Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! What a fantastic little book! This one packs quite a large emotional punch! I was so taken with the story that I found myself sobbing at several points in the book - and not bad sobbing but GOOD sobbing! The kind of sobbing you do when something really touches you, when an author makes you FEEL something genuine!

Although this book could be characterized as a romance, I think it's so much more than that. It definitely does romance well but it also tackles a number of subjects that you wouldn't ordinarily find in a romance. It has a level of depth that I don't typically associate with the romance genre. I was taken by the characters and the world that Moyes builds in this novel. I loved getting to know them and coming to care about them.

Jojo Moyes does a phenomenal job at keeping the reading experience light and easy without making it into a fluffy romance. This isn't in any way a difficult read but it is so much more than fluff! I think what resonated with me most was how emotionally attached I became to this story and the characters that Moyes creates in this novel. I was honestly sad to finish the book!

I highly recommend this one! Please don't be off put by the fact that it appears to be a romance because I promise that its so much more than that! This is a moving and thought provoking novel that I think most readers would really enjoy!

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fantastic book! I think this seals the deal for me ... I am an avid John Green fan! What a fantastic and thoughtful story! This is YA at its best! If you are a YA genre fan, this is one you definitely want to pick up. But, it's so much more than what one might assume a YA novel would be. Well written with excellent characters! I am so glad that I stumbled upon The Fault in Our Stars which ultimately led me to this one. I intend to read all of the John Green that I can get my hands on! I highly recommend this one!

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review: The Bells by Richard Harvell

The BellsThe Bells by Richard Harvell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fantastic book that I wholeheartedly recommend! In fact, I'm asking myself why I waited so long to actually read it! It's beautifully written and well executed. I'm not sure what I was expecting but it was such a wonderful story about love - all kinds of love. Harvell writes about music and sound in a way that is unbelievable - some of the passages just took my breath away! There is something here for everyone - beautiful writing, an adventure tale, a love story, historical fiction at it's best ... and so much more. I can't adequately describe this book in any meaningful way but I can definitely recommend it. It's worth picking up and enjoying! If you enjoy books with a gothic feel and characters that leap off the page, this is one you should definitely pick up!

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: The Dinner by Herman Koch

The DinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This one just didn't do it for me. Perhaps it was the comparisons to Gone Girl that did it, perhaps its just that the novel never truly grabbed my attention. I'm not sure. It was just OK. I can't say I liked it at all - the characters were not in any way engaging but that is kind of the point of the novel, honestly. I think the premise had a lot of potential but it just never lived up to that potential. The writing was choppy for me, I just didn't find the pacing to be well done. I almost put it down as a 'do not finish' book at least 3 times but stuck with it because I kept hearing these Gone Girl comparisons and was worried I'd miss the thing that made it great if I put it down. Um, no need to worry. It never got better. It never came close to Gone Girl's punch.

If you get nothing else from this review, here is my message: DO NOT BUY INTO THE COMPARISONS TO GONE GIRL!!! This novel has none of the inventiveness or fun that Gone Girl brought to the table. Although we have some of the same ingredients (unreliable narrator, secretive plot points, sociopath behavior, etc.), the resulting novel is completely different. I'm frankly BAFFLED by all of the positive reviews. I just cannot understand it. It didn't work out for me and, unfortunately, I cannot recommend it. If you want to read something dark & twisty, with dark characters, etc., just grab Gone Girl which does all of that so much better.

I'm really bummed about my experience of this book because I was hoping this one would resonated with me and wow me in the way that Gone Girl did! I rarely say truly negative things about a book that I've read but this one was certainly a disappointment and has me honestly baffled. I just don't get the hype around this one. If you decide to read it, I hope your experience is better. For me, this one was as dud.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me start by saying that I strongly recommend that you read Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar BEFORE you read this one ... a friends suggested that to me and she was spot on! If you enjoy Cheryl's voice in Tiny Beautiful Things, then Wild is likely to really resonate with you.

So, a book that centers around hiking really didn't seem like a memoir that I'd have any interest in reading. I read it primarily because I loved Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar and thought even Cheryl Strayed could probably make hiking interesting to me. And was I right! This is a beautifully written memoir that is about so much more than hiking. It's worth every moment to experience this book!

Cheryl's voice isn't for everyone - she's a very complicated, flawed woman but I just love her voice. It speaks to me, resonates with me. I wish that I had an in real life friend like her. She has insight and a view of life that I really find compelling. I know that others have complained of the use of the f-word but that doesn't bother me a bit. In fact, it's a word that I believe is the best word for certain situations so I was fine with that aspect of the book. Is she self-indulgent? Perhaps but, honestly, most of us are. And I appreciate her honesty about even the ugliest aspects of her life and experiences. She doesn't shirk from the truth regardless of how it might make her 'look' to others. I respect that and think the world might be a better place if more of us lived authentically and didn't lie to ourselves about what we've done or what we want.

There is so much here that goes beyond hiking - the mother/daughter relationship, family dynamics, love, friendship, divorce, finding yourself, and owning your mistakes. I found all of it to be inspiring and honest and at times difficult to read. But, in the end, I feel like I'm a better person for having read this memoir ... and I am so glad that she was willing to show the world her true self - her mistakes, her monumentally flawed thinking (at times), her growth, and her journey to find herself and the life she wants. I found that inspiring, particularly since I'm in a place in my life where I'm doing some personal growth work.

Anyway, this is definitely a memoir that I recommend but know that it's not going to resonate with everyone. And, again, I recommend that you read Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar before you read this one. If her voice speaks to you in that one, then this just might be a book you'll appreciate as much as I did!

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Two Mini Reviews

Bank 3.0: Why Banking Is No Longer Somewhere You Go But Something You DoBank 3.0: Why Banking Is No Longer Somewhere You Go But Something You Do by Brett King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this with my team at work. Given that we work in the banking industry, it was interesting to think through the future of banking and how we, in our day to day work, can help shape the future of the bank we support. But, it's not a very enjoyable read although it's not difficult. A lot of the stats are used over and over which became a bit monotonous. But, all in all, it was OK. Worth a read if you're passionate about banking or if you are particularly interested in how banks are changing.

Lover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #10)Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are my favorite guilty pleasure books! And this one was fantastic! Although not my favorite of the series, I enjoyed this one better than the book prior. I do think JR Ward did good by Tohr which I was worried about. Looking forward to #11 ...

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