Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I’ve been meaning to read this book for awhile and had heard really good things about it. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was about and I certainly wasn’t prepared for it.

I love a good murder mystery and I like how this one had the pieces of the mystery interspersed between the story of Kya growing up. The juxtaposition of the chapters with the investigation and the chapters that told the story of her life really helped add to the intrigue and to make the reader feel for Kya.

It’s actually kind of a sad story. The poor Marsh Girl who had to learn how to raise herself. All she wanted was for someone to prove that they loved her by staying and it seemed like everyone she ever let herself care about left.

****SPOILER ALERT****

 

I actually had to stop reading when Tate left to go to college. I thought for sure he would come back and when he didn’t, it kind of broke my heart. He made up for it with publishing her books and ultimately staying with her for good, but it was really sad.

Chase Andrews is a whole other story. You know, he seemed like he did care for Kya. I wanted to believe that he was a decent person. The way he wore her seashell necklace all the time had to mean something, right?

He had seemed kind of sweet at one point, but I guess it was always about getting the Marsh Girl.

The trial had me completely on edge. Once she was arrested, I couldn’t put the book down. I had to know what would happen to her. I know this is fiction, but every time her lawyer questioned a witness I was so happy because he seemed like he was doing such a good job.

I was very happy with the ending, and the little thing Tate finds at the very end. I’m not sure how she did it, but good for her. Chase would have never left her alone and she wouldn’t have had her happy ending if not.

Sorry for all the spoilers in this one. I just really loved this story and had to get all that off my chest haha.

Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption by Daniel Jones

I’m not sure I’ve ever really talked about this, but  I do the majority of my reading on a Kindle. I’m sure that’s pretty common now, so it’s not something that really needs to be talked about. I’ve always been a reader though, so I do kind of love the feeling of flipping through pages and having an actual book in your hands.

Every so often, I’ll take trips to the bookstore with my family members and search for something new to read. Right before we were issued stay-at-home orders, my mom and I went to Books A Million just on a whim one day. I actually have a really hard time finding books at bookstores because I want to walk through the entire store and check out everything before I make a decision. There was a section for books that have been made into tv shows and movies that I kept coming back to, so eventually I made two purchases there.

Modern Love stuck out to me. I feel like I’ve hinted at this a few times in past posts, but I’ve had this “thing” with a person for almost 3 years now that’s been very hot and cold. I think it’s safe to say it’s over for good now, but it was definitely a roller coaster of emotions for me the last few years.

I’m not going to share all the details here, but what stuck out to me the most about this book was that it was about unconventional love stories. My story with this person didn’t make sense to anyone else that knew the details and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but I felt like (at least on my part) it was real, pure love. Now, enough about me…

I really enjoyed this book. I loved that the stories about the relationships weren’t just couples. I loved how different they all were. The stories made me teary-eyed, they made me laugh, they made me smile. Above everything, I felt like each story touched me in a different way. I felt like each story was important to be reading, even if I couldn’t relate.

I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone. I actually already passed it on to my mom (great thing about having an actual book, right?). Who knows if she’ll actually read it, but I hope she does.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

If anyone else has read the After series, they’ll completely understand why I chose to read Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice next. Kind of crazy how one author’s words can inspire you so much that you feel the need to read other works they mentioned just so that you can understand their characters better, isn’t it?

I’m not super familiar to Jane Austen’s work to be honest. I remember reading Emma in high school, but it was for an assignment and for some reason anytime I’ve been assigned to read it I just don’t do well with retaining any of it. Probably some psychology we could get into there, but this isn’t the place for that.

I also did read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I think that and the original novel really should be kept separate from each other. I don’t remember it that well, but as far as I’m concerned they tell very different stories.

When I started reading Pride and Prejudice, I have to say, I was really bored. The first half of the book was really uninteresting to me and honestly I was struggling to get through it without falling asleep. Darcy was a jerk, Elizabeth hated him.

When he confessed his feelings for her it felt really out of place. I understand that he had pride, so he felt that anyone would be honored to receive a proposal from him, but what really made him think she would accept? Maybe he thought she was mean to him because she liked him? It was just strange to me.

However, once she told him off and he wrote her the letter I did start to feel more connection to the story. They misunderstood each other and had to adjust their ways of thinking to come back together at the end. It was cool to see the ways that they both changed.

