Posts Tagged With: reading

Book Review: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella – 5 of 5


I’ve Got Your Number
by Sophie Kinsella

number

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can’t help it. Love this book.

I read this book over the course of two days, during which time the following happened:

1) I snort-laughed on the rush hour commuter train to work. I also gasp-laughed, guffawed, and tittered.
2) I read this book, at my desk, at work, over my empty lunch container, pretending I was still eating so I could keep reading. (mind you, I love my job and usually happily work through lunch.)
3) On the rush hour train back from work, I laughed maniacally, and loud enough, to make my seat-mate jump.
4) I had hard, set plans to go to the gym tonight. Instead, I sat for two hours and finished the book. Needless to say, I’m still on the couch.

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I adored Poppy. She was ridiculous and psychotic and so damn real. Sure, there were a couple parts where I said, no, not possible, but I rolled with it. She was a wonderful protagonist with such a great sense of identity. When you pick up a chick lit book you don’t always anticipate, or even hope for, real character growth and development. But I think Kinsella really nailed it.

There is one part in particular where she really nailed it. I had to go back and re-read. Kinsella had me totally fooled. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you know how it’s going to end when you start it, but the way she got there was just wonderful. Excellent author sleight of hand there.

Adorable.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reviewing a Classic: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna

With the recent hype of the Anna Karenina movie, I decided it was time to tackle the tome that is Tolstoy – it’s my first real encounter with Tolstoy and I figured this would be the best place to start. After all, I’ve enjoyed many other classic romance novels and Anna tends to fall in among other names like Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Eyre, etc.

One of the biggest complaints I have heard is the inability to keep the characters straight with all those crazy Russian names all over the place. I had no trouble though. No, I side on with the other popular complaint – the damn length. I was so close to liking it, I really was, but there was just so much in-between mucking it all up.

I don’t need to go on and on, Tolstoy has that covered, let me just put it like this.

According to my nook version I read, this story was 1157 nook pages. I legitimately enjoyed 500 of those. Those 500 or so pages were impressive, Interesting, page turning, and heart-poundingly wonderful.

The rest? Well… okay, how about this. Do you know when you’re with a group of people and half of them know each other from somewhere you’re unfamiliar with? Like, maybe they were all in a class together that you weren’t in? Then they start telling stories about people you don’t know? So, of course, you listen because you’re not a rude person, and the stories are kind of interesting, or funny, or whatever but since you don’t actually know the people you’re missing some kind of crucial element to make the experience actually enjoyable.

The rest is kind of like that.

So is it worth you time? If you’re willing to skim, I think so. The story and premise itself is great, it’s just Tolstoy likes his world and he wanted to say a lot about it. It was also written during a time when making a political point in a novel was normal. Hooray for reading it now.

Last night I watched the newest version of Anna Karenina and was pleasantly surprised, for the most part I think they did a great job… until the end. I won’t spoil anything but I feel as though they just missed the mark on who Anna is overall and, especially, why she does what she does at the end. I think the movie implies her motives are out of jealousy when I think it’s more of a realization that she’s wholly and utterly trapped- mostly by herself.

So – all the hours spent reading the book, and the hours I spent watching the movie and I still come back with a shrug and a meh.

Well, at least I know someone cares.

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Top Seven Books I Loved From the First Line to the End

Ever get two pages into a book and think, “Oh man, this is going to be good.”?   Expect that from these reads.

1) The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

   invisiblebridge

This book is powerful. If you enjoy WWII literature at all – this is totally worth your while. Even if you don’t, you should read it. Andras Levi, the protagonist, is a great character. He’s one of those central focus characters that is almost perfect in nature – kind, intelligent, thoughtful – who provides a fantastic window to see the other characters and the rest of the world. I miss his mind already and I’ve only been out of it for a day.

The writing itself is spectacular, Orringer is overwhelmingly good. She describes settings that make me feel, even more than see.

