I have to be honest, if this wasn't a book club book, I wouldn't have finished it. Well, I probably wouldn't have started it at all. :) It's not anywh...moreI have to be honest, if this wasn't a book club book, I wouldn't have finished it. Well, I probably wouldn't have started it at all. :) It's not anywhere near my norm for book choices, but that's a huge reason I love book club; the ladies always make me read things outside my comfort zone.
As far as Firefly Lane goes, it felt predictable and cliche. It wasn't a book where I walk away from it and say that I disliked "this" and couldn't stand "that". There was simply nothing that made me care about the characters or what was happening in their life (with the exception of the very end - it's probably the only reason for two stars rather than one). Quite the opposite, actually. I couldn't stand the characters for 90% of the book. I wanted more depth and less telling from the author. There was a lot I was supposed to take on faith and I found myself having to fill in a lot of gaps in the characters' personalities and choices.
The two main characters were pigeonholed into certain stereotypes and never left. The man they wavered between and was a big point of contention for at least one of them showed little depth and wasn't really someone worth all the hoopla surrounding him.
It wasn't a horrendous book, it just lacked a lot of depth. Which was surprising for as thick as the book was. :) I found myself bored more times than not.
Even though I didn't like the book, it did lead to some great discussions at book club. (less)
An interesting, though grim story. Perhaps one I should have tried to listen to on audiobook since I had a very difficult time keeping up with the pro...moreAn interesting, though grim story. Perhaps one I should have tried to listen to on audiobook since I had a very difficult time keeping up with the prose. It felt disjointed and cumbersome a lot of the time and I had a hard time following. This was the only obstacle for me, but it was a big one since it kept me from really diving into the story and connecting with the main character.(less)
I have to admit, this book isn't one that I would have picked up independent of book club. However, I'm glad, as I always am, that it was chosen for m...moreI have to admit, this book isn't one that I would have picked up independent of book club. However, I'm glad, as I always am, that it was chosen for me.
Yes, My Darling Daughter started off slow...okay, it was slow until about 3/4 of the way through. However, once things got started, I really enjoyed the book. It has paranormal, mystery, murder, suspense, and enough plot twists to keep me guessing until near the end.
If you're the kind of reader who needs loose ends tied up and can't take things at face value (ie: you want the author to tell you why his/her characters did something), this book may not be for you. Probably not one I'll end up buying for my bookshelf, but one that I enjoyed reading this once.
Me: :: throws copy of Veronica Roth's Divergent through interwebs and out of your computer screen, narrowly missing your head:: "OMG, OMG, OMG! You ha...moreMe: :: throws copy of Veronica Roth's Divergent through interwebs and out of your computer screen, narrowly missing your head:: "OMG, OMG, OMG! You have to read this; it has enraptured me in a way a book NEVER has!"
You: "Oh, Erin, you silly girl. You say that all the time. Need I remind you: Twilight, Vampire Academy, Matched, If I Stay, Awaken, Hunger Games"
Me: "No really, I was audibly gasping at this book, shaking my poor, abused NOOK at many points out of shock and outrage at what was going on, crying for multiple chapters, continuously gasping "Four" throughout the book in many variations of awe, swooning, fear, contentment, and panicked denial (don't worry, you'll understand when you read the book) and wanting to fight the main character, Tris, for her 'boyfriend' and her seriously awesome tattoos"
You: "Great, another Twilight-with-a-twist novel. Erin, how many times do I have to tell you, I don't do vampires."
Me: "I swear, not a single vampire, werewolf, or other sci-fi element! It's a dystopian novel. :) "
You: "Great, another Hunger Games-with-a-twist novel. Erin, how many times do I have to tell you, I don't do dystopian with an unlikely heroine, dreamy but predictably-unrealistically lovey/dovey boys that make up the rest of the love triangle, and oh the hardship/woe is me setting any more. It's so overdone."
Me: "Can I have my book back?"
You: "The one you threw at me though the computer?"
Me: "I want to throw it at you again and make sure I hit you in the head this time."
You: ::rolls eyes::
Me: "No seriously... just listen: NO love triangle, NO overly sappy boys (the guy, Four... yes Four, is tough, the furthest thing from sappy you can imagine, and has pushed Adam down to #2- now that's a BIG deal!), and Tris is definitely NOT a woe-is-me kind of gal. Divergence is the story of a girl named Tris and her journey through growing up in a society that is fractured and fake, where she is forced to choose which 'faction' she will belong to for the rest of her life - this means either staying with her family in a section of society that values selflessness more than anything. The problem, Tris is not naturally selfless and it's a struggle for her to even pretend to be. The other choice she gives herself is to join the Dauntless: a faction that values bravery and appears a little crazy. This seems pretty straightforward, though difficult. However, Roth weaves a tale of deception, confusion, love, power, energy, violence, growth, and suspense that is mind-tingling and engrossing. I have seriously gotten about 5 hours of sleep over the past two nights because I was reading rather than sleeping."
