Monday, November 17, 2014

"Dark Places" by Gillian Flynn

I've been on a Gillian Flynn kick lately.  I saw all three books of hers in Barnes & Noble and thought that they would all be quick reads.  Since I read two out of the three, I thought I would pick up the last, "Dark Places."

It's taken me a little longer than I would have liked to have read this book.  I can attribute part of it to me being busy, but I just didn't get super invested in this book.  It wasn't bad, but it just didn't capture and keep my attention like Gone Girl did.

I don't want to spoil the ending.  But as I started to near the ending, I was worried about how the book was going to end.  I kept thinking of a certain ending in my head and thinking "Please don't let it end like this."  Fortunately, that ending did not happen.  But I wasn't super satisfied with the ending either.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves crime mysteries.  But if I had to pick my favorite Gillian Flynn book to recommend, this would be my last pick out of "Gone Girl" and "Sharp Objects."

Overview from Barnes & Noble:

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"All Fall Down" by Jennifer Weiner

I picked up this book at Barnes & Noble after reading "Then Came You" by Jennifer Weiner in August.  At the time, Then Came You was the first book of hers that I had read and I enjoyed it.  "All Fall Down" was a good book.  It was a little slow at first to get into.  But it was interesting to read about a busy, working mom, wife, and partial caretaker to her ailing father and how she copes with the stress of it all.  I'd recommend this book   It was an interesting take on addiction.

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Allison Weiss got her happy endinga handsome husband, adorable daughter, a job she loves, and the big house in the suburbs. But while waiting in the pediatrician’s office, she opens a magazine to a quiz about addiction and starts to wonder…Is a Percocet at the end of the day really different from a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class…or if your husband ignores you?
The pills help her manage the realities of her good-looking life: that her husband is distant, that her daughter is acting out, that her father’s Alzheimer’s is worsening and her mother is barely managing to cope. She tells herself that they let her make it through her days…but what if her increasing drug use, a habit that’s becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?
With a sparkling comedic touch and a cast of unforgettable characters, this remarkable story of a woman’s slide into addiction and struggle to find her way back up again is Jennifer Weiner’s most masterful work yet.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Adultery" by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho is my favorite author, so I read everything of his when it comes out.  I ran out to pick up his newest book, "Adultery."  It was a quick read, but I wasn't as crazy about this book as I was some of the others.  It didn't get as much symbolism and deep, deep meaning from this book as I have from some of his others.

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Linda knows she's lucky.
Yet every morning when she opens her eyes to a so-called new day, she feels like closing them again.
Her friends recommend medication.
But Linda wants to feel more, not less.
And so she embarks on an adventure as unexpected as it is daring, and which reawakens a side of her that she - respectable wife, loving mother, ambitious journalist - thought had disappeared.
Even she can't predict what will happen next...

"Sharp Objects" by Gillian Flynn

I brought "Sharp Objects" by Gillian Flynn to the beach with me to read after I read her other book, "Gone Girl."  It was a pretty quick read.  I liked the suspense of "Gone Girl" better, but actually liked the ending of "Sharp Objects" vs. "Gone Girl" (did not like the ending).  It was a very interesting book.

Overview from Barnes & Noble:

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

As I was perusing books about a year and a half ago, another lady in the recommended "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn to me.  As I normally do, I took a picture of the book to remember to buy it later, and forgot it about it.  When I was at the movie theater a few weeks ago, I saw the preview for the movie "Gone Girl" and knew I had to read the book before I watched the movie (I won't read a book if I've already seen the movie).  So I picked up the book and read it over our beach vacation last month.

The book was a little hard to get into at first, but it picked up pretty quickly.  It was captivating and kept me on edge waiting to find out what was going to happen next.  I loved the book up until the last few pages.  I hated the ending.  As not to spoil it, I won't go into why I hated it, but if you read the book, you will probably agree.

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 

I'm also attaching a link to one of the trailers.  I hope I am happier with the movie than I am with the book.  This is one movie that I wouldn't mind having a different ending than the book.

"Manuscript Found in Accra" by Paulo Coelho

I love Paulo Coelho's writing and read all of his books.  I'm not always crazy about every single one of them, but as a writer, I generally love his works.  I wasn't quite sure about "Manuscript Found in Accra" when I picked it up.  However, I loved this book.  It was a great "advice" book.  It's one of those books that feed your soul, uplift you, and make you a better person afterwards.

Overview from Barnes & Noble's website:
The great wisdom of life is that we can be masters of the things that try to enslave us. “There is nothing wrong with anxiety. Although we cannot control God’s time, it is part of the human condition to want to receive the thing we are waiting for as quickly as possible. Or to drive away whatever is causing fear. Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms."
1099. Jerusalem awaits the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the city’s gates. There, inside the ancient city’s walls, women and men of every age and faith have gathered to hear the wisdom of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. 
As the wise man speaks of loyalty, fear, bravery and solitude, of love, sex, beauty and elegance, his words offer truth and guidance, and reveal the human values that have endured throughout time—then as now, his words reveal who we are, what we fear and what we hope for the future.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"Then Came You" by Jennifer Weiner

I don't think I've ever read a book by Jennifer Weiner.  I was in Barnes & Noble and trying to find another book for the "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" deal and saw this one.  It sounded pretty interesting and I picked it up.  It was a little slow in the beginning, but I really liked this book.  It took me a little longer to get into it due to being busy at work and not having the time to read.  But once I got about half way through, I had to finish.  I would definitely recommend this book.  I liked it enough to pick up another one of her books last time I went into the bookstore.

