Tag Archives: fiction books

10 Happy, Simple Quotes by Roald Dahl

Yesterday we celebrated Roald Dahl’s 102nd birthday and today I just wanted to share with you some of his words of wisdom. These happy, simple quotes are great to keep in mind, no matter what your age!

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10 Happy, Simple Quotes by Roald Dahl

unlikely placesThe greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

BOOKSHELF
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,

Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

life is good
If you are good, life is good.

magic
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

NOT ALONESo Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

 

doubt
You should never, never doubt something that no one is sure of.

grasshopper
‘My dear young fellow,’ the Old Green Grasshopper said gently, ‘there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet.’

twinklyIt’s impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren’t feeling twinkly yourself.

POWER TO CHANGESomewhere, inside all of us, is the power to change the world.

music makers
We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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The Good Girl Book Review

Mia Dennett is just like every other girl…she goes to work, she buys groceries, she hangs out at the bar with her friends. But what Mia doesn’t know is that someone is following her…someone who knows her route to work, the name of her on-again, off-again boyfriend, the color of her eyes…and he’s about to change Mia’s life forever.

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The Good Girl was hailed as a book that fans of Gone Girl would love. A page-turning thriller with a twist ending…a story full of complex characters that you can’t trust…It’s a missing person story (like Gone Girl) with a somewhat untrustworthy family (like Gone Girl) and a heroine who seems a little off-kilter (like Gone Girl). Are we noticing a theme?

Now I loved Gone Girl. I thought it was intense and riveting and I loved every twist and turn along the way…so, needless to say, I really wanted to like The Good Girl. It had all the parts to make it a great story…but arranged in an order that made it seem a little too familiar.

Told from the perspectives of Mia’s mom, the detective investigating her case, and Mia’s own captor, The Good Girl – while slightly formulaic – is an entertaining read. There are good twists and turns, though for a lover of mystery fiction, they’re easy to spot a mile away. I actually found myself more engrossed in the romantic plotlines that become the focus of the second half of the book…and found the shocking (not really) ending appropriately emotional, bittersweet, and honestly kind of heart-breaking.

As a fan of Gone Girl, did I LOVE this book? No, not really. But I did enjoy it. It delivered a twisting story that would make a great beach read, but it wasn’t unique enough to haunt me like that blasted bitch, Amy Dunne.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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The Night Circus Book Review

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It’s simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black and white striped canvas tents create a winding path towards the center, peppered along the way with food stands, side acts and drink carts.

The heartbeat of the circus is an exquisite clock, winding and turning with intricate detail, counting down the seconds until the circus closes at sunrise…for this circus, Le Cirque des Reves, is only open at night.

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For attendees of Le Cirque des Reves, the circus is a whimsical dream. Acrobats fly through the air, kittens dance and do tricks, a room filled with jars unleashes scents from all over the world, and illusionists make themselves disappear in the blink of an eye. The cold night air is filled with the scents of cinnamon rolls and caramel popcorn and a true sense of magic uplifts and heightens the senses.

And much like any circus, nothing is what it seems at Le Cirque des Reves. Behind the scenes there’s a fierce competition underway, a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been training since childhood to compete in a “game” that’s been going on for years preceding them.

Under the watchful eye of two mercurial instructors, these young performers are about to embark on a challenge that will only leave one of them standing…and the circus is but the stage for this epic battle of imagination and will.

But despite their game, despite rules and despite themselves, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love…a deep, magical love that slows down time, warms a cold room, makes the lights flicker, and causes these young competitors to decide between breathing life into their future or each other.

Written in rich, seductive prose that is beautiful in every sense of the word, The Night Circus is a feast for all the senses. It has the whimsy of Alice in Wonderland, the colors and characters of Big Fish, and the magic of Harry Potter. I was immersed in this book from start to end and was honestly sad when I had to leave Le Cirque des Reves behind (and even sadder that I couldn’t actually be there in person!).

Much like the circus itself, this book came to me without warning. I knew nothing about it going in, only that it had a Tim Burton-esque cover that instantly had me excited. While some parts were a little slower than others…and some characters surprisingly fell kind of flat, I loved The Night Circus and was instantly on IMDb wondering when the movie was coming out because, honestly…Tim Burton would do this book justice.

