Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Review: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

It all comes down to what happened at the barbecue. Vid's impromptu invitation brings his neighbors Erika and Oliver and their friends Sam and Clementine together with Vid and his wife Tiffany for an evening that changes all of their lives. But what actually happened that day? And will their marriages and friendships withstand the tension that has developed around them?

Truly Madly Guilty is Liane Moriarty's latest novel and I just had to pre-order it when I heard it was coming out because I love her stories. Unfortunately, I need to echo what I've heard from many other fans of hers that this is far from my favorite novel by Moriarty. I can't really say why, though. I just didn't feel drawn in and intrigued the way I usually feel when I read her writing. The characters were okay but I never really connected with any of them and I didn't feel that excited about the storyline and mystery surrounding the barbecue.

The novel follows the lives of these three couples and their families both the day of the barbecue and two months later. Sam and Clementine seem the most changed, happily married before and struggling in their marriage after. Erika and Oliver are mostly dealing with her mother's hoarding issues and her need to remember the details of the barbecue that have escaped her. And Vid and Tiffany are absorbed with their daughter and the change that has overcome her since that night.

The story wasn't bad, and as I've seen some other reviewers say, I would perhaps have enjoyed it more if it were written by another author. I think I have much higher expectations to be amazed, rather than just entertained when I pick up a Moriarty novel.

My Rating:

Read my other reviews of Liane Moriarty books (both 5-star reviews):
Big Little Lies
What Alice Forgot

This review was written based on a copy of Truly Madly Guilty that I purchased. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Reading Recap

book and coffee

Good morning! I hope you've had a nice few weeks since my last reading recap. My kids have started school and they both seem to be enjoying their new teachers and classmates. I've been extremely busy with work, as usual. We're all anxiously awaiting Fall arriving here. Starting today, I don't see any 90s in the 15 day forecast so that is a huge relief. The past several months have been hot and humid without any breaks so cooler weather, even just mid-80s, is quite welcome! I'd love to sit on my porch and read.

Blog events and challenges

This summer I participated in the Big Book Summer Reading Challenge hosted by Sue at Book By Book. I only managed to read three books for the challenge, but I enjoyed all of them. I read The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, and The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.

This past weekend, I participated in the Fall Bloggiesta. I managed to get most of my list done, which felt good. Hopefully that will kickstart me into blogging more regularly now. I wrote two reviews, got my Reviews page updated and posted several reviews on Goodreads. I also participated in one of the Twitter chats - the closing chat last night.

What I'm reading

Since my last update, I read Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty. Unfortunately, I agree with many of the reviews I've seen that it was just okay. My review will be up this week. I am now reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, which I am enjoying.

What my kids are reading

M, who is a 4th grader, read Claudia and Mean Janine, part of The Baby-Sitters Club series by Raina Telgemeier. She is now reading The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman at home, and her class is starting to read Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper.

Carter, who is a 7th grader, finished the Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen. He is now reading Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton.

I am having a tough time finding books for Carter now. We go to the library and just wander around picking things off the shelf because he's read so many of the popular series already! Any favorite YA books and series that you'd recommend for a 12 year old boy, or online book lists we could check out? Please let me know in the comments.

Book links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. I'm linking up with Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading? as well as Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for the children's and YA version of this weekly gathering.

What are you reading? Please share in the comments!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Book Review: With Love from the Inside by Angela Pisel

Grace Bradshaw's execution date has been set. Her last appeal has been denied. Her 17 years on death row will finally come to an end as she is put to death for the murder of her infant son due to Munchausen by proxy syndrome. She was essentially convicted of making her son sick in order to get attention. But before she dies, Grace wants to reunite with her daughter who stopped visiting the prison 11 years ago when she decided to put her past behind her and live a new life.

With Love from the Inside by Angela Pisel is a novel about two women trying to understand how they ended up where they are. One, Grace, is a mother who suffered the greatest loss ~ the death of her child ~ and then essentially lost another child who turned away from her during her imprisonment. The other woman, her daughter Sophie, is a woman who has made a life for herself completely based on a lie. Her husband, his family, her friends and coworkers all believe her mother is dead, not imprisoned. But when Grace's lawyer is finally able to find Sophie and tell her that her mother's execution date has been set, she realizes that she needs to know the truth about what happened.

The story is told in alternating chapters from the points of view of Grace and Sophie. Through Grace, we are able to see the inside of death row, and a glimpse at some of the women who make up Grace's community. Her chapters often include journal entries addressed to Sophie. Through Sophie, we get to see the truth unfold as she digs into the past to understand more about her little brother's death.

I really enjoyed this novel. It's well written, the characters are realistic and likeable, and the storyline holds together from beginning to end. Pisel has done extensive research on women on death row and it's evident in this novel. Emotional, suspenseful and full of love, With Love from the Inside will pull you inside the world of these two women.

My Rating:

This review was written based on a copy of With Love from the Inside that I received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Bloggiesta: Time to Get Back to the Blog

I have been neglecting my blog so badly lately. I noticed that there's a Bloggiesta going on this weekend and I don't have a lot going on myself, so here I am with a very short but important to-do list. It's all about reviews for me. I need to write reviews. I need to update my reviews list on my blog. I need to add reviews to Goodreads and Amazon. The main reason for this blog is to share my thoughts on books, so I need to actually do it!

Here's my official list:
  • Write at least 3 reviews ~ UPDATE: 2 done; 1 to go
  • Update Reviews page
  • Add all reviews that haven't been added yet to Goodreads
  • Add select reviews to Amazon
  • Clean up the review requests in my email
If you are participating, what's on your list?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Coloring Book Review: Inkspirations Fruit of the Spirit

Do you enjoy coloring? Since I was a child, I have always loved to color. When I was young, that was one of my favorite things to do. I can remember staying up all night with my best friend, and we would spend hours coloring. Back then, I used crayons, but now I like to color with colored pencils. And I'm very happy to say that my 9-year-old daughter likes to color with me!

Several weeks ago, I won a copy of a new coloring book called Inkspirations Fruit of the Spirit with original art by Lorrie Bennett. The book is filled with inspirational quotes from scripture paired with beautiful pictures to color.

The book is set up as two-page spreads, but M and I picked individual pictures that we liked, rather than coloring the two pages together. I will admit that we are not a very religious family, but I plan to have M color some of these as gifts for family and friends who are. They really are beautiful ~ both the sayings and the pictures.

I've shared few pictures that M and I colored. She colored the LOVE picture and the forest scene, while I colored the hot air balloon. I love patterns like that, and she is obviously drawn to animals. It was so nice to spend some time with my little girl coloring. I'm hopeful that "adult" coloring books like this will allow us to continue this tradition for many years.

This review was written based on a copy of Inkspirations that I won from a Facebook contest. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change.