Book Review – As an Oak Tree Grows

TITLE: As An Oak Tree Grows
AUTHOR: G. Brian Karas
FORMAT: Paperback (Imagination Library)
PUBLISHED: 2014

 

As An Oak Tree Grows is the latest book for the toddler’s Imagination Library subscription*.  We’ve had some weird ones, so I always look through it before I show it to him.

This one, though.  AMAZING.

As an Oak Tree Grows starts with a tree being planted in the late 1700s.  As the tree grows from a little acorn, the world changes around it.  It gets to see a basic settlement grow into a town and roads get paved and electricity and cars and all sorts of things we take for granted today be a thing.

And the illustrations are cute.  You see the tree growing and filling out as the book progresses until it’s taking over the page.

(And if you, for some reason, like your children’s books spoiler free, stop reading now…)

And then there was the horrible storm and the terrible lightning strike and then the tree was split in half and it wasn’t save able.

My favorite illustration in the book is at the end.  The huge tree stump and…  The Itty bitty sapling that was growing out from an acorn that had been dropped from the tree.  The circle of life continues.

The illustrations are simple, but they’re detailed enough that I loved them  Anything more would have distracted from the Oak that was in the center of every single spread.  I’m glad they did that, too.  If the tree would have moved all over the page, the illustrations wouldn’t have had the same impact that the story wanted.  Because this isn’t the story of anything but that tree, even though *everything* happens around that tree

In case you weren’t sure, I give this a 5/5.

 

 


* For those of you who aren’t familiar, look up Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.  They provide books free of charge monthly from Birth to a child’s fifth birthday.  If you live in the US, look it up and see if distribution is available in your area.  It’s definitely a worthwhile program.  Dolly wanted every child to have the gift of literacy.  Sixty books is a pretty fabulous way to go!

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Book Review: It Ends With Her

Title: It Ends With Her

Author: Brianna Labuskes

Format: Kindle Edition

Published: 2018

I hate to admit it, but, I am really starting to love reading books on the Kindle app.  Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE the feel and smell of books in my hand, however, Kindle is allowing me to have exposure to books I would never pick up in a book store myself.  Dare I say I even want to buy my own Kindle now?  Oh the person I have become…on to It Ends With Her!

This book will be released to the public on May 1st, but, I have the honor of being an Amazon Prime member and gained early first read access, YES!  This was a fantastically written thriller that I had read in 2 days.

We start out by meeting Clark Sinclair, special agent.  We then quickly meet her partner, Sam.  They are on the case of a serial killer, a serial killer who mocks them.  This serial killer always sends out clues and gives them a chance to find him and his hostage before he kills them.  They have failed three times and now he has sent clues again which means he has his fourth victim with him.

Clarke had moved to a desk job in a field office and was brought back when the killer left the message, “Catch me if you can, Clarke. Don’t worry, I won’t be gone for long.”  It took some convincing of Sam to get her back on the case but he was successful and here she is, hunting down this killer.

Clarke is really taking this case personal and is determined by any means necessary to stop this insane killer.  She goes and picks up a package in a small Texas town and is then greeted by a cell phone, from the killer, in her hotel room.  She has an assistant look up information about the cell phone and fails to tell Sam about where she went when she got the package and then again about having the phone.

Without giving too much again they eventually start to figure out more clues and end up in Pennsylvania.  They appear to be the same town as the killer and are up around the clock trying to decipher clues.  The ending caught me by surprise.  I thoroughly enjoyed the twist that someone who probably only reads thrillers would have been able to guess, but, for the casual thriller reader, was a complete surprise!

Overall, I give this book a 4.  It was solid and kept me turning the pages!  This book also provided interesting perspective as we saw things from Clarke’s perspective, the killer’s past, and the hostage’s perspective.  All together it made for an interesting thriller which left me on the edge of my seat!  If you plan to read this book or have already read it, let me know what you think!  Next week I will be reviewing my advance copy of Allison Pearson’s How Hard Can It Be, see you in a week!

Books Review – The Bride’s Little Book of…

Title: The Bride’s Little Book of Cakes and Toasts
Title: The Bride’s Little Book of Customs and Keepsakes
Presented By: Brides Magazine
Format: Hardback
Published: 1993-1994

This review is a two-fer.  I was looking for better wedding books at the library and came across The Bride’s Little Book of… series in the online directory, so I placed holds on both of them.  When they got to me, I realized they were much more little than I expected, but I checked them out anyway, hoping they’d be even a little bit useful for a minute.

oh lordt.

So, for starters, I’m going to recognize the fact that the books are almost 25 years old, which is an eternity in something like weddings, which change stylistically all the time.  But the type of information I wanted from these were things I thought could transcend that, so I opened the book.

They’re both short-short.  Like 40-ish pages each.  And they’re both small.  Like four or five inches, and barely thick at all.  And since they brag about having “Over 30 images of…”, there’s an understandably small amount of space left to hold any actual information.    Y’all, it’s all so dated-traditional that I don’t think this stuff was useful at the time.  Seriously, I don’t think anything in this book was cutting age when the thing rolled off the press.

