Tana French is pure genius when it comes to setting the scene and developing her characters. After she got done with Mick Kennedy I felt as if I knew him as well as one of my own brothers. Broken Harbor and her inhabitants are so well described it felt as if I had been transported to the ghost town of a development where the Spain's live. I truly found myself lost in the story and nothing screams "great book" more than getting lost in the story.
Bottom line, Broken Harbor is what the average murder mystery novels should all want to be when they grow up. The writing is so precise, so engrossing. The suspense is perfected in a way that leaves you holding your breath and turning pages as fast as your eyes will let you. I have always enjoyed Tana French's novels, but Broken Harbor just seemed to outshine them all. Maybe it was just because I was thirsty for a literary masterpiece, but I think Broken Harbor was the best mystery I have read yet this year. I look forward to hearing what you guys think, be sure to let me know!(less)
I was really surprised at how quickly I was sucked into the story of Zoe and Kate. There is a lot of bouncing around in narration between Zoe and Kate, both past and present. But not once did I feel lost and that "bouncing around" plays a critical part in understanding how Kate and Zoe came to be the women they are today. But, to be honest, the heart of this novel belongs to Sophie. This sweet, tender, stubborn, bald-headed little girl who is a Star Wars fanatic. She is old enough (ie: mature enough) to understand how critical this training is for her mother to go to the Olympics, and she is acutely aware that she was the reason why her mother missed the last Olympics, so she tries to hide just how sick she is getting. It is both admirable and heartbreaking at the same time.
Bottom line, this whole book is an emotional roller coaster, any avid sports fan understands the heart pounding anticipation as the competition heats up, but mix that with the heart pounding roller coaster that comes from having a sick child and you are sure to go through an entire box of Kleenex. Also, be sure to read the Author's Note at the end, it brought me to tears quicker than any other part of the book. The start of the 2012 Summer Olympics is less than two weeks away and the whole world has Olympic Fever. What better way to get into the mood and see just what the athletes do to prepare and just how hard they train then to read Gold by Chris Cleave?(less)
The Age of Miracles is a beautifully written masterpiece. Written in an almost lyrical fashion the story is told solely from the viewpoint of eleven year old Julia. While she is an observant young girl and is well aware of the changes going on with the world, and her family, she does not portray the catastrophic sense of doom that blankets most post-apocalyptic novels. Don't be mistaken though, that fear - that urgency - lies just beneath the surface with Julia's anxiety ridden Mother and disappearing classmates, it is just not dominant in this novel. Julia is, instead, a young girl on the verge of blossoming into a young woman and is forced to navigate the ever changing world that "The Slowing" has created, at the same time having to deal with your typical school girl troubles like when to buy your first bra or dealing with your first crush.
Bottom line, the voice of Julia is so beautifully written it is so very easy to find yourself swept up into the concerns of her world as it seems to be coming to an end. Julia and her family are the kind of characters that have traits we all can relate to in one way or another, whether it be the anxiety of Julia's mother or the paradox that grips Julia's father, we can all find something in common with these characters. While the book is written for adults, there is no reason why your Young Adult would not be able to read The Age of Miracles. The "What if's" portrayed in this novel would certainly make for a good discussion between anyone who has read the book. Give it a read and let me know what you think. (less)
Bottom line, On the Island, is a wonderful read about love, loss, and survival. Anna and TJ are two of the most resourceful characters I have ever read, yet it never seems over the top or campy. They are just two people lost in the world and all they have in the world is each other. While we may not be stranded on a deserted island I could certainly relate to Anna and TJ. With the job "mess" there have been times in the last few weeks that I have felt so scared and alone, about my uncertain future, and it was my husband's arms that gave me safe harbor. I am sure that many of you can relate to that in one way or another. --- Go right now and click the "buy" button for On the Island, you will not regret it, I promise.(less)
In her typical hysterical fashion Jen (my imaginary BFF) uses the self deprecating humor that she has perfected to tell us some stories that have helped her realize that she is becoming an adult. Like buying her first home in the suburbs of Chicago. Or hosting her first holiday dinner. Or when she returned to her Alma Mater to receive a distinguished award. (I nearly wet myself laughing so hard at her adventures after the fancy shin-dig). She teaches us some of the very useful life lessons that she learned along the way, but she also teaches that it is still okay at the age of forty-something to still own barbie dolls. No matter what anyone else says.
As always Jen (my imaginary BFF) entertains in ways that I wish every author could learn. She is funny, loyal, witty, and willing to call herself a jackass. The best qualities a girl could ever need in a BFF, real or imaginary. If you are looking for a good laugh and are over the age of thirty, this book is for you. You will recognize your self in at least one of Jen's essays. I promise. And you will laugh out loud because you have soooooooooo been in those shoes at some point in your life. Under 30? -- Read it anyway. You will learn what NOT to do as you move through life. Either way. I promise that you will laugh. (less)
Gone Girl is a psychological thriller like no other. It is one giant mind game that leaves the reader exhausted by the time it is over. But, oh what a ride! I wanted to like Nick, I really did. But he is a shithead of a husband, but even I have to say that being a bad husband does not mean that you are a killer. And Amy. Anyone who has a single guy friend has heard stories about girls playing mind games, well, Amy has turned playing "mind games" into an Olympic sport.
