Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty


What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. 

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over."

Review: What a lovely novel.  If you're in the mood for a character driven, adult contemporary novel, please do consider Liane Moriarty.  This is the second of her novels that I've read (the first being Big Little Lies) and I enjoyed both immensely.

The best thing about Moriarty's novels are her characters.  Each one comes to life in a unique and natural way.  I loved so many of these characters and wanted them to be happy, each for different reasons. 

Alice is in such a unique position, forgetting the past decade of her life, and I was completely captivated watching her sort through and figure out her body's reactions to people and places and things of which she has no memory.  It would be so terrifying to wake up and discover that you have three children, none of whom you have any memory of whatsoever.  I can't even imagine waking up to discover that I was in a nasty custody battle with my husband who, according to me, I was madly in love with.  

Alice is surprised by the person she's become.  She is better in some ways, but Alice isn't so sure she likes this new version of herself that everyone else expects her to be.  Her journey begs the questions of the reader, if your ten-years-ago self were to meet your current self, what would (s)he think?  Would (s)he be pleased?  Impressed?  Satisfied?  Or confused, and possibly even upset?  What decisions are you making now that will determine your life's trajectory?  What can you do to bring yourself peace in the future?  All this self-reflection can be exhausting, but I think it is useful to think about every once in a while.  I certainly had some revelations about myself that this thought process uncovered, and I've enjoyed the conversations with loved ones that it has spurred.

Although Alice is certainly this novel's protagonist, there are other characters and other issues that get plenty of page time.  Elizabeth's descriptions of what it's like to live with infertility was so incredible and poignant.  There was also several interesting scenes where separated parents try to co-parent, and the unique difficulties that arise from that specific arrangement.  Death, bullying, divorce, and family were all big themes in this book, but don't let that scare you!  I'm always amazed at the amount of humor that Moriarty infuses into her work, especially given the serious subject matter.  Make no mistake, I laughed out loud so many times reading this.  Really, it's hilarious.

I blew through this novel, and I'm so glad I read it.  I loved this thought-provoking and funny story, and can't wait to get my hands on more Moriarty.

Review in a GIF:
happy animated GIF

Bottom Line: A wonderful and moving and hilarious novel about memory, identity, choice, family, and love.  Highly recommended!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book-to-Film: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

From PopSugar:
  • What it's about: Mary Shelley's classic story follows Victor Frankenstein as he discovers the secret of life and puts together a body using corpses. Horrified by the monster he's created, Frankenstein flees until the monster returns to him.
  • Who's starring: Daniel Radcliffe will play Igor, the hunchback assistant to Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy).
  • Release date: Oct. 2
James AcAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe in a classic literature adaptation?  I am SO THERE.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Top Twelve Adult Books Which Feature Children As The Main Character

I'm participating in today's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's prompt is:

Top Twelve Adult Books Which Feature Children As The Main Character

Oftentimes I meet people who assume that the age of a book's protagonist equals the age of the person said book was primarily written for.  There is certainly correlation between the two, so I see why this idea exists.  However, that is not necessarily always the case.  Here are some of my favorite novels for adults that feature children as the protagonists.  (By "children" I mean anyone under the age of 18.)

I think this civil rights era book should be required reading for everyone alive.  Just saying.

I love this book so hard.  I wish more people would read it!

This remains one of my all time favorite books.

Scout and Jem are still some of my favorite people.  And they're kids.

This is one I recommend over and over and over and over.

This is one of my absolute favorite coming of age novels, but I know no one else who has read it.  Have you?

Excuse me while I go sob.

Though difficult to read, this story is worth it.

I adore this story about two Jewish boys growing up in the US during World War Two.

This is another one that not many know of.  Most libraries I've checked don't even carry it.  BUT THEY SHOULD.

Flavia de Luce is just such a firecracker, I couldn't leave her off this list.

This is a book that has never really let me go.  Should have seen that coming.  (In a good way.)

There are a lot more out there!  These are just some of my favorites.  What would you add?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Weekly Words: Annonymous

Friday, April 24, 2015

Feature Friday: Best Book Dedications Ever

These are all hilarious.  Here's a sampling from the full list at Buzz Feed:

1. My S*** Life So Far by Frankie Boyle


2. Austenland by Shannon Hale


3. The Pirates! in an Adventure with the Romantics by Giden Defoe


4. No Thanks by e. e. cummings


5. House Of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House Of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

6. You Might Be A Zombie and Other Bad News by Editors of Cracked

You Might Be A Zombie and Other Bad News by Editors of Cracked

7. Post Office by Charles Bukowski

Post Office by Charles Bukowski

8. Psychos: A White Girl Problems Book by Babe Walker

Psychos: A White Girl Problems Book by Babe Walker

9. Ruins by Dan Wells

Ruins by Dan Wells

10. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

11. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski


The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement... if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them."

