The Last Song By Nicholas Sparks – Book Review

“No. This isn’t a date. This is fishing.”

Ronnie, The Last Song Page 144

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Published: 2010
Pages: 405

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Welcome back to the blog, or welcome to the blog if you are new! Today I will be doing another book review, this time for The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. If you have been here for while you would know that I have a love hate relationship with Nicholas Sparks. I love the movies that are made out of his books, but I really don’t usually enjoy his books themselves all that much. I only read this book because I absolutely adore the movie and I wanted to know all the details behind the story. So that is what we are gonna talk about today. Also a quick note, you may have noticed my rating system has changed, that is because I decided I didn’t like doing it out of 10 and I wanted to try doing some stars. It might change back, we might keep it this way, who knows!


Goodreads Summary

Seventeen-year-old Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Miller’s life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father . . . until her mother decides it would be in everyone’s best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie’s father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church. The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story about love in its myriad forms – first love, the love between parents and children – that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that deeply felt relationships can break our hearts . . . and heal them. 


My Thoughts

As I said at the beginning of the post I loved this book, which is rare for a Nicholas Sparks books. I had the same sensation with this book as I often do when I read books that I have seen the movies for. I saw the book playing out in my head, even with scenes that were not included in the original movie. I know the characters and I could see them acting the scenes. I also thought that the characters were very well developed. I enjoyed learning more information about the characters than what is given in the movies. Ronnie and Will are hands down couples goals for me. The funniest, and best, thing about this book for me personally is that Ronnie is a city girl who doesn’t know what mudding it and doesn’t like fishing and that Will is working at his dads break shop as a mechanic. This echos my own relationship pretty well. Not down to exact character traits but when I first met my boyfriend I did not really enjoy working on cars and going to play in the mud with trucks. I learned though that it is actually pretty interesting and fun.

The end of this book always gets me because Ronnie is such a bitch, but for good reason. I also have to say I love the ending of the book way more than the movie. I won’t give spoilers but there is so much more information and so much more to love. All I will say is if I was in another state and my boyfriend did that for me I would be ecstatic.

Overall I do think that this is a good book and if you want a typical Nicholas Sparks read filled with tragedy and romance then you will enjoy this book. If you for some reason have never read Nicholas Sparks then start with this book. It is one of this bigger ones page wise, but I am learning that part of liking Nicholas Sparks has to do with what books you read first.


All links in this post are Amazon affiliate links, I earn a small commision from each sale using that link which I use to keep this blog running. Using the link costs you no extra money, it is the same price as if you purchased the book without the link.

Magical Readathon 2020-OWLs Week 3 Update

Well it is that time again, the end of my third week of OWLs. If you don’t know what I am talking about (which is doubtful because the entire book community seems to be participating) you can check out my post all about the OWLs. There you will find the video from Book_Roast where her readathon is explained as well as my TBR list. Also if you are curious I do have a wrap up from week two as well. I don’t have an update for week one because somehow that post managed to lose itself…Enough with the rambling. Grab yourself a drink and get ready to check in for this week!


Sunday

“And on Sundays we do nothing..”- anonymous

Today was the epitome of lazy Sundays for me. I guess because it was Easter and I was not really allowed to leave I was just not into doing much. I did some reading for school late in the evening though, and was able to read about 50 pages of Scarlet by Marissa Meyers. The box set of The Lunar Chronicles paperbacks was delivered today so I got to open that on Instagram and be happy that I finally found the book covers that I like, instead of just having to settle for the new covers, which I am not in love with.


Monday

If each day is a gift, I would like to know where I can return Mondays.”-anonymous

You know those days where you have the best intentions of doing things and then somehow you just end up not doing them? Yeah that was how today went for me. I spend all day being pumped up to read some more of Scarlet and then just didn’t do it. I played Animal Crossing and then ended up spending 5 hours trying to make masks and failing miserably at them. Needless to say I still sit at 50 pages read for Scarlet and two books to finish for my OWLS.


Tuesday

“Tuesday is Monday’s ugly sister.”

You know this might be a better update if I had actually done ANYTHING towards my OWLs today. Instead I ran to the store for a quick trip for eggs, milk, and frozen pizzas (I know none of that goes together, but the pizzas are like the only thing my boyfriend will eat anymore) and spent most of the day working on making masks. I did finally figure out how to make some that look simi reasonable, it took me all morning though because I was out of elastic and had to make the straps myself. Also I went to school for sewing so all my perfectionist tendencies started to come out because I felt like I needed to match prints on fabric and 100 other things. I did zero work towards OWLs today, which I would find acceptable, except for the fact that I have done that for the last two days as well.

I struggled with the whole COVID-19 situation today. Unemployment still hasn’t paid out for me because like most states we are on stay at home orders and almost everyone is laid off from their jobs and filing. I was struggling mostly because bills are do soon. That being said if you are having a hard time as well and just need someone to talk to you can always message me on my Instagram (@reading.by.myself). My inbox is open. It might take me awhile to respond because my instagram messages can get a bit crazy with the book club and miniathon groups I am in, but I will see it I promise. The bookstagram community has seriously been my saving grace through all of this.


