“Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks

201610-two-by-two-burst-680x1019Let me say right off the bat, this was not Nicholas Sparks’s best work. I’ve read a lot of his books and I’ve only recently noticed how awkwardly they are written, but that’s not even the first thing I noticed about this one.

The book is about Russell Greene, an everyday man with a wife and child. The book literally starts with the birth of his daughter, London. Then all of a sudden, she’s a six-year-old. Lots of things happen in this dude’s life, but it takes a while to get there.

The pacing of the book seemed very off to me. It took literally half the book to get to the point and then even then it felt like we dwelled on things that should have just passed by and we glossed over major moments in the story. At the end there was a huge plot twist (ok, maybe not *huge* but still pretty big) and it felt like we only read about that one thing, until it wasn’t a thing anymore. And the book basically ended in the middle of things. To end it, all the loose ends were just tossed into the epilogue and you’re left thinking, “Why in the world would you do that?” It’s like all these big decisions were made and then just added in as an afterthought. I did not like.

In addition, the characters weren’t that likable. The best one was London, and she was 6. At the beginning I thought that Russell (a.k.a. Russ) was going to be a relatable character, but then I realized that he’s basically a doormat. And he reminds me of someone in my family who I just really don’t like and that’s all I could think about the entire time. Plus his wife is a mean woman and I can’t stand her. His parents aren’t that great either, they seem very hands-off. The best adult characters are Russell’s sister, Marge, and her partner, Liz. They seem like they would be chill individuals.

One more thing. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the writing and dialogue are way too formal and try-hard. People don’t talk like that, Nicholas! I know it’s proper grammar, but no one speaks those words in the real world. And if you do, people probably think you’re pretentious. At some points in the book the conversation was so robotic that I actually imagined robots speaking in my mind while I was reading. That shouldn’t be your goal here, bro.

Overall, I might read this book again, but it will be a while before I do. I’m definitely keeping it because my grandma gave it to me for my birthday and she wrote a nice inscription in it and I love my grandma a whole lot.

Next up is finishing “Buffering” by Hannah Hart. Plus I started rereading “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket, so I’m about 30 pages in on “The Bad Beginning.” I probably haven’t read those books since high school and I forgot how short they are. And also how clever they are.

I think I’ll go sleep now,
Maegan

“Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon

9780552576482As far as teen fiction goes, I was pretty impressed with this book. I became interested in it after seeing a trailer for the movie that recently came out based on the book, so I put myself on the waiting list to get the audiobook from my public library.

The book is about Madeline, who basically lives in a bubble house because she has a rare disease where literally anything could kill her if she has a reaction to it, and Olly, the boy who moves in next door.

It’s a great story about young love (in a non-annoying way, because usually it’s annoying) and learning that the people closest to you might not actually be trustworthy. That’s probably not the main point of the book, but that’s what I took away from it.

While I was listening to the book, I thought that the story had a very obvious ending that I didn’t want to happen, and I wasn’t disappointed because there was a big, giant plot twist at the end. There wasn’t really a big reveal though, just a kind of gradual shifting of the plot. There was still a happy ending, but it also left plenty of questions unanswered. Maybe room for a second book? I do like the idea that the story lives on in your imagination though.

As I said, I listened to this one on audiobook, and it was pretty short so I got through it within a couple days.

I think sometimes I’m influenced by the person who reads the audiobook. It’s something about their voice or inflection or something, I just think to myself, “A normal person wouldn’t act like that or say those things.” I really like audiobooks where the author is the one reading because they know exactly how that character is supposed to feel in that moment. It’s even better when it’s a memoir read by the author because really, why even try to get someone else to read about your own experiences?

In this book, it sounds like the supposedly 18-year-old Maddy is a 40-year-old woman, so it was good but there was room for improvement.

Now I’m reading “Buffering” by Hannah Hart (still) and I just started “Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks. I have a pretty substantial to-be-read list and it just keeps growing and growing so thank goodness for digital copies of books. Never thought I would say that.

