Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby



Genre:  Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Social Situations
Order Online: Amazon.com  
Author Info: Goodreads | Website
Rating: 4 stars   
Received this ARC in a giveaway from one of my favorite blogs: Jen Ryland/YA Romantics 

In A Nutshell:  
Anna Ryan has to move.  Her father has just taken a promotion that requires he move to another beach.  But Anna is not sure that she wants to leave.  She lost her mother here and she is afraid that with leaving she will lose her again or maybe lose more of herself.  For Anna's father though, this move means coming back to the place where he met her mother and to the memories of her that are the happiest.  And he wants to share all of that with Anna--if she will let him. 

Review:  
I was so excited when I opened the package with this book because on the cover of the book is a review by Sarah Dessen.  As many of you know--I love her books.  So the review made me confident I would love this book too.  And I did.  I do think that fans of Sarah Dessen will really like Jessi Kirby because their styles and the topics that they approach have a lot of similarities. 

Anna is a fairly private person who has had to hide a lot of secrets within herself.  This personality does not generally make for a great narrator.  At the beginning of the story, I was a little frustrated because Anna was not sharing very much of her story.  However, as the story progressed I found myself really drawn to Anna.  I wanted to find out her story--and I wanted to be there as Anna figured out her story.  I wanted to see Anna find some peace.

At the end though, I was a little disappointed that while the primary story was tied up, some of the side stories did not get tied up.  What happened with the track team?  How did Ashley and Anna work everything out?  I wanted to know more--and see if Anna found closure. 

Recommendations:
After reading Jessi Kirby's first book--I cannot wait to read her next:

But this book also made me realize how long it has been since I read a Sarah Dessen book--I need to read another one soon!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: Millionaire Women Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley



Genre: Women & Business
Order Online: Amazon.com  
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 4 stars   
Borrowed this book from the library.  

 
In A Nutshell:
The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind had revolutionized the way that I thought about money--or maybe it is more accurate to say that these books changed the way I aspire to approach money.  No longer did it seem impossible to be financially independent even on the salary that I currently make and the salary I can hope to make in my current career (which I do love and I do feel utilizes my talents and aptitudes).

But those books did have a very strong focus on male millionaires, and as a single mother I felt some of the principles out of my reach.  So I almost jumped for joy when I saw Millionaire Women Next Door.  Financially independence now feels attainable--even for me.

Review:  
I had read both The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind a few years back.  But after some recent major changes in my life, I decided to rededicate myself to the goal of financial independence, so I checked them both out from the library to re-read.  It was during the search for these two books that I found Millionaire Women Next Door. So after re-reading both of the originals, I dove into this newer installment.  

Reading them so closely together, I did see that there is some repetition between the three books.  It makes sense because some of the principles that people follow as part of their plan for financial independence are going to be the same regardless of gender.  But the repetition did get to be a little boring in certain spots.  There is also a lot of quotes directly from the previous books, which is probably necessary for the people who started with this book without reading the other two.  But for me, it just further accentuated the repetition.

There is a large section where Thomas J. Stanley goes into detail about the difference between "Alpha" women millionaires (women who became millionaires after growing up in a loving, supportive, and in many cases frugal environment) and "Beta" women millionaires (women who became millionaires after growing up in negative and/or hostile environment).  This section really hit close to home for me and really gave me insight into who I am and why I approach money in some of the ways that I do.  He goes on to talk about being married to "Marginal Bob."  It explained so much to me about how I ended up in the situation(s) I did.

Understanding some of these things about myself have helped me as I focus on my goal of financial independence.  I can see some of the areas that I have to watch for myself so they do not get out of control again.  I have also been able to forgive myself for some of the mistakes of my past--with an understanding that I have to work hard to not end up in that same place a second time.

As a parent, this book has also made me think of how I want my daughter to relate to money.  As she gets older, I want to start to implement some of the techniques the millionaire women talked--such as open honest discussions of how money is spent as a family every paycheck.
 
Recommendations:
If you have not read any of Thomas J. Stanley's books, I cannot recommend them highly enough.  I have found them to be so informative and inspiring.  I do honestly believe that one day I can be financially independent, and when I start to doubt that I will pick these books up again.  The next book I want to read by him is:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson


Genre:  Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Order Online: Amazon.com  
Author Info: Goodreads | Website
Rating: 3 stars   
Bought this book with my birthday discount at Changing Hands.  

