General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Romance

Giant by Edna Ferber

GiantGiant by Edna Ferber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, how did I happen to read a book published in 1952? Let me tell you. While reading Where the Crawdads Sing, I could not stop thinking about how it reminded me of my Grandma Tocco. I felt compelled to send her a copy to read. In our conversation about Where the Crawdads Sing, my grandma said to me, “Have you read anything by Edna Ferber? She’s one of my favorite authors!” As I hadn’t, she recommended that I read Giant so I added it to the list.

I’m not going to lie, I almost did not get past the first 4 or 5 chapters. The writing is so different from anything I would typically read which is likely a product of the decade in which it was published. Let’s just say that the writing is very “vintage.” It was not a quick read. If I were to read it aloud, the language just would not roll off the tongue.

However, I stuck with it and started to develop relationships with the characters. I began to understand the relationships of the characters and their motivations. And eventually, I was invested in their stories.

Giant is about the life of Leslie and Jordan “Bick” Benedict on enormous Reata Ranch in the heart of Texas from the 1930s to the 1950s. And if I can say anything about this book, it oozed Texas. The ranches, the cattle, the size, the culture, and the economic transition from one rooted on agriculture to one thriving from oil. It was Texas through and through.

What did I not like about it? It was slowwwwwww and longggggggg. There were times when I felt like the book could have benefited from editing out about 100 pages and moving the story faster. It would eventually pick up, but then would fall back into a lull. And I guess I was a tad confused about the ending. The story just kind of stopped. I was hoping for more resolution.

Overall, it was not my favorite book ever but it was definitely not my least favorite book ever. It will live in that in between area of “just okay.” Sorry Gram!

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & the SixDaisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Expected Publication: March 5th!

ALL THE STARS!!! SERIOUSLY, FIVE IS NOT ENOUGH!

I adored this book so much. It is only the 6th day of 2019 and I would venture to say that this will probably be in the top 5 books I read this year, if not the best book I read this year. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a powerhouse. After reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I considered myself a fan of her storytelling. But Daisy Jones & the Six blows it out of the water.

Daisy Jones & the Six is a story about the fictional rock band… you guessed it… Daisy Jones & the Six. It tells the story of their rise to stardom and their later collapse. But the characters are the magic. The individual subplots are superb, and I was able to make a connection with each and every character in the book. I loved the way Taylor Jenkins Reid tied everything together with the ending expertly crafted and told. Although the entire story was fabulous, the last 10% of the book gave me all the feels and really brought it home for me.

The formatting was so unique and different. Written in the form of a transcript, with different characters telling their version of the story was super interesting. It also added a real element as everybody’s version of events was at times different, as they would be if actual people were telling their own accounts of the same story. And the humor. Perfectly placed. I found myself chuckling and laughing many times throughout. It was not overtly humorous by any means. But the way the author crafted conflicting accounts of certain events made me smile.

As this was a story about a rock band, there was mention of the various songs they wrote and performed. And not only did TJR allude to the band’s songs. She wrote them. At the back of the book are the lyrics of all ten songs for the reader to enjoy. Now if only we could have an accompanying soundtrack, my life would be complete. A girl can dream, right?

I will be recommending this book to everybody I know. And I have to thank BookSparks for helping a sista out with the request for this ARC. Hearts!

You will definitely want to preorder this one so click here to take yourself straight to Amazon and do it! This is one of the most highly anticipated books of the year, and I have a feeling it will be one of the most talked about after it is published.

-I was gifted an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to review.-

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction, Mystery, True Crime

Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Rust & StardustRust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I saw Rust & Stardust on many lists this year. The cover kept popping up everywhere. And without knowing the content, I decided to check it out from the library.

Boy, was this a hard book to read. The content was heartbreaking and extremely disturbing. Trigger alert for sexual assault. There were times when I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue reading because I found it sickening and upsetting. However, the storytelling by T. Greenwood is so fantastic that I wanted to find out what happened next.

