Showing posts with label sarah cornwell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sarah cornwell. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2014!

The time has come!  Favorites must be declared!

Today, Month of Favorites participants are jumping in with the Top Ten Tuesday topic over at Broke and the Bookish: Top 10 Favorite Books of the Year.  In keeping with that, I figured there was no better day for me to announce...

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2014!

If you are a careful reader of my blog (and who isn't, RIGHT?), you may be surprised by some of my choices...and some of my non-choices.  There are books on here that, in my initial review, I enjoyed but maybe wasn't completely gushing over.  And there are books not on the list that I mentioned as potential favorites when I wrote my reviews.  But at the end of the year, when I make this list, I go by what's really stuck with me--after months have passed, what are the books that are still leaving an impression?  Still giving me something to think about?

As in past years, this list is in no particular order, and with links to my original reviews:

1. The Three by Sarah Lotz
I know I said this list is in no particular order, but there might be a reason why this was the first one I threw on here.  I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK.

2. Man V. Nature by Diane Cook
I haven't read a collection of short stories this good in a very, very long time.  I find myself thinking about them a LOT.

3. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Is anyone surprised by me putting a Jodi Picoult novel on this list?  Noooooooooooope.

4. What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell
An intricately-woven family drama that explores the many complicated facets of relationships.  Cornwell's ability to smoothly blend several different story angles together still impresses me.

5. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
If there was ever a bitch that got shit done without caring what anyone else thought, it was Scarlett O'Hara.

6. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I know, jump on the bandwagon about a year late, right?  But it's just so, so good.  A major time commitment, but an epic in every sense of the word.

7. Above by Isla Morley
This book is excellent, but it earned a special bump onto this list because it has the distinction of being the book that I have successfully recommended to the most people after reading it.  "Successfully" meaning they raved about it afterwards, too.

8. The One & Only by Emily Giffin
Emily Giffin is pretty much always a winner for me.  I adore her ability to make readers sympathetic to what would normally be the undesirable side of a situation.  Such is the case with The One & Only.

9. The Memory of Love by Linda Olsson
To quote my own review: "complex characters, surprising twists, and intriguing relationships."  Plus beautiful writing to top it all off.

10. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
I read several good YA fiction novels this year, but Wintergirls has the distinction of being the best.  Anderson's writing is beautiful and poignant, and her handling of the topic of eating disorders is equal parts careful and impactful.

That does it for 2014!  In going over everything I read this year, I realized how many excellent books I enjoyed in the last 12 months.  A truly fantastic year for reading!

What made YOUR best-read list for 2014?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2014's Best Book Covers (#amonthoffaves)

The Month of Favorites continues!

Today we're chatting about our 10 favorite book covers.  I couldn't tell from the prompt if we were supposed to keep this to books that we read in 2014 (or if it even has to be books that we've read...perhaps book covers we've admired but not yet picked up?), but since it's the end of the year and we're wrapping up, I decided to limit this to books I read in 2014.

However...I've only read 43 books so far this year, and choosing 10 would mean nearly a quarter of the books I read this year would have to have eye-catching covers.  Which is not the case, unfortunately.  So instead, this is my top 5 book covers of books I read in 2014, because I was only honestly able to pick out 5 that seemed exceptional!

In no particular order...

1. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult  (review)

It's just so pretty and calming.  Sometimes simplicity is all I want from a book cover.

2. The Blonde by Anna Godbersen  (review)

As much as I disliked the book itself, the cover is fairly dramatic.

3. Croak by Gina Damico  (review)

If you've read this book, you'll know that the main character (Lex) is fairly sassy and bad-ass, and this picture sums her up so well.  Plus, you know, scythe.  Kind of disarming.

4. What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell  (review)

Makes me want summer and roller coasters and slurpees.

5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman  (review)

The image of the girl in the water is beautiful, but also rather haunting.  A perfect fit for this novel.