In A Nutshell:  
Ashley Hannigan sees herself as a "normal kid."  Not special enough to go to college.  Not special enough to worry about prom.  However, she is surrounded by friends and classmates who feel prom is one of the most important day of their lives.  These different orientations to prom collide when the faculty advisor to the prom committee steals most of the money that was raised for prom.  At that moment, Ashley shows her true colors by stepping in to help her best friend who wants the prom experience more than anything in the world.  In the process, Ashley's view of herself, what she wants, and what she deserves starts to change in significant ways. 

Review:  
I picked this book up after reading Speak.  By comparison, Prom seems frivolous.  It seems trite.  It seems underwhelming.  Those were my initial reactions to this story.  I had expected a story that touched me in the same way that I had been touched by Speak.  However, after some time away I realized that was really not a fair way to rate this book.  This book never claimed to be like Speak

So, I started to look at this story on its own merits.  As a light-hearted book, Prom delivers a unique cast of characters.  I think my favorite was Nat's grandmother who could moonlight as a professional baker if only she were not so obsessed with swimming (many times with her clothes on).  Prom delivers a strong coming-of-age story.  The Ashley we see in the beginning of this story would not even recognize the Ashley at the end who makes a stand for herself in a big way.

After recognizing these elements of Prom I realized that I really liked this book.  I am glad I read it, and I cannot wait to read another one of Laurie Halse Anderson's books.  I am sure she will surprise me yet again--but this time I will not let my initial feelings be dictated by the expectations set by other books I have read by her.

Recommendations:
If you have not read Speak, I cannot recommend it strongly enough--this book really shook me to the core:


The next book I would like to read by Laurie Halse Anderson:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: Where She Went by Gayle Forman


Genre:  Young Adult, Social Issues
Order Online: Amazon.com
Review for previous book in series: here
Author Info: Goodreads | Website
Rating: 3 stars   
Borrowed this book from the library.  

In A Nutshell:  
This book surprised me in so many ways--from a change in narrator to a change in the focus and feel of the story, but in the end I came to love it.  I do not know what more could be told of the story of Mia and Adam, but I really want to have them return because I am not ready to let them go.

Review:  
It took me longer than I initially anticipated to finish this series.  The first book had hit me so strongly that I just knew I was not emotionally prepared to finish Mia's story yet.  And in some ways, I am glad I waited.  But in some ways I felt this story lacked some of the power and emotional punch of the first.

A big part of the change was the complete change in narrator.  Instead of following Mia, we (the readers) are now following Adam.  This took me by surprise and took me a little bit to get used to--particularly since the title of the book was Where SHE Went. Eventually we learn where she went, but in reality this book seemed to focus a lot more on what happened with Adam after the end of If I Stay.

The change in narrator also affected the feel of the story.  Where Mia as narrator had a strong focus on her feelings and emotions--Adam as narrator had a stronger focus on actions.  He was so confused by emotions (both his and Mia's) that he kept his focus on the actions.  What Mia did.  What he did.  What his bandmates did.  This is not a bad thing--but it was unexpected after reading the first story where Mia was very focused on her own emotions and feelings about the accident.

But the end worked for me.  It made all of my confusion about the change in narrator and the change in focus work for me.  It made me glad I read this book and this series.  It made me hope that there was more to the story of Mia and Adam because I am just not ready to give them up.

Recommendations:
I was looking to see what else Gayle Forman had written, when I found a book I want to read because it reminds me a little of a book I had to read for school that really impacted the way I see globalization and its effect on the world:


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: The Help by Kathryn Stockett


Genre:  Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction, Southern Fiction, Audiobook
Order Online: Amazon.com  
Author Info: Goodreads | Website
Rating: 3 stars   
Borrowed this book from the library.  

In A Nutshell:  
Kathryn Stockett did a wonderful job putting together a story filled with intriguing characters and unexpected surprises.  I am pretty sure I will never look at chocolate pie the same way again.  In fact, I am not sure I will look at many stories about the South, about Jim Crow laws, or about civil rights the same way again.  But I did have some issues with the story--in particular some questions come off as being one dimensional.  However, these issues did not take away from a story that left me laughing and crying over and over again. 

Review:  
After my last couple of experiences with audiobooks I was beginning to question my appreciation for audiobooks--until I found this book. The Help capitalized on the opportunity to utilize multiple narrators in order accentuate Kathryn Stockett's use of multiple narrators to tell her story.  It was very easy to keep the different narrators separate in my mind because they literally had different voices.  My one complaint was that the narrator chosen to read for Aibileen sounded younger than the narrator chosen to read for Minny so I kept forgetting that Aibileen was really the older of the two characters. 

