Monday, July 7, 2014

Mini Reviews...

Once again I've been gobbling up books like there's no tomorrow.  I just can't seem to help myself.  The other day I read two books (one in the morning and one in the afternoon/evening) and then started a third after I finished watching The Talking Dead.  Its like I'm constantly hungry for books.  I do read magazines (Elle, Vogue, O, Redbook), but they wind up leading to more books (TBR lists).  So, I just read.  The only problem with all of this reading, is that I don't have time to write reviews for all of them.  So, I'm going to rely on the "mini review" to share with you what I've recently read.  Here goes:

I read this one, because everyone seemed to LOVE it.  Everywhere I turned this book was staring back at me and people were raving about it.  Plus, I was in the mood for some YA.  

Well, I can definitely admit to getting sucked into this story right from the start.  Chock full of family drama, teen angst, first love, a raging fire, and faded memories helped keep my interest, however the word "liars" from the title loomed large in my head.  My attention began to dwindle when I sussed out where the story was heading and I did not like it - too predictable!  Definitely not a book that I'll be re-reading or even remembering a month from now.

Ephram Jennings has loved Ruby Bell since they were children.  He has always wanted to know her, love her, and protect her.  Ruby has gone through hell and back so many times, the scars are not only visible but pulsating from her beaten and emotionally broken body.  These two have fallen prey to a dark magic that has seeped into the very ground they walk on, the people they have grown up with, and the town they have always lived in.  Ruby escapes from Liberty to NYC where she makes ends meet by selling her body - a trade she was forced into as a child.  Ephram bags groceries for a living and relies on his sister Celia to take care of him.  His life is built on routine and religion (Celia's doing).  The two couldn't have more or less in common than you could imagine.  

Bond's story brings Ruby and Ephram together slowly, all the while revealing parts of their pasts that will shock you, break you, and just leave you crying for these two souls who deserve so much happiness and freedom from everyone and everything set on destroying them.  Ruby is a beautifully written story filled with pain, desire, love, and so much more.  I would most definitely recommend this book - it is truly a must-read. 

The Fever is the YA version of The Crucible - it is filled with lying teens who mimic each other and traumatize a community.   Except its modern day and not 1692; and we have teens who text.  In Abbott's book, we have a group of teen girls who one by one suddenly fall ill - and the culprit to blame is the HPV vaccine (maybe?!).  Suffice it to say, the guilty party is none other than jealousy.  Yep, a girl is in love with her friend's older brother and she hears he was in the bushes with a mutual friend and the next thing you know she is cajoled into spiking said friend's thermos with a potent mixture.  Its pretty crazy/scary to think about the lengths a girl would go to just to get back at her so called friend.  Makes that movie Mean Girls look like child's play.  Overall, I found The Fever to be too predictable and the HPV angle to be rather annoying (in a headline news grabbing way). 

A humorous and heartfelt novel filled with a cast of quirky characters all experiencing huge life changes.  Rosie is forty-four and living with her grandmother, Soapie.  She moved back in after breaking things off with her boyfriend of fourteen years and is trying to help her grandmother and her self.  Life gets complicated when she winds up getting pregnant in the midst of her mid-life crisis.  Plus, it doesn't help when Soapie lets her in on big secret that has Rosie questioning her life decisions.  

I found this book to be the perfect chick lit/women's fiction read for a rainy day - it made me laugh, cry, and smile.  I would happily recommend it.

I'd never read anything by Dubus before, so when I got this book in the mail, I was a bit hesitant.  However, once I began to read his beautiful written words, I fell in deep.  Dirty Love is a book comprised of four short stories about relationships - the before, during, and after.  We read about the love, the sex, the emotions and everything in between that makes people crave connections with one another.  Its a bit depressing at times, but then again so are relationships (when they are not working out).  I found Dubus to be a terrific storyteller - one whose books I will happily search out.  So, yes, I would definitely recommend Dirty Love to fans of Andre Dubus III and anyone looking for a great book of short stories.

I'm going to be honest and admit that I agreed to read this book, because I thought the author was rather cute.  I know, how shallow of me - but what can I say, I'm a sucker for cute authors.  Anyhow, I will not make that mistake again.  Not all cute authors can write well - lesson learned.  A Farm Dies Once A Year is a book about a full growing season on Crawford's family's farm - New Morning Farm.  We get the ins and outs, the ups and downs, and Crawford's perspective of the maintenance of a farm and his own personal life living/working on it.  I found the writing to be rather disjointed at times and veering on the political (like he was trying to push an agenda).  The inner-workings of a farm are interesting, but overall I found Crawford's voice to be rather tiresome.  Not an enjoyable read.

This book turned up everywhere last year, so I finally decided to give it a read.  Let me just say that I wished I had kept on waiting to read it.  The Interestings by Wolitzer is far from interesting.  This is the story of a group of selfish teens who grow up to be even more selfish adults.  Money is no object for all of them, except Jules - the outsider they invited "in" to their group at camp one summer.  Through the years, Jules has grown jealous of her so called best friends Ash and Ethan.  All she does is whinge to her husband over and over about what little they have and how much the others do have.  Its beyond annoying!  Plus, the whole thing with Ash's brother raping their mutual friend and then escaping to Europe is crazy - why even have that be a part of the story?  I mean I get why, but still it was just too much and only showed what hypocritical snobs Ash's family was (something Jules drooled over being).  And then there is Jonah who is still madly crushing on Jules - the torch never blew out?!  Lame!  Actually, the lamest part of the story was when Jules convinced her husband that they should run the magical camp she attended as a teen ( you know, where she met "the interestings") - Ack!  This was one book that I am happy to forget and delete from my kindle.

