Summer Vacation Reading Part 2

Sooo earlier this summer I wrote up a long post about my vacation, the ups and downs, and allll the reading I got done while spending time with family. Click here to read it.

I was given the opportunity to go on an unexpected trip to the beach with my mom and some friends this past week. For me, it was shorter than the rest of the group. They drove down on Saturday, but I flew down Monday afternoon. An hour flight to the beach is THE WAY TO GO!

I had four wonderful days, enjoying the sun, good food, good people and good reading time.

This time around, my reading started at the airport, with a couple of hours to spare before my flight. I had planned on finishing the “real” book I was reading so all I had to take with me was my nook. I got a little behind and had to wrap that one up the first day of my trip. Since my trip was short, I didn’t get as much reading in as my first vacation, but any reading time is good time.

I was able to finish Shadows of Lancaster County, an Amish mystery book that I bought at a used book store on my first week off with my cousin. I read We are the Goldens, a YA ARC from NetGalley, and started The Best of Me, the new one by Nicholas Sparks, which has a movie coming out soon. 

I was a bit optimistic while going on the trip, downloading quite a few more books that I could read, kind of like packing more clothes than I can wear. But I like to be prepared. I still have 5 or 6 that I didn’t get to, but am working a different shift than usual this week, so plan to get some more reading time in!

PS: Here’s a picture of my view for the week! Who wouldn’t love this as the background for some reading time?

kari beach

What was on your summer vacation reading list?

AnnAlysis: Far Gone

far goneFrom Goodreads:
To save her only brother, Andrea Finch must face down a criminal mastermind, the FBI, and her own demons in this thrilling novel from the author of the bestselling Tracers series.

Police detective Andrea Finch is a rising star in her department until a split-second decision derails her career. Disgraced and disillusioned, she’s on leave from her job when she gets an urgent call from her younger brother. She’d prefer to ignore his latest plea for cash, but this time instinct tells her something is very wrong. Andrea’s search for answers takes her to a dusty Texas border town where danger lurks in plain sight and nothing is quite what it seems.

FBI agent Jon North is working undercover in west Texas investigating an unsolved murder that may be linked to a broader plot. But when the evidence points to Andrea’s brother, Jon finds that persuading the stubborn cop to help will be harder than cracking his toughest case.

Andrea must find a way to do what’s right while protecting her only sibling. As the clock ticks down on a deadly plot, Andrea and Jon race to confront a heartless killer who will stop at nothing to deliver a final, terrifying message.

My Thoughts:
My favorite thing about this book is Andrea’s character. I absolutely love a strong female lead. She’s a police detective, who finds herself suspended after a split-second, life-saving decision. But she doesn’t have time to sit and stew about that decision because her brother is missing, leading her to an unauthorized investigation of her own. Cue John North with the FBI, who I also loved. The two butt heads more often than not, and have zero faith and trust in each other, but have to come together to find her brother and solve another, deeper crime, they find themselves immersed in.

The plot to this story is great, and very believable. We have a missing person, another crime bubbling up, a love story, undertones of anti-government, conspiracy and extremist thoughts. And the final action scene is very intense.

This is my first Laura Griffin novel, but I’m sure won’t be my last. I give Far Gone 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: April 2014
Author Website

AnnAlysis: Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio

love finds you in sugarcreek ohioFrom Goodreads:
A mysterious outsider casts a long shadow on Ohio’s Amish country. Policewoman Rachel Troyer has always looked after her three elderly Amish aunts, proprietors of a farmhouse inn near Sugarcreek, Ohio. The idyllic town is popular with tourists, who come to sample its famous Amish goods. But one thing is clear to Rachel – Joe Matthews is no tourist. When the bearded stranger lands on her aunts’ doorstep, begging shelter for himself and his young son, Rachel is suspicious. Will she be able to uncover Joe’s secrets despite her aunts’ – and her own – growing affection for him?

My Thoughts:
This was another one of my vacation reads, along with The Fault in Our Stars. One that I’d heard about and just wanted to read. There were so many things that drew me to this book.
1. It was written by a woman who lives in southeast, Ohio – not too far from where I grew up
2. It is set in Sugarcreek, Ohio – not too far from some of my family members. We have spent quite a few weekends in the Sugarcreek area, eating and shopping. I feel like I have a bit of a connection to the area.
3. It’s set in Amish country. I love Amish country and as my faith grows, so foes my interest in religious based books, especially in Amish communities. I love learning about their culture.
4. The book was made into a movie that recently aired on the UPTV channel. I have it DVR’d at my mom’s house and cousin’s house so I can sit down and watch it at some point.

Obviously I had high hopes for this book before I even started it. And the book lived up to my high hopes, and beyond. There are so many things I loved about it. It all starts with Joe’s little boy. I am a sucker for little kids in books. They always bring so much joy and honesty to the table. I also love the relationship that grows between Rachel and Joe. And then there’s the deep faith of the Amish community. The faith is really deep seated in the community, and in this book. There are so many acts that the Amish do that really open your eyes to what you can do to be a better person.