The Help capitalized on the opportunity to tell the story that brought a time and a place I did not personally experience to life for me.  I do not think I will ever think of Jim Crow laws or the civil rights movement or Mississippi without thinking of Aibileen, Minny, and the other maids telling their stories or Hilly talking about her Home Help Sanitation Initiative or Elizabeth's approach and treatment of her children.

But in some respects I felt some of the characters were a little over simplified (or maybe one-dimensional is a better way to describe it).  They seemed to lack some balance of good and bad traits.  For instance, I know that Aibileen commented that Hilly was a good mother to her kids--but otherwise I do not think she had a single redeeming quality.  And if she is really that bad then how could Skeeter (who is very much portrayed as a good virtuous person) remain close friends for her so long.  In some respects, I could attribute it to Skeeter not wanting to incur Hilly's wrath--but their friendship seems to go beyond the bounds of friendship for politeness.  They were college roommates.  They were in bridge club together (at least for a while).  These were closer bonds than many people in the town could boast with Hilly.  So did Hilly have redeeming qualities that were not shown to the reader or did Skeeter make a mistake being such a close friend with Hilly for so many years?

Overall though, the book left a good impression on me.  It gave me insight into the way that people in the South related to each other.  For someone who grew up well after the civil rights movement, there were some aspects of that culture that I could not appreciate as much before reading this book.  The feelings that are described by the narrators who had to hide they were friends because a real threat of retaliation touched me in ways I had not expected when I started this story. 
 
Recommendations:
I have been putting off watching the movie until I had a chance to read the book--now I cannot wait to watch the movie!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels


Genre:  Non-Fiction, Women's Health, Health
Order Online: Amazon.com  
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 2 stars   
Borrowed this book from the library. 

In A Nutshell:  
Admittedly, my opinion of this book could be affected by the audiobook format.  However, while I was impressed with the science and research displayed in the book, I felt like I may be able to implement some of her recommendations but I am not sure I can do them all. 

Review:  
For years I have lived a very sedentary lifestyle.  I ate fairly well so I was not significantly overweight--but one day I decided I wanted to make change.  I started getting up early so I could workout before getting ready for work.  I started getting workout DVDs to focus my efforts.  And I decided that at least once a month I wanted to read at least one book to learn more about living a healthier lifestyle.

I decided to start with Master Your Metabolism because I had purchased Jillian Michaels: 6 Week Six-Pack and loved it. It totally killed my abs but was not so overwhelming (at least at level 1) for me.  However, this book left me a little underwhelmed or maybe it is better to say overwhelmed and under impressed.  The plan that she outlines seems very rooted in science but with as prevalent as the hormone inhibitors that she described are, I cannot see how I will be able to implement all of her ideas.

I am also not sure that this book works well as an audiobook--there was so much scientific data.  I could not always follow all of it well in audio format.  It may have been better if I could have referred to the PDF that came with the audiobook but I normally listen to audiobooks when I am in situations where I cannot hold a hardcopy book to read it.  In those situations, I cannot access a PDF either.  

Recommendations:
While this book left me wanting more, I still love this workout and do it about twice a week!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


Genre:  Fantasy, Metaphysical, Historical
Order Online: Amazon.com  
Author Info: Goodreads | Website
Rating: 2 stars   
Borrowed this book from library.  

In A Nutshell:  
While I loved the world that Erin Morgenstern created, I am not sure that this book was the best to tackle as an audiobook.  While the audiobook easily conveyed the magic and artistry of the world, the multiple story lines spanning different periods of time were sometimes hard to follow.

Review:  
I love audiobooks.  I love Jim Dale narrating audiobooks.  So when I found out that this book was narrated by Jim Dale, I could not wait to get my hands on it.  Admittedly I may have had unreasonable expectations based on my love of Jim Dale's narrations, but I was not overwhelmingly impressed with this story.

I think part of my lackluster feelings come from the choppy way the story is brought together.  We are following multiple story lines across multiple points in time.  And all of these story lines were hard to follow--which may not have been as much trouble if I had had the hardcopy so I could refer back to it. 

I am also still not 100% sure I am satisfied with the ending--and I waited all day to write this to see if I could decide how I felt and I still cannot really decide how I feel.  I felt like there were stories that were not left without an explanation in the end which is a little frustrating to me.  And even some of the answers I got seemed to lack some of the pageantry and ingenuity that made the rest of the story so magical.  At the end I felt underwhelmed.

