|Nomadic SA Chick||
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Page Count: 335
Fiction Category: Book Club, Chick-Lit, Historical, Romance
Dates Read: March 26-31, 2015
Orphaned, penniless, Jacob Jankowski jumps a freight train in the dark, and in that instant, transforms his future.By morning, he's landed a job with the Flying Squadron of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. By nightfall, he's in love.
In an America made colourless by prohibition and the Depression, the circus is a refuge of sequins and sensuality. But behind the glamour lies a darker world, where both animals and men are dispensable. Where falling in love is the most dangerous act of all.
I wasn't 100% sure what to expect from this book so I was a bit hesitant about it. I loved Water for Elephants! What I found in these pages was something of beauty. I loved that the whole premise of the book was predictable, yet the ending wasn't quite as much. The story was engaging and you weren't exactly sure what was going to happen next, but you wanted to hurry up and find out. The way this story was told reminded me a lot of Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook. Water for Elephants changes story telling between the present and the past. An aged Jacob Jankowski sits in a retirement home reminiscing about life in his 20s. A young Jacob Jankowski rides a train working for a traveling circus as the vet. A must read!
I give this a 4 out of 5.
Publisher: Del Ray
Page Count: 306
Fiction Category: Fantasy, Adventure, Classics
Dates Read: March 26-29, 2015 (reread dates)
Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo–alone and unaided–who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside.
A fun and exciting adventure that never gets old or goes out of style. It's difficult not to love every single character in this book. I enjoyed rereading this after seeing The Hobbit movie franchise. It was interesting to see the little differences they tweaked to make the three films. The Hobbit can be a bit slow in places, but it's well worth it in the end!
I give this a 4 out of 5.
Publisher: Philomel Books
Page Count: 344
Fiction Category: Young Adult, Historical, WWII, War Crimes
Dates Read: March 23-26, 2015
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
This book was okay. It wasn't anything special, but it was nice to read a story that occurred during WWII that was about the a displaced group of people (who weren't German or Jewish), whose experiences were driving by Stalin instead of Hitler, though Stalin was no kinder of a man. even though this was a work of fiction the research I did after reading the book it seemed like Sepetys was pretty historically accurate. She obviously cleaned it up a bit to make this a YA novel. The most interesting part of this book was the author notes at the end where Sepetys tells the story of her husband's family experiences in Lithuania during WWII.
I give this a 3 out of 5.
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Page Count: 1104
Fiction category: Humor, Contemporary
Dates Read: March 21-25, 2015
A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America. Set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are.
Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human - and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.
This was the most overrated piece I have read on a long time. When I finally finished this one, I felt guilty for not loving it. It seemed like every review I read about this was just raving like it was written by Zeus. Don't get me wrong, it was a decent book, but I don't think it is as great as everyone makes it out to be. I think most people have to tell themselves they loved this because it is easier than admitting that you just wasted so much time reading a purely adequate book. This book is long. So very long, and so very boring at many different points. It was entertaining in places though. I felt bad for all the characters. I didn't feel bad because of their situations, but because I had so much pity for them. These are the most reprehensible characters I have read about since The Great Gatsby.
Please save yourself the trouble and do not waste your time on this, unless you are stranded on a deserted island and have nothing better to do. If I could go back in time, I would choose having a lobotomy over reading this.
I give this a 2 1/2 out of 5.
Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company
Page Count: 56
Fiction Category: Poetry, Fantasy, Illustrated
Dates Read: March 24, 2015
T. S. Eliot's playful cat poems have delighted readers and cat lovers around the world ever since they were first published in 1939. They were originally composed for his godchildren, with Eliot posing as Old Possum himself, and later inspired the legendary musical Cats.
All about cats! Elliot was a man after my own heart. This was a fun and quirky read. Great stories and fantasies. A well constructed world of what cats must be thinking, or doing when we are not looking. Beautiful illustrations.
I give this a 4 out of 5.
