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Simply Wonderful: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

And the Mountains Echoed

And the Mountains Echoed
Khaled Hosseini
Adult Fiction
Rating 5

So I finally read this…I put it off and put it off because, honestly, I just didn’t want to feel as depressed as I have with Hosseini’s previous novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.  I mean they were wonderfully written, but I felt so sad after reading them.  But, I finally bit the bullet and gave it a go…and guess what? I’m not sad! This was an amazing book, very well written…and not thoroughly depressing.  I gained something from it, which is always a wonderful feeling.

“J’aurais dû être plus gentille—I should have been more kind. That is something a person will never regret. You will never say to yourself when you are old, Ah, I wish I was not good to that person. You will never think that.”

I was really confused when I started reading this because of the format it was written in. It’s not your traditional linear story, nor your flip from present day to past with flashbacks between different characters.  It tells a cohesive story from the viewpoints of different characters throughout different parts of each of their lives, but they all fit together like one giant puzzle. And at the end you’ll go ‘Ahhh!’

For me, it was amazing to see how what seemed like one simple decision at the very beginning of the story, turned out to be one huge complicated…well mess.  It made me think “Hey, I shouldn’t judge people so harshly because there is probably a lot more to their story.”  The characters were constantly changing, but it’s only because of the different sides you of them throughout the story…it’s brilliant!  And one decision can change everything and impact many, many people.

I would love to read this again someday to explore all the different aspects of the characters and how Hosseini managed to pull it all together.

Talk to me about this one!

Magical, Heartbreaking, but Wonderful: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Neil Gaiman
Adult Fiction
Rating 4

I shouldn’t have doubted that I would like something else by Gaiman. Stardust is so amazing, I don’t think anything else he has written can be bad (although I haven’t read anything else so don’t hold me to it!). Ocean at the End of the Lane wasn’t as spectacular as Stardust for me, probably because it took place in our world, but it was still an awesome read. It was creepy (not enough to give me nightmares though!) but with sentimentality and with passages I enjoyed reading over a couple times because they were written so well or just struck a chord with me.

I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.

The characters in this story are wonderful. The main character, a young boy, narrates for us and we see events unfold through his eyes, which at times is heartbreaking and at others insightful and uplifting. It was very interesting to view some very adult situations through a child’s viewpoint (though of course it was written by an adult, it’s still intriguing). There are also three great otherworldly ladies; the Hempstocks. A grandma, mom, and daughter who really, for me anyway, made the story…I loved them. They were mysterious and knowledgeable and the kind of people I would love to know.  Then there is this terrifying really creepy villain who scared the bejeezus out me.

As I said earlier, the story takes place in our world with the fantasy element being very blended into the real world. It’s hard to describe the plot without giving too much away…so I will just say it was magical… and a bit heartbreaking… yet still wonderful!

Unique and Thoughtful: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni
Helene Wecker
Adult Fiction
Rating 4

I wasn’t sure what was I expecting with this one, but it sure wasn’t this. I mean, I knew what a golem and a jinni were going into it and I expected a grown up story, but this was just a very different story, but I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it.  The Golem and the Jinni was a very unique story, a bit slow at times (especially when you’ve been used to reading YA for a while) but a worthwhile read. There were meaningful passages and the way it was written was quite magical. The conversations between the Golem and the Jinni were my favorite parts of all though.

“What do you think?” he pressed. “Do you believe in their God?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “The Rabbi did. And he was the wisest person I’ve ever met.  So yes, maybe I do.”

“A man tells you to believe and you believe?”

“It depends on the man. Besides, you believe the stories that you were told.  Have you met a jinni who could gran wishes?”

“No, but that ability has all but disappeared.”

“So, it’s just stories now. And perhaps the humans did create their God.  But does that make him less real? Take this arch.  They created it.  Now it exists.”

“Yes, but it doesn’t grant wishes,” he said.  “It doesn’t do anything.”

“True,” she said, “but I look at it, and I feel a certain way. Maybe that’s its purpose.”

He wanted to ask, what good was a God that only existed to make you feel a certain way? But he left off.

The story takes place in 1899 New York City which was lovely and flips between quite a few different characters point of views.  They were never hard to keep straight, but at first you wonder why in the world you’re reading about all of these seemingly random people.  I was so impressed by this element in the story; nothing was really placed in it without a purpose even though I was skeptical throughout while reading, Wecker proved me wrong.

