Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: Cards from Khloe's Book Shop by Isabella Louis Anderson

Khloe's FlowershopPurrfectly Bookish: Cards from Khloe's Flower Shop
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Cards from Khloe's Flower Shop by Isabella Louise Anderson
Publisher: Chick Lit Goddess, LLC. 
Publication Date: January 15, 2017
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Publisher's description

As the owner of a successful florist shop, Khloe Harper trusts her instincts. She has a strong bond with her family and friends, but after being betrayed by her last love, she's kept herself at arms’ length from romance. When dashing entertainment attorney Derek Thomas walks into her store, Khloe’s interest is piqued. What at first seems like a business relationship quickly turns into romance, and Derek slowly plucks away the petals she’s been hiding behind. Just as Khloe lets down her guard, she discovers that Derek may not be worthy of her love after all. Frumpy Connie Albright has a faux fascination with an imaginary man named Walt, thinking that by sending herself flowers from him she’ll feel less out-of-place with the “mean girls” she works with. When she comes face to face with her possible prince charming and thinking she might have a happy ending, when a truth is revealed, she wonders if she’ll ever have a Cinderella story. A recently widowed senior, Gabby Lewis, isn't ready to give up on love—which means releasing herself from survivor's guilt and taking a chance on finding happiness and companionship again. After signing up for an online dating site for senior citizens, much to her surprise, she’s matched with Harry, an energetic and loving man, who quickly eases himself into her heart. Will Gabby take the leap of falling in love again, knowing it’s possible to have two loves of her life? As each woman’s story develops through flowers and cards sent from Khloe's shop during the Fall months, they begin to learn that love can only truly blossom when you trust your heart.

My Review

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Khloe owns a flower shop - her dream come true. Every day she helps customers find their happily ever after by providing stunning floral arrangements and, most importantly, heartfelt cards of sentiment. However, after having her own heart broken, she's pretty certain she is never going to find her own happily ever after. Well, she very nearly jinxes it by her bizarre behavior toward the handsome love interest who walks in her door one day. I wanted to shake her on more than one occasion. I think her character was real but I'm not sure that Derek's acceptance of her oddball behavior was realistic. I think 99% of men would have run to the hills with the first hint of her serious trust issues. 

Gabby and Connie were both more interesting than Khloe. I loved Gabby and really rooted for her to find happiness again after losing the love of her life. The new relationship was pretty sugary sweet, but that was totally okay! Because you really could see a situation like hers.  And poor Connie.  While I think the reason why the "mean girl" was so awful was a bit forced, I have definitely seen horrible people target someone with low self esteem like Connie and just torture them. And I think her choices in dealing with several situations were very realistic.  

I found the sexy scenes didn't all seem to fit in the same book. Some were pretty chaste and only hinted at intimacy and others were a good deal steamier. Nothing too explicit though (no throbbing love muscles) and the words used were scientific or common usage terms. I am NOT a fan of sexy scenes but nothing in here was objectionable. The best friend talked a little too much about orgasms and it did start to get annoying... do people really talk that much about orgasms with their best friends?  I sure don't!  

All in all this is a feel-good tale about three women finding love. The men were all super charming and pretty standard chick lit "awesome". I think it would have been fun to have more of the flower shop cards in the book. It's a sweet, light read... good for a day at the pool or curled up under a blanket with a cup of hot tea.  

**Find “Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop”:

Amazon-US (Kindle and paperback) * Amazon-UK * Amazon-Canada * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * Goodreads


About the author: Isabella grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She focuses her time on featuring other writers on her blog, Chick Lit Goddess, along with organizing Goddess Book Tours, and is a member of the Romance Writers of America. She lives in Dallas with her husband, enjoys spicy Mexican food, margaritas, gin on the rocks (with a splash of lime). She loves spending time with family and friends and cheering on the Texas Rangers. Not only is Isabella an author, she’s also a Scentsy consultant and hoarder. Isabella is the author of The Right Design and Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop. Her short story, “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe,” was featured in Simon & Fig’s Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright. She’s currently working on another book.   **Contact: Website * Chick Lit Goddess Website * Facebook * Goodreads * Instagram – Isabella Louise Anderson * Instagram – Chick Lit Goddess * Pinterest * Twitter * Sign up for her Newsletter

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Happy Caturday #4

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. I'll share images and tales of my own kitties and any others I meet each week. I also volunteer at the local animal shelter so you may see some sweet adoptables here too. If you have an awesome kitty, doggy, peeg, ratty or any other pet you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 

More kitties and a PEEG this week. Share your photo links in the comments or contact me about having  your sweet fur babies (or scaled babies or feathered babies...) featured on a future Caturday.  

