Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Depressing

I picked up this novel after seeing a few previews for what looks to be a great movie. This is my third book to read this year and definitely the most depressing. I’m not sure if it was the layout on the Kindle or how the book was written, but there were a few times that I wasn’t sure on the timeline in the novel or who was narrating for at least a few paragraphs. Other than those minor flaws, it was a lovely story.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is a story about a boy who while mourning the loss of his father in the September 11th attacks, searches New York City for what he thinks is his father’s last message to him. While the novel is pretty good, it is quite depressing and even at the end of the novel, I didn’t feel like there was anything hopeful to look forward to. Maybe it is just the pregnancy hormones, but I wanted more out of it. I wanted the boy’s something more to come out of the key/message aspect of the novel and yet once the mystery is solved, that’s it! I understand that the ultimate meaning behind the story is how the boy works through the grieving process, but maybe the nosy side of me needed more closure with the key.

Either way, don’t let me sway your decision. Pick if up if you’re into it . . . I definitely look forward to seeing the movie and I think in turn that will make the novel even better.


The Book Thief – Drop Everything and Read it

This is a book I’ve had on my kindle for a while. Usually what I do is I check the top ten lists and write down the books that continuously make the list and then I load those onto my kindle. That’s why I end up having over 100 books on there at one time. Yeah, it’s a sickness I tell you.

Anyway, after reading the crap that was Twilight for a second time. (The second time was horrible . . . ) I wanted something with substance and I heard good things about The Book Thief and wanted to give it a go. I’m SO glad I did.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is an amazing story about World War 2 Germany narrated by the ever clever, exciting, and often entertaining voice of Death. The novel is about a young girl, Liesel, who moves in with her foster family, Rosa, and Hans Huberman on Himmel street, after losing her mother and watching her brother die at the tender age of 11. Death gives the reader insight into Liesel, The Book Thief’s, world during the war including lack of food, lack of jobs, and a lack of color. But, when a stranger shows up at the Huberman’s door one night, they must make a decision that might change their futures, and Liesel, forever.

Zusak seriously knows how to tell a story. I can’t wait to pick up another book of his. Death as a narrator is an extremely interesting idea and it works very well with the story. Death gives us more insight than a normal first person narrative can, and even spoils bits of the story for us (but it’s all worth it.) It’s very cleverly written and will stick with the reader long after the final page.

Hit up your nearest bookstore, library, or e-reader store and add this to your list immediately. You won’t be disappointed!

Stay — A Great Page Turner

Like I’ve mentioned in the past, I get a lot of my novel suggestions from friends and authors. Pretty much everything Jen Lancaster recommends I add to my list . . . she’s only let me down once. (Stupid Sarah Silverman)

The other day she posted on Facebook the names of two novels we, the readers, should check out. Stay by Allie Larkin was one of them and boy was it a great read!

Stay tells the story of Savannah (Van) a girl who is in love with her best friend’s husband. One drunken night after their wedding, Savannah finds herself ordering a 6,000 dollar “puppy” from a foreign country and thus begins the sweet tale of Savannah and Joe. Whether you’ve ever had a relationship with a dog or any other pet, you’ll find you can’t put this book down. It truly is a great read and I found myself not wanting to flip the last page and end the moment.

Stay touches on a lot of moments that really resonated with me: heartbreak, loss, grief, and of course love. While it could easily fall into the typical romantic love story, it doesn’t and instead makes it’s place in the genre.

I definitely suggest this read! Let me know how you enjoy it!

Twenty Times a Lady is Twenty Times Hilarious

I stumbled across Karyn Bosnak while trying to win a copy of her novel Twenty Times a Lady on Jen Lancaster’s blog. Naturally, I’m not much of a “winner” and ended up checking it out from the library instead. Bosnak’s witty humor and flowing narrative grabbed my attention from the start and I flew through this novel in two days flat. (That’s pretty remarkable with a 20 month old son)

Bosnak’s first novel follows twenty-nine year old Delilah Darling who sets out to find her nineteen sexual encounters after reading an article that stated the average “number” for a woman is 10.5. She hopes that one of these men deserve a second chance and can ultimately be her one true love. She enlists the help of her hottie neighbor who daylights as a private investigator and sets off across country to see which of her lovers will be her final lover. But, will she find her true love . . . or is she destined to be a seventy-three year old woman with sixty plus partners?