What I did love--what absolutely kept me coming back despite my frustration with the choppy narrative--was the descriptions.  Erin Morgenstern created a world that was full of magic and wonder.  I want the Night Circus to come to my town so I could spend time in the tents and experience the artistry and magic that she described.  I want to be dazzled by Celia or Poppet and Widget or Tsukiko or really there are too many performances to choose from.  So in that case, I want to travel with the Reveurs and have a shock of red against a nice black and white suit so I have an opportunity to see them all.  Erin Morgenstern's descriptions have been the first and only time I truly understood why someone would want to "run away and join the circus."

Recommendations:
I love Jim Dale, so I immediately starting looking for the next book I can get to listen to him and decided to add this one to my TBR:

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: Lost in Time by Melissa de la Cruz


Genre:Young Adult, Paranormal, Vampires  
Order Online: Amazon.com  
Previous Review of Series: here
Author Info: Goodreads | Website
Rating: 3 stars   
Borrowed book from the library. 

In A Nutshell:  
After the frustration with Bloody Valentine, I admit that I did not jump into Lost In Time with the highest or most positive expectations. But I am so glad that I did finally pick it up because it was so much better and more engaging than I expected. 

Review:  
After reading Bloody Valentine, I was so disappointed that it almost made me want to stop reading this series.  But I am glad I gave Lost In Time a chance because it brought back many of the aspects of the series that I had grown to love.  In particular, I really loved how Melissa de la Cruz was able to string together three completely separate storylines (specifically Jack/Schuyler, Allegra/Ben/Charles, and Mimi/Kingsley/Oliver) without losing continuity or having the elements cross over between the storylines causing confusion.

The one issue that is very frustrating for me is the repeated references to Florence.  I feel like we (as readers) have been patient with the references to this life style without substance and context.  There were numerous times throughout this book where I wanted to scream "what happened in Florence--tell me already!"

But overall, I felt more drawn into the story of Mimi/Kingsley/Oliver.  I found that I started to see Mimi as more than a shallow bitch--she revealed more emotion and more depth than I expected after stories up to this point.

Recommendations:
After this one, I feel more optimistic about tackling a book that has been on my TBR pile for a while:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick


Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Mysteries & Detectives, Family Life
Order Online: Amazon.com
Author Info: Goodreads | Website
Rating: 4 stars
Borrowed this book from the library. 

In A Nutshell:
When I first heard about this book, I was not sure what to expect.  Would it feel too much like a picture book to hold the attention of an adult?  But I kept hearing people talk about it so I took the plunge.  This book is not like any picture book I have ever read before.  Yes, some elements of the story only come out in the illustrations, but the story that Brian Selznick weaves is much more complicated and full of intrigue than any other picture book I have ever read.

Review:
Hugo has been left alone in the train station where his uncle (who was serving as his reluctant guardian) serviced all of the clocks.  Afraid of what could happen to him if the officials at the train station learn he is alone, Hugo has taken over servicing all of the clocks hoping that no one notices him.  As this story unfolded, I really felt terrible on Hugo's behalf.  He went from a very loving and caring household with his father, to feeling like a nuisance and an inconvenience.

This loss of the connection he felt with his father led Hugo to fixate on the one physical thing that he still has to connect to his father.  And through the illustrations, we are able to capture some of the nuances and impact of Hugo's feelings and reactions more realistically than I imagine we would in a written text.  We see his face and how his expressions change the same way we would an acquaintance or a friend.  And that is the progression that Hugo made for me over the course of the story--he went from being an acquaintance I wanted to understand to a friend I valued.

But Brian Selznick did not just create one endearing character, he created a whole cast of them.  From the Station Inspector Hugo is constantly hiding from to the Etienne the friend who starts the chain reaction that brings Rene Tabard to Georges Melies' door, there is so much complexity and intrigue that I did not want the story to end.  Even now I want to know what happened after--what adventures did Isabel and Hugo go on after the final scene? 

Recommendations:
I just saw that Brian Selznick has another book out--and now I have to read it!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

TBR Intervention (15)



I am still working on the books I started for my last TBR--and my big lesson for this week is that 800 page books take a long time to read (you would think I knew that already right?).

This Week

If I can finish these books--my next book is going to be:


I have been focusing on making changes in my life to be healthier and to set a healthier example for my daughter.  This goal will not change all of the books I read--but periodically I want to read some that teach me something about living healthier.

Summary (from back):
Tired of dieting?  Are you eating nonfat and carb-free foods that don't satisfy?  Then stop!  You've been wrecking your metabolism with yo-yo fad diets and chemical-filled nonfoods.  Jillian Michaels is here to repair the damage and retrain your hormones and endocrine system.

