All About Pigs: The Good, Good Pig by Sy Montgomery

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3 of 5 stars.

Did you know… that human flesh tastes like pig… according to Polynesian cannibals who coined the term “long pig” for human meat? Yeah, me either… but I’ll just trust them on that. Pigs are also extremely smart and kind. There were many random facts in this book… so naturally…

I WANT A PIG!!!! RIGHT. NOW.

That’s mainly what I got out of this book. Christopher Hogwood is truly amazing. I’ve never spent a lot of time around pigs, so I never realized how much personality they have. In The Good, Good Pig, Sy Montgomery tells a lot of heartwarming stories about Chris – how the entire community saved scraps for him, how he ended up bringing them lifelong friends they wouldn’t have otherwise known, how he loved his bath times, how he simply loved with his whole heart.

There were also a lot of historical tidbits about pigs and several side stories about Sy’s excursions for her wildlife research (She’s a freelance writer for sources like Nat Geo). There were a lot of facts, but what this story is lacking is emotion. There were a lot of times when I should have cried because of what was happening, but this book was written with such a lack of emotion that I was nowhere close.

I would only recommend this book to people who want to read facts about animals… a pig, chickens, dogs, tigers, etc. There’s a lot of animals and stories… but if you are a memoir lover because you want to read about someone’s emotional journey and life lessons, skip this one.

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NetGalley Surprise: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

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3 of 5 stars

Imagine my shock when I received an email on Thursday saying that I was approved for Lost Lake on NetGalley.. and 3 months after I originally requested it (better late than never!!). I immediately sat there in shock, texted my husband to commemorate my first approval by a large publisher, then downloaded and began voraciously reading thinking I would be done reading it that night and post my super raving review. But it didn’t work out that way because… well, you’ll see…

Lantern lights are basically my favorite thing in the entire world.. they really do create a magical atmosphere, so I was a sucker for the cover of Lost Lake and had to read it from the moment I saw it. Plus, I’m a big fan of Sarah Addison Allen. And I loooove lakes. Like heat from a fire, the closer to water you are, the stronger you feel it.

What could go wrong?

Lost Lake is set in Suley, Georgia, a middle-of-nowhere town where Eby and George decide to settle and run a summer cabin getaway. Kate, Eby’s great-neice, recently widowed, wakes up one day after being “asleep” for a year after her husband’s death and realizes that she no longer recognizes herself. She has let her mother-in-law take over her life and almost stamp out her daughter, Devin’s, creative and wild spirit. Devin finds a post card sent long ago from Eby with Lost Lake on the front, and they take off almost immediately to revisit the “last best summer” that Kate had – lost Lake was where she left her heart and her childhood. Little does she know that Eby has almost lost hope for saving Lost Lake… what follows is a story about grieving and hoping that is full of friends and magic in a serene setting. Sounds great.. right?

But… Lost Lake just didn’t do it for me. I mean, it was a good story but it just didn’t suck me in like Allen’s other stories. A couple of reasons could be:

1. Garden Spells. It’s my favorite and pretty hard to live up to.
2. The galley version was not formatted extremely well (no paragraph breaks where there should have been, misplaced words, etc.) to the point where it was kind of distracting.
3. The characters were not nearly as deep as in Allen’s other work. I think there were just too many main characters that she was trying to develop.
4. There was not one explicit element of magic that the story centered on, so I spent the entire story trying to figure out what the magic actually was.
5. I was having a lot of book feels and getting sad while reading this because everyone’s husband is dead (not a spoiler, don’t worry… that’s what the story is based on from the very beginning.)
6. All the events just seemed so surface level.. there really is so much going on – on the side of the main plot is Wes and his grieving over his brother that he lost in a fire when he was younger, Lizette who has no voice box and burns all of the notes she writes out of fear that she will break someone’s heart again, Bulahdeen and Selma (the old ladies who are complete opposites of each other) both seeking a cure for their lonliness, the “alligator” that keeps popping up and talking to Devin, Lazlo who is pressuring Eby and Wes to sell, etc. – The separate storylines just didn’t come together so seamlessly, either.

All that being said, of course, I still really liked the story. Devin is spunky, strong, and carefree. She is the character that eventually drew me in and gave me the depth that I was looking for. She’s a dreamer. Most people never get what they want because they change what they want, change it to something more practical and reachable.

And George (Eby’s late husband that you learn about through her memories) is the kind of man that is truly and purely good. The kind that everyone wishes they knew and some are lucky enough to know. I wish there had been more about him. People couldn’t help but like George. His laugh was like a barrel of whiskey… Just looking at him, you could see that his capacity to love was as wide as the world.