You: "That's a little overzealous; don't you think?!"
Me: "Read it, then we'll compare bags under our eyes... oh, and how much we love Four (don't worry, it's a nickname)."
You: "You've convinced me, I'll give it a try."
Me: "Great, but I've changed my mind. Go get your own copy; I'm totally rereading this one right now! We can compare notes as we read!"
You: "Erin, you're so special! But I have to admit, you do recommend some GOOD books! I'm heading to the bookstore now."
Me: "Fast! Trust me, the speeding ticket will be worth it." ::Ducks to avoid flying book coming back through computer screen::(less)
I have been very lucky this summer and have been able to read some amazing books. If I Stay ranks right up toward the top!!!
I absolutely LOVED this bo...moreI have been very lucky this summer and have been able to read some amazing books. If I Stay ranks right up toward the top!!!
I absolutely LOVED this book. Mia was a genuine, complex, and likable character. I cared about her, my heart broke with and for her, and I found myself easily able to slip right into her world of in-between. Forman also does a beautiful job of building strong supporting characters. Mia's parents are awesome!!! I'm seriously jealous of this fictional family.
Also, I'm secretly in love with Adam, Mia's boyfriend (well, maybe not so secretly now that I've proclaimed it for all the interwebs to read). He is punk, can play the guitar (hey, sexy!), and is sweet as can be. Forman has managed to create a boyfriend who is independent and yet fiercely supportive of Mia, he has his own life and finds ways to include Mia in it because he wants to, he is caring and thoughtful yet they have realistic arguments and issues... I'm totally crushing on a fictional character! I mean, the last four pages, oy! My heart was melting and the tears were flowing.
Literally, the second I finished this book, I was on the phone with my local Half Price Books to see if they had the sequel, Where She Went. Within 20 minutes, I was there buying it! :) This book was amazing, emotional, haunting, touching, and spectacular. I HIGHLY recommend adding this to your to-read list!!!(less)
Sarah's Key is the story of two women: Sarah's story starts when she is 10 years old and living in German-occupied France. One terrifying evening, her...moreSarah's Key is the story of two women: Sarah's story starts when she is 10 years old and living in German-occupied France. One terrifying evening, her family is taken from their home and led to suffer the atrocities of the Holocaust. Sarah's story is haunting, heart wrenching, and beautiful. As a reader, I found myself pulled into Sarah's world of fear, hate, and desperate hope to the point of tears at times.
Unfortunately, this book is also about Julia. A middle-aged, American journalist living in France and married to a cheating, obnoxious French man. Julia's story intertwines with Sarah's when she is told to write an article about the French roundup of thousands of Jewish men, woman, and children in 1942.
I feel like this book was written by two different authors - the author of Sarah's story is poignant and writes a beautiful story of a tragic young girl. The author of Julia's story is a lakluster writer with a character I neither liked nor cared about. I found myself anxiously and quickly reading through the Julia chapters to get to Sarah's. Had this book solely been Sarah's story, it would have gotten 5 stars because I loved it. However, de Rosnay does a poor job (in my opinion) of stitching these two women together in a way that makes the reader want to be invested. Julia comes off as selfish, arrogant, and generally unlikable. She was simply a means-to-an-end for me as she researched and divulged more information about the one character I actually cared about: Sarah.(less)
Wow! Even though I finished this book over a week ago, I am still at a loss for words. This book was so powerful in it's storyline, it's passion, and...moreWow! Even though I finished this book over a week ago, I am still at a loss for words. This book was so powerful in it's storyline, it's passion, and in the way it skillfully impassioned you to the characters' plight. I found myself not just reading about, but fully immersed in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi. The Civil Rights Movement is gaining steam and the characters are unknowingly thrusting themselves right into the thick of it.
The book focuses on three main characters who rotate narration of this novel: Skeeter is twenty-two, a recent college grad, and a wanna-be writer. Oh, and if you ask her mama, she's a woman who is well on her way to being past her prime and will never be able to marry a good man. Aibileen is a black maid for one of Skeeter's "best friends" who, on one hand, accepts her place in a state where she is still very much a lower-class citizen but also recognizes the hate, bitterness, and backward logic that is a part of her every-day life. Minny is a saucy black woman who is also Aibileen's best friend. She, too, is a maid but has a hard time finding and keeping a job due to her tell-it-like-it-is attitude. She is an amazing cook, which tends to be her saving grace, but has a hard time keeping herself out of trouble with the white women she works for.
