Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Goldfinch: 4 Stars

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Theo Decker was 13-years-old when he was suspended from school. Since it was just him and his single mother, she took the day off for the meeting with his principle. While usually very close, that morning they were distant and he barely spoke. With time to spare and a rainstorm pouring down on them, they decided to stop into the Metropolitan Museum of Art to waste some time. And that changed everything.

There was a loud bang and Theo lost consciousness. He awoke to a scene from a movie. There was rubble, smoke, and bodies everywhere. His mom was in another room, so he couldn't find her.  But he did find the old man that was there with the cute young girl. He was awake and trying to talk to Theo. He hands Theo his ring with instructions and points off in the distance. Theo looks up to see The Goldfinch, the painting his mother loved more than anything. Confused that that was what the man was talking about, he feels that he must save it. After the man passes, Theo grabs the painting and leaves, heading home where he hopes he'll find his mother. But she will never make it.

Theo's life becomes a series of changes.  Every time he becomes accustom to where his life has ended up, it changes drastically and he is left to adjust without anyone there to lean on. Who he becomes, is a product of the tragedy that has surrounded him.

I chose this book because it was a Pulitzer Prize winner. The last couple that I have read have been disappointments, and when I saw that this one was nearly 800 pages, I was dreading it.  Even though I never read the synopsis or even had a clue about the plot, the idea of reading an 800-page book that might be dull or boring just made me want to nap!  But I finally bit the bullet at got it from the library. I am so glad that I was wrong.

The book drew me in almost immediately. The author goes above and beyond to describe everything Theo sees and feels so that you are know him well. You feel the love he had for his mother, who was an incredible person who gave up many of her dreams to make his life better and never regretted it. You feel his fear and heartache when she doesn't come home that night. You feel his fear when he realizes he stole a priceless painting. The character development was intense and wonderfully done.

The amazing thing about this novel is that I was never a big fan of Theo, but I was okay with that.  I never hated Theo by any means, but I was never fully on his side.  I think that was okay, because I think (and I may be way off base) that that was the author's intention. Theo's life was surrounded by horrific tragedy.  This made his life more difficult, but it was Theo's response to each and every tragedy that ultimately lead to all of his problems. While Theo was never one to come out and tell people his woes and bask in their pity, he supplied plenty of pity for himself. In his mind, he was always a victim, even years after the tragedy had passed. He used this as an excuse for all the bad things he did. There's a quote I once heard by Joyce Meyer that reminds me of Theo.  It says, "Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it."  Theo was the king of sitting on the cactus. Then there was Pippa.

Pippa was the young girl who lost her father in the bombing, was orphaned by the explosion, and was severely injured. These were injuries that she would have to deal with the rest of her life. She then is shipped off to live with her aunt, who is cold and less-than-matronly, even though she'd rather live with Hobie, her dad's business partner. She ends up in a foreign boarding school for troubled girls, thanks to her minor brain injury. Her life was even more tragic than Theo's, but Pippa never let it be an excuse for her actions. Pippa made the best of each and every situation, even if they weren't great. She didn't let the tragedy that struck her dictate who she became. She hid her struggles well, rather than letting them consume her in a vat of self-pity. I think this is why Pippa is the shining beacon that Theo always looked to.

Another shining star in this novel was the side characters.  My goodness they were phenomenal!  I love Hobie most of all, but Boris and Pippa were amazing characters as well. They were well developed and so much fun to read about. I missed Boris and Hobie when they weren't in the story. I would recommend this book based on the side characters alone, they were THAT great!

I decided to give this book only four stars because I thought the ending fell a bit flat. But you'll have to read it for yourself to see if you agree!

Rating: R (language and drug use)

Recommended for those you enjoy: great character development, coming of age stories, and moral dilemmas.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Books (Not From Harry Potter)

It's time again for The Broke and The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday.

This weeks theme was:  Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Books (Not From Harry Potter)

Ok, I added the "not from Harry Potter" part, just becasue I feel like Hermione will top most lists this week.  Besides, couldn't I make my list solely based on women from that series easily anyway? 

So here we go:

1. Callie/Cal from Middlesex:

2. Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird:

3. Kathy from Never Let Me Go

4. Anne from Anne of Green Gables

5. Yvaine from Stardust: 

6. Anne Frank from The Diary of a Young Girl:

7. Mattie from True Grit

8. Zelda from Z

9. Veronica Mars from The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

10. Annabeth from The Percy Jackson books: 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Making Up For Monday: Emotional Roller Coasters

It's time for Making Up For Monday! This is a weekly meme hosted by me that asks some fun literary questions. Feel free to play along!

This week's question:
Have you ever read a book so emotionally draining you couldn’t complete it or had to set aside?

To be honest, I have never stopped reading a book because it was emotionally draining, or even stopped reading it.  I have, however, powered through a few with heavy subject matters, and then read something light and silly after to clear my head. 

