Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Last Anniversary Book Review

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

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Sophie Honeywell always wondered if Thomas Gordon was the one she let get away. He was the perfect boyfriend, but on the day he was to propose, she broke his heart. A year later he married his travel agent, while Sophie has been mortifyingly single ever since. Now Thomas is back in her life because Sophie has unexpectedly inherited his aunt Connie's house on Scribbly Gum Island - home of the famously unsolved Munro Baby mystery.

Sophie moves onto the island and begins a new life as part of an unconventional family where it seems everyone has a secret. Grace, a beautiful young mother, is feverishly planning a shocking escape from her perfect life. Margie, a frumpy housewife, has made a pact with a stranger, while dreamy Aunt Rose wonders if maybe it's about time she started making her own decisions.

As Sophie's life becomes increasingly complicated, she discovers that sometimes you have to stop waiting around - and come up with your own fairy-tale ending.

Review by Brittany:

I enjoyed this book. I thought that all of the characters were well developed, and they underwent some major changes throughout the book, so that no character was the same at the end.

Grace is the character who spoke to me the most clearly. She was the character that struggled the most in her life, despite the outward appearance of it being perfect. While I couldn't relate to her situation as a new mother and a wife, I did feel empathy for her experiences.

Margie is also struggling, but her desire is to become a better version of herself, primarily by losing weight. Her changes throughout the novel lead her to not only lose weight, but to gain a sense of worth and a sense of self.

Sophie, who is supposed to be the main character, is actually the one that I feel changes the least throughout the book. She moves onto the island and becomes an unofficial member of the family, but I don't feel that anything really happens for her.

Following along with these characters is the story of the Munro Baby, which is how Connie and Rose made the island famous and were able to survive financially. At the end of the book, the mystery is revealed to be not quite the fanciful tale that they have been selling to the public all these years.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved reading about the characters and the changes they were going through. I would recommend this book and am looking forward to reading more by this author!

Notable quotes:

"A marriage is hard work and sometimes it's a bit of a bore. It's like housework. It's never finished. You've just got to grit your teeth and keep working away at it, day after day."

Maybe it will be easier without him there. She can stop worrying that he might notice she is all wrong as a mother.

Children made her feel huge and awkward and she was never sure exactly how to correctly pitch her conversation for their age group, worrying that she was speaking to them as if they were retarded or deaf.

...she has the feeling that she is on some sort of treacherous journey, and if she stops, even for a moment, then she might never get up again. It is better to just go doggedly on and on.

Being a mother is just like any other new skill, like driving a car or playing tennis. At first it seems impossibly difficult, but then, by gritting your teeth and trying again and again, you get your head around it.

It is just too much effort to be funny and entertaining and loving.

She enjoys thinking deliciously shocking thoughts from time to time.

But then she just got tired of hating him and started loving him again. It was easier.

But even while he is frustrated by her, or hurt by her, or plain irritated by her, he still loves her, he still has a secret crush on her, he is still awed that someone this beautiful is with him.

Sophie has always thought that the first time you get the hysterical giggles with a new female friend is like the first time you sleep with a boyfriend; it takes your relationship to a new, more intimate level.

People can't just go changing their personalities willy-nilly when they're middle-aged.

It is so strange that you can end up having such polite, awkward conversation with somebody with whom you once shared such intimate moments.

Pride comes before someone trips you flat on your face.

Sometimes a girl has to stop waiting around and come up with her own fairytale ending.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Calm Before the Storm Book Review

Calm Before the Storm by Ryan Mullaney


A week at the beach is just what Samantha needs. To relax with friends, forget what happened. Get her life back on track.

A stop to seek shelter from a passing storm changes everything. Her friends taken into the house at gunpoint, Samantha is left hurt, scared, and alone. As the only hope for getting her friends out alive, Samantha must do something, and do it soon. The storm is only getting worse...

Review by Brittany:

This book reads like a movie. Mullaney begins by throwing the reader into the action, dropping you right into what's going on after the group has ended up at the house that changes everything. The action in this book is nonstop, and the suspense is at a high the entire time, much like with a thriller film.

The story is written almost in two different points of view - one from Samantha and one from everyone else. While the entire novel is actually in third person, Samantha's chapters have a stream of consciousness to them, detailing her thought processes as she tries to help her friends. The other chapters give more of a play-by-play of what's going on with the other characters. This slight shift in writing style helps the reader fall into whichever character the focus is on, without the style change affecting the overall quality of the read.

The author also created a pretty scary villain for this book - Michael. He's just a man who has been pushed too far and reaches that break in humanity that everyone is capable of reaching. Mullaney did a great job of giving characterization to someone who is seen only as the villain from the beginning. I have a bit of a soft spot for writers who can give the "bad guy" some justification, and Mullaney gives that in this book. He also did a great job of detailing relationships and giving the group of friends individual characteristics and lives, without having to break away from the current action.

If you're looking for a suspenseful book that's quick paced, this is a definite winner. I'm excited to see what else this author comes up with.

