Wednesday, 8 August 2018

July Book Review

I set a goal at the beginning of the year to read 30 books.  At first I wanted to go for more, but thought it was unrealistic.  Well apparently I should of aimed higher because by the end of July I was at 23 books and thanks to summer holidays by the time this post is being written I'm actually at 26! 

I usually write about the books in here as I read them, because I tend to totally forget what a book is about after I finish it.  So hopefully I can figure out what each of these books were about!

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Nora is hit by a car and then while she thinks she is dying she hears her boyfriend hitting on another doctor.  After breaking up with him she goes back to the small island she grew up on that she hasn't been to in years. Throw in some family drama and some romance.  This is a typical Kristan Higgins, a light and easy read.

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

Usually I read Emily Giffin books shortly after they come out.  (My sister buys them immediately and then I read them.)  But I couldn't find my sister's copy of this book and eventually just got it from the library.  This book is about family dynamics.  Josie and Meredith's brother died 15 years ago, this book talks about their struggles within their own relationship with each other and how their brother's death has affected them.

First off, I found it so funny because Meredith reminded me of myself and Josie was my sister.  But to the extremes.  Then I got annoyed because I really hated Meredith!  She was whiny and miserable and mean to her sister.  

Overall I liked the book despite not liking one of the main characters, but it definitely wasn't my favourite Emily Giffin book.

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Wow, this book made me think.  Alice and Jake are newlyweds and are given an unusual gift at their wedding.  It's a membership into a marriage club, designed to ensure that your marriage works.  But it is basically a cult. I found this fascinating because it gave so much insight into how someone could basically be tricked into a cult, especially one that really has the strength to control you.  

I feel that this book wouldn't be for everyone.  I'm not sure what category of books it would even fit into.  But I really enjoyed it.  It was super thought provoking and made me think about it even after I had finished it.

A Stranger in the House

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

I brought this book to a cottage with me, my mother in law started reading my copy while we were there and then took it while I was done and my sister in law read it immediately after.  So we basically all finished it within a few days of each other!

This book is by the same author as The Couple Next Door which I read in June.  Karen and Tom are happily married, until one day Tom comes home and Karen is gone.  She had been in a car accident, but doesn't remember what happened or how she got there.  Things start to unravel as they try to figure out what happened and why Karen had gone somewhere that she typically wouldn't.

I enjoyed this book but liked The Couple Next Door more.  Similarly, this book goes from the perspective of both the couple and the police.  I'm not sure I love this combination, I like it to be one or the other for some reason.  But that being said, it was a good read and I did read it very quickly!

So that's it for this month.  August is shaping up to be a good month considering that I'm 3 books in already!  

Monday, 23 July 2018

Sleeping in the Trees

A bit delayed but I really wanted to write this post in case others who are planning a trip come across it.  We recently crossed a major bucket list item off our list and went to Costa Rica.  I've been wanting to go here for years!  We considered it for our honeymoon, but they had no adults only resorts at that point so we decided on Jamaica.  We were going to go in 2013, but had a destination wedding in Punta Cana instead.  We really lucked out that this time there was a destination wedding, it was in Costa Rica!

 We decided to go all out for this trip.  I really wanted to actually see Costa Rica.  So we changed out flight to 3 days earlier and went down with another couple.  I really want to share this part of the trip because when I was planning it I was constantly looking online for what other people had done, what worked and what they recommended.  Planning trips is my jam.  I love it and it has definitely given me something to do for the 9 months before the trip.

First up, I'm going to talk about where we stayed.

When we decided to go to Costa Rica a few days before everyone, I knew that it was important that we really see the country.  So we had to decide where to go!  I had looked up Costa Rica before and had come across these Treehouses that I thought looked really neat.  I didn't know much about the area that they were in.  There were some in La Fortuna, and I also found some in Monteverde.  When I looked into it a bit more, the prices of the Treehouses by La Fortuna were great, and the Arenal Volcano is considered one of the must see areas of Costa Rica.  (Monteverde is too, I've also heard great things about Manuel Antonio.  But for us I felt that Arenal had more to do than Monteverde.)
The view from the front of our treehosue

I had fairly low expectations before we got there.  All of the reviews said it was a great experience, but I figured it would be kind of dirty, there would be bugs.  I figured it would be a 3 star, but a neat thing to do.  But this place was so great!  (Probably still considered a 3 star, but if you embrace it, it's beyond a 5 star!)  It was so clean, the only bug was a cicada that flew into our room.  The shower took a bit to figure out how to get hot, but it was possible.  And you are in a what do you expect!  The fact that they have indoor plumbing is amazing.