I had expected information like who should do toasts, what to expect from them, etc…  What I got was one page of quotations that were so overused that they were beyond clichee.  (May the road rise up to meet you…)  Come on.  We can do better than that.

These books *did* have a bit of cool historical information.  Like the origins of ___.  Which was neat, but not what I was going to these books for.

Which brings me to the saddest ratings ever.  These could have been those tiny gift books we find today boxed with weird trinkets.  (Customs and Keepsakes, complete with blue ribbon and old penny!)  But they weren’t.  They were just sad.

If you come across them at a yard sale, give somebody a nickel for them and then throw them in the trash to better weddings everywhere.  I hope these were better when they were originally published, but they absolutely fail the test of time.  I’ll give them a very overly optimistic 2/5 for the historical tidbits and nothing else.

 

 

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You

Title: Everything I Never Told You

Author: Celeste Ng

Format: Paperback

Published: 2014

 

I came across this book thanks to eBay.  Living in Las Vegas I miss out on Mom & Pop bookstores and nothing beats browsing a good used book store, so I resort to doing this digitally.  Although after I purchased this book I noticed a new, used store opened up a few miles away from me, so I will have to check them out!

This book starts off with saying Lydia is dead, but they don’t know it yet.  Ok, I’m in.  The teenage daughter in this family of 5 goes missing and is eventually found after a few days, dead.  This book goes into secrets within a family that they have never told each other.  The secrets have been keeping the family together (unhappily) and then tear them apart when they start to become told.

This book also tackles the subject of mixed relationships in a time where they were looked down upon.  The wife is a white woman and the husband is Chinese. They have three children; Nathan, Lydia, and Hannah.  The amount of secrets and feelings this family hides from each other is unreal.  I just want to take everyone and put them in therapy so they talk to each other!

The book takes us on a journey where all the secrets are pieced together to understand everyone’s actions and reactions.  Many of the family members assumed family members felt a certain way and that is what led them to do the things they did.  In the end once everyone grasps the fact that Lydia died, they start to turn around.  It unfortunately took a death to turn it that way.

We get an insight on a struggling family who not only is dealing with being “different” from everyone else, but, having the same issues that many American families tend to have.  The secrets have been causing pain to the individual who has kept them, and then once they are told they cause pain to others.

In the beginning of the book I was hooked.  My interest started to wane.  I kept reading because I was invested and was curious to know how she died.  The chapters went on forever (in the 292 pages there are only 12 chapters).  This is not a book you can pick up quickly and read a chapter or two at a time; you need to make sure you have dedicated time to read a chapter.  I felt forced to continue to read this book until the end when my interest picked back up.  You start to see the family come together instead of being lonely and apart and I had been screaming for that the entire time.  I am happy that Ng lets us know exactly how Lydia dies in the end of the book.  There would have been a huge void without it.

Overall, I give this book a 3.  I forgot a lot of the middle part of the book which highlighted the past of the parents which they swore they would never bring up.  Side note: bring them up in your own relationship or you’ll end up like this family in which it had to take a tragedy to truly bring them together. If you have read this book let me know your thoughts, it received high praise from The New York Times, I just did not have the same opinion as them.  Next week I will be reviewing an advance copy of It Ends With Her by Brianna Labuskes thanks to Amazon First Reads!  Catch you next Thursday!

Book Review: The Buried Book

Title: The Buried Book

Author: D. M. Pulley

Format: Kindle

Published: 2016

This is another read thanks to Amazon Prime Reading.  As soon as I finished this book I immediately put her two other books onto my Amazon wish list and plan on reading them soon.  This book is out of my typical genre in the historical fiction category but I am so glad I decided to branch out and read this book!

A mother, Althea Leary, drops her nine-year-old son with her brother on his farm.  All she tells her son, Jasper, is that they are going for a drive.  When they arrive at the farm she pulls out a suitcase and it surprises Jasper because he had not packed anything.  She takes off and Jasper is left at the farm.

Throughout this book I just feel so terrible for this poor little boy.  His life gets turned upside down and he is trying to figure it out.  The author does a tremendous job at portraying the viewpoint of everything happening to a nine-year-old.  This was a page turner and I wanted to find out what was happening.

Jasper’s dad comes and visits him at the farm and no one has seen his mother.  She has disappeared.  Detectives start to visit and ask questions.  Her car was found buried under tree branches, everyone is assuming she’s gone for good.

If you go off of her background, she was seen as the bad apple in her family.  She ran away from home and wasn’t worth a dime.  Pulley does a great job at making us feel like Althea was one of those bad people and hung with the wrong crowd.  Jasper starts to uncover the person her mother truly is and how it unfolds keeps you turning the pages.

While reading this book it felt like I was right where it was set; in 1950 just outside of Detroit in farm country.  There is a Native American Reservation nearby and that integration into this story was remarkable.  It felt like I was on the farm watching everything unfold.  The amount of research that Pulley had to do for this book shows and is just written so appropriately well.