Notable quotes:

Everyone acted out of anger once in their life. Doesn't matter how saintly you are. Everyone has snapped at a moment of stress, done something they cannot undo, said words that can't be unsaid, had one of those human moments we all seem to have in spite of our best efforts.

...the good feelings when people are together and every minute of the day is filled with joy and life has you convinced, just for a moment, that maybe this will last forever.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Review by Kristen

Tina Fey. The woman, the myth, the legend. You may know her from Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, or hosting The Golden Globes. And if you don’t, then you've probably been living under a rock or in a desolate area with absolutely no access to the outside world- or North Korea. She’s a gift not only to entertainment, but to women of the world. In her autobiography Bossypants, Fey affirms the fact that it’s okay to be funny, quirky and female, and this combination in turn makes you fabulous, and in her case extraordinarily successful.

The book is a recollection of stories from her youth, to her making it big in Hollywood. And the lure and charm is in her humor. Told only as Tina Fey can tell her life story, she uses her wit to reveal how she became the woman she is today, and also make light of adversities she faced to obtain such a stature. She’ll put a smile on your face as she explains how her cruise ship almost sunk on her honeymoon and also reminisces about her horrible job as a recent college graduate, something to which any college student can relate. She even gets personal and shares one of the fondest memories for any woman, the detailed story of her first pap smear. It’s a bonding experience.

She also offers her professional insight into television, acting, writing, and improvisation. Aside from being delightfully hilarious, Fey depicts what it’s like to attain success in show business and the pros and cons attached to it. From working with difficult people, to interviewing for a writing position at SNL, to being “the boss”, she discloses the realities of the glamorous life of the rich and famous.

This is the perfect book if you’re looking for a laugh, need a reason to further love or hate Tina Fey, or just want an easy read. But despite your motivation behind reading Bossypants, there’s an important message to take away from it. It’s healthy to make fun of yourself, and “You’re nobody until someone calls you bossy.” 

Buy it here!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rebecca Book Review

Rebecca by Adam J. Nicolai


Sarah, 18, has been attracted to other girls since she was nine. But she is a Christian, and the tenets of her church are clear: homosexuality is a sin and an abomination. In a desperate bid to prove her virtue, she throws herself at a boy she goes to school with, and ends up pregnant.

Her infant daughter, Rebecca, derails Sarah's entire life. She is forced to withdraw from Yale before she even gets there. Her devout mother, ashamed, pays for an apartment where Sarah is alone with the baby. Sara was smart, beautiful, and adored. Now she feels like she knows nothing, and her friends treat her like a leper.

In the long, sleepless hours of night, while she waits on pins and needles for Rebecca's certain cry, she is forced to reflect on who she is and how she got here. She has lost all hope - until one night she hears God, providing her a simple answer:

Kill the child.

Review by Brittany:

Let me start by saying that this book obviously covers some pretty serious themes: homosexuality, postpartum depression, religion. If you feel squeamish about any of these, this book probably isn't going to be for you.

I loved it, though. Sarah's struggles with her feelings for Tiff, the woman she loves, and her desire to be pleasing to God are beautifully written. She is in a constant state of battling with herself and what she believes is the sexuality she was born with. The lack of support from Rebecca's father adds to Sarah's confusion about her feelings for him and her desire to be with Tiff, who is supporting her in a way that no one else is.

Sarah's mother is a huge religious fanatic, and the pastor from her church is the perfect example of why it's easy to judge a certain religion. Pastor Dennis is unafraid of saying exactly how he feels about things, and he leaves no wiggle room for his parishioners. His way is THE way, and Sarah's mother has fallen into believing it. This has caused Sarah to question everything about herself.

The visits from God's messenger are scary and were, I think, a nod to postpartum depression. Sarah is struggling on her own, with no support from her mother or the father of her baby. She has no idea what she is doing and she feels isolated from all of her friends. She starts dreaming of this messenger who tells her to kill her baby, that this is the solution to everything. She struggles with this, knowing it doesn't seem right but wanting to please God.

Sarah's relationship with her mother is one that developed the most in this book, and I appreciated it. They had some good conversations toward the end where the author illustrated the struggles a firm believer can have and how they might try to overcome them. Sarah embraces her sexuality and admits to her feelings for Tiff, beginning a relationship with her.

The climax of the book comes fast and hard, and there are parts that are hard to read. It is a pretty eye opening scene, one that might leave the reader questioning what they believe and the "rightness" of those beliefs.

But even aside from the controversial topics, this author is just a good author. He writes well, putting the reader in the shoes of his main character easily. He outlines the struggles of any single parent and couples in Sarah's struggles that are singular to her. The author moves the story along at a great pace and knows how to keep the reader hooked. A wonderful, beautiful book.

Notable quotes:

Excelling was an old habit for her, and she couldn't abandon it easily - even if nothing mattered anymore.

She has no idea what the world is, Sarah realized. It's terrifying. Every bit of it is terrifying.

The notion of being everything to another human being was backbreaking.

There was no defense between her and the world's pain.