"Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."-Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mile 21 by Sarah Dunster

Grade: A
Rating: PG-13 (no language or sexual situations)
Content: Clean (death of a spouse)
Recommendation:  Highly Recommend (Read this book when you really want to FEEL something and have a box of tissues)

Best Quote: The whole dang book was awesome, but I will try to narrow this down.

A few months ago I saw this book and past over it. it kept coming up and I kept passing by it... the cover seemed a little 1980's from the gold rings to the pink rose. Well, I was in a bit of a book slump and this one popped up again, so I decided to try a sample... by page two I was hooked. I'm so glad I read this one!  I recommend this book, its the first book in a LONG time to make me favorites list.

This book is about a girl named Abish who is recently widowed. She is 21, not married, but not "single" and struggling to get through her life as an undergrad at BYU-I. She is training to run the marathon the her husband never was able to run.

What I liked:  Oh Abish, I cried, I laughed, I nearly threw my kindle a few times, but most of all I really rooted for you. I loved this book! Yes it was heartbreaking and I don't usually pick up these kind of books, but something about this book... wow! 

I loved reading Abish's internal monologue.... wait, dialogue? It was so real, so touching. Her bishop/boss was stern, but so perfect, so real. Her roommates, oh wow... made me glad I never had them. Mama, Pen and Suzy... and of course Bob.  Abish felt like a real person to me.  And I mean she was REAL: her emotions,  her depression, her thoughts, her actions.  Sometimes she made choices that made me cringe.  I couldn't believe the things she did at times, and yet, it was exactly right.  I was so curious how the author was able to create such an honest story. Read more about Sarah Dunster's story here. I am amazed at Sarah and her ability to take such a difficult life experience and pour all that emotion into an incredibly beautiful and inspiring story. Don't misunderstand,  Mile 21 is not Sarah's story, it's Abish's; however, the feelings, the emotions, are real and raw and just right. 

What I didn't like: The only thing about this book I didn't like was the characters' names... Bob, not a swoon worthy name...Abish eek hard one to get past, admittedly one of the reasons I kept passing it up. There are others like a girl named Steve and the "turd" too. But the names were the worst part for me... so that is really saying something. 

The pace of the book was a little slower than what I've been reading recently, but it fit the story perfectly.

Content: Clean
(there is talk of the first husband passing away and of miscarriage...)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

She walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

Grade: B
Rating: PG+
Content: Clean

Best Quote:

“This table is a pigeon trap. A dozen different forks and knives and spoons. Four different goblets. All of them just waiting to be knocked over or misapplied and mishandled. It’s a wonder anyone is ever tempted to eat.” -Clara Carter, She Walks in Beauty

This book is about Clara Carter, a debutant in 1890's, the gilded age. Corsets, balls, opera's and dazzling dresses.  Clara has been tasked by her Aunt and father to win the hand of Mr. De Vries, the De Vries fortune Heir.  She is hurried into society before she is ready and is moved like a pawn from one social event to the next.  She catches his eye and the eye of his brother as does her best friend Lizzie.  The story takes off from there.

What surprised me about this book is that it is a historical ficition that paints such a realistic view of what it would have actually been like to live in the Victorian Era.  We follow Clara as she learns about the tenements in New York and the plight of the immigrant, we learn the horrors of corsettes and the horrible effects they had on young women at that time, the race to win a husband and all the preparation of debuting. When I first started this book, I had the impression that it was much more of a light hearted romance; What I actually found in this book was a discussion on much more serious topics.  I enjoyed learning more of the truth behind this time period and I can see that the author really did her homework before writing this book.

What I liked: I loved learning all the details about the time period.  Thanks to Scarlette O'hara, I knew that women desired to have a itty-bitty 18 inch waist, but I didn't know the extent of the horrors that women had to endure to get there.  I loved learning all the details about Clara's coming out.  The dresses and the rigourous schedule the girls had to maintain of late nights and lesson-filled days. The imagery and descriptions of the times were stunning.  I loved Harry and his innocence and his strength. I loved Clara and her conviction to do right after everything. I loved that she felt like a real person, with struggles, desires, and feelings.

What I didn't like:  I felt like this books romance took a back seat to the history lesson of the time period.  You know me, the love story is the most important thing in a book for me, so it didn't live up to my expectations in that way.  There was a lot of talking by the aunt, an inner monologue from Clara and a few conversations, but none that felt deep or especially moving.  I think this authors strong points are in imagery and historical details and not in dialogue or character interaction.  Dialogue moves a story along very rapidly and I think that is why the pacing of this story felt like it was a bit sluggish in points and why I wasn't as connected to some the characters esp. Harry and Clara as I would like to have been by the end.  Also, the ending was a bit rushed for me.  We learn alot of her circumstances, but the end to the love story, a bit rushed and not enough detail for me.  Again, that is so more a personal preference.