Wednesday

I’ll take a shot of whiskey with my coffee”-Me, and I don’t drink coffee or Whiskey

Do I see day number four of no progress on my OWLs coming? yes I do! It is 7:15pm and all I have done today is update the blog (do you like the new layout and the new post layouts?), take a nap, listen to my governors daily press conference of updates on nothing, and written two blog posts. I have been productive, just not on the right things. OH, I did also do a discussion board for class. Which might as well have been a paper with all the research I had to do for it.

I also updated my TBR for the OWLs today. Which ya know is interesting considering I only have two books left to read and on a normal week I would have already finished both of them. -.- Alas, let me tell you the update and then I will get off of here and read (yeah right). I decided that for Muggle Studies I would be reading Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. It has a 4.5 star rating on Kindle, and I rented the book through Libby. That means I have to finish it because I only have 14 days to finish it. Woohoo. So I have read 7 pages so far and it is cute. So far it is shaping up to my the typical cheesy YA romance but that is just what I need this week.

11:47pm Update: So I finally found the time to sit down and read, I am halfway through Lola and The Boy Next Door and I am loving th cheesy romance that it is. This was just what I needed to feel better and get back into the spirit of reading this week.


Thursday

From goodreads.com

“Better days are just around the corner. They are called Friday, Saturday, and Sunday”- anonymous

It is 2:10am when I am writing this first update and since I have not gone to bed yet I think this would generally fall under Wednesday, BUT it is technically Thursday and I just felt like putting this update here. I just finished Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins and I have to say I loved it. I won’t give too much away because I do want to write a review about it in the coming weeks, but it was such a cute love story. Totally cheesy and just what I needed. The book is about love but it is also about self acceptance and I think that is an important lesson for everyone to learn. And for all of us, no matter our age to be reminded of. That means that I only have one OWL left and I will have finished all 12 prompts for my OWLs. I may be speaking too soon, but I am really proud of myself for finishing all 12. That was not my original plan but it has given me something to work towards accomplishing this month. Now I just need to finish up Scarlet and I can move on to other books in The Lunar Chronicles as well as a book that was sent to me that I am dying to read!


Friday

Somehow today also turned into a day of not reading. I kept being distracted by a project for school and by animal crossing. I didn’t actually read a single thing that wasn’t school related today. Oh well! Tomorrow is another Readathon and I will finish Scarlet even if it kills me.


Saturday

As usual this post is going up on Saturday so I don’t have too much of an update for you. My hope is that my OWLs will be completed by today, which I am sort of sad about because that means I won’t have any more OWL updates for you guys 😦 I will survive though. Best part of today is that as usual I will be taking part in the 12 hour miniathon that Kira(@kcbookshelf) hosts every Saturday. Today’s prompt is books with strong female protagonists. I wrote a recommendations list that just went up yesterday that you can read if you are interested. I personally will be reading Cress which is the next book in The Lunar Chronicles. I hope I will finish it today that way I can start reading the book that was sent to me and get that review up for you all soon!


Have you ever participated in a mini- readathon? If so did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!

Strong Female Protagonists-Book Recommendations

This Saturday is another 12 hour readathon hosted by Kira (@kcbookself) on Instagram. This weekend’s prompt is books with a strong female protagonist. There are probably a thousand books that someone could choose from for this prompt, but I wanted to share 5 recommendations with you today. If you are interested in participating in this Saturday’s (or any Saturday) readathon head on over to Kira’s Instagram for more information!


#5- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

from goodreads.com

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.”-Goodreads summary

I will admit I have not yet read this book, which has been out for for 11 years now, but it has always been on my lists of books to read. If I can find it I just mind be reading it this weekend.

#4- Jane Eyre

from goodreads.com

Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.
But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?”-Goodreads Summary

A classic novel that I am embarrassed to say I have not yet read. I had to put it on the list though because it is a classic, and you can’t have a list of female protagonists without having Jane Eyre on it.

#3- The Hunger Games

from goodreads.com

“In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and once girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.“-Goodreads summary

The Hunger Games is one of my favorite dystopian book series of all time. When I think about strong female characters Katniss is one of the first to come to mind. This is a YA novel, but the entire trilogy just pulls you in. If you have only seen the movies make this trilogy a must read. You will enjoy it.

#2- Divergent

from goodreads.com

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
“-Goodreads summary

If you have been reading this blog for any period of time you would know that I am in love with the Divergent Trilogy. Once again, I couldn’t make a list without including these books. Tris is a strong willed character who will do pretty much anything to prove not to underestimate her.

#1- Cinder/The Lunar Chronicles

from goodreads.com

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.”
– Goodreads summary

This series is my current obsession and is likely at least one of the books that I will end up reading for this weekend’s miniathon. The books are loose retellings of popular fairytales, but character’s from the book before seem to cross over into the next book. I truly have enjoyed reading this series and if you have not yet read it you need to.


