Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: Elephant Girl: A Human Story by Jane Devin

Elephant Girl: A Human StoryPublished: August 11, 2011 by Createspace
Format: E-book
Source:  Purchased from Amazon, recommended by Lendle

Written in three distinct voices - child, teen and adult - Jane Devin takes readers on an intimate, imaginative and often harrowing life journey.  Born unwanted and raised without love, the child-author invents a rich inner life to see her through years of trauma.  Leaving home at 16, the teen-author struggles to find happiness and a sense of place in a world that feels confusing and unfamiliar.  Then, years after stumbling into an adulthood mired in tragedy and broken dreams, the woman-author finds herself at a crossroads.  The choice she ultimately makes is as stunning as it is brave.  Told in unflinching and often lyrical prose, Elephant Girl goes beyond a singular life story to speak of powerful, universal truths and the ability of the human spirit to redeem itself. 

First Sentence
"In Thailand, the practice of breaking an elephant's spirit is called phajaan, also known as "The Breaking Ceremony." 

My Thoughts
I don't even know where to begin.
To be honest, when I first started the book, I wasn't 100% sure I was going to like it.  The intro seemed strange, and just didn't sound like something I would be interested in reading...
This intricate tale is one that I completely felt like I was a part of.  I could see it all playing out in my head.  There were parts that made me laugh, parts that made me tear up, and parts that I just didn't know if I would be able to get through.  
Jane is an incredible woman that has been through hell and back.  I wouldn't wish half of the horrid things that happened to her on my worst enemy.  But, through all of it, she kept pushing and kept pushing.
I would highly recommend this book to EVERYONE.  If you've read She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, and you enjoyed it- you will enjoy this. 
It is a long read, but it is WELL worth it!
KUDOS Jane Devin, KUDOS!

Favorite Quotes
A quick disclaimer:  I found myself highlighting A LOT throughout this story.  :)

"When it comes to my family, sometimes I don't know what's a lie and what's the truth, but I used to believe a whole lot of things that I don't believe anymore."

"She was the mother of three, not four, and that's just the way it's always been no matter what my birth certificate says."

"I think sometimes if a person thinks about too many sad things at once it's like getting buried alive.  Everything comes rushing down like a heavy pile of dirt and rocks, and it takes a long time to get unburied and feel normal again."

"Maybe this is it, though, I thought - perhaps everyone spends their lives trying on one role after another until something fits.  Maybe they never stop playing a role.  Maybe, even if they never say it out loud or otherwise show it, everyone lives in their own fantasies, where they see themselves as wise, brave, good, or whatever else they need to be in order to carry on."

"You are your thoughts.  You become what you think about.  Nobody can hold you back except yourself."

"When you can tell each other everything and anything, even your worst secrets and fears, and there's no judgement - when you can just be you and they can be them, and all the imperfections somehow feel perfect - that's when you know.  It's when the other person's happiness is as important to you as your own, and you'll do whatever it takes to help them make their dreams come true.  It's like that with Calvin and me, Imperfectly perfect."

"I have so many dreams and secrets that sometimes it feels like I'm a reservoir on the verge of busting open.  Like I could fill a thousand spiral notebooks and it still wouldn't be enough to drain the words, thoughts, and feelings inside of me."

"Everything seems so precarious and based on chance, and a whole life can change with one wrong or right turn, even if a person doesn't know what's wrong or right at the time."

"How could anybody know what their life would be if only they'd made a different decision?"
"How does anybody really know anything about another person when all we have are words and actions, either of which can be misunderstood?"

"People shouldn't have children they don't want or can't love.  It just makes life harder for everyone..."

"There are a thousand forks in the rod and every one of them is capable of changing something for the worse or the better."

"Sometimes I think if there is a God, it's not a he or a she, but something just like this - a breathing gift that comes to provide what's needed at the time, even if you didn't know you needed it."

"Maybe the truest danger doesn't come from human nature at all, but from all the bricks and rules we pile on top of it in order to feel like we're making advances."

"...and I often wondered if this was it - if there was really little else to life than the cycle of going to work, paying bills, doing chores and an occasional outing on the weekends."

"Experiences leave their marks, and sometimes all the wishes in the world cannot undo what has been done."

"Love means you never give up, no matter how hard or impossible things seem to be."

"Poverty isn't just a state of being poor, or going without - it's an imminent threat that requires constant vigilance."

"Love brings up everything unlike itself."

"Jacques Costeau said 'From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders.  He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.'"

My Ratings
Cover: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing Style: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Ending: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: Maternal Harbor by Marie F. Martin

Maternal HarborPublished: September 7, 2012
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased on Amazon

Pregnant and alone, Teagan O'Riley befriends three expectant mothers at an OBGYN clinic.  Now, two of them are dead and the third is close on Teagan's heels, intent on eliminating the last obstacle in a monstrous plot.  She cannot risk entrusting the police.  Her finger prints are all over one crime scene and her foot print smeared into blood at another.  Surely, the authorities would remove the babies from her care and place them with child protective services, making them easy targets.  Teagan flees with the babies to the only refuge she can think of - the wilderness cabin belonging to the grandmother of her lost love.  But is even this remote location safe?

First Sentences
"The dash clock bullied.  Teagan O'Riley accelerated from Fishermen's Terminal, sped through an intersection on yellow and merged onto a street which shot straight to a busy Seattle OB/GYN clinic."

