Sunday, May 31, 2015

Monthly Wrap-up: May 2015

Month in review is a monthly meme which was created by Kathryn at Book Date.

May was an awesome month in reading for me and I contribute that all to the Bout of Books Read-a-thon that was held from May 11th to May 17. It was a very low pressure read-a-thon, that I really enjoyed being part of. Click the link below to see my overall totals for that week. 

I don’t have much to report on a personal note, for May month. Other than the fact that I enjoyed a nice Mothers Day with my mom and mother in-law. 

Books Completed in May:

The List:

The Stats:
Favourite Book of the Month: Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
Favourite Setting: Nantucket (The Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer)
Favourite Character: The Reb: Albert Lewis from Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
Longest Book Read: A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French
Shortest Book Read: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Total Number of Pages Read: 1918
Total Number of Fiction Books Read: 5
Total Number of Non Fiction Books Read: 1

Challenge Updates:
2015 A-Z Challenge: 14/26
2015 eBook Challenge: 14/25
2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: 8/10
Millionaire Challenge: 9092/1000000

Currently Reading: 

June TBR:

How did your May month in books go? What was your favourite book you read? Leave me a message in the comments.

Friday, May 29, 2015

ML's Worth a Watch Friday #1

Hey everyone,
I decided to try out an idea I had for a weekly post where I will feature videos from the week that I think are "Worth a Watch". Some weeks I may feature more than 1 video in my post, others I may feature a television show or a movie I enjoyed. Some may even be book related.

So without further ado here is my first Worth a Watch Friday:

Back in March, British comedian James Corden took over the The Late Late Show from Craig Ferguson. I haven't had a chance to watch an episode yet (as I don't have cable) but I've been seeing videos popping up online about segments from the show. This past week I sat down to watch a few and loved his Carpool Karaoke bit, so I decided to share one with you today.

Here is Jame Corden's Carpool Karaoke featuring Jennifer Hudson:

Who knew James could sing? So fun.

Did you come across any interesting/funny or entertaining videos this week? If so I'd love to check them out. Leave me a comment below in the links.

Stay tuned for my next installment of ML's Worth a Watch Friday.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Title: Reconstructing Amelia
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Published: April 2013
Published By: Harper
Format Read: Kobo, eBook
Genre: YA Lit, Contemporary, Suspense, Thriller, Mystery
Date Read: May 20 2015
Rating: 3.5/5

Reconstructing Amelia is the debut novel by author Kimberly McCreight. It follows a mother reeling from the devastating death of her daughter. On a busy day as junior partner at a New York law frim, Kate receives a call from her daughter’s school telling her that Amelia has been suspended for plagiarism and she must come pick her up. Upon arriving, she learns that 15 year old Amelia has committed suicide by jumping off the roof of her private high school. Weeks after Amelia’s devastating death, Kate beings to receive anonymous text messages telling her that her it wasn’t a suicide after all. She then begins to launch an investigation into what really happened. Readers follow the grieving mother as she learns of her daughter’s involvement with a secret club called the Magpies and some scandalous revelations into Amelia’s personal life. Switching from the perspectives of Kate’s investigation to Amelia’s diary, texts and online messages, in the months leading up to her death. 

My first impression of Reconstructing Amelia was that it reminded me of Gossip Girl, because of the anonymously authored blog and the private school, set in New York. Girls can be so mean! I’d take my public high school education over a private school like this any day. It also reminded me of Law and Order: SVU and had me hoping that Olivia Benson would pop up. 

The characters were interesting, especially Amelia who was a sweet girl who would have had a very promising future. From a real life perspective, it is easy for outsiders to put all the blame on the parents, when something goes wrong with a child. However the author writes of Kate’s point of view as well as Amelia’s. This allows readers to sympathize with the grieving mother and see just how hard she worked to raise her daughter and balance a demanding career. In my opinion I think she did the best she could have, although I had to shake my head when she realized who Amelia’s father really was. There is a large cast of secondary characters, which offered many avenues for suspects. At times I became a bit confused trying to remember who was who, but it did make for a much more interesting journey to the truth.  

Although the changes in the timeline threw me off initially I did adjust to it. The formatting with the blog posts, text messages, emails and Facebook statuses helped to keep the story current. I think this will be appealing to many readers. It also helps to move along the story, making for a quick read.
This book kept me very engaged and I flew through it because I just had to know what really happened. As I read and a new conflict was introduced I found myself wondering “is this person guilty?” “is that person guilty?” I imagined many different scenarios in my head as I went along.