It was hard for me to pick just 5 books to recommend because so many of the books that I have read in my life feature strong female protagonists, so here is a list of 5 honorable mentions. Some of these books don’t have the stereotypical “strong female” but I think strong is open to interpretation to be honest. Wake, Fade, and Gone are three books that fall in the not typical category but the girls can see people’s dreams. And some of them are horrible. I call that being strong.

1. I’d Tell You I love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You- Ally Carter
2. If I Stay &Where She Went- Gayle Foreman
3. A Wrinkle in Time– Madeleine L’engle
4. The Diary of a Young Girl- Anne Frank
5. Wake,Fade, and Gone- Lisa McMann


There you have it, 10 books that I think would be perfect for this weekend’s readathon, or for any time of the year when you want to read a book with a strong woman in it.

What books with strong female protagonists would you recommend? Let me know in a commend below!

Cinder by Marissa Meyer-Book Review

This was for a direct link. Do you know if it was Prince Kai? If Maybe he wanted to be able to get in touch with you without going through the net?”

Cinder, Cinder Page 200

Author: Marissa Meyer
Published: 2012
Pages: 387
Rating: 9/10

Third time’s the charm. Or so the saying goes. In this case though it was correct. I bought Cinder quite a while ago out of the bargain bin at either Barnes and Nobles or Books A Million. Either way I thought it looked cool and it was $5 so I figured why not. I have tried to read it twice since then, and did not really get further than 20 pages in either time. I wasn’t even planning to read it this month, but I let Instagram decide on my book and alas everyone and i mean everyone picked Cinder.

Goodreads Summary

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for. 

My Thoughts

Fantastically fantastical. That is how I would describe this story. It is a retelling of Cinderella, which to be honest I wasn’t so sure about. I also wasn’t sure I was going to want to read the entire series (The Lunar Chronicles) knowing that this first book was a retelling. I am taking a wild guess (because I didn’t look into the other books yet) but I think all the books in the series are retellings of certain fairytales and then they weave in Cinder. Who knows though. Annnyway back to the review. I am happy to announce that I already bought the box set of all of the books and the companion books because I am very excited to read the series. I also might have bought the second book Scarlet on Kindle as well so that I could go ahead and start reading it instead of having to wait for the books to arrive. (They will have arrived by the time this goes up hopefully)

One of the things about this book that I really liked was that it wasn’t necessarily written from any one character’s point of view. It was more of a third person writing where you would know what everyone was thinking, but without it seeming out of place. I’m particularly thinking about a point in the books where Cinder is not around and Kai and his father’s advisor are talking. You will get to know what Kai and the advisor are talking about, you don’t just have sections of stories left out because Cinder isn’t there to hear.

If I had one criticism about the book it would be that I was able to guess the twist of the book about 150 pages in. Despite that Meyer’s was still have to throw some things in at the end that I did not expect. I wish the twist wouldn’t have been so obvious, but also this book was written for a YA audience it seems and I am 24. I love my YA books, but it does seem like I guess the endings for those a little quicker than I do with books for adults. Could just be because I pick up on context clues that a younger audience wouldn’t pick up on.


Final Recommendations

My final recommendation for this book would be to pick it up and read it. If you are having a hard time getting into it just keep going. Put it down for awhile and come back to it. It is a book that I love! Also if you picked this book up awhile ago and never finished it or never got the chance to start it, make it your next read. You won’t be disappointed!.

If you are interested in buying Cinder you can do so by clicking on the book title. This link is an affiliate link, by using it to purchase this book you will be supporting this blog at no extra cost to you! I earn a small commision from each sale, so if you are interested in helping keep this blog running please think about using the link above!

Missing by Shelley Shepard Gray-Book Review

Author: Shelley Shepard Gray
Published: 2012
Pages: 245
Rating: 6/10

UGH! So this book has taken be years to read, I couldn’t remember why and now I do. I don’t have much of an introduction to this book review other than that if you are going to be reading this don’t worry about spoilers on how the boy goes missing. Why you ask? BECAUSE YOU WON’T EVEN FIND OUT IN THIS BOOK!

Goodreads Summary

Perry Borntrager had been missing for months from the quiet Amish community of Crittenden, Kentucky, when his body is discovered at the bottom of an abandoned well. The first death from mysterious circumstances in more than two decades brings the scrutiny of the outside world: A police detective arrives to help the local sheriff with the investigation. His questioning begins with Lydia Plank, Perry’s former girlfriend, and Perry’s best friend, the Englischer Walker Anderson.

Lydia and Walker know they didn’t have anything to do with Perry’s death, but they both hold secrets about his final days. Do they dare open up about the kind of man Perry had become? In the oppressive shadow of these dark times, they discover strength in a most unlikely companionship: one that offers solace, understanding, and the promise of something more.

My Thoughts

Let us begin with my review, where I will just start by saying I did not dislike this book because it was bad, it was a decent story, but I did dislike this book because not one thing on this book indicated the book would be about what it was.

