Category Archives: books

Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Review

their_eyes_were_watching_god3Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was a historically significant novel and one I knew I needed to read, especially given Alice Walker’s [author of The Color Purple] recommendation!

It surrounds Janie Crawford, an African American women who has had her fair share of hardships throughout her forty-year life. The product of an inappropriate student/teacher relationship, Janie is raised by her Nanny [a former slave] when her mother Leafy runs off to live her own life of chasing jazz and liquor. Before Nanny dies, she marries Janie off to an older farmer, Logan. Logan is looking for a field hand, not a wife, and Janie finds herself terminally unhappy.

She soon falls in love with Joe Starks and runs off with the lovable scamp. Joe wants Janie to be the trophy wife and run the family store, avoiding any social interaction or event. Joe is a controlling man who finally slaps Janie and leaves her. He ends up passing away from kidney failure, but not before Janie can tell him that he never really knew her or let her be free.

With Joe’s estate left to her, Janie becomes a rich woman in her 30′s with plenty of suitors. Her favorite is romantic and endearing Tea Cake, who is much younger than her, but respectful and caring. They move to Jacksonville to start their life together and Janie is truly happy until Tea Cake is bit by a rabid dog. He contracts rabies and goes mad, trying to kill Janie. She shoots Tea Cake out of self defense and kills him. There is a trial, which Janie wins.

The ending was abrupt… I thought, at least. The story was heartbreaking and empowering. Janie wanted a marriage filled with love and happiness. One in which she could be herself. Even if her marriage to Tea Cake does not last long, it is the truest love of her life. Good novel, not a favorite, but a good read on the history of African-Americans.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Review

the oceanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is pure magic. It’s reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia in it’s simplicity and imagery. It’s subject matter definitely had it’s dark moments, but it was written in such a way that the darkness did not take away from the light.

The story follows an unnamed protagonist… a young boy who lives in the country with his family. When the family goes through rough times, they must take in a boarder. Not long after his arrival, the boarder is found in the father’s vehicle having committed suicide. The death of the boarder allows an evil supernatural being to enter our realm. After his own near death experience with the supernatural being, the boy reaches out to his neighbor, a young lady named Lettie.

Lettie, her mother, and her grandmother have experience with the supernatural and help the little boy to protect his family from Ursula, the young female form the supernatural being has taken on. The story took a lot of unexpected turns and I found it endearing.

GREAT read!!! Imaginative, fun, and slightly dark. I definitely recommend it!

The House of Mirth: A Review

house of mirthThe House of Mirth by Edith Wharton is novel 69 on the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels of All Time list. What a bittersweet read! It started off slow, but really picked up midway through the novel.

We meet Lily Bart on her scandalous first visit to single Lawrence Selden’s apartment. Despite her strong feelings for Lawrence, Lily refuses to allow herself to become attached to a man with so small a fortune. She finds herself torn between her love of luxuries and her desire to be truly happy in marriage. She seems to destroy her own chances when she ignores Percy Gryce, an eligible millionaire looking to marry the beautiful Miss Bart.

Once Percy Gryce marries another young lady in their social set, Lily finds herself in need of money to keep living her extravagant lifestyle. She turns to Gus, the husband of her best friend, Judy Trenor, for advice on stocks. Gus lies and tells Lily that her stocks have risen and gives her a thousand dollars. When it is released to her social group that Gus gave her a thousand dollars from his own pocket, Lily’s relationships with her friends suffer greatly. Having turned down her true love – Lawrence Selden – due to his lack of funds, Lily finds herself in debt and miserable.

This story is not uplifting. It’s mostly just sad. I wanted Lily to realize that her true feelings for Lawrence were more important than all the things she could ever buy, but she didn’t until the novels end… when it was much too late for reconciliation. Sad, but interesting. It’s not in my top 20 or even top 50, but an alright period piece for New York society circa 1890.

Across the Universe: A Review

across the universeBeth RevisAcross the Universe was an eye opening novel about a dystopian society aboard a spaceship en route to a new Earth… hopefully! I am always surprised when I find a novel with a NEW story arc. It was a fun to read, new sci-fi story. The characters were similar to those in Eleanor & Park, so I was sold!

Amy is a seventeen year old girl who was woken up early. Doesn’t sound like much, BUT it’s a much bigger deal when you’re cryogenically frozen and supposed to wake up with your mother and father on a NEW habitable planet. Amy is immediately panicked and dismayed when she awakes in the goo and finds that she woke up WAY too early. Her parents are essential to the new planet, her mom is a scientist and her father is a military leader, and Amy can’t wake them up early to join her.

She’s stuck on Godspeed [the spaceship] with a crazy set of laws and social constructs. The population is drugged and the leaders are controlling. Amy starts to uncover the secrets of what keeps Godspeed so peaceful and complacent, but is the population ready for the big reveal?

GREAT characters and fun story. =) Can’t wait to read the second novel in this series!! A fun, sci-fi love story for all you geeks out there!

