Monday, 12 May 2014

Book Review: Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan

Goodreads Synopsis: A thought-provoking and courageous new novel by National Book Award winner Han Nolan. Nobody gets away with telling Eleanor Crowe what to do. But as a pregnant sixteenyear-old, her options are limited: move to Kenya with her missionary parents or marry the baby’s father and work at his family’s summer camp for overweight kids. Despite her initial reluctance to help out, Elly is surprised that she actually enjoys working with the campers. But a tragedy on the very day her baby is born starts a series of events that overwhelms Elly with unexpected emotions and difficult choices. Somehow, she must turn her usual obstinance in a direction that can ensure a future for herself—and for the new life she has created.

340 pages 
3.74 average rating on Goodreads
Published: 2011
Genre: YA, Fiction, Drug Abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Family Drama

May I just start by saying that I find the topic of teenage pregnancy and the associated trials and tribulations fascinating to read about, so I was semi-sold on this book just by reading the synopsis.

Eleanor Crowe is the sixteen year old daughter of two missionaries who seem to favor taking care of the AIDS babies in Africa instead of Eleanor. Eleanor is defiant, stubborn, pregnant, and married to the dope-head father of her child, Lam. Lam's parents own and run a summer camp for overweight children, and Eleanor begrudgingly lives and works there during the summer of her pregnancy. Her marriage, her relationship with the campers and with the other counsellors experience many ups and downs, and on the day Eleanor delivers her baby, a tragedy back at camp leaves her reeling. Suddenly Eleanor is faced with a dozen adult decisions that could be life changing for her and her baby.

I really enjoyed this plot as it had a lot of different aspects that worked nicely together. Eleanor and Lam seemed like two typical teenagers, and many of the emotions and thoughts that Eleanor had were very realistic in my opinion. Lam's parents, whom Eleanor refers to as the MIL and FIL are quite harsh and hard to like, as are Eleanor's parents and sister, Sarah. 

Eleanor's experiences as a young married teen at a camp surrounded by many more normal teenagers were interesting to read about: her feelings for someone other than her husband, her husband cheating on her, etc. I also liked reading about how Eleanor felt about the baby growing inside her, as she was deciding what to do with the baby once it was born. 

I was very pleased with the ending of this book because though the climax was dramatic and the ending unexpected, everything seemed to work out for the best. 

Overall I give this book a 5/5 stars, because I can find no fault with this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Bout of Books TBR

Hello Everyone!

I apologize for my absence this past week but between school, working four shifts, and getting a friend ready for graduation my free time has been 0.

Anywho, today I talk about Bout of Books 10.0. Are you guys excited? Of course this would be the week that I have 1000 other things to do but I'm going to try my best to read two books this week, both of which were in my original TBR: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien and The Choice by Nicholas Sparks.

I'll hopefully post daily updates if not here than on my twitter (@_withsugarontop) or Instagram (@_withsugarontop) so look out for those.

What will you guys be reading this week? Let me know!

Best of luck to everyone for a successful reading week :)

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Top 10 Tuesday: Books to Get Mom for Mother's Day

Hello Everyone! 

With Mother's Day coming up this Sunday I'm sure lots of you are looking for last-minute gifts for the woman who birthed you, and who has been dealing with your crap (sometimes literally) ever since. I personally think it's very important to thank my Mom for everything she's done for me on Mother's Day, since her work goes unappreciated far too often.

What busy Mom wouldn't appreciate a bubble bath complete with a nice candle, some chocolate, and of course, a good book?! Here are my top ten picks to get your Mom this Mother's Day!

1. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
A typical Sparks romance with a dramatic edge. When "Katie" moves to a new tiny town across the country to escape an abusive husband at home, she soon falls for a widower and his two young children. Bonus points if you also get Mom the movie adaptation with Julianne Hough.

2. Belong to Me by Marisa De Los Santos
This book is about a woman who moves to the suburbs with her husband and befriends a woman of kindred spirits who has a young son. I'm not exactly sure what this book is about beyond that little tidbit, but I've heard great things.

3. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
Uhm, hello, the author of this book is none other than Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. That is all the reasoning you need to buy this book.

4. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
This book has possibly the cutest premise I've ever heard - this girl who is usually very decisive and organized meets a guy on her European vacation and agrees to join him on a spontaneous day trip to Paris. Their day together changes her life supposedly, but still they end up going their separate ways. Just FYI, everyone is reading this book right now. And I do mean everyone. 

5. Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Alas, the companion novel to the aforementioned Just One Day - this book is the story of the year following the couple's day in Paris, and Willem (the guy's) journey to find the girl with whom he spent said day, and the obstacles he faces along the way.

6. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
By now most people have, if not read this book, seen the movie adaptation with the super awesome Emma Stone. This book is about a white journalist's attempt to revolutionize the southern states of America and make coloured people of equal standing to white, and all the drama and oppression that ensued during this time of terrible prejudice in the USA. This book is super important and I think that everyone needs to read this at least once. That being said, the intense topics and the quick wit oft he characters make it anything but a boring read.

7. The Pact by Jodi Picoult
This book is SO good, and so thought-provoking as well. The book involves two teenagers who grew up together as their parents were best friends and neighbours. When they try to take their relationship to the next level (may as well considering everyone expects them to get married anyways) thinks get tricky and they begin to crack under the pressures of their parents. I highly recommend this one!

8. How to Love by Katie Cotugno
A story about a girl who gets pregnant and gets left behind in a dusty little town by the love of her life, the baby's father. When the baby is born she does her best to move on and swears she wants nothing to do with her baby daddy, but when he comes back to town she just can't help falling for him all over again.

9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
This book is a real heartbreaker, as is the movie version starring Sandra Bullock. It's the story of a young boy who goes on a quest to find a lock matching a key he found in his father's things after his father is tragically killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. 

10. The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski
This book's synopsis reminds me of the movie August Rush, although I have no idea why. The story is of a young boy born with a remarkable sense of hearing, and who can even hear the voice of his late father, who died before he was born. I haven't heard much about this book but the synopsis just sounds so intriguing to me.

I hope everyone found a suggestion here that they liked, but if anyone has any additional suggestions of books your Mom might likes for Mothers Day, by all means post them in the comments below! 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Book Review: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Goodreads Synopsis: One miscarriage too many spelled the end of Max and Zoe Baxter's marriage. Though the former couple went quite separate ways, their fates remained entangled: After veering into alcoholism, Max is saved in multiple senses by his fundamentalist conversion; Zoe, for her part, finds healing relief in music therapy and the friendship, then romantic love with Vanessa, her counselor. After Zoe and Vanessa, now married, decide to have a baby, they realize that they must join battle with Max, who objects on both religious and financial grounds.

466 pages
3.73 average rating on Goodreads
Published: 2011
Genre: Adult Fiction, Drama, Romance, Controversial

My Review:

When I picked up this book I expected an in-depth, multi-viewpoint account of some controversial issue, with quick-witted characters and raw emotions. Jodi Picoult did NOT disappoint.

Max and Zoe Baxter have been married for nine years, and have dug themselves into quite a hole of debt and despair with infertility treatments - the result of which has been two miscarriages and a stillborn. When Zoe says she wants to try again, Max decides he's had enough, and they divorce. Max moves in with his straight-arrow brother and his wife, and finds his way out of the bottle and into the arms of Jesus. Zoe finds her way into the arms of Vanessa, a counsellor at the school where Zoe sometimes works as a music therapist. Though Max and Zoe have gone very separate ways, they must deal with each other once more, in court, to determine what will happen to their remaining embryos, waiting in a freezer at the in-vitro clinic.

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book, which talked in-depth about Zoe and Max's fertility treatments. I hope to one day become a fertility doctor, so I like reading anything involving that branch of medicine.

