Friday, December 16, 2016

The Things They Carried: by Tim O'Brien

Hey readers! Happy holidays and I hope your Decembers' are going well. I have recently read a great new book that I would love to share.

I would like to preface this review with a fact about myself. I am typically not a big fan of non-fiction. War novels have not been at the top of my To Read list, however, I am making an exception for this book. I was truly compelled by this one. It was not the typical war story I will tell you that.

Tim O'Brien, the author and the protagonist, was accepted into Harvard and had a promising future ahead of him when he got the draft notice that changed his life. He tells the stories of his time at war before and after it.

During this review I will not give an overview of the plot of the story because I could not give that away for the life of me. I will instead tell you what makes this book so special.

Now, this novel is a collection of stories all stringed together in no particular order. It has no beginning middle or end, just like war.

This novel is not only about war, but it really made me question what is real or fiction.  The blurred line of fact or fiction in this novel is what made me really enjoy it, but get frustrated with it at the same time. There is no guarantee that all of these stories occurred, and there is no way to fact check them.

These personal stories that Tim shared from his so called memories of war definitely make their way into your heart whether you know anything about war or not.

When you read this book, or collection of stories, you will get attached to Tim and the characters of his book, however, you do not know if their stories actually happened. That is the frustrating part. Because we will never know what about this novel is real or fiction, but at the same time it is unimportant to the message and emotional impact of Tim's story.

The characters and story line was definitely unique and had my mind blown and my emotions played with the entire time. If you could pick up one book this holiday season, I hope that you pick this one.

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Thursday, October 27, 2016

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: by Ken Kesey

Hi readers! I recently read the classic that is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

This book is narrated by Chief Bromden, a tall mental institution half-Indian patient, who acts as if he is deaf, dumb and mute. Obviously though, he can understand everything going on around him, for he is the novel's sole narrator! He is the perfect narrator because, while he acts invisible, he is able to listen in on everything that is going on around the ward. I think, however, that he is not the most reliable narrator because he is schizophrenic and, as the reader, we cannot always trust what he says he is seeing.

Chief tells the story focusing on Randal McMurphy, the wards newest patient, who isn't exactly the typical insane asylum patient. McMurphy comes to the mental institution for the main reason that he doesn't want to work on his farm anymore and he thinks coming to the ward will give him some time off. To get himself admitted into the ward, McMurphy acts crazy.

Before McMurphy comes to the ward, Chief and all of the patients can't remember the last time they heard laughter or that anyone stood up to Nurse Ratched, the antagonist of this novel. Nurse Ratched is the head nurse in the ward who manipulates everyone in it. She is power hungry and feels the need to control every tiny detail about the patients' lives: i.e. the exact time they brush their teeth in the morning and she even has group meetings nit picking the details of each patient's life. Nurse Ratched despises McMurphy and his laid back, comic attitude.

This novel depicts the conflict between the mechanic way of the ward vs free spirit Randal McMurphy. It is definitely a classic that I suggest you all read ASAP. It is a quick read and of course, a page turner. While this book is old, it is definitively not too late to give it a read.

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Fixer: by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Hey readers, I hope you all had a great summer! I read an amazing series this summer and that I believe many of you will enjoy!  Have any of you seen Scandal? I have never actually watched the full series but I have, in fact, seen a few episodes and Olivia Pope and Ivy Kendrick (Tess's older sister) share many of the same qualities. Even though I am not that familiar with the show, if any of you are into Scandal this would definitely be a book you would like.

This book is about Tess Kendrick who lived her whole life with her grandfather on a ranch, when she was suddenly taken by her sister Ivy to Washington DC.  She then was thrown into an unknown world full of political drama and power hungry people. When she was enrolled in Hardwicke Academy, which is filled with kids connected to those rich and powerful people, she found herself finding out more about her sister and about the drama centered around these kids. As Tess gets wrapped into her sister Ivy's drama she finds herself in a sticky situation.

While I love the plot of this book, I also find Tess a very likable character to connect with. I think it is extremely important to have a protagonist that the reader likes and is a great person to root for, and that, for me, is Tess.