The Book Thief: A Review

the book thiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak was one of the best books I’ve read this year! I picked it up on a whim, based solely on the title being blown to me across the wind. Nah, not really… I just heard through the grapevine that this novel was ‘good’. That’s all I’d heard… it was ‘good’; good doesn’t even begin to graze what this novel entails. It’s written so perfectly and the characters are endearing, but real.

The story follows Liesel Meminger, a ten year old German girl who is given up for adoption to the Hubermann’s of Himmel Drive, affectionately known as Mama & Papa. She carries few personal belongings, including The Gravedigger’s Handbook, a book she stole from a gravedigger at her little brother’s untimely funeral.

Papa teaches Liesel to read, one word at a time, every night she has trouble sleeping. Liesel becomes incredibly close with her foster father and the next door neighbor, a little boy named Rudy Steiner. Liesel and Rudy play in the streets together, rough-housing and attending the Hitler Youth Army meetings. At a book burning hosted by the Nazi’s, Liesel bravely grabs a book from the pile. The Book Thief is in full swing!

The Hubermann’s take in a Jewish boxer, whom they allow to live in the basement illegally. It’s a huge risk for the family and Liesel must promise to keep Max Vandenburg’s presence a secret. Max and Liesel become close due to their shared love of the written word.

The novel is written from the viewpoint of Death. Death has become infatuated with this little girl… this survivor. Liesel Meminger is surrounded by death and destruction and still dares to read and write, to create. This novel is unlike other Nazi fiction I’ve read… it’s drew me in entirely! GREAT, GREAT NOVEL!! 

If you haven’t read it yet, I implore you to pick it up from your local library. You will not regret it!

The Devil Wears Prada: A Review

The_Devil_Wears_Prada_coverThe Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger is a novel & popular film with Anne Hathaway & Meryl Streep. I’ve never seen the movie, but I knew that a lot of my fellow actors ADORED Meryl Streep’s acting in the film. I figured if it was a favorite among so many of my fellows, the book would be a good fit.

The story is about Andrea Sachs, a recent Brown grad with ambitions in journalism, but no job to speak of. Andrea is desperate to break into the magazine business [The New Yorker, specifically] and jumps at the opportunity to be Miranda Priestly’s junior assistant. Miranda is the EDITOR-IN-CHIEF of the ever popular fashion magazine Runway.

Andrea hears through the grapevine that Miranda will help her get a good position in The New Yorker… IF she survives a year as Miranda’s personal junior assistant. Entirely degrading and completely life consuming, Andrea struggles through the year, failing in her relationships & friendships all for the greater good of her career.

I felt like this novel was just a little too stressful. I ended up hating Andrea, hating Miranda, hating the world of fashion. It was not a positive read, though still well written. It’s like Mean Girls for businesswomen. Negativity at it’s strongest. Great writing, horrid characters.

Books vs. E-Books

books vs ebooksI know you all love e-books, but… LONG LIVE PAPER BOOKS!!!!

Me Before You: A Review

Me-Before-YouI was not expecting Me Before You to be such a page turner and tear-jerker! Jojo Moyes really delivers with this deeply emotional novel about the unfairness of life and the silver lining of friendship.

Will Traynor is a paraplegic whose motorcycle accident has taken away his will to live. He’s given himself an expiration date and is determined to be as melancholy and unhappy as possible in his remaining days. He’s not expecting someone like Lou Clark to come into his life and FORCE him to enjoy it.

Lou Clark is a completely apathetic young woman without any drive to do anything noteworthy or real with her life. After her job at the cafe is terminated, Lou finds herself jobless and unambitious. She lands a job at the castle up the street working with a paraplegic and terminally unhappy young man – Will Traynor.

Slowly but surely, Lou and Will develop a close relationship and dependency upon one another! When Lou learns the deep secret the Traynor’s have been keeping from her, she is more that determined to change their minds!

I was so entirely connected to these characters. Jojo Moyes broke my heart again and again with this story!! One of the best novels I’ve read this year!!! =)

The Bride Wore Size 12: A Review

The-Bride-Wore-Size-12The Bride Wore Size 12 is the latest Meg Cabot novel about the misadventures of our favorite detective: Heather Wells. My reviews for her other adventures are here: Size 12 is Not Fat, Size 14 is Not Fat Either, Big Boned, and Size 12 and Ready to Rock). It’s been a crazy couple of semesters at New York College’s finest dorm residence hall aka: Death Dorm and things are not slowing down in the least.

After a completely insane summer session, Heather Wells is ready for a calm fall semester to complete her wedding planning! Not shockingly enough, another student meets a random and tragic death! Trying to balance the VIR (Very Important Resident) & his entourage while planning a wedding AND trying to ignore her newly resurfaced mother may seem like a lot, but Heather’s got it under control. Right? haha.

A fantastic end to a memorable series. I’m not usually super into murder mysteries, but Heather is such a real person! Her sarcasm and wit keep you laughing along with the gasps her detective work renders in readers of all sorts! Another great Meg Cabot read!

Weird Things Customers say in Bookshops: A Review

weird_thingsOi! Looking for a short dose of funny for nerdy readers like myself?? Look no further! Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell is a collection of questions and statements that bookstore employees have been forced to address. It was a funny read, not much substance, but still a cutesie idea. =)