Saturday, November 30, 2013

Codex 632: 2 Stars

Codex 632 by Jose Rodrigues Dos Santos

Ok, truth is I chose this book because my dog's name is Codex. But I did think the story sounded interesting. This is a story, similar to the Di Vinci Code in that it takes fact and adds some controversy. This one was based around the story of Christopher Columbus. Who was he really?

Unfortunately, the story did not come across as interesting. It's possible the translation from Portuguese to English lost something. It's possible the reader was too monotone (which he was) and his voice took something away from the story. But I didn't like the main character (cheating on his wife like it means nothing) and his seemingly lack of interest in his Downs Syndrome daughter. Either way, I was really unimpressed.

Rating: PG-13

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cinder: 2 Stars

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I read this book only because it was the book my book club chose for the month of November.  If it hadn't been for that, I never would have picked up the book. This is for a very good reason:  This is just not my style. 

The premise of the book is a twist on Cinderella (if that wasn't obvious by the title). Cinder is a cyborg. After a horrific accident when she was 11 that killed her parents, Cinder was turned into a Cyborg to save her life. A wonderful man adopted her, but died almost immediately and Cinder was left with no memory of her past and a step-mother who doesn't like cyborgs. Now as a mechanic, Cinder carries on, keeping to herself.

Then one day the prince shows up to get his android fixed.  Somewhat smitten, Cinder keeps her cyborg secret from the prince. Besides, he has a lot on his mind already. His father, the emperor, has the dreaded plague, the same plague that is killing off the citizens and weakening the economy.  The lunar queen is asking for a peace agreement that involves marrying the prince.  And of course, the ball is coming up.

Suddenly, Cinder's favorite step-sister is stricken with the plague.  Blaming Cinder, her step-mother agrees to let the government use Cinder as a test subject to find a cure.  But something miraculous happens.  Cinder is immune. 

What does this mean?  Will a cure be found in time to save her sister? Will she get to go to the ball with the prince?  What if he finds out she's cyborg?  Will the evil lunar queen marry the prince? 

If you want to know the answers to these questions, you really only need to read the first few chapters.  After three or four chapters, I threw my hands in the air and said "Well, I can tell you what is going to happen in this book."  Not only were all my predictions correct, I think I even have some predictions that will likely be true as well, but revealed in the next book. I hate being able to figure out a book that easily.

Aside from the predictability of this book, I was never a big fan of Cinder. She had an attitude problem that made her almost unbearable. While I understand she had a hard life (she was an outcast and her only parent openly hated her), her attitude was hard to understand at times. She got a bad attitude with the doctor trying to help her and I guess I just didn't understand why she was being a brat at that moment. I found it hard to like her or relate to her when she was a brat almost the entire book. The only time she wasn't a brat, was with the prince.  Then she pulled a 180, which also bothered me.  Her personality was bipolar and hard to understand. 

Like I said at the beginning, this is just not my kind of book. A cyborg, a LUNAR queen, and a love story?  Those are three big reasons I never would have tried this book, knowing full well I probably wouldn't have liked it. I know quite a few people who would probably LOVE this book and the sequels that follow.  I think this book is just a matter of style. 

Rating: PG

Monday, November 25, 2013

Top Ten Things I Am Thankful For

For this week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish,  the topic is things you are thankful for.  I decided to go in general, rather than focusing just on books.  Here we go:

1. My dad:  My dad has always been there for me and is a great role model.  He's the one I go and whine to when I am ready to find a solution.  He is always helping me figure out what I can do to make situations better. He's also my #1 writing criticizer.  He isn't afraid to pull punches so I know that he is being honest and he helps me improve my writing. I credit him with my good grades all though my schooling. 

My dad with my niece.

2. My mom: The older I get, the more I realize I am turning into my mother, and I couldn't be happier. My mom is the most selfless person I have ever met.  With nine siblings, you would think it would be easy to get lost in the shuffle, but somehow my mom always makes me feel special.

Me and my mom at my wedding

3. My husband: My husband is one of the weirdest guys I have ever met, and I love it! There is never a dull moment with him.  He is true to himself and never worried about what other people think.  He tells me every day that I am beautiful and that he loves me. We are very different, but he loves me for exactly who I am. He makes me happy every day.