I love stories that transport me to another world…that make it so easy to close my eyes and imagine myself somewhere else. For me, The Night Circus was one of those stories. I felt the cold air on my skin, tasted the sweet cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. I looked up and saw the striped tents, and somewhere in the distance, the soft ticking of the clock kept reminding me how little time I had in this world. Filled with dream-like beauty and wonder, The Night Circus is for anyone who believes in magic, imagination, and most importantly, love.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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10 Awesome Detective Novels

A little more than 170 years ago, Edgar Allen Poe’s story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, first appeared in Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine. The story described the analytical power used by one Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin to solve a slew of murders in Paris. Thus, the first detective story was born.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue also inspired the creation of perhaps one of the greatest literary detectives of all time, Sherlock Holmes. He first hit bookshelves 46 years after Poe’s story and set into motion one of the most read literary genres ever.

Often filled with chilling and complex stories, clever and witty humor and strong characters that seem to come to life before your eyes, detective novels are a great go-to solution for a summer beach read, a vacation read, or just a quick and exciting story to help pass the time.

If you’re looking for a great detective novel, here are 10 awesome ones to get you started!

10 Awesome Detective Novels

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The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami

In the Woods, Tana French

Booked to Die, John Dunning

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, P.D. James

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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16 Books about Coping with Loss and Death

Death…it freaking sucks, ami right?

It’s inevitable. It’s unknown. It’s scary and dark and real and it’s the final ending for the entire human population…maybe the one thing that we all have in common.

For years books and movies have tried to make death more…comfortable. They’ve tried discussing topics like the afterlife, reincarnation, heaven and hell, and so on to help make death not seem so final. Now I’m not here to start a big debate on my views of life and death, but I think we can all agree that coping with death, whether that be the death of a loved one or the acceptance of death of self, is certainly a hard road to go down…

Ranging from loss of self to loss of hope, these 16 books about coping with loss and death have really opened my eyes to acceptance and understanding. Some made me mad enough to talk about my feelings, others made me cry so much that I had trouble even finishing the book, but they all helped me cope with my situation in some way, shape, or form.

I personally never really thought about death until my dad died. He was the first person who was close to me that I lost. When he died, I had no choice but to turn to books because that’s what comforted me…and I hope these books comfort you as well.

16 Books about Coping with Loss and Death

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Being Mortal

In Being Mortal, author and doctor Atul Gawande tackles maybe the hardest question about aging and death: how medicine can improve life and dying with dignity. An eye-opening look at elder care and end-of-life decisions, this book is so important for anyone and everyone to read.

The Girl with Glass Feet

On the remote and snowbound archipelago of St. Hauda’s Land, Ida Maclaird is slowly turning into glass. While searching the forest for a cure, she meets a man who ends up falling in love with her. What results is a beautiful and heartbreaking story about what we will do, no matter what the circumstance, for those we love.

Tuesdays with Morrie

What would you say to a dying mentor? Many of us don’t have that chance, but Mitch Albom did. In Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch visits his mentor and old college professor, Morrie Schwartz, every Tuesday, just as they did back when he was in school. Their visits end up becoming one final lesson on how to really live.

Life of Pi

Though Life of Pi isn’t a book about death in the most straight-forward way, I still find it a beautiful work of fiction that explores the issues of spirituality, survival, and acceptance of fate. The ending left me questioning a lot about my own spirituality and I loved the internal struggles that made Pi Patel such a relatable character.

Big Fish

In his prime, Edward Bloom was an extraordinary man. He could outrun anybody. He never missed a day of school. He saved lives and tamed giants. Animals loved him, people loved him, women loved him. He knew more jokes than any man alive. At least that’s what he told his son, William. But now Edward Bloom is dying, and William wants desperately to know the truth about his elusive father—this indefatigable teller of tall tales—before it’s too late. The story that is all of our grandfathers, Big Fish is tender, bittersweet, and a tale bigger than life itself.

The Book Thief

Set during World War II in Germany, The Book Thief is told from the perspective of the Devil and tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. An unforgettable story about death and the afterlife, The Book Thief is maybe the best piece of Holocaust literature I’ve ever read.

The Year of Magical Thinking

Several days before Christmas 2003, author Joan Didion and her husband John Gregory Dunne saw their one and only daughter come down with a life-threatening disease that left her on life support. Days later, John Gregory suffered a massive and fatal coronary. Struck with such loss in such rapid succession, Didion attempts to make sense of those few weeks and months before, during, and after that fateful winter in her book, The Year of Magical Thinking. A beautiful testament to a family that was completely shattered, but somehow found the strength to pull through, this book will definitely touch your heart.

