Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict-A 4/5 Star Review!

Carnegie’s Maid is a romantic approach to the tale of the iconic Carnegie family and offers an idea of perhaps why the family turned to philanthropy once they built their wealth.  This story also includes a focus on the struggles of immigrants as well as how the Civil War and President Lincoln’s assassination impacted people of all classes.

I really liked the juxtaposition of the subservient side of Clara when she is Mrs. Carnegie’s maid with her bold businesswoman side when she is sneaking in secret moments with Andrew Carnegie.  Furthermore, I liked the innocence of their romance despite the imbalance of power as well as both of their loyalties to their respective families.

My favorite character in this book was Mr. Ford.  I would go on further, however, I do not wish to spoil anything.  Therefore, I will simply state that his character seemed to be the most generous in that he was generous with his good attitude and generous in doing small good deeds for others.

One of the reasons why I did not give this book 5 stars is because it kind of dragged on at certain points as if length was the goal rather than depth.  Another reason is because the antagonist was weak, however, I am not even sure if it is the character that I am thinking of or if the antagonist is supposed to be a group of people.  Lastly, I did not care for how Andrew Carnegie conveniently appeared (and appeared quite often) when Clara was alone.

For those who may be triggered or offended: the only things that I could find within the book were poverty, pollution, religious themes, and death.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided for free from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

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As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti-DNF at 25%

I am putting this down at 25% and marking it DNF for several reasons:

1. The writing style. It was slow and repetitive which made it quite boring, in my opinion. Which was so disappointing because I liked Chelsea Sedoti’s previous book, The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett. In that book, I enjoyed how the secrets were slowly revealed and how the concept of perfect is fake. This book seems to have kind of the same motivation with the main character, Eldon, which I will get to in the next point.

2. Eldon. The main character, the only perspective the story is told, and the tragic teenager. He was an all-star football jock with a great girlfriend and a great family in his small town but then he falls from glory. His girlfriend wishes to be prettier and dumps him. His sister is dead (or dying/in a coma? It’s kind of unclear at this point) and he is no longer the all-star athlete as other teammates have wished to be the best. His history has darkened his future, I get it. But I found him to be profoundly irritating. He has the extraordinary opportunity to make any wish he wants for his 18th birthday and he hates it. I get that other people’s wishes have had a negative effect on his life but he is actively rebelling and avoiding making the choice of what wish to make, but it does not do anything to prevent him from turning 18. This story seems to be more about how he is the bitterly angry victim rather than the underdog hero.

3. His parents. I understand that they too are under a tremendous amount of financial stress, however, I think the author is trying too hard to make them (one in particular) either the scapegoat or the villains. The guilt trips and the manipulations are slightly redeeming when their wish history is revealed, however, it is still a little bit of overkill.

In conclusion, I did not like this book. It’s taken me 3 weeks of debating whether or not I should pick it back up again before I finally decided to let bygones be bygones. I am not writing off (pun intended) the author, Chelsea Sedoti. I am just going to be the opposite of Eldon and be optimistic that her next book will be better.

Please note: An electronic copy of this book was generously provided for free by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel-a 5/5 Star Review!

#ReadingPeopleBook

Thank you Pinterest! I ​was introduced to Anne Bogel’s work by Pinterest years ago by a pin about books that stemmed from her blog Modern Mrs. Darcy. I highly recommend her blog as it is a great resource for book recommendations as well as other fun lifestyle information. I also recommend her podcast What Should I Read Next? for all of anyone’s bookish needs :).

An in-depth yet easy to understand look into different personalities. It is also a look into the interactions of these distinct personalities and how conflict can be reduced by understanding how each person’s personality affects how they communicate. I really enjoyed how she broke down each personality type, gave strengths and weaknesses of each, and referenced other resources so that the reader can investigate further.

The section that made the biggest impact on me was the section about Highly Sensitive People. I have quite a few people in my life who would fit into this personality type and it completely opened my mind on understanding them. Also, it helped me learn how to be helpful when they are stressed. For example: keeping the kitchen counters clean. I wouldn’t have thought about the importance of it before reading this book.

I would recommend this book for fans of non-fiction and self-help. I would also recommend this book for those who are fascinated by different personality types and would like to know more.

Bonus: The audiobook is read by none other than the author Anne Bogel herself!

Please note: I received a hard copy of the book for free from the author in the encouragement of an honest review.

Moonlight Over Manhattan (From Manhattan With Love #6) by Sarah Morgan- a 5/5 Star Review!

Yet another great book in Sarah Morgan’s From Manhattan With Love series! This is the 6th book in the series but all books can be read as a standalone, in my opinion.  See reviews: #1#2#3#4#5, & BONUS!

