Friday, 4 July 2014

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Goodreads synopsis: 
Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

328 pages
4.21 average rating on Goodreads
Published: 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

I LOVE this book! I had heard so much hype about this book and I was worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations, but it completely surpassed them! 

Eleanor has grown up in some unfortunate circumstances, and has just been allowed to move home after her stepfather kicked her out (for a year!). Park is a nice boy who has been raised with everything he wants at his fingertips. The two first cross paths when Park tries to save her from bullying and humiliation on the bus. 

It becomes routine that the two sit together and they SLOWLY (almost too slow for my liking) form an unlikely friendship by bonding over comic books and music. The two start spending more and more time together and soon realize they're falling for each other. 

Eleanor knows she can never tell her mother, as her stepfather would kill her (literally), but she is desperate to be with Park. Park wants to help Eleanor but she won't open up to him about her life at home.

One day when things take a dramatic turn for the worst, Park helps Eleanor one last time.

The book ends quickly after this - there is no real closure. You never get to see Eleanor and Park together in the same place again, you never hear another conversation, you never hear what becomes of Eleanor's mom or siblings or stepfather (though no one cares about him). I would love there to be a sequel or even an epilogue so that we could see more of the relationship that we saw the beginning of.

This book was funny, witty, emotionally gripping, and I give it 5/5 stars, though I do wish there had been more answers at the end. I cannot wait to read more brilliant works by Rainbow Rowell.

If any of you have read this please let me know what you thought of it !! 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Book Review: In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

Goodreads synopsis: Rose is a thirty-year-old attorney with a secret passion for romance novels. She's going to start exercising next week, and she dreams of a man who will slide off her glasses and tell her she's beautiful. Maggie is twenty-eight and drop-dead gorgeous. Although her stardom hasn't progressed past her hip's appearance in a music video, she dreams of fame and fortune. These two sisters claim to have nothing in common but DNA, a childhood tragedy, and a shoe size, but when they're forced into cohabitation, they may just learn that they're more alike than they thought

421 pages
3.73 average rating on Goodreads
Published: 2002
Genre: Adult, Romance, Comedy, Contemporary

Rose is a quite relatable character for me - chubby, smart, plays by the rules, and just hopes that she won't die alone. Her younger sister Maggie likes to think she's a superstar, but Rose wishes she'd just grow up and make something of her life already.

When Maggie gets evicted from yet another apartment Rose is forced to let her sleep on her couch, much to both of their disdain. And so ensues the cycle of Maggie messes up, Rose gets angry, then ends up feeling sorry for Maggie and gets her out of her mess. This continues until Maggie makes a mistake of epic proportions and Rose kicks her to the curb.

Enter Ella Hirsch, a sad old lady who lives at Golden Acres Seniors Complex in Florida. We've seen sketches of her story throughout the book and know that she has lost a daughter and is estranged to her two granddaughters. Is it a coincidence that Rose and Maggie had a mother who died when they were little, and have never known their grandmother who so desperately tried to keep in touch with them? I think not. 

When Maggie's last ditch attempt to evade homelessness fails, she finds a box of letters in her stepmothers closet from the grandmother she never knew existed, and decides to contact her. Maggie hopes that with her grandmother's help she can finally do something with her life, and also make things right with Rose.

I found it interesting to read about the dynamics between these two sisters, a foreign concept to me as  an only child. I really enjoyed Rose's character and thought it was very well-developed. Although I didn't like Maggie, she was a very funny and fascinating character, and it was interesting to see inside her mind. Even the secondary characters (Amy, Sydelle, Ella) were developed and you came to feel as though these were real people that you knew.

Overall I give this book 4.5/5 stars, simply because I don't think I'll be reading it again, but I did thoroughly enjoy it while I was reading it.

If you've read this book or anything else by this author please feel free to share your thoughts :)

Monday, 23 June 2014

Books I've Read Lately

Because I'm so behind on book reviews, and honestly can't remember the in-depth details of some of these, I've decided to just do a quick little cumulative review of the books I've read recently:

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 

To be quite honest, I didn't get into this book until it was almost over. I know this book and The Lord of the Rings series are quite popular, but I just couldn't see what the hype was about. Perhaps if it were read as a children's bedtime story as Tolkien originally intended, it wouldn't be so bad, but I didn't enjoy it much at all. Now that I've finished it I don't think it was quite so bad, but for a book of its size it took me quite some time to get through simply because I wasn't interested in it. Definitely don't think I'll be reading this again unless I decide to someday attempt TLOTR series.

Overall rating: 2/5 Stars

2. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

This book was quite a fast read, and a typical cutesy, contemporary love story as I've come to expect from Nicholas Sparks. While maybe not one of my favorite books by this author, I did enjoy it and finished it pretty quickly.  It was well paced, the characters were relatable, and of course the dramatic twist near the end makes you think and put yourself in the situation. A few tears were shed over this book but not many.

Overall rating: 4/5 Stars

3. Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Alan Milne

I've actually had this book sitting in the bottom of my bookbag for the entire school year, untouched, and when I found it last week I considered not even reading it, as the premise sounded fairly predictable and nothing I'd be interested in anymore. That being said I decided to attempt it anyways, since it was fairly short, and ended up really liking it. Sophia Jones, the main character, comes Fran troubled past and is quite different from most characters I've read about lately. I found her blunt pessimism oddly refreshing, and the general cutesy plot of the book wasn't bad either, although I didn't particularly like the main male character. I probably won't read it again but it was a quick, easy and enjoyable read that I'd recommend for Summer simply because it's something slightly out of the ordinary. 

Overall rating: 4/5 Stars

If anyone has read or is planning to read either of these books I'd love to hear your opinion

Happy Reading! 

I'm Back!

Hello Everyone,

After a regrettably long break from book blogging due to a multitude of tests, a new job, and then final exams amongst other things, I am happy to announce that I am officially back! 

I wrote my last final exam this morning and I am excited to be starting a relaxing summer, with hopefully many blog posts! 

I have three book reviews that will hopefully be up in the next couple of days, as well as a book haul (yay!)

I hope everyone is well and has a nice relaxing summer of reading ahead of them as well. 


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!