Mini Review: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Published: 1967
Publisher: Puffin
Format: audiobook via Overdrive
Rating: 5/5

The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy. The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider. According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.

My Thoughts
Like many of us I have grown up watching The Outsiders by until now have never read it, so I thought why not since it was available on audio via my library. Let me just say I LOVED the book but the audio version was awful! They need to redo it and once it was over the audio started again on a random part it was a mess! Moving on, I felt that the movie was pretty true to the book and even after all these years I felt the book still stood the test of time. The division of class and how each viewed each other still rings true everywhere today. We always think others have it better than ourselves but we all have our troubles despite what we think. I have always loved this movie and now I love the book just as much if you want a fantastic read that will stand the test of time this is one you should pick up without a doubt.


Mini Review: The Tailgate by Elin Hilderband

The Tailgate by Elin Hilderbrand
Published: May 1, 2014
Publisher: Little Brown and Co
Format: via Overdrive
Rating: 3/5

Clendenin Hughes first kissed Dabney Kimball during a Nantucket snowstorm freshman year of high school. Ever since that moment - God, the rush, the chemistry! - Dabney has known that she and Clen are an unsplittable unit - essentially the same person in two different bodies.

Of course, with Dabney now at Harvard and Clen at Yale, those bodies are 140 miles apart. And traveling is a serious challenge for Dabney, for reasons she'd prefer not to discuss, reasons having to do with her mother (or lack thereof). But with the big Harvard-Yale game coming up, Dabney is determined to make the trek to New Haven to see Clen. She's even borrowed a sexy black outfit from a classmate down the hall.

But when she arrives at the tailgate to see sparks flying between Clen and Jocelyn, a girl with dark blue eyes and luscious black hair, Dabney fears the collapse of a bond she has never questioned before, a bond so important that she'll be lost without it. A stirring portrait of young love at a crossroads, THE TAILGATE introduces two irresistible characters and invites us into a world we don't want to leave.

My Thoughts
This was an okay introduction to Elin Hilderbrand’s characters from The Matchmaker. We get a glimpse into the early lives of Clendenin and Dabney during their college years. Though I had already read The Matchmaker I didn’t really get much from this short story. I was aware of the characters and their backstories so I already knew them, but this didn’t really give me any more than I knew just by reading The Matchmaker by itself. Nevertheless, as a huge fan of the author and I will read anything she writes and if you do too this is a fast read that gives us a short history of Clendenin and Dabney the early years.


Mini Review: Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
Published: August 9, 2011
Publisher: Knopf
Format: via Overdrive
Rating: 2/5

Wickedly hilarious and utterly recognizable, Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women grappling with heartbreak and career change, family pressure and new love—all while suffering through an endless round of weddings and bridal showers.

Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working at a mailing-list company, dizzy with the mixed signals of a boss who claims she’s on a diet but has Isabella file all morning if she forgets to bring her a chocolate muffin. Mary thinks she might cry with happiness when she finally meets a nice guy who loves his mother, only to realize he’ll never love Mary quite as much. And Lauren, a waitress at a Midtown bar, swears up and down she won’t fall for the sleazy bartender—a promise that his dirty blond curls and perfect vodka sodas make hard to keep.

My Thoughts
I listened to this as an audiobook and honestly, it was the worse. I thought this was going to be something light and fun but, I was confused as hell. It claims it was a story of three friends but I swear there were so many characters I didn’t know who was who. What I was looking for and what I got were two different things and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the storyline and the characters were whiny and dislikeable. This was one read that fell really flat, to say the least.


Review: This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Published: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Format: via Audible
Rating: 5/5

This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

My Thoughts
I've had this audiobook for over a year until one day I was scanning my Audible and decided to listen. Wow! This book is simply amazing and it touched my soul like no other. In This Is How It Always Is we start off with a couple and we get to know their courtship, marriage and then their kids. We soon learn that they are expecting again and once again it’s a boy… and then Claude is born.

Claude is a loving child who soon shows us he likes to play with dolls and likes to dress up but as time goes by it becomes more. It isn’t a phase to Claude he wants to be girl…deep down he knows he is a girl. Even at a very young age, he knows who he is and more importantly who he isn’t.

We see Claude as he goes to school and after they move so Claude who has changed his name can start his life as who he was meant to be and make friends who only know him as a girl. He is living the life he wants all while his family keeps his secret. In time the secret is out and their lives begin to unravel, we see how this has affected everyone in the family and the toll it takes on Claude. He decides to go back to Claude as to not hurt anyone but it's clear he’s only hurting his true self not to mention he isn’t Claude anyone, more like he was never meant to be Claude.

This is a heartbreaking novel of a person who from the start knows who he was meant to be. I was literally in tears when he cuts his hair and starts to dress “like a boy” so that he wouldn’t hurt his family anymore but its clear at that point that he wasn’t Claude anymore. What I also found interesting were the parents. Penn was a stay at home dad and Rosie was a doctor. We usually hear about the mother always being the more understanding one and the father is the one who doesn’t want to come to terms with things but in the story, it was the opposite. Penn wanted their child to be who they wanted regardless of what others thought and Rosie was scared maybe or by being a doctor wanted to think about all the options.  This was a beautifully written novel that gives us an insight into the lives of transgender children and their families. It shows us how parents have the difficult decisions on what to do and when to listen to their children's pleas on who they really are. I personally loved this novel and loved how it focused on a younger child than we usually read about. If you're looking for a book based on love, understanding and family pick this one up it's definitely worth the read.