***This review my contain spoilers from the first book in the series, though there are no spoilers for The Winner's Crime***

Review: Wow!  I finished this book pretty recently, and I still feel winded.  I could not put this book down.  I felt pretty emotionally drained after finishing, but it was worth it.

Kestrel and Arin are back, but their problems have just begun.  This book shifts perspectives between Kestrel and Arin in a really effective way.  Remember how we switched perspectives between Tris and Four in Allegiant, and the result was just confusion (since they sounded exactly the same) and irritation (since it didn't matter whose eyes we were reading through, since they were in the same place and doing the same thing 99% of the time)?  Yeah, this book adeptly avoids that whole mess.  This is how shifting perspectives should work.  We peek inside their mental and emotional state of being, AND the plot is advanced in ways that can only be done from their point of view.  

It's clear that Kestrel and Arin have deep feelings for each other, but their lack of trust prevents them from expressing it.  Plus, any relationship between them would be disastrous for everyone involved from a political perspective, so while there are a million reasons why they shouldn't be together, you still want them to make it since their love is the best thing about either character.  I was a little frustrated with their lack of communication, but I could definitely understand the reasons behind it.  Also, I should mention this: for a book that focuses a great deal on Kestrel and Arin's relationship, I was not put off by the angst.  Coming from me, that's a pretty big deal.  So, hey, fellow romance curmudgeons, you might still like this series.

Romance aside, there is still a lot going on.  This book was much more political than the first book, I thought.  But while there was much less action, there was just as much suspense and tension throughout the book.  Every word, every gesture, is noticed and analyzed in the emperor's court.  You have to be so careful all the time.  Anytime a character did something the emperor didn't like, you just knew it was going to come back to haunt them.  It was just a matter of time.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole book long, just waiting for it to hit the fan.  And when it did, I BASICALLY DIED.

I can't talk about that ending without being spoilery, so I'll just say that it slayed me, and I cannot wait until book three is released.  GIVE ME BOOK THREE ASAP!!!

Review in a GIF:
nervous animated GIF

Bottom Line: A superb second installment in the Winner's trilogy.  The suspense and tension will prevent you from putting this book down even for a moment, and then when you finish you can join me while I pine for book 3.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book-to-Film: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

How did I not know about this upcoming adaptation??  After watching the trailer, I am pretty sure that this whole film will be gorgeous.  The settings and the costumes in particular look stunning.  I am a big fan of this whole cast, too.  Especially Ezra Miller, who I only know from The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  This is such a different role for him than his Perks role, and I'm excited to see him in a different way.  (Also, the intensity he brings to this role in just the trailer alone confirms my idea that he would be a fabulous Arin in a Winner's Curse adaptation.  Who's with me??) 

Madame Bovary is scheduled to open on June 12th.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors

I'm participating in today's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's prompt is:

Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors

Wow, making this list was impossible.  I'm not sure why this list was so much harder for me to make than a list of my favorite books, but it was.  Each of these authors has written things that have fundamentally changed me as a human being, and to whom I feel a deep and genuine appreciation for.  I am so grateful that each of these people decided to write - their work has hugely impacted my life, and I love them for it.  But having said that, there are so many other authors who I love who aren't represented here!  Ah well, what can you do.  Here's my list!

10. J.K. Rowling
Let's just get the obvious out of the way.

9. William Shakespeare
I've got a love/hate relationship with Shakespeare, but I spent so many years studying his work in college and grad school, I feel like he's earned his spot.

8. Lois Lowry
Two words: The Giver.

7. Markus Zusak
Three words: The Book Thief.

6. Yann Martel
I still think Life of Pi is one of the most powerful books I've ever read.

5. Caitlin Horrocks
Seriously, more people need to read her short stories.  Please go read This Is Not Your City.  Immediately.

4. Jhumpa Lahiri
I adore her.  Especially Unaccustomed Earth.

3. Roald Dahl
Dahl is basically my childhood.

2. Rainbow Rowell
Homegirl is just incredible.

1. Taylor Jenkins Reid
After I Do made me consider each one of my relationships in a totally new way.  I loved her book, and I will now read anything she writes.

Who's on your list?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekly Words: Lord Byron

Friday, April 17, 2015

Feature Friday: Weird Bookstores

Let me be clear, it's the folks at Ink Tank who called these bookstores "weird."  I would have gone with "delightful," personally, but what can you do.  What do you think of these below?

