Friday, March 28, 2014

In The Woods

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)Title: In The Woods
Author: Tana French
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #1
Read: March 22, 2014

Summary: As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones. And look for French's new mystery, Broken Harbor, for more of the Dublin Murder Squad. goodreads

Review: I loved the intro to this book. I thought it set it up perfectly and got me very excited from the beginning. Take a glance:

Picture a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film set in small-town 1950s. This is none of Ireland's subtle seasons mixed for a connoisseur's palate, watercolor nuances within a pinch-sized range of cloud and soft rain; this is summer full-throated and extravagant in a hot pure silkscreen blue. This summer explodes on your tongue tasting of chewed blades of long grass, your own clean sweat, Marie biscuits with butter squirting through the holes and shaken bottles of red lemonade picnicked in tree houses. It tingles on your skin with BMX wind in your face, ladybug feet up your arm; it packs every breath full of mown grass and billowing was lines; it chines and fountains with bird calls, bees, leaves and football bounces and skipping-chants, One! two! three! This summer will never end. It starts every day with a shower of Mr. Whippy notes and your best friend's knock at the door, finishes it with long slow twilight and mothers silhouetted in doorways calling you to come in, through the bats shrilling among the black lace trees. 

Seriously, if that doesn't give you goosebumps, you didn't read it right. I was hooked from the very beginning because the prologue took me back to my summers growing up in suburbia and all of the feelings that went along with it. I don't remember the rest of the book being as lyrical as this but I loved this setting of the scene. Soon after this eloquent description, we meet Det. Rob Ryan. As the narrator, he introduces himself with the following:

"What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this-- two things: I crave truth. And I lie."

We then go on to find out that he was one of the three children described in the prologue that disappeared and he was the only one who was found. I was hooked. I love a good mystery and this had all of the elements. Unfortunately, as the story progressed and eventually ended, I found myself looking for more. More answers, more truth, more story because I didn't feel like it was finished. I'm going to go ahead and say 


now because I can't talk about my issues with this story without focusing on the main spoiler. You've been warned.

We never find out what happened to Ryan and his friends!!! What??? I'm glad they figured out the Katy murder but really, I was more intersted in this mystery. I loved how they interwove both of these stories and each one had an impact on the other but they never finished the initial mystery. I looked into it and no other books in this series touch on the story or what happened to the kids. I hate that! And for someone who "craves the truth," Det. Ryan sure gave up easily. Pretty much ruined all of the positive things I had to say about this book.

I was also really disappointed with where Ryan and Cassie's relationship ended up. I hate that he ruined everything by turning into the stereotypical "I don't want a relationship which means we can't interact" boy after they got together. I loved the plutonic friendship they had going but it took that turn and everything turned to crap. Ryan also went off the deep end at that point which made it hard to tell what was actually going on. I figured the "I lie" thing was going to come into play more at some point but it didn't really. It seemed more like he lost his sanity for a period of time and acted on that rather than deliberately lying. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book until the ending. I didn't like how the relationships turned out or how the mysteries were solved (or not.) But I enjoyed the build up and that is why I think I was so upset in the end. I really enjoyed some of the foreshadowing that Ryan used. He would reference something screwing things up in the future or state that he should have known how this would affect things. But then it didn't really affect them at all and he shouldn't have seen it coming. I don't know. I'm not looking for a happy ending by any means but at least wrap up the loose ends. So this book gets 3/5. I really enjoyed the build up but was extremely let down in the end. Anyone else read this? 

(ps sorry about the formatting. Blogger wouldn't cooperate.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Bookish Bucket List

As you probably know, the ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish host a weekly meme and when I'm feeling like it, I participate. Definitely doesn't happen weekly but when I'm inspired, I do. Originally, I was less than inspired with this prompt but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I do actually have a bookish bucket list. I'm all about goals remember?!?!

My Bookish Bucket List

1. The bookish thing that I have wanted more than anything for as long as I can remember is to have my own library! This blog is even inspired by my love of libraries. My family had  pseudo library growing up but it was mostly a mess and not my idea of a "real library." What is a real library you ask? See below.

Melk Abbey

National Library of Prague

Biltmore House Library. This is my favorite library I've ever actually been in and exactly what I picture for my dream library.

These images just make me swoon. And yes, I know I'll never live at the Biltmore but the husband has promised me a library and that is one I'm going to hold him to.

2. Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I'm a die hard Potterhead and the fact that this place exists and I haven't been, is very upsetting. I need to go but a part of me worries that it won't be all I have imagined in my head (it can get crazy in there sometimes) and I'll be disappointed. I still plan to go but that little seed has been planted and I have to admit that I worry about it a little bit. Sidenote: the husband has promised this too. He is also a Potterhead and the promise was probably made more for himself than for me but sometimes, he just gets me.

3. Read Stephen King's oeuvre. Isn't that a fancy word for complete works?!? There are a lot of author's that I would like to do this for (Ahem, Diana Gabaldon) but I feel like his books are so varied and I've enjoyed so many of them that I would really like to do this.

4. Own a first edition of Atlas Shrugged. I recently read this book and fell in love. I have highlighted the crap out of it on my nook but I'd really like a first edition of it. Or any book really...

5. Go to an author's signing. I have one signed book in my collection and I ordered it online so it doesn't even count. I never hear of author's I'm interested in coming to my town (which is really a city) but I would love to attend a book signing!

6. Own a bookstore. This probably stems from #1 but I have always wanted to own my own store. I know that financially, it's not really a good investment and that small bookstores are probably on their way out (pour some out for our fallen homies) but it's still a dream. I want to be Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail minus the store closing, dead mom, and Fox books. 

7. Read my entire TBR list. This one is probably never going to happen... at last count it was hovering around 250. The problem is that I'm constantly adding to it so it's like a never ending goal. But maybe I'll put a cap on it (like books added up to 2014) and get through them all one year just to feel like I've done it. 

8. Visit more bookish places. I would love to go to Scotland or Guernsey (settings of two of my favorite books) or more famous libraries. I just feel like there are more bookish places that exist that I would enjoy even though I don't really have specifics. 

9. Own all of the original Nancy Drew Mystery Series books. My mom handed-down her Nancy Drews to me when I was younger and I just fell in love. It was a much simpler time when Nancy was around but I really connected with the stories and characters as a little girl and it meant the world to me that they were my mom's. She actually has most of them but I would like to complete the collection in the 1966 editions.


10. Pass on my love of reading to my children. Every once in a while I can convince my husband to read a series but he's not as bookish as me. I got my love of reading from my parents and it's something special to me that I would like to continue with my kids. There will be a lot of books in our house!

 I'll be linking up with TBTB and you should too! Do you have any bookish goals?!?!

Monday, March 24, 2014


Challenges. I love 'em. I've already shared my love of goals with you and my love of challenges goes hand in hand with that. But I should specify, I really only love reading challenges or maybe dorky challenges between my siblings, my husband, and me (like who can do the most what in the shortest amount of time.) Even though it sounds bad, I'm not so big into personal growth challenges. Like weight loss challenges or cleaning challenges or self-improvement challenges. Yes, I need to do those but I'd rather you challenge me to read 100 books in a year or race my brother in flip cup. See what I mean about the type of challenges I enjoy?
*Sidenote: By the end of this paragraph, does the word challenges sound funny to anyone else yet?

Since this is a book blog, I'm obviously going to focus on my book challenges (even though I'm sure a select few of you would like to hear about my weird family challenges. Most of them end inappropriately so let's keep those to ourselves for now.) I discovered various challenges on Goodreads a few years back and have participated in a couple. I'm part of the 50, 75, and 100+ books a year challenges but those have lost some appeal for me because I can do those challenges easy and they only require listing what I've read. Boring.

My all-time favorite challenge that I've participated in is the College Students! reading challenge. In real life, I'm no longer a college student, le sigh. But this was the best challenge that I found so I stuck with it. And I even won the whole she-bang a few seasons ago! (Best part of challenges is #winning in case you didn't know. Don't give me all of that "it's the journey" crap. Winning is where it's at.)

Usually, I get really into the challenge and make a really intense spreadsheet to keep track of everything but not this season. Unfortunately, the most recent College Students! challenge has left me wanting more. I'm not sure whether it's because I didn't like many of the tasks (which I didn't) or if I just couldn't make my books fit into them (which I couldn't) or my overall lack of motivation (common problem) but something has slowed me down when it comes to participating. I have books that I could report for reporting sake and get the points but I don't really care. Not to mention someone already completed the Fall/Winter challenge like a month ago when it doesn't end until the end of March. I know I should keep participating but it kind of takes the competition and the fun out of it. Hmpf.