Me and my husband a few months before we got married

4. My siblings: I have a big family.  I am one of ten kids. While I hated it as a kid, now that we are all adults, we are each others best friends. We all hang out together and talk all the time.  I love them all!

This is the only picture I can find of my whole family (and this was quite a few years ago)

5. My job:  I have worked for the same company for over seven years (minus nine months). I quit and moved home to be with my family, and after nine months started to work for them again, this time from home. Its this job that gives me the ability to listen to so many books on tape. It also put food on the table.

I was my boss for Halloween this year.  Creepy!

6. My dog: I adopted my dog a little over a year ago and we have been best buddies ever since. As a five year old pitbull mix rescue from a pet hoarding situation, the pound didn't give much hope to her being adopted. But I can't imagine why.  She is with me all through the day, and never likes to be apart. She is sweet and gentle, even with my young nephew.

This is her spot next to my desk

7. My blankets: Ok, so this one is a little weird, but hear me out. I work from home, so I am almost always in my pajamas.  I also usually have a blanket wrapped around me. Its microfleece, which is the best!  I love that I can be this comfortable all day long.
My dog with one of my blankets (spoiled!)

8. Mt. Dew: This wonderful beverage is my go to when I am having a bad day.  I don't know if its the caffeine or the sugar, but I almost always feel better right away.
A tall glass after a long day

9. R. L. Stine: So Red Rain was a flop and I hated it, but I still adore this man.  Goosebumps were the first books I remember not being able to put down.  R.L. Stine started my love for books.
Seriously, don't read this book!

10. Sports: I love sports! I remember watching baseball with my mom as a kid and have slowly grown to love more and more.  I'm the person who yells at the tv, like the players can hear me.  Silly, I know, but I love it.  It's one of the first things my husband and I ever talked about and helped strengthen our bond.
My husband coaching high school football
I could keep listing things, but I will stop with just these ten. 

Making Up For Monday: Book Recommendation

Its time for the weekly fun of Making Up For Monday!

What book/author recommendation are you thankful you received this year?

This year has been a fun journey for me as far as books go.  Most years I read 3-5 books. This year I will finish the year well above 100 books! Since there was a dramatic increase in my reading, I needed a lot of recommendations to get me through.  I still have a long list to get through, but have found some wonderful books and authors so far.

I decided that the book I am most grateful for the recommnedation is:

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Why this book over the rest?  Simple.  Without the recommendation, I seriously would have never even considered reading it. My good friend Heidi recommended this to me.  I saw it at the library one day and grabbed it, never reading the back.  Once I started the book, all I could think was "Does she not know me?  This is so not my kind of book."  But I kept listening to it.  Boy, am I glad I did.  This is a very fun read that I thoroughly enjoyed! And I never would have without a recommendation from a friend.  Thanks Heidi!


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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Waiter Rant: 3 Stars

Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica

He didn't intend on becoming a waiter for most of his life.  It was a temporary job after becoming unemployed. But before he knew it, he had been a waiter for years. It wasn't all bad.  He was a waiter in high-end restaurants so he could get large tips and make out pretty well.  The downsides though, were many.  He made less than minimum wage so he depended upon tips, which weren't guaranteed.  And then there were the owners, other waiters, and patrons.  That's when he decided to start a blog. Often, "the waiter" (as he was known on the blog, preferring to stay anonymous), would write about his experiences. 

The waiter had seen many things.  He had been fired by crazy owners, he had been hired as the greeter at new restaurants, he had been on the bottom, and he had been on the top. He had been berated by clients, he had been praised.  He had seen phenomenal tippers, and non-tippers. He had met celebrities, rich couples, hookers, and regular Joes. His stories are amazing and incredible.

While I enjoyed this book for the most part, it was hard for me to relate.  I have never waited tables.  Also, I have only lived in states that pay waiters and waitresses minimum wage, so they never depend on tips to get them by. Also, I am a pretty easy patron. I am nice and I always tip well (even if they did a terrible job). I also rarely ever go to high-end restaurants. Seriously, I think the only time I have actually been to high-end restaurants, if for company holiday dinners, and then we are off in a room by ourselves. I am a Red Robin, Outback Steakhouse, Applebees kind of girl. While I found the book entertaining, I could hardly relate to his experiences.