The story is set in the late 1940’s when eleven-year-old Sally Horner is abducted by Frank LaSalle, a convict and child rapist who tricks her into thinking he is an FBI agent taking her into custody for stealing a notebook from a local store. Think Elizabeth Smart in an era with no advanced technology and archaic police work. What follows is the horrifying tale of Sally’s imprisonment, but what I did not expect were the heartwarming moments and glimpses of happiness Sally found along the way. The strangers who became friends and made her experience more bearable.

I did not care for the last hour or so of the audiobook. I didn’t understand why the last hour was included as I didn’t feel like it jived all that well with the rest of the story. Until I realized this was a true story…. I did not realize this story was based on true events until I read the Author’s Note at the end of the book. It blew me away. For ten hours, I was reading it as if it were a creation of T. Greenwood’s imagination, and while many of the details were manufactured, the overall content was reflective of events that really happened. Gut wrenching.

This book is definitely not for everybody. It is not for the faint of heart of those who cannot tolerate discussion of sexual assault, particularly of minors. But if you can get past all of that, it is a tremendous story and Sally Horner deserves for it to be told.

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Romance

Firefly Lane (Firefly Lane #1) by Kristin Hannah

Firefly Lane (Firefly Lane #1)Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First book review of 2019! And it’s a good one!!

How could I NOT love a Kristin Hannah book? Honestly.

After reading The Nightingale, The Great Alone, Home Front, and Night Road (so much goodness), I figured Firefly Lane was the next logical choice. And my girl Kristin Hannah did not disappoint yet again.

Firefly Lane was something entirely different from the heaviness of the aforementioned titles. It (for the most part) was a coming of age story about friendship above all else. Beginning in the 1970’s and spanning into present day, Kristin Hannah tells the tale of fourteen-year-old quiet, reserved Kate who meets her new neighbor… life-of-the-party, “it girl” Tully. In time, Kate and Tully become best friends, seeing each other through important life events, supporting each other through obstacles, and sometimes fighting as friends often do. As time goes on, Kate and Tully’s lives split along two separate paths but they always seem to come back to each other. I hate to give more of the plot away because that’s the brilliance of the story so I’ll leave it at that.

To be honest, when I started reading this book I thought to myself, “This is not a typical Kristin Hannah. I don’t have this deep, emotional feeling that I’ve come to love from her writing.” But, boy was I wrong. Wait for it. Wait for it. BAM! It just hits you in the face like a runaway train. And I thought to myself, “There it is!” The magic. The thing that keeps me coming back for more. And of course, the tears. All the tears.

This review would not be complete without mentioning the nostalgic elements that Hannah so perfectly placed throughout the prose. There were tiny glimpses into 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s pop culture that weren’t too in your face, but caught me reminiscing about my own childhood in the 90’s and stories my mother told me about her childhood in the 70’s. I loved those little touches.

This is the first in a series of two books, the second titled Fly Away. Trust me, it is in line to be read very soon so I can continue experiencing this magnificent story.

If you haven’t read Kristin Hannah before, this is a great first choice. Or any of the books I’ve already mentioned. Or all of them. I won’t judge.

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To be honest, I’m not really sure how I feel about this book. I absolutely loved Celeste Ng’s recent book Little Fires Everywhere and couldn’t wait to read one of her earlier works. I saw Everything I Never Told You was available at the library and snatched it up.

The story begins with a young Chinese American girl turning up dead, found face down in a local lake. Was her death suicide, homicide, or accidental? The rest of the book tells the story of her and her Chinese American family leading up to her death. They all carry their own secrets, and carry their own burdens. And the question remains… How did Lydia die?

This book was kind of just… Meh. It was good enough and I listened to the entire thing. The narrator was engaging and held my interest. And while I was really invested in the beginning, the pace was so slow that I just found my interest tapering off toward the end.

There were some good cultural and racial elements that were explored, particularly interracial relationships in the 1960s and 70s. This was one of the book’s strengths in my opinion.

I don’t know that I would recommend this book to everybody. It’s a good enough story, but just sort of fell flat for me.

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