Pat from Durham, NC, USA
My little angel, Pat. She is 4 pounds of fierce personality and sweet power!

Java from St. Joseph, MO, USA
¡Yo quiero Taco Bell bag! 

Mr. Alexander Rozhenko Piggy, of the Houses of Mogh from Kansas City, MO, USA
And his owner's favorite book!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

TBT Review: A Theory of Expanded Love by Caitlin Hicks

Purrfectly Bookish: A Theory of Expanded Love by Caitlin Hicks
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

A Theory of Expanded Love by Caitlin Hicks 
Publisher: Light Messages Publishing
Publication Date: June 12, 2015
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
TBT Review Date: June 12, 2015

Publisher's Description

Trapped in her enormous, devout Catholic family in 1963, Annie creates a hilarious campaign of lies when the pope dies and their family friend, Cardinal Stefanucci, is unexpectedly on the short list to be elected the first American pope. Driven to elevate her family to the holiest of holy rollers in the parish, Annie is tortured by her own dishonesty. But when "The Hands" visit her in her bed and when her sister finds herself facing a scandal, Annie discovers her parents will do almost anything to 
uphold their reputation and keep their secrets safe. Questioning all she has believed and torn between her own gut instinct and years of Catholic guilt, Annie takes courageous risks to wrest salvation from the tragic sequence of events set in motion by her parents’ betrayal. 

My Review

I received a complimentary copy of A Theory of Expanded Love in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

I grew up in a bad Catholic family in a very Catholic neighborhood. "Bad" because there were only two kids - ten years apart. My parents had even set out only to have two kids, only they had wanted two close together. I had other ideas and arrived ten years after my sister. Marie was born in 1961 and I was born in 1971 so we are both a bit behind the age and time of Annie, but many of her experiences rang true. 

Annie is #6 out of thirteen children in a large, strict Catholic family. The author continues to number the kids for the first part of the book and it helps in keeping track of who is who. Her father is authoritarian, recently retired from the Navy, and her mother seems almost mentally absent from the kids for much of the book - or at least from Annie. Annie is portrayed as her father's favorite and her sister, Jeannie (#7), as her mother's. 

Annie is twelve going on thirteen. As the veil of childhood is pulled back from Annie's eyes, she starts developing a critical, self-thinking view of the world. This doesn't go well with the strict Catholic upbringing her father is so much trying to inflict on his children. The father  brags to everyone about his large family and prides himself on being one of the best Catholic families at St. Andrews, but then he also criticizes the kids that he was held back from promotions and doesn't have a life of luxury because of them. This is an emotionally, and sometimes, physically, abusive man. But despite all his attempts at tight control, his kids are growing up and making their own choices. He betrays his children at many turns to preserve his reputation over what is best for his family. As Annie sees these betrayals, especially to her sister Clara and to Annie herself, her eyes are opened to the hypocrisy. 

Abuse is a central theme in this book. There is emotional abuse, physical abuse and mild sexual abuse ("The Hands"). There is only one very vivid scene when the father is using a leather belt on Annie's hand at the dinner table in front of the whole family. I tend to be sensitive about scenes of abuse in books but I was not bothered by anything in this novel.

I think anyone from a big Catholic family (or any big family) could commiserate and feel compassion for Annie and her plight. It also provides an interesting window into the life of a big family and a Catholic family for anyone from neither. While the main character is a 12 year old girl, I think the ideal reading age is a little older than that. It didn't read as a middle grade novel at all. Times have certainly changes since the 1960s and it is very evident in this book. It definitely makes the case for the world being a much better place today than in 1963 so I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone nostalgic about a bygone era. The author does not paint a rosy tale. It is a great Coming of Age story about Annie and I really enjoyed it. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cover Reveal: Shattered Fates by Rebecca Roland

Purrfectly Bookish Cover Reveal: Shattered Fates by Rebecca Roland
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Shattered Fates by Rebecca Roland
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Publication Date: May 23, 2017

I am so excited to be a part of the cover reveal for Rebecca Roland's latest book, Shattered Fates. Full disclosure, Rebecca is a friend of mine. I love her Shards of History series independently of that friendship but it is super fun to know the author of a favorite series. I really enjoy fantasy fiction and the world building in this series is very good and very different. Rather than the usual medieval slant most fantasy fiction uses, the Shards of History series is built on the Native American cultures of the Southwest United States. 