Buuuuuuuut-- Fall/Winter is almost over which means a new challenge shall begin soon! And I'm already kind of getting excited. I'm hoping for better tasks and that I will particpate more because I've really enjoyed it in the past. I'm also looking for lots of other reading challenges out there. I'm not so big on TBR challenges because the majority of the books I read come straight from there so I'm constantly working on it (how do y'all keep track of what to read if it's not on your TBR?!?!?) But I'm interested in other fun and unique challenges. 

Any suggestions? 

And is anyone interested in joining me in the Spring/Summer challenge? (College student or not :)) 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Red Seas Under Red Skies

Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard, #2)Title: Red Seas Under Red Skies
Author: Scott Lynch
Series: Gentleman Bastard #2
Read: March 2, 2014

Summary: Locke and his trusted sidekick, Jean, target the grandest prize of all: the Sinspire, the most exclusive and heavily guarded gambling house in the world. Its nine floors attract the wealthiest clientele—and to rise to the top, one must impress with good credit, amusing behavior... and excruciatingly impeccable play. For there is one cardinal rule, enforced by Requin, the house's cold-blooded master: it is death to cheat at any game at the Sinspire.

But someone in Tal Verrar has uncovered the duo's secret. Someone from their past who has every intention of making the impudent criminals pay for their sins. Now it will take every ounce of cunning to save their mercenary souls. And even that may not be enough. goodreads

Review: The boys are back! And this time, they are going out to sea to live the pirate life. From the very first pages in the prologue, Scott Lynch rips your heart out, dances all over it, and then feeds it to his dog. If those first handful of pages don't just kill you, you should put this book back and quit reading altogether because you will never be able to connect with a story or a set of characters if you can connect with these guys. Just quit know.

If you haven't quit, then you will jump back a couple of years in the first few chapters to pick up where Lies left off. Locke is recovering and Jean is doing his best to take care of him. Pretty early on, we start to see the relationship between these two start to fray. They are both overwhelmed by recent events and are handling it very differently which causes some friction. Luckily, they get past it and begin their next con. This story started out following the boys on a con at a gambling house but quickly veered off to a story of Tel Verrar politics and the life of a pirate.

I really enjoyed the story pretty much up until they became pirates but then I kind of fell off. Don't get me wrong, I still loved it and Jean and Locke and some of the new characters but I couldn't care less for the life of a seaman and all of the details that were included regarding how to man a ship. Didn't care. Eventually the boys pick up their con in Tal Verrar again which I enjoyed but it was relatively anti-climatic.

I guess I'm a Gentleman Bastards purist and I want to learn about the cons and the stealing and the relationships more than technical ship information. While the story didn't do as much for me as Lies did, I really felt like Jean and Locke's relationship was tested and grew during this book, which of course I loved. I'm currently reading the third book and I've officially met Sabetha so I can't wait to see where the story goes.

Not as entertaining as Lies of Locke Lamora but still damn good!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Leftovers

The LeftoversTitle: The Leftovers
Author: Tom Perrotta
Read: March 8, 2014

Summary: What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished?  Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down?That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.

Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin’s own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne.  Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be.  Kevin wants to help her, but he’s distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.

With heart, intelligence and a rare ability to illuminate the struggles inherent in ordinary lives, Tom Perrotta has written a startling, thought-provoking novel about love, connection and loss. goodreads

Review: First thoughts, this is a weird book. But enjoyable! It is a very strange concept to think what would happen after a "Sudden Departure." There are people who would immediately identify it  as the Rapture, which happened in this book, but they may quickly find that it doesn't all add up to that. There will be others who will search for a scientific reason and they may also come up short. Then there are those who just accept that this is the new normal and try to find their way. The interesting thing is how the theories/reactions to this event divide and characterize the people they happen to. That is what this story is about.

We get to meet various people at different stages in their lives when the Departure happens and then follow them through the years that follow. After the departure, the story becomes relatively normal. Families break apart, friendships are made, dreams change and life goes on. I really enjoyed how the characters in this book all had different connections to each other yet handled the Departure extremely differently.