If you like this book(or time-period) then try these books:

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
Blackmoore by Juliaane Donaldson
Drops of Gold by Sarah M. Eden

Friday, February 14, 2014


Want a free clean romance novel to snuggle up with tonight for Valentine's Day?  Try She Walks in Beauty for FREE by clicking here. Enjoy! If you use this post please leave me a quick note in the comments section. Thanks!

Here's a Clean Christian Romance Freebie:  I haven't tried this one out yet, but it is marked as clean and has a goodreads rating of 4.09 stars! Click HERE to download for free today. Please leave a message in the comments section for me if you use this link :)  Thanks!

Also, fans of Katie McGarry can pre-order her latest novella, Red at Night (out April 1, 2014) for FREE today here.  *Please note that I have not pre-read this book so there may be content not appropriate for readers.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) By Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Grade: B
Rating: PG-13

Best Quote:
“Major, to what extent did you act upon your feelings for Miss LaRoux?"
"Excuse me?"
"How am I supposed to answer that question?” 

Titanic meets... star trek, marries Lost? I'm giving this book 3.5 stars because while it is better than average, it never hits that pivotal peak... and there were a few parts that were downright strange. However, with such a beautiful cover- I couldn't resist picking it up. This book looks like it will be primarily about space, however, it is more accurately described as a "survivor" story, so don't be fooled. If you are looking for space travel try the books listed below.  I am pretty sure I am in the minority, the overwhelming majority on goodreads LOVES this book, for me it fell flat and here's why:

What I liked: It had enough to keep me turning pages and the beginning was very titanic-esque with its upstairs/ downstairs feel, so it pulled me right in. Combine that with a military love interest and I'm definitely engaged. I loved the characters names: Lilac Laroux and Tarver Merendsen... great names. Every once and a while I enjoy a sci-fi ya romance... This one was ok, but I think it would have been more interesting to spend time on the ship then on the planet exploring the dystopian nature of their world then on a sic-fi planet. Personal preference maybe.

What I didn't like: Unfortunately, it lacked any real connection between the main characters and then the end while technically I should like it... it didn't feel quite right, felt a little to perfectly wrapped up and hurried. And the Lilac thing near the end... what??  The whispers were weird, and I think I understand them now, but not really. The rift idea was interesting, but that part of the book went so quickly as compared to the rest of the book that felt super slow, so the pacing was off for me.  This book seemed to have a hard time deciding what it was: dystopian, sci-fi, mystery, or ya-romance, it just never really decided.  The sci-fi parts were vague and never amounted to much, the dystopian parts weren't developed, the romance pacing was all wrong to slow then bam they can't live without each other-felt forced. 

 It looks like their may be another book in this series, if so I will check it out at the library and give it a chance, but I won't mark it on the calendar if you get my drift.

Similar Books:

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfruend

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Split Second (Pivot Point #2) by Kasie West

Grade: A/ 5stars
Rating: PG+
Content: Clean (no language or sexual content)
Recommendation: Read It!

Best quote: "Dad, she's beautiful.  I remember where she was standing..." -Trevor

Kasie West is one talented writer!  Sequels can be very difficult to navigate.  We readers are already invested in the characters and because we love them (otherwise we wouldn't be reading the second book, right?!) we want things to work out the way we want them to work out.  The only problem: we each have our own idea of what exactly that is.

What I am so happy to announce is that West creates a second story in the "Pivot Point" world, that is in and of it's self a great story, but at the same time builds upon the previous book to create its own unique story-not one that is just a rehash of book one or a drawn out conclusion to book one.  While this sequel does wrap up story lines from book one, it also builds (and introduces new) characters and has a story that is 100% its own.

I mentioned in my last review that I have recently been in a "second book slump"... I LOVE the first book of a series, but I have trouble getting into a second book... Well, I believe that this book has officially gotten me out of my slump!  I didn't know what to expect from this book, I new I loved Kasie West, but I wasn't sure how she would write this second book. In her first book, Pivot Point, West alternates between Addie's two paths that she can choose.  At the end of book one we get a great climax and then an ending that is left wide open for book two.  I didn't know how this style would translate into a sequel.  I wasn't sure there was enough room for book two and I didn't know how she would be able to keep up her back and forth between realities style.  Well, let me tell you, West not only does this but she totally ROCKS it!  This book goes back and forth between Addie who is visiting her father in the Norm world and Laila (her best friend who is still living in the Para world.