Unfortunately I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending. Perhaps I wanted more justice to be served or a more dramatic conclusion. Reconstructing Amelia is listed as a thriller or suspense novel so I expected to be more emotionally engaged than I was. As a climax would reach its peak I waited to be shocked but in the end it didn’t quite live up to that for me. 

That being said it was still an enjoyable book that I would recommend to those who enjoy Young Adult, Contemporary fiction. Due to the formatting, Reconstructing Amelia would be best enjoyed in print or eBook format.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Treasures of the North (Yukon Quest #1) by Tracie Peterson

Title: Treasures of the North (Yukon Quest #1)
Author: Tracie Peterson
Published: January 2001
Published By: Bethany House Publishers
Format Read: Kindle for PC
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction
Date Read: May 15 2015
Rating: 3/5

Chicago 1897: 30 year old Governess Karen has been by Grace Hawkins side since she was just a girl of ten, teaching her and supporting her, they were inseparable. Now with her charge being fully grown and set to marry, Karen had planned to head north to Alaska during the gold rush to search for her missing father.  However it is discovered that Grace’s arranged marriage to a Martin Paxton, a business associate of her father’s is based on manipulation and bribery. If she does not marry the man he threatens to reveal a secret from Mr. Hawkins past, ruining their family’s reputation and leaving them penniless. When Paxton becomes abusive towards Grace during their engagement party it is clear that she cannot marry the man regardless of the consequences. So Karen, along with Mrs. Hawkins devise a plan for Grace to escape and run away. With Karen’s Aunt Doris as chaperone they make plans to head north to Alaska, a place they hoped Paxton would never think to look for his runaway fiancé. Meanwhile a captain of a struggling shipping business, Peter Colton takes the advice of an old family friend and gets into the business of carrying supplies and people to Alaska. It is his ship that the three women escape on. Another family on board Colton’s boat include a widower Bill Barringer and his two children. The group form a sort of bond and work together to survive in the untamed wilderness of the north. But is Grace really free of her conniving former fiancé?  

Tracie Peterson’s Treasures of the North (Yukon Quest Books #1) was a dramatic tale from the start. The descriptions of their surroundings including the mountains and the wilderness painted beautiful images in my mind. This was especially true when Karen remembered her mother’s descriptions in her old letters to her daughter. The pace moved along well and I liked how the author didn’t dwell on things that weren’t pertinent to the plotline. I enjoyed learning about life during the Gold Rush and the struggles they dealt with desperate to make a fortune for themselves. It amazed me that people from the south were so naïve, arriving expecting established towns and gold scattered on the ground for their taking. They were also very ignorant to the harsh weather and as a result many people did not survive. I thought that the cover work was beautifully done and more realistic looking for the set time period (the late 1800’s) than most cover from this genre. 

Although the story did keep my attention, there were some points that I found quite misleading. Firstly the title of the series Yukon Quest, gave me the impression that the setting would be just that, in the Yukon. Instead it was set in Alaska, where many prospectors began their ascent into the interior. Secondly, the start of the book suggested that the focus would be mostly on Grace as a primary character. However it seemed as if she took a bit of a secondary position and Karen became more primary in focus. This wasn’t necessary bad as the shifting point of view between the characters made for a faster pace, but the bulk of the novel seemed a bit inconsistent with the beginning. 

My thoughts on the characters varied. The author could have given Grace the personality of a spoiled socialite, but the freedom of her escape made her adjustment to a lower class of living more enjoyable. Karen and her Aunt Doris were strong independent women, living in a time where females were expected to be under the guidance of a man. I cheered along as they stood up for themselves and proved that they would hold their own in the land of the lawless. Unfortunately the characteristics of the male characters left much to be desired. Peter’s comment that “Women were the weaker vessel” pg. 215, made my jaw drop. However for all the arrogance that the men brought to the story, Karen and Grace were quite self-righteous in their faith and couldn’t accept that others might not believe as strongly as they did. 

 The end left many storyline options open for the following book in the series, as it didn’t completely tie up all the loose ends. I am interested to see where the story goes for the second novel and hope that this one will be set in the Yukon. 

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction, however it should be noted that the plotline does get preachy.