Also, the book came off a little whiny. I think its hard not to when you are primarily telling horror stories of your job. I think most of us can relate to that one. But after awhile, I felt like yelling "If you hate it that much, change jobs!"  Of course it's never that easy, but you know what I mean. The book is good, if you understand he is complaining through the entire thing.

Rating: R

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

XYZ: A Detective Story: 4 Stars

XYZ: A Detective Story by Anna Katharine Green

Originally published in 1883, XYZ: A Detective Story is a short story. I, like quite a few others, stumbled across this one in search of an "X" book for the A-Z reading challenge.  I was done with the entire alphabet, except for X and was in search for something that looked somewhat decent. My mother actually found this one and enjoyed it, so I figured it was short and simple fix to my problem. 

While working on a counterfeit case, a detective gets a tip about some mysterious letters that have been showing up at the post office with no address. They are simply addressed to "X. Y. Z., Brandon Mass". The post office worker tipped off the detective thinking that this may be a clue to the counterfeit case.  But the post office worker was wrong.  The detective is about to stumlbe upon something much bigger, a murder.

This short story is definitely a bit dated (but seriously, how can it not be dated when it was written 180 years ago). But other than that, it was a fun read. I liked the story because it was unique. I somewhat expected the story to go back to the counterfeit case, but it didn't. The "clue" the detective received had nothing to do with the original case.  I found that very unique. Usually in stories we see on TV or in books nowadays, the detective would have solved both cases. This seemed far more believable.

Rating: PG

Monday, November 18, 2013

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend To a Teenager Who is Miserable in High School

As you all know, I participate each week in The Broke and The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's theme was: Top Ten Books I'd Recommend To X Person (your choice -- could be to your mom, to a reluctant male reader, to your teenage sister, to dog lover's, to sports lovers, etc.)

I decided to chose ten books I would recommend to a teenager who is struggling through high school. 

I was one of those kids that struggled through high school.  My parents weren't abusive and I wasn't picked on ruthlessly, but I was never really noticed. It's like that scene in The Princess Diaries where she gets sat on, and it wasn't the first time.

I actually ended up leaving my junior year and joining a program called Running Start.  I attended the local community college instead of high school. I remember going back to my high school on occasion and running into kids I had several classes with the year before.  Very few ever remembered me.

I am an adult now and high school is barely a blip on my radar, but I have had the chance to work with teenagers currently going through high school. It reminded me of how hard high school was and how many kids need a helping hand.

1. Eleanor and Park: This book has two very realistic views of being a teenager.  The first is Eleanor who lives in poverty with an abusive step-dad.  The second is Park who lives with loving parents who seem to be struggling to understand their ever changing son.  This is a great book to help you get through and to also help understand that every one has their own issues they are dealing with.While Eleanor's problems are much more apparent and obvious, Park's are treated with an equal amount of understanding.

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower: This book is chalked full of kids with issues that make high school life difficult.  Whether it's because something happened in your personal life, you are very different, or you just can't seem to fit it, this book addresses many different perspectives. Its great because these kids find ways to get through high school with the help of each other.

3. The Fault in Our Stars: Think you have it hard?  Try being a teenager with terminal cancer. This book may give kids a little more perspective.

4. Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets: This is far and away my favorite Harry Potter book.  This book is particularly great if you have trouble with your teachers.

5. Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief: The beauty of Percy Jackson is that he isn't perfect.  He is dyslexic and has ADHD.  He struggles in school, but hey, he's a god!

6. To Kill a Mockingbird:  I read this in high school and loved it.  It helps teach tolerance and understanding. There are few better teachers than Atticus Finch.

7. The Screwtape Letters: This book has a fun and entertaining way to help understand human thought and emotion.Its much easier to be accepting and understanding of others when you understand that everyone has their own, personal demons. You may not see them or know what they are, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.

8. The Great Gatsby: High school is the time when you are trying to figure out who you are and who you want to become.  As a kid, I dreamed of wealth and popularity (especially as a kid who felt very unpopular). This book helps illustrate what is important by focusing on what's not.