The release date for Shattered Fates is May 23, 2017.  I will post my review of this third and final visit with Malia and the Taakwa people closer to that date. I will be sharing my reviews on the first two books in the series soon on my Throwback Thursday feature. The publisher has recently redesigned the covers on Shards of History and Fractured Days so I wanted to share those as well.  

If you haven't started the series yet, you still have plenty of time to get books 1 and 2 read before May!  What are you waiting for?

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Happy Caturday #3

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. I'll share images and tales of my own kitties and any others I meet each week. I also volunteer at the local animal shelter so you may see some sweet adoptables here too. If you have an awesome kitty, doggy, peeg, ratty or any other pet you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 

The shared photos are starting to roll in!!!  Check out these cute pets!  

Kitler from Mobile, AL, USA

Oskar from San Diego, CA, USA
He had been rescued from the streets....a friend said she saw a man killing cats in an alley, and he was saved from that scene. He's a gorgeous softy lumpy lump, still scared of a lot of things, but we love him.

Up for Adoption: Sydney
Sydney from Kansas City, MO,USA
 This is our foster dog Sydney. She is a sweet, affectionate greyhound mix (lurcher) looking for a loving forever family with a good tall fence. Her adoption page is here:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Monthly Manly Review #1: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Purrfectly Bookish Monthly Manly Review #1

It seems like the majority of book bloggers are women and studies have shown that women read more than men. That's not true in our house! My husband, Jason, reads almost as much as I do. We tend to pick different genres (he likes sci-fi more, I like fantasy more), but I still love discussing books with him. It's special to share a fondness for a book - or even just get the chance to "read" a book through the description from your spouse. The Monthly Manly Review is Jason's contribution to Purrfectly Bookish. Along with his review, there is a linky below for other male bloggers to share their reviews - or for female bloggers who have convinced the men in their lives to write a review for their blog. [This meme started on my old blog. I am starting the numbering over again for Purrfectly Bookish. ]

Purrfectly Bookish: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: October 8th 2013 
Jason's Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Publisher's Description

With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.

Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.

Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha—or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.

Jason's Review

I have mixed feelings about reviewing later-in-series books without having reviewed prior books, but since the blogmistress demands content, content she shall have.  The Republic of Thieves is the third installment in the Gentleman Bastards series, a fantasy caper series centering around Locke Lamora and his partner-in-crime Jean, two thieves who find themselves wrapped up in not only deeply complicated criminal endeavors, but larger intrigues as well. I found the first two installments very entertaining, and was happy to get to read the third. I came away satisfied with the book, but somewhat less so than I did with the prior two installments. 

Locke and Jean find themselves drawn into running a political campaign in a city controlled by magicians called the Bondsmagi. Their plans and plots are complicated by Locke and Jean’s difficult history with the Bondsmagi, but also by the presence of Sabetha, a former Bastard and love interest of Locke’s. 

This plot is intertwined with a flashback story involving the full Gentleman Bastard crew when they were much younger, and traveled to be part of a theater troupe that performed the play which gives this book its title. This play is within a smaller play within the larger narrative play, a feat that Scott Lynch technically pulls off very well. Both storylines were well-paced with one another, and even though we know the general outcome of the flashback storyline (as it relates to Locke and Sabetha), the “how they get there” is fresh enough to maintain interest. 

In fact, the resolution to the main story lines (the election rigging caper and the story of the two crossed loves) was also well done, and in the end satisfying (if not entirely happy). I enjoyed the book well enough to recommend it, as long as you have read and enjoyed the prior two books. The investment we make in characters over several stories really carries this book, and as such I can’t recommend it as a standalone story, but the series is fun as a fantasy novel in which magic exists, but isn’t utilized by our main characters. In this way, this series is more crime caper than fantasy novel, and that is where I think the author’s strengths lie. 

I was left a bit cold by the inclusion of the final epilogue to the story. I found it a bit unneeded to finish the tale that was really being told, and it seems to me the only purpose for it was to set up the next chapter in the series (which I am yet to read). As a novel-length story, a cliffhanger for the next book feels a bit cheap and unneeded. 

