Falling in Love with Books: After I Do

Falling in Love with Books: After I DoAfter I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press on July 1st 2014
Genres: Adult, Realistic
Pages: 352
Goodreads

From the author of Forever, Interrupted—hailed by Sarah Jio as "moving, gorgeous, and at times heart-wrenching"—comes a breathtaking new novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both.
When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.
Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?
This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.

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Welcome to the 2nd edition of FALLING IN LOVE WITH BOOKS! This year I have a delightful lineup of posts for you with books that readers want you to fall in love with! First up is Danielle from Bookish in Texas! She’s sharing her love of AFTER I DO by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and I recently read one of Reid’s books, MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE, so I’m really looking forward to hearing more about this one from Danielle. Let’s Welcome her to the Blog!

After I Do is an amazing contemporary novel that I can’t recommend highly enough. Even if contemporaries or “chick lit” novels are not normally your thing, After I Do is such an emotional and heartwrenching novel that everyone can relate to it.

We always get books about the falling in love part — the meeting someone amazing, the staying up all night talking, the non-stop laughter. But what happens a couple years down the road? What happens when you’re up all night because you’re fighting, or when that person just doesn’t make you feel happy anymore? This book tackles all that and more, in such an honest way.

This isn’t a novel about a crappy couple who just argues all the time. It’s about a wonderful couple who is so in love — they just haven’t been feeling that way for a while, and decide to take a year apart. The only rule for their separate year is that they cannot contact each other whatsoever, and hope that through taking some time apart they are able to re-discover their love. Their year apart is full of ups and downs and a lot of self-discovery for each of them, but they find that they just can’t stop thinking about each other.

“Ryan and I are two people who used to be in love.

What a beautiful thing to have been.

What a sad thing to be.”

As someone in a serious relationship (that I hope one day leads to marriage), this book was an eye-opener to me. It was so realistic how so many little things could easily add up to a mountain of important things, and can drive such a wedge between two people. This book makes me want to value love, and my relationship, while I have it — not just if I might be on the verge of losing it.

After I Do is overall just a phenomenal book about love, relationships, and making things last even when things look horrible.

Thank you, Danielle, for kicking off this Special Feature with your love for what sounds like a wonderful story by Taylor Jenkins Reid!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s guest post…you won’t want to miss it!

 

What Katie Read

The Heart of a Fox: Pax by Sara Pennypacker (2016)

The Heart of a Fox: Pax by Sara Pennypacker (2016)Pax by Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Animals, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 304
Goodreads
five-stars

Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, and “his boy” Peter rescued him from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandpa. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter listens to his stern father—as he usually does—and throws Pax’s favorite toy soldier into the woods. When the fox runs to retrieve it, Peter and his dad get back in the car and leave him there—alone. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he packs for a trek to get his best friend back and sneaks into the night. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to one another against all odds. Told from the alternating viewpoints of Peter and Pax.

Remember all those Middle Grade ARCs I acquired at ALA Midwinter? Well, PAX was one of them, and I am happy to say that it was one of my first 5 Star reads of 2016 in the world of Middle Grade!

Thank you, HarperCollins, for providing me with the opportunity to give my honest review of the book.

What I Loved:

This was a beautiful and heart-wrenching book, sensitive in its depiction of the animal world and the relationship between a young person and his beloved pet. There were many things I loved about this book I’d like to share with you:

-The way the book switches between the perspectives of Pax (the fox) and Peter (Pax’s owner). When Pax and Peter are separated, they (and the reader) want to be reunited, but will Peter be able to find Pax in the woods where he was force to leave him? This is the question…

“You going back for your home or for your pet?”

“They’re the same thing.”

-The sensitive way Pennpacker depicted Pax’s first encounter with the great outdoors.

-The relationship between Peter and Vola, and the multi-dimensional nature of Vola’s character. There was so much to her, and these layers were revealed as the story unfolded.

“I was so lost, I needed to find out all the true things about myself. The little things to the biggest of all: what did I believe in at my core?”

-The depiction of the other foxes Pax encountered and the development of their relationships. Trust me, this aspect of the book was marvelous! I absolutely adored Gray, Bristle, and Runt. I think you will too.

What Was Heartwrenching:

-Peter’s struggle to let Pax go in the beginning of the story–obviously his father was forcing him to do this, and that made it all the more painful to read about.

-Pax’s feelings of confusion that Peter left him in the woods.

-Peter’s journey to finding Pax with its delays and challenges.