I read the Left Behind series in high school which is the religious view of what happens after the rapture. Those books focused specifically on the religious aftermath of such an event but I think this story is like the non-religious people who are left over. Some of them join "cults" and leave their old lives behind while others try to make their lives fit into the new world.

I'm not entirely sure where this book came from or how it got on my TBR list (do I ever actually know?!?!) but it was an entertaining read and a relatively unique concept.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Title: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Author: Allie Brosh
Read: March 9, 2014

Summary: This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative--like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it--but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness! goodreads

Review: I'm assuming you have heard of Allie's blog if you haven't been living under a rock for the last year or so. If not, drop everything you are doing and go visit her right now! After visiting her blog, or cracking open this book, you will quickly realize a few things. 1) She's effing hilarious and awkward and may be your spirit animal (or that's just me.) 2) Homegirl has skills with Paintbrush that you could never imagine. 3) You aren't the only one with a "simple dog." 4) She originated "Clean all the things!" (see below).


I got this book for my husband for Christmas (even he had heard of it, people!!!) and there were multiples times that he looked up from reading to tell me she reminds him of me (particularly the cake story...) I'm assuming this happens to a lot of people based on how funny she is but I just related to her and her ridiculous adventures. Even the depression she handled in such a perfect and unique way that I was impressed she didn't have a degree in Psych. She communicated what it feels like to go through depression and how you see the world while going through it in a way that people can understand. Even if they've never felt it before. I love that she gets very deep and personal on a blog that makes millions of people laugh and that her audience now understands depression in a way I'm sure they didn't before. Good work, Allie!

This book is fun, quick, and entertaining. The drawings are their own kind of art and the short stories provide an interesting view of every day life. I would recommend it to anyone with a sense of humor (even if you don't like blogs or short stories) and who knows, maybe you'll just find your spirit animal!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Innocents

The InnocentsTitle: The Innocents
Author: Francesca Segal
Read: February 28, 2014

Summary: What if everything you'd ever wanted was no longer enough?

Adam and Rachel are getting married at last. Childhood sweethearts whose lives and families have been intertwined for years; theirs is set to be the wedding of the year.

But then Rachel's cousin Ellie makes an unexpected return to the family fold. Beautiful, reckless and troubled, Ellie represents everything that Adam has tried all his life to avoid - and everything that is missing from his world. As the long-awaited wedding approaches, Adam is torn between duty and temptation, security and freedom, and must make a choice that will break either one heart, or many. goodreads

Review: After I read this book, I found out that it is a retelling of The Age of Innocence. I'm sorry to say I have never read that book and I didn't have any idea what it was about (until I read this story.) This means I will not be able to compare and contrast these two books as most people probably do. This is probably a good thing because I'm sure if you've heard of this book, you don't need another viewpoint of that. In normal Emily fashion, I'm going to lay out my thoughts and just let my opinions fly. Here goes!

The story follows Adam through his relationship with Rachel as well as his eventual relationship with her cousin, Ellie. Adam lives in a little Jewish bubble in London where everyone knows everyone else's business and gossip runs rampant. The funny thing about this town is that the judging and gossip is so commonplace that it is just accepted as part of life. As you can imagine, this leads to a lot of guilt and responsibility.

Very early on in the book, I had an idea of where this story was going based on the following quote about Adam's relationship with Rachel:

"Rachel never surprised him, and he considered it a testament to their intimacy that he could predict her reactions with complete confidence. Life, he knew, provided enough of the unexpected. Adam had perspective. A steady and loyal copilot was more important thyan whatever passing frisson might come with more spontaneous spirits."

Looking back on it, I have the same thought as the first time that I read it. This sounds nice and a little bit like settling but he sounds relatively content. But it also led to some foreshadowing because it is clear he is only content because he has never had anything else to compare her to. Unfortunately, as soon as something else strikes his fancy, Adam is no longer content. That fancy striking thing just happens to be Rachel's cousin, Ellie.

You can guess for yourself what happens and the guilt and shame that result. But the story didn't turn out like I expected. In the end, a lot of innocence was lost but I think that had to happen in order for the main characters to grow. Their innocence in their bubble was appealing for a very long time until their eyes were opened and they saw that there was more out there. There is a lot of judgement in this novel but instead of focusing on who you could judge while reading it, I think it is more important who you can forgive for their faults because you remember losing your innocence. Very interesting and maybe I'll have to check out The Age of Innocence.