I did really enjoy the second half of the book. Seeing Darcy redeem himself with Elizabeth and the ways that he was willing to change the way he was and help her out behind the scenes because he loved her was actually kind of touching. Elizabeth ended up with Darcy because she respected him and because he respected her. I can definitely see why so many people love this story.

My grandmother apparently loved the adaptation with Colin Firth, so I may need to check that out eventually. In the meantime, I’m going to go watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because it’s free on Comcast right now.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I’ll admit, I was only interested in reading Wuthering Heights again because of how often it was mentioned in the After series. Honestly, I think I’ve been assigned to read this book probably at least 3 times throughout high school and college, but I’m not sure I ever actually read it all the way through.

I feel like I could probably write a whole essay on how I feel about this book, but I’ll try to keep it short.

From the beginning I felt bad for Heathcliff. Cathy is kind of a spoiled brat and the way that she puts on a different face for everyone else is pretty annoying. She clearly loves Heathcliff and can really be herself with him, but seems to care more about money and that Edgar will be able to provide the nicer life.

She’s honestly a pretty terrible person and does/says things that she knows will hurt people. It’s interesting that she ended up this way and that Hindley was a terrible man, especially because their father was so nice and they had Nelly around their whole lives, and she should have been a good influence.

Cathy and Heathcliff are a good match because he is equally as terrible as her. It’s kind of her fault that he ended up this way, but he also only seems to do things that he knows will hurt people. It’s terrible what they do to Isabella and I’m glad that she runs away from him.

It’s pretty drastic that Heathcliff felt the need to destroy the entire Linton family just because Cathy decided to marry someone else. At the end it does seem like he starts to realize that it was all for nothing, so I guess that’s good.

This story is really just about people causing each other pain and suffering because they were more worried about their social status, which is pretty sad.

I was glad that Catherine (the daughter) ends up with Hareton at the end. Those the close family relation between everyone in the second generation of Earnshaws, Lintons, and Heathcliffs is super weird. The only character I really felt sorry for the whole time was Hareton. It made me really sad when Catherine made fun of him for trying to learn how to read to impress her. He was honestly the other character that tried to improve his situation instead of hurting other people.

The ghost element to the story was interesting, but I kind of felt like it wasn’t necessary. I think it would’ve been better if Cathy was just gone forever rather than Heathcliff searching for her ghost. I guess I just wish it would’ve been more important to the storyline, than just something that was at the beginning and the end.

It’s definitely a complicated story. I’m glad that I’ve finally actually read the whole thing. Probably won’t do it again though.

Before by Anna Todd

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reading Before after reading the rest of the After series. I really didn’t want to read about the way Hardin was before Tessa, but I’m glad that I did read it.

At first I was a little put off by this book. When it started out with the back stories of Natalie, Molly, and Steph I definitely wasn’t sure I would finish it. I really didn’t want to hear the details of their hook-ups with Hardin, so I’m glad that it didn’t go any further, but then also it made the introductions to their point of view seem really pointless.

It was interesting to see the first book from Hardin’s point of view. It was kind of surprising how much Molly was actually being helpful and trying to protect Tessa. I thought there would be more from Molly’s perspective and Steph’s too, so it was disappointing that we didn’t get to see that during their relationship. Again, it made it really pointless to introduce their point of view in the beginning.

I really didn’t care about Christian’s part in this book. It didn’t add anything to the overall story. Seeing  what happened with Zed after everything was alright, but again not necessary. I did like the little glimpse into Smith’s world though.

I actually preferred the “Hessa” ending in this book to how it ended in After Ever Happy. The little glimpse into how they ended up was much better than all the time jumps. I don’t think I realized that they never got married until Hardin said it. I guess I just assumed that they had done it at some point.

I read some reviews for the Landon books and I’m not sure that I’m going to read them. Landon was an okay character, but I don’t really feel like he needed his own series. The reviews were basically what I expected and I think I’ve read enough of the universe. We already know that he becomes a teacher, gets married, and has a daughter. I think that’s enough really. I just feel like his story would be much more “vanilla” in comparison to Hardin and Tessa’s story.

After Ever Happy by Anna Todd

What a roller coaster this series has been. The fourth book in this series definitely had more ups and downs than any of the others. Major spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned.