A Blessing on the Moon

Death is merely the beginning of Chaim’s troubles. In the opening pages of A Blessing on the Moon, Chaim is shot along with the other Jews of his small Polish village. But instead of resting peacefully in the World to Come, Chaim, for reasons unclear to him, is left to wander the earth, accompanied by his rabbi, who has taken the form of a talking crow. Chaim’s afterlife journey is filled with extraordinary encounters whose consequences are far greater than he realizes.

The Last Lecture

Based on the extraordinary final lecture by Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch, given after he discovered he had pancreatic cancer, this moving book will inspire readers to live each day with purpose and joy.

Red Hook Road

When a newly married couple dies on the way to their wedding reception, it’s up to their newly joined families to come together and now plan the couple’s funeral. A haunting book that you will power through in no time, Red Hook Road is up there with Ayelet Waldman’s finest stories about loss and grief.

The Lovely Bones

A haunting tale of loss and understanding, The Lovely Bones is a beautiful story of a girl not ready to let go of her hold on life and the people she loves. Told from her perspective after her brutal rape and murder, The Lovely Bones is an interesting exploration on heaven and the afterlife.

The Painted Drum

When Faye Travers is called to appraise a collection of artifacts, she stumbles upon a haunting drum that seems to call out to her. Compelling and unforgettable, The Painted Drum explores the often fraught relationship between mothers and daughters, the strength of family, and the intricate rhythms of grief we all seem to feel at certain points of our lives.

The Little Prince

The Little Prince is one of my favorite books, and is actually the first book I read that made me cry. A touching story about an adventurer who stumbles upon a little prince who inhabits a tiny planet, this book is an exploration into acceptance, love, and making peace with letting go.

A Monster Calls

A haunting and darkly funny novel about loss and death, A Monster Calls is about a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected visitor that helps him question everything. Phew, this one is rough guys.

Lincoln in the Bardo

A story that intertwines history, death, and spirituality, Lincoln in the Bardo is told from the perspective of several characters – both historical and invented – to answer the question we’ve all asked ourselves at one point: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end? A book unlike anything I’ve ever read before, Lincoln in the Bardo is a visual story that will magically come to life in your mind.

Bridge to Terabithia

A story about pure friendship, Bridge to Terabithia is a story that will tug at your heartstrings. A story about a boy and a girl and the imaginative world they live in, this story is up there with Where the Red Fern Grows as a book that teaches kids that death, loss, and maybe most importantly, friendship, are all very, very real.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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17 Books with Serious Girl Power

I could write every day for the rest of my life about empowering books for women and STILL not touch on everything out there on the market. However, I have read a handful of books that have inspired me and motivated me to make changes in my own life, and I’m here to share them with you today!

Here are 17 books with serious girl power that will give you all the feels!

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17 Books with Serious Girl Power

Why Not Me?
Mindy Kaling

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Mindy’s just a girl who loves eating McDonald’s and is just trying to figure it all out like the rest of us. In the sequel to her first best-selling book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy explores the challenges of her adult life as only she can…with literal laugh-out-loud humor and wit that makes her our #1 BFF.

Yes Please
Amy Poehler

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Get to know the woman behind some of our favorite SNL characters and my personal soul mate, Leslie Knope, in this scrapbook-style autobiography filled with hilarious stories and full-color photos and illustrations.

How to be a Bawse
Lilly Singh

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Get the lowdown on how YouTube star Lilly Singh conquers it all, from exuding confidence to kicking out the haters.

I Am Malala
Malala Yousafzai

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If you read only one book on this list, make it this one. Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for pursuing an education, tells her story and discusses her dreams for making the world a better place. This woman…she’s everything.

Wildflower
Drew Barrymore

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Get to know Drew on a personal level with this collection of stories told by the woman herself. From her unbelievable childhood to her challenges growing up in Hollywood, this book is sure to shock and inspire.

Becoming Unbecoming
Una

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A woman tries to come to grips with her abusive past in a collection of illustrations that will break your heart.

Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress
Susan Jane Gilman

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This is the collection of short stories you’ve been looking for…a coming of age tale that, for once, isn’t about finding the perfect man.

It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War
Lynsey Addario

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How has photographing war shaped Lynsey Addario’s life? In this visual essay of her time spent overseas, Addario explores what it takes to find courage and passion amidst a war-torn country.

The Opposite of Loneliness
Marina Keegan

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Published after her tragic death five days after graduating from Yale, The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan is a collection of short stories that showcase a talent lost too soon.

