All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

All the Ugly and Wonderful ThingsAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Synopsis by Goodreads:

As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, to the publisher, thank you for giving me the opportunity to advance read this book. When I saw the title and book blurb in an email I received, I knew I wanted to read it. When I requested it on Netgalley I couldn’t believe my luck.

This book is going to be very controversial when it is released. It is an incredibly daring move by a debut author with tough and gritty subject matter. It is not for the easily offended or weak at heart. Many readers will be pissed – especially the sanctimonious and righteous ones! Hey life isn’t all butterflies and unicorns. What it is though is pretty damn amazing. She takes on subjects that make you want to close your eyes and look away and yet you can’t. It’s like being transfixed. I resented that I had to put this book down at times because I wanted to read straight through it.

There were times I knew I should have been appalled at what I was reading, yet the author manages to create such fully rounded characters that they are hard to completely dislike. It just works. I’m sure there will be readers that question my morals just for giving this 5 stars. This is not about condoning the subject matter. This is about a wonderfully written book that makes you feel an entire spectrum of emotion and forces you to think about how life is for others outside of your comfy little bubble. For the majority of people, life is friggin hard. We prefer to wear our rose colored glasses so we don’t have to deal with it.

How do you take lives that consist of nothing but terrible despair with no hope for anything and form some sort of happiness? A life filled with nothing but abuse and give it a beacon of hope or love even if it isn’t what most would consider normal? This story shows that even in the darkest of lives, there is some good – but it is all relative. What feels good and right to one can feel completely wrong to another.

Book is scheduled to release August 9th – I’ll have to come back and do a giveaway when it is released.

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Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Be Frank With MeBe Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Synopsis by Goodreads:

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years, but now she’s writing her first book in decades and to ensure timely completion her publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noël Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth graders.

As she gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who his father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

Full of heart and countless only-in-Hollywood moments, Be Frank With Me is a captivating and heartwarming story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this adventure with Frank. He’s quite an amusing young man.  The ending was so incredibly abrupt that it felt like the book just stopped. I didn’t feel satisfied and it really detracted a star for me.  I wish she would have spent a little more time tying it up.

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The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich

The Winter GirlThe Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich

Synopsis by Goodreads:

A scathing and exhilarating thriller that begins with a husband’s obsession with the seemingly vacant house next door.

It’s wintertime in the Hamptons, where Scott and his wife, Elise, have come to be with her terminally ill father, Victor, to await the inevitable. As weeks turn to months, their daily routine—Elise at the hospital with her father, Scott pretending to work and drinking Victor’s booze—only highlights their growing resentment and dissatisfaction with the usual litany of unhappy marriages: work, love, passion, each other. But then Scott notices something simple, even innocuous. Every night at precisely eleven, the lights in the neighbor’s bedroom turn off. It’s clearly a timer…but in the dead of winter with no one else around, there’s something about that light he can’t let go of. So one day while Elise is at the hospital, he breaks in. And he feels a jolt of excitement he hasn’t felt in a long time. Soon, it’s not hard to enlist his wife as a partner in crime and see if they can’t restart the passion.

Their one simple transgression quickly sends husband and wife down a deliriously wicked spiral of bad decisions, infidelities, escalating violence, and absolutely shocking revelations.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first half of this book sucked me in and I thought we were headed for a 5 star read. The last quarter of the book is where I get conflicted. It becomes a little too predictable and one begins to wonder if he’s been living under a rock as he’s so unaware what has been going on around him.  What was interesting is that it was written from a male POV.

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Synopsis by GoodReads:

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet lovable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon and the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell. But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents association to their very foundations.

Thoughts:

I really loved this book so much. I hated for it to end. Ove is an amazing man. He seems like a cantankerous old fart but there is such a moral to this story. Judging people on the surface without knowing how they have walked in life is a disservice. Seek to understand people rather than just judging them.

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The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings

The PossibilitiesThe Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book synopsis by GoodReads:

In the idyllic ski town of Breckenridge, Colorado, Sarah St. John is reeling. Three months ago, her twenty-two-year-old son, Cully, died in an avalanche. Though single, Sarah is hardly alone in her grief. Her father, a retiree, tries to distract her with gadgets from the QVC home shopping channel. Sarah’s best friend offers life advice by venting details of her own messy divorce. Even Cully’s father reemerges, stirring more emotions and confusion than Sarah needs. Still, Sarah feels she is facing the stages of grief — the anger, the sadness, the letting go — alone.

Barely ready to face the fact she will never again hear the swoosh of her son’s ski pants, or watch him skateboard past her window, Sarah is surprised when a strange girl arrives on her doorstep. Unexpected and unexplained, she bears a secret from Cully that could change all of their lives forever.

Thoughts:

Loved this book and the characters. I was uncertain how the author would be able to wrap the ending up, yet it was fantastic and done beautifully.

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Cherry Money Baby by John M. Cusick

Cherry Money BabyCherry Money Baby by John M. Cusick

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Synopsis from GoodReads:

Cherry Kerrigan loves her simple life, her family’s tiny trailer, even working at Burrito Barn. Forget college — she’s marrying her sweetheart from next door. But here comes Ardelia Deen, a glamorous starlet who sweeps Cherry into a world of fast cars and penthouse parties. Now Cherry’s small-town life just seems so . . . small. When Ardelia drops a bomb of an offer — one involving a baby — Cherry knows her life will change forever, no matter what she decides. John M. Cusick focuses his signature wit on Hollywood royalty and the wide-eyed dreams of Small Town, U.S.A. in a novel about discovering who you are . . . and changing your mind.

Thoughts:

I probably should have set this one aside and not even finished it. The whole story line was unbelievable and really just silly. To find out this is a young adult book…well if this is the content and subject matter for our young adults today then I feel sorry for us all.

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Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

Shotgun LovesongsShotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Best book I’ve read in a long time. If you grew up in a small farm town and left, this book will make you long for what used to be. His writing transports you to a time and place. Outstanding.

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My Time with Prince by Dez Dickerson

My Time with PrinceMy Time with Prince by Dez Dickerson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I usually don’t rate bios but this really wasn’t a true bio. So I will rate based on writing style. I did appreciate that he did not “dish dirt” but I found the way and many word choices he used interfered with what was his real voice. I didn’t have a feel for him at all. I agree with another reviewer that it would have been much more interesting if he had let someone interview and guide him. He said his wife encouraged him to write the book. It was published in 2003. Saw two blurbs on the net that she filed for divorce in 2007. He has since remarried and had a child with his new wife. Neither here nor there but interesting.

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Trust Me, I’m Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock’s Ultimate Survivor by Ozzy Osbourne

Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock's Ultimate SurvivorTrust Me, I’m Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock’s Ultimate Survivor by Ozzy Osbourne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ozzy’s bio was the best bio I’ve ever read. No surprise I loved this book too. You can hear Ozzy’s voice here. I could’t stop laughing.

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So B. It by Sarah Weeks

So B. ItSo B. It by Sarah Weeks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just beautiful! I started to read this as I was going to read with my 10yo daughter. I couldn’t stop. I think for her though I’m going to wait another two years or so. I don’t think she’s ready for the emotional punch of this story.

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