Friday, October 31, 2014

The Rosie Effect - Graeme Simison

Title: The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2)
Author: Graeme Simison
Pages: 414
Published: 2014
Challenges: I Love Libraries
Genre: Fiction
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source: Library

Description: Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. If you were swept away by Graeme Simsion’s international smash hit The Rosie Project, you will love The Rosie Effect.

The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge.

Rosie is pregnant.

Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.

As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia back together, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him most. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: While I really enjoyed The Rosie Project earlier this year, I was disappointed with this book.  Maybe it was due to the expectations that grew out of The Rosie Project, but I wasn't blown away with the book.

I thought that Rosie was unreasonable at times, in that she was sometimes asking too much of Don and didn't give him time to process her pregnancy.

I also felt that while it did have a plot, it did seem to be all over the place and there really wasn't a coherent storyline that one could really follow.

Bottom line:  I would read The Rosie Project before reading this book and if you are a fan of contemporary romance books that are slightly quirky, you probably will enjoy this read.  Recommended.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2014: 25,086

Bridge to Haven - Francine Rivers

Title: Bridge to Haven
Author: Francine Rivers
Pages: 500
Published: 2014
Challenges: Chunkster, Historical Fiction, I Love Libraries
Genre: Christian Fiction
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source: Library

Description: To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she s paid to finally feel like she s somebody. To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua Abra s closest friend watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what s expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: While I am Christian, I find that the vast majority of Christian that is on the market is very formulaic and while this book does probably a certain element of that formulaic model, the book had a quality to the writing that drew me into the story.  I felt that the characters were believable and real, as though they really could have existed and I also liked how Josh and Abra were able to build the foundation of their relationship through establishing a friendship before starting a romantic relationship.

Bottom line: While for the most part I really enjoyed the book, I did feel that the book started out a little slower than I expected.  Overall, it was a pretty decent story that will please most fans of Christian fiction.  Highly Recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2014: 24,672

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

Title: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket #1)
Author: Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (illustrator)
Pages: 155
Published: 2007 (first published 1964)
Challenges: Classics Club, I Love Library
Genre: Children's, Classics, Fantasy
Edition: Paperback
Source: Library

Description: Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory is opening at last!

But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

Thoughts: I got this book because I hadn't read this book for quite sometime and also due to the controversial cover that was released in early August, 2014.

Personally, I thought that the book was okay, but what I liked about the book is that the messages that Roald Dahl put into the book are very timely and relevant even today's culture.

The message that spoke the most clearly to me was about Mike TeaVee and his addiction to TV, as he seem to find his creativity from something that doesn't allow for too much creativity.  The book is definitely quirky, but it is well-written and has a strong message to say for its readers.

Bottom line: While the book didn't move me as an adult, I can definitely see where children between Grades 3 and 5 can get something more out of the book; well, I suppose one hope that they do.  Highly Recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2014: 24,172  

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson

Title: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Pages (File Size): 224 (297 KB)
Published: 2013 (first published 1886)
Challenges: Classics, E-Book, R.I.P. IX
Genre: Classics, Gothic
Edition: E-book
Source: Personal

Description: When lawyer Gabriel John Utterson witnesses the odd behavior of a man named Edward Hyde, who uses cheques signed by Utterson’s friend Dr. Henry Jekyll, he decides to investigate the strange and violent man. Utterson soon discovers the horrible and incredible truth in the form of a letter written by Dr. Jekyll and left near the body of the late Mr. Hyde. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I got this book due to the fact that I had just read Under the Wide and Starry Sky.  While I enjoyed the book, I somehow lost the subtleties of the book due to the fact that I lost the story somewhere during between starting the book and getting to the final chapter.

Bottom line: While it was interesting to read Dr. Jekyll's rationalizations, I did find the book to be dry and a little too straightforward and didn't really find anything memorable about the book.  This book would be perfect for those that would like a spine-tingling tale that doesn't take very long.  Recommended.

Rating: 2.75/5

Pages for 2014: 24,017

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

Title: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Pages: 258
Published: 2014
Challenges: I Love Libraries
Genre: Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Hanging over the porch of the tiny New England bookstore called Island Books is a faded sign with the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A.J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

 A.J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming him or for a determined sales rep named Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light. The wisdom of all those books again become the lifeblood of A.J.’s world and everything twists into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I heard a lot of buzz about this book and based on what I heard, I knew that I wanted to read this book and I wasn't disappointed at all.

