Review: Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Under Rose Tainted Skies is a love story and unfortunately, the book is completely dominated by the love story. Although, it was a cute and innocent romance, I felt a little underwhelmed and frustrated by the way it was handled. Let me explain.

The book centers on Norah. She has OCD and is agoraphobic. It is very hard for her to leave her home, so she rarely does. She spends most of her time online, or with her mother. Well that is until, Luke moves next door and the two of them become close.

Luke is a sweetheart, and he and Norah were adorable together. However, I did not like that the book leaned towards the whole “love cures everything” angle. That was not okay with me. Because yes, Luke was overly perfect and made Norah realize somethings. But I wanted Norah to have a self-discovery on her own. I would like to mention that Luke does not end up being the reason she leaves the house at the end, but even the reason for her leaving felt tainted and there is no real resolution.

I’m aware that mental illnesses are not something that can be fixed quickly. It takes time, but Under Rose Tainted Skies seems to have forgotten that.

Another issue I had with the book, is the ending. This is a fellow mellow book. For the majority of the book, not major happens. It sort of just breezes by. Well it did until the ending. The ending came out of nowhere and felt very out of place. It took me aback, because I was not sure if it was a dream or real. It felt rushed and simply did not belong.

Final Analysis

Under Rose Tainted Skies focuses a lot on the romance and less on character development and plot.

Review: When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt by Kara Cooney

When I first came across this book, my curiosity immediately knew I had to read it based on my fascination with ancient Egypt. Even though this book was interesting to read, I was really disappointed on the content. You can tell the author put some time into the subject but much of it was based on theories, speculations and uncertainty. The uncertainty formed through inferences based on what information was available but the problem with that is - to what degree is it 100% factual. I know, we weren't there and based on little information that is available we can only infer but some aspects of the book I'm on the fence about. Some areas seem overly sensationalized but who really knows. I guess for me, I was expecting to dive into this book taking away some rich appreciation for these six women because that title just spoke to me. I was just so frustrated with the male dominance in the book and their history. I'm not saying that they shouldn't have been a part of the book but it felt like the role the women played seemed to support the history of the men rather than highlight their unique role and how they ruled. I wish it had been the other way around given them a bigger voice in the book.

Overall, it was an interest read despite my takeaways. It definitely has inspired me to do some reading further on these women and hope that over time more can be discovered about them.

Review: Journeys of a Lifetime, Second Edition: 500 of the World's Greatest Trips by National Geographic

Hardcover: 416 pages

Publisher: National Geographic; Revised, Updated edition (October 23, 2018)

Featuring 120 new destinations, this best-selling inspirational travel guide reveals 500 celebrated and lesser-known destinations around the globe, from ocean cruises in Antarctica to horse treks in the Andes. Completely revised and updated for its 10th anniversary.

Compiled from the favorite trips of National Geographic’s legendary travel writers, this fully updated, 10th anniversary edition of Journeys of a Lifetime spans the globe to highlight the best of the world’s most celebrated and lesser-known sojourns. Offering a diverse array of possibilities, every continent and possible form of transport is covered, illustrated with glorious color photographs. With 16 new pages; new destinations like Cartegena, Colombia; and updated information throughout, this timely new edition is the perfect resource for travelers who crave adventurous trips–from trekking the heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to mountain biking in Transylvania–and those searching for more specific experiences (the world’s top small cruises, hot new museums around the world, secrets for following in the footsteps of film and TV heroes, and more). Each chapter features stunning photography, full-color maps, and practical tips, including how to get there, when to visit, and how to make the most of your journey.

Informative and inspiring, this luxurious volume is a lifelong resource that readers will treasure for years to come.

Review

How many times have you been in that situation trying to decide where to go for a vacation? Or you create a bucket list of places to go around the world? Forget about all that because once you check out Journeys of a Lifetime, it would really take you a lifetime because you'd want to visit every place in this book. This is a really fantastic reference book, not to mention great to browse through to see the different places visually. The book really inspire you to want to travel the world be it by land, water or other. Revised and updated, it highlights some of the best places around the world. Gorgeous pictures as always. Not less in expectations from NG. Every chapter is so resourceful. It gives you tips, highlights info, covers ever means of travel, when to go, how long, when to plan, inside info and travel resources to assist you.