So the story picks up with Hardin finding out that Vance is his father. He absolutely loses it and ends up on a bender and abandoning Tessa yet again. She’s fed up, ready to be done with Hardin and goes home only to find her father dead of a drug overdose in their apartment. WHAT? I swear my jaw dropped when I read this part.

Hardin comes back and is finally ready to change, but Tessa isn’t ready to take him back. Really who could blame her? It’s not like he has a great track record and he apologizes over and over for the same things. It does seem like he’s changing this time.

Tessa ends up moving to New York with Landon and Hardin comes for a visit. Everything seems good UNTIL she finds out that he’s written a book about their love story. She reads it and seems to love it, but then we time jump and find out that she didn’t take him back yet.

They still love each other and decide to get married, but then they don’t. The ending time jumps a few more times (not a fan, by the way) and eventually you find out that they did get married and they have two biological children even though the doctor told her she would struggle to get pregnant.

I’m happy with how the story ended. I wish they didn’t have so many time jumps at the end. It would’ve been fine I think to just have one time jump in the epilogue that showed Hardin with little Emery and Tessa pregnant with Auden. We didn’t need the rest of that really.

I’m going to read Before next just because I’m interested in what that could possibly be about and how it’ll make me feel about Hardin now that I love the new and improved version of him.

I may also read the Landon series. I haven’t completely decided yet, but I like how Anna Todd set it up and didn’t really tell us who he was married to. I’m guessing this was in anticipation of the spin-off series. Are Tessa and Hardin in it too? I’ll definitely read it if they’re in it too.

After We Fell by Anna Todd

Finished with book three! I can’t believe there’s only one left to the series (not counting the one that’s about Hardin’s life before Tessa). I purposely tried to drag this one out because I really don’t want these books to end.

These books really are like a soap opera, which I guess is why they’re so addictive. There are so many twists and turns, so many secrets, so much betrayal. It’s kind of crazy because I definitely felt like Tessa deserved better when I was reading the first book, but now I’m 100% in support of their relationship because I really don’t believe anyone could love Tessa more than Hardin, even if his love is kind of all consuming.

I’m about to get into spoilers so stop reading if you’re actually going to read these books.

The thing that happened with Steph at the beginning was crazy. I definitely was not expecting that and couldn’t believe that this whole time she had a thing for Hardin and was mad that he was with Tessa. I did question why she didn’t tell Tessa about the bet if she was truly her friend, but I didn’t really think that she would go this far. Anna Todd did set up everything with Dan though, he obviously would try to get revenge. I also owe Zed an apology for thinking he’d actually send texts from Hardin’s phone.

Everything at the end with Vance was pretty shocking too. It kept being hinted at that Vance had loved someone other than his first wife and Kimberly, but I’m not sure I would have guessed that it’d be Trish. Once Hardin caught them together I absolutely knew that this was where it was going. I also couldn’t imagine reading that and then having to wait for another book to be released. I need to keep reading to find out what happens.

I mentioned already that I fully support their relationship now, which is kind of funny because it’s definitely something I didn’t expect. I could understand the attraction to each other, but they seemed so toxic. I’m sure this was done on purpose, but with all the other people in their lives having toxic relationships as well it almost makes theirs not so bad. Yes they fight and Hardin is way too controlling of Tessa, but for the most part they don’t lie to each other and they don’t cheat.

I’m really rooting for them in the next book. I hope their relationship continues to get stronger and that Hardin comes around and finally agrees to marry Tessa. Also hope that they make this book into a movie as well. I need it to be a movie.

I found out that there’s a book series about Landon too. I’m kind of curious how that one is and whether or not it’s worth reading. I wonder if Hardin and Tessa make appearances in those books. I might actually read them if they do.

After by Anna Todd

I’m really not sure where to begin with this one. I guess I’ll start with a little explanation.

My mom told me a few months ago that she had watched a movie called After on Netflix and she thought I would like it. Honestly it didn’t sound that great from the description, but after spending an hour trying to find something to watch I decided to give it a shot.

Honestly I was surprised at how much I actually liked the movie. I guess I think that since I’m an adult I won’t like these teen love stories anymore, but really I should just admit to myself that they get me every time.

Obviously, I was excited when I found out that it was originally a book series and that there were multiple books in the series. UNTIL I stumbled across the Wikipedia page where I found out that this was originally written as Harry Styles fan-fiction.

