Book Reviews

Book Review: The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

Hey there!

I hope that you guys are doing well. I’m coming down from a hellacious night of a stomach bug, which has resulted in the world’s greatest headache. Luckily I have great support in Liam’s grandma, because she was able to keep him overnight so he doesn’t catch whatever yuckies I had!

As a result, I don’t have anything super exciting to share (but really, my life consists of books, horses, my dog, and my child) except for another book review!

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I’m going to admit, that this book had a bit of a slower start for me. I borrowed it from the library about a month ago, started it, and then put it down for a while. I can’t really tell you why it didn’t grab me from the beginning, because it was good!

I ended up having to purchase another copy from Amazon to replace the library book (thanks Bogan) and they accidentally shipped me two. I figured it was a sign, so after I finished Cinder I picked it back up. Goodness, I’m glad that I did!

This book is a historical drama/romance and while I don’t think that it was book that had a ton of substance, I still really liked the story. I loved that Fiona got put through the ringer and came out completely on top.

 

I also loved all the support characters, especially Nicolas Soames. I really feel like we all need a Nicolas in our lives. I fell in love with him the minute that he walked into the book, and the way that Donnelly used his character to direct the plot was genius. There were a few twists and turns that were heart wrenching but necessary and kept me turning the pages way past my bedtime. I found myself not wanting the book to end, and when it did I was I super excited that there were two more in the series.

I had recommended this book to my mother and she ended up picking up the second book, The Winter Rose, on accident. She said that it was a great stand alone! From the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads this seems like a common theme with all three of the novels, so if you’re not able to get your hands on this one right away, any will do!

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I did feel a little bit like Donnelly was way too easy on Joe. I felt like the things that he did, should not have warranted the wealth that he eventually built for himself. I would have really like to see Fiona find him in misery… buuut that’s just me being a bit petty.still couldn’t forgive Joe, but I’ve also been known to hold a bit of a grudge that is directed towards fictional characters.

Donnelly uses the setting of 1880’s Whitechapel, London to add the legend of Jack the Ripper into her work. I’m not really sure why she did that, perhaps to add a bit of mystery?  Having read a myriad of Jack the Ripper-esque books this year, I’ve seen authors take it in so many different directions. I feel like Donnelly could have done a lot more with this; it was sort of there, and then gone, and then WHAM… in your face again. I kind of gave it a raised eyebrow, but it wasn’t the worst thing to ever happen to a piece of fiction (here’s looking at you, Twilight).

All in all, while I think that this one could have had a little bit more substance and the Jack the Ripper inclusion was a little bit weak and unnecessary, I honestly loved it. I would happily read it over and over again when I needed an escape from reality. I feel like now that I’ve read it through once, I would dissolve into their world quickly. It’s going to stay on my bookshelf for sure!

8/10!

Peace,

Cathleen

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1)

Hey there!

I hope that you all have been doing well. I’ve had a total lack of posts because, to be honest, I’ve been completely exhausted. To the point where I was concerned enough to head to my doctor’s to have some labs pulled. I’m hoping that it’s just the last few months catching up to me, but I figured better to be safe than sorry.

One of the things that I did do, that I’m excited about, was we recently moved Jake to a friend’s farm. I think that having him at work made it really hard for me to drum up the motivation to ride on my time off. While I love my job, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy my guy not at work. I’m really hoping that this will help me get back into the groove with him, and really just figure out how to re-enjoy the journey.

Everybody who knows me knows that my riding schedule pretty heavily dictates my moods, so I’m hoping that this will be a great step to figuring out how to regain some spoons, instead of viewing it as a chore…which is what I’ve been doing.

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(A huge shout out to my co-worker and her boyfriend who opened up their farm to Jake and I; they’ve been taking flawless care of him!)

The other thing that I’ve gotten accomplished this week, is I’ve somehow managed to keep my eyes open long enough to knock out another book in my TBR stack…which is actually the point of this post.

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Can we please talk about how I absolutely demolished this book? While my mental struggles have completely thrown off my sleep cycle, this book, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, certainly didn’t help. It was too good to put down and I finished it in two days.

I honestly went into this one skeptically after seeing it around on booktube, but the reviews on Goodreads (follow me through the link in the sidebar) are all pretty positive so I decided it might be fun to branch out. It did not disappoint! Meyer mixes sci-fi into her revamped variation of Cinderella, and does it beautifully. It was like Star Wars meets fairy tale and while I was afraid it was going to be a huge flop because I struggle with lots of sci-fi novels, it absolutely was not.

This book is a tiny bit predictable; I had it mostly figured out when I was about a third of the way through. Honestly, though, this isn’t really a con for me. I don’t like suspenseful books – I’m too nervous for that kind of stuff – so this was a pleasant read for me. There was a super fun twist at the end that I wasn’t expecting, so that broke up the predictability wonderfully, without making me a wreck (or feeling like I had to skip to the last chapter to figure it all out… yes, I am one of those)!

All in all, I think Meyer did an awesome job with this book, and I’m super excited to get on with the rest of the series. Her writing was easy to follow and she didn’t get super high tech when talking about the robots, cyborgs, et all that made up the cast of characters. There were no crazy names that I couldn’t pronounce and she brought some really simple, modern elements that made it relatable.

I do know that I’m going to have to be careful to pace myself through the rest of the series, or else I’m going to devour it faster that you can say “bacon cheeseburger.”

10/10!

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Another awesome PlumeyCrafts bookmark, btw!

 

 

Peace,

Cathleen

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Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Hey there,

So, as I’m sure you can all see, I’ve had a heck of a time attempting to keep up with my WIRW. Guys, I suck at schedules (despite my love of planning). We had a super hectic week with Liam’s birthday and the girls being here and I’m kind of giving up on the idea of posting a read every Wednesday. It’s getting tricky to stick to… so instead, I’ll give you my book reviews as I finish them!