Publisher: Bantam Classics
Page Count: 160
Fiction Category: Mystery, Humor, Historical Fiction
Dates Read: March 18-21, 2015
Goodreads: At the beginning of Pudd'nhead Wilson a young slave woman, fearing for her infant's son's life, exchanges her light-skinned child with her master's. From this rather simple premise Mark Twain fashioned one of his most entertaining, funny, yet biting novels. On its surface, Pudd'nhead Wilson possesses all the elements of an engrossing nineteenth-century mystery: reversed identities, a horrible crime, an eccentric detective, a suspenseful courtroom drama, and a surprising, unusual solution. Yet it is not a mystery novel. Seething with the undercurrents of antebellum southern culture, the book is a savage indictment in which the real criminal is society, and racial prejudice and slavery are the crimes. Written in 1894, Pudd'nhead Wilson glistens with characteristic Twain humor, with suspense, and with pointed irony: a gem among the author's later works.
Manda's: Set in Missouri, a young, light-skinned, slave woman switches her light-skinned infant for her master's infant after the death of the baby's mother. The young girl is the primary care taker for her child and the infant master, who were born on the same day. The young woman grows to regret this decision as she watches the man her son, dressed as her master's son, becomes. Pudd'nhead Wilson is a young lawyer new to town who quickly earns this unfortunate nickname upon his arrival. The lives of the young woman, the two grown boys, and Wilson continue to collide in this odd tale.
I have to confess that this is the first Mark Twain book I have ever read, though I am very familiar with some of Twain's most famous works (thanks, Johnathan Taylor Thomas). After reading this book I understand now why so many people hold Twain in such high regard, and I will be reading more of his stories later on. I found this book to be enjoyable, albeit predicable, but that did not take away from the quality of the story or the writing. The characters are very well developed, and you end up loving all of them, even the despicable ones. This book was written in 1894, with the science of finger printing as a central theme of the story. This was written well before finger printing was taken seriously in the criminal justice system in America. Well done, Twain.
I give this a 3 out of 5.
Publisher: Self-Published (K.L. Randis)
Page Count: 321
Nonfiction Subjects: True Crime, Biography, Mystery, Psychological
Dates Read: March 15 - 18, 2015
Before I get too far into this book I must warn you that this is a true story that is very dark and was a difficult subject to get through.
Child Abuse and Sexual Assault
My hands trembled as I dialed the number for social services and slipped a piece of paper out of my pocket. I knew I would forget something, so I wrote down what I needed to say in a paragraph. An operator picked up and I smoothed the paper out in front of me. When I finished rattling off what I needed to say, she asked for my name and to explain how I knew what I knew. “I can’t tell you my name. But you have to believe me. Listen to my voice, I’m a child, and I’m terrified. You need to help these kids.” - Excerpt from Spilled Milk
Based on a true story, Brooke Nolan is a battered child who makes an anonymous phone call about the escalating brutality in her home. When social services jeopardize her safety condemning her to keep her father’s secret, it’s a glass of spilled milk at the dinner table that forces her to speak about the cruelty she’s been hiding. In her pursuit for safety and justice Brooke battles a broken system that pushes to keep her father in the home. When jury members and a love interest congregate to inspire her to fight, she risks losing the support of family and comes to the realization that some people simply do not want to be saved.
My initial response when I first started reading this and was about 100 pages in:
I think I have a found a dark rabbit hole that will be a difficult journey to go down. A part of me knows wants to turn back now and not read the rest of these dark and twisted events, but I want to know what happens to Brooke and her three siblings. I'm about a quarter of the way through this so far, but it's proving to be a tough read, both for the content and also for the editing of the book. Based on what I've read so far, I recommend the book, but be warned it is pretty grim and heart wrenching.
This was an incredibly difficult book to get through, for a couple of reasons. For me the biggest issue was the subject content. Randis is very open about the sexual abuse she was subjected to, and the physical abuse her brothers and sister were victims of. She never goes into great detail about specifics of her abuse, but enough that you know it was absolutely horrible for her, and you constantly question how any other human being could be capable of this. I pushed quickly through the book even though it gave me nightmares, because I wanted to get through it as quickly as possible.
The second, and lesser issue I had was the poor editing of this book. I can't be too hard on Randis though, because she self-published her book. She didn't have a high priced editor or publishing company on her side to clean up her manuscript, and I know that if I were to ever self-publish a book, no matter how many times I tried to edit it or had friends edit it for me, I'd still have a fair share of mistakes. If you read this, just be prepared that it's not perfect, but the story itself overshadows these errors.
For the record, this is a very enjoyable book, in the sense of learning about Brooke's fight in the legal system and with her family. Reading about Brooke's abuse was very troubling. I recommend reading this book, if you are up to the subject matter.
I give this a 5 out of 5.