For now,
Maegan

“Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir” by Jenny Lawson

letpretendthisneverhappened11At least it didn’t take me THAT long to finish this book after I finished “Furiously Happy.”

There have been plenty of moments where things were mentioned in one or both of the books and I couldn’t remember where it first came up. And there was a trippy moment at the end of this book where Jenny Lawson wrote, “That’ll be in book two!” and I had to stop and think about whether that actually was in book two. I kinda don’t think it was.

But anyway, this book is the memoir of Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess. I’ve heard of her before and I’ve seen these books in the stores, but I had never picked them up. I got this one as a Christmas present this past December, and it’s got a cool inscription from the author. I really have a thing about signed books.

There’s plenty of stuff going on in this book that you just think can’t be real life, but it’s a memoir so it’s definitely real life. There’s also a lot of taxidermy going on, but that’s explained in the book.

It’s interesting to see how someone else describes their life and to imagine that this is what the life of someone else is like. It’s impressive to me when someone has the guts to share their own story to begin with. And there were plenty of opportunities for a laugh in this book.

Next up, I’ve already got three more books in the works. I’m reading “Buffering” by Hannah Hart, “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon, and “Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks.

Bye for now,
Maegan

“Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson

81bAquOCgWLI promise, I tried really hard not to finish this book before finishing Jenny Lawson’s first book, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir,” but it was just really difficult and I failed.

I blame audiobook library lending limits. I think I only have five more days left, which is arguably long enough to finish the 60 or so pages of “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” and then finish this book, but listening to audiobooks is so much easier than sitting down to read the physical book. Darn you, technology.

Anyway, I started reading this book because I was halfway through her first book and I liked it pretty well and “Furiously Happy” was available at the time in both audiobook and e-book. So I mostly listened to it on audiobook and then occasionally flipped through the e-book to see the pictures. There were a couple parts where something completely off the wall was mentioned, followed by “I wrote all about that in my first book” and it was just another reminder of how I failed to read two unrelated books by the same author in the correct order.

The book starts with a blog post that Lawson wrote when she was going through a bad phase of depression where she decided that instead of being hidden away from the world, she just decided that she was going to be furiously happy instead. There are plenty of stories where Lawson writes about conversations she has with her therapist and crazy arguments she has with her husband (they’re the cutest) and how bad she is at dinner parties and it’s just great because it’s so real. She writes a lot about struggling with mental illness and I think it was good to see it from a different perspective. I have never really been able to understand what people who have mental illness are going through and she explained it in a really well done way.

She’s also incredibly hilarious. She curses plenty in the book, but she has some pretty funny stories to tell. I’m sure she would be a really good friend in real life.

Until next time,
Maegan

“The Infinite Sea” by Rick Yancey

16131484This sequel definitely wasn’t as good as “The 5th Wave,” but it was still decent. I think it was more about building the characters up and explaining the in-between with some extra action thrown in there compared to the first book.

Rick Yancey definitely overdid the whole “the infinite sea” thing. It was probably mentioned seven times in the book and something like that where it’s a weird phrase that people don’t use AND it’s the name of the book sticks in your mind.

One thing that really bothers me in this book. There’s no holding back when it comes to killing people off, but this one character has stared death in the face like three times and he/she is still not dead. I can understand why he/she is not dead because he/she is integral in the big thing that’s happening in the book, but really? If he/she is going to survive death, just do it once and be done with it.

I’ve already started the final book in the trilogy, “The Last Star,” and it’s good so far but not as exciting as I had hoped. But more on that later.

I’m also still reading “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir” and “Furiously Happy,” both by Jenny Lawson, but one of my co-workers just gave me the book “Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded” by Hannah Hart and I have a feeling that I will start it before these others are done. Maybe I can resist, but no promises.

For now,
Maegan

“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey

512And8xM0LThis book is pretty decent as far as young adult dystopian novels go. I first read it a couple years ago before the movie version was released and I remember being in shock and awe over all the twists and turns in the plot. It definitely keeps you guessing right up until the end. Then it leaves you hanging. So clearly I have already started reading the second novel in the series, “The Infinite Sea,” which I have also read before. I’m really excited about getting to the third book, “The Last Star,” because that one had not been released when I was reading this series the first time, so it’s all new territory.

