Sunday, November 29, 2015

[Review] Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
Series: Winter, #1
Publisher: Little Brown & Co
Publishing Date: Oct. 14, 2014
256 Pages
Format: hardcover, library
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 3 stars


In bestseller Elin Hilderbrand's first Christmas novel, a family gathers on Nantucket for a holiday filled with surprises.

Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket's Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them grown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can't get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley's second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines. 

As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who's playing Santa at the inn's annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley's ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn. 

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.

My Review

This was our winter pick for my book club and I was excited to read it. I've read other novels by Hilderbrand and I've always really enjoyed them; plus, it's a winter themed novel and what a better time to read it?! 

This what a pretty short, quick book. There's a lot going on with the different family members, and everyone kind of has their own secrets. As the story unfolds, we learn what these secrets are and how the family handles them. It's great to see the family come together in tough times and really support one another. 

This is a mini review, but I really did enjoy this book and I'm glad I read it. Great holiday read. I can't wait to read more of Hilderbrand's work. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

[Review] The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber

The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder by Charles Graeber
Publisher: Twelve
Publishing Date: April 15, 2013
276 Pages
Format: hardcover, library
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 3 stars


After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed "The Angel of Death" by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history.

Cullen's murderous career in the world's most trusted profession spanned sixteen years and nine hospitals across New Jersey and Pennsylvania. When, in March of 2006, Charles Cullen was marched from his final sentencing in an Allentown, Pennsylvania, courthouse into a waiting police van, it seemed certain that the chilling secrets of his life, career, and capture would disappear with him. Now, in a riveting piece of investigative journalism nearly ten years in the making, journalist Charles Graeber presents the whole story for the first time. Based on hundreds of pages of previously unseen police records, interviews, wire-tap recordings and videotapes, as well as exclusive jailhouse conversations with Cullen himself and the confidential informant who helped bring him down, THE GOOD NURSE weaves an urgent, terrifying tale of murder, friendship, and betrayal.

Graeber's portrait of Cullen depicts a surprisingly intelligent and complicated young man whose promising career was overwhelmed by his compulsion to kill, and whose shy demeanor masked a twisted interior life hidden even to his family and friends. Were it not for the hardboiled, unrelenting work of two former Newark homicide detectives racing to put together the pieces of Cullen's professional past, and a fellow nurse willing to put everything at risk, including her job and the safety of her children, there's no telling how many more lives could have been lost.

In the tradition of In Cold Blood, THE GOOD NURSE does more than chronicle Cullen's deadly career and the breathless efforts to stop him; it paints an incredibly vivid portrait of madness and offers a penetrating look inside America's medical system. Harrowing and irresistibly paced, this book will make you look at medicine, hospitals, and the people who work in them, in an entirely different way.

My Review

A co-worker of mine told me about this book because she's been meaning to read it for a while. And because I work in the legal field and medical field a little, I was very interested. I grabbed a copy of this from my library and dove right in. I didn't know too much about this book when I started except that it was about a nurse who killed patients, but I soon found out a lot more. 

This was an interesting book. Charles Cullen first started as a nurse in the late 1980's and continued to practice until the early 2000's. Throughout that time, he worked in 9 or 10 different facilities, and killed people at all of those. I found it very intriguing how he stole the medication, how he chose patients (sometimes chose them, sometimes left it up to whoever got a specific IV bag), and how he didn't get caught for so long! So many facilities had concerns about him and he was often involved in internal investigations. But because of the lack of technology in those times, and the nature of the medical field, they couldn't prove that he was actually killing patients. It took many years before everything was out in the open and he finally admitted to killing about 40 patients, though some experts say it was as many as 400. 

It's always fascinating to get into the minds of killers even though many won't admit to why they did it. I thought this author did a pretty good job laying out all the facts, keeping my interest, and showing Cullen's true, cold character. Interesting read and if you like true crime or medical crime, I would suggest picking this up. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

[Review] After You by Jojo Moyes

After You by Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You, #2
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Publishing Dates: Sept 29, 2015
Format: ARC, hardcover
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 5 stars


How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

After You is quintessential Jojo Moyes—a novel that will make you laugh, cry, and rejoice at being back in the world she creates. Here she does what few novelists can do—revisits beloved characters and takes them to places neither they nor we ever expected.

My Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I had a bad book hangover after reading Me Before You (first review here; second here). I couldn't get over how amazing Lou and Will's story was, and I didn't want to to be over. Once I found out there was going to be a movie, it helped my hangover a little. And then I saw there was this sequel. I couldn't wait to get a copy of it! It did sit on my shelf a little longer than I wanted it to, but I had to get to some others first. Plus, let's be honest, I was a little nervous about starting this. I loved Me Before You so much that I was really worried this wouldn't be as good. 