I will say, I’m a big Harry Styles fan and definitely had a crush on him when he was in One Direction. I’m just not really usually impressed by fan-fiction and honestly would never have put two and two together that Hardin Scott was modeled after Harry Styles.

Even after reading the book, it’s hard for me to understand why Anna Todd would turn Harry Styles into this horrible, manipulative character. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that the guy who wears flowery suits would act this way towards a woman that he truly loves? I definitely had to disassociate my idea of Harry Styles from the character of Hardin Scott when reading this book.

That being said, I actually really enjoyed reading it. Hardin is horrible and Tessa definitely shouldn’t have stayed with him this long. He’s crazy manipulative and controlling, and the way he is with her is borderline abuse, but I found myself unable to put this book down. Honestly Tessa isn’t much better. They both overreact whenever they argue and even though she tries to see things from his point of view, she still seems to be unwilling to change for the relationship even though she asks him multiple times to change for her.

This really isn’t some great work of literature, but it is entertaining. I’m definitely going to read the next book. Since there are 5 of them, I’m assuming she forgives Hardin again and takes him back. I’m sure they’ll fight more and break up about a million more times, but I do kind of need to know what comes next.

So even though I’m conflicted about the inspiration for the story, I have to say Anna Todd does really know how to keep someone interested with her writing. Maybe it’s sort of like a car crash you can’t look away from? Anyone else feel this way reading it?

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

I’ve been meaning to read The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks for awhile, and even bought a paperback copy from the bookstore when I went about a year ago, but it’s taken me this long to finally pick it up and read through it. I’m so glad I finally did.

I think in order for me to really enjoy a book I have to either be really interested in what it’s about or I have to be able to somehow relate parts of the story to my life. With this one in particular, there were a lot of things in the story line that I felt I could relate to.

Although I was  a journalism major in college, I took an art major class and actually had considered switching my major because I enjoyed it so much. Still kind of wish I would have done something with art in college. I kind of admired that Sophia had chosen it with her background and having immigrant parents who worked really hard just to survive in a new country. I know she’s a fictional character, but I feel like if she were real it would be a really difficult decision to pursue something you’re passionate about rather than something that will help you land a good job. I respected her for that.

Ira and Ruth’s art collection was also a fascinating part of the story for me. Almost makes me want to start collecting art, but I’m not sure I have the eye that Ruth had. This kind of ties in with me wanted to be an art history major. I just have always had an interest in the arts and it’s cool to think that there could’ve been a couple who lived and met all these amazing artists in their lifetime. Again, I know it’s fictional, but I really loved this part of the story line and how it tied the two couples together in the end.

And, of course, I’ve fallen for the guy who would work himself to death to help out his family. I could definitely see a lot of him in Luke, so that kept me interested. Being a hard worker and family-oriented is something that I absolutely find attractive in a man, so I could understand why Sophia would fall so hard. Definitely been there.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good love story in general? This one had a lot of depth to it and you could tell that Nicholas Sparks did a lot of research while writing. I’m honestly surprised it took me this long to read it and I feel like I should definitely read more of his work.

Any recommendations for what Nicholas Sparks book I should read next?

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I’m not sure what made me decide to read Michelle Obama’s book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a memoir before, I guess I was just interested in hearing more about her life. I will admit, I was more interested in her after I found out that she’s a Capricorn like me.

I honestly really enjoyed reading this book. At some points, I couldn’t put it down and needed to know what part of her life she was going to discuss next. It was so interesting to see everything from her point of view throughout Barack’s political career and how much her life changed.

She’s a very interesting person and after reading this I feel like Barack and Michelle were too good for this country. They genuinely wanted to make things better and tried to do so. It’s a shame that we’ve taken so many steps back with the current presidency.

It really made me sad to hear how personally she took a lot of the attacks against her and her family. I don’t think we even think about these public figures as normal people and we don’t think about how our words could hurt them. It’s a shame to think that there are so many people, especially with the internet, who felt it was important to shame them or bring them down for things like their appearance. People are so hateful and really need to take a step back and assess their own lives if they really feel the need to do these things.

I would absolutely recommend this book, and I’ve actually been telling people they need to read it since I first picked it up. Her voice is very strong throughout the book and there’s this honesty and rawness to her storytelling that makes me feel almost like I know her now. I realize that I don’t actually know her, but she seems like the type of person who I could easily have a conversation with and I’d actually really love if I ever got the chance to do that.

Highly, highly recommend!