The ending left me happy, sad, and mad.  When you get to the end the short quotes at the start of each chapter make perfect sense, and that angered me.  The person gets dismissed as crazy when they are truly not.  They are a soul who is misunderstood and just wants to help.  I was happy for the family and sad at the same time.  Pick up this book and you’ll understand every emotion.  Even though I felt happy, sad, and mad, I also felt satisfied.

Overall, I give this book a 5.  It was a great mystery that I could not predict.  There were many turns and twists and it kept me turning the pages nonstop.  I appreciated how the story progressed and how we found out bits and pieces through the findings of this poor nine-year-old boy.  Go ahead and give this a read and then come back and let me know what you think!  Next week I will be reviewing a Celesta Ng novel so stay tuned!

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Book Review: The Grownup

Title: The Grownup
Author: Gillian Flynn
Format: Hardcover
Published: 2014

“On a whim/because of a feeling” is probably not a good method of picking every book I ever read, but it’s the method I used with this one.  There is something about the cover art that just drew me in, and I couldn’t help it.  “Story by the author of Gone Girl” led me to believe it had some potential because Gone Girl was widely successful.  So I paid $1.50 for this at my local used bookstore because it looked brand new and I was drawn to it.

Also, it’s quite short, which I liked, because I’ve not been able to finish books lately.

Anyway.  So the book starts out with our main character describing her day job – she gives hand jobs to guys.  23,000 plus over the past three years, by her estimates.  But carpal tunnel set in and she moved up in her company, to clairvoyant, and now instead of jacking off guys for their hard earned money, she took a more figurative approach with the women folk.

She met a woman named Susan.  A disgruntled mother with a busy husband, a son of her own, and a crazy step-son that needed stopped.  Oh, and the house.  The house was angry, and could she fix Susan’s life?

Eventually our MC decided to swindle her out of a few grand by sprinkling sage and lavender around the house, washing a wall or two, and then calling everything fixed.  The husband was gone so much he may as well have been MIA.  The son was a sweet seven year old with a lock on his door because the step-brother was a bit of a handful.  And the step brother was a teenage with a devious streak that everyone was afraid of.

Part way into the con, there’s a twist that I’m not going to share with you because holy shit.  I didn’t see that coming and all and when it hit, I stopped reading for a minute to take in it’s glory.  Next came a twist on the twist that left you confused as to what was right and what was wrong.

Y’all, I’ll write you a story, but I am not this smart.

No wonder Gone Girl was so well received and no wonder this story originally released in an anthology with an amazing cast of authors along side it.

I’m being vague on purpose because I don’t want to spoil it.

So the story is fabulous.  The first few pages were so funny that I was laughing out loud in the middle of McDonalds.  And there are some fabulous one liners like “Books may be temporary, dicks are forever” that are delivered so matter of factly that you just can’t stop reading.   (Oh, and for those who are worried, it’s a clean book.  They don’t describe any of the handjobs at all…)

When I finished the book, I smiled.  It was perfect.  I just want to caress this book’s cover all night and tell it I love it.  And when I flipped the last page and saw who the acknowledgement was for, I was giddy with delight.  I’m so glad I was surprised by that at the end.

So definitely 5/5 pages for this.  Read it.  Love it.  Share it with your friends.

Book Review: The Wife Between Us

Title: The Wife Between Us

Authors: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Format: Paperback, Advance Reader’s Edition

Published: 2018

 

5 stars.  This book is an absolute 5-star book.  The only thing I regret with this book is not reading it sooner.  My apologies go out to St. Martin’s Press as I received this book as an advance reader’s edition and I failed to read it before it hit the stores.  Do not be like me and get this book into your hands NOW!

I don’t quite know where to begin with this review because I do not want to give ANYTHING away.  As you start reading, you think you’re reading about a crazy, obsessed ex-wife.  Then page 139 with chapter 18 happens.  I had to re-read this chapter to make sure I understood what just happened.  The words, “What the &%$#” came out of my mouth out loud and my husband had to come check on me.

I truly could not see the multiple twists and turns coming.  Hendricks & Pekkanen do an amazing job at story-telling and bend the rules.  It still has me in a little bit of shock trying to figure out how I could not see anything coming.  I thought chapter 18 was mind bending, the end of the book really blew my mind.  A complete, out of left field double whammy ending.

You think you know what is going on in this book but you really do not.  Once I hit page 139 I could not put this book down.  It absolutely is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read.  In fact, up until page 139 I kept thinking people were crazy to have given this book such raving reviews for the twists and turns.  Oh boy, it twists and turns you through a crazy relationship.

This is on the top of my list of highly recommend you read books.  If you see this book, pick it up.  It truly tells a story that you do not see coming.  Rumor has it, movie rights to the book were purchased before it was even released to the public.  Do not miss this read!  PLEASE let me know if you read this book and what you think!  If you have already read this, let me know what you thought too!  Tune in next week as I review The Buried Book by D. M. Pulley.

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