Master Your Metabolism is a simple three-phase plan that amps up your weight-loss hormones and kicks those fat-storing hormones to the curb.  You'll learn how to:
  • Remove antinutrients and toxins, which are slowing your metabolism.
  • Restore natural whole foods to your diet--foods that will rally your fat-burning hormones.
  • Rebalance your hormones by sleeping, dealing with stress, and exercising in ways that will manage them best.
Master Your Metabolism teaches you how to reach your optimum health and weight and transform your body into the ultimate healthy, fat-fighting machine. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Follow (20)


Q: You are a matchmaker -- your goal, hook up two characters from two of your favorite books. Who would it be? How do you think it would go?

In a non-romantic pairing, I think that Stephanie Plum from the series starting with One for the Money  and Kinsey Millhone from the series starting with A is for Alibi should meet.   I feel like if they did meet they may even go into a very successful business together where they do PI work and catch bail jumpers.

In more of a romantic pairing, I think Hannah from Delirium and Gale from The Hunger Games should meet. I can't say that this pairing is based on anything more than these were two characters that I really loved in the books that did not seem to find a happy ending (note: I haven't read Pandemonium yet so that could affect my perception of Hannah). But I do think they both had a desire to rebel against the society they were raised in--in some ways a stronger desire than the protagonists in the books. The difference was that they did not have the same opportunity to display that desire to the world that the protagonists had. So I think they would understand things about each other that no one--not even their closest friends would understand.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

TBR Intervention (14)



I know it has been a while since I participated--but I wanted you to tell you all that I have missed being part of the intervention (and my TBR pile has grown exponentially too).  So I am not back and ready to get down to business!

But I also have a class that started last week and goes on for the next six weeks--so I won't be able to read as much as I used to in a week.  But even a little bit will make progress on my TBR, right?

Books I Am Committed To Read

My friends have been talking about this series so much that I just had to join in.  It has become our literary soap opera.

Summary (from Amazon):
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.


My friend read this book and said that it may help me as I am learning to move forward (if you do not know what I am referring to please read taking a break).  I also saw that this book is full of shorter stories which means I do not need to focus on reading the whole thing straight through but can pick through the stories.

Summary (from Amazon):
This Is Not the Life I Ordered is for anyone who has ever felt overworked, overwhelmed, or just plain unlucky (and, who hasn't?!). Through this collection of stories, wisdom, and practical advice, readers will meet four ordinary women who have faced extraordinary life challenges. Together, they have a history of six marriages, ten children, four stepchildren, six dogs, two miscarriages, two cats, a failed adoption, and foster parenthood. Two have lived through the death of their spouses and one was shot and left for dead on a tarmac in Guyana -- which is documented in "Jonestown" airing on PBS' American Experience. T

his book started simply with four friends getting together for "kitchen-table coaching sessions" to talk about their lives. Week by week and story by story, they realized their great advice to each other could help other women struggling with life's myriad issues of work, family, and love, as well as the big questions of life and death. For over a decade, the power and strength of their collective friendship enabled these women not only to survive but to thrive. They invite readers to join them to learn how they, too, can turn "misfortunate" events into joy-filled opportunities. Readers will want to share this book with every woman in their lives!



I got out of the habit of listening to my audiobooks and I have missed them, so I am going to make it a goal to get back into the habit again.  And what is better than Jim Dale to get me back?

Summary (from Amazon):
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Now I cannot wait to see what you are reading this week!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Follow Friday (19)



Q: Activity! Dreamcast your current read.

My current read:


Now there is already a cast for this book--but I have not watched the show yet because I want to finish the books first (everyone I know who has read the book has told me to finish it first then watch the show), but from everything I have heard it is well cast.

So here is my question for you: what has been your favorite book cast?
For me there are two choices:

Clark Gable is Rhett Butler--I could not imagine anyone portraying that character better!


I have a huge literary crush on Darcy as portrayed by Colin Firth!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dare You To Read: One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

I love having the opportunity to challenge people to read books that I personally found compelling or interesting or just all out fun.  But I want to know what you think?  Have you read the book?  Did it stick with you?  If so, why?  If not, why? _________________________________________________

 

Genre: Women Sleuths, Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
Order Online: Amazon.com
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 4 stars
Borrowed from the library. 

In A Nutshell:
I read this book years ago and thought it was only so-so, but I went to the movie because my friend wanted to go.  After I stepped out of the movie I kept thinking that I liked the story--so why did I not really like the book.  So I tried the book again--this time as an audiobook and loved it!  Every time I had to pause the story, I could not wait to get back to a place where I could turn it on again!