The theme of moving forward is also very strong..
If we measured life in the things that happened, we wouldn’t get anywhere.

Overall, I think this book is worth a re-read – of a final version to see if my opinion changes.

ARC Review: Golden State by Michelle Richmond

Golden State

3 of 5 stars

I received a pre-release copy of this book through a GoodReads FirstReads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

When I first picked up Golden State I was immediately intrigued, a lot confused, and a little scared because the plot has so much work to do from the very beginning. The story is set in one day in a near future San Francisco, and it is definitely not your ordinary day. You are immediately thrown into the fire, and by the end of the first chapter you know the following:

1) Julie is a doctor. Julie’s sister is in labor, and she has to get to the other side of the city to deliver the baby.
2) Julie’s ex-friend/boyfriend/thing is angry and hostile and is holding people in her hospital hostage while demanding to speak with Julie.
3) Julie’s divorce may or may not be finalized today.
4) Today is the day of the vote for California to secede or not secede from the United States. Therefore, vandalism, robbery, rioting, police blockades, etc. abound.
5) Julie and her husband used to have a son, and Julie’s sister is the reason that they don’t anymore.

Ok. Breathe.

The story is told in 3 parts: Now, earlier that morning, and the back story. Each chapter switches to a different time all told from Julie’s point of view. Sounds confusing but really it’s not since the chapters are short and begin with which time frame you are in. I’ve never read any other books written this way, and in my opinion it was great organization (go editor!). It created a lot of suspense and really kept the story moving.

Throughout the story you learn how Julie met and fell in love with her husband, how they had a son, and how they lost him. You learn about her childhood in Mississippi and how she fulfilled her dreams of “escaping” the South to become a doctor. And you learn about her strained past relationship with her sister and the new relationship that develops.

To me, there are a lot of parallels between the author’s life (Richmond grew up in Laurel, MS and now lives in California) and Julie’s life, so I feel like she uses her character as a soap box in some parts – she paints a picture of the South being a place that everyone wants to escape (I love the South even though I no longer live there), and she uses the secession issue to portray her own political views. So the book seemed preachy in some parts, but not to an overwhelming extent.

Overall, this is a very entertaining read with a good but not too neatly wrapped up ending. However, the story was lacking in the emotion department until the very end. I just wasn’t quite as invested in the characters and their outcome as I wanted to be. I would say the book was mostly a sequence of events, although a very entertaining sequence of events.

So there you have it.. Golden State is released on Feb. 4 (MY BIRTHDAY!!) if you want to give it a shot.

Thriller that’s actually THRILLING: In the Blood by Lisa Unger

In the Blood

4 of 5 stars

I received a pre-release copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley. This is the first I have read by Lisa Unger, but do not worry I will be reading more.

In the Blood is about Lana Granger, a deep deep character who reveals herself, the good and the bad, gradually throughout the book and keeps you wanting more. The book begins with her as a child hiding under her bed after coming home to find her mom dead and her dad making her help him bury her. From there, the story skips to the present. Lana is in college and very close to her mentor/adviser who encourages her to find a job, specifically one working with Luke Kahn, a very messed up somewhat psycopathic little boy. Then her roommate goes missing and Luke asks her to play a scavenger hunt with him… hmm. The roller coaster of who exactly is involved and who is playing who in the psychopathic cat and mouse game never slows down from there.

I really really liked this book. I knew there was a twist so I was making up all sorts of stories in my head the entire time and couldn’t put it down. I still ended up not guessing the actual twist. Lisa Unger so gradually unveils the whole truth in such a perfect way. There were moments where my heart was pounding… this was actually the feeling I was hoping to get when I reading Red Dragon that I knew existed somewhere out there.

I admit I don’t read many thrillers, but this was a very well written majorly suspenseful psychological thriller. I especially loved Lana’s character development and questioning of her own behavior and the weaving together of everyone else in her life in a very unique way.

The Light Between Oceans is PHENOMENAL!!!

The Light Between Oceans

5 of 5 stars!

The Light Between Oceans is a phenomenal story about a lighthouse keeper and his wife. The book starts with the fateful event where a boat washes up with a dead man and live baby girl. Then the story skips back (Part 1) and tells about Tom’s life before he met Isabel and shows their love story leading up to the “main event”. Some people say the book started off slow for them, but I felt like the beginning was necessary because you really get to know Tom and Isabel – Tom is a genuine, gentle, determined man who has been through hard times and would do anything for his wife, and Isabel is a very lively, stubborn woman who would do anything for a child after having trouble with miscarriages and stillbirth. Continue reading