I think my primary enjoyment of the book had not to do with the fact that the world that Ms. Zevin created was the world of books, but rather the way that she drew me into A. J.'s world and made me feel like I was a part of that world.  I felt as though I live on the small island in the story and honestly, if I had a bookstore like that A. J. ran in my hometown, I probably would frequent the store more than an online store to buy my books.

I also liked the numerous bookish references that the author employed within the book and that it was a fairly short read.

Bottom line:  Really enjoyed how the author used language to draw the reader into the book.  I also felt that the book could have been a little longer, as I felt that the ending was a little rushed.  I would recommend the book to those that enjoy books that talk about or reference books or take place in quirky locations.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2014: 23,793

Thursday, October 30, 2014

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

Title: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Pages: 531
Published: 2014
Challenges: Chunkster, Historical Fiction, I Love Libraries
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I really liked this book, particularly how the author played off the two main character, Werner and Maire Laure.  I came to care about each of them and saw them as individuals who only wanted to survive and I also liked how the author used time shifts within the book: pre-war, during the war, post-war and present day.

Bottom line: Even though it is a long book, it reads like a novel that is a hundred pages less because the short parts within the book and also it allows the reader to become involved with the characters.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2014: 23,535

The Children Act - Ian McEwan

Title: The Children Act
Author: Ian McEwan
Pages: 240
Published: 2014
Challenges: I Love Libraries
Genre: Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts.
 
But Fiona's professional success belies domestic strife. Her husband, Jack, asks her to consider an open marriage and, after an argument, moves out of their house. His departure leaves her adrift, wondering whether it was not love she had lost so much as a modern form of respectability; whether it was not contempt and ostracism she really fears. She decides to throw herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses. But Jack doesn't leave her thoughts, and the pressure to resolve the case--as well as her crumbling marriage--tests Fiona in ways that will keep readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: Through a number of sources I heard about this book, but I think it was Ann Kingman's excitement on Books on the Nightstand that really impressed upon me that I should read this book.  And I wasn't disappointed.

While the book started a bit slow for me, there was enough of a hook to keep me wanting to read the book; it also didn't hurt that the language used in the book was such that it drew me into the tone of the book quickly.  Even though I didn't enjoy the book from the start, it crept on me slowly so that by the end I didn't want the book to end; it sort of reminded me the course of a piano piece, which starts slowly but intensifies, as one goes through the piece.

I also liked how the writing is almost seamless, as it weaves Fiona's professional and personal life in a fluid and engaging way that it becomes like the piano pieces that she plays and also its a quiet and introspective novel that really made an impression on me.

Bottom line: While the book started off slow for me, the book made a deep impression on me.  I really liked the use of words and was enthralled with how McEwan was able to enraptured me and other readers with this amazing novel.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2014: 23,004

Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë

Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Brontë
Pages (File Size): 450 (680 KB)
Published: 2012 (first published 1847)
Challenges: Chunkster, E-book, R.I.P IX
Genre: Classic, Gothic
Edition: E-book
Source: Personal

Description: Wuthering Heights is the tale of two families both joined and riven by love and hate. Cathy is a beautiful and wilful young woman torn between her soft-hearted husband and Heathcliff, the passionate and resentful man who has loved her since childhood. The power of their bond creates a maelstrom of cruelty and violence which will leave one of them dead and cast a shadow over the lives of their children. (via ChaptersIndigo)

Thoughts: This was a second re-read for me and probably because I was frantically trying to get the book completed prior to a book club meeting, I was unable to enjoy the book as much as I did the first time I re-read the book.

As much as Heathcliff is supposedly this romantic hero of sorts, I found him to be manipulative and selfish, as I did with the characters of that generation and as a result I had a hard time having any sort of sympathy for them, unlike their offspring, which I had a lit more sympathy for; the parents seemed to play a game of one-ups-manship, almost trying to see how well they could out-manipulate each other.

Bottom line:  This book is one of the best examples of Victorian gothic literature and there is a reason that it is a classic and even though this read of the book didn't give me a great impression of some of the characters this time around, you can see why not only this book has stood the test of time, but also why Emily Brontë would have probably been a very prolific writer in this particular genre, had she lived longer.   I would recommend this book not only to fans of classics, but also those that enjoy reading gothic literature.  Recommended to Highly recommended.