But the thing that I loved most about this book was how much I learned about the Amish. We have Amish in our neck of the woods, and my aunt lives in a pretty big Amish community, so we feel like we are pretty well versed in their culture. Of course I made a list to share with my family members, and you. Let’s see if I can teach you some of the things I learned:
1. The Amish only go to church every other Sunday. On the Sunday’s they don’t go to church, they spend the day visiting family and resting.
2. The Amish only do a collection twice a year – once at communion, the other at the foot washing – They use this money to give to a community member in need.
3. Homes are built big enough so that church services can be held in the home. Once the group gets larger than 200 people, they split off and go to another home.
4. The Amish community is currently doubling in size every 20 years.
5. The one that I was most interested in because it’s one that comes up quite often: Amish pay all taxes except Social Security. But, that’s not in every case. Amish that are employed by non-Amish businesses have to pay the tax. And Amish that employ non-Amish or youth that haven’t been baptized in the Amish community, also have to pay the tax.

I really love that Miller spent so much time with the Amish community and really did her research into this book. I will definitely be looking into more of her books in the future!!! I give Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio 5 out of 5 bookmarks.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: July 2010
Author Website

AnnAlysis: The Fault in Our Stars

the fault in our starsFrom Goodreads:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

My Thoughts:
I did it! I caved. I read the book that everyone was talking about this summer. I normally avoid these books at all costs, until the hype has died down. I didn’t read Harry Potter until several were already out, same with Twilight and The Hunger Games. They all lived up to the hype, I’m just always way late to the game lol. When I started my vacation, my cousin and I had planned on reading the book so that if it rained, we could go see the movie. Vacation and the release were the same week. A couple of years ago, we took advantage of a rainy vacation and saw Bridesmaids. Best decision ever. And I’ve already told you about the teensy water issue that pushed our vacation back, so I had some extra reading time. And during my vacation this year, I wanted to take some time off Netgalley and away from review books and spend some time reading some on my TBR shelf.

So with that preface, I think the hype for this book was worth it. I read this book in 24 hours. I could not put it down. I went from reading in bed, to the porch with coffee, to the couch in the afternoon, then back to the porch in the evening, then back to bed. The book was with me the whole way.

I think this book can reach any age group that picks it up. Cancer impacts the lives of everyone. We all know someone who has battled cancer. It hits home for everyone. Hazel really hit home for me. Her cancer started in her thyroid. A few years back, I was talking to a coworker at a summer job, eating a piece of cinnamon candy and noticed a large lump on my neck, about the size of a baseball. How I did not notice it before is beyond me. But I immediately got it checked out. We got it biopsied, and drained (bleck), and the tests came back clean. But the lump came back too. I went to another specialist and they also said it was benign, but they didn’t want to risk it, so I had my left lobe of my thyroid removed. This book really put that in perspective for me. It could have been something much worse than what it was, and I learned that through a fictional teenage character. It’s funny the things that give us perspective, huh?

And although the characters are teens, they are wise beyond their years. I have talked about this book with so many people, and almost everyone I’ve talked to has loved the characters. The thing I loved most about them was their wisdom. They are not your normal YA characters. There’s no drama no BS, it’s just real. It’s raw. And there is wit for days. I laughed with them, I cried with them, and I got mad at cancer with them.

Now my whole idea for reading this book was in case we saw the movie. Yes, I’m one of “those” people who have to read the book first. It can really be a burden too lol But, I ended up not seeing the movie yet. My mom, who didn’t read the book, went to see the movie and really liked it. And it was nice that from my reading, and her watching, we were able to have a nice conversation about it. I’ll see the movie when it comes out on Amazon Prime for me to rent, watch on my computer, and bawl my eyes out.

Did you give into the hype of this book? Do you think it lived up to expectations?

Also this is my first John Green book. I’ve always seen great things about him and think it’s time I give more of his books a try! What are some of your favorites?

I give The Fault in Our Stars 5 out of 5 bookmarks.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: January 2012
Author Website

AnnAlysis: Ripper

ripperGoodreads:
The Jackson women, Indiana and Amanda, have always had each other. Yet, while their bond is strong, mother and daughter are as different as night and day. Indiana, a beautiful holistic healer, is a free-spirited bohemian. Long divorced from Amanda’s father, she’s reluctant to settle down with either of the men who want her-Alan, the wealthy scion of one of San Francisco’s elite families, and Ryan, an enigmatic, scarred former Navy SEAL.

While her mom looks for the good in people, Amanda is fascinated by the dark side of human nature, like her father, the SFPD’s Deputy Chief of Homicide. Brilliant and introverted, the MIT-bound high school senior is a natural-born sleuth addicted to crime novels and Ripper, the online mystery game she plays with her beloved grandfather and friends around the world.

When a string of strange murders occurs across the city, Amanda plunges into her own investigation, discovering, before the police do, that the deaths may be connected. But the case becomes all too personal when Indiana suddenly vanishes. Could her mother’s disappearance be linked to the serial killer? Now, with her mother’s life on the line, the young detective must solve the most complex mystery she’s ever faced before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:
I listened to this on audio book. It was on the new shelf and I thought the combination of murders and teenage online sleuths sounded pretty intriguing.

Unfortunately, I liked the summary better than the book itself. There were a few times I almost stopped listening, but I never have the heart to do it.

I liked a couple of characters in the book. I liked Amanda. She’s a dork and she’s witty, but she is extremely rude to her grandfather. I liked Ryan, former military, whose dog is his right hand man. The rest of the characters, they fell flat for me.

The story itself fell flat for me too. I felt there was a lot going on, taking into account all the stories of all the characters, the police and gamers trying to track down the murderer and how it was going to hit home.

I have been reading a lot of other reviews on this book. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m not the only one who thought the book fell flat. It appears that others have loved former books by Allende and that this is her first attempt at mystery writing.

I give Ripper 2 out of 5 bookmarks.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: January 2014
Author Website