As usual with Picoult's books, I fell in love with the characters immediately, especially Zoe. You can feel how deeply she wants a baby, and become so connected with her that you feel each injection, each miscarriage, each implantation, along with her. From page one, I was rooting for her to get what she wanted. Vanessa seems to be a super open-minded individual, and she seemed willing to do anything to make Zoe happy. Although Max was a slimeball at times, I generally liked his character as well and kept hoping for things to work out for him.

Is it just me or do all of the books by this author end up with someone in a courtroom? This doesn't actually bother me, but Angela, Zoe's lawyer in this novel, and her attempts at hilarity grew old fast in my opinion, and she got on my nerves quite a bit.

This book's plot is pretty fast-paced; there's always some new issue arising, and thus the plot was never boring. I was really pleased with the ending, although it was a bit abrupt and I wouldn't have minded it being extended, or even a sequel book. I'd like to know what happens to Max's brother, Reid, and if later on in life all of the characters are happy with the decisions they've made.

Overall I give this book 4/5 stars. I really enjoyed it and it will probably be put on my "for keeps" shelf, but I would've liked a longer ending.

If anyone else has read this I would love to know what you thought of it!


Good morning everyone!

Today I'm showing you the books I intend to read in the month of May. I'm setting my goal at three books this month. I'd love for it to be more than that but with the school schedule I have coming up I don't see it being possible. I cannot wait for school to be over (57 more days, but hey, who's counting) so that I can have more time to devote to reading. 

So, with that being said, here are the books I plan to read this month! 

1. Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan

This book is one I've had for a while, but have never gotten around to reading. I haven't heard much about it, but I believe the general premise is that a teenage girl from a religious family gets pregnant, and has to decide what to do with the baby, and her life. This somehow leads to her working at a camp for overweight kids until there's a tragedy of sorts? I look forward to reading this book because I don't know much about it and therefore have no idea what to expect. 

2. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

This is another book I've had sitting on my shelf forever and never picked up to read. Although I am well versed in most Nicolas Sparks books, I have no idea what this one is about, and so this will be another blind read for me this month. According to Goodreads, the book is about a bachelor named Travis who quite enjoys his lifestyle and sees no need for a woman to "cramp his lifestyle" until his new redheaded, not-single neighbour moves in. Travis decides he has to have her, and so ensues the typical guy-pursues-already-taken-girl-and-drama-unfolds plot. I mostly look forward to reading this because of the way Nicholas Sparks writes, and how he makes you fall in love with the words even moreso than the characters saying them. 

3. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

I believe I may be the last person on the earth to have never read any Lord of the Rings books or seen any of the movies or be able to tell you the general plot without doing either of the aforementioned things. That, my friends, is going to change this month! 
I bought this book in the fall of 2013 with intentions to read it as a novel study for my English class, but I ended up reading another book for that purpose, so I figure I will read this now. I am told that this book is not exactly a part of The Lord of the Rings series, but more of an accompanying novel, but please correct me if this is not the case. I'm not even going to look this up on Goodreads, because I think it's super fun that I'm going into such a popular book without a clue of what happens in it. 
I'm sure I'll be watching the movie immediately after finishing the book, if only to affirmate that the book is always better, but I will likely post a comparison/review post of both the book and the film.

Although I may not have much time for reading this month, I'm glad I've picked three very different books, none of which I know what about, so that the reading I do fit in should be pretty interesting. 

What are you guys reading this month? Let me know below or tweet me @_withsugarontop ! 
Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day! 

Pin of the Week: Sprite Gummy Popsicles

Are these not the CUTEST things ever? I would've loved these as a kid - wait, who am I kidding? I'll love these now! 

I found these Sprite Gummy Bear Popsicles (DIY) on Pinterest, from In the Corner 's blog, and I am now impatiently waiting for warm temperatures (defined in my province as anything above 0 degrees C) so that I can give them a try! I'm sure if you don't like gummy bears that any other gummy candy would be delicious as well. 

Thanks for reading! I hope everyone is having a good weekend :)