Harriet has lived a sheltered life, protected by her older brother Daniel and twin sister Fliss. But when Daniel finds true love and Fliss is reconnected with the love of her life, Harriet is left to figure out life on her own. She comes up with a plan: Challenge Harriet. Every day until Christmas she is going to do one thing outside of her comfort zone whether it is to go on blind dates or wear stilettos, she is going to do it.

Dr. Ethan Black is an ER doctor and married to his job with no time for anything else. That is, until his sister calls in a favor-to dogsit. Fortunately, his sister has been a long-standing customer with The Bark Rangers and her dogwalker, Harriet, will help out. After an incident with the dog, Dr. Ethan Black loses his temper and Harriet’s stammer from childhood returns. Can Harriet overcome this Challenge working with Dr. Ethan Black?

As I said earlier, this love story is another great one by Sarah Morgan. I think I say this with each new book that she releases in this series, but this one is my new favorite! It has the magic of Christmas mixed with unexpected romance and overcoming complicated pasts. A beautiful combination of the three made me giddy while reading this book. I kept forcing myself to stop every couple of chapters because I wanted to savor the book rather than speed through-which was a Challenge!

I would absolutely recommend this book (and the other books in this series) to any adult reader who enjoys romance with comical moments. Also for readers who enjoy reading character development and overcoming the past to find themselves. This fast-paced book showed strong character development not only with Harriet, but with Ethan as well.

I would not recommend this book for readers who may be sensitive to or offended by mild foul language, violence, and sexual scenarios.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (thank you!).

Quick Lit: What I Have Been Reading Lately (Inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Blog)

 

One of my favorite blogs that I follow is Anne Bogel’s Modern Mrs. Darcy.  She has a book out that I am currently reading and will include in this list, Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything.  She also has a podcast What Should I Read Next?.  I highly recommend all 3!  Enough fangirling, her blog post Quick Lit for November 2017 ( https://modernmrsdarcy.com/quick-lit-november-2017/) has inspired this post about what I am currently reading (thanks Anne!)

Moonlight Over Manhattan (From Manhattan With Love #6) by Sarah Morgan: I am a big fan of Sarah Morgan’s From Manhattan With Love series.  I have read the whole series up until this point, admittedly out of order, and each book can be read as a standalone.  Which makes it fun when characters from the previous books are mentioned and thank goodness I am reading it on my Kindle as the highlighting is borderline out of control.  Along with my somewhat obnoxious notes of “:)” or “!!!!” or “AWWW”.   Back to the point:  Moonlight Over Manhattan focuses on Harriet Knight, twin sister of Fliss and younger sister of Daniel (both of whom have already had their own stories in this series).  Fliss has been Harriet’s protector their whole lives and now Fliss has expanded their dog walking business, The Bark Rangers, to the Hamptons, leaving Harriet in Manhattan alone.  Now Harriet has to figure out how to fend for herself, and find herself, in the big city during one of the biggest holidays of the year: Christmas.  It is off to a charming start, as per usual with Sarah Morgan’s books, with humor and identity discovery.   See below for links to my reviews of the other books in the series:

  1. Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan With Love #1) by Sarah Morgan-5/5 Star Review!
  2. Sunset In Central Park (From Manhattan With Love #2) by Sarah Morgan- A 5/5 Star Review!
  3. Miracle On 5th Avenue (From Manhattan With Love #3) by Sarah Morgan Review: 5/5 Stars!
  4. New York, Actually (From Manhattan With Love #4) by Sarah Morgan- a 4/5 Star Review!
  5. Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5) by Sarah Morgan- A 5/5 Star Review!
  6. BONUS! A New York Christmas Story by Sarah Morgan-5/5 Star Review!

 

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (Dash & Lily #1) by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan: Another book that has to do with the holiday season but this one was selected as this month’s Book Club pick in the Young Adult Book Club that I am involved in locally.  It revolves around two teenagers in New York City who could not be more different when it comes to the holidays.  Dash hates it, Lily loves it.  However, Lily and her brother create a Book of Dares and hide it on a bookshelf in the famous Strand Bookstore, and Dash stumbles across it, plays her game as instructed in the book, then comes up with a game of his own for her. I really like it so far because of it’s unique concept and it’s setting in NYC during the holidays.

Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel: As stated in the beginning of this post, I am a big fan of Anne Bogel.  Reading People  is a deep look into personality and how different traits factor in to making a person who they are.  She cites many reputable sources and breaks down complicated subjects into concepts that are easily relatable.  I am only halfway through but have learned so much! Especially about Highly Sensitive People and it has helped me understand people in my own life better.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Read by Wil Wheaton): I wanted to read this before the movie comes out next March.  Wade Watts is a teenager in the year 2044 with an obsession for video games and virtual reality.  His home life isn’t great, so he escapes to the OASIS where he can virtually go to school, hang out with friends, and play video games.  The creator of OASIS was a multi-billionaire who will give his estate to whomever finds five clues hidden throughout the game.  It has been years since and no one has found any clue.  The attention has faded, until Wade finds the first clue.  Now, the stakes are even higher as there is not only money on the line, but fame and even his life.  Wil Wheaton is a brilliant choice for the audiobook verison as he makes it very engaging.  So far it kind of seems like a Willy Wonka meets World of Warcraft but it is entertaining and full of ’80’s references.

