Review: Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel

Title: Goodbye for Now
Author: Laurie Frankel
Published by Doubleday, August 7, 2012
Hardcover, 304 pages

Sam Elling works for an internet dating company, but he still can’t get a date. So he creates an algorithm that will match you with your soul mate. Sam meets the love of his life, a coworker named Meredith, but he also gets fired when the company starts losing all their customers to Mr. and Ms. Right.

When Meredith’s grandmother, Livvie, dies suddenly, Sam uses his ample free time to create a computer program that will allow Meredith to have one last conversation with her grandmother. Mining from all her correspondence—email, Facebook, Skype, texts—Sam constructs a computer simulation of Livvie who can respond to email or video chat just as if she were still alive. It’s not supernatural, it’s computer science.

Meredith loves it, and the couple begins to wonder if this is something that could help more people through their grief. And thus, the company RePose is born. The business takes off, but for every person who just wants to say good-bye, there is someone who can’t let go.

In the meantime, Sam and Meredith’s affection for one another deepens into the kind of love that once tasted, you can’t live without. But what if one of them suddenly had to? This entertaining novel, delivers a charming and bittersweet romance as well as a lump in the throat exploration of the nature of love, loss, and life (both real and computer simulated). Maybe nothing was meant to last forever, but then again, sometimes love takes on a life of its own. (From Goodreads)

I was lucky enough to win this book through Goodreads’ First Reads giveaways.

This isn’t normally the type of book I would read, and it’s definitely not one I would’ve bought for myself after reading the description. But I figured I might as well enter, since I liked the cover. No reason not to.

Anyway, even though this isn’t the type of book I’d normally read, I still liked it a lot. The characters all felt very realistic, and the story was interesting, especially after about halfway through. The first half of the book is basically given away in the description, but once I got past that, it didn’t take me long to finish because I started liking it more.

And then there was a twist that pretty much ripped my heart out. I had to put the book down for a while because I was kind of angry. But I like that the author was able to get me to feel something for these characters, because sometimes that doesn’t happen even when you really want it to.

I definitely recommend this book if it sounds at all interesting to you. Or if it doesn’t. It was a great story and it really makes you feel for the characters.

Advertisements

Review: Serena by Ron Rash


Title:
Serena
Author: Ron Rash
Originally published by Ecco Press, October 7, 2008
Paperback, 371 pages

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband’s life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons’ intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning. (From Goodreads)

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now, since it’s being turned into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence (of Hunger Games fame) in the title role. After reading the book, I can’t WAIT for the movie to be released next year, because I think Jen will be absolutely amazing in it.

But this isn’t a post about a movie, it’s a post about a book. And this book is stunning.

I love it when a book centers around a villain. And Serena is most definitely a villain. As is her husband, Pemberton, to some extent. They will stop at nothing to get what they want, until Serena finds Pemberton’s weakness: his illegitimate son. The story not only follows the Pembertons, but also the men who work at the Pembertons’ lumber camp, and Rachel, the mother of Pemberton’s son. In several reviews on Goodreads, I’ve seen the workers called “a kind of Greek chorus,” which basically sums up their purpose in the book. They fill in the gaps for us, as well as gossip about what they think really happened. I really loved reading their parts of the book because they were just so much fun. They served as comic relief as well.

I also enjoyed hearing Rachel’s story throughout the novel. It made me sympathize with her a lot more than I would have otherwise. Most of all, though, I enjoyed the character of Serena. No matter how evil she is, her character still made me want to cheer for her most of the time. Did I mention she has a pet eagle? Yeah, she’s a total bad ass.

The way this novel is written is absolutely beautiful. Some of Rash’s descriptions are so descriptive, I feel like I’m there. The whole thing was very, very literary. I feel like it could eventually be a classic. And I hope it is, because it’s just that good.

Review: The Thing About Thugs by Tabish Khair

Title: The Thing About Thugs
Author: Tabish Khair
First US Edition published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 24, 2o12
Hardcover, 256 pages

A subversive, macabre novel of a young Indian man’s misadventures in Victorian London as the city is racked by a series of murders

In a small Bihari village, Captain William T. Meadows finds just the man to further his phrenological research back home: Amir Ali, confessed member of the infamous Thugee cult. With tales of a murderous youth redeemed, Ali gains passage to England, his villainously shaped skull there to be studied. Only Ali knows just how embroidered his story is, so when a killer begins depriving London’s underclass of their heads, suspicion naturally falls on the “thug.” With help from fellow immigrants led by a shrewd Punjabi woman, Ali journeys deep into a hostile city in an attempt to save himself and end the gruesome murders.