Overall, I loved it. I'm a traveler and this gives me so many great ideas. I may not get to go to some of these places but I sure will recommend to others. For those of you out there who love to travel, this is one that I would definitely grab a copy to check it out.

Review: Truth or Dare: A Bayfield High Romance by Madeleine Labitan

 Buy on  Amazon

Buy on Amazon

This book was ridiculously short. It was only around 100 pages. And unfortunately, I had not read the summary so I was unaware that it was a novella; I thought it was a full book.

In retrospect, I would have liked for it to be longer. Especially, in turns of the romance between Kenzie and Sean. Although they have known each other for several years, I do believe that readers should be given a teeny little bit more backstory about the two and a chance to see their relationship develop. They have such an interesting and fun dynamic.

In essence, their whole relationship is them pulling pranks on each other. That alone has so much potential. If completed correctly and fleshed out more, that dynamic could create a fun, lighthearted book. But again, this is a short book, so it barely scratched the surface.  

I will admit that although there was barely any backstory at all and that I have no sense of real connection to the characters, both Kenzie and Sean seemed likable. And I would be willing to read a full novel about them.

Final Analysis

Truth or Dare has potential to be a fun YA book , but unfortunately, it is limited by the page number.

Review: National Geographic Visual Atlas of the World, 2nd Edition: Fully Revised and Updated

Summary

Uniting National Geographic's incomparable photography with state-of-the-art cartographic technology, this re-imagined and completely updated visual atlas is a compelling and authoritative resource that will enthrall readers.

Updated for the first time since 2008, National Geographic's visual atlas of the world will delight and inspire history lovers, current event buffs, and cartography fans alike. From spectacular space imagery to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this stunning book showcases the diverse natural and cultural treasures of the world in glorious color. Featuring more than 200 fascinating maps, 350 new photos, and state-of-the-art cartography and satellite imagery, this is an essential reference for families, travelers, students, librarians, and scholars. Each page, created in collaboration with the world's premier scientists, geographers, and cartographers, is packed with up-to-the-minute information, making this book the most beautiful and authoritative visual atlas available today.

Review

There are no words to capture the beauty of this book. Actually, I didn’t want to take it out of the plastic. The weight of the book gave me chills with anticipation for the exciting visual journey I was about to experience.

Let me tell you, for all you people out there that want to have everything online, this is definitely one that you want to touch, flip through and experience. Pictures are worth a thousand words but these pictures capture the essence of the footprints and foundations of our infinite possibilities.

Maps, photos, graphic atlas of the world transport us to some of the most beautiful places. Some reminders of the effects of the environment. I have a new appreciation for the world. I felt like National Geographic brought the world into my home. They have extraordinary references and break everything down where it’s comprehensive.

Subject areas cover the World that go into detail about physical evolution, cultural influences, weather, people, geology and agricultural subsistence to name a few. It covers the continents, pole and space. There is no stone unturned here. If they can get to it, it is here. We get facts and info on the flags. Not to mention a great appendix and index for reference.

Overall, I can’t stop raving about how wonderful this was. The visuals were outstanding but the information you learn is really informative. Who knew you could have so much fun with an atlas. It’s a treasure that everyone should add to your reference collection at home, not too mention a great resource for the kids. Make sure you grab a copy!

Review: Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Summary

In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice.

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story—a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.

Review

Becoming Mrs. Lewis, a historical fiction inspired by the life of Joy Davidman and her “relationship” with C.S. (Jake) Lewis. Fascinated by the person who became the spiritual & emotional muse to some of his most revered work, Becoming Mrs. Lewis delve more behind and gave a voice to a woman who had more to offer than being overshadowed by her famous husband.