When we arrived we were greeted by Yiandra, who works there.  We had spoken to her by email and she was just as helpful in person.  After that the on site managers, Jess and Carolina were there.  All of them were very welcoming and helpful.  They would order food for you that was delivered right to your treehouse.  They would call and book excursions for you and inquire about availability.  

Every morning when we woke up there was a thermos of coffee sitting on our porch for us.  Then they served breakfast at the outdoor breakfast area at 7:30 every morning.

We also took part in a night hike.  Rolando was very enthusiastic about the animals.  We saw a snake, baby hummingbirds, sleeping birds (they just sit on the tree branch, who knew), an armadillo, a sloth, poisonous frogs, tree frogs and a big iguana.  It was so helpful to have this hike because we wouldn't of seen anything without Rolando.  Because sloths don't move very far or very fast, the next morning we were able to go back and see the sloth in the day light.  He was still very high up in the trees, and I wish I had seen one closer.  But at least we saw one!

The treehouse itself was very nice.   It was all made of wood.   There was air conditioning, a mini fridge and a bathroom with a toilet and a shower.  The shower was screened in so it was open to the forest.  It wasn't quiet here by any means!  The jungle is noisy!  But after a day we got so used to it.  It's like having a noise machine on.

We did rent a car for this portion of the trip, and although you don't have to in order to stay at the treehouses I think it made life easier.  They are about 40 minutes from La Fortuna, so we just drove in every day.  But the experience was worth the distance.  We also ordered pizza in one night and there are restaurants near by too.  I wish we had of had one more day here to just relax at the Treehouses and enjoy!  We did a hike to a waterfalls and river on the property.  We thought it would be a relaxing morning hike before breakfast and brought a coffee.  Although it wasn't strenuous it was longer than expected and coffee was a bad idea!  So I wish we had of had more time to hike down there and enjoy the area.
Pizza delivered to our treehouse door - And the Costa Rican pineapple...I'm drooling thinking about it

If you are heading to Costa Rica, specifically the La Fortuna area, I can't recommend this place enough!  The treehouses also had lofts with beds, so if you had kids or teenagers, they would love it and it's very economical for a family.  You have to book in advance because it fills up, so get on it!

The breakfast room

Friday, 29 June 2018

June Book Review

Wow!  What a month for books.  I read 7 books this month and they were all amazing!  How did I read 7 books?  I picked good ones.  Books that I wasn't able to put down.  And I read all the time.  We had a rainy camping weekend, I read in the trailer, I read outside, I read on the drive there and home.  I didn't watch TV, I read.  I didn't take care of my kids, I read.  Just kidding...kind of.  

The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

I loved this book!  It got me intrigued from the get go and I basically read the whole thing on a Sunday morning.  This is a thriller/mystery type, but is more detective based than Girl on the Train type of thing.

It's about a couple who go to a dinner party next door (in a semi-detached house) and leave their baby sleeping at home.  When they get home their baby is gone.  This book follows the mystery of what happened and who took the baby.

My first thought when I read the premise of this book was "who leaves their baby home alone?"  but luckily they dealt with that right from the beginning.  They did leave their baby home alone but also acknowledged that it was a stupid thing to at least that didn't annoy me throughout the entire book.

The Sleeping Beauty Killer (Under Suspicion, #4)
The Sleeping Beauty Killer by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke

I have read these books out of order, which isn't ideal, but it still works.  These books follow Laurie Moran as she is a creating a reality tv show that is essentially about a cold case.  It's always nice to have characters that you like and get to know and I like when they are carried on throughout a series.  I would say I liked this book more than I have liked some of the other books in the series. 

I was also curious about Mary Higgins Clark's co-writer and how that worked.  So I will share that knowledge!   From what I have gathered, the two writers meet to discuss the book.  Alafair Burke then actually writes the book, and after every version, Mary Higgins Clark goes over it and makes notes and adjustments.  Mary Higgins Clark is 90 years old!  So the fact that she's still involved in these books at all is amazing!  I find the books follow her style, but feel a bit more updated and would bring in more modern aspects (like Uber in this case) that Mary Higgins Clark might not have brought in if she was writing it on her own.