The most recent example of this would be Gone Girl.  That is a heavy book filled with evil (although incredibly well written and a captivating story) and when I was done I was ready for something lighter.

I followed it up with Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep A Secret?  I really needed to cleanse my palate.

Does anyone else do this with heavy or draining books?  How do you deal with them?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ten Book Related Problems I Have (could be serious or fun!)

It's time again for The Broke and The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday.

This weeks theme was: Ten Book Related Problems I Have

1. Book Hoarding: 

I buy books like they are going out of style.  The reality is, I own far more books than I will ever have the time to read AND I keep buying books!  It's a real problem. 

2. Library Book Ordering Syndrome: 

I order books from the library in batches, and those batches are usually far more than I can handle in the four week checkout time. 

3. Library Envy:

I walk into other people's houses or public buildings and want their libraries.  I daydream about floor to ceiling bookcases with ladders. 

4. Inability to Let Go:

I don't like giving away books that I own, even if I read it and hated it.

5. Interrupted Anger Management: 

It's so annoying when I am reading and someone just starts talking to me.  Hello!  I'm reading! 

6. Finish the Chapter Insomnia: 

You know the are so close to the end that you HAVE to keep reading.  Then the chapter ends on a cliff hanger and you HAVE to read the next one, and the next one, and well, you might as well finish the book. Who needs sleep anyway? 

7. Book to Movie Translation Compulsion: 

My husband can attest that if I read a book and then watch the movie, I will explain to him all the differences. 

8. Cold Bath Tub Complex: 

I LOVE reading in the tub.  Its so relaxing and no one is there to bug you.  But after awhile, if I get really caught up in a book, I will suddenly notice that I am shivering in a cold tub because I have been there for hours. Whoops! 

9. Book Smelling Addiction: 

I HAVE to smell a book before I buy it.  And while I am reading it. And if it's anywhere near me. 

10. Alone in the World:

I do not like reading a book and then really wanting to talk about it, but I can't find another soul who has read the same book.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Making Up For Monday: Filled with Regret

It's time for Making Up For Monday! This is a weekly meme hosted by me that asks some fun literary questions. Feel free to play along!

This week's question:
What books do you regret reading?

I don't often "regret" reading anything, even if I didn't like it.  I think that I usually get SOMETHING out of everything I read, even if it's just a new opinion on something I didn't like about the book. However, in the case of John Updike, I definitely regret reading Rabbit is Rich.

Since it won the Pulitzer Prize, I gave this one a read.  It was on the first Pulitzer Prize winning book I read and nearly turned me off of reading them at all.  The book was all about a perverted, sleezy, self-centered man and I just could not get into the book.  Nothing really happened in the book of substance and the character was so unlikeable, that I kept wishing for him to be killed off.  The "icky" feeling he gave me still gives me shudders whenever I think about the book.  I really wish I had never read it.

What about you?  Is there any book you regret reading?


Friday, February 13, 2015

Child's Library

As it gets closer and closer for my daughter to make her appearance in the world, I have been working on her nursery.  One piece of that puzzle is her library.  I want her to be born with a library started so that we can start reading to her right away.  Here are a few of the books I have already gathered:

Its not too many yet, and had quite a way to go before I am happy with it.

What books did you enjoy as a child or have had your children enjoy?  I am happy to take any suggestions!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Top Ten Reasons I am Not a Fan of Romance

It's time again for The Broke and The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday.

This weeks theme was: Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books

Since I am NOT a fan of romance novels or most of the romance in novels, I decided to list the top ten reason why. 

1. Sex scenes:  Call me a prude if you want, but I have literally no desire to read about the steamy sex between two characters. I find it less "sexy" and more awkward, like I'm creepy person who is sitting in the room watching. It typically adds nothing to the plot to have the details written out, and more often than not I am thinking about what it was like for the author to sit and write that, rather than the story at hand.

2. Abusive relationships misrepresented: While this is definitely not true for all romance, I have seen it far too many times. Controlling and abusive men are portrayed as loving and romantic. It disgusts me in every way possible and I feel like calling the author up and chucking the book at them.

3. Women changing for the men: As with the last one, this isn't in every romance, but way too many. I feel like it is often portrayed as women who have to change big things about themselves to be able to land the man that they want. If you have to change for them, then you obviously were not compatible and the relationship will not work out.  Come on!

4. Women NEEDING another to be happy: You know the drill, the book starts out with a horrifically unhappy woman who meets a man/woman and suddenly she has found happiness.  In reality, if you can't find happiness on your own, you are never going to find happiness with someone else. And why does it always seem to be women who need a relationship to be happy but men are totally fine on their own?