Rating: 3.75/5

Pages for 2014: 22,764

The Story Hour - Thirty Unrigar

Title: The Story Hour
Author: Thirty Umrigar
Pages: 336
Published: 2014
Challenges: I Love Libraries
Genre: Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, Lakshmi is desperately lonely and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store.

Moved by her plight, Maggie treats Lakshmi in her home office for free, quickly realizing that the despondent woman doesn't need a shrink; she needs a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient have become close friends.

But while their relationship is deeply affectionate, it is also warped by conflicting expectations. When Maggie and Lakshmi open up and share long-buried secrets, the revelations will jeopardize their close bond, shake their faith in each other, and force them to confront painful choices. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts:  I picked up this book due to hearing about it through a number of book blogs talking about the book during the last few weeks of August and being intrigued with the premise of the book, I placed a hold on the book from my local library.

For the most part, I liked the structure of going back and forth between Maggie and Lakshmi and how their friendship developed.  But I did find that the dialect of Lakshmi to be distracting at times, as I wished that the author would have done her in third person as well, but I can understand the need to show some difference between the two main characters and that it helped to show the distinction between the two.  But having both characters would have made getting through the Lakshmi chapters a little easier.

While I liked the story in general, I felt that I could not identify with the characters.  I realize that they were meant not to be perfect, but I did wish that what they did they hadn't done.  I suppose if that had happened, one wouldn't have had a story.

Bottom line: The book seemed to conclude on a satisfying and fitting end.  And would probably recommend this to readers that wish to diversify their reading and also to bookclubs that have an interest in women's fiction.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.25/5

Pages for 2014: 22,314

The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd

Title: The Invention of Wings
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Pages (File Size): 383 (1.1 MB)
Published: 2014
Challenges: E-book, Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edition: E-book
Source: Personal

Description: Hetty "Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements. (via Goodreads)


Thoughts: Prior to reading, I had heard of Sarah Grimke through a documentary series that aired on PBS last fall about the story the African-American experience and when a group that I follow on Goodreads decided to read the book, I thought that it would be a good time to read the book.  I knew that the story had been fictionalized and did appreciate that the author addressed the fact that there were things that had been changed to suit the story better.

I tended to enjoy Sarah's story more than that of Handful's, even though there were times that I was able to get engrossed with Handful's story at times.  I also felt that the first third of the book was easier to get through than the last 2/3 of the book, which sometimes felt like a bit of a slog at times.

Bottom line: While I found the book to be a bit of a struggle to get through, I did find the story to be interesting and it peaked my interest a little more in Sarah Grimke and would recommend the book to those that have an interest in literature about the abolishment movement and those involved with the movement.  Recommended.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2014: 21,978

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Guns of August - Barbara W. Tuchman

Title: The Guns of August
Author: Barbara W. Tuchman
Pages (File Size): 566 (8.7 MB)
Published: 2009 (first published 1962)
Challenges: Chunkster, E-book, I Love Libraries, Non-Fiction, War Through the Generations
Genre: Non-Fiction
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize–winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step that led to the inevitable clash. And inevitable it was, with all sides plotting their war for a generation. (via ChaptersIndigo)

Thoughts: If there was anything that I did like about this book it was the detail that the author included in the book.  I particularly like the chapters that the author devoted on the four main combatants (Britain, France, Germany and Russia) at the start of the First World War in August, 1914 (the United States did not enter until 1917) and the social and political climate leading up to the start of this conflict.

What I did not like was the fact that the author spent way too much time describing things in such detail that I would sometimes literally fall asleep while trying to read the book.  And yet, there were times that I was engaged with the book and really enjoyed those details, so it was a catch-22 scenario.

Bottom line: If you are interested in reading about wars and battles, you probably would enjoy this read.  Recommended.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2014: 21,595

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty

Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty
Pages (File Size): 416 (983.7 KB)
Published: 2014
Challenges: E-book, I Love Libraries
Genre: Fiction
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
 
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.  
But who did what?
 
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
 
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
 
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all. (via ChaptersIndigo)

Thoughts:  I started reading this book not really sure what the book was about or how it would play out, even though I had a vague idea as to what it was about due to a number of reviews I had read.  And due to the good reviews that I read, the book intrigued me and downloaded a copy of the book from my library.

