Lighthouse Island by Paulette Jiles

I received this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Lighthouse Island

Lighthouse Island by Paulette Jiles takes us into a dystopian future that is kind of a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and reality TV.  Jiles’s main character Nadia is amazing.  She’s witty and resourceful, charming and lying her way into any situation.  You can’t help but love her.

In essence, Lighthouse Island is the story of Nadia, orphaned at a young age and stuck in numerous not-so-wonderful situations.  Her one wish is to get to the mysterious Lighthouse Island, a place where water is plentiful and so is the food.  Plus, the view’s not too bad itself.  Nadia meets James, a demolition and cartography expert who was paralyzed in an accident.  Their chemistry is undeniable, but this isn’t a traditional love story.  It’s love mixed with survival.

Anyway, if I butchered this summary, check out a better version here: Goodreads.  I’ll just blame the summary mess on two things: 1. A fabulous complex storyline.  2. Pregnancy brain.

As for my thoughts . . . Like I said Nadia totally rocks.  She’s witty, resourceful, charming, and super confident.  She lies to survive, and it always works.  James is also a great character.  He’s complex and caring, also incredibly resourceful, and has a sixth sense of identifying what technological help Nadia will need from many miles away.

The story is complicated, which is both good and bad.  I love dystopian societies, especially realistic ones, and this one did not disappoint.  But I was left wondering if I missed some pieces of the story or if they just weren’t included in the novel.

Fun fact: Paulette Jiles lives in UTOPIA, Texas.  Can you get more perfect for a city to live in when you want to write about a dystopian future?  When I saw that it just made my day.

Want to hear more?  Check out the rest of the tour schedule.

TLC Book Tours

 

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Bathtub Bookish Awesomeness Courtesy of Gone Reading

I received this product from Gone Reading in exchange for a fair and honest review, and I’m glad I did, because it’s pretty awesome.  

I was super excited when I got my Gone Reading package with my Bamboo Bathtub Caddy in the mail!  I love reading in the pool, tub, whatever form of water I can, so this product is definitely one that I can take advantage of.

There’s a place for soap or a drink (where you can see my drink sitting), with holes on the bottom to let excess water drip through.  The middle area is perfect to hold your book, although a hardcover or well-worn paperback would probably stay open a little more easily than my brand new read that I tried out.  There’s also the perfect slot for a wine glass!  It lets you slip in the glass but prevents it from spilling or falling.  It’s pretty genius, and I’m excited to try that one out once I give birth to these twin kiddos.

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Not only can you see the features here, but you can also see how the Bamboo Bathtub Caddy can fit multiple tubs.  The metal “claws” contract and extend to fit pretty much any sized tub, and can extend to fit a tub 40 inches across.  I thought my tub was too large, but I measured it, and have plenty of excess arm extension room still left.  Unless you’re living in a castle or have a ginormous or circular bathtub, it should fit.

I also mentioned to Brad Wirz, the founder and CEO of Gone Reading, that I was pregnant so I couldn’t try out the wine glass feature, and look what he included in my package as a surprise!

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Excuse the slight photo blurriness. That’s from my camera – not the product!

Is it crazy that I kind of want to open it and use the bookmarks myself?  I’ll wait for the kiddos, of course, but what a super nice gesture!

Not only is the Bamboo Bathtub Caddy a huge hit, and the Gone Reading products amazing in general, but they’ve even been featured in The Huffington Post for helping to spread “the magic of reading” because of the company’s philanthropic contributions:

GoneReading: Those searching for “gifts that give” will find them here. When you make a purchase through the site, all after-tax profits are donated to Ethiopia Reads and READ Global . . . Wirz’s line of merchandise features hundreds of products for booklovers, from literary-themed apparel to journals to book lights. Personally, I’m a fan of the “reading woman” notecards featuring classic paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

 

Check out Gone Reading.  What product do you think is full of awesomeness?

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Bookish Gifts for Babies

You may know this already, or it might be a surprise, but my husband and I are expecting our first children!  That’s right – we got two for the price of one with twins!

So now that I’m expecting my own bookish baby, I just had to share some of the cutest bookish gifts for any new addition to a family!

Bookish Presents for Babies

Photo Credit: Etsy

Every baby needs a Harry Potter onesie! 