Beautiful beginning, middle, and end.

2) In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah

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This is the only book I have ever finished and immediately wanted to re-read. I originally read this on my nook and have now bought a paper copy as well.  This is one of those books that I want to scribble on, highlight phrases that jumped out at me and somehow said everything I never knew I wanted to express. Maybe my significant attachment came because I was reading this while I was living and traveling alone in Spain, knowing that a visitation to Morocco was on the horizon.  Regardless, it’s excellent.

So why? Why am I so ga-ga over this book? One of my greatest loves in life is traveling and this book just oozes with the emotions of a traveler. Shah is an individual who is restless, who is curious, who judges people with an eye of disbelief AND understanding, who takes people as what they are and, while human beings are unable to completely ever fill another’s shoes, he incorporates what he can. It’s incredible – I stopped multiple times while reading to ponder or scribble down a sentence. Shah’s words described my own emotions: it’s so wonderful to feel understood.

This book is both memoir and story – it’s a mixture of tales, events, meaningful and not. His ability to tie in everything makes me believe he’s led not only a great life but also a fascinating one – I believe this book is filled with both truths and fibs and it works beautifully into one tapestry.

3) Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones by Erica Jong

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This book was pretty astounding and probably the least expected to be on the list. Very rarely have I reacted to a book with as much gusto – and I’m not talking about tears and laughter here, I’m talking about flat out shock. In terms of fiction, I’ve never had a book startle me as much as this one did and I loved it all the more for it.

Erica Jong wrote this in such a manner that I truly believed she was Fanny Hackabout-Jones. She said in the beginning that she would keep no modesty, and she kept true to her word. The events in this book had ways of simultaneously disgusting and arousing me but ultimately making me truly care for, and hate, the same ones that Fanny did. Fanny wanted to teach Belinda, her daughter, all the things she had learned in the world.

At the very least, I think she succeeded in teaching me.

4) Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

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I have read this book a number of times and, yep, still love it.  This is one of those books that every time I see a used copy for sale somewhere, I still want to buy it.  As it is I’ve bought two copies for myself, mostly just because I love to lend it.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Baraboo, Wisconsin – a small town where the Ringling Bros museum and winter headquarters are – but this novel is like gold to me. Circus stuff fascinates me and Gruen puts together all the deeper, darker parts to make this a story completely for adults.

The images are brilliant without being overwhelming. It’s told from the eyes of an old man named Jacob looking back on his life as a young man. Because of this, I feel like we see things precisely the way humans remember them. I noticed Jacob’s feelings: his anger, frustration, confusion, compassion, and helplessness the most throughout the book. It thrilled me throughout.

5) Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

wildwood dancing

Ho-ly cow, this is good. This is good good. This is really good good.

I don’t know what I really expected when I began this. I had briefly read some reviews, heard it was a fairy tale and decided to pick it up. When they say fairy tale they mean it in the Grimm sense of the term – man, this is DARK. I was spooked and concerned far more than I was laughing.

The characters are fascinating. We see the world through the eyes of Jena; second oldest of five. She’s the most sensible, mildly attractive, easy to relate to. She and her sisters have been visiting the ‘Other Kingdom’ every full moon for dancing, relating with other world creatures, etc. Right from the beginning we learn that, while her sisters seem at ease, Jena has always had some trepidation about the whole experience. That feeling of unease only grows through the book. It’s extremely high powered.

Probably my best praise of this book is how Marillier puts it together. Let’s see if I can explain this properly: This story is full of twists and turns, however nothing quite took me by “surprise” – I managed to at least kind of guess each new and exciting part to the story. However, I don’t believe that was at all my intuition. I think that Marillier does a fantastic job with foreshadowing – she kept me in the dark for as long as SHE wanted to keep me there. Very well executed.