Thankfully, my worries were unfounded. I really, really enjoyed After You. It was slower paced than Me Before You, but good nonetheless. I enjoy Lou as a character and I liked finding out what happened to her after the end of the last book. We saw her grow so much in Me Before You and in After You, she regresses a little. But I think that's to be expected after you lose someone you love. But as the book, and her life, moves on, she slowly starts coming out of her depression and living a little more. There are certain characters that help her with this and it's interesting to see how they all interact. 

I know some people felt this book wasn't necessary, but I'm glad it was written. I like Lou as a character, I wanted to find out what happened to her after, and I really like Moyes' writing. I thought she did a good job of giving the readers more info about Lou without taking away from the story in Me Before You. Very much enjoyed this book!

Monday, November 16, 2015

[Review] Re-read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Publishing Date: Dec. 31, 2012
Format: paperback, purchased
369 Pages
Goodreads rating: 5 stars
First read: March, 2014


Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

My Review

This is a re-read for me! I wanted to read this again before I picked up After You, the sequel. It's been a little over a year and a half since I last read this and I actually forgot quite a bit, so I'm glad I read it again. See my first review here!

Last year, when I finished this book, I said it was easily one of my favorite books and one of the best book buying decisions I've ever made. I couldn't wait to re-read it, but I always have reservations about re-reading one of my favorites because I'm worried I won't like it quite as much. I couldn't have been more wrong! I absolutely loved this book just as much, if not more, the second time around! Everything I loved about it the first time was amplified the second time. I absolutely love Will and Louisa as characters. They are so incredibly real and I can easily relate to them. Will has had something horrible happen to him, and unfortunately, it changed his life forever for the negative. While I can't understand what it's like to be in his situation, I can empathize. He led a HUGE life before his accident and he struggles with not being able to do the same things. 

On the other hand, Louisa leads a very quite, very simple, if not boring life. She works, she goes home, she sometimes sees her boyfriend. But once she begins working with Will, he pulls her out of her shell. Little by very little, we see her grow. She argues with Will, tells him when he's being a complete ass, but also goes along with his wishes to show him she can. She really is different from the beginning of the book. 

And together, these two are beautiful. I cried so much throughout this book; more than I thought I would since I already knew what was happening! Part of me kept wishing this book would end differently. But at the same time, I realize the end is what makes this book so wonderful. I really can't get enough of this book or Jojo Moyes' writing! 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

[Review] Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Series: Infernal Devices, #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: Aug. 31, 2010
479 Pages
Format: paperback, won
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 3.5 stars


In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them...

My Review

I won a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster in 2014 for a 31 days of reading giveaway. Unfortunately, it's been sitting on my shelf since then! I decided to pick this one up recently, and I'm really glad I did! I really liked this book and I'm very interested in reading the rest of this series and the Mortal Instruments series as well. It's full of fantasy and interesting characters. I wasn't sure if I would be super interested in this steampunk world. But once I started reading, I was hooked. I really liked the characters, especially Tessa, Will, and Jem; they were unique in their own ways. Will was a tough character to figure out, and I'm not sure I quite have, even after the book ended. And I feel really bad for Jem, but I can't elaborate without giving anything away! This book was full of adventure and suspense. I wasn't sure what was going to happen or which characters I could trust. Overall, it kept me interested and wanting to know more. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

My Fall TBR List!

I'm a little behind for posting this for a fall list, but it's not quite winter yet either, and since I love making lists, I figured I'd do fall first! These are the books I'm planning to read within the next few weeks, which will probably transfer over to my winter list.

1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
currently reading this one and it's very good so far! 

2. The 9th Judgment by James Patterson 

3. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 

This will be a re-read so I can read... 

4. After You by Jojo Moyes

5. We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

6. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

7. The Stranger by Harlan Coben

8. One in a Million by Jill Shalvis 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

[Review] The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publishing Date: Oct 1, 1999
546 Pages
Format: paperback, purchased
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 1 star


The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it -- from garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa. The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy.

My Review

I first heard of this book when I was at my aunt's house and she told me how much she liked it. So I borrowed it from her and started reading. I got about 1/3 or 1/2 way through and put it down. I can't remember exactly why I stopped reading it, if it was another book I picked up, lost interest, or what. But regardless, I had my aunt's copy a long time and I needed to give it back to her. So when I saw this at my local used book store, I picked up a copy for myself because I was really interested in reading it (and finishing it this time). 

My book club picked it for last month's read, so it was the perfect time to get back into it. But the problem was, I couldn't! It was a really slow start for me and I never really got into the story. I struggled to read it, often putting it down, and couldn't concentrate on the book when other things were going on, like my husband watching tv next to me. I didn't enjoy it at all. I found some of the characters to be annoying and their chapters dragged on for me. 

It's disappointing because I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, it didn't do it for me.