What I liked:
I liked that this book picked up right where Pivot Point left off.  I didn't feel like I missed any action, I just got to jump right back into the world.  I did re-read a bit of Pivot Point before picking this book up to make sure I remembered all the characters and the story lines. I'm glad I did, because there were a few names and abilities that I had forgotten, and West doesn't spend a ton of time in book two to remind the reader of what is going on (a little, just not much-which I appreciate).  I loved Addie- I knew I would- and I'm glad that she stayed true to character in this book.  While I was a little unsure about reading half a book devoted to Laila's perspective, by her second chapter, I found that I was happy to have her point of view.  I grew to love Laila by the end of the book actually.  This might have more to do with Connor than anything, but still I found I was enjoying both points of view equally. I think that is really saying something.

Of course, I loved Addie and Trevor.  I liked seeing how there relationship grew, how it differed from book one and how it was the same.  I admit that I think book one was a little stronger in terms of there relationship growth, but recreating the beginning of a relationship with the same two characters would be difficult and I DO think that West pulls it off.

The new Laila/Connor story line is great.  I like Laila after reading more of her, but I LOVE CONNOR.  His ability, his use of it, his story, how it all came together... really liked.  I don't want to say too much, because I think you should read the book and experience it for yourselves, but suffice it to say, I don't think you will be disappointed.

I liked that I got to see different sides of old Characters, specifically Stephanie.  I did not like her in book one, but in book two, I got to see her in a new light and that was brilliant I think.

What I didn't like:
Hmm this section is a little tricky because I don't like to spoil anything and some of the things I would have liked to be a little different are specific... I will attempt to keep this as general as possible so I won't spoil anything.  Most of my qualms about this book are very minor and character specific.

The chemistry between Addie and Trevor is good, but not as strong as book one.  I think, like I mentioned earlier, recreating that "first moment" is very difficult to get perfect twice.  (Still good though so don't worry.)  I would have liked to see more scenes that make me swoon, maybe a great kiss or some super sweet gesture that just makes me sigh, like Charles Dickens zombie you know(if you don't get this reference re-read book one before reading Split Second)... They seemed attracted to each other with our really knowing why... Dealing with erased memories and such can be difficult. I found myself wishing that they could both just remember.  I felt so desperate after book one because I knew they wouldn't remember and in book two I never quite got that desperate love feeling.

There are a few conflicts that are really built up and then are resolved way too quickly. There are two or three I can think of right away.  I won't spoil it though.  And in honesty, it didn't bother me so much, because I was happy to keep reading what came next.

I missed Rowan a bit in this book. I liked him in Pivot Point so I thought he would be here, but when I thought a little more on this, I realized that his storyline wasn't necessary and I enjoyed the new characters that were introduced.

Also missing in this book was Brody (he had a few small scenes, but not notable).  And I would have loved to see a small cameo by Trevor's mother, but unfortunately, she was only mentioned in past tense referring to the scene in book one. I can think of one scene that she could have been inserted into easily in this book, in fact I wonder if she was originally in the book and got cut because she wouldn't advance the storyline.  Anyway, not a big deal in the end.

I'm glad that we got a resolution with Addie and her father, but I felt like her poor mother got left hanging... Alone. I like that I got to know her character a bit better, but I would have loved to see her story line a little more wrapped up.  Again, she wasn't the main point of the story and it didn't really bother me while I was reading the book.

Great book... Go out and purchase it... Go... Now :)

Other Books you may enjoy:

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi

Grade: A-
Rating: PG-13+/R

Content: A few cautions: There are characters whose language is colorful (soldiers) but it is throughout the book when these characters are present and near end of book there is violence and sexual content (a few short scenes not graphic, but certainly more than I would hope would be in a ya book).
Recommendation: Read it!

Best Quote: "In a world where there is so much to grieve and so little good to take? I grieve nothing.  I take everything... Ignite, my love.  Ignite."

In 2012/13 I finished a number of delicious books, Divergent, Delirium, Eve, The Selection, Birthmarked... Let's just say 2012 was book Nirvana in the dystopian genre for me.  Among those books was Ignite me. 

To be honest, I picked up the first book not really knowing what to expect, my knowledge of this book was limited to it being a 1. dystopian and 2. love story.  So I picked it up and sentence number one grabbed me and sucked me right into the book.

Mafi's writing style was unique, much of the language is in metaphor. The Main Character Juliette, sensors her unwanted thoughts, using strikethroughs like this.  The novel begins in an asylum with Juliette locked up using numbers to distract herself. Between the numbers, the strikethroughs, the metaphors, it literally made me feel like I was locked up in an asylum. The writing was beautiful, almost poetic.

