I'm not an outdoorsy person and I have zero interest in hiking. That said, Wild managed to pull me inI honestly have no idea how to rate this book.
I'm not an outdoorsy person and I have zero interest in hiking. That said, Wild managed to pull me in from the very first page. The book is well-written and I found Cheryl's decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail fascinating. I really enjoyed the parts that were about her experience of hiking the trail … but the flashbacks to her childhood, marriage and mother's death? Meh. She came across as incredibly immature and self-absorbed, and I just couldn't get behind her.
Bottom line? I liked Wild , but I didn't bother finishing it. I'll catch the end of the story when I see the movie version in theatres later this month....more
3.5 stars I actually really enjoyed this book! It's cute, it's wholesome, it has a great moral to the story. The fifteen-year-old me would have been al3.5 stars I actually really enjoyed this book! It's cute, it's wholesome, it has a great moral to the story. The fifteen-year-old me would have been all over this back in the day. Well done, Zoe ... (and ghost writer) .. ...more
I feel bad giving this book such a low rating … I wish I could rate it higher because the writing was lovely and there was a lot about the st2.5 stars
I feel bad giving this book such a low rating … I wish I could rate it higher because the writing was lovely and there was a lot about the story that I liked. Unfortunately, I started to lose interest in the characters about halfway through and by the end of the book I was definitely ready to move on other things on my bookshelf. I think there was just a little too much medical jargon and one too many plot twists for my liking. Definitely an interesting read, though, with some fascinating tidbits about genetics. ...more
Sarah Addison Allen is one of my favorite authors. Her books are always sweet and whimsical … I consider them my "go-to" books when I'm in need of a lSarah Addison Allen is one of my favorite authors. Her books are always sweet and whimsical … I consider them my "go-to" books when I'm in need of a light, romantic read. That said, of all the Sarah Addison Allen books I've read so far Lost Lake is probably my least favorite. Maybe I just read it at the wrong time of year (this is definitely a summer story and I read it mid-October) but I wasn't a big fan. The plot didn't grab me the way her other books did and I couldn't connect with any of the characters. I thought the story progressed much too slowly and I found several chapters to be downright boring. I was also disappointed that the the magic elements in Lost Lake didn't feel as organic and effortless as they usually do in Sarah's writings.
There are certainly some redeeming qualities to Lost Lake. It's an easy read; "fluffy" and wholesome. I liked how she tackled the themes of moving on and picking yourself up when you stumble. I loved Eby's back story and the chapters that were about her life in Europe with George. I wish there had been a lot more of that.
Overall - not my favorite book by Sarah Addison Allen. I'd recommend Garden Spells or The Sugar Queen over this one any day. ...more
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry is a charming read about an eccentric bookstore owner and the patrons who frequent his independent shop on a sma3.5 stars
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry is a charming read about an eccentric bookstore owner and the patrons who frequent his independent shop on a small island. I went in knowing very little about the plot (only that it had something to do with a bookstore) and was pleasantly surprised by the story that unfolded. I loved all the nerdy, literary references and felt many of the books discussed became characters in their own right. Portions of the plot did feel a little rushed - the author could easily have taken 400+ pages to elaborate on everything and really dig into the story - but, overall, it was a well paced, quick and enjoyable read.
Random side note: I don't know why, but I was *so* sure this book was set in Scotland. The dialogue and expressions used seemed very Scottish to me and I was kind of disappointed when the author referenced a Bank of America and I realized it was set in the US. ...more
I picked it up because the storyline appealed to me - a pregnant college student returns home to her estranged family inThis book was a huge let-down.
I picked it up because the storyline appealed to me - a pregnant college student returns home to her estranged family in the Bronx and slowly begins to discover that they are all witches (the good kind). Chick lit meets magic realism … a perfect blend, right? Not this time. I was totally over this story about fifty pages in and the only reason I kept reading was because I was stuck on an airplane on a 5 hr flight and the airline charged $6 to watch movies. In retrospect, I should have just paid the $6, tossed the book aside and enjoyed myself. Sigh.
My main issue with this book is that everything - EVERYTHING - is underdeveloped. The plot is interesting and there are some great twists, but the author skims through things too quickly with little or no elaboration. Because the story doesn't unfold at a natural pace, everything .. from Elly and Anthony's relationship to Itsy's big secret to the mystery surrounding Liz and the crying baby .. felt corny, phony and rushed. I also have some major qualms about the way abusive relationships are portrayed in the book and the fact that the solution offered was to rush from the arms of an abuser into the arms of a Prince Charming with absolutely no time in between for self-healing. Ridiculous.