6) City of Thieves by David Benioff

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This book was recommended to me by my history professor – and for good reason. It’s fantastic. It’s everything I want in a WWII setting novel. It had the history, the imagery, but it also had a story that was independent of it all. It was nice to have that fresh piece in there, something many other WWII related novels are missing. The events are so horrific – death, starvation, siege – and yet it’s so contrasted by the vibrant characters. I never thought I would have loved a character like Kolya so much. I seriously wanted to marry him by the time the book was half over. Exceptional story for a little history, a little fiction, and a great story

7) The Help by Kathryn Stockett

thehelp

Holy cow. What a phenomenal book. I read this book at the height of it’s popularity – before the movie and when you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about it. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into – all I knew was that it was a supposedly good book and that it was that month’s read for my book club. I can’t even begin to say how happy I am to have read it.

And, what’s funny is, my favorite part is technically not part of the book. It’s the very end, where Stockett takes a moment to say why this book exists and how she felt, being a white woman who grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, writing it. For me, this helped solve all the questions I had, and the mixed emotions I felt, throughout the book. This is the kind of book that even though some might not agree or might not think she had a right to write it… I’m glad she did.

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8 Books to Read Now, Before Hollywood Steals Your Characters

I’m all for book being made into movies, if it makes people more aware of a great story, bring it on.  Even when the movie doesn’t exactly match the book, I don’t always mind.  For me a movie is a different entertainment medium and sometimes things are altered – so long as the movie is good and done well, more power to them.

Regardless of how much I support movies, though, there is one thing I will always hate.  It doesn’t matter how much you try not to – your image of those characters will be forever altered.  That actor, actress, set, whatever, will forever be in your mind as portrayed in the movie and however you imagined it before is taken away from you.  It’s, easily, the move depressing part of movies from books I can come up with. I can still vaguely remember my version of Hermoine and, no offense Emma Watson, I miss my Hermoine like crazy.

Therefore, here is my life of movies soon-to-hit-theatres you should read before it’s too late to create the magical world yourself.

1) The Book Thief
Release Date: November 15, 2013

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You don’t have much time as this is scheduled to come out in November.  As it’s a long book, too, I suggest getting started on it right away.  I always recommend books be read before the movie is seen but I super emphasize it with The Book Thief.  If you are going to read this book, I highly suggest doing it in audio book format. The narrator is phenomenal – I imagine that is exactly what death sounds like. I truly think hearing it read aloud made the experience for me; some of the other reviews I have heard indicated the story can drag a little, but in the audiobook format that flowery, somewhat backwards and fascinating imagery (my favorite kind of imagery) really came alive.

I like this book for so many reasons – it’s a genre I read a lot, it’s a perspective that’s new, and, while I’m not entirely thrilled with death as a narrator, I appreciate the newness of it. Liesel as a protagonist was amazingly real. Her personality was one of the most… well… authentic I’ve read in a long time.

My rating: 4/5 stars

2) Ender’s Game
Release Date: November 1, 2013

enders

This is another one you have to get to soon – also set to release in November.  It’s a little shorter, and faster, of a read than The Book Thief, so I have faith you can do both.

Any book that makes me stay up until the wee hours of the morning is a good book; so, by the transitive property…

This is one of those books that I dove into with zero background. I didn’t even read the back cover. I’ve just noticed that a lot of people love it and when I asked the husband what to read next, he put it in my hands, and I started reading. And overall, I liked it. Unique, interesting, involving… but not quite five stars. I found the sibling relationships so… off-kilter and the ending didn’t hold a whole lot for me. But pick it up and give it a try – you won’t regret it.

My rating: 4/5 stars

3) Gone Girl
Release Date: 2015?

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I’m mostly interested in seeing this movie because I’m curious if they can pull it off on film.  The reader’s facts are entirely based on one character’s thoughts, and translating that to film is going to be tricky business.

This book is too long and dense to complete in just one evening – which is unfortunate because you’ll spend the time not reading it thinking about it.

In this book, Nick Dunne’s wife goes missing.