This is definitely not a book I thought I would be into. I am not usually very interested in politics however, this is a great political thriller and will surprise you with twists back to back. I actually found my heart racing with fear as I was reading. I hope you all get your hands on this amazing series! The next book in the series is called The Long Game for those of you who are interested.


Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Glass Castle: By Jeanette Walls

Hey Readers! I have a great new book to share that I can only describe as awe provoking. This is not like the last two sad books that I reviewed but a powerful story that I know you all will enjoy.

This is a memoir of Jeannette Walls' childhood. This powerful story left me in awe after every page and I promise this is no exaggeration. I actually could not believe my eyes at what I was reading in this book.

This memoir is all about Jeannette and her dysfunctional family. Jeannette is one of three siblings and she lives with her impoverished mother and father. Her dad, when sober, is brilliant and has undying love for his kids but when he goes through one of his drinking episodes, he is reckless and does things he will often regret. Her mom is a carefree spirit who loves painting and adventures. The love in this book is undeniable even though I would say it is not love that everyone is familiar with. Jeannette and her parents are constantly on the move and go through a series of what her mom loves to call "adventures".

The Walls children often at times have to be the one to take care of themselves and even act as parents to their own parents!

This story is full with the struggles of an impoverished family such as not having enough to eat and even resorting to sleeping in refrigerator boxes. I cannot stress enough how many ups and downs there is throughout this book.

This memoir must have taken so much courage and thought to write about Jeannette Walls' childhood. I give endless credit to this author for having those guts and the amazing storytelling skills to make it come alive on paper.

I don't have any criticism for this book because it left me in complete and utter awe at its pages. I highly recommend you put this on your summer reading list ASAP.

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Last Time We Say Goodbye: By Cynthia Hand

Hey readers! I know I reviewed a sad book last time but reading another one was definitely worth the read.

Let me get right to it.

Lex, an incredibly smart senior, used to be happy with her boyfriend Steven, her brother Tyler and her dedicated mom. However, when her brother commits suicide her whole world crumbles and her happy life is not exactly a paradise anymore. Her friends see her as someone who is going to break at any moment.

Lex is having dreams about Tyler, smelling him in the house and even hallucinating about him in the mirror or back seat of her car. She decides not to tell anyone of these occurrences but she can't help but to believe that Tyler is trying to tell her something.  This book is not a ghost book, so let's just get that straight right now. However Lex is discovering secrets about that night before Tyler died and that changes her whole perspective on things.

This book portrays feelings of grief in a whole new light and truly gave me insight. I truly enjoyed this book for it was a fast paced read and kept me interested.  My only criticism is its predictability. I found that Lex's growth as a character was extremely predictable and that aspect of the book ticked me off a bit. Despite this minor flaw I undoubtedly recommend this book. This book had me wanting to get up and hug my siblings and tell them how much I love them, it was truly heart wrenching and definitely provoked a roller coaster of emotions.

I hope you all give it a try:)

Remember my email is always open for any books you want me to review or questions and concerns!

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Before I Go: By Colleen Oakly

Hey readers! I'm here to share with you guys this months book, Before I Go. While this book isn't really a happy tale, it wasn't all tears. It was fast moving and a quick read that was definitely worth it.

Daisy, a breast cancer survivor, is about to celebrate her Cancerversary (being free on cancer) with her husband Jack, when she discovers that she has cancer yet again. However, this time they caught it in stage 4. Her cancer is very aggressive and she is told she has only months to live. Daisy is attempting to cope with this news, all the while frantically planning for her husbands' life when she is gone.

While I enjoyed the book, I did find myself getting annoyed with Daisy at parts in the book. On the other hand, I also really liked the ending of this book, which is a hard thing to come by! I do recommend this book and I hope you all give it a try!

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Stranger in a Strange Land: By Robert A. Heinlein

Hey readers! I read this new book upon recommendation and I'm glad that I did. This is definetly  a great book that I may be rereading in the near future. I hope you all give it a try!

