Book Review: An American Marriage

Book-cation Location: Atlanta, Georgia

screenshot_20180622-195732_instagram.jpgBook: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Genre:  Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Print Date: February 2018
Goodreads Score: 4 stars

Short Review: A captivating and sad story of the American justice system!

Book Summary

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

Long Review: This was a book club pick that everyone was excited to read after being an Oprah Winfrey pick. This isn’t a genre that I normally browse for so I am always excited when the book club picks something like this for me to read. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but it ended up being nothing that I anticipated at all.

Celeste and Roy were both wonderful characters. You found yourself connecting to both and wanting the best for their relationship from the start. I personally liked Roy more than Celeste from the beginning, and this just continued to increase as the story went on. One character that I absolutely did not like was Andre. I will let you be the judge, but I feel he was the most deceitful in all of this because he missed his shot and then pounced when Celeste was at her weakest. What was great about this book was the way that the author choice to really introduce you to the characters. Just when you think you knew all their secrets and internal thoughts, more was revealed.  She also did a wonderful job of writing it to wear while I really liked Roy, I found myself questioning if I should be blaming Celeste as much as I was. It was very intriguing to see how each character dealt with the adversity they were facing.

I especially liked the way the author chose to write the story from multiple people’s perspective. You were able to get a better grasp on each character by getting straight into their minds. I also loved the addition of the letters to each other where you could see the marriage falling apart on paper. While this was far from a happy read, it was so well written and you couldn’t help but keep reading in hopes that things would end the way you hope.

This book made for some amazing discussions during my book club meeting after we had all finished. It was interesting to see where everyone felt strongly about the same plot points, and while others we all interpreted slightly differently. Overall this is a well written and thought provoking story.

BOOK-CATION IDEAS!

As I mentioned above the Book-cation location for An American Marriage is Atlanta! While the majority of this book was a sad read, I decided to pick some fun spots for the book-cation!

  • High Museum of Art. This is a must on your stop to go along with this book. Celeste was an artist so this had to be the first stop on my list! https://www.high.org/
  • Atlanta History Center.  For all you history buffs out there add this stop to your itinerary. It is situated on 33 acres with several historic buildings. They also offer tours from here of historic homes in the area and goes through the Buckhead neighborhood. This is wear I imagine that Roy would have worked until retirement had things not gone so wrong.
“Much of life is timing and circumstance, I see that now.” 
~ Tayari Jones, An American Marriage
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Follow Me to: Whales Tail Charters

Location: Depoe Bay, OR
Sites to See: Whales, Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, and Sea Birds

I have been away from my blog for awhile but don’t worry I’m back! I have several travel and book review posts coming too! To kick things off I’m going to start with my recent trip back to Depoe Bay! If you have been following my blog from the beginning then you will remember that I stopped here for a very short 24 hours during my road trip last summer. I liked it so much that I just had to go back!

The number one thing that I regretted not being able to do was go whale watching. In Depoe Bay, lovingly dubbed the whale watching capital of the world, you can see whales from pretty much any shoreline, but I wanted an up close experience on a small boat which lead me to Whales Tail Charters. Their tours are done from a zodiac boat and only hold up to 6 passengers. I did some reading and found out that the early morning tours are usually best as the wind is usually not as high as it can be in the afternoon which can make the ocean a bit rough. Since I was booking this adventure in advance I went with the 10:00 am time and one and half hour tour.

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Being from Colorado I’m not used to Ocean conditions and forecasts, and when I woke up the morning of the tour the ocean looked a bit rough to me. A storm was getting ready to hit Oregon for the next few days so it was also cloudy, windy, and cool out. -One of the locals told me that they wont take you out if they don’t think you will see any whales so that was awesome to hear before we headed out that morning- We went down to the Boat at 9:30 am and were able to get right on the boat and head out early! I wont lie, I was a little nervous that being in a little boat and the water being a little rough that I was going to get sea sick, but it wasn’t bad at all!

