Friday, October 31, 2014

The Rosie Effect - Graeme Simison

Title: The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2)
Author: Graeme Simison
Pages: 414
Published: 2014
Challenges: I Love Libraries
Genre: Fiction
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source: Library

Description: Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. If you were swept away by Graeme Simsion’s international smash hit The Rosie Project, you will love The Rosie Effect.

The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge.

Rosie is pregnant.

Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.

As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia back together, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him most. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: While I really enjoyed The Rosie Project earlier this year, I was disappointed with this book.  Maybe it was due to the expectations that grew out of The Rosie Project, but I wasn't blown away with the book.

I thought that Rosie was unreasonable at times, in that she was sometimes asking too much of Don and didn't give him time to process her pregnancy.

I also felt that while it did have a plot, it did seem to be all over the place and there really wasn't a coherent storyline that one could really follow.

Bottom line:  I would read The Rosie Project before reading this book and if you are a fan of contemporary romance books that are slightly quirky, you probably will enjoy this read.  Recommended.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2014: 25,086

Bridge to Haven - Francine Rivers

Title: Bridge to Haven
Author: Francine Rivers
Pages: 500
Published: 2014
Challenges: Chunkster, Historical Fiction, I Love Libraries
Genre: Christian Fiction
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source: Library

Description: To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she s paid to finally feel like she s somebody. To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua Abra s closest friend watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what s expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: While I am Christian, I find that the vast majority of Christian that is on the market is very formulaic and while this book does probably a certain element of that formulaic model, the book had a quality to the writing that drew me into the story.  I felt that the characters were believable and real, as though they really could have existed and I also liked how Josh and Abra were able to build the foundation of their relationship through establishing a friendship before starting a romantic relationship.

Bottom line: While for the most part I really enjoyed the book, I did feel that the book started out a little slower than I expected.  Overall, it was a pretty decent story that will please most fans of Christian fiction.  Highly Recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2014: 24,672

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

Title: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket #1)
Author: Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (illustrator)
Pages: 155
Published: 2007 (first published 1964)
Challenges: Classics Club, I Love Library
Genre: Children's, Classics, Fantasy
Edition: Paperback
Source: Library

Description: Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory is opening at last!

But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

Thoughts: I got this book because I hadn't read this book for quite sometime and also due to the controversial cover that was released in early August, 2014.

Personally, I thought that the book was okay, but what I liked about the book is that the messages that Roald Dahl put into the book are very timely and relevant even today's culture.

The message that spoke the most clearly to me was about Mike TeaVee and his addiction to TV, as he seem to find his creativity from something that doesn't allow for too much creativity.  The book is definitely quirky, but it is well-written and has a strong message to say for its readers.

Bottom line: While the book didn't move me as an adult, I can definitely see where children between Grades 3 and 5 can get something more out of the book; well, I suppose one hope that they do.  Highly Recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2014: 24,172  

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson

Title: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Pages (File Size): 224 (297 KB)
Published: 2013 (first published 1886)
Challenges: Classics, E-Book, R.I.P. IX
Genre: Classics, Gothic
Edition: E-book
Source: Personal

Description: When lawyer Gabriel John Utterson witnesses the odd behavior of a man named Edward Hyde, who uses cheques signed by Utterson’s friend Dr. Henry Jekyll, he decides to investigate the strange and violent man. Utterson soon discovers the horrible and incredible truth in the form of a letter written by Dr. Jekyll and left near the body of the late Mr. Hyde. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I got this book due to the fact that I had just read Under the Wide and Starry Sky.  While I enjoyed the book, I somehow lost the subtleties of the book due to the fact that I lost the story somewhere during between starting the book and getting to the final chapter.

Bottom line: While it was interesting to read Dr. Jekyll's rationalizations, I did find the book to be dry and a little too straightforward and didn't really find anything memorable about the book.  This book would be perfect for those that would like a spine-tingling tale that doesn't take very long.  Recommended.

Rating: 2.75/5

Pages for 2014: 24,017

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

Title: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Pages: 258
Published: 2014
Challenges: I Love Libraries
Genre: Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Hanging over the porch of the tiny New England bookstore called Island Books is a faded sign with the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A.J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

 A.J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming him or for a determined sales rep named Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light. The wisdom of all those books again become the lifeblood of A.J.’s world and everything twists into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I heard a lot of buzz about this book and based on what I heard, I knew that I wanted to read this book and I wasn't disappointed at all.

I think my primary enjoyment of the book had not to do with the fact that the world that Ms. Zevin created was the world of books, but rather the way that she drew me into A. J.'s world and made me feel like I was a part of that world.  I felt as though I live on the small island in the story and honestly, if I had a bookstore like that A. J. ran in my hometown, I probably would frequent the store more than an online store to buy my books.

I also liked the numerous bookish references that the author employed within the book and that it was a fairly short read.

Bottom line:  Really enjoyed how the author used language to draw the reader into the book.  I also felt that the book could have been a little longer, as I felt that the ending was a little rushed.  I would recommend the book to those that enjoy books that talk about or reference books or take place in quirky locations.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2014: 23,793

Thursday, October 30, 2014

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

Title: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Pages: 531
Published: 2014
Challenges: Chunkster, Historical Fiction, I Love Libraries
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: 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. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I really liked this book, particularly how the author played off the two main character, Werner and Maire Laure.  I came to care about each of them and saw them as individuals who only wanted to survive and I also liked how the author used time shifts within the book: pre-war, during the war, post-war and present day.

Bottom line: Even though it is a long book, it reads like a novel that is a hundred pages less because the short parts within the book and also it allows the reader to become involved with the characters.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2014: 23,535

The Children Act - Ian McEwan

Title: The Children Act
Author: Ian McEwan
Pages: 240
Published: 2014
Challenges: I Love Libraries
Genre: Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts.
 
But Fiona's professional success belies domestic strife. Her husband, Jack, asks her to consider an open marriage and, after an argument, moves out of their house. His departure leaves her adrift, wondering whether it was not love she had lost so much as a modern form of respectability; whether it was not contempt and ostracism she really fears. She decides to throw herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses. But Jack doesn't leave her thoughts, and the pressure to resolve the case--as well as her crumbling marriage--tests Fiona in ways that will keep readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: Through a number of sources I heard about this book, but I think it was Ann Kingman's excitement on Books on the Nightstand that really impressed upon me that I should read this book.  And I wasn't disappointed.

While the book started a bit slow for me, there was enough of a hook to keep me wanting to read the book; it also didn't hurt that the language used in the book was such that it drew me into the tone of the book quickly.  Even though I didn't enjoy the book from the start, it crept on me slowly so that by the end I didn't want the book to end; it sort of reminded me the course of a piano piece, which starts slowly but intensifies, as one goes through the piece.

I also liked how the writing is almost seamless, as it weaves Fiona's professional and personal life in a fluid and engaging way that it becomes like the piano pieces that she plays and also its a quiet and introspective novel that really made an impression on me.

Bottom line: While the book started off slow for me, the book made a deep impression on me.  I really liked the use of words and was enthralled with how McEwan was able to enraptured me and other readers with this amazing novel.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2014: 23,004
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