9. The Diary of a Young Girl: Ok, seriously, let's talk about struggle.  This girl's struggles trump yours.  What a humbling book.

10. The Count of Monte Cristo: Dreaming of revenge?  This book helps tell you why that's not a great idea.

Making Up For Monday: $30 to spend

Welcome to another edition of Making Up For Monday!

Question: If you were given $30 to spend on a book today, what book would you buy?

This is a tough one.  I have so many books on my to-read list, that its hard to narrow it down. 

I think I would have to go with I Hunt Killer by Barry Lyga. It's been sitting on my list for so long and I REALLY want to read it, but it keeps getting pushed down. But the description of the book sounds AWESOME!

Goodreads description:  
What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?
Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.
In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

Check out more from Making Up For Mondays

Friday, November 15, 2013

Harry Potter From The Perspective of a Squib

      There are three types of people in this world:
  • Potterheads:  Those who loved the Harry Potter series.
  • Squibs: Those who did not love the Harry Potter series.
  • Muggles: Those who never read the Harry Potter series.

As an Avid Reader, you would probably assume that I have read all of the Harry Potter books, and you would not be alone. Until last week, you'd be wrong. I was a Muggle.  Why? The answer was simple.  I don't like children's fantasy. I'm not a huge fan of fantasy period, but when it's written for kids, you can count me out.
Now I can hear all you Potterheads chattering:
"But it’s so much more than fantasy."
"They are modern day classics."
"Trust me, just read them. You will love them."
"It’s not just for kids."
"But...but...but...what is wrong with you?"
I have heard it all before. In fact, after the third or fourth book came out, a friend of mine swore up and down if I read the first half of the first book, I would be hooked.  So I did.  And after the first half, I gave the book back.  I was not hooked.
Life went on and I was harassed by more and more Potterheads. Telling people you don't like Harry Potter feels like saying you want to drown puppies. Plus, most Potterheads tend to be obsessed. They relate everything to the books and talk about them non-stop. Harry Potter became an annoyance to me. I couldn't stand the name. I knew the second it was mentioned, everyone would get all giddy and it would dominate all conversations for hours. And once they smell the blood of a Muggle, they will relentlessly try to convince you to cave. No matter the argument, I refused to read them.

Then, one day, all that changed.

Once I started my job where I could listen to books on tape, I discovered something miraculous. Jim Dale. I realize some of you may not recognize the name.  Remember the Disney movie Pete's Dragon with the villain named Doc Terminus who can't pronounce the town's name correctly? 

That, ladies and gentleman, is Mr. Jim Dale. Since his days as a traveling swindler, he has gone on to become an audiobook reader. But he's not any ordinary audiobook reader.  Jim Dale is legendary.  His voice is so versatile, it transforms the words into a real story.  He breathes life into each and every character and takes you away. I have heard the man read books I did not like, but kept listening because I didn't want to miss a word he said.  As my dad once said, "If Jim Dale read the phone book, I would listen".

Jim Dale is the audiobook reader for the Harry Potter series. Jim Dale made me cave in on the fight of 15 years.  I was finally going to read Harry Potter.

Now that I finally sat down and decided to try Harry again, I was able to get into the story. Most of you know the story, so I won't bother rehashing everything.  But here is my opinion of the book series:

1. J.K. Rowling did a great job of aging her books with her readers.

The Harry Potter series starts with Harry at age 11. Each book covers one year of his life (or really that school year). As each book goes along, the plot and characters get more complex and intricate as if Rowling is moving up the reading level as she ages her characters.  That takes an incredible amount of talent.

2. The character development is fantastic. 

Each of the main characters, as well and a good portion of the secondary characters, have deep back story and personalities. For instance, Draco Malfoy is Harry's arch nemesis at school. But as the books go on, he becomes so much more.  Draco is the kid who was raised one way and then begins to question it.  This causes a lot of anger and confusion for the young kid, visibly struggling with his actions. The deep character development made the tale far more engaging and the characters real.

3. Teenagers are annoying. 

From book three onward, it becomes clear that teenagers are far more annoying than I remember.  Every single book revolves around two of the three main characters barely speaking through the school year for silly reasons.  Book four is when we see Harry's arrogance start to come out and cause problems along the way. I realized that this is "true to life" and teenagers are just like this, but reading about it through book after book made me less sympathetic to Harry, no matter what was going on.

4.  James Potter is unlikeable. 

We learn in the first book that Harry's mother's love is what saved him. She is spoken of often by many with great admiration and respect.  Everyone seemed to love her and with good reason.  James seemed to be a different story. 

While most of the stories of James come through Snape who openly hated James, there are a few stories through Sirius and Lupin as well.  In each story, James comes off like a pompous, arrogant jerk.  Basically, he sounds like Draco and Lucius through most of the recollections. While I understand that he "changed" after Harry, this is never actually represented in the books and therefore, I never ever liked him.

5. Sirius Black is a clear favorite for Potterheads, not squibs.

Every Harry Potter fan I ever talk to praises Sirius like he is the best character ever.  The reason for their admiration isn’t hard to understand. By the end of book three, Potterheads are emotionally connected to Harry Potter. Sirius is the first person they have met who is like a real parent. He has a historical connection to Harry and his parents, he has always loved Harry (although unable to express it), and now his entire life revolves around keeping Harry safe. Potterheads feel the same emotional connection to him that Harry does.

I expected to fall for him the second I learned of his wrongful conviction.  But the reality is, I never really liked him. He was careless and arrogant. His anger towards Snape was reckless and made his end goal of keeping Harry safe difficult. His willingness to bound around in the open as a dog was dangerous and unnecessary. His hatred for Kreacher, while understandable, was careless considering he knew Kreacher would do all he could to destroy him. These are the main reasons he ended up dying. Don’t get me wrong, Sirius is a very funny character, but it’s hard to feel like canonizing the guy when every move he makes frustrates you.

6. The suspense is lost due to the vast majority of Potterheads. 

In all my tactics to avoid Harry Potter at all costs, the fandom loves to spout off facts of the series. Long before getting into the books, I knew these crucial facts:

  • Lupin is a werewolf
  • Tom Riddle is Voldemort
  • Sirius is actually a good guy
  • Cedric dies at the end of the Tri-Wizard tournament
  • Sirius dies
  • Snape kills Dumbledore
  • Snape is the half-blood prince
  • Snape is actually good (and killed Dumbledore as instructed by Dumbledore)
  • Snape was in love with Lily
  • Ron and Hermione get together
  • Harry and Ginny get together
  • Neville kills Nagini
  • Harry’s scar is a horcrux
  • Harry defeats Voldemort

That is nearly every single twist and turn in the series, and this is coming from someone AVOIDING the series like the plague. Reading a series knowing the secrets is kinda boring.

7. A lot of trouble and deaths could be avoided if Harry had talked to Dumbledore or McGonagall more often (and actually listened). 

How many of the books would have been a lot shorter if Harry had simply talked to a teacher he trusted and actually listened to the response? But then we wouldn't have the series, would we?

8. Fred Weasley's death is the saddest. 

There are several deaths throughout the series, most in the final book. Now, I am a rather heartless reader and tend not to get too emotional when characters die. In fact, if Harry Potter had died in the last book, I would have been okay with it.  But it was not okay to kill off Fred Weasley, especially leaving George behind.  Come on Rowling, have a heart! 

Fred and George Weasley were adorable, funny, and loveable. They provided fantastic comic relief.  But aside from that, they had heart.  They stood for what the believed in, no matter who disagreed with them and they supported each other along the way. Fred's death, to this squib, was devastating. 

9. Its still a kid's story.

After reading all seven books and not hating them, I still view them as kids books (as intended by the writer).  I will never reread the series and will only let Jim Dale read them to my children if they are interested. They are terrific kid's books and I am glad they got so many people, young and old, into reading. But for me, it wasn't much different then reading the books I read in middle school.  They were great for me then, but I have a hard time going backward.

10.  The movie adaptations aren't worth it after #3.

After reading to books, I, of course, watched the movies. After the third one, the movies began to stray too far from the books, and well, weren't very good. I guess it's too hard to fit 800 pages into 2.5 hours of movie!