What say you, readers?  Did you read anything with an especially lovely cover this year?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

January 2014 wrap-up

Pretty short recap this month!  Busy with these two crazy faces:
Sorry I look drunk here.  My drunk face and my tired face are very similar.  I don't condone drinking while parenting.  Except maybe in extreme cases...?
I'd say those are two very nice reasons for being MIA, wouldn't you?  :)  It also doesn't help that I decided to jump into 2014 with a nice 800-page chunkster (review coming this week!), so I'm hoping for more frequent review posts here soon.

I only read 2 books in January!
The Stork Reality by Malena Lott, and
What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell.

I don't think it's fair to do a best/worst book of the month when I've only read two, but...I really loved one of them, and thought the other one was just meh, so you figure it out.

On the horizon for February: my first review from my TBR Book Baggie, some bookish love, and a fun giveaway.  Also, maybe temperatures above -10 so I can start going for outdoor runs?  Whatchoo think, Mother Nature?

Stay warm, mah babies!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell

Title:  What I Had Before I Had You
Author: Sarah Cornwell
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

In What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell, a woman must face the truth about her past in this luminous, evocative literary novel of parents and children, guilt and forgiveness, memory and magical thinking, set in the faded, gritty world of the New Jersey Shore.

Olivia was only fifteen the summer she left her hometown of Ocean Vista. Two decades later, on a visit with her children, her nine-year-old son Daniel, recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, disappears. Olivia’s search for him sparks tender and painful memories of her past—of her fiercely loving and secretive mother, Myla, an erratic and beautiful psychic, and the discovery of heartbreaking secrets that shattered her world.

My Review:

This year, I am being SUPER choosy about my TLC review books (because of Tater Tot's arrival and my thus-limited reading time).  Therefore, you can rest assured that any TLC books I review here have gone through my ever-so-exacting vetting process (ie. I read the synopsis and it made me feel many feels).  What I Had Before I Had You is the first TLC book I'm reviewing in 2014, and it stands up to my newly rigorous standards, because I lurved it.

I think what makes this book stick out in comparison to other family dramas is that it's a bit of a chameleon--the story has so many interesting angles, delicately woven together, that the central focus of the story is constantly changing.  One minute, you're centered on Olivia's past and her connection (or disconnection) with her mother...the next minute, you're caught up in the search for her son Daniel...and then you find yourself contemplating the ways bipolar disorder has shaped this family's trajectory over so many years.  This may make it sound like the novel is disjointed or jumpy, but it's not--the author (Cornwell) does an awesome job of blending all these elements together.  I honestly didn't realize the full complexity of the story until I sat back after reading the last page and considered the novel as a whole.

This is one of those books that would be great for book clubs--the discussion possibilities are endless.  Even the can be construed in so many different ways.  A reference to Olivia's childhood, or the genetic legacy of bipolar in her family, etc...and does it smack of nostalgia, or wistfulness, or both?  SO MUCH TO ANALYZE.  My high school English teachers would be proud.

One thing I'd LOVE to discuss with anyone else who's read this is their thoughts on the main character, Olivia.  I feel kinda bad saying it, but I didn't find her entirely likeable.  That sounds harsh, when you consider that she had a rough childhood (being brought up by a bipolar mother who was rather neglectful at times), was eventually diagnosed as bipolar herself, and is now struggling to raise a bipolar son.  But there's just something about her that I found to be...abrasive, maybe?  A little too defensive, or rough around the edges?  Hard to say.  Yet another reason why I appreciate the careful way that Cornwell crafted this story.

I'll admit that I was a little slow to get caught up in this story, but once I did, I jumped in feet first.  The multidimensional nature of this novel makes it one of the better family-based books that I've read lately.  Part drama, part mystery, but either way, a must-read.

As always, much thanks to Trish and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE.  And connect with Sarah Cornwell on her Facebook page.
I'm always pretty stoked when I start the year off with some awesome reads.  Have any books knocked your socks off yet in 2014?

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