I actually think I did a library foul because I borrowed all three books at once in e-book and audiobook format. But you can’t blame me too much because I’m getting through them pretty quickly. Plus I couldn’t chance it if someone checked out the next book after the one I was currently reading, because then I would just have to sit and wait until they were done and that is no bueno.

I like the writing in this book a lot because it is in human speak and the dialogue actually sounds like kids speaking, instead of what some adult thinks kids would sound like if they had gone to a secret etiquette-based boarding school in their formative years. And there’s just enough annoying teen drama to make it realistic but not so much that you sigh and consider chucking the book out your bedroom window.

So basically the plot is this: Everything is fine and dandy in Ohio/the world until *dun dun duhhh* the Arrival. The Mothership shows up in the sky and then the “Others” start making insanely terribly things happen to eradicate all human life. These things come in waves, i.e. “The 5th Wave” is eminent at the start of this book. Not surprisingly at all, a bunch of teenagers/kids figure out what is going on and try to handle that mess. But of course, the book ends pretty much immediately after some big action so you really don’t have much information about the impact of their actions.

One thing that gets me in this book: There’s this analogy that keeps popping up about humans being the cockroaches of the world compared to the Others, which is fine. Cockroaches are gross, but still. But there’s this other analogy that keeps coming up where the main character is referred to as a mayfly by her male companion. Like ew. If you’re trying to be sweet or romantic, how about a butterfly or something less ew? Really, you’re comparing this girl to a gross bug that hovers around water or something. Way to get some brownie points. But for some reason that is completely mysterious to me, this chick completely digs it and is all about being referred to as a gross bug. Her prerogative, I guess.

Anywho, now I’m on to “The Infinite Sea” while also simultaneously reading Jenny Lawson’s first two books, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir” and “Furiously Happy.”

Just call me a book reading fiend,
Maegan

“The Future of Us” by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

10959277This book. It came back into my mind after re-reading and watching “Thirteen Reasons Why” because of Jay Asher. I read it several years ago and I remembered the plot but not much of the specifics.

But now I definitely know my tastes are changing because the main teenage girl in this book was ANNOYING. She didn’t care about how her actions affected anyone else and she was just so petty and selfish.

And I did not like the ending. Josh deserves better than everything he got in this book.

Basically, the premise of this book is that it’s the 90s and people just got into having personal computers and accessing the internet. Emma’s dad buys her a guilt computer because he lives in Florida now with his new wife and baby, then Emma’s friend Josh who she rejected 6 months ago brings her an AOL CD-ROM. They log on then bam! Facebook exists! Somehow these kids understand how it works and they are not at all confused by the name “Facebook.”

So they find their profiles, but it’s the profiles of their future selves 15 years down the road. Somehow they are only mildly freaked out about this. I don’t understand.

Anyway, Emma is not happy with the way her life turns out, so she keeps trying to change the future. Maybe it’s because Emma is a selfish teenager who can’t stop whining about her life and being rude to all the people who care about her. A couple times she succeeds, but whatevs. But there’s all this chatter about how the things you do now are creating time ripples that affect the future, even if you don’t even know what decisions you’re actually making right now.

Children. You should probably just focus on the present because none of your degrees and your good jobs are going to happen if you don’t finish your education first. Chillax.

So in conclusion, in the past I was all over this book but now all I can think is, “Wow, was I this obnoxious as a teenager too?” Sure hope not but we were probably all obnoxious then.

Now I have to go figure out my next read,
Maegan

“See Me” by Nicholas Sparks

201608-See-Me-TR-680x1020Let me preface this by saying that I’ve read virtually every book that this man has written. Every now and then, I like to read a good romance, and sometimes there’s even some suspense thrown in.

This book. It started out interesting, but by the end, I was gritting my teeth just to get through it.