So when I read the title and the back of the book I was like “man this is going to be about a murder mystery in an Amish town. I like murder mysteries, I am going to love this”. Now I also saw that this was part of a series but considering it tells you who was killed on the back of the book I just assumed this book would be about searching for who killed him and that it was a book that would take you down this wormhole of Amish secrets. To be fair I was thinking like the tv show Amish Mafia style, don’t ask me why. But that is really all I remembered thinking when I bought the book. THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT!

Okay so let me tell you something. I fell a little lied to. There is probably the equivalent of 1/4 of the book that actually focuses on the investigation of the murdered Amish boy. And that probably generous if I am being honest. The rest of the book is basically a love story…or well a story of friendship that turns to love. That is it. Do we find out how the boy went missing? No. Do we get some crazy investigation? No. Do we even get the satisfaction of knowing why the boy was killed? No.

I don’t want to trash this book too much because it honestly wasn’t horrible. Yes I am upset about being led to buy the book because everything about it told me it would be different than what it was, but I would have still bought the book had I known it was a love story. I like those kinds of stories. Throw a murder mystery in with it and I am bound to enjoy it. Just not when you lie about it.

Now Gray did do a really good job of showing how despite the murder having happened there are still people that have their own problems and own lives. Lydia learns secrets about herself and her family, and Walker is just trying to find out why he likes a girl he shouldn’t. It is a good story to mix in. Lydia and Walker both knew Paul and they don’t want to trash his name, but they also knew he wasn’t a good person. Lydia and Walker bond over that and then they have to start moving on with their lives. It is pretty realistic to how things work in the real world. I enjoy that.

Final Recommendations

I want to say don’t read the book, but it isn’t bad. Just don’t expect it to be something that it is not like I did. Just know that it is more a love story with a murder that happens to be going on, not a full on murder investigation where the love story just kind of pops in and out.

If you are interested in buying this book you can do so by clicking the title: Missing This link is an affiliate link, by using it to purchase this book you will be supporting this blog at no extra cost to you! I earn a small commision from each sale, so if you are interested in helping keep this blog running please think about using the link above!

Magical Readathon O.W.L Week 2 Update

Week Two of the Magical Readathon OWLs hosted by Book_Roast is completed. Time for an update on what I completed, short opinions on the books, and what I have left to complete. I also want to give a disclaimer that I am not participating in all the OWL events that Book_Roast is hosting, but am participating in a few events that other are putting on and using my OWL books towards those. Okay so with that said let’s jump into the update!

Sunday:
I made the decision today to finish My Big Fat Fake Wedding by Lauren Landish. It was a funny book and I enjoyed it, but it is definitely not what I thought it was going to be. Please do not read this book unless you are over 18. Or maybe even ya know, over 21. Just please don’t read it unless you are an adult. I did write a full review of it which you can read if you are interested in my thoughts. Not my favorite book I have read this month, but it was decent. After that I decided that I was not going to be reading anymore books because I clearly needed to digest that whole situation. I did read like 3 more pages of Harry Potter: A History of Magic and I still am not sure about it. I am still considering DNFing it because I enjoy it, but it is more of a coffee table book than a read all the way through book.

Monday:
I did not do too much towards my OWLs today. Mostly I played some animal crossing and did a little bit of cleaning. I did start reading If You Tell by Gregg Olsen. It is a true crime book, which is waaay out of my comfort zone. Not only is it a true crime story but there is a lot of talk about Trigger Warning

……………abuse to both children and family friends. It was a lot to deal with and sort out. I did not finish it today and got about 100 pages in before I decided that I needed to go to bed.

Tuesday:
Today was definitely an OWL day. It was 70 degrees and sunny today so I spent most of my day on my patio reading If You Tell. I was able to finish it today, but it was a lot. As I am writing this update I am still trying to sort out my feelings for it. I can say though that I will be reading more true crime books. I have always loved true crime tv shows but never tried books about it. I did get a full review up of this as well. It is a little different than my normal reviews and it has a lot of information that may trigger some in it, but if you are interested in true crime you will like the review. OH! in other random news about this book Gregg Olsen actually commented on my Instagram picture about this book!!!!!

I also think I have made the decision to DNF Harry Potter: A History of Magic. Like I have said before it is more of a coffee table book. I may purchase it to keep at home and read when I want to, but it is not something that I am loving right now. I hate to DNF books, but I think in this case I have to if I ever want to actually enjoy the book.

I also made the decision today to pick out books for the rest of the OWL prompts regardless of what I wanted to do career wise and just try to get as many OWLs as I can! So you will definitely start seeing books you didn’t see me talking about.

Wednesday:
Today was a productive day in general, not just for my OWLs. I was able to finish This Lullaby which I am using for my Ancient Runes OWL and got a book review written for it, which will also be up before this goes live! Just click on the title of the book if you want to check it out! It was a cute little book, and quick for me total it took me like 5.5-6 hours to read it. Instagram also picked out my new read for Astronomy. They decided unanimously on Cinder. This will be the third time I have tired to start this book so I guess maybe the third time will be the charm.