Rooting from her fascination with Lewis at a young age along with piqued curiosity of who Joy was as a person, the author felt compared from their story to explore further. Sorting through what has been written over the years, this book rooted in fiction, touched upon the challenges she experienced at that time being a woman faced with the dutiful societal obligations versus her desire to be a writer, her life as a mother and her complicated relationship with Lewis.

So refreshing reading a strong female character, especially one that is progressive for her time. Resourceful and resilient, the strength that she clung to to endure the obstacles of the abuse of her first husband, her medical challenges and as you read the obstacles that came her way with her health, family and personal struggles, she found purpose and life through her friendship with Lewis.

Now, as lovely as their story developed, it drove me insane because I’m on the fence about the progression of their friendship/relationship. I’m torn because they developed a really genuine friendship through their correspondence and once a series of events happened that opened the door for something to happened to go further, we don’t experience what could’ve been until much later. I felt like, what we experienced in the end, I wish happened sooner because at least then they would experience what ends up happening in a different place. Trying not to give away anything but the wait for the walls to come down seemed forever. All in all, it was worth the wait because it showed the strength of was their true love was and how powerful when you are free from the shackles of your biggest fears how much greater life can be.

Overall, this was a really nice read. There are definitely some trials and tribulations through the experiences in this book of the lives of Joy and Jack. My only plea for selfish reasons is that I wish we could’ve got to have a little more time with Joy and Jack before the end in regards to the transition of their friendship but that’s the beauty of a fiction novel. We go wherever we are taken. I really enjoyed the other characters and what they brought to the book and their lives. I’d recommend adding this to your list.

Review: National Geographic Spectacle: Rare and Astonishing Photographs by National Geographic

About the Book

Hardcover: 400 pages

Publisher: National Geographic (October 23, 2018)

An exquisite photo collection showcasing awe-inducing moments from around the world, including the aurora borealis, cities made of neon lights, a great wildebeest migration, a contortionist on display–and more.

In life, there are certain sights that are as beautiful as they are unforgettable–from a majestic supercell to the secrets of a deep blue ice cave to the world’s largest library. These fascinating spectacles shock us in their diversity, their complexity, and their epic scale, bringing us the miraculous beauty of our planet. Featuring more than 200 color images, including acclaimed photography from the National Geographic Image Collection, this volume presents a dazzling array of natural and manmade wonders, unusual phenomena, and amusing curiosities. Each page will enlighten and inspire, presenting our world at its best.

Review

There are no words to describe the gorgeous images showcased in this book. Spectacle by National Geographic, captured in four chapters, really embody the essence of diverse, unforgettable moments taken around the world. Rare and beautiful, we are taken through the photographic lens of some of the most breath taking images. Some of the images feature captions to talk about it and the others speak for themselves. Predominantly photos, sprinkled with brief commentary, these images plunge your curiosity and open your imagination to endless awe inspiring moments. The intuitive insight to capture some of these moments were really inspiring. These were some spectacular moments captured and I really give praise to the photographers and their vision. I'm really glad that I got the opportunity to check out this book. If you love National Geographic, than you will love this inspiring journey of beauty this will keep you flipping through.

Review: The Allure of Dean Harper by R.S. Grey

There was an overwhelming amount of praise for this book. And unfortunately, I didn’t finish this book completely enchanted by the story or the characters. Overall, it was enjoyable. But not something that I loved.

The Allure of Dean Harper tells the story of Lily Black and Dean Harper. Lily has recently moved to New York and in need of a job. By the help of her best friend, she gets a job at one of New York’s trendiest restaurant. Unfortunately, for her the owner, Dean Harper, is not very kind.

Like mentioned prior, I didn’t love The Allure of Dean Harper but it did keep me interested. It was a hard book to put down.  However, I did have a problem with the pacing. Especially in terms of Lily and Dean’s relationship. It felt as if the relationship was purely attraction. There was not any heartbreaking moments nor were there any moments where I could pinpoint that these two particular people should be together.