Jules Strauss is a Princeton senior on a full scholarship who plans on selling her “pedigree” eggs to help save her father from addiction.
Annie Barrow, a struggling Pennsylvania housewife, thinks that carrying another woman’s child will help her recover a sense of purpose and will bring in some much-needed cash.
India Bishop, thirty-eight (really, forty-three) and recently married to the wealthy Marcus Croft, yearns for a baby for reasons that have more to do with money than with love. When her attempts at pregnancy fail, she turns to Jules and Annie to make her dreams come true.
But each of their plans is thrown into disarray when Bettina, Marcus’s privileged daughter, becomes suspicious that her new stepmother is not what she seems . . .
Told with Jennifer Weiner’s trademark wit and sharp observations, Then Came You is a hilarious, tender, and timely tale that explores themes of class and entitlement, surrogacy and charity, the rights of a parent and the measure of a mother.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"The Storyteller" by Jodi Picoult

I love Jodi Picoult's books.  But when I read the back cover of "The Storyteller," it didn't seem like it would keep my interest.  I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the first chapter or two.  But Picoult did not disappoint.  This was a great, quick read, as always with a twist in the end.  The stories within the story about the Holocaust were riveting and sad at the same time.

Synposis from Barnes & Noble's website:

Some stories live forever . . .
Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t, and they become companions.
Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shameful secret—one that nobody else in town would ever suspect—and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With her own identity suddenly challenged, and the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. When does a moral choice become a moral imperative? And where does one draw the line between punishment and justice, forgiveness and mercy?
In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths we will go in order to protect our families and to keep the past from dictating the future.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"The Dinner" by Herman Koch

I was in Barnes and Noble and The Dinner by Herman Koch and the back cover piqued my interest.  The back cover mentioned that the parents of two boys were meeting over dinner and that a single horrific act united the boys.  Nosy me wanted to know what they did.  That's all that it took for me to buy it.

It was a good book, but I wasn't super impressed.  Pretty much the entire book is about this dinner.  I felt like I was at a never-ending dinner.  It did keep me in suspense to see what would happen.  I wasn't crazy about the ending either.  I don't want to go into too much detail because I don't want to spoil the book for anyone who wants to read it.

Overview from Barnes & Noble's website:
An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives—all over the course of one meal.
It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
     Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
     Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness" by Susannah Cahalan

I had been eyeing Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan for a long time at Barnes & Noble.  I finally picked it up one night.  After I graduated with my B.S., I went back to school and took some psychology classes.  I love learning about the mind and the brain: what makes the brain function normally, what kinds of abnormalities persist, how the brain works, and what amazing things it's capable of.

Brain on Fire isn't what I thought it was going to be.  It was a good book about a rare disease that the Cahalan has which is beneficial for anyone who may be reading the book and going through a similar diagnosis.  It's great that she gets awareness out for her disease.  Most of the book was about her time in the hospital and diagnosing her condition.

I did love this quote from the book:

"Looking back at this time, I see that I'd begun to surrender to the disease, allowing all the aspects of my personality that I value - patience, kindness, and courteousness - to evaporate.  I was a slave to the machinations of my aberrant brain.  We are, in the end, a sum of our parts, and when the body fails, all the virtues we hold dear go with it."

Overview from Barnes & Noble's website:
An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery,Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.
When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?
In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen. “A fascinating look at the disease that . . . could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life” (People), Brain on Fire is an unforgettable exploration of memory and identity, faith and love, and a profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.

"I Am Malala" by Malala Yousafzai

I hadn't heard about Malala Yousafzai until she was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.  I heard about her story on NPR and couldn't wait to find out more about this remarkable young lady.  I picked up her book I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban at Barnes & Noble one night.  Although I wasn't impressed with the writing style of the book, her story is incredible.  She has achieved so much for someone so young and survived an assassination attempt.  I hope that she achieves great things in life.  She's already brought so much awareness to education of women all over the world.  If you read the book and want to help, I suggest donating to the Malala Fund which aims at bringing awareness and education to young girls in developing countries.

Overview from Barnes & Noble's website:
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday October 9, 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price. When she was shot in the head at point blank range while riding the bus home from school, few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in Northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest ever nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, and of Malala's parents' fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
It will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.

"The First Phone Call From Heaven" by Mitch Albom

I've read all of Mitch Albom's books that I can get my hands on.  I saw his latest book The First Phone Call From Heaven in Barnes & Noble recently and had to pick it up.  It did not disappoint.  It kept me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how residents of a small town were receiving calls from their loved ones in heaven.  It's a pretty quick read and his books are always good for your soul.

Overview from Barnes & Noble's website:
"What if the end is not the end?"
From the beloved author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most thrilling and magical novel yet—a page-turning mystery and a meditation on the power of human connection.
One morning in the small town of Coldwater, Michigan, the phones start ringing. The voices say they are calling from heaven. Is it the greatest miracle ever? Or some cruel hoax? As news of these strange calls spreads, outsiders flock to Coldwater to be a part of it.
At the same time, a disgraced pilot named Sully Harding returns to Coldwater from prison to discover his hometown gripped by "miracle fever." Even his young son carries a toy phone, hoping to hear from his mother in heaven.
As the calls increase, and proof of an afterlife begins to surface, the town—and the world—transforms. Only Sully, convinced there is nothing beyond this sad life, digs into the phenomenon, determined to disprove it for his child and his own broken heart.
Moving seamlessly between the invention of the telephone in 1876 and a world obsessed with the next level of communication, Mitch Albom takes readers on a breathtaking ride of frenzied hope.
The First Phone Call from Heaven is Mitch Albom at his best—a virtuosic story of love, history, and belief.