Sunday, April 28, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

By: Maria Semple

Rating: 5 Stars

Who Should Read This Book: Satire anyone? Looking for a book that will make you laugh, cringe, and have your mouth drop open from shocking, hysterical scenes? This one is for you!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

My Thoughts:
I thought this book to be hysterical. The satire jumps out at the reader within minutes of reading, and the author, Semple, did an amazing job at never losing the clear understanding of what she was trying to accomplish. Bernadette is this quirky, neurotic, brilliant mother living in "horrible" Seattle. She just can't seem to shake the hate for the city she resides in, and is constantly telling everyone she emails just how awful it really is. Her life used to consist of creating wonderful works of architecture and is now dwindled to dropping and picking her daughter up from school, emailing a woman in India to do her errands for her, and criticizing the "gnats" that keep bothering her, from her daughter's school. The author brilliantly shaped and molded this book from various viewpoints including, Bee, the smart, lovable daughter of Bernadette, and Audrey, who from the first encounter is so clearly uptight the reader will want to give her a Xanax and tell her to stop letting what society says is "right" to dictate her life! Even Soo-Lin, Audrey's friend that the reader meets through emails and also through her interaction at Microsoft with Bernadette's husband, is unaware of her surroundings. She lives life in a fairy tale until it comes shattering down and she realizes that she has been manipulating things in her head to fit to the standard that makes her happy.

This book is so full of misunderstanding that it made me take a second to look at myself. I wondered if I sounded as ridiculous or paranoid in my daily life as some of the characters in the book did. Bee seems to be the most sane of all, and she is in middle school. Although, the relationship that she shares with her mother is endearing and reminds me so much of my relationship with my own mother. They understand each other, and aren't afraid to be completely honest with one another. When everyone else assumes that Bee is too young still to be told exactly what is going on, Bernadette makes sure that her daughter gets the full, unbelievable story. Even with all of her flaws, Bernadette can definitely be a level headed women whose intelligence really shines.

I think what really makes this book great is the realization that everyone comes to. Each character learns a valuable lesson and starts to come to the realization that there is no perfect mold to fit your life into. Through each of the characters, whether it be through email, one-on-one conversations, itinerary sheets, or from the viewpoint of Bee and her mom, the author did an amazing job of tying everyone together. You will definitely see how human the characters really are, and even though some of the missteps each one has is over the top, completely hysterical and unfathomable, there is still this realism to the situation. It was very easy to put myself into their shoes; to picture it really happening. I felt better about all the quirks I have because each of the characters had at least a couple; at least!

This book is extremely entertaining and will definitely be passed around to a lot of my friends. I hope others to get as much enjoyment out of it as I did. This was a book I raced through due to the overwhelming funny, intense, and flawed characters. It would be a great summer read actually, and one you will be so disappointed to finish.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In the Woods

By: Tana French

Rating: 2.5 stars

Who Should Read This: Readers who are into mystery and suspense books.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

My Thoughts:
I really  wanted to like this book. I am big into thrillers and find usually that any mystery that brings up the past with it is always a nail biting, on the edge of your seat book. I actually have also been wanting to read this for awhile and when I found it one day at a used bookstore in Dupont I was extremely excited. There is a good chance I got my hopes to high for this one. It started out good. I liked the dynamic between Rob and Cassie as partners. They knew the ins and outs of each other, and they reminded me slightly of me and my guy friend how they were able to tell the mood the other was in by the look on their face.

The story started out good and dramatic. Child found in an archaeological dig on the edge of the woods where Rob was found when he was twelve, without his two friends, who were never found. Plenty of suspects and the author went back and forth from what little memories Rob had from the day he lost his two friends. As the story went on though I wanted to cut out huge chunks of the book that I felt was being reiterated too many times. I just felt that it dragged on and the author could have made it a tad more concise to keep the readers attention and the suspense raised. Furthermore, I found the ending extremely depressing. I know that this doesn't make a book good or bad, there are plenty of books with a depressing ending that I have loved. It just seemed to me that not only was it very sad, I also felt that lose ends weren't tied up as well as I thought they should have been.

Before I steer all readers away from this book I want to point out that their was good character development. The reader really gets to know the characters and I found myself sometimes with the sense that I was one of the group and wanted to join the nightly dinners the detectives had to discuss the case. Furthermore, I was really surprised by the ending. No matter how much it depressed me, I can definitely say I wasn't expecting it. I would love to hear others' thoughts on the book as well! I am wondering what I missed that others seemed to enjoy so much! Let me hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. 

Since I am new to blogging I had a lot of options to choose from for this freebie week. I love movies (nowhere near my love for books though) and I thought it would be fun to choose the topic of: Books You Want to See be Made Into a Movie. Some of these books have actually started the process of being made into a movie, but they are still a long way off, and even though I know movies are rarely as good as the book, I can barely contain my excitement for how great I think the movies could or will be for these books. 

The Language of Flowers

The Language of  Flowers: I think this movie can be done beautifully!! And imagine all the amazing flowers!

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Unbroken: This book has the ability to make a powerful movie! I want this book to be made into a movie just so people that don't read know who Louie is! He deserves the recognition and for people to see what individuals in the military sacrifice for our freedom!

The Baker's Daughter

The Bakers Daughter: This empowering and enriching novel has the ability to show individuals how even decades later, the world still deals with its past.

 The Night Circus

The Night Circus: This movie would be beautiful. Utterly and unimaginably beautiful. It is as simple as that.

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books,  #1)

The Shadow of the Wind: Ummm mystery and romance set with a backdrop of Barcelona....yes, please!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society: This book made me appreciate small communities again, and the value there is in the power of friendship. Definite potential to make an amazing movie!