Fans of a good, gritty mystery novel are going to enjoy Gone Girl. While the "mystery" is revealed about halfway through the book, you are flying through the pages to find out how the whole thing gets resolved. Is Amy really dead? Is Nick facing the death penalty? And what exactly led them to where they are now? This is most definitely a book to throw in the old beach bag or take with you on vacation. It is just too good to pass up.(less)
There are not enough words to describe how much I enjoyed this book. I am a Stepmother, a fairly new Stepmother, but a Stepmother nonetheless. I have a Stepmother and my own Mother is a Stepmother. I can not say how GREAT it was to read about a Stepmother in a positive situation with kids who adore her as much as she adores them. Ella's scenario is not one I am ever likely to be in, but if I were, you bet your bottom dollar that I would fight to the death to make sure my Stepkids are in the best possible situation for them. I also really enjoyed the subplot of Ella's Italian in-laws, specifically her Husband's Grandfather and the time he spent in an internment camp. There are so many pieces to this story and when put all together you have an amazing tale of family, love, sacrifice and commitment.(less)
First of all, I was unprepared for how compelling Katniss's story was going to be. Almost from the very first page I was pulled into the world of District 12 and the abject poverty that plagues most of the District. I was also unprepared for exactly how much of a game show atmosphere that surrounded the games. From the preparations they went through with their handlers, like Cinna & Portia, to their grand entrance & interview portion of the show, I really got the game show vibe, especially with a host like Flickerman. Yes, the Games are violent. That is the nature of the game, but I did not find it to be any worse than the video games that many teens play or even the battle scenes in Twilight.
So my favorite parts of the book? I really loved the relationship between Rue and Katniss. I understand it doesn't play a major role in the movie, but I loved it during the book. Logically, I knew what was going to have to happen, but I cried like a baby at "that" part. I also really enjoyed watching Katniss come to the realization that Peeta was really trying to look out for her best interests. I admit it, I doubted his sincerity throughout most of the book. But there was one scene when I realized what he had done for her. I even went "aaawwwwwww". Which made my husband say "it is a book about kids killing each other and you are going awwww! Should I be worried" LOL
The Hunger Games is about so much more than children being forced to kill each other. It is about love, devotion, sacrifice, and survival in the face of horrible conditions. And I don't just mean the Games, I mean life in the Districts, specifically District 12. I absolutely loved this book (as if you couldn't tell by lengthy review) but I am eager to dive into the other two books in the series. Happy reading and "May the odds be ever in your favor!"(less)
You don't have to be a Stephen King fan to know that he is one of the most successful, prolific writers who EVER put pen to paper. His writing has been called everything from genius to horrific and everything in between. It does not take an aspiring author long to figure out that if there is anyone to idolize in the business, it is Stephen King. So of course, I set out to read his memoir on the craft, On Writing.
In his memoir, On Writing, "Uncle Stevie" (as he referred to himself in the Entertainment Weekly columns) tells us the story of how he got into writing and what it took to get his works published. The secret to his success? Perseverance. Even as a young boy, Stephen King was a creative soul who wanted nothing more than to get his stories out to the mass population. He even wrote stories and sold them to his classmates at school. From the days when he taught High School English to when he first sold Carrie Stephen King shares with us the path he took to success and gives advice as to how we can get "there", too.
Advice such as "Read A Lot. Write A Lot" -- that was a paraphrase, but you get the gist. "Uncle Stevie" was basically saying if you want to write, then turn off the television and just do it! Another favorite line from the book was in reference to revising - "Only God get's it right the first time." So true, Uncle Stevie, so true. It was while he was writing this book that he was hit by a car while out for a walk. He shares that story at the end of the book, too.
I went through a Stephen King "kick" a long, long time ago and read several of his books such as It, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Bag of Bones. I was far too young to understand ANYTHING about It, (I was around thirteen at the time) and I can vaguely remember the plots of the other two books. I haven't really written anything by Stephen King in the last ten years, unless you count all of the columns he did for Entertainment Weekly a few years back. It was while reading those pop culture columns that I really started to become a fan of "The King". His fair (and generally spot on) observations really reminded me of a favorite Uncle. If so inclined you can read some of his old EW columns here.
Bottom line, On Writing is a wonderfully written book. Full of motivation and inspiration. And I can see why it is such a beloved book for so many people. If you need that extra little motivation or are looking for advice from an author who has been through the trenches, then pick up this book. You won't regret it, I promise.(less)
The Help is one of those game changing novels. This is a novel that will likely be read by generation after generation. It is told from the viewpoint of Skeeter, Minny, and Abileen. So you don't just get Skeeter's naive view of things. In fact getting all three viewpoints only highlights Skeeter's naivete. The movie did stay very close to the book. In fact I recognized several lines from the movie as I read the book. The adaptation was nearly flawless. There were *some* scenes that had been tweaked a bit from the book, but not anything that changed the core story.
My bottom line, if you have not read this book you must. Then you must run out and rent the movie. You will be thankful you did, I promise.(less)