So the way I see it, you either like this style of writing or you don't.  And I my dear reader, loved it.  This series is a trilogy, which begins with Shatter Me; The second book in the series is Unravel Me and the final book Ignite Me concludes the series.  There are also two companion novels: Destroy Me and Fracture Me (combined in one renamed Unite Me).

The last few dystopian trilogies I've read I have been so disappointed in the final book... so I was hesitant to pick this one up because I so desperately wanted it to be amazing. And... it was. It so was. I got what I wanted from this book, lose ends tied up, great love story, etc. This book was a little different from the other two books in the series in that Juliette has grown up. She no longer censures her thoughts and feelings, so there are no more strike throughs for her thoughts, she shares exactly what she thinks and feels despite who it may hurt and she really has learned how to protect herself. I do recommend this trilogy, the way it is written is very different stylistically than 99% of books out there and you will either love it or hate it. I loved it. 

SPOILERS BELOW:Poor Adam. I think maybe the author didn't like him much by book three? I don't know what I was hoping for his character, I just can't help feeling he got that short end of the stick. he just got left hanging. I felt that in book two to a degree, but book three, I really felt for him. He is a good guy, great big brother and I felt sad for him when Juliette "outgrew" him and could be so cold to him. She basically retracts any feelings she had for him in book one and then claims that their only link was Warner. Again, poor Adam. I understand that couples fall out of love and relationships end and I get that her character finally learned to be honest with herself and defend herself, but come on, be humane to the first person to treat you humanely. I don't feel like I got much of a resolution with his character, I kind of just watched him fade away, become angry and emotional and get beat up the whole book. Adam's character ARC was not my favorite, but love triangles are tricky and I was team warner, so in the end... 

Then there is Warner, Aaron. Misunderstood, slightly crazy, Aaron. The guy you love, but kind of hate and completely distrust, but somehow with each new layer and truth you can't help but root for him to win the girl. Their scenes together so good. The conversations and the way each character speaks... so good. Relationships take center stage to action in this book, which I didn't mind. A few issues I take with this book, yes Anderson bullies Juliette, he tries to kill her, but Warner, maybe even Adam, had more cause, in my opinion, to be the one to end Anderson. The entire series builds to this climax, this end, and it felt a little glossed over. Not necessarily rushed, but like the book became less about the story and more about the relationship, again OK with me but maybe not some. I would like to have seen more of a resolution for Adam and for Warner with both of his parents, between Juliette and Adam and was it just me or did anyone else think that Juliette would make absolutely THE worst leader of a country ever! by the end of this series she has just barely harnessed her fatal powers, she is a little too honest, and has become pretty selfish. I don't knows that strength makes you the best leader necessarily. But, I guess it did make for a good ending. soooo.... I know it sounds like I have some misgivings about the book, but it was hard to tear me away from, I really did enjoy it and I would recommend the series. I will read more from this author.

If you like this book you might also enjoy:

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Birthmarked by Caraugh O'Brien

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Who, What, Where, When and Why

Who: Me! Tiffany a stay-at-home mommy of the three best kids EVER and wife to the best man in the world. I have a degree in Marriage, Family and Human Development from BYU. My dream job would be professional reader (but only books I enjoy), writing when I feel inspired, marriage therapist and adoption counselor.

What: I plan on writing honest reviews of the best books that I come across.  I read clean.  Meaning no graphic sex. I also try to limit language. My reviews will be honest and straightforward, I will be fair to both authors and readers. I am pretty picky about the books I read.  If I am not enjoying a book, I have no problem setting it down and diving into the next one. If it's not Happily Ever After, I'll try to steer clear.

Why:  I LOVE TO READ.  Yes, that pretty much sums it up. OH and I wish books had a standard rating system like movies do.  There is nothing more frustrating than starting a book and then having to put it down due to content (sex, language, adult themes). I hope that in writing this blog people like me will have a source to look to for a rating system so people can pick the best books on the block!

When:  The first chapter book I ever read completely on my own was in second grade. I checked a book out from Mrs. Goff's classroom library and brought it home and got lost in the pages.  Six hours later, and late into the night I finished reading The Boxcar Children.  Soon after that, I finished The True confessions of Charlotte Doyle and SVU Saga. Somewhere between Middle School and College, I traded in my fiction books for text books.  It wasn't until after the birth of my second child that I thought it might be fun to pick up a book in between nursing sessions... and I am back to being hooked on reading again. I read ALOT.

Where:  Why here of course:  Thebestbookontheblock.blogspot.com and you can find me on goodreads  too!