Book Reviews

More book reviews! I’ve definitely slowed down with reading novels as I’ve been working a little more behind the scenes on Beachbody and my blog, but I’m still chugging along!

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice

Goodreads Synopsis:

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life–and her relationship with her family and the world–forever.

I’ve talked about this book before during Thursday Thoughts so I’ll keep this brief, but this was a GREAT book. A must-read, for sure. I haven’t personally known someone with alzheimers so being able to read this book from the point of view of someone with the disease was an incredible way to understand not only what it would feel like to have the disease (or a fraction of!) but also the point of view of the family members and how difficult it really is to handle.

The book was very realistic and well written, and not only was it about alzheimers, but the characters in the story were very well developed. Her husband and each of her children had their own stories and character development and it made the story feel even more real because of their different reactions. I highly recommend this book because it’s a way to understand alzheimers, but through a story rather than more scientific reading.

 

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey

Goodreads Synopsis:

A wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age story, Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen’s “Gothic parody.” Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist.

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.

 

I’m a big fan of Jane Austen’s and I was looking forward to reading another book of hers. At first it was hard to get into solely because of the language, however after a while I got used to it and found myself speaking in “old english” in my head… haha that’s when you know you read too much.

I find when I read anything by Jane Austen or anything Jane-Austen-esque I compare it to Pride & Prejudice, which is one of my favorite novels. Haha and this is a little unfair because not only have I read it a couple times but I’ve watched the movie a million times as well as the movie with the director’s commentary… so I know every little nuance in the novel.

BUT back to this one – I can’t say I thought it was as good, but it was a fun book to read. I liked that the main character was a little young, naive and curious, but at the same time surprisingly insightful. I felt the ending was a bit abrupt, but otherwise I liked the pace of the book. Now I’m wondering if it was made into a movie… haha even one of those great BBC ones (which I love…).

 

Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

Silver Girl

Goodreads Synopsis:

Meredith Martin Delinn just lost everything: her friends, her homes, her social standing – because her husband Freddy cheated rich investors out of billions of dollars.

Desperate and facing homelessness, Meredith receives a call from her old best friend, Constance Flute. Connie’s had recent worries of her own, and the two depart for a summer on Nantucket in an attempt to heal. But the island can’t offer complete escape, and they’re plagued by new and old troubles alike. When Connie’s brother Toby – Meredith’s high school boyfriend – arrives, Meredith must reconcile the differences between the life she is leading and the life she could have had.

Set against the backdrop of a Nantucket summer, Elin Hilderbrand delivers a suspenseful story of the power of friendship, the pull of love, and the beauty of forgiveness.

 

I was really expecting this book to be more of a fluffy beach read, but boy was I wrong! I was so impressed with how the author would write flashbacks into Meredith’s past to not only tell us about the history of the characters, but also as a way for Meredith to realize through hindsight that her relationship with her husband wasn’t what she thought it was at the time. I felt like Meredith and her friend Connie’s thoughts and emotions were raw and real – nothing was held back and nothing felt fake. All the characters felt well developed, and the story kept me interested and wanting more the whole way through the novel. I definitely recommend this book!

 

Do you ever read books written before the 1900’s? 

Weird question, but is there any disease you wish you knew more about? 

Book Reviews

SO MANY BOOK REVIEWS! Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll lose steam on this whole reading thing someday…

 

Ticker by Lisa Mantchey

Ticker

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings…or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

 

I had a pretty hard time starting this book, but once I sat myself down (on the bus…) and really focused in on it, it turned out to be a good, inventive story. One thing I will say is there is zero set up for the world that they live in. You just dive straight into the book without understanding anything about the characters or why so many things are made out of machinery. Some of this is revealed throughout the story, but even then not a lot. If you can keep up your suspension of belief, however, you can really get into the story line. The romance is pretty straightforward and obvious, but beyond that I really enjoyed the twists and the turns that the main character, Penny, takes throughout the novel. It also ends in a way that the story can either stop there, or she could add a sequel. I actually like how the story ended because not everything was perfectly wrapped up, which is how life is. I’d pick this up if you’re into dystopic novels!

 

The One & Only by Emily Giffin

The One & Only

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.

But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One & Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living.

 

Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Nope. I rarely write a bad book review, but nope. Nope. Couldn’t even finish it. I practically skimmed the second half of the book because I was so creeped out by the direction the story was going. Maybe that’s just me, but I just kept thinking about my friends’ dads… Aaaaanyway, the story started out well, setting up an interesting friendship/family dynamic. There was a lot of football talk, which I know other Goodreads reviewers didn’t like, but I didn’t mind at all (I love football). The main character just seemed so lost and would do just about anything she was told to do, especially by “Coach.” She just didn’t seem to have much of a spine and was always doubting herself. Not worth your time.

