Monday, July 14, 2014

More Mini Reviews...

I mentioned that I had been reading up a storm and recently post some mini reviews, well here are some of the other books that I've recently read.  I tell you, these books are like candy to me lately - its awesome!  Here are the mini reviews:

What an engaging murder/mystery filled with lots of suspense and thrills.  Through the story you are able to learn about Taiwanese culture and history, which I loved!  Apparently, August is Ghost Month in Taiwan, which means that you must commemorate the dead.  Unfortunately for Jing-nan, he finds out about the death of an old high school classmate - think first love.  Circumstances surrounding her murder just don't add up, so Jing-nan finds himself smack dab in the middle of trying to figure it all out.  Fast-paced and filled with twists and turns, Ghost Month is a terrific book for the beach, airport, train, or waiting room.  It grabs your attention and won't let go!  Its a quick read that you will definitely enjoy - check it out!

I love me some women's fiction and this one is the epitome of that genre - which I loved!  The Appetites of Girls is a riveting story about four young women who meet in college and promise to stay in touch no matter what.  Of course life gets in the way, but that is the beauty of the story - the ways in which  these four women navigate the ups and downs that life throws at them.  We get to know these women from adolescence, college, to adulthood; and we get to know what they think of one another through Moses' use of alternating points of view (as a means for dividing the book up).   The book explores friendship, love, sexuality, body image, and so much more in such a nuanced and organic manner that you can't help but easily connect with these four women.  Reading their stories is akin to reading your own journal (or your best friend's journal).  I absolutely loved this book!

Set at the end of the silent film era, this supposed fictitious romp takes place in Africa.  Two brothers, Micah and Izzy, decide to make the most EPIC film of all in Africa.  And from this point on, overly graphic descriptions/scenes, offensive comments (racist and sexual) deluge the writing - making the book a DNF.  I just couldn't get through the story and found myself utterly unimpressed with O, Africa!.   I had hoped for a fun read about the silent film era ( a bit of historical fiction ) and instead got a book about two inane brothers who I just could not stand.  I will definitely not be recommending this one. 

This is the perfect beach read - it has a gothic feel to it, and its a coming-of-age story.  Mabel is a scholarship kid who winds up rooming with a wealthy gal named Ev.  During the school year, Ev pretty much ignore Mabel - so its a bit of a surprise when she suddenly invites her to spend the summer with her and her family at their estate in Vermont.  Hmm... me thinks that something fishy is going on regarding this invite.  Well, suffice it to say, craziness and wrongdoings ensue to the fullest up in Vermont.  From incestuous relationships to the deep, dark secret manner in which Ev's family earned their fortune - you will be hooked!  I absolutely loved getting lost in this twisted story. 

Psychological suspense-filled fiction is where its at!  Seriously, this book was good.  Until You're Mine tells the story of a mentally disturbed woman who has babies on the brain to the extreme - like she will do anything to get a baby (anything!!).  Enter, Claudia, a heavily pregnant woman, who decides to hire Zoe to help around the house.  The more she gets to know Zoe, the more she begins to worry about her - how well does she know this woman and what about her makes her so uneasy.  Hmmm....and what's with all of those recent attacks on pregnant women?...yep, looks like Claudia may have gotten more than she bargained for with Zoe.  Or is there more to Zoe's story than mere coincidence?  Tons of red herrings are thrown your way, along with some twists and turns that will leave you shocked by the end.  I just loved Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes!

This is about chimps and humans.  We get two stories:  a human couple adopts a baby chimp and learns about the ins and outs of raising a chimp (the older they get, the more aggressive they get); and we get chimps in a research lab told through the eyes of both the humans and chimps.  I found A Beautiful Truth to be an interesting read that really showcases the relationships between man and animal - the question of relativity concerning chimps and humans is of course touched upon.  I found myself utterly captivated by McAdam's exploration of family, love, and relationships through the eyes of two very different species: humans and chimps.

Once again I have caved and read a book that everyone was talking about - ack! When will I learn?!  The 5th Wave (the first in a trilogy) is about a young girl named Cassie.  She believes that she is the last human standing on earth.  You see, aliens have landed and they are not nice like E.T. , nope they are mean like on Falling Skies.  Suffice it to say, the book is about Cassie's survival, her flashbacks to how it all went down, and her realization that she isn't alone.  Now, that alone sounds like a fun book to get caught up in, right?  And it is, to a point.  The writing is rather repetitive, too predictable, and not as engaging as I had hoped.  There are so many sections that I just skimmed through, that I'm surprised I didn't just stop reading the book.  I'm not sure I'll continue with this trilogy - its just not as great as everyone is saying and I'm not sure I see what all the fuss is about. 

Love, love, love!  Of course, I knew I was going to gobble up this collection of stories about the character, Four, from the Divergent series.  How could I not?  Its Four!  This collection of four stories ( The Transfer, The Initiate, The Son, and The Traitor)  takes us through Tobias Eaton's experience in Abnegation with his volatile father and his own Choosing Day.  We finally get a peek inside Tobias' (who rechristens himself Four once he becomes Dauntless) thoughts and I absolutely enjoyed the experience.  Short and sweet, these four novellas share with us Four's decision to choose Dauntless and how his life changes from that day forth.  We get to read about his initiation, his immediate dislike for Erudite Eric (who betrays him and causes the death of Four's friend, Amar), and we get to learn about his initial feelings toward Tris upon meeting her and training her.  I absolutely loved falling back into Veronica Roth's thrilling world - it was familiar, comfortable, and so much fun.  I would recommend this book to fans of the Divergent series- you will love it!!

Not a bad mix, eh?  I know that I enjoyed nearly all of these books and am really loving this reading binge of mine.  I just finished another book last night (that I'll be reviewing next week) and have already started a new one by Ann Patchett (which I am LOVING).  And, I finally got my copy of Landline (which it seems everyone has already read) - it got delivered to the wrong city (ugh!!) - which I can't wait to start.  Anyhow, I'm off to read more Patchett.  Happy reading!!

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with copies of the following books: Ghost Month, The Appetites of Girls, O, Africa!, Bittersweet, Until You're Mine, and A Beautiful Truth.


Ti said...

Bittersweet has gotten many great reviews lately. It sounds like a book I would enjoy but at first glance, the cover does nothing for me so I've overlooked it more than once.

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Ti, I can dig that. I tend to be a cover snob and if I'm not digging the cover then I will pass on the book (sometimes).

Lark said...

That's a great mix of books! I can't wait to check out The Appetites of Girls and Bittersweet. (And I know what you mean about The 5th Wave; I read it, too, and thought it was only so-so. I can pretty much guarantee I won't be reading the sequel to that one.)

Mystica said...

I do so like your mini reviews. Comprehensive though mini.

Brandie said...

So, you recommend Bittersweet? I've seen a lot of rave reviews and I've hesitated a few times on whether I want to read it. If it will suck me in, I'm willing to give it a go!

I can't wait to see what you think of Landline!

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Lark, it really is :) Definitely check out those two books - they are so good! I'm glad that I wasn't the only non-fan of The 5th Wave.

Mystica, thanks :)

Brandie, I enjoyed it. I got sucked in :) I'm excited to read it next!

Meredith said...

Ooh, so glad to hear about Ghost Month! Possibly I can get to it after Murakami...although you've tempted me to start it tonight. (Busy reading for SpanishnLit Month, though.)

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Bellezza, enjoy it! I found it to be a quick, easy read that I rather liked more than I thought I would.