Death Cure (The Maze Runner #3) by James Dashner:  I also wanted to read this before the movie comes out in January.  I have read the other two books in this series and it is a YA dystopian adventure revolving around Thomas and his friends (not the children’s series about trains).  Sun flares have scorched the earth and now The Flare is a virus that attacks the brain and turns the host into a “crank” (a.k.a. zombie).  In this book, the group is still trying to escape WICKED (World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department), the group of scientists that put this group of teens through excruciating experiments in order to design a cure for the Flare virus.  Fast-paced just like the other books and it is fun to be back in the group dynamic! Although I am ambivalent on how I feel about this book series, Minho is still my favorite :).

 

 

 

 

These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks #1) by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas, Narrated by Heather Wilds- a 1/5 Star Review

 

Please note: A AudioCD copy of this book was generously provided for free through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, in exchange for an honest review.

Piper by Jay Asher & Jessica Freeburg, Illustrated by Jeff Stokely-a 4/5 Star Review!

I had the exciting opportunity to meet and see a presentation by the author Jay Asher recently (Thanks to my local Westerville Public Library for hosting!).  Although he is very nice, funny, and everyone should go see him if they get a chance-I left really excited because of his next book that was being released: Piper.

Piper is a graphic novel collaboratively written by authors Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg and illustrated by Jeff Stokely.  It is a retelling of the Pied Piper and the twist is that his music does not affect one person: Maggie.  Maggie is a deaf girl, hence why his music does not endanger her.  Maggie’s hearing was lost due to an act of violent bullying and the injustice only stems from there as villagers continue to bully her relentlessly.  Yet she continues to make the best of it by telling funny stories to her caretaker, Agathe.

The Pied Piper heroically comes to save the village from the rat infestation that has wiped out the population with starvation and/or disease.  But this rescue comes at a price.  A price that the village decides not to pay once the deed is done.  But if they refuse to pay in cash, they will have to pay at a different price-revenge.

Graphic Novels are something that I have only recently begun to develop an interest in, my first being Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga series.  I simply must find more graphic novels that have been illustrated by Jeff Stokely as the artwork is marvelous.  The expressions of the characters, the movement of the wind, and the playful innocence portrayed in a single panel where the Pied Piper is eating an apple under a tree in front of a peacock, for example.  I was just so moved by the illustrations and they greatly improved the storyline.

Personally, I was hoping for more out of the character of Maggie.  I was initially so excited about this graphic novel because it centered around a deaf character.  Both of my parents are deaf and so I expected great things from this character but I was a little disappointed.  I had to take a star away because it seemed like being deaf only came into play when someone walked up behind her and scared her, when she was incorrectly pronouncing words when Agathe wrote down her stories, or when she was being bullied.  I just wish a little more research would have gone into her character because although lip-reading is a way to communicate, there was not any sign language at all.  Granted, I was not expecting American Sign Language in a story based in the medieval times, some home signs between Agathe and Maggie would have been redeeming.  Furthermore, going back to the sneaking up behind her example, when I try to sneak up on my parents, they can feel the vibrations from my walking behind them and it doesn’t always work.  What is failed to be mentioned is that when you lose one sense, the other senses get stronger.

Although I had to take one (slightly biased) star away, the story itself is minimalist yet powerful.  The elements of greed and the despicable villagers are well-balanced by the purity and optimism of Maggie and Agathe despite their tragic situation. Another well-balanced aspect in this story is how both of their backgrounds are isolated, tragic, and yet they find hope in one another.  Furthermore, when they go in different directions, they still protect one another making their love story even more emotional.

I also enjoyed that this was a retelling of the Pied Piper as I thought that was unique.  So many fairy tale retellings have centered around the princesses and Red Riding Hood lately that this one stands out.  And since I heard about it, Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself” has been stuck in my head:

I was playing in the beginning, the mood all changed

I’ve been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage

But I kept rhymin’ and stepped right in the next cypher

Best believe somebody’s paying the Pied Piper

In conclusion, I would recommend Piper for readers who enjoy retellings, tragic love stories, unexpected heroes, and graphic novels.

I would not recommend Piper for those who may be offended on how Maggie’s deafness is portrayed, or those who may be offended or triggered by bullying, violence, kidnapping, and revenge.