Review: Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan

Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan
Published: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Format: via Kindle Unlimited [audiobook]
Rating: 4/5

When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.

As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.

When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.

My Thoughts
This is a love story of sorts, in the beginning, we met James and Rob who are the best of friends and one day James goes the visit Rob and Rob tells him he has met someone and she’s the one. The One is Lou and James can't believe his friend is in love but as soon as James meets Lou he knows why. He instantly falls for Lou and he knows this isn’t right but Lou is the one for him. He knows he can't do anything about it so he stays away knowing if he’s near her he won't be able to help himself. Soon Lou and Rob get married and Rob is devested he goes on with his life meeting other people but in the back of his mind, Lou is always there.

Rob and Lou after years of marriage start to have problems and Lou goes to James for comfort and after Lou finds out she’s pregnant and its James since she and Rob have separated. James is thrilled wanting to be with Lou but she decides they can co-parent since she doesn’t want to rush into another relationship.

In the beginning, we know James is telling a story to someone but we don’t know who well we soon find out it's their daughter and while I won't tell you everything that happens it’s a very heartbreaking story. While Lou and James never get together they have built a family in their own way and when something happens that family means everything.

This is a story of love and family and in the different forms, they come in. That true love can be romantic or friendship and to receive love is something we should be thankful and grateful for. This is one novel that while it's sad it shows us what really is important in life.


Review: Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon

Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon
Expected Publication: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Atria Books
Format: via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Wrenn Bailey has lived all her life on Cape Cod with her mother Lindy, older sister Shannon, and younger sister Piper. Growing up, life was dictated by the seasons with sleepy gray winters where only the locals stayed on, followed by the sharp influx and colorful bustle of summer tourists who swept up the elbow of the Cape and infiltrated their small paradise.

But it wasn’t just the tourists who interrupted Wrenn’s formative years; her father—brilliant but troubled photographer Caleb—has long made a habit of drifting in and out of his girls’ lives. Until the one summer, he left the Cape and did not return again.

Now, almost twenty years later, Caleb has come back one last time, suffering from pancreatic cancer and seeking absolution. Wrenn and her sisters each respond differently to their father’s return, determined to find closure. But that means returning to the past and revisiting old wounds—wounds that cause the tightknit Bailey women to confront their own wishes and wants and admit to their own wrong-doings over the years. In a place that brings both great comfort and great pain, the Bailey sisters experience a summer on the Cape that promises not only hard endings, but perhaps, hopeful new beginnings.

My Thoughts
Focusing on family, love, and forgiveness, Sailing Lessons shows us that love can heal all wounds. We get to know three sisters Wrenn, Bailey, and Shannon all who are dealing with their issues unknown to other members of the family, come together when they realize their father who hasn’t been around in decades wants to come and visit them for reasons that are later revealed.

Shannon, the oldest, is the protector of them all. She doesn’t want anything to do with their father who left after a terrible accident years ago and she is the most like him for many reasons. She presents everything as perfect, her life, her family and herself. She wants to be the “fixer” yet beneath it all everything is less than perfect. With the news of her father coming back she must confront her demons and deal with her past or risk losing it all.

Wrenn is going to open her own business which she has worked hard for. She has a beautiful daughter and has tried to make their lives better but the one thing her daughter wants, to know her father, is the one thing Wrenn doesn’t need in her life right now. Not to mention her long-lost dad coming back into the picture is another thing she doesn’t need. She finds herself in the middle between him and her sisters.

Bailey the youngest, she just trying to find her way in life. She is constantly in school getting degrees after degrees but never settling down and truly starting her life. She is scared to enter the real world and has found herself in a relationship that isn’t the best, to say the least. She’s in love with someone who can't give her want she wants and when she realizes her father is back in the picture she couldn’t be happier. She's the one sister that doesn’t remember him or exactly what happened that day. 

I enjoyed this wonderful relatable tale especially the relationship between the sisters and their mother. The way their mother never put her feelings about their father on them was good, she let them make up their own minds about him. I also liked how each sister had their own time with him and each came to terms with him on their own time. This is a true story of forgiveness. I felt that while each sister was going through things in their lives some of it does stem from the past, maybe more than others but it was there. In seeing their father I felt it wasn’t so much for him but for them. They’ve had to come to terms with the past and let go in order to let that negativity free them. This is great read and one that has multi-layers that is a gift to unwrap. This is one book that is well worth the read.


2018 Summer Reads

It's that time of year Y'all!! The sun is shining [more like blazing here in Texas] and all you want to do is hit the pool or beach. I’m here to share some of my reads I’ll be getting to this Summer season. I enjoy light reads during these hot days but I also enjoy my thrillers/suspense novels. So here’s my list and hopefully you will find something you can enjoy in the months ahead.