This book is about Valentine Michael Smith, who is in fact human but was raised by martians. This is not your typical alien storyline so don't give up on this review quite yet....

Mike was birthed by two scientists on board a mission to Mars and was the only survivor of this mission. Being the only survivor he was raised by martians and when earth finally came back into contact with Mars, the martians sent Mike back to Earth. While it is quite impossible to explain this complex book in a short and sweet paragraph, I would like to state that this book is all about Mike learning to be human. Mike is innocent and cannot comprehend concepts such as jealousy or money, for these did not exist on Mars. Throughout this book it is seen that Mike additionally has "powers" that humans have never seen. This novel definitely sparked my interest and curiosity with each page and kept me wanting more!!!

This story is not just a science fiction novel but it also delves into many scientific aspects that were ahead of its' time when written in the 50's.  My only critique of this well written novel is that it was a little too wordy making it too long.  I suggest you all give it a read ASAP!

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Me Before You: By JoJo Moyes

Hey readers,  I'm here today to share a great novel that I hope you all get the opportunity to delve into at some point in your lives. This book, if you look it up, will say that it is a romance novel however, it is so much more. My heart was definitely not prepared for the words that I read.

This book is about Louisa Clark who lives an ordinary life. She has a boyfriend whom she's been with for 9 years, she still lives with her family, her mom, dad, sister and her sister's son. Ever since Louisa was fired from her small paying coffee shop job, she has been looking for work to support her parents and her sister who desires to go to University. When she receives a job as a caretaker with no prior experience in care taking, she was sure it would just be an unbearable job. Since the pay was much better than she would get at any other place that wouldn't require qualifications, she took the job.

Will Traynor, the one whom she would be taking care of for the next six months, is a quadriplegic due to a car accident. When she first met Will, he was withdrawn, moody and obnoxious. Louisa struggled to go to work everyday because of his obnoxious slurs. Since Louisa isn't apt to treat him with utter kindness just because of his condition, he begins to open up to her. Louisa becomes the only one who has made him happy since his accident.

However, Will has a secret that Louisa eventually discovers and has to figure out how to come to terms with it.

I wrote a lot about this book because I truly want you all to read this book. The author did a brilliant job of making the reader love the characters on her pages.  You will laugh, you will cry - just be prepared with a box of tissues!  I have nothing else to say but urge you to read this book!  This book has made it to my top 5.  And if you do, you can look forward to the movie which I heard is coming out in March 2016.

Your Friend
Rae Sparks

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Fifth Wave: By Rick Yancey

Hey readers, Happy New Year!

I have a great new Sci-Fi book to share with you all. The Fifth Wave is a book I've heard about for a while now and I have finally picked it up.  I decided to read this book due to the fact that I realized the movie is coming out soon and I thought I should give the book a try first before I went and saw the movie. Because like we all know, no movie can ever live up to the wonders of a book.

The First Wave cut out their power, technology, and anything that ran on electricity or batteries.  It was all gone, totally wiped out. The Second Wave earth quakes and tsunamis ravaged the coast and destroyed all the major cities and flooded the coasts. The Third Wave was the blood plague. The disease killed most of the world's population. The only ones that survived were those who were immune or survived by luck. The Fourth Wave was where the motto "trust no one" came into play. You couldn't tell a human from an "Other".

Since the "Others", or aliens, arrived, the world has gone into complete and total turmoil. Cassie who lost her mother to the plague was left to fend for herself after her fathers death and after her brother was taken. She promised her brother, Sammy, that she would get him back. With the constant issue of trust, Cassie never knows who's human and who's not. There is also constant danger of being killed by others. When Cassie is shot in the leg by an "Other" she has no choice but to put her trust in Evan Walker; the person who could be her only chance of finding her brother. She is confused but must do what she has to do to keep her promise.

I hope you all enjoy this riveting Sci-Fi filled, action packed, romantic book and that you read it before seeing the movie that comes out later this month. I know you won't regret it.

Your Friend
Rae Sparks