In a Dark, Dark Wood

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Another book that I loved!  This is actually Ruth Ware's first book, but I had read The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game first.  I read this book very quickly as well.  It's about a girl who is invited to her old best friend's "hen" night (or a bachelorette party for us Canadians).  She hadn't spoken to her friend in 10 years so was a bit confused about the invite but went anyways.  They go to a glass house in the woods and from there some weird things start to happen.  I think that Ruth Ware develops her characters really well which makes the books so great.

Let's all just take a minute to thank Gone Girl for bringing to our attention this genre of book, because they are great reads!
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Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I read this book for a new book club that I've joined.  I was actually quite happy to read it as it has been sitting on my book shelf for a few years but it always just seemed to be too heavy to get into.  This is an amazing book!  It's heavy and depressing, but eye opening and educational.  I think it's especially great for Canadians to read because they never seemed to touch on the Pacific war during World War 2 in our history classes.  (Maybe if I hadn't dropped Grade 11 history...) I really didn't know that there was this big war with Japan despite knowing about Pearl Harbour and Hiroshima.  I knew that those events happened but never questioned why. 

For those who don't know, this book is the true story of Louie Zamperini.  He was an Olympic runner who then became a soldier.  His plane crashed over the pacific and he was stranded on a life raft.  I don't want to give the rest away if you don't know it yet.  But this is truly a remarkable story.
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The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

I read this book in a day. was good.  This book is about a new neighbour who moves onto Pleasant Court.  A street where everything is clearly pleasant but there isn't much depth.  It's told from the perspective of this mysterious new neighbour and three other women who live on the street who all have their own issues going on.  It kind of reminded me of Wisteria Lane.  If you like Liane Moriarty I found this book to be very similar but actually easier to read as you get a few more details throughout the book than Liane Moriarty sometimes gives.
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Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

The librarian warned me that this was a 7 day borrow.  I told her that wouldn't be a problem and read it in 2 days.  This book is about a man whose girlfriend went missing 12 years ago.  He is now engaged to her sister, but then signs that his girlfriend is still alive appear. 

I liked this book, but like other B.A. Paris books I found there were a few plot holes and things that were a bit unbelievable.  But if you can overlook those things then it's still a great read!

If I had to pick a favourite book for this month it would probably be In a Dark, Dark Wood.  But that's a tough choice.  I truly enjoyed every single one of these books. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

April Book Review

I brought 5 books with me to Costa Rica.  A bit ambitious?  Definitely!  But you always want to be prepared!  We were super busy the first few days, and crashed as soon as we got back to our treehouse.  No time for reading!  And then when you are with a big group of people not much reading happens.  I didn't spend time on the beach like I usually do and so I only got through a book and a half.

Waiting on You (Blue Heron, #3)

Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins
This is another book in the Blue Heron series.  I enjoy the series because it brings back characters that I have met before, but it's getting a little bit boring.  I don't love the girls.  They are a bit too edgy for me.  And by edgy, I mean rude.  Not sure how to describe it but that they just speak to people in a way that I don't think they would in real life, a bit too harshly.  The books are getting too predictable.  That being said I will likely finish the series...haha.  I only rated this one 3 out of 5 stars as it was definitely my least favourite of the series so far.


Odd Child Out by Gilly MacMillan

As I was reading this book it kept talking about a previous case and I wondered, is this the second in a series?  It is, and I have the first one sitting on my hopefully I haven't ruined that one for myself!

I didn't love this book.  It was kind of a mystery, but also very political.  It's about two friends, a boy with cancer and a Somalian refugee in England.  There is an accident one night and their families and the police are trying to figure out what actually happened.  

I just didn't find it overly thrilling, and I found the basis of the story more political in nature an being about the lives of Somalian immigrants.  Which can be an interesting perspective, but it's just not what I thought I was getting into.

Three Wishes
Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

So what I've learnt from Liane Moriarty books is that it's more about the characters than the story and the ending.  I don't remember that being the base with the first few I read, but it's been the case with the most recent ones.  That being said, I enjoyed this book more than Truly Madly Guilty.  I think I liked the characters and just liked to see where they were going and wasn't overly worried about a big exciting ending.

This book is about triplet sisters.  Lyn is all about living the perfect life and checking everything off her list.  Cat has found trouble in her marriage.  Gemma is the single one who lives day to day and can't seem to find a lasting relationship.  I found the characters compelling and really just wanted to see where the book took them.