Bottom line - if you're looking for a light, romantic read with a dash of magic try one of Sarah Addison Allen's books instead.
Last month I challenged myself to read a book a week for a year. A few weeks into my challenge, I stumbled across Tolstoy and the Purple Chair - theLast month I challenged myself to read a book a week for a year. A few weeks into my challenge, I stumbled across Tolstoy and the Purple Chair - the memoir of Nina Sankovitch, a woman who decided to read a book a day for a year. I thought my challenge was pretty ambitious, but 365 books in 365 days with no breaks for holidays or weekends?! Needless to say, I knew this was one book I just *had* to read.
Nina describes herself as a voracious reader who has always found solace in literature. When her older sister dies, Nina spends the next three years in a distracted fog of busyness … rushing from one event to the next, trying to maintain a strong front for her grieving family. In the book's second chapter she describes the guilt and burden she felt during those years … "I was scared of living a life not worth the living. Why did I deserve to live when my sister had died? I was responsible now for two lives, my sister's and my own, and, damn, I'd better live well." While most of us would attack the challenge of living well by creating a lengthy, exotic bucket list and heading off on a whirlwind of an adventure, Nina takes a radically different approach. She ends up turning to books, committing herself to a quiet year of reading and contemplation.
There are three key themes in Tolstoy and the Purple Chair … books (obviously), the personal story of the Sankovitch family and the overwhelming grief that comes with losing someone you love dearly. With her lyrical prose and thoughtful contemplation, I think Nina captures each of themes beautifully. As someone who lost her father unexpectedly, I was deeply moved by Nina's experience of losing her sister. The quote mentioned above, as well as several other lines throughout the book, do a wonderful job of articulating the emotions that come when a loved one passes away and you are left behind in the land of the living. I enjoyed reading about the Sankovitch family, especially the sections where Nina shared stories of her father's life as a young man in war-torn Belarus. I really enjoyed reading through Nina's thoughts on the various book she read that year, but I was disappointed with all the spoilers. It's possible to explain how a book affected you without giving away the entire plot and the ending, and I wish Nina had done that. There is a complete list of books mentioned on page 225; if spoilers bother you, I'd recommend taking a look at that list before you start reading.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair isn't for everyone. A quick scan through other reviews posted here show that readers seem to love it or hate it, there aren't many who sit somewhere in-between. I loved it, though I did like The End Of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe a little more. Both books, in my opinion, are worth the read. ...more
I love Sarah Addison Allen's books! Are they the best novels on the face of the planet? No. Thought-provoking literature? Not really. They're just sweI love Sarah Addison Allen's books! Are they the best novels on the face of the planet? No. Thought-provoking literature? Not really. They're just sweet and whimsical, with loveable characters and unique plots. Quick reads that are highly entertaining ... what more could you ask for?!
First Frost is the long-awaited sequel to Garden Spells. Claire and Sydney, the Waverley sisters readers fell in love with in Garden Spells, are back and play prominent roles in First Frost ... though most of the story centers around Sydney's teenage daughter, Bay. You don't have to read Garden Spells in order to understand and follow along in First Frost, but I think you'll get more out of the story if you do.
I liked First Frost. There were portions of the plot that seemed a little inappropriate given the context of the story but, overall, it was an enjoyable read. One of my few complaints with Sarah's books is that they tend to be extremely predictable but First Frost was not. If GoodReads allowed half stars I'd rate this read a 3.5 but, because it's got that Sarah Addison Allen magical touch to it, I'll round my rating up to 4 stars. ...more
3.5 stars for The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I have special interest in stories set during3.5 stars for The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I have special interest in stories set during WWII. Needless to say, I've read my fair share of Holocaust stories but The Paris Architect offers a unique perspective on the events most of us are so familiar with. The book chronicles the life of Lucien Bernard, an up-and-coming architect who ends up designing buildings for the Nazis while simultaneously creating ingenious hiding places for Jews. Lucien is not a victim, nor is he a perpetrator … he's just an everyday Frenchman trying to make sense of a world torn apart by war and hatred. I thought the author did a good job of capturing Lucien's humanness; at times he was heroic and brave, other times he was downright selfish. Unfortunately, most of the other characters felt underdeveloped and one dimensional. The author tries to tie all the characters together in a "six degrees of separation" kind of way but it was poorly done and the connections were disjointed and rushed.