One of the beset parts of the book though was that it really makes the reader think.  In almost every character, there seemed to be some part of them which was relatable (to me at least). And the ideas of beliefs, aspirations,  and freedom were remarkable.  So if you’re in the mood for a read that is more of a thinker that you have the time to enjoy and mull over, rather than a quick read, this is a good choice!

Mystical Story, but Mixed Feelings: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton
Adult Fiction
Rating: 3.75 (almost 4…)

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is a magical, mystical story full of plot twists and secrets interwoven with fairy tales and valuable life lessons.  I loved the idea of this story and the plot, but I honestly never felt a real connection to any of the characters. And I felt like a couple hundred pages could have been cut out and I really wouldn’t have minded.  Yes, yes, my mood and temperament may have played a part in this somewhat negative view (being too sick to even pick up a book for days on end) but I’m not a huge a fan of reading really long books if there isn’t a dang good reason for it (Lord of the Rings I feel had a pretty good reason for being so thick…ditto with Jane Eyre, not so much in this case).

A young girl, Nell, is found on a ship in Australia without any caretaker, so she is secretly taken into the portmaster’s family to live happily until her father one day, about 20 years later, divulges the secret that she is not really his daughter.  Nell’s life is turned upside down by the news and a whole new life full of mystery, feelings of abandonment and dishonesty, and a path to find out who she really is descend upon her.  Along with Nell’s story we also learn the tales of two other female characters; modern-day Cassandra (who is Nell’s granddaughter) and mysterious Eliza from the early 1900’s.  All of the stories do intermingle extremely well, so you can’t just skip one character’s story and get away with it (trust me I tried), and they culminate into an unforgettable ending.

Morton tells the story from multiple people’s point of views and different time periods and, I’ll admit, it was quite jarring even for me at the start.  Once you figure out who everyone is and know them on a first name basis within the story, it gets a bit easier to understand and a little more enjoyable.  However, as mentioned earlier, I really didn’t like any of the main characters. They were just so extremely frustrating to me!  The decisions they made, the way they acted, their personalities all drove me crazy and I would definitely not have befriended any of them.  Not liking the characters in a book does make it  a bit more difficult to read the book…but finish it I did (I picked it for book club, so it was a bit obligatory).

Now, I don’t want to scare anyone away from this book.  It is a very good story and well written (I couldn’t guess the ending….well entirely) and had some very nice quotes throughout. 

It was the first story she’d ever trapped on paper, and to see her thoughts and ideas turned concrete was curious.  It made her skin seem unusually sensitive, strangely exposed and vulnerable.  Breezes were cooler, the sun warmer.  She couldn’t decided whether the sensation was one she liked or loathed.

~The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

I loved the air of mystery throughout the whole novel, keeping the reader guessing until the very end. And I loved the different relationships shown between the characters throughout the story because they seemed very realistic compared to a lot of other novels. It also offers up a lot in the way of discussion.  I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t post those topics though! Overall, I’m glad I finished it (the ending is wonderfully done!) I just wish it wasn’t sooo long.

Memory is a cruel mistress with whom we all must learn to dance.

~The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

Also, be sure to enter to win signed copy of Marissa Meyer’s Cinder I’m giving away before this Saturday by clicking on link below!

Enter Here!

Fast-Paced and Exciting: The Water Witch by Juliet Dark

The Water Witch Juliet Dark Adult Fantasy Rating: 4

The Water Witch
Juliet Dark
Adult Fantasy
Rating: 4

I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program and quite enjoyed it.  I wasn’t aware until I got the book that it is the second book in the Fairwick Trilogy by Juliet Dark, but not having read the first book in this series, it didn’t detract a whole lot from the overall story.  Enough recapping was provided throughout the book that I wasn’t ever “lost”.  My main fear when I picked up this book was that it would be too “dark” since the first novel in this series is titled Demon Lover and that kinda put me off, but it really wasn’t too bad.  There were parts where it was bit too “witchcrafty” for my taste (which is saying something since Fantasy is my favorite genre) but I just skimmed over those parts and didn’t miss anything of importance.  The Water Witch was a super addicting read and I finished it within a day, a busy day.  However, be prepared for a doozy of an ending where you scramble to find out when the last book in the trilogy comes out. (If anyone has more luck finding out, let me know!)