And while it does pull the reader with trying to figure out who did it, I found I wasn't exactly wowed with the book and that couldn't keep track of who was who and the numerous characters that appeared throughout the book.  As a result, I felt as though I lost track of the story.  I also felt that the book could have been a bit shorter than it was, even though the book is readable.

Bottom line: If you are a fan of contemporary women's fiction, you will probably enjoy this one.  Recommended, but only to a specific group.

Rating: 2.75/5

Pages for 2014: 21,029

The Martian - Andy Weir

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Pages (File Size): 384 (5.9 MB)
Published: 2014
Challenges: E-book, I Love Libraries
Genre: Science Fiction
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 

Now, he''s sure he''ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. 

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. 

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? (via ChaptersIndigo)

Description: It was a well-constructed novel, going between that of the astronaut, Mark Watney, and those on Earth, who were trying to get him back.  While reading the book, I ended up being more engaged with Mark's story than what was going on at NASA for the simple reason that I found the NASA stuff to be a bit on the dry side and was curious as to how one could survive on Mars, if one was just left there.

On the other hand, I did not like how the story was left hanging and would have liked to see how Mark's life was like after he got back.  Did he become famous and cash in on that fame?  Or did he try to shun the fame and try to resume a more normal life?

Bottom line: It was an interesting read and also quite entertaining.  I would probably recommend the book to most readers, even though the book is within a very specific genre.  Recommended to Highly recommended.

Rating: 3.75/5

Pages for 2014: 20,613

Under the Wide and Starry Sky - Nancy Horan

Title: Under the Wide and Starry Sky
Author: Nancy Horan
Pages (File Size): 496 (3.15 KB)
Published: 2014 (first published 2013)
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, E-Book, Historical Fiction, Chunkster, I Love Libraries
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: At the age of thirty-five, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne has left her philandering husband in San Francisco to set sail for Belgium—with her three children and nanny in tow—to study art. It is a chance for this adventurous woman to start over, to make a better life for all of them, and to pursue her own desires.  Not long after her arrival, however, tragedy strikes, and Fanny and her children repair to a quiet artists’ colony in France where she can recuperate. Emerging from a deep sorrow, she meets a lively Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson, ten years her junior, who falls instantly in love with the earthy, independent, and opinionated “belle Americaine.”
            
Fanny does not immediately take to the slender young lawyer who longs to devote his life to writing—and who would eventually pen such classics as Treasure Islandand The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In time, though, she succumbs to Stevenson’s charms, and the two begin a fierce love affair—marked by intense joy and harrowing darkness—that spans the decades and the globe. The shared life of these two strong-willed individuals unfolds into an adventure as impassioned and unpredictable as any of Stevenson’s own unforgettable tales. (via ChaptersIndigo)

Thoughts: I really liked the concept and the title of the book.  As well, I had also heard a lot about this book from fellow bloggers that I thought I would give the book a try.  I can honestly say that prior to the reading the book that I had never had heard of Fanny and never knew that Robert Louis Stevenson (referred to as RLS after this) was married prior to this; all I knew was of RLS wrote several well-known book, along with a book of children's verse.

While the subject matter was fascinating, I felt that the book at times was drawn out and that the author got bogged down in some of the details of the story and didn't allow the story to grow a little more organically; it just seemed to drag on too much for my tastes.

Bottom line: If you enjoy fictionalized books about the lives of famous people and/or their family members, you probably will enjoy this one.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.25/5

Pages for 2014: 20,229

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson

Title: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Author: Jonas Jonasson
Pages (File Size): 384 (2.7 MB)
Published: 2012 (first published 2009)
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, E-Book, I Love Libraries
Genre: Fiction
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’ s still in good health, and one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’ t interested (and he’ d like a bit more control over his alcohol consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey.

It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, he has actually played a key role in them. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: It was an okay book.  I picked up the book because I had heard a lot about the book and thought that I might like it.  While I did enjoy the book at times, I found that it was a slog from time to time and found myself essentially skimming over what I was reading from time to time.  Maybe it was just me, but I found the book to be a bit overhyped and honestly did not see what the fuss was about.

Bottom line: If you are looking for something to read while you are on vacation or on a weekend away, this book is perfect, as it is the sort of book that can probably be read in a few days.  Recommended.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2014: 19,733

What's On Your Nightstand? (Oct. 28)

It has been about 6 months since I last participated in on of these, so some of the lists will be long.