We were able to see a few whales even though the conditions weren’t perfect for whale watching.We weren’t able to get in super close to any because of the water conditions but it was still way closer than if I was standing on the side of a cliff looking out at the water.  Over all I had a great time!  I of course wanted some of those super up close amazing photographs, but that just means I will have to go again.

I highly recommend Whales Tail Charters if you want to go whale watching on the Oregon Coast! Everyone that I worked with, by email, phone, and on the boat was fantastic and made the experience that much more enjoyable. Here are a few of the photos I got while out on the boat, I hope you enjoy!

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“The whales do not sing because they have the answers, they sing because they have a song.”
~Gregory Colbert

Book Review: The Cruel Prince

cruel-prince-cover.jpgBook-cation Location: Forests!

Book: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy
Print Date: January 2018
Goodreads Score: 5 stars

Short Review: An epic fantasy that you will not be able to put down!

Book Summary

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Long Review: First off I have to say that I LOVE the cover of this book!  My cover is the Exclusive OwlCrate edition! I am so happy this is the version that I have in my book collection. I held off on buying this book because I just knew it was going to be the one that was in the January OwlCrate. I’m just bummed that it took me this long to get to it!

This book has everything and then some that you would want in a fantasy. A tragic backstory for the main character, mythical creatures, good vs evil, battles, magic, spies, royalty, mystery, and betrayal! My eyes devoured every word of this one and I wanted more by the time I turned the last page. The twists were dramatic and exciting and the characters are amazing.

Lets start with Jude first. Jude is a wonderful main character. She is perfectly balanced and as the book went on you were able to get inside her head even more. I loved the strength that she has, about her circumstances, about her goals, about the big twist that I can’t talk about as I don’t want to spoil anything! I really enjoyed her relationship with Madoc too. She really should hate him with every fiber of her being yet she doesn’t. She has been treated as one of his own even tho she is mortal so it provides an very interesting dynamic to her story.

Speaking of relationships with her family members, lets talk about her twin Taryn. I don’t particularly care for her. It’s hard to imagine that she is of the same blood as Jude as they are so different. I can’t say much else about her other than her lack of spine in all the situations that involved Cardan and his group really bothered me. I would never have acted that way if my sisters were the ones being threatened.

As for Cardan and his group, I both liked and hated most of them at some point. I’ve read enough books to know that Cardan isn’t what he seems in the beginning and yet he still didn’t end the book where I thought he would. He has a very complicated yet pampered life as one of the heirs to the throne. I loved the twist in this book that it’s not the first born heir that automatically takes the throne, the current King chooses. Tiny spoiler alert…but once you read you will know this is revealed early on…the King doesn’t choose Cardan!

The author did an exceptional job building this world and I can’t wait to go back to Elfhame when The Wicked King comes out next year!

BOOK-CATION IDEAS!

As I mentioned above the Book-cation location for The Cruel Prince is Forests! Obviously you can’t really visit the realm of the Faerie, but I know of a few forests that will give you a bit of that magic!

  • Hoh Rain Forest. This forest is located in Washington near the town of Forks. (Yes that Forks, WA where the sparkly vampires are.) The crystal clear streams and moss covered trees are beautiful to behold. Some of the trees even have mushrooms that are wrapped around the tree trunks and reminded me of steps for little creatures that belong in a fantasy world.
  • Black Forest.  The birth place of the Brother’s Grimm fairy tales is the Black Forest in Germany. There are so many places to visit here that you can visit castles and stay in small bed and breakfasts along the way!
  • Hallerbos Forest. The final forest on the list that I have for you is located in Belgium. The floor of this forest is blanketed in bluebells in the spring time and makes it a magically beautiful site to behold. If you are there when it is foggy out you will also get a glimpse of the darker side of fairy tale forests.

“Because you’re like a story that hasn’t happened yet. Because I want to see what you will do. I want to be part of the unfolding of the tale.”
~Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

Book Review: The Initiation

9781682615935.jpgBook-cation Location: Abandoned Undergrounds

Book: The Initiation by Chris Babu
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Print Date: February 2018
Goodreads Score: 4 stars
Giveaway: Print Copy of The Initiation
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Short Review: If you like books like Hunger Games and The Maze Runner you will love this one!