 

Photo Credit: Etsy

Literary blocks?  Amazing!

One of my favorite blogger pals, Katie @ Words for Worms, made some bookish onesies with the cutest penguin on them!

Photo Credit: Etsy

Love this handmade bookish baby art for a nursery!  Adorable!

Any bookish baby stuff or bookish items for kids that you just love?

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Further Out Than You Thought by Michaela Carter

I received this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Further Out Than You Thought

Further Out Than You Thought by Michaela Carter is a unique take on the well-known tale of a woman finding herself.  Gwen is 25, a stripper with a loser boyfriend and a best friend who is dying of AIDS.  After the Rodney King verdict, there are riots in the streets and Gwen realizes she’s pregnant.  Can she and does she want to raise a baby with her stoner boyfriend Leo?  Valiant (the BFF neighbor) and Gwen kidnap Leo, drive to Mexico, and try to find themselves.

The positives: Gwen is a complex character, fighting with inner demons and her stripper alter-ego, while trying to come to terms with the fact that she is going to become a mother.  I love her relationship with others, with the men at the strip club, her fellow strippers, and Valiant.  I also thought the book portrayed Valiant’s disease in a poetic way.  I’m not discounting his battle with AIDS.  I’m only stating that in the book, Valiant was not the disease – he was Leo and Gwen’s best friend who also happened to be dying from AIDS.

This book wasn’t all roses for me.  I had a tough time with some of the sexual graphic nature.  Less with what was sexually graphic and more with the words the author chose to describe the scenarios.  I’m not a prude; I’ll read sexually explicit scenes, but there are a few words to describe genitalia that I’m not a fan of.  I also was not a fan of Leo at all.  He was so obviously a loser that I just wanted to shake Gwen.

Further Out Than You Thought does end on a hopeful note.  It doesn’t tie up all loose ends, which I love, and lets you determine some of the outcomes of the novel.

Check out the tour schedule for other opinions!

TLC Book Tours

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I couldn’t bear The Bear

The Bear

Photo Credit: Goodreads

I was so excited to read The Bear by Claire Cameron.  I mean, Room by Emma Donoghue blew my mind and could be one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.  Heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, overall amazing.

So The Bear is the same right?  Wrong.

Many people loved The Bear, but I just didn’t get into it.  I taught 5-year-olds and had a tough time fulling believing Anna as a character.  Some things were spot on, others I doubted.

Overall, the book didn’t grip me, and the ending dragged for me.  Although I do have to say that the Epilogue rocked and at least I ended the book on a high note with that.

Thanks Anita Loves Books for a copy!

What do you think of books like Room, Above by Isla Morley, and The Bear?

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Eating Wildly was wildly surprising!

I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Eating Wildly Eating Wildly by Ava Chin was such a surprise to me! I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to get into a book about foraging for wild grasses to make a meal, but Chin’s writing really just sucks you in.

Eating Wildly is a memoir, telling stories of Ava’s life, with her experiences of foraging for and cooking wild grasses and mushrooms. And if you can believe it, she forages in Brooklyn! Who would think that so much lush foliage would be growing in the hustle and bustle of NYC?

I practically ate up this book. I couldn’t put it down.

I loved the honesty of Chin’s experiences, of her love life and family life, as well as the recipes she included in the back of each chapter.

However, there were two parts of the book that just struck me. One, is where Ava’s super excited about these wild mushrooms she finds, but she isn’t sure if they’re edible or poisonous. So she meets up with a fungi master and he teaches her how to make a mushroom spore print, which will reveal if the mushrooms are safe to eat. It sounded really cool – almost cool enough to make me want to do one myself!

Then there was a scene where Ava found blackberries, and it took me back to my road trip. Last summer, my sister and I took a road trip around some of the southeastern US and one of our favorite parts of the trip was blackberry picking at a local NC farm. Although that’s probably as “forager-ing” as I’m ever going to get!

My sister & I "foraging" for blackberries at a u-pick in North Carolina - one of our favorite parts of the road trip!

My sister & I “foraging” for blackberries at a u-pick in North Carolina – one of our favorite parts of the road trip!

What is one of your favorite experiences with nature?