Unrelated to books, okay well sort of because I read This Lullaby, I was also able to enjoy most of my morning into early afternoon sitting on my balcony in the sun, so that was nice. I am still not enjoying being off work, but I am finding ways to make it better for myself. I have been really looking forward to a couple hours on the balcony when it is nice out. I also have really had a lot of time to work on this blog, which makes me happy. Next week I start back online classes for my Masters though, so we will see how intensive that is and how much extra I can do once I factor in reading, discussion boards, papers, and quizzes for that.

Thursday:
I spent the entire day without power. Like the whole day. It didn’t come back on until like 8pm last night. It was out for almost a whole 24 hours. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw my explanation but I got a better explanation a few hours after I posted those stories. Short and sweet version, we had some pretty strong storms on Wednesday evening and not only did our power go out, but the shingles on the apartments in our complex in front of us started flying off. It was wild. Any ways I ended up finding out that there were 39 (!!!!!!) power poles that had been taken out during the storm. Most of them were about two intersections away from us. So with the annoyance of that happening I struggled reading today. I did manage to finish one book though, but no joke it took me all day! Missing by Shelley Shepard Gray was not what I was expecting it to be, but I did finish it up and ended up enjoying it. I will warn the back of the book says it is about is not really what the book is about, but I will talk about that in a review, up next week! So with that being said, we only have a few prompts left!

Cinder- Transfiguration (thank you Kira,@kcbookshelf and Carol,@chilean_reader for helping me decide that this would work for this prompt!)
The Last Song- Divination (this one was number 4 on my shelf and that is what the third eye told me to read so alas another Nicholas Sparks book
Fallen- Astronomy (this one just has to be read mostly when it is dark out so there we go!)
Let The Sky Fall- Muggle Studies (this just has to be a contemporary book. I don’t know if this really counts but I am going to count it unless it turns out to be something completely different than what I think it is going to be)

Friday:
Today has started off with me wanting to read and then doing about 5 other things that are not reading. Mostly because we just started the new group chat for tomorrow’s miniathon so everyone is chatting and getting to know each other and I’m getting distracted. Oh and Nugget keeps bringing me her toy mouse so that I can throw it and she can go get it and bring it back. The reading agenda for the day is Cinder, so I will let you know how that goes when it finally starts going.

I ended up finishing Cinder today and let me tell you, it is a shame I never got into it before now. It was such a good book. I predicted about halfway through what the twist was going to be and I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it if I was right, but I got way too excited at the end when I was correct. I have now purchased the entire box set and the kindle version of the second book so I can start reading it straight away. Which means I will have one hardback copy of the first book that I am not going to need since I have the full set in paperback on the way. I am thinking of putting it in a giveaway when I hit 200 followers on instagram. We will see. So anyway here is the updated list of what is left for OWLs.

The Last Song- Divination
Scarlet- Astronomy (this one I changed because I want to continue bingeing this series. Here is to the hope that I will be done soon enough that I can read the rest of the books this month as well. But let’s be real my class starts back on monday so I dont know that that will be possible.)
Let The Sky Fall- Muggle Studies

Saturday:
That is today! I am once again going to be participating in Kira’s (@kcbookshelf) 12 hour miniathon that she has every saturday. It is always so much fun, so I am looking forward to it. This weeks prompt is books with a blue cover so I will be reading The Last Song which is also a book for my OWLs so killing two birds with one stone there. I am also doing a live stream today at 1pm EST on my Instagram (@reading.by.myself) if you want to stop by and chat.

This week was much more productive than I thought it would be when it first started! How are you doing so far on your OWLs? Have you DNFed any books yet? Let me know in the comments!!

My Big Fat Fake Wedding by Lauren Landish-Book Review

If you think Courtney isn’t going to ‘pop by’ within twenty-four hours of finding out we’re living together to check the status of my closet and where your toothbrush is, you’re an idiot. And I know for a fact that you’re not.”

Ross, My Big Fat Fake Wedding Page 125

Author: Lauren Landish
Published: 2019
Pages: 360
Rating: 6/10

Let’s just get this out of the way because it will probably decide if you are going to read this review at home or at work. And also whether you will read this book on a weekend alone, or with your kids around. This book is a NSFW book masquerading as a regular comedic love story if I ever saw one. There are some very descriptive scenes. So keep that in mind as you read this. I will try to keep the dirty to a minimum, but if you are under 18 this book is 100% not for you, even though the story is hilarious. Adults only. Preferably in the comfort of your own home, while you are alone. Trust me, you may need that.

So for shits and giggles here is my one word description of this book. Horny. There is no need for more, but because I am a good person here is the Goodreads Summary.

Goodreads Summary

He needs a wife.
I need a husband.
It’s just temporary… what could go wrong?

I’ve always wanted the fairy tale wedding. Not for the princess perfect dress or big party, but for Papa.

