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Dark Places Movie!

27 Jan

I reviewed Dark Places yesterday giving it a 5/5 stars, and this morning I read that it is being made into a movie starring Amy Adams!  I cannot wait!

Speed Reviews

26 Jan

The Thorn BirdsThe Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough – 3.5/5

Genre:  Historical Fiction

This book is considered a reader’s classic.  It’s a saga-style novel that spans the early 1900s through the late 1960s and follows the Cleary family through their lives and the owners of a sheep farm in the back country of Australia.  I was completely enthralled with the story through the first half but then it lost some luster for me.  .  I knew the basics of this story from the bit of the 1980s miniseries I remember watching, and I was highly anticipating the love story aspect.  In the end, though, I didn’t ‘feel’ as deeply for the main characters and their love for each other as I expected to.  I really did think the author is extremely talented.  The description of the Australian landscape and the characters was superb.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt – 4/ 5

Genre:  General Fiction

This story is about a high-school girl who loses her favorite uncle, and friend, to AIDS.  She deals with this loss in her own way, and learns a lot about life and loss through her mourning.  I wish I had the talent to write-up a book’s description in a way that actually makes people want to read the book, but alas, I don’t possess that quality.  You’ll just have to trust me that it’s good because my descriptions are atrocious.  Anyway, the main character, June, was so weird in a good way and that made me really love her and reading this book.  The story is sad, but powerful, and ends on the brightest note possible.

The White Queen (Cousins' War Series #1)

The White Queen (Cousins War #1) by Philippa Gregory- 3/ 5

Genre:  Historical Fiction

I love historical fiction, and I love Philippa Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl, among many others) but I did not love this book.  Coupled with the fact that I had a hard time keeping the characters straight – everyone’s names are Elizabeth, Edward, George, or Henry- it had waaayy to little romance and waaayyy too much war commentary.  It would be 3 or so pages describing the positions of the troops and the details of the battle, which was boring for me.  I also wasn’t as in love with the characters of this ‘War of the Roses’ time period as I was in times past.  Lastly, there was a mystical element to this story –  that Elizabeth Woodville (the White Queen)  was a descendant of a Greek water goddess and there were certain events that she controlled by directing the ‘water’.  It was kind of weird.   That said, England, before 1700, and I’m in anyways, so it was worth it for me to read.

Dark Places

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – 5/5

Genre:  Mystery/Thriller

Ah, the coveted 5 out of 5 rating.  I. Loved. This. Book.  More so than this author’s more popular novel, “Gone Girl”.  I loved this so much for 3 main reasons:  1) The main character was super weird but likeable.  That’s my favorite kind!  I love multidimensional, flawed yet familiar main characters.  2) The mystery kept me guessing until the end.  I’ll admit I’m a good guesser and I’m always a touch disappointed when one of my guesses is right.  It wasn’t in this case!  3) the writing was excellent!  Told from multiple characters’ perspectives revealing the plot without confusing the reader.  Flynn is a near-genius in my opinion! Loved it, Loved it, Loved it!!

Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – 4.5/5

Genre:  Mystery/Thriller

See my opinion on this author above.  This book was similar to Dark Places, in that the character was super off the wall which I loved.  It followed the same format as Dark Places which I loved too.  The only realize I had to rate it a bit lower than Dark Places is because I guessed the mystery early on.

 

The Fault in Our Stars (B&N Exclusive Edition)

The Fault in our Stars by John Green – 4/5

Genre:  General Fiction

This book is about a teenage girl dying from lung cancer.  She meets and falls in love with a boy who’s lost a leg to cancer and while they are in remission, they know their time is limited.  They have this normal yet abnormal relationship.  She’s a great character – snarky and sassy.  Her outlook on ‘the time she has left’ is so realistic yet optimistic – it’s hard to explain. The book is not nearly as sad as I thought it would be.    I liked it!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple- 3/5

Genre:  General Fiction

All right, this book is all over the place.  Best seller lists, best 2012 book lists, my book club pick, my other book club’s favorite book of 2012, etc. etc.  This book is about a girl and her family living in Seattle.  They are not normal, all with their own weird off-putting quirks.  The story is told primarily through emails and letters between characters, with some first person accounting by the daughter, Bee.  In my opinion, that style made the story seem more comical than I think was intended.  It just seemed forced.  Like I don’t think people write 10 page long emails complete with re-capped conversations.  Not sure why this was done.  Also, I didn’t get a good sense of any of the characters.  I mean they described them plenty, but since it was all through emails from them or about them from others, it was a bit disjointed and hard for me to get in their heads.  Lastly, it seemed to be all over the place – Microsoft, Galer Street, the house stuff, Antarctica, the cruise, Straight Gate – it was just so much!  On the other hand, the storyline moved very quickly and it wasn’t hard to finish the book.  And it was somewhat entertaining in spite of some of its shortcomings.