Review:
Janet Evanovich put together an interesting and lively group of characters.  I loved the character of Stephanie Plum.  She has smarts--but she also has things that she does not know and needs to learn.  She has determination and a keen sense of what she needs to survive--but she also has a sense of humor and a sarcasm that left me laughing out loud many times as I read the book.

Joe Morelli is a mystery to me.  On one hand he seems like a stand up guy that got caught up in a bad situation, but then I see the way he needles Stephanie about their shared history and he seems kind-of like a player or maybe even a jerk.  So I am still deciding if I like Joe or not, but more than anything I hope he is in the next book because my desire to figure him out is part of what has got me hooked on this series.

And finally the Plum family.  They add something to this book and to this story that is priceless, but I felt like the real magic of the story comes from watching Stephanie interact with everyone around her--that's where all the laughs really came from for me.

There are many times over the course of the story that it is clear that this book is meant to be the introduction to the series.  There is a lot of explanation about the history of the characters and overt displays of their relationships to show how they interact with one another.  It did not necessarily detract from the book, but I am looking forward to future books with the hopes that there will not be as much time devoted to that.

Recommendations:
I do wish I had given this book another try before watching the movie--so if you have not read the book I recommend that before the movie.  But if you have read the book--I thought the movie was great!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Short & Sweet: Free Four by Veronica Roth


And to the point! Sometimes it is nice to read a short story or a novella, but it is not always fair to compare them to longer stories with more time for plot and character development.
_____________________________________________________
Genre:  Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Free Online: Facebook 

Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 3 stars
Novella available for free at link above.  

In A Nutshell:  
I am glad I read this after reading Insurgent because I would not have wanted to have the surprising fact I learned in Insurgent ruined for me.  But I am also very glad that I read this novella because I think it gave me much more insight into Tobias.  The only downside is that it made me crave more written from his perspective!

Review:  
I just learned about this novella--which meant that I read it after reading Insurgent, and I am not sure that I would have wanted to read this first.  There is an important aspect of Tobias revealed in this novella that is also revealed in Insurgent.  And I am not sure I would have wanted to know that aspect of his feelings about Dauntless before I found out about them in Insurgent.  I enjoyed learning the truth at the same time Tris did.

However, I did really enjoy getting inside Tobias.  I would love to see more stories told from his perspective because in many ways I think they compliment each other well.  Tris seems much more naive and sheltered than Tobias does, but I think that is because she is younger and been away from her family for less time.  In comparison, I think Tobias knows more about what is going on around him but is not always as perceptive as Tris.  Together--I think they give unique, and in important ways, different perspectives on the events going on around them.  And with the complex world that Veronica Roth has created, two different perspectives give us so much more insight into the truth.

Recommendations:
I need recommendations!  I want to find more novellas to read.  Do you know of any good ones?  Please share (pretty please with sugar and honey).  :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: Insurgent by Veronica Roth


Genre:  Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Order Online: Amazon.com  
Author Info: Goodreads | Website
Rating: 4 stars   
Borrowed book from a friend. 

Note: There may be spoilers to Divergent in this review.  If you have not read Divergent, please see my review

In A Nutshell:  
I do not think I have eagerly anticipated a book this much since the last two Harry Potter books.  I was on a countdown for months waiting for this one to be released.  And all I can say is I was not disappointed--but now I am on another countdown for Book 3 because one again Veronica Roth left me begging for more!

Review:  
Dauntless is divided--those that have aligned themselves with Erudite are wearing blue arm bands and acting as guards.  Those that have not are in hiding, planning, waiting for the ideal time to show their fearlessness and the leadership to make a stand.

Tris is divided--she is hiding the fact that she murdered one of her best friends from everyone (even the person she loves most).  She is struggling with how to honor the sacrifice her parents made with their lives.  She is not sure how to best handle her feelings for Tobias.

Tobias is divided--he does not necessarily want to tell the world who he is but more and more his true name is gaining him access to information.  He is cautious about his feelings for Tris--and the more he feels that she is hiding something important from him the more he feels he needs to pull away.  But he made the decision to stay in Dauntless based in part on his feelings for her--he cannot throw that away lightly.

What I wanted most when I started the book was more information about Tobias.  I loved that Insurgent allowed me more insight into who Tobias was, where he came from, and how all of that affects how he approaches the world.  As much as I loved Four in Divergent, I found Tobias in Insurgent more interesting and more compelling.

At some points, I was frustrated with the lack of trust between Tris and Tobias.  Every time they going got tough or the answers were not readily given, they seemed to be willing to drop each other or at least believe the worst of each other.  For people who claim the level of love and dedication that they do, it seemed they had very little faith in that love, that dedication or each other.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realize that this wish-washiness is more of a sign of their background.  Tobias had very little experience with true love or true dedication.  Tris, as a Divergent raised in Abnegation, came from a family who displayed love in a way that she either did not fully understand or did not fully meet her need for love.  