All that being said, I am looking forward to reading the fourth installment in the series, so this fault I call out isn’t fatal to my enjoyment of Locke and Jean and their adventures together.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review: The Cupcake Caper by Kelle Z. Riley

Purrfectly Bookish Review: The Cupcake Caper by Kelle Z. Riley
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

The Cupcake Caper by Kelle Z. Riley
Publisher: Curtis Brown Unlimited
Publication Date:  September 29th 2016
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Publisher's Description

Science is about solving puzzles. Why should solving a murder be any different? Dr. Bree Watson (aka Gabriella Catherine Mayfield-Watson) is comfortable solving chemistry problems. She isn't comfortable finding her boss dead and being a suspect in his poisoning. Now she's juggling: A sexy marketing manager-who may, or may not-be a contract killer. A handsome lead detective whose interest goes beyond the case. The dead man's cranky cat. A goose-chasing dog in hot water with an animal rights group. The search for the perfect cupcake recipe. And, of course, someone who wants her out of the picture. And she thought getting a Ph.D. was hard." 

My Review

I received a complimentary copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

I like cozy mysteries... especially ones with cats or dogs or other adorable pets who get involved with solving crime. You need to engage in a little willful suspension of disbelief when it comes to cozy mysteries. Some of my favorite mystery solvers are librarians, pet store managers, retirees - ordinary people who have a knack for sorting out clues to figure out whodunnit. I found Ms. Riley's choice of a scientist for her Sherlock-esque heroine, Dr. Bree Mayfield-Watson, in this book to be inspired. You really could see someone who is very analytical tackling solving a mystery for the sheer sake of discovery! This first in a series has the ubiquitous plot device of our main character being a suspect in a murder case - a story line often used to get an ordinary person involved in solving a crime in order to clear their name. Given how logical and left-brained Bree is, I think she could become engaged in figuring out who murdered her boss without that particular plot device.  

I was annoyed - put off, maybe? - a little by a couple unlikely choices Bree made, particularly when she withheld information from the police. Given that she endangered herself at almost every instance of this, I hope our main character learns in future additions to the series! The plot twist at the end was fun and is definitely setting up for a new twist on the cozy mystery genre with this series. I will definitely read the next book in the series when it comes out (no date given yet).  

I can't forget to mention Sherlock - and I don't mean Bree. Sherlock is the cat Bree winds up with. Sherlock helps Bree solve the mystery. He is one smart kitty. I definitely hope we see as much and more of him in future installments. So, yes, even with our analytical, scientist heroine, there's a cute pet involved. There is no romance yet in the series either though there is potential for it. I do like to highlight when there is "sexy" content in a book and there is none in this book. Just some possibly too-goofy ogling of two men in Bree's life.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Happy Caturday #2

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. I'll share images and tales of my own kitties and any others I meet each week. I also volunteer at the local animal shelter so you may see some sweet adoptables here too. If you have an awesome kitty you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 
Bodhicitta might be just a teensy-weensy bit spoiled.

Luna pondering Life, the Universe and Everything.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review: Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: October 4th 2016 
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Publisher's Description

Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret. 

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living. 

My Review

We are back in Portland and in the shadows of Maria Semple's prior book, Where'd You Go, Bernadette?  I rather enjoyed that book and laughed my way through it. The writing style was unique and it told an entertaining story through a very odd and circuitous way.  Today Will Be Different is not a sequel to that book but we do recognize some locations (Galer Street School) and there are a couple mentions of characters from the Bernadette book. I'll be blunt... this book is just not as good. The protagonist Eleanor comes across as unbelievably scattered, manic and altogether self absorbed. 

Eleanor starts out determined that "today will be different" but you get the sense throughout that, as wild as this day is, it really isn't all that different. She hates her best friend, is terrible to her son and is so self absorbed, her husband chooses to not share a very important thing in his life because he believes she wouldn't understand and support him! This is not a likeable person! And while there can be value in reading unlikeable characters, I didn't find the value in reading about this unlikeable character. I did give it three stars though since the writing is good and I did laugh... there were funny bits mixed in with all the mania.  I just really can't recommend it though. Don't let this be your first book by this author and don't waste your time if you liked Where'd You Go, Bernadette?  