Now, don’t misunderstand my criticism of this series as hatred. The series was well written, enjoyable, and entertaining. I completely understand why Potterheads are so obsessed with the series. I encourage Muggles to take the time to read them at some point in their lives. But, at the end of the day, I simply cannot deny, I am a Squib.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1): 4 Stars

 The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I know I talk a lot about not liking kid's books or fantasy, but I decided to read the Percy Jackson series for a teenager I know who is obsessed.  I figured it was something we could talk about.  Well....Percy Jackson had two major exceptions to my preferences.

1. Rick Riordan has a son who struggled with learning disabilities in school.  He hated reading and he hated school.  His father began telling him stories at night about a young kid named Percy Jackson who also struggled in school, but it turns out he was half-Greek god. Riordan eventually started writing the story down and eventually sold the book. Here is the incredible story. For that reason alone, I would have read this series.  It tugged at my heart strings.

2. I love Greek mythology!  I'm not sure if its because I grew up watching Hercules with my dad (yes, the Kevin Sorbo television series) or if because I studied it in high school and became fascinated, but its one exception to my no-fantasy rule.

The story revolves around a young boy named Percy Jackson who struggles in school.  It turns out the reason he struggles so much is he is the son of a god and now he is the only hope to prevent an all out war between the gods.

The story is definitely meant for a younger audience, since there are some obvious plot giveaways right at the beginning.   But most of those I could solve because I know a lot about Greek mythology, something Riordan stays very similar too. I wouldn't expect a ten year old to know all that stuff.

The book does have a great sense of humor.  Riordan uses a lot of sarcasm (I love sarcasm!) and quick wit with his characters.  The story also happens quickly with a lot of of moving parts.  This is obviously meant for his ADHD son, but makes the story very entertaining. Its light-hearted and doesn't take itself too seriously.

I will happily be carrying on in this series.

Rating: G

Monday, November 11, 2013

Top Ten Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

Time for some Tuesday fun with The Broke and The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday!

This week's theme: Top Ten Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

1. To Kill A Mockingbird: I realize that this a classic novel with several different covers.  I have never liked any of them. To me, they don't live up to the book, which is marvelous.

2. Animal Farm: This is also a classic with several different covers, again, none of which I have liked.

3. Fahrenheit 451: Ok, so apparently its only classic covers I seem to have an issue with.

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower:  This cover is just so....boring!

5. Angels and Demons: As with the last book, this is just boring.

6. The Shadow of the Wind: The kid on the book weirds me out, I am not sure why.

7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Another classic with many disappointing covers.

8. Never Let Me Go: I don't like up close faces.

9. Bridget Jone's Diary:  I have no words for this one. 

10. Frankenstein: Yet another classic, yet another disappointing cover.

Making up for Monday: Trapped on an Island

Welcome to the first ever Making Up For Monday post!

Each week, just to make Monday a little more fun, I will be posting a fun question to answer.  You may all do the same and I will even add a place for you to add your links if you participate.  I hope you enjoy!

Question: If you were trapped on an island by yourself, what 5 books would you want with you?

1. To Kill a Mockingbird:  This is far and away my favorite book ever.  I fell in love with it my freshman year in high school and have read it about five times since then.

2.  The Shadow of the Wind:  This book is one of a few that made me lose track of time.  I would start reading and the entire world shut off.  That would be a nice thing to have on an island all by myself.

3.  Silver Linings Playbook:  I adore this book.  Plus he talks about sever other books in this one, so its like I get more than just one.

4.  The Count of Monte Cristo:  This is a long one so it would give me lots of reading material, plus I loved it! It also has the added bonus of a character who escapes from an island he's stuck on all by himself.

5.  The Army Survival Guide: Come on, I am on an island all by myself! 

Check out more from Making Up For Mondays!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

An Unsuitable Job for A Woman: 2 Stars

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James

I read this book because I needed a "U" book to read through the alphabet.  Its from the 70's but the plot sounded very interesting.

A young private eye becomes a partner at her less-than-popular private eye business, just in time for her partner to be diagnosed with cancer and commit suicide. She is left with everything, but as a young female, she is worried about her chances of success.

Shortly after her partner's death, one of his clients shows up looking for him. She convinces them of her abilities and for the first time ever, is working her very own case.