 

The Fever by Meg Abbott

The Fever

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire,The Fever affirms Megan Abbot’s reputation as “one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation” (Laura Lippman).

 

I ended up reading this book really quickly – all within one Sunday. Haha I’m not sure what that says about how I spend my weekends… The story surrounds a group of good friends, narrated by one of the girls. The author adds some mystery to the story by the narrator trying to figure out what is happening to the girls at school, why it hasn’t happened to her, and who is to blame. I actually really enjoyed the dynamic between many of the characters, and how ones that seem less important become critical later in the story. I also have to say that I did NOT see the ending coming ;). If you’re looking for a quick read and don’t mind a story centering around High School girls, give this one a try!

 

What are you reading right now? 

Do you ever choose books by how the cover looks? 

Book Reviews

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I've Got Your Number

Synopsis from Goodreads:

I’ve lost it. :( The only thing in the world I wasn’t supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It’s been in Magnus’s family for three generations. And now the very same day his parents are coming, I’ve lost it. The very same day! Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive :) !!
 
Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!
 
Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.
 
What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.

 

I’d always been a fan of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series so when I saw she had a book that I hadn’t read I snagged it up from the library (ebook). This was EXACTLY the book I needed at the moment – something light, romantic and with a great ending. Yes, I pretty much knew who would end up with who before even beginning the book, but I really enjoyed reading this story. Although it ended how I expected, it definitely had a surprise here and there and really kept my attention – I finished in less than two days! I just couldn’t put it down. I loved it. It was sweet, romantic and brought a smile to my face. You’ve got to love a book that makes you laugh out loud every once in a while.

 

The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley

The Dead Key

Synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s 1998, and for years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved, its secrets only speculated on by the outside world.

Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold Cleveland’s largest bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault’s safe-deposit boxes were lost.

In the years since, Cleveland’s wealthy businessmen kept the truth buried in the abandoned high-rise. The ransacked offices and forgotten safe-deposit boxes remain locked in time, until young engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey. What begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as Iris unravels the bank’s sordid past. With each haunting revelation, Iris follows the looming shadow of the past deeper into the vault—and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.

 

Oh. My. Gosh. This book kept me RIVETED. I absolutely love history and historical buildings so a book about a mystery that’s been sealed up in an old 15-story bank for 20 years was right down my alley. It definitely moved a little too slowly at certain points for me (I just WANTED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!) but I was kept hooked on the story throughout the book. I also loved how the author told the story from two points of view, and yet the two women were incredibly similar. There were a few times when I thought “really? would that reaaaalllly happen?” but I just pushed those thoughts to the side and got back into the story. If you love old, unsolved mysteries, this one is for you.

 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

 

I picked this book because it was $1.99 and it is the new Book Club read on Lauren Conrad’s blog. Although the main character was a high schooler, I still found the book cute and somewhat relatable. I pretty much had an idea of where it was going to go, but nevertheless I enjoyed reading the story. This was another book I finished in one weekend and definitely recommend it as a fun, light read.

 

Book Reviews

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart

The Goldfinch

Synopsis from Goodreads:

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

 

Ahhh this book! This book was a pain in my butt but I thought it was amazing. When I got it from the library I didn’t realize it was almost 800 pages long, but honestly when I was reading it never felt long. The story follows a boy from a tragic event in his childhood all the way to his adult life. He has so many different homes and ways of living it’s really amazing to see how he bounced from place to place, adjusting quickly but never truly knowing who he is until the end of the story. I guess you could say it’s a coming of age type novel. I also loved the author’s writing style – it was descriptive, not in an overdone boring way, but in a way that makes you feel like you’re really there and you understand how he feels. Her writing was practically poetic and once I finished I understood why it took her 800 pages to write this story. I definitely recommend this book for anyone looking to push themselves a little out of their “reading comfort zone.”

 

The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble

The Mermaid's Sister

Synopsis from Goodreads:

There is no cure for being who you truly are…

In a cottage high atop Llanfair Mountain, sixteen-year-old Clara lives with her sister, Maren, and guardian Auntie. By day, they gather herbs for Auntie’s healing potions. By night, Auntie spins tales of faraway lands and wicked fairies. Clara’s favorite story tells of three orphan infants—Clara, who was brought to Auntie by a stork; Maren, who arrived in a seashell; and their best friend, O’Neill, who was found beneath an apple tree.