What a charming read! I absolutely enjoyed immersing myself in Mankoff's memoir, especially as it showcased his famous cartoons from The New Yorker.  Filled with personal anecdotes about his life, along with tidbits regarding his professional life, this book also highlights Mankoff's tips on creating a great cartoon and getting it published. I loved reading this book!  I would definitely recommend to fans of Mankoff's New Yorker cartoons - check it out!

I am Team Hillary all the way - 2016!!!  So, of course I just had to read the latest book about her political career - HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton by Jonathan Allen and Aime Parnes.  I was excited to learn more about the Democratic Party's future presidential nominee.

Written in an engaging tone, HRC, is an easy book to get caught up in.  I found myself feeling like a fly on the wall, as I read all about Clinton's relationship with President Obama and how she handled the aftermath of Benghazi.  This was an insightful book filled with information from political insiders.  We get to see the changes Clinton underwent in order to become the "unifying candidate within the Democratic Party".  Her work at the White House and within the Democratic Party is a testament to the strong, intelligent, savvy woman that makes Hillary Clinton a popular and important political figure in the world today.  I would definitely recommend this book to fans of political nonfiction.

I'm already wishing for the sequel to Mr. Mercedes to get here - that is how much I loved this new King book. I can't help it - I am hooked on Hodges.  And what about Brady - he woke up?! Ugh! King has most definitely captured my attention with his latest tome, Mr. Mercedes.  And the fact that the book is the first in a trilogy - how can I not be eager to read what else is to come?!  

In Mr. Mercedes, King has created a horribly creepy guy named Brady who is Mr. Mercedes - the mass murderer who mowed down a bunch of people one early morning as they all waited outside in line for a job fair.  Brady was never caught.  Hodges is the retired cop who never figured out the identity of Mr. Mercedes.  He's depressed and unhappy since retiring from the force and tends to spend his days watching TV and playing with his father's old gun. Then one day Hodges gets a letter from someone purporting to be Mr. Mercedes and the next thing you know - the chase is back on. 

Talk about classic King! This book has suspense, mystery, chills and thrills.  I loved the references King made to his other works (think It and Christine).  And, I just loved Hodges and his gang.  I'm so eager to find out where King will take this story next - can't wait!!  So, yes, I would definitely recommend Mr. Mercedes to fans of King and anyone looking for a great summer read.

 Imagine my delight when I opened the post to this lovely treasure - a Doctor Who book! Love, love, love!  It was a "thank you" for having reviewed a dew Doctor Who books last year - how cool!  Anyhow, I happily devoured this book of four short stories in one sitting.  Devoted to the eleventh Doctor, who spent nine hundred years defending the planet Trenzalore and town of Christmas, Tales of Trenzalore is a terrific book to get lost in.  I absolutely loved reading all about the citizens of Christmas and their admiration for the Doctor who they relied on to help defend them from the wicked monsters hellbent on destroying them.  Each story tackles a different horror that the Doctor outsmarted to save the day and I loved them all.  Filled with crazy/scary beings crashlanded on Trenzalore, each story focuses on a different citizen of Christmas and help remind us just how breakable the Doctor really is.  I would most definitely recommend this book to fans of Doctor Who!

Well, there you have it, some of my recent reads.  A pretty good mix, eh?  Some were definitely hits and others fell short, but overall they made for a great couple weeks of reading.  And now I'm off to continue reading Rick Yancey's, The 5th Wave.  Happy reading!!

Thanks to the publishers who provided me with the following books: Tales of Trenzalore, Ruby, The Fever, The Opposite of Maybe, Dirty Love, A Farm Dies Once a Year, How About Never, and HRC.


Ti said...

I haven't written up my thoughts on We Were Liars yet but I am kind of "meh" over it. And The Fever, didn't care for the vaccine slant.

But The Interestings.. I loved that book but my life is kind of like that book. Not so much the stories contained within but sacred friendships made during a specific time in your life.

And the farm book. I have it but never actually started it. I think I planned to and then got sidetracked. Yes, the author is really good looking but I love farm stories. I am still going to read it but will go in with your warning in my head.

Brandie said...

You are on a role! Wow, I really wish I could get that much reading done. I'm jealous!

I agree with you on We Were Liars. I didn't get the hype - it was disappointing to me.

Glad to see your thoughts on Fever - I'm going to skip it now. I was on the fence, but doesn't seem worth my time.

Dot said...

I think I might have to give Mr Mercedes a go, I've not read any Stephen King.

bermudaonion said...

Holy cow, you've been a reading machine!

I felt like HRC was too pro-Hillary. I like her a lot but felt like the story wasn't balanced. In fact, it felt like the beginning of her next campaign to me.

Nadia said...

Ti, I'm glad we agree on Liars and Fever - definitely "meh". As for Interestings, I remember your post and how much you loved it. I can definitely dig the whole idea of sacred friendships, but I just never felt that Jules was truly a part of that sacredness. Plus, I just hated all of the characters - LOL! Hope you enjoy the Farm book!

Brandie, thanks :) I don't know whats gotten into me, but I am just eating up books left and right. Yes, I don't get all the hype surrounding Liars at all - such a disappointing read! Yeah, Fever was OTT and just a huge disappointment.

Dot, definitely read King - you will enjoy his work. He just has this way of captivating you with his stories about small time life and all the horrors that lie beneath the surface. With Mr. Mercedes, its more about the people (how horribly crazy they can be). Check it out!

Nadia said...

Kathy, I have been lately and I'm loving it :) As for HRC, I can definitely agree with your assessment and that's why I loved the book.