Ranging from skull-lined mansions to underground tunnels a ghostly people call home, The Thing about Thugs is a feat of imagination to rival Wilkie Collins or Michael Chabon. Short-listed for the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize, this sly Victorian role reversal marks the arrival of a compelling new Indian novelist to North America. (From Goodreads)

I was fortunate enough to receive this book from one of Goodread’s First Reads giveaways.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was different to what I was expecting, though. By the description, I was thinking The Thing About Thugs was going to be a murder mystery. It wasn’t. Within the first few chapters, the reader is told who is doing the murdering and why they’re doing it. If you’re looking for a good mystery, this is probably not the book for you.

If you enjoy historical fiction, however, you will most likely like this book. The writing is fantastic, and the story is mostly entertaining. There were bits that kind of pulled me out of the story being told, though, when the narrator would talk about finding Amir Ali’s letters in his grandfather’s home and say that he imagined things in certain ways. I know those were put in to make it feel more “literary,” but they kind of made me want to just hurry past them and get back to the real story being told.

I love that the story unfolds in different narratives. You have the chapters that are Amir’s letters (which are written in a script font that some may find hard to read, though I didn’t), others which are his stories told aloud to the Captain, and then the chapters which follow other characters such as the murderers and Amir’s friends. The story moves kind of slowly, but by the end I was really interested to see what was going to happen to Amir and his friends, although we aren’t given a definite answer.

I really liked this book a lot. It wasn’t something that I would have normally chosen to read on my own, but I’m glad that I did. It’s definitely worth reading, especially if you’re into historical fiction.

Playing Catch-Up

Hey, guys! Instead of posting TONS of reviews over the next few days, I thought I’d just give a run-down of the books I read while I was away. Several of them are books that have been out a while, so I didn’t really see a point in giving a full-on review when most of you have probably already read them (I’ll link to the Goodreads description just in case). Some of the books WILL get separate reviews, and therefore will not be included in this post. So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been reading!

 Looking for Alaska by John Green

This summer, I have come to love John Green’s writing. I read The Fault In Our Stars when it was first released, but then for some reason waited until this summer to read anything else he wrote. I really enjoy his writing style and his character development. I always feel so connected to the main characters and I really love that about his books. This book is absolutely amazing. It’s not my favorite John Green (more on that later), but I did love it a lot. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you solve that problem pronto.

Breathless by Lurlene McDaniel

I’m not sure how popular this book is. I honestly had never heard of it before I bought it on a whim from Amazon, so many of you may not have read it. This book is so short that I read it in about 3 hours. The story was good, but I felt like I never got to know any of the characters at all. I would’ve liked it a LOT more if it would’ve been about 100+ pages longer. I felt like the whole thing was rushed, and I didn’t want it to be because I felt like I could’ve really liked it if it WASN’T that way. Oh well.

Paper Towns by John Green

THIS is my favorite John Green book. For some reason I’ve heard a lot of people say it was their least favorite, but I loved it the most. Maybe it was because I connected SO much with the main character, Quentin. I don’t know. But this is another MUST read. Absolutely loved it.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

For some reason, I never read this book until now. We didn’t have to read it in AP Lit in high school, even though every other class before ours had to. I never read it on my own, either. So while I was on vacation, I decided it was time to buy it and read. And I’m so glad that I did. It became one of my favorite books of all time. I just absolutely love it, and there’s no need for any more of a review than that. If you haven’t already read this, then you’re really missing out (even though I’m pretty sure I’m probably the last person on earth, or at least in America, who is over the age of 16 and hasn’t read this.)

That’s all for now, but full reviews for the other books I’ve read while I’ve been away will be up throughout the week! Thanks for sticking with me :)

P.S. I’m SO bummed that they moved the release date of the new Gatsby movie! I was really looking forward to seeing it over Christmas. Oh well. I guess 6 more months isn’t THAT long.

Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

 Title: The Snow Child
Author: Eowyn Ivey
Published by Little, Brown and Company, Feb 1, 2012
Hardcover, 389 pages

Starting this review, I’m honestly having trouble putting my thoughts into words. There’s nothing I can say about The Snow Child that even begins to describe how I felt while reading it. It was truly a stunning book.

The Snow Child is about a couple, Mabel and Jack, who married late and unsuccessfully tried to have a child. A few years down the road in 1920, they decide to move to Alaska to build a homestead, to escape their family, which to them is only a reminder of the fact that they couldn’t have children while everyone else could. After they move to Alaska, they start to grow apart, but with the first snow of the season, their love rekindles. They build a little girl out of snow. When they wake up the next morning, their creation is gone, with child-sized footsteps leading away from it and the mittens and scarf that were on the snow child gone. They start to see a little girl running through the woods every now and then. The girl, named Faina, eventually becomes like a daughter to the couple. But is Faina a real person or a magical being?

Loosely based on the Russian fairy tale “Snegurachka” (The Snow Maiden), The Snow Child is absolutely breathtaking. It was one of those books that I just didn’t want to end. Ivey’s descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness, though sometimes brutal, left me chilled throughout the novel. The story is very heartwarming, though, which is quite the opposite of the setting.

I know this is a super short review, but there really isn’t much for me to say about this novel without spoiling the entire thing. So just read it! It’s definitely worth your time!

Feature & Follow #2

 

Feature & Follow is hosted by Parajunkee and  Allison Can Read.  It’s a great way to find other blogs to follow and help them to find you! Click the picture above for more information!

You can follow me any of the ways featured on the sidebar! Thanks for checking out my blog!

QOTW: Activity! Dream cast your current read.

My current read is The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I’m usually more of a YA reader, but this Adult book sounded very interesting. Anyway, I started it last night and it’s very good so far. It’s about a couple, Mabel and Jack, who in 1920 move to Alaska to build a homestead. They were unable to have children, and are now too old to try again. During the first snow of the season, they build a snow girl. The next morning when they wake up, their creation is gone, but they catch glimpses of a child in the forest. Could their snow child have come to life?

I have had trouble picturing the characters, though, because I’ve never been great with casting older characters in my mind. I’ve kind of got a bit of an idea, though.

  

I’m only going to cast the female characters because while I kind of have pictures for the men, no actor that I can think of would fit how I picture them. For Mabel, I can’t help but picture Sissy Spacek. There’s never really a given description of what she looks like, and Sissy Spacek is just who I first thought of, even though she may be a little old for the role. For Esther, one of the few other women in the Alaskan wilderness, and Mabel’s only friend besides her husband, I picked Meryl Streep. She’s just the right amount of crazy to play this part. And for Faina, the snow child, I picture a very young Elle Fanning. She’d definitely be too old to play Faina now, but when she was younger she would’ve been perfect!

What are you currently reading? 

Recently Bought & To-Read

No review today, but I did want to give you a little preview of  what’s coming up, and my thoughts about them!

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
I bought this today! I saw is a while back at Barnes & Noble and absolutely loved the cover. After I finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgentern, this was recommended as similar, so I’m super excited to read it!

Posession by Elana Johnson
Also bought this today! I’ve been hearing good things about this book since it was released, so I finally decided to give it a shot! Plus, the sequel, Surrender, comes out soon and I want to be prepared for that!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
I’ve had this one laying around for a while. I actually started it last night, but I wasn’t getting into it all that much. I may put it down for now, but I’ll probably come back to it at some point!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
I bought this the day it came out in January 2011. I was SO excited to read it. One of my friends asked to borrow it before I even started it, and she JUST gave it back to me this week, so I’ve definitely got to get going on this one, because I was excited to read it even when I first bought it!

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Published by Doubleday, Sept 13, 2011
Hardcover, 387 pages

Since I’m just beginning this book blogging thing, I figured I might as well start off reviewing the last thing I read, The Night Circus. I don’t have any just-published or soon-to-be published books to review since I just started, but I hope that you enjoy my blog anyway!

I know this book has been out for a while, and so a lot of you have probably already read it. I also read that there was a lot of hype around its release, but, alas, I’m late to the party, as always!

While walking through Barnes & Noble a few months ago, the cover instantly caught my attention. I’m a graphic design major in college, and I thought, “If this book is anywhere near as good as its cover, it may just become my new favorite.” When I started it way back in January, I wasn’t so sure.

By just reading the inside flap, I was expecting lots of action packed scenes, a la The Hunger Games mixed with a setting somewhat like Water for Elephants. After about a hundred pages, I figured out that there weren’t any action packed scenes to speak of. Not to say it wasn’t good, but it just was totally different from what I expected. I put it down and didn’t pick it back up until four days ago.
(more…)