One day, Clara discovers shimmering scales just beneath her sister’s skin. She realizes that Maren is becoming a mermaid—and knows that no mermaid can survive on land. Desperate to save her, Clara and O’Neill place the mermaid-girl in their gypsy wagon and set out for the sea. But no road is straight, and the trio encounters trouble around every bend. Ensnared by an evil troupe of traveling performers, Clara and O’Neill must find a way to save themselves and the ever-weakening mermaid.

And always, in the back of her mind, Clara wonders, if my sister is a mermaid, then what am I?

 

This book takes place in basically a different world. It’s our world, but shows it from the side of magical beings (kind of like Harry Potter). I really loved some of the characters and felt the author was pretty creative with parts of her storyline. However, she didn’t do a very good job of setting up the story and the world they lived in. You just had to jump in and try to figure it out as she went along. I finished the book still a little confused and unsure about the setting and how these characters fit into that, however it was an intriguing read.

 

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

 

I’ve been hearing about this book for AGES so I was really happy when it finally became available at my library. It was not at all what I expected (granted I didn’t even read the synopsis before I started so I had no idea what to expect) but the story was so real and believable, it’s something that I imagine happening in one way or another to teenagers across the country. I think the only thing I didn’t like was that I had a really hard time visualizing one of the main characters, Eleanor, in my mind, which became somewhat distracting. I realize now, while writing this, that the author wasn’t very visually descriptive in general, so maybe that’s what I felt was missing. Either way, I thought it was a good story and would definitely recommend the book!

 

What are you reading right now?

What is your LEAST favorite book you read semi-recently? 

Book Reviews

MORE BOOKREVIEWS!!!! Woooo!!!! I know, you’re excited! Here are four books I’ve read recently:

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

This book turned out a little differently than I expected, but I ended up really loving the story and the writing. I felt like all the characters were very dynamic, especially when the main character, June, slowly finds out more and more about her family members that she was shielded from as a child. It almost feels like those coming of ages stories we read in high school, but set in the late 80s.

From Goodreads:

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

 

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles

Now this book was REALLY not what I expected. Haha. The way the book is written makes the reader feel somewhat disconnected and yet in the narrator’s mind at the same time. It sounds weird, but if you think about it, the narrator feels incredibly disconnected from her world as well while things are slowly but surely changing around her. It was a somewhat odd book (ha – says the person who loves YA Dystopian novels), but really interesting and creative at the same time. Haha part of me wants to start analyzing it like I’m in English class, but I’ll spare you.

From Goodreads:

“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

Luminous, haunting, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles is a stunning fiction debut by a superb new writer, a story about coming of age during extraordinary times, about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty.

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life–the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

 

Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer

Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less

I read this book because it was suggested by my grandfather and I never would have picked it up on my own, nor would I have made it past the first 25%. But I’m glad I stuck with it. The book started out pretty slow for me, it was interesting but I didn’t see where it was going. I’m really glad I pulled it back out and decided to finish it because after that I could barely put it down. I loved how the author hinted at their plans, but you never really found out what they were up to until it happened. It was amusing and nerve wracking all at the same time and I really enjoyed it.

From Goodreads:

The conned: an Oxford don, a revered society physician, a chic French art dealer, and a charming English lord. They have one thing in common. Overnight, each novice investor lost his life’s fortune to one man. The con: Harvey Metcalfe!!

A brilliant, self-made guru of deceit. A very dangerous individual. And now, a hunted man.

With nothing left to lose four strangers are about to come together-each expert in their own field. Their plan: find Harvey, shadow him, trap him, and penny-for-penny, destroy him. From the luxurious casinos of Monte Carlo to the high-stakes windows at Ascot to the bustling streets of Wall Street to fashionable London galleries, their own ingenious game has begun. It’s called revenge-and they were taught by a master.

 

All The Life We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See

Oh this book. I loved it. It wasn’t a quick read or a happy go lucky story, but I loved it all the same. The novel switches back and forth between two characters and between two different points in their life, both coinciding. I love how the author connects them in so many subtle ways – it makes you feel like they knew each other so well without knowing each other at all. I found the story to be romantic in a somewhat sad and wistful way, showing the reader how the beauty of what once was can be destroyed by society and human nature, leaving us in a world we never imagined, yet still with the hope of what’s to come. There I go – into English class mode! Haha, anyway, clearly I recommend reading this book!

From Goodreads:

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.

 

What are you reading right now? 

Did you like English class in school?