The movie “What’s Your Number” staring Anna Farris is based on this novel, and I found myself picturing Anna getting herself into some of the situations Delilah got herself in and it made the novel even more enjoyable. I’m looking forward to checking out the movie soon, but the novel is definitely worth picking up!

Sing You Home – Damn You Pregnancy Hormones

I’ve already mentioned how I’ve read every Jodi Picoult novel besides Songs of the Humpback Whale, and after finishing up House Rules the other day . . . I was still in a Picoult mood, so I immediately jumped on her latest novel Sing You Home. I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into. I don’t even think I read the back cover. So, I had no idea what to expect.

This novel comes with a CD. In between each chapter, it allows you to play the specific song so that you are able to use music to feel your way through the novel. This makes perfect sense after starting the novel and realizing that the main character, Zoe Baxter, is a music therapist. Zoe is married to Max and they are currently 27 weeks pregnant at the start of the novel. Their relationship seems like a good one and everything seems to finally be going well for Zoe even though she has had trouble getting pregnant in the past and has even had two miscarriages before this pregnancy. The reader quickly finds out that Zoe and Max have struggled with fertility on both sides and have had to go the IVF way to have a child.

During Zoe’s baby shower, she begins to have massive cramping and bleeding and by the time they arrive at the hospital, there is no heart beat to be found and she must deliver a still born child. It is after this baby is born that the novel really begins to flow. Zoe finds out she has blood clotting issues that might be causing these pregnancy issues as well as causing issues with her health. And when she still would like to continue with her IVF options, her husband (devastated by the loss of their child) refuses and files for divorce.

Max moves in with his extremely religious brother and his wife (who coincidently also have fertility issues) while Zoe slowly gets back on her feet doing music therapy for a severely depressed girl at a local high school and quickly becomes friends with the school counselor, Vanessa. As the months pass and Vanessa saves Zoe’s life . . . Zoe realizes that she has fallen in love with Vanessa and they head off to Massachusetts to get married. While this is happening, Max has become a born again christian who is slowly falling in love with his brother’s wife.

The novel reaches it’s superb climax right where a climax needs to hit (literally 50% into the novel) when Zoe and Vanessa decide they would like to use the three frozen embryos from Max and Zoe’s original harvest. Vanessa will carry the child full term (because Zoe is unable to), all they need is Max’s permission. The novel quickly turns into a religious debate when Max refuses to sign off on the release of the embryo’s and instead would like to see his possible children grow up a “traditional christian family.”

Like any other Picoult novel, the reader definitely sees the inside of a court room. But, in this case, the story is more about the characters (Zoe, Max, Vanessa) and less about the lawyers. In fact, we don’t even get the lawyer’s point of view in this novel . . . which was kind of refreshing. But, that also might just be because I absolutely hated Max’s intolerant lawyer and would have stabbed myself in the eye if I had to listen to his inner hateful thoughts.

Some parts were predictable and others not so much. She hasn’t really had a good “twist” ending lately and it also seems like her last few novels have been rushed at the end. Like, she spends all her time getting you invested in the characters and what the outcome of the story might be . . . and then she just drops you at the end and tries to tie everything up in a nice big bow. If she could have just gone one more chapter in, I would have been even more excited about this book. But, all in all it was a pretty good read. There were a lot of tears involved, but I think it had a lot to do with my pregnant hormones so don’t mind me.

I also liked that she did a lot of research with her claims. There are a lot of bible verses that deal with homosexuality in this novel. And it was refreshing to not see the “go to” Leviticus verse. It was also wonderful to see the Leviticus chapter get ripped to shreds in one fast paced monologue by Zoe’s lawyer.