Review: I loved this book. Minny was probably my favorite character. I loved to read about a woman who knew she was hated because of the color of her skin but wasn't about to let that hold her down. She was a mesmerizing character to read. It was nice to see someone else put their foot in their mouth as often as I tend to. :) Minny was also a heartbreaking character to bond with in this book. Despite her feistyness in almost all environments outside her home, she was essentially a prisoner to violence and self-deprecation within her own home. You rooted for Minny while your heart broke for her, while you hated her attitude. In short, I truly loved her!!!
Aibileen was a poetic and beautiful narrator for much of this book. You felt her rage and heartache when she discussed how she would move on to being a maid for a new family once she knew the kids she cared for were old enough to take on their parents' prejudices and forget that they had once loved her as a mother. You, as a reader, were pulled into her double-life of story telling and secrecy and found yourself on edge as much as she was, worrying about being caught and fired, or worse being caught and killed or tortured.
Skeeter was a beautiful character. She caused me the most personal reflection of the book. I found myself wondering, and hoping, that if I had lived in Jackson, Mississippi during this time, would I have had the courage to question the status quo. Would I have been willing to be ostracized, loose all of my friends and a man who I loved and loved me, to bring to light the injustices of my surroundings. I like to think so, but when Stockett reminds us of the dangers of all the characters' actions, you start to wonder. Throughout the book, I found myself impassioned and enraged.... and questioning. While the violence of that time may not be as prevalent as it once was, are these stereotypes and injustices all that foreign to us in the year 2011? In what ways do I sit back and allow those around me who are unrightfully slandered to be taken advantage of? How do I bring to light the inequalities of the world around me? How do I love those people who others have written off as less deserving than they?(less)
The quote from a review done by Parade magazine on the front cover of my copy of this book by Sara Gruen states, "Gritty, sensual and charged with dar...moreThe quote from a review done by Parade magazine on the front cover of my copy of this book by Sara Gruen states, "Gritty, sensual and charged with dark secrets involving love, murder and a majestic, mute heroine." There are a few key words in this quote which I think are important to note about this novel: gritty and sensual (to the point of being crass at times).
While I gave this book a three star rating, I have to be honest, the last 100 pages saved it! The first 250 pages were good, but nothing that gripped me as a reader and had me up all hours in a desperate frenzy to finish. I am the kind of person that if I like a book or movie, I can read/watch it over and over again because I always catch something new or some connection the author intended that I missed the first time in that excited frenzy to finish. This will not be one of those books.
(Here come the spoilers) Gruen's intention from the start of this story is for us to sympathize with the main character, Jacob, as he looses his parents and ivy league future in a matter of a few days. His desperate desire to escape a life he thought would lead to a bright future as a local vet at his father's side but instead leads to a house and family practice that now belongs to the depression-era bank leads him to jump a train passing through town. Only in the light of day does he realize it's a circus train.
As Jacob is introduced to the rough-neck men that work in the background of the circus, doing all of the back breaking labor that makes what we see, the performers, possible, so are we - and it's not always pretty. The life of a 1930's train circus is pretty and exciting only to the niave eyes of the "rubes" (people who come to see the circus). We get a first-hand account of the hard, dangerous, and unpredictable life of circus workers through Jacob's eyes and most of the time it's something we, and Jacob for that matter, could have lived without knowing. They are always details that are inescapable parts of the circus life in which Jacob now finds himself, but often highlight the desperation and lewedness of that lifestyle. Be prepared for some very descriptive scenes of how these (mostly) men entertain themselves while on the road. The performers and more visible managers of the circus are even more devious and threatening than the working men, though they conceal it in a more showy and scary manner.
Even though the life Jacob is thrust into by his choices is as far from his ivy league education left behind as he can get, Gruen attempts to counter that reality with an unlikely, and dangerous love affair between Jacob and the married Marlena. Through most of the story, the relationship is overly complicated, painful to read, and frustrating to suffer through. Once she brought the two of them together, Gruen's story comes to life. It is at this point that her characters truly show up. We learn more about who and what the characters in her book are capable of in the last 100 pages than anywhere else. While I'm sure this was done with the intention of suspense, it made me feel like I was starting to read a whole new book 250 pages in. I felt the passion, the commitment, and the true human nature of her characters in those last few chapters and I cared what happened to them, even if it wasn't going to be happy. It was one of those books that once you got sucked in, you didn't care if it was a happy ending or not because you just wanted to know the outcome of the characters' lives. It was just disappointing that she couldn't have written them this way for more of the storyline.
Overall, it was a good read that I would recommend. However, I caution: if you do not wish to read detailed accounts of some pretty explicit scenes from a life that doesn't require too many morals, this is not the book for you. It doesn't dominate the book, but is present enough that it overshadows the story at times.(less)