Sunday, November 18, 2018

Two By Two by Nicholas Sparks

Two By Two by Nicholas Sparks
Published October 4, 2016
Summary on Goodreads

Buy Links:
Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Audiobooks
This was my first Nicholas Sparks book and I can now see why everyone loves the author and his books because they are literally golden. I absolutely loved every minute of reading it and while there was one character I despised (ahem, Vivian), I loved how Nicholas portrayed the love for one’s child and how a marriage and a relationship can change. Everything was just done so beautifully that he is probably one of my favorite authors now. 

In terms of the characters, Russell was one that I had mixed feelings about. There were many times especially in the beginning when I found him to be quite dense and a bit useless to be honest. I knew that he was trying hard for his family but that was only for his work. Everything outside of that was pretty much left to Vivian so in the beginning, I understood why she somewhat resented him for this. Raising a family is very much a two person job and in this situation, it did feel that Vivian was doing more than half. However, as the book continued, I loved how much effort he put in in trying to make London, his daughter, feel safe and happy. He grew so much throughout the book that by the end of it, I would 100% give him all parental rights rather than Vivian. 

At the same time though, I also thought that Vivian took advantage of him a lot especially since she knew that they were in a tight financial situation yet she would run these “errands” and would rack up hundreds and thousands of dollars. I also absolutely hated almost everything about Vivian for the most part. I found her very materialistic and selfish. She also hated any sort of confrontation and would turn any conversations against Russell whenever he disagreed with a choice that she made by accusing him of making things difficult and always arguing with her simply for stating and voicing his opinions. I really wanted to applaud Russell when he finally pointed this out to her because it was so true! 

There were two other characters that I want to mention: Marge and Liz. Marge is Russell’s older sister and Liz is her partner (I’m not sure if they were married or not) and I loved everything about them. Marge was such a rock to Russell’s situation and a voice of reason. Their sibling dynamic was portrayed so wonderfully that I honestly wish that all siblings were like this. Unfortunately real life is not the same LOL. I was also absolutely devastated at the end because I didn’t want anything sad to happen! However, I later heard that all of Nicholas’ book has something really sad happen so I guess this was the norm and should have been expected. But this was my first so I was not expecting it at all. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. He is definitely a go-to author now and I already have his latest book, Every Breath, which I will aim to pick up and devour ASAP.



Saturday, November 17, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

Weekly Author Fridays featuring Mindy McGinnis - Author Interview

For this week, I am excited to feature Mindy McGinnis, author of Given to the Sea, Given to the Earth, Heroine and many more.

About Mindy
Mindy McGinnis is an Edgar Award-winning novelist who writes across multiple genres, including post-apocalyptic, historical, thriller, contemporary, mystery, and fantasy. While her settings may change, you can always count on Mindy’s books to deliver grit, truth, and an unflinching look at humanity and the world around us.

What made you start writing?
I've always been making up stories in my head, even as a child. Creative play was huge for me, I just had to make the leap from my mind onto paper.

How long have you been writing?
Mentally, my entire life. Physically putting things down... probably since middle school. But - I always tell aspiring writers I didn't finish a novel until my twenties.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
My upcoming book, Heroine, is an in-depth fictional look at the opioid crisis from the POV of a star female athlete. It was important to me to show that this epidemic can hit anyone.

How did you get the idea for writing Given to the Sea and its sequel, Given to the Earth? Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? 
A kernel for the idea of GIVEN TO THE SEA was planted a very long time ago when I was a child. I loved the TV movie of IVANHOE with Anthony Andrews. There's an amazing scene with Sam Neill and Olivia Hussey where she's locked in a tower and he comes to see her. She thinks he's there to force himself upon her and she gets up in the window and says she'll jump if he comes a step closer. He's a decent guy who means her no harm, so he manages to talk her down but it's a very powerful scene. It stuck with me (even though I didn't understand all the implications until I was older). Elements from that scene have found their way into SEA at various levels - the girl who doesn't want to be touched, a boy in a power position who *could* take advantage if he wanted, a girl who's pride is so strong she'll die before she submits.