And that is probably what I love the most about Veronica Roth's writing.  She reveals a lot of the details in subtle ways.  A careful reading of her books is rewarded with more insight and more connection with the characters and the story she has woven. 

And then at the end she drops a bomb--now I cannot wait to read the next book!

Recommendations:
According to Goodreads--Book 3 (still untitled) will not be out until Fall 2013.  I do not know how I can possibly wait that long!  But in the meantime, I just found this short story about Four--and really is there ever enough of him?
Free Four: Tobias Tells the Story

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: Talisman of El by Alecia Stone

 
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery
Order Online: Centrinian
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 3 stars  
Book given in exchange for an honest review. 

In A Nutshell:  
I love fantasy.  I love adventure.  But more than loving any particular genre--I love a good story written well.  I found all of these things in Talisman of El.  

Review:  
From the moment I read the summary of Talisman of El, I could not wait to read the book.  In some ways my anticipation scared me; I feared there was no way that it could live up to my expectations.  But it did.  Alecia Stone did an excellent job of weaving a story that excellent dialogue that brings us into the heart of interesting and endearing characters.

Charlie is a character that immediately tugs at your heart strings.  You will be drawn into his story.  The strong use of dialogue will draw you into his character.  And the adventures that he and his friends go on will keep you on the edge of your seat.  I could not put it down--I wanted to be part of the group. 

Recommendations:
After reading this book, I want to read more fantasy books!  My friend has been raving about this author--so I want to start:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Follow Friday (18)

First I want to thank everyone for their support during this very difficult time for me. Your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes have been very much appreciated and shared with my family. (if you are unsure of what I am talking about please see Taking A Break)

Q: Have you had a character that disappointed you? One that you fell in love with and then "broke up" with later on in either the series or a stand-alone book? Tell us about him or her. 

This is a great question--and one I am really struggling to answer. My first thought is Scarlett from Gone with the Wind, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it was more that I wanted to like her but I never really did. I admired her determination to survive and to do what she had to in order to beat the odds. But the way she stole her sister's beau, the way she treated Rhett (who is one of my literary crushes), and even the way she pawed after a married man--oh it makes me angry and annoyed just to think about it.

So then I thought about Bridget Jones from Bridget Jones's Diary. Initially, I thought she was a funny character, but as the story continued and particularly as it continued into the second book I started to really not like her at all. She comes off as stupid and incompetent on many occasions. Do people really see her as a modern day Elizabeth Bennet? Irk! And throughout Pride and Prejudice, I never doubt what Darcy sees in Elizabeth. But I question many, many times what Darcy sees in Bridget Jones!

But finally I settled on Al from Divergent. In the beginning, I really felt for Al. He made a very tough decision when he changed factions--that takes courage. He openly showed his vulnerability--which I also think takes courage. But as the story progressed and as Tris started to describe some of the changes in Al, I became more and more unsure of him, of his motives for changing factions, of his motives regarding Tris, of his motives in general. So I came to not like him very much at all by the end.

Now I cannot wait to hear what characters disappointed you?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: Death Comes To Pemberley by P.D. James

 
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Order Online: Amazon.com  
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 2 stars 
Borrowed this book from the library.

  
In A Nutshell:
This book disappointed me, but I am not sure if that disappointment came from my high expectations, my love of the original text, or a sign that this author is not meant to be a favorite of mine.  But I am committed to not basing my feelings about this author solely on this book.  I will read another since I have heard so many great things about this author.

Review:  
This book is hard for me to review.  If you have followed me very much at all, you know I LOVE Pride and Prejudice.  I think it has been my answer or part of my answer to so many of the Follow Friday questions.  I want to meet Darcy.  Darcy is one of my literary crushes.  When I have taken quizzes on which Jane Austen heroine I am--it always comes up Elizabeth.  I have watched the six hour version of the movie at least 100 times (probably more).  So, I think you can see that I LOVE this book.

I do not typically read the "sequels" that are out there because when I have tried them, I have been disappointed.  I made the exception for Death Comes to Pemberley because a friend of mine had wonderful things to say about this author.  So I took the plunge.  And now I struggle because I cannot necessarily pinpoint the source of my disappointment.  Were my expectations too high?  Possibly.  Was the writing not my style?  I am not sure because I feel like many of my problems were because her style is so very different from Jane Austen's in Pride and Prejudice.  Was I dissatisfied by her treatment of the characters?  Sometimes.  The prologue provided indications that P.D. James reading of Pride and Prejudice and her impression of the characters was very different from my own.