-Pax’s interaction with the other foxes in the woods.

BUT NO SPOILERS WILL BE ILLUMINATED HERE…

You can definitely read Pax in one sitting, but it’s also a book you can read over the course of a few days, which I did. Either way, I think you will appreciate the pace and the journey of both Peter and Pax. You may not expect the conclusion, or you might…regardless, this is the kind of story that may stick in your head for quite awhile after you’ve read it.

Some Ponderings:

As I reflected on the story before I was even finished, I’ve considered how reading a book from the perspective of a fox has made me more aware of how the growth of our world (of humans) has affected the animal and natural world.

One area I’m really interested in is how children’s literature can nurture a passion in young readers to care for the natural and animal world. How can books speak to us in a meaningful way so that we take action for the good of our world, in terms of our natural spaces and animal life?

These are some of the questions and ponderings I had as I was reading Pax and I’m looking forward to hearing what other readers are thinking and how this book might be a springboard for discussion and action around these issues for both young and old readers. Have you read Pax? What did you think?

five-stars
What Katie Read

Diving into Detective Middle Grade Fiction

by Jordan Stratford, Kate Hannigan, Robyn Stevens, Wilkie Collins

Are you a fan of mysteries? Do you dig detectives? Love the perfect plot? Watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries?!!? Well, then you might be interested in some Middle Grade fiction I’ve been reading and adding to my shelves lately!

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The first time I studied in London, at the age of twenty, I fell in love with the great British detective writer, Wilkie Collins. I read his classic, THE WOMAN IN WHITE, and I have to tell you, I was entranced. I couldn’t get enough of the sensational plot and just had to find out who this mysterious woman in white was, and whether the mystery would be uncovered. I went on to read THE MOONSTONE, as well as many other books of his.

woman in white

I tell you all this with excitement, because I’m currently reading a splendid Middle Grade book called THE WOLLSTONECRAFT DETECTIVE AGENCY: THE CASE OF THE MISSING MOONSTONE. What’s fantastic is that Jordan Stratford, the author, has definitely read Collins, and this Middle Grade series is influenced by Collins’ work, in a way. I’m really enjoying the book so far–it’s fast paced and filled with fun banter between the two “detectives”–Mary and Ada.

Take a look at the Goodreads Synopsis:

“Jordan Stratford imagines an alternate 1826, where Ada Lovelace (the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) meet as girls and form a secret detective agency!

Lady Ada Byron, age eleven, is a genius. Isolated, awkward and a bit rude—but a genius. Mary Godwin, age fourteen, is a romantic. Adventurous, astute, and kind, Mary is to become Ada’s first true friend. And together, the girls conspire to form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency—a secret constabulary for the apprehension of clever criminals. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession, and an array of fishy suspects. But it’s no match for the deductive powers and bold hearts of Ada and Mary.”

Then, for my Broke and Bookish Christmas gift, I received THE DETECTIVE’S ASSISTANT by Kate Hannigan. Yet another Middle Grade detective story I had been wanting awhile. I’m really looking forward to reading this one as well–check out the Goodreads description:

“The incredible tale of America’s first ever female detective and her spirited niece!

Eleven-year-old Nell Warne arrives on her aunt’s doorstep lugging a heavy sack of sorrows. If her Aunt Kate rejects her, it’s the miserable Home for the Friendless.

Luckily, canny Nell makes herself indispensable to Aunt Kate…and not just by helping out with household chores. For Aunt Kate is the first-ever female detective employed by the legendary Pinkerton Detective Agency. And Nell has a knack for the kind of close listening and bold action that made Pinkerton detectives famous in Civil War-era America. With huge, nation-changing events simmering in the background, Nell uses skills new and old to uncover truths about her past and solve mysteries in the present.

Based on the extraordinary true story of Kate Warne, this fast-paced adventure recounts feats of daring and danger…including saving the life of Abraham Lincoln!”

Finally, I have both of Robyn Stevens’ popular Middle Grade books to read in the Wells and Wong Detective Agency series! I was lucky enough to receive her first book for the Broke and Bookish Christmas as well, and I snagged an ARC of the second book at ALA Midwinter.

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What do you think of MURDER IS BAD MANNERS?

From Goodreads: Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there’s more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?”

I have a feeling I might be in a Middle Grade detective streak for awhile, and I have no doubt it will be perfectly wonderful! Are there other Middle Grade or even Young Adult detective stories or mysteries you think I need to consider? Do share in the comments!

 

What Katie Read
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