Monday, September 1, 2014

The Circle - Dave Eggars

Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggars
Pages (File Size): 528 (1.5 MB)
Published: 2013
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, E-Book, Chunkster, I Love Libraries
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Psychological
Edition: E-Book
Source: Library

Description: When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I head about this book about a year ago and had tried to read it earlier this year and wasn't able to get around to it due to reading other books, but it now seemed to the right time to read it.  And it basically creeped me out, especially as the book moved towards the end and really made me think about how much I share and spend on social media sites.

It was very interesting to see how Mae became more and more involved with her life at work and how the world outside of her job became less and less important to her.  While it is primarily a book about how social media sites are playing more and more of a role in our lives, it is also a story about how work has become more and more consuming and how our social lives are basically those that occur online rather than off line.

Bottom line: While it was creepy and worrisome, it does give one pause and does raise concerns to how much social media is playing a role in our lives.  It you enjoy books that have a dystopic themes, you might enjoy this one.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.75/5

Pages for 2014: 17,557

If you have read this book, what did you think about it?

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Pages (File Size): 228 (2.2 MB)
Published: 2014
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, E-Book, I Love Libraries
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, E-Book
Edition: E-Book
Source: Library

Description: Spending the summers on her family's private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer. (from Fraser Valley Regional Library)

Thoughts: I downloaded this book through one of the e-book services that my library offers for its customers as the result of many reviews that I saw online that piqued my interest that were fairly positive.  If I had read the book straight through and dropped my other books, I may have enjoyed the book a little more than I did and probably wouldn't have been confused for a good portion of the book, at least until I was able to figure out what the story was about.

I did feel that the book was well-written as it didn't draw out the story too long and it really allowed the reader to quickly get into the story.

Bottom line: If you need to read something quickly or are in a place for a bit of time, this could really help pass time quickly.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.25/5

Pages for 2014: 17,029

If you have read this book, what did you think of it?

Empty Mansions - Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.

Title: Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguett Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
Author: Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.
Pages (File Size): 496 (11.4 MB)
Published: 2013
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, E-Book, Chunkster, Non-fiction, I Love Libraries
Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Biography
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: When Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the nineteenth century with a twenty-first-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades. Though she owned palatial homes in California, New York, and Connecticut, why had she lived for twenty years in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health? Why were her valuables being sold off? Was she in control of her fortune, or controlled by those managing her money? (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: It was definitely an interesting book, in that it one learned about the uber-rich and the strange lives that some of these individuals have lived.  Other than the odd bits of fascinating information about the Clark family, I felt that the language was simplistic at times and felt that Ms. Clark was portrayed as being a bit too sympathetic at times.  I also felt that the author never really delved too much into Ms. Clark's life and treated her with kid gloves.

Bottom line:  It was definitely an intriguing story and was worth reading.  If you are interested in learning about those who are a bit odd or even those who are/were uber-rich, then I would recommend this book for you.  Recommended.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2014: 16,801

If you have read this book, what did you think about it?

Write On Review-a-thon Wrap-Up

Write On Review-a-Thon

I was able to get four book reviews posted:

• Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley (review)
• Levels of Life by Julian Barnes (review)
• Road Ends by Mary Lawson (review)
• The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (review)

Am very pleased that I was able to get these reviews done and posted and am that much closer to catching up with my reviews, even though I didn't get them all caught up with by the end of August, but they all are written up to some degree (the remaining 7 have been hand written and will posted throughout the week).  Looking forward to the end of September.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Sept. 1)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme that is hosted by Shelia at Book Journeyin which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

I can hardly believe that its been a month since I posted here, so here is what I have been up to in the last month:

Book finished in the last month:
• Empty Mansions
• We Were Liars
• The Circle
• Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
• The Cuckoo's Calling
• The Word Exchange
• Mrs. Hemingway

Book reviews posted:
• The Mysteries of the Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (review)
• The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle (review)
• Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (review)
• The Bear by Claire Cameron (review)
• A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (review)
• The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (review)
• While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell (review)
• A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (review)
• The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (review)
• Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (review)
• The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (review)
• The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (review)
• His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal (review)
• Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch (review)
• The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (review)
• The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (review)
• Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley (review)
• Levels of Life by Julian Barnes (review)
• Road Ends by Mary Lawson (review)
• The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (review)

Books I hope to finish this week:
• Under a Wide and Starry Sky
• The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Books I hope to work on this week:
• The Martian
• Bittersweet
• The Lady and The Unicorn
• The Invention of Wings

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt

Title: The Goldfinch
Author: Donna Tartt
Pages: 771
Published: 2013
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, Chunkster
Genre: Contemporary, Literary, Ficiton
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Personal

Description: 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. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts:  After reading a number of book reviews over the past few months, I realized that I needed to borrow the audiobook from the library and it was a good decision in the end, as I was able to get through several portions of the book.  When all I wanted to do was to give up, even though there were sections that I really enjoyed reading.

I will say that Ms. Tartt's ability to allow the reader to as though they are actually in the place being described.  I really liked Boris more than Theo, who seemed to be a tad too mopy for my liking.  It's not that the book wasn't well-written, it was very well-written, I just felt that Theo didn't deal with his grief very well and felt that the author could have maybe brought some sort of relief/happiness into Theo's life.  I also felt that the author rambled a little too much for my liking.

Bottom line: I would recommend the book for those that don't mind long books that sometimes tend to be on the rambley side of things.  Recommend.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pages for 2014: 16,305

If you have read it, what did you think of it?

Road Ends - Mary Lawson

Title: Road Ends
Author: Mary Lawson
Pages (File Size): 368 (2.2 MB)
Published: 2013
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, Canadian Book, E-Book Reading, Historical Fiction, I Love Libraries
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary, Canadian
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: Roads End brings us a family unravelling in the aftermath of tragedy: Edward Cartwright, struggling to escape the legacy of a violent past; Emily, his wife, cloistered in her room with yet another new baby, increasingly unaware of events outside the bedroom door; Tom, their eldest son, twenty-five years old but home again, unable to come to terms with the death of a friend; and capable, formidable Megan, the sole daughter in a household of eight sons, who for years held the family together but has finally broken free and gone to England, to try to make a life of her own.  

Thoughts: I had trouble following the storyline in the book at times, in that I could not find out what the focus of the book was.  While I enjoyed Megan's storyline, as she was the "normal" on in the family.  I found that reading the other perspectives difficult to get through and that they seemed to slow the book down to the point that I had to force myself to finish the book.

For a large portion of the book, I was unsure of why there was this pall cast over the book and felt scattered as a result.  The book was well written and made one feel as though you really in 1960s London and in a small northern Ontario town.

I think part of the problem that I had with book is that when I read Crow Lake a number of years ago, I was left wanting more, whereas with this book, I could hardly wait until this book had been completed.

Bottom line: While the book seems to be promising, the book fell a little short for me and that was probably a little depressing for me. If you like other contemporary Canadian authors or authors that set their books in small towns, you probably will enjoy this one, as well as fans of Mary Lawson.  Recommended.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2014: 15,534

If you have read this book, what did you think of it?
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