So as a "sequel" to Pride and Prejudice, I cannot say that I recommend this book.  However, the story and the mystery were interesting and compelling which makes me think that I would like her books in a different context.  So I am determined to read another one of her books--with her own characters.  I want to give her a chance to wow me without the comparisons to one of my favorite books.

Recommendations:
My friend who has read a lot of P.D. James' books has recommended I try the following before deciding if I like P.D. James:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris


Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Vampires
Order Online: Amazon.com
Author Info: Goodreads | Website
Rating: 3 stars
Borrowed this book from the library. 

In A Nutshell:
I had some idea of what to expect from this book since I had seen a couple of episodes of True Blood (from HBO) before I started the book.  Overall, I felt like the book met my expectations but did not in any way wow me or exceed those expectations.  It was a good book, but I am not rushing to read the next one in the series.

Review:
Prior to reading this book, I had seen a couple episodes of True Blood--just enough so that the actors and actresses who played the characters I remembered the most influenced how I pictured those characters in my mind.  I do not know if this influence was necessarily good or bad, but it was an influence none-the-less.

The character of Sookie Stackhouse is interesting--even endearing in her mix of innocence and tenacity.  She is a small town girl with a disability--at least that is what she calls her ability to read the thoughts of the people around her.  For most of her life, her disability has made her an outsider--even in her own hometown.  In some ways, this separation is her own doing because she finds it exhausting to constantly shield her mind from the thoughts of others.  In other ways, this separation is prompted by the fear of the people around her. 

And this perception and the relationship(s) that Sookie has with those around her serve as a strong foundation for the story.  It is part of the reason that she finds such a strong connection with Bill the Vampire--the only person she has ever met whose mind was closed to her.  It is so refreshing for her to have quiet time that she immediately throws herself heart-first into a relationship with him.  She does this despite even his own warnings to her.

Outside of this relationship, the story focuses on a fairly compelling mystery about a series of murders.  The first major suspect is Sookie's brother, but since there also seems to be a vampire connection to the murders there are a lot of people who blame Bill for bringing vampires and vampirism to their community.  These murders end up furthering the connection between Bill and Sookie as they strive to protect Sookie (who seems to be an obvious potential victim) and prove her brother's innocence.

Overall, I felt the book was okay.  I am interested in getting more books from the series and finding out what happens next, but I am not compelled to do it right away.  The characters had some interesting aspects, but there was not a single character that drew me in so much or made me care so much that I cannot wait to read the next one.  But at the same time I am not disappointed that I read it.
 
Recommendations:
If you have not watched True Blood, then I definitely recommend getting the DVDs.  I think the casting, scripts and characterizations accentuate the story that I found when I opened the book:

However, I do plan to read the next book in the series. I am just not sitting on pins and needles in anticipation for it:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Book Addict Reviews: If I Stay by Gayle Forman


Genre: Young Adult, New Experiences, Family Life, Social Issues
Order Online: Amazon.com
Author Info:  Website | Goodreads
Rating: 3 stars
Borrowed book from library. 

In A Nutshell:
It is almost ironic that I had read this book and was writing this review when an event happened that changed my life forever (if you don't know what I am referring to please see Taking A Break).  After everything has happened, I re-read what I wrote and the magnitude of this story hit me even more.  As someone who has lost someone important in the blink of an eye, I can say this book has an impact beyond what I initially thought and expected.

Review:
It has often been said that your life can change in the blink of an eye.  Mia can tell you that better than anyone.  One moment she was in the car with her family listening to a classical song and finguring  the next moment she is looking at the crumpled remains of the family car and watching the emergency rescue people trying to save her life. 

Wait--how can she be watching that?  Mia struggles with seeing everything going on around her, seeing everything that is happening to her, but not quite understanding what it all means.  Is she alive?  Is she dead?  Does she want to continue to fight to live?  Does she want to join her family?  But the biggest question she has is how to make what she decides to do actually happen?

I have seen this idea of the consciousness leaving the body in movies such as Ghost Dad and Ghost, but I feel that Gayle Forman has added something different to the mix.  In both Ghost Dad and Ghost, the ghosts desperately want to get back to their bodies or their lives.  Mia struggles with what she wants to do.  Either way, she knows her life has changed.  So which way will she choose? 

Recommendations:
In some ways, the ending disappointed me a little.  There was no closure, but I just learned that there is more to Mia's story: