Book Review

Book Review: The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Fiction
Length: 260 pages
Author: David Baldacci
Publisher: Warner Books
Release Date: November 4th, 2001
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington D.C. to L.A in time for Christmas. Forced to travel by train, he begins a journey of rude awakenings, thrilling adventures and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost.

The Christmas Train is filled with memorable characters who have packed their bags with as much wisdom as mischief … and shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during this season of miracles.

WHAT A RIDE.

Am I clever yet?

I didn’t have any sort of expectations going into this. I picked it up at a free little library years ago, and chose this past Christmas to finally read it. I also listened to it on audio and thought it was well read there too. It had fun train sounds between chapters that added to the atmosphere.

This book had its ups and downs. I liked Tom and thought the concept of riding a train during Christmas was a solid idea. I’ve never ridden one so it was fun seeing how everything is set up for a passenger train. Tom ran into a large cast of characters on his travels. Some of it felt a bit scattered, but things came mostly together by the end to not leave wide plot holes.

I liked the soft second-chance romance. It sweet and fit in nicely. I thought they had chemistry and were clearly still into each other. I thought Tom and Ellie were able to finally communicate and work things out together which was was nice to see.

The ending was a bit improbable, but I guess with the other antics and hijinks of the story it worked out well enough. This felt Christmas-y and was a quick read. A nice holiday choice.

Overall audience notes:

  • Christmas Fiction
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, some innuendo
  • Violence: avalanche, theft

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Book Review

Book Review: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary fiction + romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: March 24th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It’s supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can’t imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen’s well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.

Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen’s own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.

TIME FOR MY OWN HIKING ADVENTURE.

Picked this audio book up on a whim because bookstagram made me do it. I feel when this happens it has really helped me get to read books I normally wouldn’t have scene or had a chance to read. Yay for a backlist winner!

Audio notes: I enjoyed the audio! I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite narrator, but I didn’t mine the way the book was read and was able to listen at an increased speed with no issues.

Back to the book, oh this one hits all the feels. Not only is this a romance, but it’s also about facing trials. Having to conquer some crappy situations, grow from them and letting them go. I liked seeing the inner struggles and the true human sentiments of these difficulties. I felt connected to the main characters, Helen and Jack, and really understood their turmoil. Neither were perfect protagonists and that made this all the better of a book.

The romance was a bit different than usual couples I read about, but the way this was written had me shouting in my head to get together. Why is it different? There’s a 10 year age difference. I don’t have an issue with that, it’s just new to me in books I’ve read! The approach and slow-burn between them was dynamite. This isn’t a super steamy read because the focus is on other matters. Jack and Helen both helped each other through their issues and I was ecstatic to get my happyily ever after.

This definitely reminded me of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was a fictional version of that type of adventure novel. How the outdoors awakens an inner part of us. This type of book always makes me want to go on my own kind of wilderness trip to see what things I’d learn.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction + romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses and make-outs
  • Violence: falling on a broken log
  • Trigger warnings: a few mentions of a past miscarriage (and a small description of the day she lost the baby), loss of a sibling, attempted suicide

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Book Review

Book Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary fiction + romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Abbi Waxman
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

I CAN RELATE.

As an introvert extraordinaire, I could connect to quite a bit of what Nina was feeling throughout this book. That was probably my favorite part. The rest? Not as big of a fan.

I found it hard to read because I didn’t feel like there was an actual plot. Things were happening to Nina, but that was it. Nothing really moved forward. I did see a welcome change in Nina going from inflexible and unwilling to change to someone who was learning to adapt to the craziness of the universe and life in general. I did wholly appreciate this. I liked seeing this character arc.

The romance? Eh. I thought we were getting a cute story, but I felt it was allllll physical. They went on barely a date or two then sleeping together, to breaking up and I just shrugged my shoulders. I never felt an emotional connection to them and it made me not care either way what happened. It then got super cheesy at the end which only made it worse.

I also struggled with the third person point of view. I think I would have liked it more being only in Nina’s mind. The concept change to random characters was annoying and pointless. And there were so many random tangent paragraphs that I found myself often scanning.

This was a lackluster contemporary that I know I have an unpopular opinion about, but hey, can’t love them all.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction + romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses, a few fade to black scenes
  • Trigger warnings: anxiety, loss of a parent

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Book Review

Book Review: The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6, The Alloy Era #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 447 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metal minds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

ANOTHER GREAT READ.

These have been some of my favorite audio books. Since I would highly recommend reading the original Mistborn series before reading this one it makes it easy to follow on audio. You already have the base for the magic system and religious aspects. All that gets added are some amazing characters.

I’m all over the Western vibes from these books. It’s still present and it’s still awesome.

Oh my goodness, I was thoroughly convinced I would never like a character, Steris, and by the end of the book I was LOVING her. She’s only played a small role in the previous books (hardly in them for that matter) and this one gave her more ample opportunity to shine. I love the slow and steady romance that formed between her and Wax. It always played a side role, but those tender moments when they are talking or just being there for each other had my squealing with delight. AND THAT ENDING. Oh yes *claps enthusiastically*.

This book really amped up the diabolic-ness of the villains. After finding one of their main bases, a lot the history circulates back from the original trilogy. Isn’t that crazy?! Sanderson has the ability to expertly weave two series (set 300+ years apart) with such skill that I’m blown away by that fact alone. Every little tidbit and Easter egg from the original series that’s thrown in only makes me love these more.

Wayne, Marasi, and MeLaan are such great side characters y’all. I LOVE THEM. They all have unique personalities with their own quirks. I like that we got to have POVs from both Wayne and Marasi because it only helps me understand them more.

Basically, I’m just happy these books exist.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: guns, physical, magic; all a bit detailed but not unnecessarily gory

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