Part of the idea for Khosa's pre-disposition to dance into the sea is based on a book I read about Huntington's disease, which is what killed Woody Guthrie. It's a hereditary disease that causes spasmodic movements that make it appear that the sufferer is dancing, however the movements are outside of their control. I wondered what it would be like to be trapped in a body you can't control, headed toward the sea, while onlookers simply let you go because they think you are doing this willingly. *shudder*

The Indiri twins, Donil & Dara, are my favorite characters in the book. I know I'm showing my age here, but part of their creation comes from the dancing baby off Ally McBeal. I thought that was just about the creepiest thing I had ever seen in my life. But then I thought about a baby that could have that kind of body control, what it could learn early on about coordination and movement. That baby could become one heck of a fighter... and so a long time ago I had this idea in my head about a culture where babies are "born knowing" - able to speak, walk, process logic - all from birth. They don't have to spend the first few years of their life learning how to feed themselves, or the alphabet. They'd be way ahead of everybody else.

Who is your favorite character in the series and why? Or, which character was the most fun to write and why? 
Dara is easily the most fun to write! She's so proud and strong... so unapologetic! Her dialogue just fell out of her.

What was the hardest part of writing? 
I had this idea that writing fantasy would be easy because I get to make up all the rules, no research required. Not true. In a contemporary your audience already knows, in a sense, what the setting is. If I say the main character attends a poor public school, you get the idea and I don't have to do all the world building - it's implied. In fantasy, nothing is a given, nothing is assumed. I have to do a lot of explaining... and keep that interesting. I've written post-apocalytpic, historical, contemporary, and now fantasy. Fantasy is by far the hardest.

What do you do in your free time? 
I'm a huge dork that LOVES to do research. I'm really involved in genealogy and local history. I also knit and garden, can my own food... all of the skills we'll need post-apocalypse. And hit the gym three days a week as well. Again, post-apocalypse.

Why did you choose to write YA novels? 
I grew up in a time when they were very few YA novels; only a handful of authors were writing them. I went straight from books about rescuing puppies to Cujo by Stephen King. Teens need to be able to read books that reflect their lives, and as a librarian working in a very rural school district, I wasn't seeing a lot of books in the early 2000's that my "kids" could relate to. So I wrote Not A Drop to Drink.

What’s the next step in your writing career? 
Heroine releases 3/12/19 and in 2020 I have a book coming titled Be Not Far From Me, the story of a girl lost in the Smoky Mountains. (In my head I call it Drunk Hatchet With A Girl).

Any advice for future authors? 
I'm a farmer's daughter from Ohio. It doesn't matter where you're from, or who you know.



Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018


I thought it was time for me to do another book tag which I haven't done in a very long time!  I spotted this one over at Read by Tiffany and the original creator of this tag is Shanah from the Bionic Book Worm.

Fall is definitely my favorite season because of various reasons - the weather; the holidays (Halloween/Thanksgiving); and it's the perfect time to just snuggle and cuddle with a good book and some hot tea.

I would definitely pick Room by Emma Donoghue.  I read this book recently via audiobook and absolutely loved it.  Why I never read it until now, I will never know but this book was everything.  It was very different and new to read about such a serious and dangerous situation through the eyes of a 5 year old and I think that was what made this book stand out to me so much.

The ending in The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker definitely blew me away.  The book is a mystery/thriller so by definition, it's technically meant to blow you away but not all of them can do so.  Thankfully, this book twisted in such an unimaginable way that I was absolutely floored by what happened.  It's also a very twisty and disturbing novel on so many levels so if that is something you are intrigued with, then definitely check out this book.

The entire series of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas had absolutely non-stop action.  There were constantly numerous things going on from finding out the creepy creatures that were lurking in the castle to riding and taming the wild wyverns to fighting this gigantic talking spiders to trying to battle this evil being.  Honestly, there's just a lot and if you have been waiting for the series to finish to pick it up, then definitely pick it up now since the last book, Kingdom of Ash, was just released recently.

I absolutely loved Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.  There's definitely so much more than this book being a chicklit but at the core of it, I loved the relationship between Rachel and Nick.  For me, I think the movie made me feel even more warm and fuzzy inside but either way, this book definitely gave me feelings.

The Sisters of the Winter Wood gave me so much fall/winter feels.  The cover is also absolutely gorgeous.  This is a magical realism novel that goes into detail about anti-semitism in Russia.  Honestly, I loved this book. I loved the relationship between the two sisters and the romance that was in the book also gave me some fuzzy feelings.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan popped up on my radar recently and ever since, I have been eyeing it to no end.  The book is a high fantasy novel and we all know that I am very much into fantasies these days - epic, high, give them all to me.  I also believe that the book has some similar Joan of Arc themes to it but not a retelling.  Regardless, sign me up!