Here are the books that I have read and reviewed since my last post:

• Labor Day by Joyce Maynard (Apr. 2014)
• The Reason that I Jump by Naoki Higashida; translated by K.A. Yoshida and David Mitchell (Apr. 2014)
• Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson (Apr. 2014)
• The Interestings  by Meg Wolitzer (Apr. 2014)
• Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup (Apr. 2014)
• Shopping, Seduction, & Mr. Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead (Apr. 2014)
• The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle (Apr. 2014)
• The Orenda  by Joseph Boyden (July 2014)
• Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal (July 2014)
• HHhH by Laurent Binet (July 2014)
• Boxers by Gene Luen Yang (July 2014)
• Saints by Gene Luen Yang (July 2014)
• The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly  by Sun-mi Hwang (Aug. 2014)
• The Ocean at the End of the Lane  by Neil Gaiman (Aug. 2014)
• The Mysteries of Udolpho  by Ann Radcliffe (Aug. 2014)
• The Pursuit of Mary Bennet  by Pamela Mingle (Aug. 2014)
• Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (Aug. 2014)
• The Bear  by Claire Cameron (Aug. 2014)
• A Tale of Two Cities  by Charles Dickens (Aug. 2014)
• The Fault in Our Stars  by John Green (Aug. 2014)
• While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell (Aug. 2014)
• A Clash of Kings  by George R.R. Martin (Aug. 2014)
• The Enchanted  by Rene Denfeld (Aug. 2014)
• Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Aug. 2014)
• The Perks of Being a Wallflower  by Stephan Chbosky (Aug. 2014)
• The Remains of the Day  by Kazuo Ishiguro (Aug. 2014)
• His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal (Aug. 2014)
• The Rosie Project  by Graeme Simison (Aug. 2014)
• Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch (Aug. 2014)
• The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Aug. 2014)
• The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (Aug. 2014)
• Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley (Aug. 2014)
• Levels of Life by Julian Barnes (Aug. 2014)
• Road Ends by Mary Lawson (Aug. 2014)
• The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Aug. 2014)
• Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr. (Sept. 2014)
• We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Sept. 2014)
• The Circle by Dave Eggars (Sept. 2014)
• Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (Oct. 2014)
• The Cuckoo's Calling by Richard Galbraith (Oct. 2014)
• The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon (Oct. 2014)
• Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood (Oct. 2014)

Here are the books that I will be working on this coming month:
• A Discovery of Witches
• A Sudden Light
• Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
• Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
• Howard's End
• The Woman in White
• Burial Rights
• Five Days at Memorial
• Lawrence in Arabia

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mrs. Hemingway - Naomi Wood

Title: Mrs. Hemingway
Author: Naomi Wood
Pages: 336
Published: 2014
Challenges Blogger Summer Reading, Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source: Personal

Description: [T]ells the story of how it was to love, and be loved by, the most famous and dashing writer of his generation. Hadley, Pauline, Martha and Mary: each Mrs. Hemingway thought their love would last forever; each one was wrong.

Told in four parts and based on real love letters and telegrams, Mrs. Hemingway reveals the explosive love triangles that wrecked each of Hemingway's marriages. Spanning 1920s bohemian Paris through 1960s Cold War America, populated with members of the fabled "Lost Generation," Mrs. Hemingway is a riveting tale of passion, love, and heartbreak. (via Goodreads)


Thoughts: I first heard about the book through You Wrote the Book, a podcast hosted by The Reader's Simon Savage, when he interviewed Naomi Wood about this book and another novel she has written, and I was interested in the book, especially since I had really enjoyed reading The Paris Wife the previous summer.

I wasn't at all disappointed.  I liked how Ms. Wood structured the book, using the beginning and ending of each of Hemingway's four marriages as the areas that were primarily focused on.  I also liked that while the book was fairly easy to read, it also had a depth to the narration, as though the author cared about each of the four women that she wrote about as individuals.  The prose was made to seem effortless and moved with a consistent cadence that made it easy to pick up and read a section, even after not reading it for a few days.

There were some things that made it difficult to read at times, but they were minor and few and were mostly due to me not able to focus on the story at hand.

Bottom line:  While it appears to be a light read, there is a depth to the book and I look forward to whatever Ms. Wood writes in the future.  If you enjoyed The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, you will enjoy this expansion of that story.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.75/5

Pages for 2014: 19,349

If you have read this book, what did you think of it?
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