Is this the best WWII book I've ever read? No. The writing is very simplistic and some of the wording was so awkward I actually checked to see if I was reading a translation. There's also a huge emphasis on architectural design and each hiding place was described in great detail - which is great if you're into architecture but I'm not so I wound up skimming those paragraphs. That said, the story is well paced and the suspense builds from beginning to end. The Paris Architect is a real page turner and worth a read if you're a fan of historical fiction.
This is the second book I've read by Rainbow Rowell and I think it's safe to say I have a love/hate relationship with her stories. I think she does aThis is the second book I've read by Rainbow Rowell and I think it's safe to say I have a love/hate relationship with her stories. I think she does a fabulous job of digging into some deep, realistic themes with her writing (marital woes in Landline and abuse/dysfunctional families in Eleanor & Park) … but I also think she tries to cram too much into her novels, thus distracting readers - or, at least, distracting me - from the real substance of the story.
Eleanor & Park has been heralded as a quintessential teenage romance; a perfect illustration of first love … but there are so many other themes at play which, in my humble opinion, totally trump the supposed love story between two fifteen year-olds. There's child abuse, domestic abuse, neglect, bullying, alcoholism, dysfunctional families, poverty, conflict between teens and parents. There were parts of this novel that were so raw and authentic and heart-wrenching but I felt they were never given the opportunity to reach their full potential. In my review of Landline I wrote that I wished Rainbow Rowell had focused more on illustrating marriage and less on the quirky, magical phone … in Eleanor & Park, I wish she had focused more on the heavy themes mentioned above and less on the "he's so cute, I want him to kiss me again!" melodrama.
The book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger and Rainbow Rowell said in an interview that she has plans for these characters, so I'm guessing a sequel is in the works. I won't be reading it … unless it's from the adults' perspective. That would be neat. ...more
I'm probably the only person on the planet who isn't gushing over this read. Landline came highly *highly*2.5 stars for Rainbow Rowell's "Landline"
I'm probably the only person on the planet who isn't gushing over this read. Landline came highly *highly* recommended by several people so I had some big expectations for this book. Unfortunately, it left me feeling disappointed for several reasons.
Rainbow Rowell is a phenomenal storyteller, no doubt about that. She's funny, clever and has a very "readable" writing style … I breezed through this book, finishing it in less than 24 hrs. The plot is unique - there's a marriage in trouble (or, at least, a marriage that seems to be in trouble) and a mysterious phone that allows Georgie, the wife, to call into the past and speak with her husband, Neal. Time travel without the travel. Interesting. I'm usually a big fan of authors incorporating magical elements into an otherwise normal, realistic plot … hence, magic realism is one of my favorite genres. That said, I don't think it worked well in the context of this book.
For starters, it didn't actually add anything to the story. The whole magical, time-traveling phone bit was just a gimmick; the real story here is about a husband and a wife and the life they live together. At least, that's the part of the story that resonated most with me. I think the book could have been much more powerful if Rainbow Rowell had focused in on that rather than going out of her way to try and make this an original, quirky read. I also didn't like that readers never got to hear Neal's perspective. Minor spoiler … (view spoiler)[ About halfway through the book there's a brief scene where Neal wonders if he's talking to Georgie from the future but that's all we really get as far as Neal goes. In that same scene he tells himself that he can't possibly be talking to Georgie from the future because she doesn't mention their kids or 9/11 …. well, how would Neal of the past know that they have kids or that 9/11 was going to happen? Was the magic phone really just an illusion and Georgie thought she was talking to Neal of the past and Neal thought he was talking to Georgie from the future? Argh! (hide spoiler)] There was so much potential here for a really unique plot twist and Rainbow Rowell didn't grab it.
Then there were the characters. I get that Rainbow Rowell wanted to deliver flawed, "real" characters but I just didn't like 'em. I thought Georgie was incredibly selfish and Neal had some kind of a chip on his shoulder that I couldn't figure out. I wanted to punch Seth in the face (not really, but sort of). I just didn't connect with the main characters and that made it hard for me to become emotionally invested in their love story. Other things I didn't like … the curse words on every other page (soooo not necessary) and the author's use of parentheses. Sigh.
It's not all bad news though, I promise. Like I said earlier, I do believe Rainbow Rowell is a truly talented storyteller. I do plan to read more of her books and I'm looking forward to them. I do think Landline was a cute, *mostly* enjoyable read and I'd probably recommend it to someone looking for a light read. I just didn't think it's worth all the hype and hoopla that it's been getting on blogs and YouTube. The end :) ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more