My grandfather. The only father figure I’ve ever known.
It’s his dying wish to walk me down the aisle.
Gee, no pressure.

But I can grant that wish…
I just have to fake being head over heels in love with Ross Andrews, my best friend’s big brother whom I embarrassingly crushed on all through high school.

Handsome. Knockout sexy. Arrogant jerk extraordinaire.
Our childish pranks and tit-for-tat battles were legendary. Then I grew up.
Not that he ever noticed.

I know it’s a terrible idea, and we’re both in over our heads.
It could be the wedding of a lifetime or a total disaster.
How do we make it to the altar without killing each other first?

Or without falling in love for real?

My Thoughts

Where to begin with my thoughts on this book. I mean first off I read it in just a few hours. The story is a train wreck, but it is pretty much written to be that way. I enjoyed the writing style and Lauren did a great job being descriptive. The story also made me laugh out loud more than a few times. But it also did a few other things that I did not expect.

Even from the Goodreads summary it sounds just like a pretty standard YA or even like early 20’s type book that is going to be filled with a cheesy love story and not much else. Now see I am no prude. I have no problem with sex scenes in books but there were SO MANY in this book. And they were so descriptive. Every. Single. Time. Had I started the book knowing that was going to happen I probably would not have as much to say about it. But man, oh man. I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be specifically for a younger audience when on page 30 Ross and his dad are arguing and he says The one time I didn’t fuck the woman throwing herself at me, and it’s gotten me into more trouble than if I had thrown her the bone she wanted. But even that did not prepare me for what was to come.

The thing is the story was really good. I thought the way a few of the scenes played out was a bit over the top but the book did have a really good base for a romance story. Boy and girl fight in high school. Girl thinks boy hates her, and boy thinks girl doesn’t like him. Boy is an idiot and doesn’t realize girl has a crush. Boy hasn’t seen girl in years and sees her at a bar. Boy wants to sleep with her. Boy and girl fall in love. They don’t tell eachother. They basically ruin their relationship. The only extra thing thrown in here is the ridiculous plan for a fake wedding.

I also usually try to find a moral, or an underlying meaning to a book but this one really doesn’t have one. It is just a funny story with a lot of sex. I meant it when I said you would probably want to read this one when you were alone. You definitely would not want your kids walking up on you reading this.

Final Recommendations

I am conflicted about my final recommendations on this book. I want to recommend it because it was funny and I enjoyed it. But then again I don’t want to because of how descriptive this book can get when talking about sex. Granted the books itself is very descriptive about most things and it would have been odd for that to not have been described. I personally just enjoy being told they are having hot steamy sex and being allowed to imagine the rest. I guess if you like books like 50 Shades of Gray but don’t want it to be on that level you will probably enjoy this book. I give it a 6/10 because I just had a hard time wanting to read all those sex scenes. Had even just like 1 or 2 of those scenes been left out I probably would have enjoyed the book more.

If you are interested in buying My Big Fat Fake Wedding you can buy it here. This link is an affiliate link, by using it to purchase this book you will be supporting this blog at no extra cost to you! I earn a small commision from each sale, so if you are interested in helping keep this blog running please think about using the link above!

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen-Book Review

Somethings don’t last forever, but some things do. Like a good song, or a good book, or a good memory you can take out and unfold in your darkest times, pressing down the corners and peering in close, hoping you still recognize the person you see there. “

Remy, This Lullaby Page 344

Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: 2002
Pages: 345
Rating: 8/10

Time for another review of probably my favorite YA author, Sarah Dessen. This is an old book, like 8 years old at this point, but I still think it is worth checking out. I actually thought I had already read this book but after starting it realized I had not. This book is like me in a nutshell. Or at least my view on relationships, or what it used to be.

Goodreads Summary

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

My Thoughts

This book spoke to me more than most books I have read recently. I bought this book YEARS ago, like while I was still in high school and on my kick of reading anything and everything Sarah Dessen. There is a small part of me that wishes that I would have read this then. Remy and I had the same outlook on relationships that is for sure. I was also a very cynical person (about almost everything, not just love) and though I would date or do the casual thing with guys I really never committed to anyone for a long period of time. Or maybe they just didn’t commit to me for a long period of time, I don’t know. Either way I was like Remy. Thinking that love was stupid and having boyfriends was fun but I knew that nothing was going to last. I was working and in band and just ready to move on with my life. That was until I met the one that changed that. Just like Remy.

I am going to get a little sappy and personal here for a line or two. My boyfriend and I met when I was 18, a senior in high school. He had just turned 21 and normally that would have been a nope for me, but he was friends with my best friends boyfriend so I figured I would give him a shot. Almost 7 years later and we are still together. I fully expected it to be a short fling, just like everything else. Just like Remy expected Dexter to be. We still have our moments and we definitely struggled with how cynical my outlook on life was, but I am glad I took a chance with him.