Review:

Callie, the main heroine, is having trouble controlling her erratic magic and seems to keep causing problems within the mortal world by accidentally letting not-so-nice fey creatures through the doorway.  Now the Grove, the all female witch counsel, wants to permanently close the doorway into the fey world so no more fey can get out, but not all of the fey creatures are evil and some of them need to enter the mortal world to survive.   And Callie just so happens to be a doorkeeper, which means she is able to open and close the doorway if she can learn to control her magic.  However, gaining power over her magic isn’t the only problem she’s facing; Callie still doesn’t know what it is to love.  She doesn’t know if she loved the incubus she is trying to get over or if she maybe still wants to love him.  There are many interesting characters within this story too (however, I couldn’t keep their names straight) like Norse demigods, brownies, a creative version of knitting Norse fates, a Faerie goddess, and many, many more.  Overall, a pretty fun and very fast read.

I was reminded of Harkness’ All Soul’s Trilogy, but not so dense. So if you want a quicker read like that, read this.

Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

Princess Diaries Meg Cabot Teen Fiction

Princess Diaries
Meg Cabot
Teen Fiction

I received this book as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers program and was super excited as I already have all of the previous books in this series!(Size 12 is Not Fat, Size 14 is Not Fat Either, and Big Boned.) I’m typically not a huge “chick-lit” fan, but Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors.  She writes really funny, fast-faced “chick-lit” that I actually enjoy (okay, more than enjoy…I LOVE!) I even took a 3 1/2 hour rode trip with one of my friends just to get an autograph from her, that’s how much I love her writing. She doesn’t write just adult chick-lit either, she writes teen and junior fiction for girls too.  Like the junior Allie Finkle’s Rules For Girls series and, my personal favorite, the young adult The Princess Diaries series. Just make sure you don’t accidentally get your kid one of her adult fiction books, because they are, well, quite…adult. (I  only mention it because I was in a library once where one of her adult audiobooks was mis-shelved and placed in the junior’s section.  I about had a heart-attack, but I just picked it up and gave it to the librarian who worked there and casually said it was probably in the wrong section.) Okay, enough raving about Meg, onto the review…

Size 12 and Ready to Rock Meg Cabot Adult Fiction Rating: 4

Size 12 and Ready to Rock
Meg Cabot
Adult Fiction
Rating: 4

Review:

Heather Wells returns! Be ready to put everything you planned on accomplishing for the day on the back burner, because once you start this book, it won’t get put down until it’s finished. Romance, mystery, action, and lot’s of humor, Meg keeps writing amazing, contemporary chick lit.

In this fourth installment of the Heather Wells series, Heather once again finds herself in the middle of a mystery and… mortal peril. But why?  This time it may even involve her ex, the famous Jordan, and his new equally famous girlfriend, Tania Trace.

While Heather has all the worries of keeping the people around her in “Death Dorm” safe (along with herself), she’s also worrying about how her recent engagement to Cooper Cartwright will be taken by others (most importantly her ex, Jordan, Cooper’s brother).

Can Heather handle everything and stay alive?

“I’ve come to the conclusion that, aside from Nazis, the Taliban, and possibly the honey badger, there is no one in the planet more merciless than a teenaged girl, once she’s decided she dislikes you.”

~Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night Deborah Harkness Adult Fiction Rating: 2

Shadow of Night
Deborah Harkness
Adult Fiction
Rating: 2

I FINALLY finished it. It took forever to get through, (like two weeks)!! I was…disappointed. I remember enjoying the first one for some reason (although I didn’t write a review so I don’t remember why). But this one just didn’t make the cut for me. I didn’t start enjoying the book until about 3/4 of the way through it. There was too much historical detail for a fantasy fiction book. Don’t get me wrong, I love historical fiction, but I think half of this book could have been taken out and it would have made it incredibly better. Ugh, I’m glad I’m finished with it, but sorry I didn’t just skip over about 300 pages to save some time. I will probably read the next one though as I can’t leave a storyline unfinished and it sounds like there will (hopefully) be more action and stuff actually happening in it.

Diana and Matthew timewalked back in time in order to hide from the Congregation and try to locate Ashmole 762.  Diana finds out more bad stuff about Matthew and blindly accepts it (like every other female in fiction does when it comes to vampires) and Matthew tries to control Diana in every possible way.  However, Diana does learn many new things about herself  in the past which will hopefully help her control her magic better.  She also has a couple pretty big secrets of her own that she keeps from Matthew (sign of a healthy relationship?), which I’m guessing will come out in the next book.  The story got a bit more exciting towards the end when there was a little more going on and it ends on a promise for more action to come.

Overall, a very, very long read, and if I could go back in time I would skip the middle 300 pages of this book.

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