a jumble of memories and emotions as a young girl contemplates on her life. I liked that Mia wasn't your typical teen, she was insecure, sophisticated and incredibly talented. 
  • I liked the inclusion of music in this one, especially as Mia struggled a bit with her identity as a cellist. I loved the way the music helped enhance the mood and the feelings in the book.
  • The writing is gorgeous and lovely as always with Ms Forman. I love the way she grabs a hold of you and makes you feel. There are so many emotions tumbling around in this one, and I was surprised to find I had tears stinging my eyes in that final pivotal scene. If you haven't experienced a book by Ms. Forman, I urge you to do so. Her writing is unforgettable.
  • I listened to the audiobook of If I Stay, and I can't recommend it enough. Kirsten Potter narrates, and I was in awe of her work. Her emotional depth while reading was spot on. I loved this on audio. I also liked that there were small snippets of cello music throughout. This was an addictive listen, I couldn't put it down. Absolutely try the audiobook.

And The Not So Much:

  • Sigh... this is my fourth book by Gayle Forman, and she has slapped me in the face each and every time with her endings. You are completely swept away, captivated by the story and the characters, all leading up to that big pivotal moment, and then she always ends the book right at that spot, leaving the reader screaming for more, hanging on every word, wondering what happened to the characters. That is indeed the case with this book. After the emotional journey, the turmoil and the final decision, the reader is left with their mind spinning. I wanted more, I needed more. Yes, there is a sequel, but it is Adam's point of view, and it won't be the same. I need closure. 
  • This isn't a big issue, but I was wondering what exactly happened with Teddy, Mia's younger brother. The reader never learns what happens to him after Mia is separated from him, other than his fate. I wanted to know more.

If I Stay is a must read, addictive book that will take you on a whirlwind of emotions as you contemplate life, love, relationships and loss. The characters are memorable, the story line unforgettable and the emotions are heart felt. If you haven't experienced this book, I highly recommend the audiobook version. Just be sure to set aside some time as you won't be able to stop listening once you start. 

 

I borrowed a copy of this book from the library in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

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Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post here on Rainy Day Ramblings where I discuss a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog. If participating feel free to leave your link in the comments.

 

Here is the question of the week:

What are some of your favorite books set in other countries?

I don’t know about you all, but I love grabbing a book that is set in another country. If I can’t visit a place on my own, I enjoy doing it vicariously via a book. I especially appreciate authors that spend time not only describing the scenery but the delicious food as well. I love being transported to another place without having to leave the comfort of home. 

Here are a few of books that I enjoyed that are set in other countries:

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan:

Before reading this book, I knew nothing about Singapore. This book plunges you into the lives of the rich and the elite. I enjoyed exploring Singapore in this book, especially the food, the scenery and the lifestyle.

 

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

This book takes you to Italy. I loved the descriptions of the scenery, and the decadent food. I wanted gelato after reading this one! 

Chasing River by K.A. Tucker:

This was a romance that took me to Dublin, Ireland. I enjoyed exploring Ireland, especially the cozy pubs. 

Love a La mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

This book was about a teenage cooking school set in the heart of Paris. I loved reading about Paris and all the yummy, rich food.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden:

This book transported me back to Old World Russia. I loved learning about the beliefs of the people and experiencing life in the countryside of Russia. 

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor:

This is one of my all time favorite reads. Taylor does an amazing job with the scenery. I felt like I was in Prague! 

 

Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton:

This was the perfect book to read during winter. The author transported me to the sun soaked Italian country side. 

 

Just one Day by Gayle Forman

This was another fantastic trip to Paris. I enjoyed all the food and the one day tour of Paris. It was magical.

 

Next Year in Havana Cuba by Chanel Cleeton:

I didn’t know much about Cuba before reading this book. I loved this one. I felt like I was in Cuba walking the streets. Definitely read this one!

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

While I wasn’t a fan of the romance in this book, I enjoyed the Tokyo setting. I didn’t know much about Tokyo before reading this book. I enjoyed exploring this vast city and learning about the food. 

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill:

This is a delightful romance that takes the reader on a tour through London. From the historic sites to the pub for fish and chips. 

 

These are some of the books that I enjoyed that are set in other countries. What about you all, what books did you like that transported you to another country?

Next week’s TMST:

What are some of your favorite road trip books?

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At the height of the Great Depression, Sam Babb, the charismatic basketball coach of tiny Oklahoma Presbyterian College, began dreaming. Like so many others, he wanted a reason to have hope. Traveling from farm to farm, he recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a chance at a better life: a free college education if they would come play for his basketball team, the Cardinals. Despite their fears of leaving home and the sacrifices faced by their families, the women followed Babb and his dream. He shaped the Cardinals into a formidable team, and something extraordinary began to happen: with passion for the sport and heartfelt loyalty to one another and their coach, they won every game. For author Lydia Reeder, this is a family story: coach Sam Babb is her great-uncle. When her grandmother handed her a worn, yellowed folder that contained newspaper articles, letters, and photographs of Sam and the Cardinals, she said, You might want to tell their story someday. Now, with extensive research and the gathered memories of the surviving Cardinals, she has."
Audio CD
Published January 24th 2017 by HighBridge Audio

 

Three stars: A well researched book that shares the thrilling account of a college women’s basketball team who never gave up.

Sam Babb is a determined man. He never lets his missing leg hold him back, and he is doesn’t let it slow him down as he sets out to recruit the best female basketball players in rural Oklahoma to attend Oklahoma Presbyterian College, playing basketball for him. This is the inspiring story of Coach Babb and his rag tag bunch of girls who didn’t let the narrow minded attitudes of some of the prevailing women in their time, who campaigned to eliminate women’s sports, stop them. This team, learned to work together, beating some fierce opponents on their way to glory. What I Liked:

  • Dust Bowl Girls is a well researched and fascinating story about one man’s determination and a bunch of girls who refused to let others tell them they couldn’t play basketball. This is an inspiring, true story that shows how far girls can go when they believe in each other. Girl Power.
  • It is apparent that the author did an immense amount of research to bring this book to life. She incorporates so many personal details, and stories that shape the characters and the story. 
  • It was fascinating to me to see how these girls fought against some of the narrow minded attitudes of prominent women in this time who believed that girls should not participate in competitive sports. These girls were determined, smart, dedicated and out to prove they could win. I loved these fierce girls. I was amazed time and time again at their resourcefulness, they could drive buses, change tires, work on cars, farm, play basketball and do anything a man could do, and this was back in the thirties. It was eye opening and inspiring in to learn that the girls in my grandmothers’ generation were so tough and inspiring.

And The Not So Much:

  • I wanted to read this book because I was hoping to learn more about the Dust Bowl Era. The title is misleading because the Dust Bowl is never even mentioned. The book occurs in the early part of 1930s culminating in 1933. The story takes place before the devastating events of the Dust Bowl. The Great Depression is in its early stages, it is mentioned and discussed somewhat, but it is only a minor mention. I was hoping to glean more about life during the Dust Bowl Era and Great Depression, sadly there is practically nothing.
  • While I appreciated the author’s attention to detail and the amount of research, sometimes too much detail is included which takes away from the story. It also gets confusing as it jumps around from character to character and moves around in time. 

The Dust Bowl Girls is an inspiring and informative read that shares the true story of a determined women’s basketball team in the early 1930s. I loved learning more about the lifestyle of the young women in this era, and how fierce and strong they were. I was disappointed that this book does not cover the Dust Bowl Era at all, the title is misleading. Still it is an interesting read, for anyone who wants to know more about what life was like for girls in the Depression Era.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review. 

 

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