5. Ditzy girls: I hate when the protagonist is a ditzy girl.  I just don't like it.

6. Justified cheating: I can't stand when the main character cheats, but it is so much worse if the author "justifies" it. Nope, sorry, cheating is wrong. I don't care what the other person did, if they were a jerk, or if you didn't love them anymore.  You end one relationship before staring another.

7. Love triangles: These get old really quick.  And personally, I think if you can't decide between two people, you probably should choose neither.

8. The "perfect" man: I swear, there are way too many books with the perfect guy.  He knows what you are thinking and feeling and his every move is dedicated to making sure you are happy. Yeah...that's realistic. The reality is, everyone has flaws and relationships take a lot of hard work, not a perfect man. I feel bad for the guys that get compared to the characters in their girlfriends romance novel.  The expectations are impossibly too high.

9. The womanizer turned loyal boyfriend: You know the drill-he's out every night looking for a one night stand.  He'll tell a woman any lie he can just to get into her pants. He sleeps with her (usually making some reference to how good it was for her and how lucky she is) and then drops off the face of the planet. Then he meets "the one" and suddenly his womanizing, sex-crazed ways are gone.  And of course, this girl actually makes sex great for him. Barf!  Seriously?  I am done with that guy!

10. Happily ever after: Anyone who has ever been in a long term relationship knows that love takes a lot of work. Life is a mess and never perfect.  But inevitably, in many many romance novels, you have the woman (why is it always a woman?) who's life is a mess.  She hates her job, she's fighting with her friends, she has no money, and she's lonely. And then she meets a man, falls in love and everything else fixes itself magically and her life is instantly perfect!  Ha ha ha, I guess some people don't want any reality in their books!

Are you a big fan of romance novels? Don't worry; I don't judge!  I am sure you have perfectly valid reasons for enjoying them and you should not feel bad about it.  To each their own!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Making Up For Monday: School Time Blues

It's time for Making Up For Monday! This is a weekly meme hosted by me that asks some fun literary questions. Feel free to play along!

This week's question:
What books did you hate reading in school?

In college, I had to read Walden by Henry David Thoreau.  It was my first college course and I was so excited...until I started reading it. Ugh!  While Thoreau makes some amazing and wonderful points, he counters nearly all of them with hypocrisy throughout the book.  I was the only person in the class who disagreed with the book and wrote papers arguing against him, so I know I am in the minority on this one.  But by the time the class ended, all I wanted to do was burn it. 

What about you?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Judge & Jury: 3 Stars

 Judge & Jury

Judge & Jury by James Patterson and Andrew Gross

A co-worker recommended this one to me because the audiobook is read by Joe Matenga and she thought he did an excellent job. She was not wrong. He was a fabulous reader and his interpretation of the book alone kept me captivated.

In this novel, Andie  DeGrasse gets served with jury duty.  As a single mother who's an aspiring actress, she has no desire to serve so she tries to get let go.  Instead she gets selected for one of the highest profile cases in the nation. FBI agent Nick Pellisante finally captured Mafia boss Dominic Cavello and he was finally going to be judged for his crimes.  Or was he?

After a devastating attack on the jury, Andie and Nick are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, hoping that Cavello will eventually get what he deserves.  But since it looks like the law may not be able to make that happen, the two decide its up to them. 

This book was a fun, light read, with an excellent narrator. The story was unique and I never predicted where it was going next.

Unfortunately, I am not sure I will read another Patterson book.  The characters were never really likeable and their chemistry never resonated with me. Their characters and relationship felt forced and awkward. It was hard to get into the book when you didn't really care about the characters. 

Rating: PG-13

Recommended for those who enjoy: action, adventure and mildly scary stories.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Haven't Read Yet That I Own

It's time again for The Broke and The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday. This week's theme is: Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Haven't/Want To Read From X Genre.

I decided to go with books I can't believe I haven't read that I own (so no particular genre).  If you play along with my meme, Making Up For Monday, you may recall that a last week we counted all the physical books we own.  Mine was 408, because I clearly have a problem.  This may be because I haven't read all of these books yet!  So, after being forced to look at all of these books last week, I decided to write up my top ten based on books I have here at my fingertips.  I have no excuse for not having read them yet.

1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

2. Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell

3. The Princess Bride by William Goldmann

4. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

5. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

6. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

7. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

8. Empire Falls by Richard Russo

9. Miles To Go by Richard Paul Evans

10. Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Making Up For Monday

It's time for Making Up For Monday! This is a weekly meme hosted by me that asks some fun literary questions. Feel free to play along!

This week's question:
Have you ever chosen a book over sleep?  If yes, what book and was it worth it?

As an avid reader, the answer to this is absolutely!  I have told myself the little lie of "ok, just one more chapter and then I will sleep" about a thousand times. It is almost always worth it.

The last book I really remember sacrificing sleep just to finish was The Shadow of The Wind. I think I finished that book around 3:00 am and it was totally worth it. 

What about you?  What books have taken away your precious beauty sleep?