Yes, there’s a love interest story line, but there’s no drama to it really. It’s a super typically timeline, with meet, meet again, meet a third time unintentionally, dating, etc. I think the author tried to spice things up by giving the main character a past, but it doesn’t do much for anything.

Fast forward to a big surprise, someone in the book is a criminal. There is so much potential for this plot. Instead, you just get stuck in a runaround where you’re not actually sure who the bad guy is. First it’s A, then it’s definitely A, then it’s B, but no because it’s definitely A, then it’s A and B, then it’s A again, then it’s A and C, but a very predictable C.

I don’t know, something about it just started bothering me. Like the story was trying so hard to be interesting that it just started being annoying.

In addition, the dialogue in this book is so formal. It’s unnatural, and off-putting, honestly. If you’re going to write a book in which your characters talk to each other, they should speak as they actually would in real life. Don’t try to fancy it up because it just makes them seem stiff and like you can’t relate to them.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Started out all right, but by the end I wanted to throw this book across the room. Probably won’t stop me from still reading Nicholas Sparks’s other new book, “Two by Two.” Don’t even really know what that one’s about but I’ll probably still read it.

I’m also still reading “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir” by Jenny Lawson (have made literally zero progress since my last post), and I just started the audiobook of “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling, because she/he is the queen of books.

Until next time,
Maegan

“The Crown” by Kiera Cass

The_Crown_CoverI finished this one a couple days ago while I was on vacation. Mind you, it’s not a very great beach read. But it did the trick.

I was super excited to read this book and the one before, “The Heir,” because I had never read them and they rounded out the Selection series. Lo and behold, I started losing interest.

You know the whole book is about the princess/future queen and her search for a husband that she initially didn’t even want to have. In the end she picks someone she’s had probably one and a half conversations with. So clearly it is true love.

And there’s just something about this character. Her people think she’s a horrible person but her many suitors disagree. Still, there’s nothing really that proves that she’s not a horrible person. It just seems like every time she tries to be nice and the author tries to show that she’s genuine, she comes off as fake and it just really doesn’t seem sincere.

But at least I finished it. So now I am trying to finish “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which is a giant book when you’re trying to read on a plane. But I am also back to listening to the audiobook, which is much more mobile. Next I am planning on reading “A Dog’s Purpose,” by W. Bruce Cameron. I saw the movie a few weeks ago and I thought it was the sweetest thing so of course now I have to read it.

More later,
Maegan

“The Queen” and “The Favorite” by Kiera Cass

the-queen-kiera-cass Favorite_EpicReads1.jpgThese two stories were the last two novellas related to The Selection series. I think of all four of the stories, “The Queen” was probably the most enlightening. It was told from Prince Maxon’s mother’s eyes, but it was when she was younger and she was actually part of the Selection. It gives a looooot of insight into why the king acted the way he did to America and to Maxon. Honestly, after reading it, it’s surprising that Maxon was so kind to those around him. Then again, his mom probably had a lot to do with that.

“The Favorite” told Marlee’s story. Marlee was the first of the girls that America met when she began the Selection, and they became best friends pretty quickly. Marlee’s life was turned all topsy turvy, but thanks to Mason, she was always happy with what she had.

I think it is amazing how deep Kiera Cass’s understanding of all her characters goes. Between the Selection series and the “Happily Ever After” companion book, she wrote scenes from 7 different characters’ points of view. It’s 8, at least, if you could “The Heir” and “The Crown.” Which I haven’t started yet, but they are next on the list.

I’m still intrigued by this series and I’m excited to read these last two books because I’ve never read them before. Aside from these, I’m in the hold line to get “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” on audiobook for my commute. While I was waiting I was getting super bored while driving to work, so I also started listening to “The 100” series by Kass Morgan. I’m nearly halfway through the first book right now and I’m intrigued. There’s a lot of suspense and a lot of questions that haven’t been answered yet. I also have a new book I got for Christmas and I want to reread the “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books, thanks to Neil Patrick Harris and the new Netflix series. So that’s what my short-list entails. But I’m sure it will grow.

I’m off for more Sunday funday,
Maegan