This week, I blew through Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco… it was so awesome, and the ending threw me for a bit of a loop, which I thought was the perfect cherry on top of the sundae that was this book.

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I literally had an impossible time tearing myself away from this book once it got rolling. It had all the best elements of a mystery and a love story; PLUS a great spin on a pretty significant historical event. Maniscalco takes some liberties to make the whole thing work with the story line, and she does an AWESOME job juggling both. The writing flowed beautifully and kept the reader engaged all the way up to the end.

The story itself is set in 1800’s London and follows our main character Audrey Rose through the struggles of being a female with a bit of a morbid male interest… namely learning how to perform autopsies with her Uncle. The story of Jack the Ripper is how she ties into the story, and we’re taken on an exciting ride with her and her love interest while they try to figure out the real identity of the Ripper. The end totally blew me away!

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(Kick ass bookmark from Plumey Crafts.)

I had to jump right onto Amazon the second I finished this one so I could add her other two books (Hunting Prince Dracula and Escaping from Houdini <- not out until September!) to my wish list for the future!

I seriously loved everything about this book… like… I had not one complaint which, if you know me, is kind of a big deal. I’m an A+ complainer, not gonna lie. I highly recommend this book to everybody and anybody who in looking for something good to escape into for a while. It has the perfect mixture of everything that a good book needs… plus it has “the smell.” I’m big on the smell and not every book has it. My fellow bookworms know exactly what I’m talking about.

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Now, on to the next!

Peace,

Cathleen

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Two.

Hey there!

Can you believe that Little Bug turned TWO yesterday? I certainly can’t.

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This past year has held so many ups and down for us… and I can’t believe how smart, resilient, and happy this kid has been through it all. I still can’t believe sometimes how blessed I am to be his Mama (yes, even when I’m wrestling his penis out of his hands in the middle of the grocery store). I’m so thankful for everybody who has been there for him, and myself, especially in the last few months when life really took a turn. I’m happy to say that we’ve made it through, though, and I’m excited for another year of new adventures together!

Instead of letting this post get super long and overly sappy… I’m just going to share some of my favorite pictures of Bug over the last year.

Happy Birthday, special guy. Mama loves you!

Peace,

Cathleen

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Out of Spoons

Hey there!

Long time, no blog, huh?

Truth be told, I’ve been in a little bit of a life slump over the last week and a half or so. I haven’t had the desire to do anything more than go to work, take care of LB, and then read. I have 0 extra energy and I can’t really seem to figure out why.

When I mentioned it to my therapist on Friday, and expressed to her that I was concerned that I might start falling into a depressive cycle, she replied simply with “you’re probably just out of spoons.”

Wait. What? I have plenty of spoons… I keep up with my dishes almost to a fault.

She laughed and then directed me towards the Spoon Theory. I’d heard the term ‘spoonie’ thrown around in a few of my planner groups but never really understood. After doing some digging into it via google, it makes a lot of sense.

If you don’t want to read that whole article that I’ve linked, the long-short of it is that we wake up everyday with a certain amount of “spoons.” Throughout the day, different tasks take our spoons away and once they are gone… that’s it. We need to figure out what will help us get our spoons back… for me it’s mostly reading in the quiet or spending time grazing Jake.

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This journey trying to juggle motherhood, fitness, work, school, etc. can get overwhelming. If you add in finally being open and honest about my mental struggles, you get an entire new journey of self discovery. One that I’ve just embarked on.

I’m incredibly introverted by nature; people seem to suck energy from me… even if I’m surrounded by people that I love and admire, who are helpful, kind, and motivating (and yes, this includes my own child). I just get tired. I thought that the way around this was to go to yoga (hello meditation) or a long run. Turns out those activities take more spoons than they replenish.

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While I absolutely love doing them, I need to learn how to balance everything out. I don’t have to throw myself into multiple classes a week because I think that that is what I’m supposed to do to get myself out of a slump. I can take a class when I have enough spoons to spare one. If I feel like I have to be outside, I don’t have to run. It’s okay to just take the dog for a walk up the hill and sit with my book for a while.

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There is so much pressure to get out and do things all the time. It’s not a healthy life if you don’t run every day. If you don’t work out, or go to yoga, or a fitness class. If you don’t have girls nights or be a wine drinking mom. We need to learn that it’s less healthy to push yourself to go do those things, if they throw all your spoons into the garbage and leave you anxious or exhausted. A really, truly healthy life (I’m learning) starts in your head.

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I need to teach myself that it’s okay to not feel like doing much more than getting the baby to bed, then curling up with a book. It’s okay to tell people that I don’t want to go to yoga this week or out for dinner. My self worth isn’t based on the amount of social interactions I have and pushing myself to have them is doing more harm than good. I need to rewrite my mental narrative and stop feeling guilty for not throwing myself into everything 110%… I can do a little bit of a lot. I can love something and not do it every single day. I can take time for myself to read and be in the quiet, because that’s who I am as a person. If I keep denying myself that, I’m never going to have enough spoons to get through a day and be able to use them to do the things that I enjoy doing!

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It’s certainly not going to be easy, learning to figure it all out, and it’s not going to happen overnight! I’ve lived 29 years of my life in survival mode and thinking that there was something wrong with me for not wanting to go out and do all of the things that my peers wanted to do. I’m sure that I’m not the only one out there either, which is why I’m sharing all of this so openly.. because maybe being so vocal about my struggles to find out who I am will help others figure out who they really are too.

Peace,

Cathleen