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5 Perfect Summer Reads with Depth

This is a sponsored post by Harlequin.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Most of the time when people discuss “summer reads” they end up being fluffy junky reads.  And those books are just not my thing.

My definition of Summer Reads are literally just books that I choose to read in the summer.  Maybe they’re a little shorter or quicker to get through than what I’d normally pick, but they have what I look for in all books: DEPTH!

Summer Reads with Depth

I just looooove reading outside, especially by the pool and/or with cupcakes! Even better is when I have friends and family by my side (not pictured but they totally exist, I swear!)

So I’ve compiled 5 of the perfect summer reads (with some depth to them of course) in case you’re in need of what to take with you to the beach or on vacay.

In no particular order. . .

Little Mercies

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf (came June 24, 2014, aka perfect time for a summer reads book) – In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences…”

I’m hooked already!  The family theme, and the idea of a gripping tale of motherhood?  I mean, I’m in!  And it’ll be a fun suspenseful read while relaxing at the beach.  Keep me on my toes.  Also, you know my BFF Allison @ The Book Wheel?  She has read previous books by this author and will not shut up about how awesome the books were.

Needless to say, this book is high on my summer reads list and sounds like the perfect book to take on vacation.  Which makes me think I should definitely bring it on my Charleston vacay next week.

Want some more info on the Little Mercies book and author?
·         Watch the Book Trailer
·         Visit Heather Gudenkauf’s Official Site
·         Follow Heather Gudenkauf on Twitter, Facebookand Pinterest
·         Visit Little Mercies page on Goodreads

 

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman – Why not read a great book about snow while lounging by the pool?  Okay, well it’s more of a suspenseful read that happens to take place in the snow but as a Florida girl, I just LOVE the idea of reading all about snow with my toes in the sand.

And just by super coincidence, this is another one that Allison wouldn’t shut up about.  Hmmm. . . I guess I take my Allison recs very seriously.

Also, Jenny is such a cool person.  I met her recently and she is embarking on the world’s longest book tour with her husband and two kids.  Summer = road trip and a book that makes you thankful you’re at the pool/beach/someplace warm.

Photo Credit: Goodreads

The Beach by Alex Garland – I read this book years ago, and recently re-watched the movie, but I just love a book about a secret utopian beach society, with an evil twist.

First of all, it goes without saying that a perfect summer read book takes place ON A BEACH.  And it’s like the most gorgeous beach imagined.  But of course all good utopian books have a little dystopia in them!

The Beach is the perfect book for your beach vacation with friends.  It touches on some of those friend/family aspects, making mistakes and enjoying life.

And if you check out the movie, Leo is in it when he was kind of young, which is always an added bonus!

Photo Credit: Goodreads

For One More Day by Mitch Albom – Enjoy your life, your summer, and this book, For One More Day really reminds you to do just that.

The main character gets a chance to spend time with his deceased mother for one more day, and it’s sad, inspirational, and a great short and easy read.  Plus, it makes you want to not only call your mom and other family members, but to make some time for them.

Live life with no regrets, which means you should plan a family visit this summer, and of course, read this Albom book (which is a super quick read perfect length for a plane ride home).

Or pick up any other book by Mitch Albom.  They all have similar themes: love, life, living, and no taking advantage of your time.  Which are great themes for a summer book, to remind you what life is really about.

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Any of Maya Angelou’s million autobiographies – It’s true, she’s written a ton of them. And if you haven’t read her bios you might be like “What is Rebecca thinking recommending that I read some boring poetry woman?”

But it’s soooo not the case! Maya Angelou has done some really cool things in her life, struggled as a single mom, and she’s a great autobio writer.  It’s nonfiction obviously, so it’s an easy way to spread your reading wings and jump into a true-to-life book.

Pick up any one of her fifty (just kidding, I think it’s like 7 or something!) autobiographies this summer and check them out.  Most are short and filled with really high-interest stories perfect for the summer because then you can be all like “Did you know Maya Angelou supported herself as single mom by dancing at a club?” and “Did you know Maya Angelou was a member of the opera Porgy and Bess?”

 

So there you have it – my list of 5 summer reads that not only have depth but will satisfy a variety of interests.

What book(s) do you plan on diving into this summer?

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