Anyway back to the book after that sap fest. I read a review from someone who did not like the the book who said that Remy was to cynical at 18 and hard to stay in her headspace because of that. This review also said that they wanted to know more about why Remy was that way. I agree, I would loved to have had more back story on Remy and what made her feel that way, but the story alluded to it pretty well by talking about how she had seen her mother married so many times that she knew none of it would last. That would give you a pretty cynical view. If you are not someone who is cynical then you probably would find Remy to be over the top on her views, but to those of us that are not these huge optimists it is easy to see why she is the way she is.

I am glad that I have finally found a YA book that doesn’t make it seem like the main female character is only looking for love and is oh so happy sappy with the person they like. The fact that Remy doesn’t just immediately go “Oh yes I love him” makes the story so much more relatable to be. I love the happy sappy stories but I think more books need to be written from this perspective, because it makes those of us who feel this way not feel like it is wrong or a problem. And it gives us hope that out view on things can actually change.

Final Recommendations

8/10 because to be honest as much as I loved it I could see the flaws in it. I could see why other people didn’t love it. It is a book that I will probably read again though. I think that as an adult you could read this and maybe see some similarities between your high school self and some of the characters. Had I read this in high school it would have been a 10/10 no doubt about it. If you are a high schooler I total recommend checking this book out and sitting down with it. Take some time to really think about it. Especially if you have a not so happy sappy view of love.

If you are interested in buying This Lullaby you can buy it here. This link is an affiliate link, by using it to purchase this book you will be supporting this blog at no extra cost to you! I earn a small commision from each sale, so if you are interested in helping keep this blog running please think about using the link above!

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith-Book Review

The wine you poured tonight came from those vines. It was the last vintage I brought into the world before I … went away.”

Elena, The Vine Witch Page 76

Author: Luanne G. Smith
Published: 2019
Pages: 263
Rating: 7/10

The cover of this book is so pretty, but to be honest with you I did not have high hopes for it going in. When I first read the title I thought it said The Wine Witch, and I was MUCH more excited about it when I thought that was the title. To be fair, that could very well be the title, because that is exactly what the book is about. So my excitement for it only continued during the time I was reading.

Time for the goodreads summary of this book! I tried to write this myself but no matter how I wrote it it didn’t make the book sound interesting, but I promise it really was.

Goodreads Summary

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

My Thoughts

This book was so much better than I expected. One of the first things I wrote down (right on page 2) was What in the hell did I just read…this is going to be a trip I can already tell. I was right about that. Though it wasn’t a trip in a bad way. I really enjoyed the story and I think that Luanne worked the story of the wine vineyards in nicely with the magical element. I also appreciated that she didn’t just write a story where magic only showed up a few times because one of the main characters of the book didn’t believe in it. That made it so much better to me. That Elena just wanted to save the vineyard and was willing to hide from Jean-Paul and still do the magic.

One bone I have to pick with this book though is the writing style. I have said time and time again I am not really a huge fan of books being written from two perspectives. There are a few books written like that that I have enjoyed solely based on the writing style, but this was not one. The writing of the book actually confused me more often than not because unlike the last few books I have read written like this they did not tell you in the chapter title who’s perspective you were reading. It took me longer to read because I would often have to go back and reread parts just to find out who’s perspective it was. I can look past that, because I liked the story, but had I not liked the story I would have DNFed the book because of this.

Final Recommendations

I did enjoy this book despite the writing style. I think that if you can get past the writing style and you enjoy magic you will enjoy this book. I give it a 7/10 because the writing style just wasn’t there for me. Had it even just been slightly more clear I would have given the book and 8 or a 9 because I liked the story that much. It is also the start of a series, so I am looking forward to reading the second book when it comes out in June.

If you are interested in buying The Vine Witch you can buy it here. This link is an affiliate link, by using it to purchase this book you will be supporting this blog at no extra cost to you! I earn a small commision from each sale, so if you are interested in helping keep this blog running please think about using the link above!

If You Tell by Gregg Olsen-Book Review

Author: Gregg Olsen
Published: 2019
Pages: 428
Rating: 10/10

If You Tell was not the book I expected it to be. I don’t know why but even with the cover saying it was a true story I still thought it was going to be written in more of a fictionalized thriller kind of way. It was not. The book read exactly like an interview and played out in my head exactly like a true crime tv show. The entire time I picked up this book I was filled with emotions. I didn’t understand, and still don’t, how a mother could do that to her children. And how anyone could do what she and her husband did to another person.

This book review isn’t going to be quite like my others. In this review while I do what to talk about the book I really want to talk more about the story that the book portrays and how it makes me feel knowing that it happened. I will be giving details of what was talked about in the book. True crime is something I am very interested in so this book really made me think. I won’t be retelling the entire story, but to give my thoughts on the book I will have to retell a lot of it.

Please note that this story may be triggering for some people to read. This book focuses on abuse of children, adults, and unfortunately on the murder of 2 (possibly 3) people. Please use caution when reading this review. If you are triggered by these things I do not recommend that you continue reading.

