Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Night RoadNight Road by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BEWARE - this book will tear your heart out and make you CRY. A lot. A whole lot. Well, it's a Kristin Hannah novel and I've found that most of hers have that affect on me. They pull my heartstrings and I end up curled up, sobbing by the end. She just has a way of doing that to me.

This particular one REALLY struck a chord with me due to the fact that the story centers around boy/girl fraternal twins and I have boy/girl fraternal twins. It was hard to separate the events of the book and my own experience as a parent. I could relate to quite a bit of this novel.

I don't even remember how many times this book brought me to tears but it was at least 3-5 separate times. Wow. Talk about emotionally compelling!

I definitely recommend this one if you're ok with being brought to your knees emotionally and spending 1/4 of the book with tears in your eyes. It really is a great read! Definitely worth every tear!

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so surprised by how much I loved this book! I think its FANTASTIC! And it helped explain a lot of how I experience the world and why certain things do and do not work for me. Being an introvert can be very tricky in today's society and I found this book so reassuring!

This book is very readable. It's a pretty quick read, moving fast & keeping the readers attention consistently. The variety of situations and topics covered in the book were great. There was a good mix of explanation, tips and examples within the book.

I think this would be good for both introverts AND extroverts to read - to help us all understand one another better. I can think of a number of people in my own life that I wish would read this so they can better understand some of the choices that I make instead of treating me as if I'm crazy for those choices. I think it would be valuable for ALL of us to better understand one another and work together to honor the BEST in everyone!

I strongly recommend this one!

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although i didn't love this one nearly as much as the first in the series, it was a solid second book in a trilogy. It didn't quite wow me as much as the first but I did enjoy it and I will continue with the 3rd book when it comes out.

I still find the world that Veronica Roth has created to be interesting and compelling. However, I think what this book is missing is the fast moving plotting that was so central to Divergent. This book definitely felt like more of a set up book ... just a gateway to the final book in the trilogy. There was a focus on character development in this one but not much moving forward of the overall plot of the trilogy. I like the characters so I was OK with that but it did make this one a little less compelling than the first.

All in all, I enjoyed this one despite its flaws. I will definitely be reading the last book. I'm interested in seeing where Veronica Roth takes the story next. If you enjoyed the first one, I do recommend this one. It's not quite as good but its definitely worth a read!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: The Expats by Chris Pavone

The Expats: A NovelThe Expats: A Novel by Chris Pavone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was hesitant to read this novel initially because although I'd heard good things (Michael from the Books on the Nightstand, specifically) and the description sounded amazing, the reviews on Goodreads were not particularly strong. Given how many books I want to read, I didn't really want to spend a lot of time reading a book that everyone seemed to not like. However, the premise of the story drew me in so I decided to go for it!

And I'm so glad that I did! Although not a perfect book, it's definitely an interesting concept that intrigued me from page one! I'm not telling you much about it because part of what I enjoyed most was seeing the story come together as I was reading. Knowing too much would take away some of the very thing that I liked about the novel.

The first part of the novel was a bit slow but it did pick up and then sped up, racing to the end. I thought the story was compelling - the idea behind the novel unique. The characters weren't outstanding but they were pretty good. I don't think that took away from my enjoyment of the book. For me, this one was about story and mystery. I overlooked a lot because I thought the story and the mystery central to the novel were so well done.

I will say that I felt the story could have used a bit more depth and texture. There were times when it felt a bit stale and bland. Yet, other times it felt fully realized with a lot of depth. I guess it was uneven in that way, for me. But, I easily overlooked that because I loved so much of the novel.

I thought this was a good literary mystery (hard to characterize this one, in my opinion) and I would recommend it to others. But, know that many on Goodreads didn't care for it as much as I did!

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow ChildThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was such a treat! I loved the fact that the story is based upon a Russian fairytale - it certainly had a magical vibe. I was very taken with the characters, the story, and the setting. The setting was probably one of the things I loved most - Eowyn Ivey made the Alaskan wilderness come alive. It was certainly a character in the book as much as any of the people. This one is fairly slow - it it told quietly, slowly and deliberately. I liked that aspect of the novel but I can see where some might feel like its too slow moving.

The characters were so well drawn and their relationships were characterized very effectively. I really came to care deeply about all of them. This is a very quiet book that focuses on the characters and their relationships. And its fantastic! Mabel and her relationship with her husband is at the heart of the story and I found myself very enchanted by their love for one another.

Eowyn Ivey has a way with words - her prose just comes alive off of the page. She really made me FEEL like I was in Alaska with these people. And I didn't want to leave.

This book is really unlike any that I've read before which is one of the things that is so special about it. It's outstanding and enchanting and wonderful! I can't wait to see what Eowyn Ivey has in store for us in her future novels! I definitely recommend this one!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Salvage the BonesSalvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really struggled with rating this one - it was really more of a 3 and a half for me. On the one hand, I thought the book was good - interesting characters, the setting was fascinating & the story of these characters is really gripping and feels true to the setting. However, there were some flaws for me - primarily, the speed & pacing was horrible in my opinion. Some of the writing was uneven to me - some places it was so beautiful that it was almost poetic yet In others, it was dense and repetitive and in need of serious editing. In my opinion, that took away from the overall impact of the story. But, its a really good book in terms of portraying a very specific time, place and cultural/socioeconomic reality. So, I'm ultimately torn in my assessment of the novel.

The descriptions of the impact of Hurricane Katrina was extremely well done. I really felt as if I was there - experiencing the impact along with the characters. Although the actual Hurricane Katrina pieces didn't happen until late in the book, those are the chapters that I think stand out. They are so well written and descriptive as to give the reader a true sense of how riding out Hurricane Katrina (and the aftermath of the impact) must have been for the impoverished families in that community. It was just a stunning portrayal of Katrina.

This novel is NOT easy to read. Beyond the pacing of the novel, there is a dog fighting component as well as a lot of poverty and other kinds of darkness. The dog fighting was well done, in my opinion. It's never fun to read about that kind of brutality but I think it gave me a new perspective on the practice that I'd never thought about. I'll still never understand it. But, I thought that component really gave the story itself another layer that complimented the overall themes. And I didn't find it too graphic - just graphic enough to show the true brutality of the practice but not graphic enough to make me put the book down. The poverty and situations the characters find themselves in were certainly disturbing as well. This is not an uplifting novel. It's dark, haunting and raw.

I think this one is definitely worth the read, despite its flaws. I understand why so many people are giving raving reviews but this novel ultimately didn't wow me. I am eager to see what Jesmyn Ward has in store for us in the future.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending JacobDefending Jacob by William Landay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book really has it all - it's a legal thriller with more nuances than the typical legal thriller. There is family drama, psychological exploration and more. I can't tell you much about the story as there are twists and turns that would too easily give up the story & the big 'twist' that is critical to the enjoyment of the novel (in my opinion).

The narrative is even and polished. The way that Landay weaves the story together is just fantastic. The story is strong as is the writing. Landay does a fantastic job of pushing the story forward, maintaining interest and momentum. Expert plotting combined with excellent dialogue makes for a fantastic read. In addition, the character development is great - I found the teen characters to be very authentic in comparison to what I have experienced with my teen step daughter and her friends.

All in all, this is a really strong legal thriller that is so much more than a legal thriller. It's a fantastic look at family, friendship, parenthood, and love. I definitely recommend this one! It is very readable yet offers much more than the typical legal thriller novel. And the end of the story was very satisfying to me - which isn't always the case with this sort of novel!

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