The Butterfly Garden **** 4/5
Dot Hutchison - Thriller / Suspense
While reading "The Butterfly Garden," I really wasn't sure how I felt. There were several moments when I simply closed the book and took a moment to gather my thoughts. It's a very dark novel, written eloquently but with dark undertones.
The Gardener's obsession with one of natures most beautiful creations, butterflies, is carried to a new extreme when he starts to collect young women. He names them, tattoos intricate wing designs onto their backs and forces them to live in a preservation jar of his own creation; a garden so beautiful, yet so terrifying. He feeds them, clothes them and cares for them deeply, but on the night of their 21st birthday he preserves them with Formaldehyde and places them in a tomb of glass, displaying their wings in a hallway of eternal beauty...and death.
"The Butterfly Garden" was certainly a book I found hard to stop reading. The plot and characters are well developed and unique in their creation, but the ending left a bit to be desired. While I understand the thought behind the closing of the book, it felt a little underwhelming. A long, twisted climb up a mountain side only to find there wasn't much of a view at the top. I think the ending could have been a bit more dramatic and deserving of the text that came before it.
Overall all, darkness and anti-climatic ending aside, I really did enjoy "The Butterfly Garden" and would recommend it.
"The Butterfly Garden" was my KindleFirst selection for May! Check out the other books in the program this month HERE.
Orphan Train *** (3/5)
Christina Baker Kline - Fiction
Orphan Train was an interesting read and definitely kept me engaged through to the very end but I found Molly, a teenage girl trapped in the shuffle of the foster care system, to be very flat and one dimensional. Totally an unnecessary character to the story as a whole.
While I see the connection Baker created between Molly and Vivian, I think Vivian's story itself is more than enough to sustain an entertaining and meaningful experience for the reader. I just didn't see any added value to Molly's character, especially not the back and forth between Vivian's life and Molly's. The ping-ponging between characters was not only a bit cumbersome to follow, but it could easily cause someone to put the novel down without really getting a true feel for the book.
Orphan Train portrays a period in history that I am so thankful to have not experienced first hand. The reality that children were treated like cattle, boarded onto trains, lined up and picked for their working features rather than to become members of a family is beyond me. Children no older than 10 forced to work as farm hands doing manual labor and sleeping on hay bales along side cattle is absurd and heartbreaking.
It's an emotional read for sure, but I really did enjoy learning about Vivian and her journey right up until the very end. I just wish Molly's character had been less prominent and more of Vivian's story had been told.
Other Books By Christina Baker Kline
Me Before You **** 4/5
Jojo Moyes- Realistic Fiction / Romance
I think I’ve made it abundantly clear that I am not, and never will be, a hopeless romantic, nor will I ever find chick-lit books enjoyable. In fact, if the synopsis on the back of book eludes to anything remotely romantical, I’ll likely make a ridiculous face while in the process of placing it back onto the shelf or table form which it came.
I don’t like books that blatantly try to toy with or evoke certain emotions, nor do I like books that are just over-the-top, ridiculously sappy. Despite the brash assumption I made of this book based on the movie adaptation cover, it wasn’t overly romantic at all. In fact, there really wasn’t any romance through the entire book and the emotions Ms. Moyes evoked were pure and poured effortlessly from my feelers.
You Before Me is about finding a connection where you didn’t think there could ever be one. It's about living life the way you want to, doing things, going places that make you happy. You Before Me is about sincerely making an effort to live life, a different kind of life; a life filled with adventures and experiences.
Louisa and Will are extraordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstance and the relationship that blossoms and blooms between them is not only beautiful, but its devastatingly moving.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and though the ending is sad, I’m happy Ms. Moyes didn’t go with a more cliché ending. She stuck to her guns and it really brought the book full circle. There isn’t a thing I would change about any piece of this book.
Out Of My Mind 5/5 *****
Sharon M. Draper- Realistic Fiction
"Everybody uses words to express themselves. Except me. And I bet most people don't realize the real power of words. But I do. Thoughts need words. Words need a voice."
Imagine being unable to walk, talk, go to the bathroom alone, or feed yourself without the aid of others. You drool on yourself, kick and scream when you're frustrated or excited, and no one knows what you want or need because you can't tell them. This is life as Melody knows it. She has Cerebral Palsy and lives life as a prisoner in her own body.
Out of My Mind is an eye-opening read about the trials and tribulations someone with disabilities faces. We've all done it, whether we want to admit it or not, we see someone in a wheelchair, soiling themselves with spit, unable to speak or move without assistance and we assume their unintelligent. This is simply not true. Melody may not have the outward appearance of a highly intelligent individual, but she most certainly is just that. In fact, she has a photographic memory and her ability to learn, to absorb information, is far superior to others. The difference is she can't verbalize her knowledge or her desire to learn more. That is until she is introduces to Elvira.
This book is not a challenging read, but it's a very meaningful and insightful read. I found myself shedding a few tears while reading (which was slightly embarrassing since I was in a bowling alley watching my husband compete) but holding my emotions back just wasn't an option. I highly, highly recommend picking up this book. It just might change the way you think about those with disabilities, or how those of us with working limbs and functioning bodies may take everyday activities for granted.
For the critics of this book; Yes, there were some grammatical errors and some quirky language choices such as the word "tight" used in the same context as the word "cool" would be, to describe something as being fun or "in style," but the books content and message are so much more important than those issues.
Other Books By Sharon M. Draper
The Master Magician 2.5/5 ****
Charlie N. Holmberg - Fiction/ Sci-Fi
The Master Magician is the last of the The Paper Magician series and I have to admit it is also the least entertaining.
I was SO disappointed in this book. It's predictable and boring. If it hadn't been the last book in the series, my sense of obligation motivating me to finish it would have been void and it likely would have ended up in the "can't finish" pile.