List and images from Ink Tank, text is my own:

Singing Wind Bookstore, Benson, Arizona

swinging wind
This bookstore is located on a cattle farm – almost four miles from the nearest settlement.  Which only makes it all the more amazing that it's been in business for four decades.

The Book Barge, various locations, UK

book barge
I love that this nomadic independent bookstore (housed on a narrowboat) accepts goods for barter as well as hard currency.  If I lived in the UK I'd definitely try exchanging some fresh baked goods.

Baldwin’s Book Barn, West Chester, PA

baldwin book barn
Ink Tank says that this bookstore is a five-story eighteenth century barn.  Yes, please.

Kid’s Republic, Beijing, China

kids republic
As a parent of a two-year-old, I think this playground/bookstore is most excellent.

Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore, Maastricht, Netherlands

Churches converted to bookstores actually isn't all that uncommon, but this one, with its vaulted ceilings, stone pillars, and Gothic windows, is pretty spectacular.

Which is your favorite?  Have you ever visited any of these?  What is the strangest/most delightful bookstore you've ever visited?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Rating: 4.25 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.  To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own.  One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?"

Review: I have been looking forward to reading this book for a really, really long time.  I was so excited to finally have it in my hands, and started reading it within three seconds of picking it up from the library.  

About forty pages in, however, I started getting nervous.  A severely unfair caste system where Reds are at the bottom... one Red going undercover among the elites... I've read all this before in Pierce Brown's Red Rising.  Once I realized that the basic premise wasn't as unique as I'd hoped, I was anxious.  I wanted this book to succeed, but was worried about the lack of originality. 

Happily, this book got better. To be honest, there are definite comparisons to Red Rising.  And I love Red Rising.  But this is its own book.  Mare is not Darrow (for better or for worse) and this world is not Darrow's world.  (Darrow lives in a more SciFi world, Mare in a more Fantasy world.)  Actually, Red Queen is a little easier for me to swallow than Red Rising, because it's not quite as cutthroat or as ruthless as Red Rising.  I feel like there's room for compassion in Red Queen, whereas in Red Rising compassion is a liability.  

Not to say that there aren't ruthless moments in Red Queen.  The phrase "anyone can betray anyone" is repeated multiple times in the book, and the story lives up to that threat.  There are deliciously evil antagonists working along side good people on both sides of the rebellion, and none of them are safe.  The beginning was a little slow, but after about fifty pages I became fully engaged, and loved the rest of the ride.

I found the book to be captivating and very entertaining, and very much look forward to reading more about our little lightning girl.

Review in a GIF:
red animated GIF

Bottom Line: There was a bit of a slow start, and there are definitely parallels to Red Rising, but on the whole I loved reading this electrifying book.  (Excuse the pun.)  Recommended to fans of light fantasy, X-men, and/or Pierce Brown.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book-to-Film: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


Book Riot recently reported that "Sony Pictures will be adapting Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Amy Pascal has been signed to produced and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Sarah Polley has signed on to write the script."

I read Little Women as a young teenager, and, being one of four girls myself, fell in love with the story.  I love how Ms. Alcott captured the family dynamic in the March home, how she illustrated each character individually and collectively as a group.  As a girl, I was really, really upset that Jo and Laurie couldn't make it work, and still think that their story is the greatest romance that wasn't.  I've seen the 1994 version starring Winona Ryder, and think they did a decent job with that adaptation.  That was a really long time ago, though, and I'm curious how this new adaptation will turn out.  

If I were in charge of casting, here's who I would put in each role:

Sophie Turner as Meg
She already acts as a key figure in another (extremely different) family, but I think she could pull off Meg's eager sophistication very well.

Britt Robertson
Britt Robertson as Jo
Anyone else out there a fan of Dan in Real Life?  Britt starred as the passionate, middle daughter, and did it so well that I'm sure she would be a great Jo.

Elle Fanning as Beth
Sweet, happy, calm, and lovely, Elle is a no brainer for Beth.

Jackie Evancho as Amy
Okay, hear me out.  Jackie has spent a lot of time on stages, so I think she would do well in front of a camera as well.  She has the look, she's about the right age, and maybe she could sing a song for the film?

Trini Alvarado as Marmie
Trini plays Meg in the 1994 film.  It would be kind of awesome for her to make a reprisal of the film, though of course she's way too old to play a teenager now.  Marmie it is.

Anton Yelchin as Laurie
Yes, the Russian Star Trek guy.  He's got that unruly likability that Laurie possesses, so he wouldn't even need to use a whole lot of his considerable acting ability.  

Who would you cast?