Monday, February 6, 2017

2017 Reading Challenges #DiverseReads2017

I've always liked participating in reading challenges. There are so many book recommendations out there and so much to choose from, that the framework of a challenge can help me decide on my next book when I'm pulled in 10 different directions. Here are the challenges I decided to join this year - so far.  I'm always open to more. What are your favorite reading challenges? 

Mid-continent Public Library Winter Reading Challenge - Read to Reel


Runs from January 15th to March 15th. Any five books will qualify but this year they are challenging readers to read books that have made it to the screen - big or small. I have already read my five for this challenge - and still need to go pick up my coffee cup - but none of the books I read fit the category this year. This is the third year I've participated in this challenge. 

What's in a Name? 2017 - Hosted by The Worm Hole

2 out of 6 read

This is one of my favorite reading challenges - even though I think I've only finished it once. Doh! You'd think I could manage reading six books but at some point in the year, I forget to stay on top of finding books that fit the categories. Maybe this year will be different!  

This year's categories are:

1) A number in numbers
2) A building
          Cards from Khloe’s Flower Shop by Isabella Louise Anderson
3) A title which has an ‘X’ somewhere in it
4) A compass direction
5) An item/items of cutlery
6) A title in which at least two words share the same first letter – alliteration
          Lost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnson

2017 Diverse Reads Book Challenge

0 out of 12 read 

Studies have shown that the more fiction you read, the more empathetic you are. The world desperately needs more empathy and love right now. And my own view is that it's even better if you read a diversity of characters and viewpoints. I encourage everyone to read more diversely - and I'll start with myself by joining this challenge. The challenge doesn't define exactly what you should read or even how many books but they do have monthly mini-challenges to help you along. Since I'm starting late, I took the months out of the list and am just using the categories for inspiration. 

1) Stories based on/ inspired by diverse folktales/culture/mythology
2) POC/ Biracial/ Multiracial Main Character/Lead
3) Disability
4) Mental Health 
5) Religious Diversity
6) Sexuality and Gender Identity
7) Non Western Setting
8) Ownvoices
9) Intersectionality
10) Diverse Retelling
11) 2017 Releases
12) Freebie Category 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Kids' Review: This Book is Not About Dragons by Shelley Moore Thomas

This Book is NOT about Dragons by Shelley Moore Thomas
Illustrated by Fred Koehler
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
Publication Date: September 13th 2016
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The link above is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through it, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 

Publisher's description

Meet a mouse narrator who stubbornly insists that this book contains absolutely no dragons—not even a claw nor a flame nor any large, pointy scales. Readers will know better—and enjoy being in on the joke—as a flock of dragons chase the mouse to the very end of the book within the book. Suspense builds humorously as the energetic text insists there are no dragons in this book, leading to a clever, unexpected ending. Clever artwork by Fred Koehler provides fun scenes to linger on and details to discover over multiple readings.

My Review

This book is hilarious. My 9yo daughter adored it and giggled uproariously the whole way through. I actually didn't get to read it to her... she insisted on reading it to me with the greatest of gusto. On each page, our delusional hero gets more and more insistent there are NO DRAGONS in this book! Miss R enjoyed pointing out all the evidence to the contrary and all the other hidden fun within its pages. We are a dragon-loving family and this book is a new favorite among dragon-themed books for us.

Miss R's Review

It was a very funny book. I suggest it to lots of kids who like funny books. I really loved reading the book. It sounded really funny so I read it to Mom. It was one of the best books I have ever read. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

TBT Review: I'll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Occasionally on Thursdays, I will pull a book review from the archives (which at this point means from my old blog) and resurrect it for a Throwback Thursday post. I originally read and reviewed this book in May 2015 as part of a Read-Along hosted by Bookish.  The discussion questions were two blog posts then but I have consolidated them into one for this post.  
Purrfectly Bookish Review: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The link above is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through it, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 

Publisher's description: 
Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

My review:
I started reading this book way back in March [2015] as part of the TBR Pile Reading Challenge at Bookish. That challenge features a read-along every other month with two sets of discussion questions - one on the 15th and one of the last day of the month. I got my first set of discussion questions in and posted them. I set the book aside to read some books and never got back to it. I have a copy from the library so last week when I saw I was running out of renewals, I decided I wanted to finish it before I had to return it. I'm so glad I did. While the first half of the book is engaging, due to the nature and enormity of the secrets being withheld, it is a bit confusing. There are so many unanswered questions. As the puzzle pieces fall into place in the second half, a rich story of family, fate, and finding your true self is built to a climactic - and happy - resolution. 