Goodreads Summary

A shocking and empowering true-crime story of three sisters determined to survive their mother’s house of horrors.

After more than a decade, when sisters Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek hear the word mom, it claws like an eagle’s talons, triggering memories that have been their secret since childhood. Until now.

For years, behind the closed doors of their farmhouse in Raymond, Washington, their sadistic mother, Shelly, subjected her girls to unimaginable abuse, degradation, torture, and psychic terrors. Through it all, Nikki, Sami, and Tori developed a defiant bond that made them far less vulnerable than Shelly imagined. Even as others were drawn into their mother’s dark and perverse web, the sisters found the strength and courage to escape an escalating nightmare that culminated in multiple murders.

Harrowing and heartrending, If You Tell is a survivor’s story of absolute evil—and the freedom and justice that Nikki, Sami, and Tori risked their lives to fight for. Sisters forever, victims no more, they found a light in the darkness that made them the resilient women they are today—loving, loved, and moving on

My Thoughts

One thing I have to admit that I love about this book is that Gregg Olsen does not just focus on the sisters. He finds out exactly what Shelly (real name Michelle, which confused me a few times through the book) was like as a child, through her teenage years, and then up to the time of her arrest. This book, and story, is told from multiple different points which really adds to explain some of the things that don’t make a lot of since.

First and foremost my thoughts are with everyone affected by what Shelly and Dave Knotek did. For anyone to be put through what these people were put through is utterly horrible. I wish that she would have been found way before she was, and I am pissed at the outcome of her arrest. I also feel for the families of Kathy and Ron, who were never able to say goodbye to their loved ones. Kathy’s family did not know for a decade what happened to her. Shelly fabricated an entire story to cover up what happened and keep her family from coming around and asking what happened. Ron’s family was made to think that he hated them, and they didn’t want anything to do with them. Shelly drove a wedge between that family and that is just as bad as what she ultimately ended up doing to Ron. I also feel for Shane’s family. His grandparents and Nikki and Sami particularly. Yet another murder that was committed where the family was lied to and told that he just ran away and didn’t want to talk to anyone. Shelly Knotek was a sadistic woman and I feel for everyone that was affected with this.

Throughout the book I kept asking myself why the girls didn’t tell anyone what was going on. The further I got into the book the more I realized that they were afraid of Shelly and afraid of what she would do to them. You get a very good sense for the type of person Shelly was in this story. She had a way with talking people into doing what she wanted and into believing her convoluted lies that she told. From the time she was a young girl lying to the school about her father raping her, all the way up to abusing Kathy and telling her it was for her own good and that she loved her. I wish that the girls had just told. Things might have been stopped sooner, but based on what did end up happening when they finally told, I don’t know that anything would have changed. Other than them being tortured and abused worse than they already were.

Even after all of the true crime books I have read I still don’t know how people can do these things to people. She bathed the girls in bleach with a water hose for crying out loud. They had to ask to use the restroom, and they were often told they had to work out in the yard naked. Shane was forced to abuse Kathy and when he refused his punishment would be even worse. It seemed that Shelly would focus her abuse mostly on the oldest person in the household and then once she was done with them she would turn to the next person.

I also do not understand how you can manipulate someone into killing someone for you. I know that Dave said that he was just done fighting with her but that is now excuse. Even to this day he seems to think that Shelly did nothing wrong and that he was at fault. That blows my mind. No one should be able to have that much control over someone.

I am appalled by the way the police department handled this case. Nikki told them that her mother and father had killed Kathy and they did the bare minimum to look into it. When Sami wouldn’t return their calls they just stopped looking into it. They could have stopped what happened to Ron had they just listened. I don’t know what ever became of the police that worked on that case but I do hope that it served in a learning moment for everyone involved.

I am glad that Nikki and Sami decided to finally tell the police a second time. They were able to get their sister out, and though they couldn’t save Ron they saved anyone else from ebing manipulated by her.

To this day Shelly still claims that she did nothing wrong and she never abused her kids and that she was nothing but loving and helpful. I dont know how she was able to lie to herself for so long and make that seem true in her head. There is something very wrong with this woman. She will be released from prison in 2022, and I can only hope that she does not ever do this again, but because she thinks she didn’t actually do anything I could see it happening.

Final Recommendations

I gave this book a 10/10 because of how well Gregg Olsen told this horrific story. If you are a true crime fan then you will really enjoy this book. As I said in the beginning of the review there is a lot of very graphic details of the abuse that the people in this situation suffered. It vaguely reminds me of the book A Child Called It. That book is what started by love for true crime in general. I am not someone who is triggered by really anything but there were a lot of things in this book that were hard for me to read, which is why it took me a few days to finish it. I did have to put it down. Not because I did not like it, but because there was a lot that had to be processed and I needed to step away from the book before continuing it.

If you are interested in buying If You Tell you can buy it here. This link is an affiliate link, by using it to purchase this book you will be supporting this blog at no extra cost to you! I earn a small commision from each sale, so if you are interested in helping keep this blog running please think about using the link above!