And I think that’s just about everything can say. Anything else would be a spoiler.

My rating: 4/5 stars

4) The Night Circus
Release Date: 2014

night circus

I don’t often get excited about a book being turned into a movie – at most I’m interested.  But this movie, if they do it right, it could be phenomenal.  The images… I mean, they could do so many fantastic scenes!  I’m positively giddy about seeing a visual representation of this circus and, to be honest, it might make me feel better about the book. I found myself getting confused at time and the sequencing of a movie could probably help a lot.

While many people find this hard to get through on paper or e-reader, I myself had a hard time connecting with the characters, I think it would be great coupled with the visuals of Hollywood.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

5) Suite Francaise
Release Date: 2014

suite

This is an example of a book being made into a movie that makes me sigh in relief.  Even if the movie isn’t perfect, it might get more people to read the book, and this is a story everyone should make a part of them.

When I first picked it up, I was only so-so involved. I was confused by the characters, and, to be honest, alarmed by how small the font size was. But the more I read the more entranced I became. What a fantastic writer, and even more, what a fantastic story. This if the kind of novel I would love to write – a myriad of characters, loosely connected in passing but wholly connected by the horrors of war.

My rating: 4/5 stars

6) The Fault in Our Stars
Release Date: 2014

  The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

For me, this is a book you need to read now because I could really easily see the movie not being able to capture the true essence of the book.  Within two minutes of turning on this book (yes, I read it in audio book) I knew two things – it was going to be good, and it wasn’t going to end happy.

First off, unless you live under a rock and somehow this book ended up on your doorstep, you probably already know that this book has amazing reviews. So amazing that I wasn’t even cynical about it. I started this book because I knew enjoying it would be a done deal. Sometimes it’s nice to have the confidence.

Second, you know immediately that the main character has cancer. This main character is a teenage girl. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that sad things happen in this book.

When you get this combo, I think it’s easy to do it wrong, to mess it up.  Green did a great job writing this to make the perfect balance.  It’s going to take that same balance on the screen to get it right.  Read first and see if you agree!

My rating: 4/5 stars.

7) Angelfall
Release Date: ??

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It looks like the movie adaptation of this might be a long way off.  That makes sense, considering the rest of the books of this series aren’t even published yet.  Regardless, I can definitely see the movie potential to this.  It’s young adult, it’s fast, it’s a unique world.

I personally liked this book more for the world – the fallen angel theme, while not entirely unique, certainly is well done on this book.  For me the characters weren’t always the most interesting, nor did they react the way I thought they should all the time, but their world and interactions were exciting.  I read this book in no time at all, it’s definitely a page turner. This will likely be really great on film.

My rating: 3.5/5

8) Unbroken
Release Date: End of 2014

Unbroken

I positively gush about this book. This was one of the most incredible books I’ve read. I was even lucky enough to enjoy it in beautiful audiobook format, which I would highly recommend. There are parts to this book where I know, reading on paper, I would have skimmed in an effort to learn what would happen next – the audiobook made me listen to each and every detail, and I’m thankful for it.

This book is a perfect example where ignorance is bliss. While I have savored many WWII memoirs and stories, I’d mostly stuck to Holocaust areas and that created the entirety of my understanding of the war. I learned next to nothing in school (hooray, US public school history classes) and was completely unaware that someone names Louis Zamperini ever existed. That, coupled by my purchase of this book without even reading the blurb, led me to a tumultuous read that sent my emotions through the roof.

Hillenbrand is a magician of factual, interesting details. The amount of research that went into this story is incredible, and so worth it. The descriptions told from the eyes and memories of those who lived it – for how many people we learned about – it was all so moving, so overwhelming. It’s a book I truly felt. I wanted at every moment to gush over what I had just learned to everyone I knew, but resisted, because I didn’t want to ruin anything for the people I plan I harassing until they read it.

Now, stop reading this, and read the book.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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