Book Summary

Everyone is equal. But no one is safe.

In a ruined world, Manhattan is now New America, a walled-in society based on equality. But the perfect facade hides a dark truth.

A timid math geek, sixteen-year-old Drayden watches his life crumble when his beloved mother is exiled. The mystery of her banishment leads him to a sinister secret: New America is in trouble, and every one of its citizens is in jeopardy.

With time running out, he enters the Initiation. It’s a test within the empty subway tunnels—a perilous journey of puzzles and deadly physical trials. Winners join the ruling Bureau and move to its safe haven. But failure means death. Can Drayden conquer the Initiation, or is salvation out of his grasp?

Long Review: I love a good sci-fi/dystopian style novel! The reason that Drayden’s New America exists is all thanks to a super bug and what I liked about that is it’s such a plausible reason for the world to descend into chaos. This new world that is a giant quarantined area is divided into sections and Drayden just happens to live in the worst of them, the Dorms. The other sections include the Lab, Precinct, and Palace. While they are constantly telling you that all sections are equal, I immediately have my doubts and want to know what The Palace zone looks like. The start of the book you find out a little bit about New America and the family life of our hero, and then he enters the Initiation and everything gets real from that point on. I could not stop reading after it began. You have adventure, back stabbing, plots of murder, and so much more!

My favorite part about the Initiation was the challenges as I was trying to solve them right along with all the other pledges…I didn’t even come close to figuring most of them out though. I would not have even made it past the first one! When the book started I wasn’t sure how I felt about Drayden, but as the book went on I began to really cheer for him. He starts out so unsure of himself with the weight of the world on his shoulders after his mother is exiled and he ends with him realizing he can do more than he ever realized. I do wish that there would have been a little bit more character development, especially for some of the other pledges. I want to know more about Catrice than what I was given in the book. I also would have liked more backstory on why Alex is the way he is before entering the Initiation.

I don’t want to spoil anything else so I will just say that overall this is a great read and I can’t wait for the sequel!

Chris Babu Author Photo.jpgAbout the Author
Chris Babu grew up in North Haven, CT, playing soccer and the violin in his free time. After devouring The Shining under the covers with a flashlight when he was eight, Chris was hooked on fiction. He’s always had a thing for young adult books. But he’s also a major science and math nerd – physics being his favorite – and he has a math degree from MIT.

For nineteen years, he worked as a bond trader on Wall Street, riding the subway to and from work every day. He traded mortgage-backed securities for Bank of America and then Deutsche Bank, where he eventually ran the MBS trading desk. Now Chris writes full-time, always with his trusted assistant Buddy, a 130-pound Great Dane, who can usually be found on his lap. They split their time between New York City and the east end of Long Island. Their omnipresence at home drives his wife Michelle and daughter Lily crazy. The Initiation is his first novel.   WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

BOOK-CATION IDEAS!

As I mentioned above the Book-cation location for The Initiation is Abandoned Undergrounds! The actual location of that the book spends a lot of time in does exist, however it’s still filled to the brim with people. To feel like you are a pledge in the Initiation I recommend taking a few of these tours!

  • Beijing’s Underground City. This abandoned city is from the 1970’s and was built as a bomb shelter. It’s made up of approximately 33 square miles with various tunnels and includes places such as a roller skating rink, warehouses, schools, and restaurants.
  • Seattle Underground.  Due to a fire and repeat floods happening it was during the mid-19th century that Seattle decided to build up their streets leaving the old city underground. The buildings at one point in time were used for a variety of things such as gambling halls and speakeasies. Portions have now been restored for tours.
  • The Speakeasy Tunnels of Moose Jaw, Canada. Originally built so workers did not have to endure the harsh winter weather when going from building to building. During the prohibition the town became a hub for rum running and gambling and filled the underground tunnels and hideouts with all sorts of characters.

To enter the giveaway Click Here!

“You have five minutes to solve the riddle…”
you force heaven to be empty
5:00…4:59…4:58…4:57…

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