My Thoughts
The story line is a great one, however I am a little disappointed in the delivery.  Nothing irks me more than grammatical errors and I noticed more than my fair share.  Typically that completely turns me away from a book, but I had to find out how it ended.
Teagan's character is somewhat bland, but you know that no matter what, she will do whatever it takes to protect her baby.  I really liked Pai - she was quite and reserved and a little off, but probably my favorite!  I didn't get a lot from Doretta, and felt like she was flat and just all around boring.  I didn't feel the passion or anything from her like I did from the other characters.  Erica is a COMPLETE whack job.
The four women meet in an OB/GYN office and find out that they are all having boys around the same time. They form a bond as they are all single mothers and promise to stay in touch and care for the babies if anything were to ever happen to them.
Pai is the first to have her baby, and the first to start getting paranoid.  She knows something isn't right, but just doesn't know what it is.  Shortly thereafter Doretta and Teagan have their baby boys.
Erica has been acting strange ... and trust me -- it gets even more strange...
I honestly felt bad for her at times.  Is that weird?  I mean she had a troubled past and I'm not saying that I condone her behavior, but as we say in the south "bless her heart".
Anyway, while I enjoyed the story line I did feel like it could have sped up some.  There were many times I just kept thinking "okay, get to the good stuff!"  But don't worry, the good stuff came.  I have to admit that the ending was a great one, and I'm glad I didn't completely give up on the book.

My Ratings
Cover: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 2/5
Plot: 4/5
Ending: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

HopelessPublished: December 19, 2012
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased on Amazon

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies... That's what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder.  A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she's never had before.  He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past she wishes could stay buried. Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he's trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her.  After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn't at all who he's been claiming to by.  When the secrets he's been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky's life will change forever.  
First Sentences
"I stand up and look down at the bed, holding my breath in fear of the sounds that are escalating deep within my throat.
I will not cry.
I will not cry."

My Thoughts
This book was recommended to my by my boss.  We've been discussing books recently and she'd read this one and couldn't put it down.  She warned me that it was probably for a younger age but said that it was just too good to skip.  
Each chapter is dated, sort of like a diary, which I did think was a little strange at first.  Honestly, once I got past that and got about 15% in, I was hooked.  It isn't a childish book, or even really a book for a younger audience.  The characters are teenagers, but the story line is a mature one.  One I don't really even know if a teenager could relate to.  Well, some parts, but not all.
Once I was hooked, it was all over.  I had to sit and finish the whole thing - in one sitting.  
Sky is a well-developed character that you love from the beginning, and your love just grows deeper as you read.  Her mother, Karen seems a little off and "new-age"-y, but you warm up to her.
Holder - ah, Holder.  In the beginning I was totally freaked out by him and just couldn't understand what the attraction was between him and Sky.  He's quiet, reserved, and she mentions that in the span of a day she sees quite a few different Holder's.  An angry Holder, a happy Holder, a sad Holder...He's very complex.
Without giving too much away, their connection is deep rooted, and Holder is definitely a character to love.  This book is full of twists that you never saw coming and were very well delivered.  The ending is shocking, amazing and full of love.  My heart breaks a little for Sky, but I've got to give credit to Colleen for leaving us with a warm feeling at the end, and no loose ends.

Favorite Quotes
"It's real, Six.  You can't get mad at a real ending.  Some of them are ugly.  It's the fake happily ever afters that should piss you off."

"Not everything is going to go my way and not everyone gets a happily ever after  Life is real and sometimes it's ugly and you just have to learn how to cope."

"Sky, I'm not kissing you tonight but believe me when I tell you, I've never wanted to kiss a girl more.  So stop thinking i'm not attracted to you because you have no idea just how much I am.  You can hold my hand, you can run your fingers through my hair, you can straddle me while I feed you spaghetti, but you are not getting kissed tonight.  And probably not tomorrow, either.  I need this.  I need to know for sure that you're feeling every single thing that I'm feeling the moment my lips touch yours.  Because I want your first kiss to be the best first kiss in the history of first kisses."

"Being adopted isn't really a stigma I've ever had to overcome.  I've never been embarrassed by it, ashamed of it, or felt the need to hid the fact."

"Like the purpose of the entire human race centers around this moment; around the two of us."
"If God's the type of guy that would damn you to Hell just for loving someone, then I wouldn't want to spend eternity with Him, anyway."

"And once again in my new world full of heartache and lies, this hopeless boy somehow finds a way to make me smile."

"The only thing that matters to me with you are the forevers."

"Whatever he goes through, I feel.  Whatever I go through, he feels.  It's what happens when two people become one: they no longer only share love.  They also share all of the pain, heartache, sorrow and grief."

"Sometimes you have to choose between a bunch of wrong choices and no right ones.  You just have to choose which wrong choice feels the least wrong."

My Ratings
Cover: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing Style: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Ending: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Happy Reading!

*Is this thing on?*

Well, hello!

I know, I know, I mentioned last year around this time that things had calmed down and I would be back.  Obviously that was a HUGE understatement!  2012 was filled with lots of ups and downs and I had to take another break.  The house is still wonderful, and I'm enjoying DIY-ing everything!  Mom came up last week and we went honey-badger crazy!  While everything is finally falling into place, I've realized that something is still missing.  I couldn't figure out what exactly it was.  I am still doing all of the things I love: reading, painting (when I get really inspired, but I should do this much more), and being with loved ones.  The missing piece is this blog.  I finish a book and still feel wrapped up in it and I really think that reviewing the books I read on this blog helps me let go of the characters and the story.  I hold on to each character and have a sort of "book coma" and can't start reading another one until I've told someone all about it.  I miss this blog, I miss my readers, and I miss the closure.  It's a new year, and I'm going to do everything I can to make time and keep up with my blog.  If you are still out there and will continue reading, THANK YOU.  If you are new and just happened upon my blog - WELCOME!  2013 is going to be a GREAT year!!

Happy Reading!


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