The Stranger by Harlan Coben

Wow, just wow. I just finished reading The Stranger and I felt like I immediately needed to put down my thoughts.

What a story. Seriously. There were little things at first that I thought were kind of lazy writing. I won’t spoil it, but the names of the websites that the stranger was getting their information from just seemed too obvious for me. I actually think I rolled my eyes when Adam found out the web address for the website his wife used.

Once I got past that though, the story was so could. I honestly felt like I couldn’t put it down. Each chapter ended so well that I needed to keep reading. It had so many unexpected twists and turns. I loved it. It kind of reminded me of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Not the story exactly, but the mystery and how it was solved. I wonder if Harlan Coben is a fan.

The ending was good, but wasn’t what I wanted. I guess I always kind of want happy endings, but we don’t always get what we want. I really can’t wait to watch the show on Netflix. I’ve heard that it’s British, which is interesting. I wonder why they made that change.

Anyway…I absolutely loved this. Has Harlan Coben written anything else? I may need to check him out.

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.

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?

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

I had always heard that Frankenstein was boring for a horror novel and that it wasn’t really what most people expected. Though I am a huge horror fan, I haven’t read a lot of horror fiction and this was never really on my list of books I wanted to read.

One night recently I was looking for a movie to watch and decided to start the 2017 movie Mary Shelley staring Elle Fanning because the trailer looked pretty good. First of all, I thought the movie was great and I was kind of shocked to learn that most of what happened in the movie was true to Mary Shelley’s life. The reviews online aren’t great, but I really enjoyed it.

So after watching the movie I decided to finally read Frankenstein. I have to say, it wasn’t at all what I expected.

Maybe I wasn’t reading closely enough, or maybe it was intentional, but I felt like the creation of the creature went by really quickly and I wasn’t even sure that it had actually been done when Frankenstein says that it opened its yellow eyes. With him rushing out and leaving the creature behind, I wasn’t sure if it was something that he had imagined doing or not, especially when it was missing once he finally came back.

For a while I questioned the existence of the creature. When his brother was murdered and Justine was found guilty and executed for the murder I still thought that maybe Frankenstein was just mad and paranoid.

Honestly it wasn’t until he actually had the conversation with the creature that I believed it even existed. The creature’s story was really sad. He just wanted someone to accept him for what he was and not run away because of his appearance. You can kind of understand how he would end up so angry with Frankenstein after trying over and over to prove that he wasn’t some monster.

Just want to say here that it doesn’t make any sense for the creature to have learned to speak so well. That was the only thing that bothered me about the whole story. Curious if anyone else thought this as well when reading.

I understand that Frankenstein didn’t want to create another monster to put out in to the world, but also understood why the creature would be so upset to learn that his creator refused him some sort of happiness.

Frankenstein ends up losing everyone he loves to the vengeance of the creature and then spends the rest of his life hunting him down. There is a nice moment at the end when Frankenstein dies and the creature feels sad and regretful that he took away Frankenstein’s happiness and ultimately made him waste his life. It was pretty interesting that they both sort of felt this regret that they had caused each other so much pain.

I didn’t think the story was boring at all, and I actually found myself wanting to keep reading after finishing a chapter. It wasn’t very scary, but it was definitely interesting and well written. I can’t believe Mary Shelley was 18 when she started writing this. Kind of incredible honestly.

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!

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton

I’ve always been interested in mythology, but never really put a lot of time into reading the stories. I think in seventh grade we spent some time reading about mythology in my English class but I remember not doing well with it and that there were too many stories and names to remember.

I’ve taken up an interest in astrology lately, and I think the connection between the planets and the gods sort of sparked my interest in mythology again. As it turns out, if you’re interested in mythology there’s basically an unlimited amount of reading material out there for you. It’s a bit overwhelming to say the least.

While I was researching, I kept coming across recommendations to read Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. In my opinion, it’s definitely a good resource for beginners. The book does a good job of explaining the myths and organizing them in a way that makes sense. It’s still a bit overwhelming and I still don’t have all the names straight, but I really enjoyed reading this.

The stories about Persephone and Hades really stuck out to me and I think if I continue to read into any mythology, it would need to have a strong focus on these two. I guess mythology is sort of all over the place so that everyone finds something they like or can relate to and dive deeper into that. If anyone has any good recommendations for further reading, I’d really appreciate it!

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

I’ve been going through this weird sort of dating thing with a guy for the last two years. It really doesn’t make any sense to my family and friends, and I know that it isn’t healthy for me anymore, so I’m working on ending it completely and letting go.

I’ve avoided love stories for this reason, but I actually think reading Dear John may have been what I needed.

John is in the army and has really struggled throughout life. He meets Savannah, they fall in love quickly, but then he has to go away. They write letters, but eventually the distance becomes too much and she ends it. She moves on, gets married, but it’s obvious that they both have a lot of love for each other.

I think reading this book made me really think about how you can have these intense feelings for someone, but that they might not be the right person for you, or that the timing may not be right and it just might not work out for that reason only.

I think it’s important to recognize this and use that as closure so that you can move on. John wanted the best for Savannah and was okay with letting go of his own desires so that she could move on and hopefully be happy. I really like that. I like that they didn’t have their happy ending together, but they both could be happy with how things ended up. It’s more realistic than the fairy tale stories about love.