The case revolves a young man who died. His death was ruled a suicide but his father is convinced foul play was involved. He had recently quit college and moved out to a cottage on his own.  The detective moves into that very same cottage and begins to investigate.

The tale was frankly a little dry and boring.  Also, she seemed to luck into solving the crime more than anything.  I found the ending confusing, almost forced. 

I was thoroughly disappointed in this one.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Eleanor and Park: 3 Stars

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I picked up this teen book because I had just finished A Time to Kill and needed something lighter to read. Plus I have seen this book EVERYWHERE and decided to give it a whirl.

This book takes place in the 80's in a high school.  Eleanor just moved to the area and has started school late in the year, after all the other students. She has to take the bus and make the dreaded walk down the aisle in an attempt to find a seat.  Being very red headed, slightly overweight, and dressing like a man, she gets a lot of taunts and snickers. She finally sees an open spot next to an Asian kid with headphones.

Park is an Asian kid who loves to listen to music. While not at all popular, Park manages to get through the day with out being tormented by the popular kids, as long as he keeps his head low.  He does this very well, until the day he let that weird red headed girl sit next to him on the bus.

Eleanor and Park have a silent relationship for the first month or so.  They start by ignoring each other on the bus until the day Park figures out that Eleanor is reading his comics over his shoulder.  He starts holding the comic in such a way that she can read and taking his time. Then he starts leaving comics for her to take home. Before long the two are talking, each of them looking forward to it.

We soon learn that Eleanor's parents are divorced.  Her father is all but absent and she lives with her mother, siblings, and step-father, Richie. Richie is an abusive drunk and Eleanor hates him.  After getting into a huge fight one day, Richie kicked Eleanor out.  What started out as a few days, turned into a year. When Eleanor finally was able to return home, things had only gotten worse.  Now her siblings were calling Richie "dad" and excusing his bad behavior.  Their living conditions had deteriorated past the level of acceptable. She was miserable at home and at school, being tormented by a girl named Tina.  Park soon becomes the one bright spot in her life.

Park's parents are still together and loving and caring. While reluctant at first, they soon realize that Elanor needs a safe place to be and accept Eleanor into their home each evening. Park struggles with his own relationship with his parents and his place in school.  He is torn between keeping his head low to avoid ridicule, and being himself despite what others think.

This story is great for teens because of the two contrasting kids in the book.  Park represents the average struggles of a teenager. His home life is "normal" in that his parents and still married and love him. All his basic needs are met, plus some. But Park struggles with his relationship with his father.  While saying that his father doesn't like him and only loves him because he has to, the reality seems to be that Park's father struggles to understand the teenager who is searching for himself.  His father isn't sure how to relate anymore; a truth many parents go through with teenagers. Park also struggles with his identity at school.  Having once been friends with the popular kids in elementary school, they tend to leave him alone and not pick on him. Park wants to keep it this way and struggles when dating Eleanor threatens to put him in the war path.

Eleanor on the other had has a more extreme situation. She is ruthlessly picked on at school by Tina and her friends. But that is nothing compared to her home life.  Her mother is a stay at home mom and Richie is the provider.  He doesn't leave enough money for the kids to eat very well, if at all.  Eleanor lacks basic essentials like a toothbrush. She sleeps in a tiny room with all her siblings.  They often wake up to Richie drunk and screaming, sometimes beating their mother. Eleanor worries one day her mother will end up dead. She is torn between wanting to escape and run and feeling the need to stay behind and protect her siblings.

This story of high school traumas is told through the story of Eleanor and Parks' relationship. Honestly, I found their relationship very high school, which may have been the authors intent (I am not sure).  While being "hopelessly" in love, they seem to know very little about each others lives. I looked at their relationship, not as a long-lasting, together forever type of relationship, but rather a relationship that helps both of them get through the traumatic years of high school. They needed each other.  Eleanor needed to feel safe and learn to trust.  Park needed to learn to stick up for himself and be himself, despite what others may think.

I really would like my niece to read this.  She is middle school, about to enter high school.  This is a great novel about surviving high school and coming out the other end better.

I did only rate this a 3 because frankly the teenage romance was a little much for me. Its hard to believe they are so deep in love but barely even communicate or see each other. I felt they were more in love with the idea of love than the reality of each other.

Rating: R