Check it out and let me know what you guys think of it.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – One Word: Awesome

I’ve seen commercials for this movie for a good while now. I’ve even seen an interview with Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) about his role in the movie and how he is not a very nice guy. (Come on, Tom . . . are you going to play the bad guy always?) But, it wasn’t until my best friend Jessica told me that her boyfriend and her were enthralled by the movie that I mentioned it to Aaron. He said he would like to see it as well and after a class he had to attend to on a Friday left him with the night open . . . we found ourselves getting popcorn and a drink and heading into the theater.

This movie plays kind of  like a prequel to the original movie. In fact, there is a news story that talks about the shuttle to Mars around the middle of the movie. It’s about a man, Will Rodman, (played by James Franco) who is trying to find a cure for alzheimer’s so he can help his father, Charles(John Lithgo). He thinks he has found the cure with Ape #9, until she goes crazy and ends up being killed by a security guard of Gen Sys Industries. It isn’t until the other apes are put down and they are cleaning Ape #9’s cage that they realize she wasn’t crazy because of the drug, but only trying to protect her child. Will ends up taking the baby ape home and realizes that the medication he has devised has been passed to Ape #9’s child.

The story follows the life of Caesar as he grows and loves both Will and Charles (who has now received the medication and appears to be better). Caesar is an exceptionally smart ape that knows sign language and is very protective of his family. Unfortunately, the drug that Will gave his father begins to deteriorate Charles’ brain after roughly five years and after an intense argument with Charles’ rude neighbor, Caesar runs out and tackles the neighbor trying to protect Charles. Animal control forces Will to place Caesar in a primate shelter until he can prove the ape is not harmful to society.

It is Caesar’s captivity that forces him to realize that he is not equal to his human counterparts. While Will spends his time trying to come up with a new cure, Caesar gets more and more angered and agitated by being in captivity. He begins finding ways to let himself out of his cages at night and ultimately forces the other apes to see that he is the Alpha. Once he realizes that there is a new drug available, he sneaks out and steals some from Will’s home. Once he administers the drug to the apes, they begin their plot to escape.

The movie flows nicely and has a great storyline. It is definitely one of the better movies we have seen this summer. It has everything you need in a movie: action, adventure, a slight love story, relationships, comedy, etc. Check it out! I don’t think you’ll be sorry!

House Rules – It Fits the Formula Mostly

I’ve read every Jodi Picoult novel that has been written. Well, except for Songs of the Humpback Whale . . . because, I mean . . . what?! That book sounds totally and completely boring. Plus, her earlier novels didn’t fit the formula that I like. This formula is: story about a family usually narrated by each member of the family plus the lawyers and any law enforcement that might be involved; something happens and one of the characters ends up in court; the novel is spent jumping around the truth; BAM a twist ending.

The first novel I read by Picoult was My Sister’s Keeper. If you haven’t read this novel, I strongly suggest you head to the bookstore, or download it on your ereader. It’s a great read. Ignore the movie adaptation that came out. That shit sucked.

Anyway, House Rules tells the story of  a single mother raising her two teenage sons. One son is perfectly normal, and the other one is on the autism scale classified as having Asperger’s Syndrome. The son, Jacob, meets with a tutor, Jess, every Tuesday and Sunday and she works with his social skills and integrating his symptoms into every day life. But, after an argument on a Sunday, Jess is reported missing by her boyfriend on a Tuesday and found dead shortly after. Jacob is the prime suspect in the case and the novel approaches the judicial system and how it is fair for some, but not for all.

The novel is well written. I enjoyed the autism facts that were sporadically placed throughout the novel. The characters were all pretty likable and I got to the point that I didn’t want to put the novel down until it was finished. However, the issue that I have with Picoult novels after reading them all (or most all of them) is that I’m waiting for the twist ending. And in this case . . . it didn’t really come. Or maybe it did but I had totally figured it out way in advance? I knew as soon as Jess came up missing exactly what happened to her and I feel like the average reader will too. However, the novel still flows nicely and is a pretty decent read.

Now, I’m off to read the next novel Sing Me Home. Also, I’m running out of novels to read . . . any suggestions?