Welcome!

29 Aug

This is a blog dedicated to my personal reading journey and to help guide people to the books that will keep them entertained and interested in reading, which I think is important for everyone!

You can find my recommendations by genre or ‘category’ under the Find A Book to Read section.

If you don’t see something that you’d like to read, drop me a note and ask for a special recommendation – I’d love to help if I can.

 

Speed Reviews – Divergent, Insurgent, Gone Girl, The Snowman, Before I Go To Sleep, Broken Harbor

20 Aug

I’ve read some AWESOME books over the past 2 months.  Unfortunately, I have fallen seriously behind in my book reviews and I need to stop the bleeding.  So, in 50 words or less, here’s my take on the last several books I’ve read: 

Divergent (Divergent Series #1)

Divergent (Divergent Series #1) by Veronica Roth – 3/5 stars

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Similar to the Hunger Games in general plot outline (teen girl in post-apocalyptic United States) and intended audience (young adult) but is a bit more grown up and complicated than the Hunger Games.  Main love interest, named Four,  is also not wussy like Peeta in Hunger Games.  And no bs- the author is 23.  TWENTY-THREE. 

Insurgent (Divergent Series #2)

Insurgent (Divergent Series #2)  by Veronica Roth – 2.5/5 stars

Genre:  Young Adult Dystopian

Obviously, this is the follow-up book to Divergent.  While there were some things I liked about the plot progression, I did NOT like this book as well.  I had trouble keeping the characters straight.  It is set up nicely for the 3rd book, due out Fall 203.  Movie rights have been sold!

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – 3.5/5 stars

Genre:  Mystery/Thriller

Here’s another really good book!  While I had some minor issues with the plot and character development, I loved it because I did not see the ending coming AT ALL.  It took me completely by surprise.  Which is hard to do, and I liked the book simply for that reason.  This book is all the rage right now – NYT bestseller for at least 10 weeks, and the movie rights have also been sold to 20th century Fox and Reese Witherspoon’s production company is producing it (and Reese will star in it).   

The Snowman

The Snowman by Jo  Nesbø- 4/5 stars

Genre:  Mystery

This writer is Norwegian and his novels take place in Oslo.  The Snowman is a “Harry Hole Mystery” featuring Detective Harry Hole.  It was exceptionally written, although pretty graphic which I believe all of his novels are.  It kept me guessing though! 

Before I Go to Sleep

Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson – 4/5 stars

Genre: Thriller

 A woman has amnesia and forgets everything about herself after going to sleep.  This might sound weird – I was skeptical but it turned out to be totally believable.  It is fast paced and just wow.  I don’t want to tell you too much more.   It’s so good! 

Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad Series #4)Broken Harbor (Dublin Mystery Series #4) by Tana French  – 3.5/5 stars

Genre: Mystery

I was a bit disappointed with this one, although  it was still good.  I got a little bored at times.  I didn’t like this detective as much as the ones in her other books, but the story was strong.  I love Irish feel to French’s books.

Book Review: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

30 Jun

Middlesex

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

My favorite book of all-time. I just finished reading it for the third, but certainly not last, time.   It is a true gem.

This novel won the Pulitzer prize in 2003 and the author, Jeffrey Eugenides also wrote The Virgin Suicides, which I haven’t read and The Marriage Plot, which I have read (but didn’t like).

