Wednesday, April 30, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Cadence Sinclair-Eastman, known as Cady, has grown up in a wealthy, prestigious family. Every summer her whole family heads out to a private island to vacation.  Cady's cousins plus a family acquaintance (The Liars)  are her companions each summer.  Cady looks forward to spending the summer with them until one summer when everything goes wrong.  All she can remember about that summer is that she was in some sort of accident.  Convinced that she had a swimming accident where she hit her head on a rock, Cady can't understand why her mother won't let her return to the island the following summer.  Two summers later, Cady's mother believes she might be ready to return and see her family.  Everything seems normal, until Cady begins to remember little pieces of what really happened the summer of the accident. 

My Thoughts:
We Were Liars is an extremely well written novel.  From the beginning, I knew that something wasn't right about Cady's story.  As things began to unravel, the book became more and more intriguing.  I would definitely categorize this novel as a mystery, but it also focuses a lot on the dynamics of Cady's family.  I am hesitant to say too much about the story line because this is definitely a book where you don't want to give away the ending.  Those of you who turn to the back of a book and read the last chapter before reading the rest of the story, let me implore you to not do that with this book. Let the ending be a surprise.  You won't regret it. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart

After a terrorist attack, thirteen-year-old Theo Decker is left orphaned and the sole guardian of a small painting that was placed in his hands after the explosion. Unable to part with the painting because it is the only connection he has left to his mother, Theo hides it away as he navigates the twists and turns of his new orphaned life. The book follows Theo's journey into adulthood where the book takes a dangerous turn into the underworld of art. 

The Goldfinch is the recipient of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and was also hailed as one of Amazon's most important books to read. The book is long, ringing in at over 800 pages, so if you decide to read it be sure you are up to the task.

I have heard so many mixed reviews of this book. I don't think anyone can argue that it isn't well-written. Tart is best known for weaving long intricate stories. This one reads like a large meal that you have to sit back and digest for awhile. Interestingly, I truly disliked this book until I took time to discuss it with my book club. After really dissecting the pieces of the story, I have to agree with all the praise it is receiving. On a personal level, I couldn't really find one character that I liked or could relate to and I felt that parts of the story were too detailed and cause the momentum to lag, which can really feel defeating in such a long book. However, the themes of the story are very real and moving. 

My only real advice on this one is that if you decide to take it on, don't quit halfway through. If you start it, hang on to the end. It's worth the closure you will feel from it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A.J. Fikry is an independent book store owner in the small town of Alice Island.  After purchasing the book store with his wife, things don't quite turn out as he expected.  His wife dies in a car accident and A.J. finds himself turning into an angry man prone to drinking his cares away.  To top it off, his extremely valuable copy of Edgar Allen Poe's Tamerlane and Other Poems is stolen right from underneath his nose.  As time passes, A.J. comes to find that he has isolated himself from almost everyone in Alice Island.  His only regular acquaintances are his late wife's sister, Ismay, and Lambiase, the police officer looking for his stolen book.  

A.J.'s life changes drastically when he returns from an evening run to find that a baby has been left in his store with only a note from its mother including the baby's name: Maya.  While initially annoyed, A.J. comes to see that Maya may be what saves him from his own demise.   

My Thoughts:
This heartwarming story by Gabrielle Zevin is a must read for book lovers.  Even in his angry phase, A.J.'s ability to pick out the right book for the right reader is fascinating.  A.J.'s love for books and stories help him through a difficult time and his ability to share his love of books with others eventually bring people back into his lonely life.  Filled with heartache, laughter, and love, Gabrielle has written a story that is sure to be passed along from reader to reader.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Middle aged Georgie's marriage is in trouble.  She has known this for a while, but hasn't been sure what to do about it.  Georgie's husband, Neal, is still madly in love with her but doesn't know how to deal with her crazy work schedule. Just a few days before Georgie and Neal plan to take their kids to Omaha to visit family for Christmas, Georgie backs out because of a big project at work.  Neal takes the kids and heads for Omaha anyways and Georgie is sure she has ruined things for good.

Being alone brings all of her family problems to the forefront and Georgie has no other option but to face them head on.  Not wanting to be alone, Georgie ends up staying at her mother's in her old bedroom.  Her cell phone is on the fritz so she decides to use the landline.  When she is finally able to get in touch with Neal, she realizes that the Neal she is speaking to isn't from the present, but is a past version of her husband.  This "magic" landline may be just the thing to save their marriage. 

My Thoughts: 

If you have read any of my other Rainbow Rowell reviews, you know that I am a big fan.  She currently has one adult (Attachments) and two young adult books (Eleanor and Park and Fangirl) published.  Needless to say I was extrememly anxious to get my hands on this newest book of hers.  It is not set to release until July 2014 and I planned to not write my review of it until closer to that date, but I just couldn't wait to share this book with fellow readers.  This is probably my favorite of her four books.  I think it is probably because I am close to Georgie's age and married.  Georgie and Neal deal with real life issues that many married couples face. Sometimes love just doesn't feel like enough, and working through those issues can be hard.  I love how Georgie and Neal decide that fighting for their marriage is worth the work. 

If you haven't read Rainbow's other books, I defintely recommend reading those while you wait for Landline to be released in July!