Their relationship went in hyper speed and I do not necessarily think that it was fleshed out fully. There is not really a clear path to how these characters ended up how they were at the end of the book.

This was a relatively short book, and the pacing issue could have been solved if it had around one hundred more pages. I think that would have been enough to fully explore these two character’s relationship. Separately, they were okay. Dean had a little more backstory than Lily. But nevertheless, I understood where she was coming from. And they both were extremely witty characters.

Final Analysis

The Allure of Dean Harper feels like a first half of a larger book. It feels like a beginning that has not quite earned the ending that it got.

Review: The Chase by Elle Kennedy

This is not necessarily a bad book. However, I would not classify it as a great book. It is somewhere in-between. The Chase did enough to keep me interested; but it was missing something and I am not sure what.

The Chase centers on Summer and Fritz.  After being kicked out of her college, Summer transfers to Briar U. And because of the circumstances of her expulsion, she is forced to live with a few of her older brother’s friends. And one of her new roommates happens to be Colin Fitzgerald- someone she has had a crush on for a while.

Like mentioned prior, this book felt a little flat. It checked all of the boxes, but still after reading it, it feels a little unforgettable. It is hard to describe it, but it also felt as if it was going through the motions and trying to cross the finish line.

Characters

The book is told in both Summer and Fitz’s POV. Both likeable characters. I didn’t feel a strong connection to either characters, but I appreciate the depth that Kennedy attempted to create with both. Although Summer had this seemingly perfect lifestyle, she was internally struggling and felt a little lost.  

Summer and Fitz did have chemistry. But I found myself much more interested in the relationships of side characters then I was in their relationship.

Final Analysis

The Chase is the definition of having all the right ingredients but still missing a little extra something.

Review: Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

Summary

A formidable matriarch learns the hard way that no family is perfect in this witty, sparkling debut novel

Dearest loved ones, far and near—evergreen tidings from the Baumgartners!

Violet Baumgartner has opened her annual holiday letter the same way for the past three decades. And this year she’s going to throw her husband, Ed, a truly perfect retirement party, one worthy of memorializing in her upcoming letter. But the event becomes a disaster when, in front of two hundred guests, Violet learns her daughter Cerise has been keeping a shocking secret from her, shattering Violet’s carefully constructed world.

In an epic battle of wills, Violet goes to increasing lengths to wrest back control of her family, infuriating Cerise and snaring their family and friends in a very un-Midwestern, un-Baumgartner gyre of dramatics. And there will be no explaining away the consequences in this year’s Baumgartner holiday letter…

Full of humor, emotion and surprises at every turn, Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners brings to life a remarkable cast of quirky, deeply human characters who must learn to adapt to the unconventional, or else risk losing one another. This is the story of a family falling to pieces—and the unexpected way they put it all back together.

Review

Where do I start with this book. Oh goodness, the family drama. So glad Violet isn’t my mother. Violet Baumgartner, the matriarch and control freak of the family, seems to want to control everyone and everything. Every year she writes these letters meant to be given to family and friends to share updates about the family for the year. Anticipating this year’s upcoming letter, her husband Ed is retiring from his job which she is more than excited for him to have this moment all to himself. When a huge secret get dropped at the party, Violet’s perfect world gets shattered sending her on a journey that leads to many consequences but unexpected resolutions.

This was an interesting one to read before the holidays. I’m on the fence about a few things with the book. When I first started the book, once the first holiday letter started, I set myself up with some expectations for what I anticipated the book to go like but then we were introduced to Violet. I found myself slightly irritated throughout the book by her controlling personality. It took away from my experience with the book but despite my irritation with her, once the book got going, it turned out to be a nice read. The characters and their moments throughout were funny but I don’t think I’d want to be a part of any of the families in the book. Such drama made an interesting read but had some life lesson takeways were nice to see and the characters evolve through their dysfunction. Overall, the holiday letters, the familial relationships, the secrets and full circle moments give the reader a glimpse into characters that found the an unconventional way to the meaning of family.