Both Jude and Noah will at times endear you and annoy you. A terrible tragedy has separated these inseparable twins and it will take an odd series of remarkable events to bring them back together. Most of the supporting cast, including a ghost or two, are well developed and relatable. I felt that Oscar was overdrawn - all motorcycles, tattoos, checkered past with a James Dean swagger. While the character was a necessary part of the story, I think he could and should have been less of a caricature  That being said, the book is told from a first-person perspective and we “see” this characterization of Oscar from Jude’s perspective. The other author also does a pretty big disservice to another character nicknamed Zephyr. Again, I think this is the result of holding to Jude’s perspective but it would have been nice to see Zephyr redeemed. 

I really like the writing style - once I got used to it. Noah, in particular, writes in colors and art. His descriptions of everyday life are as if he were describing everything as artwork. He says he can see people’s souls - his mother’s soul is a massive sunflower so big there is hardly room for her organs. Most of his inner dialog is this descriptive and every scene in his life includes a note on how he would paint it: (Self-Portrait: Throwing Armfuls of Air into the Air). I would recommend this to anyone who likes art or is an artist and who enjoys young adult fiction. While there are sexual situations, nothing is graphic. For the average teenaged reader, I would recommend grade 9 and up. I would let my advanced 12-year-old son read it but he would not like it due to smoochy stuff. (Yay! So happy about that. How long do I have?).  

First Discussion Questions

1) How do you feel about the narration style? Was Noah's artistic voice hard to get used to? What about Jude's?

It took me a couple of Noah's references to seeing people's auras or some such to get that this was his artistic voice. And then Jude with her ghosts. I like it though now that I'm into the book more.

2) Between the two siblings/storylines, which one is your favorite?

Noah's actually. But at this point in the book it may because I'm still a bit bitter toward Jude about art school (not yet knowing the story there, of course, but still).

3) What are you feeling regarding the family dynamics: We have twins, a mom and dad, and a deceased grandmother. Noah believes his dad favors his sister and his mother favors him. Noah seems to favor his mom.

I suspect that this dynamic is a bit true in all families - merely magnified in this family due to the artistic minds, deaths in the family, etc.

4) All siblings have a bit of sibling rivalry between them? What sort of things did you and your siblings compete about? What is as serious and Jude and Noah or more playful competition?

My one sibling is ten years older than me and we are SO different. I don't recall a rivalry, but as the overachiever younger child, I can't speak for my sister. She may have felt it more than me. I was a straight-A student, she was the one who was good with her hands (mechanical stuff, etc.). I could see where she might resent my grades or something. But I never sensed it in our relationship. I think the big age gap makes our relationship different than most siblings though.

5) Thus far, what has been one of your favorite scenes from the novel?

When Jude is spying on Guillermo sculpting. The author does a remarkable job of telling the intimacy of both Guillermo lost in his work and Jude lost in watching him.

Second Discussion Questions

1) Did this novel pan out as you had expected? Are you a fan of the happily ever after or would you have preferred something different?  

I don’t think I went in with an expectation of how it would pan out but I was happy with the ending. I think the happy ending, in this case, was realistic. I don’t think I would have liked a bitter. tragic or sad ending. There was enough tragedy in the middle! Noah and Jude needed to find peace.

2) Now that you have finished I'll Give You the Sun, do you think it was worth the hype? 

Not having seen any of the hype before I learned about the book on this book challenge, I can’t really answer this question. But it is a good book, very well written, well thought out. 

3) Will you be reading more from Jandy Nelson? 

Yes. I’d like to read The Sky is Everywhere. 

4) While Noah and Jude are our main characters, we meet a nice variety of secondary characters? Out of this bunch, who is your favorite? 

Hmmm - I liked Dad and wish we could have learned more about him. Grandma Sweetwine is hilarious. And I actually liked Guillermo. I don’t think I have a favorite though. 

5) Did Jandy's narration decision (two storylines and two different times in these characters' lives) add more to your reading experience or did it make it more difficult for you to get into the story? 

It took me a few perspective/time flips to get into the pacing and rhythm of the story, but I think it was ultimately a brilliant way to tell this story.