Here’s why I think this book rocks:

  1.  The story is completely different. It is, at its core, about a girl named Calliope and how she is ‘different’ than other girls.  And by ‘different’ I mean ‘is a hermaphrodite’.  The book is first person and actually covers her birth and young adult life, the lives of  her grandparents and parents AND her own life as an adult.  The way in which these stories are told separately but  are interwoven and made relevant to Calliope’s own story is really brilliant.  There is ‘bouncing’ between time periods, but in a completely clear and non-irksome way.   I have never read or read about a plot quite like this.   To me the originality is a reflection of the author’s genius.
  2. Much of it is set in a location and a time period I identify with – Detroit, Michigan and its suburbs in the 1970s.  Okay, so I don’t live in Detroit or even Michigan, but I have lived just outside a city in the Rust belt all my life and it is almost identical to Detroit.  I also born until the late 1970s, but close enough to Calliope’s 1960 birth to feel of the same generation.  Think Pony t-shirts and Kangaroo shoes (with a quarter in the zippered pocket).
  3. Calliope has immigrant grandparents, with which I also identify.  I have grandparents who emigrated from Italy, hers from Asia Minor.  While the ethnicity differs, the way the ‘old world’ traditions infiltrate into the subsequent generations is exactly the same as my experience. From the foods to the words and phrases and the traditions around births and deaths and the overall ultra-religious insanity, all of which seeming so odd to an outsider rang so true with me.
  4. Calliope’s point of view is witty and sarcastic, which is my favorite form of humor.  My mom might argue that sarcasm is not funny at all (mine isn’t anyways) but that’s another story.  Wit has intelligence at its core making this story is extremely intelligent too.  Every sentence is rich with irony, call backs (referencing something already covered earlier in the book) and satire.  I’ve read this book 3 times and found something new each time!
  5. Calliope’s weird and so am I.  Note:  we are not weird in the SAME way.  Obviously.  I mean that we are both a little quirky in the way we look at the world.  Some combination of self-consciousness,confidence, and over analysis.

The only negative I can say about this book is that the beginning part, the part when Desdemona and her husband come to America, is a teensy, tiny bit slow.  I beg you to push through it. It is totally worth it. The pace picks up after that part.  Don’t give up on Calliope!

Book Review: Peony in Love by Lisa See

18 Apr

Peony in LoveMy Rating:  2 out of 5 stars.

This book was wayyyyy too much for me.  Most of it is told from the perspective of a dead girl in 17th Century China.  Very transcendental.  I hope I’m even using that word right.

I have read several Lisa See novels, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls, both of which I really enjoyed.  Unfortunately I did not feel the same about this book at all. 

It actually starts out okay.  It’s about a girl named Peony who lives in China in the 17th century, falls in love with a stranger and does not think she can handle having to marry someone else (pre-arranged) and let her one true love slip through her fingers. 

I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I will leave it at that, but I will tell you that it gets OUT of control with the afterlife nonsense. I will tell you that most of the book is told from the perspective of a dead person.  Another thing I found weird was that there is a famous Chinese opera entitled Peony in Love (which really exists) and there are parallels between the character of this opera and Peony in this book.  But it’s not the retelling of the opera.  I hope your head hasn’t exploded yet. 

I still adore Lisa See, especially because I do like Asian historical fiction and she’s great at it.  I would recommend Snow Flower and the Secret Fan any day.  But this one not so much.

Book Review: Darkfever (Fever Series #1) by Karen Moning

29 Jan

Darkfever (Fever Series #1)My Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Total departure for me:  It is hard-core fantasy; parts are NC-17 but suprisingly, I really enjoyed it! 

I’ve heard hard-core readers talk about this series over and over and over (and over) again.  Everyone luvvvssss these books.  So it was just a matter of time before I picked them up myself. 

The writing is adequate, the story unusual (for me) and I loved the main character by the end of this book.  This is an extremely surprising reaction in my opinion because it has 3 things I absolutely NEVER thought I would tolerate in a book:

  1. it is hard-core fantasy.
  2. parts of it are NC-17.
  3. my copy (thankfully on my Nook) had a LOT of cleavage on the cover. 

Yet despite all of this, I really liked this book and will read the rest in the series.  I know, right?  ME!   This story is about a young 20 something from Atlanta whose sister is murdered in Dublin, Ireland while studying there.  She travels to Dublin to come to grips with the tragedy and hopefully find some information to lead to her sister’s killer when out of the blue she discovers she is ‘special’ and otherworldly.  Chaos ensues. 

I never, EVER thought I would like a book like this.  Never say never!