Unbearable Lightness
Portia De Rossi

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Actress Portia De Rossi talks about her years of struggling with weight loss and gain, and how simple life changes ended up changing her life completely. This one’s a tear-jerker.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou’s brilliant autobiography will certainly make you thankful for all the good things in your life. Through all of her struggles and hardships, Angelou somehow still finds the magic within, and this book is a true testament to her inspiration.

Bossypants
Tina Fey

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With an iron fist and a great sense of humor, Tina Fey has conquered the small screen, the big screen, and every theater in between. Her struggles were real and her challenges were real, but she’s no stranger to strapping up those big girl pants and getting shit done.

Solar Storms
Linda Hogan

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This coming-of-age story about a Native American family of strong and powerful women is on my list of books that changed my life. It is filled with such brilliant and underrated wisdom.

The Nazi Officer’s Wife
Edith Hahn Beer

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A Jewish woman hides her religion from her husband, who happens to be a Nazi officer. A true story of utter heroism and survival, The Nazi Officer’s Wife is up there as one of the best Holocaust books I’ve ever read.

How to Make Love Like a Porn Star
Jenna Jameson

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You certainly know Jenna Jameson, but chances are you don’t know the strong woman behind the star. In her candid autobiography, Jameson talks about her quick rise to fame and how she maintains her image and reputation in a world constantly trying to bring her down.

My Life in France
Julia Child

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Learn about Julia Child’s travels and excursions in France in her adorable tell-all book, My Life in France. A love letter to France and the art of French cooking, this book is best read with a big cup of coffee and a delicious croissant.

A Little Bit Wicked
Kristin Chenoweth

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The little star with the huge voice dishes about life on Broadway and her rise to fame as one of the most powerful singers of our generation. Talking about everything from her start in opera to her somewhat recent run as Glinda in Wicked: The Musical, Chenoweth talks about her life in stages.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Uncommon Type Book Review

A few months ago, my husband and I took a trip to Portland, OR.  It was a book lover’s/coffee lover’s/food lover’s/nature lover’s dream come true! We stayed in a little Air B & B apartment with a wonderful couple who filled us in on all the must-see things in Portland…one of which was going to Powell’s Book Store.

I had heard of Powell’s before…it was described as “a big Barnes & Nobel”…which is easy to imagine.  But “big” isn’t really a big enough word for how large this bookstore is…for a bibliophile, it’s near impossible to spend less than an hour in that store.  The shelves are stacked up to the ceiling with books…and the store itself is divided into several rooms, each filled – I mean FILLED – with books, gifts, and more. I was in trouble.

Since we flew into Portland with just one suitcase (#pros), I didn’t want to leave with a butt-ton of books that would weigh our luggage down…so I told myself I would buy one book.  Just one.  One lonely, little book from the City of Books.  And I stuck to it!

My one and only purchase at Powell’s Bookstore was a signed copy of Uncommon Type, a collection of short stories by the adorable Tom Hanks.  The book had just come out, so I hadn’t heard much about it…but how could you go wrong with Tom Hanks?

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Much like Tom himself, these stories didn’t possess any flair or flash…they didn’t promise to be anything other than what they were – small glimpses into the lives of American people.  What ties all these stories together is the appearance of a typewriter – sometimes the main character in the story, other times just an object on a desk.

I hate to say that I struggled a bit through some of these stories…not in a bad way, just in a nothing-really-exciting-is-happening-and-I’m-getting-a-little-bored kind of way. Don’t get me wrong, I really did enjoy this book and I love Tom Hanks as an actor and as a person, but I guess this book just didn’t live up to the hype I selfishly created for it.

Three stories in this collection really stood out to me above the others. One, titled “The Past is Important to Us”, tells the story of a man who travels back in time to the 1939 World’s Fair, drawn by a young woman in a green dress (slightly similar, yet more disturbing, than the film, Somewhere in Time). Another titled “These are the Meditations of My Heart” talks about how a young girl copes with her breakup by finding a bit of solstice in an old vintage typewriter. Finally the third story, “Welcome to Mars” is about a boy discovering his father’s infidelity. I found it so honest and true that it might just be my favorite one in the collection.

Was this my favorite collection of short stories ever? No. It didn’t surprise me or shock me or leave me wondering about a hanging ending; however, it did entertain. The stories in Uncommon Type were true and honest, albeit normal. They were about everyday people doing everyday things. Some stories are better than others, some stories are funnier than others, but just like Toy Story, You’ve Got Mail, or Sleepless in Seattle, it will most likely leave you loving Tom Hanks all the more.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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