The Master Magician jumps ahead about 2 years from the conclusion of The Glass Magician and brings us to weeks before Ceony test for her Master Magician title.
Fearing scrutiny given the relationship between himself and his apprentice, magician Thane sends Ceony to test with another Paper magician, one who does not care for Emery or his apprentice. Really, I think the separation between Ceony and Emery is needed simply so Ceony can find ways to get herself into dangerous and unnecessary situations, otherwise the book would have ended before it even starts.
The only bit of excitement is the idea that Ceony still harbors a secret that could change how magic is practiced forever; the ability to practice magic outside the original bonded material. The potential for this book to be engaging and entertaining was endless based on Ceony's new "superpower," but it fell flat, very flat.
If you've read the other books, you know how it ends. PREDICTABLE.
Purchase the paperback HERE.
Other Books by Charlie N. Holmberg
The Light of the Fireflies 3/5 ***
Paul Pen - Fiction/mystery
***The Light of the Fireflies is a KINDLE FIRST selection for March, 2016 which means you could download it for FREE or pay only $1.99!***
The Light of the Fireflies was my Kindle first selection for March and I am still a little unsure how I feel about the book as a whole.
The premise of the book is good. The characters are well developed and there’s enough intrigue to keep the reader reading, but how the characters and the plot twist together to formulate the conclusion leaves me feeling unsettled and a little disappointed.
A boy born and raised completely in the confines of an old lighthouse basement; having never smelled fresh air or felt the grass between his toes, it’s sad and selfish. He shares the confines of the basement with his parents, brother, sister and grandmother but his only friends are a cactus and the mysterious fireflies that suddenly appear.
Things get a little wonky when his sister has a baby. The speculation jumps from one family member to the next after Mr. Pen builds the relationship between father and son, a relationship described only as fragile and fake. But maybe things aren't as they appear, maybe its all a farce? A ploy to get the boy to do something he may not want to do.
Without giving too much away, I will say the reason as to how and why this family ends up living in a basement is a bit absurd and very unbelievable. Granted, The Light of the Fireflies is a fictional piece, the characters and events of the text are mostly plausible so I feel like the rest of the book should be as well. It feels like Mr. Pen felt he needed something extra dramatic to make his book pop and, in my opinion, there were better avenues to achieve that goal.
I enjoyed the book but I would have enjoyed it more with a different ending.
Click HERE to get the kindle version!
Click HERE to order the paperback!
Be Frank With Me 4/5 ****
Julia Claiborne Johnson- Fiction/humor
"Julia Claiborne Johnson worked at Mademoiselle and Glamour magazines before marrying and moving to Los Angeles, where she lives with her comedy-writer husband and their two children."- www.harpercollins.com
This is quite literally the ONLY information I could find about Ms. Julia Claiborne Johnson. A little disappointing simply because I like to learn about the authors background, personality and lifestyle to help deduce how, if at all, their life played a role in the characters, or plot of a book. Oh well...
M.M. Banning, Mimi, could be described as a cantankerous writer known for the publication of a single book titled "Pitched.” The book won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award but remained the only novel ever published by M.M. Banning. The novels’ success provides Mimi with means enough to sustain herself and her 9 year old eccentric son, Frank. That is until she falls victim to a money scheme that leaves her broke and forced to write another best seller, pronto.
Given the severity of Mimi’s financial situation and the fact that in all the years between the publication of “Pitched” and current day, there was never another book, her publisher sends Alice Whitley to monitor the books progress. In actuality, Alice becomes Franks’ constant companion with little to no involvement in the creation of the book. Alice can hear the tapping of keyboard keys from Mimi's office but beyond that she is kept in the dark until, disaster strikes.
Alice learns to maneuver through the Banning mansion and it's socially awkward tenants but not without incident and not without fawning over the presence of Xander; Franks mysterious piano teacher and mansion handy man. So many twist and turns with "only in Hollywood" moments sprinkled throughout. Be Frank with Me will make you laugh with hilarious one-liners and cry with sympathy.
I wasn't sure I was going enjoy reading this book but I was pleasantly surprised. Frank's quirts are constantly presenting situations or dialogue that is not only entertaining but keeps the book fresh and enjoyable to read. I hope Julia Claiborne Johnson doesn't follow M.M. Banning's example, I hope there's more to come from this new author and soon!
Click HERE to purchase Be Frank With Me hard copy.
Miramont's Ghost- Elizabeth Hall 4/5 ****
Beautiful, sorrowful and entertaining are all words that describe this fluent and well composed book. After turning the last page I headed over to Amazon and Goodreads.com to check out the views and opinions of others. I was a bit surprised to learn that most people either loved or hated this book. Rarely did I see a review where the reader was standing on middle ground stuck somewhere between getting lost in the pages and just wanting the book to get lost.
Miramont’s castle is a real place located in Mineral Springs, Colorado. It was constructed in 1897 but was occupied for only 3 years before being abandoned. Without giving too much away, I am not surprised the beautiful building was abandoned. The true story and actual events of Miramont Castle will never be known, but the rumors and stories that surround the castle to this day are enough to render the building a favorite for ghost hunters and thrill seekers.
If you are looking for a historical ghost story with a bit of everything—a French upper-class family with looming secrets, a clairvoyant girl who from the time she could speak saw things she couldn't explain, a biblical yet evil aunt with a creepy and odd son, and a page turning story of how Miramont Castle came to exist in the wilds of Mineral Springs Colorado, this is the book for you!
More Books by Elizabeth Hall
An avid reader with a thirst for knowledge, and adventure through words printed on paper.
Books Read in 2020
*The Tattooist of Auschwitz