Jemima J: A Novel About Ugly Ducklings and Swans

Jemima J: Total rom com that would be just so fun to watch!

The Giver (The Giver, #1)

The Giver: Every young adult should see this. This was the dystopian book of my childhood.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief: This book would make such a great movie of portraying the lives of those during World War II. The love and compassion shown is undeniable!

The 500
The 500: Suspense and thrills! This book would make a roller coaster ride of a movie! Combining the power and greed of DC into a movie? Definite action packed thrill!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Kitchen House

By: Kathleen Grissom

Rating: 5 stars

Who Should Read This: Anyone who is interested in or wants to try a historical fiction. If you liked The Help or The Baker's Daughter, I think this book will definitely pique your interest!

Synopsis (By Goodreads):
When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. Orphaned while on-board ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.

Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.

My Thoughts:
Loved this book!! This was one of the books that I had on my shelf that I discussed in my Spring TBR list for Top Ten Tuesday. I just HAD to buy this at Christmas and only just got around to starting it this past Thursday night. Even though I planned to read this while I was home for the holidays (I always think I will get more reading done than I do) I am actually happy that I never got around to reading it at the time. Lately, I have been trying to start books on my reading shelf and have just been uninspired. I find myself going and buying books for my Kindle or buying new books at the bookstore even though I have tons on my shelf. So this past Thursday I finally looked at my shelf determined to make a dent.

By Friday night at about 12:30 I had finished the book. I started this on Thursday night, and even though I had only gotten about 7-8 hours of sleep combined for the previous 2 nights, I could not go to bed on Friday without finishing this book. That was how much I loved it! I fell in love with the protagonist of the story, Lavinia, by page 5 or 6 for her naivety, her acceptance and love for those around her, and her persistence in hoping that everything will work out for the best. She comes to the plantation as a white indentured servant and after awhile becomes deeply attached to the other servants she lives with and who take care of her. They become her adopted family as she struggles coming of age and not understanding why she has to be white, why she can't stay and live with them always, and why some treat her better than the others. Lavinia does not understand how the master and his family see her differently then the rest of her adopted family.

The author did an amazing job with showing the struggles that went on in rural Virginia in the late 1700's between the master family and their servants. She painted a vivid picture of the tobacco plantation and it was so easy to be engulfed by this story. I couldn't help but look up to Mama Mae and Papa George or root for Ben and Belle. My heart even ached for Miss Martha who suffered from multiple tragedies. Throughout the book you realized how much everyone on the plantation relied and leaned on each other, regardless of race, but still struggled with their roles. As Lavinia grows up, the reader sees her transition into a sophisticated young woman, yet still always puts her adopted family first. She falls in love, believing that this will take her back to the adopted family she has been separated from, only to find that life is no longer the easy, carefree one she remembers from childhood.

This book will pull at your heart strings, and I found myself entranced by these families. I definitely fell into the book head first and enveloped myself in it. It was the same feeling I got when I read The Help and was so disappointed when it was finished. I wanted to keep on living on the plantation and be surrounded by the people in the book that I had come to admire. It may sound sappy, but the author definitely did a wonderful job in creating characters that you fall in love with! Either way, I hope everyone enjoys this book as much as I did. It is definitely one I will be insistently giving to my friends to enjoy and hopefully be enraptured by. I would love to hear what others who have read this novel thought!

Thursday, April 11, 2013


By: Veronica Roth

My Rating: 4 stars

Who Should Read This: Readers who enjoyed the Hunger Games series or The Maze Runner

Quick Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

My Thoughts:

I read Hunger Games Christmas of 2011, I believe, and absolutely fell in love with the books. So when I heard about Divergent I got really excited. I have begun to start to like Dystopian and YA books a little more, so I thought I would give this one a chance. I also found out that a movie is going to be made based on this book so I knew I had to read it now rather than later. One thing you should know about me is that if I have seen the movie I will not read the book. This is probably the reason why I have yet to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

As I started to dive into this book I found myself starting to compare it to The Hunger Games. About 50 pages in I really had to focus and not analyze the difference between the two books. Once I did that I found I really started to enjoy it. I stopped comparing Tris to Katniss and how the author for this book portrayed a futuristic Chicago compared to the futuristic world that was created by Suzanne Collins. The detail that the author put in to set the scene was not as descriptive as I thought it might be, but I actually found that I wasn't bothered by this. Roth instead put her emphasis into the main character, Tris and her relationships with her family and others. I found myself creating the scenery in my mind and with the help of Roth's descriptions was able to see clearly the type of life that Tris and the others were living.

I also thought that it was interesting that Tris and the other 16 year old teens were able to choose what faction they wanted to be placed in. No matter what their aptitude test told them, they had the freedom to choose the type of life that they wanted to lead. With a lot of dystopian books I feel as if the characters are forced into one lifestyle or never given a voice. It was kind of interesting how the story played out. I actually read this book while flying back to DC (where I live) from California and it was the one time I really didn't mind how long it took! The story was engaging, and the ruthlessness during training kept me on the edge of my seat. After one incident (I am not going to explain further due to spoiler alert) I knew all bets were off and found myself a little nervous. This was probably due to the fact that I never would have handled things as well as Tris or her companions. Even the ending surprised me. I assumed it would end much differently. The ending almost reminded me of George R.R. Martin's writing ethics for Game of Thrones. No one is safe, if you assume they are, you will be disappointed.

I am excited to see where Roth takes the reader in the next book. She definitely does a great job in tying loose ends while keeping the reader intensely interested in what is going to happen next. It is a fast, easy read that I think many will enjoy. Along with suspense and thrills, the book deals with the effects of the choices we make and plenty of romance thrown in as well.